#031: 100 Miles with Dave Eitemiller [Podcast]

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.
John Muir


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Piecing together a string of single-track trails that meander through a dry, rocky, cactus-strewn landscape, it’s possible to make a 48-mile continuous trek across Zion National Park.

For most people, this trek would be one of the epic adventures of their lives; if you’re Dave Eitemiller, you count it as a solid training workout for yet another 100-mile adventure race.

Nearing the sixth decade of his life with a frontiersman’s heart akin to the likes of Lewis and Clark, Dave is partnering with God in the corners of the globe to father leaders in the Kingdom.

With experiences spanning corporate executive roles in Shanghai to adventures with fly rod and skis in the backcountry of the West, Dave’s the kind of man with whom it’s good to share a campfire.

I had the privilege of hosting a conversation with him prior to his recent venture into the wild of Zion National Park. Join us as we savor a conversation sure to beckon each of us forward along the frontier of the masculine journey in unique and collective ways.


To connect with fathers in the Kingdom, consider applying for a future Become Good Soil Intensive. And for all of us, let this podcast be a reminder of this Kingdom reality: We are each invited to become what we did not have.

 

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#030: Coming to the Center (The Marriage Podcast Series – Part Four) [podcast]

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


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Kelly and Phil are getting a divorce.

The email from a mutual friend sharing the news hit me like a punch in the stomach.

Brandon and his dad are in deep contention. It’s the kind of painful, two-sided misunderstanding that could finally sever the strained relationship.

Tragic stories of ruptured relationships continue to stream into my world, and I’m sure into yours as well. My heart never builds resiliency. Rather, it seems to break even more with every fresh story.

But increasing ever more are the stories of restoration.

Resolution.

Resolve.

And many, through the miracle of validation—a practice of coming to the center of the soul of another—through which God’s life seems to flood in like morning sun.

This practice of seeking experiential heart knowledge of another for her or his own sake is perhaps one of the most courageous and loving acts a spouse, a friend, a sibling, or a parent can ever take.

I will go as far as to say that the breakthroughs in our marriage over the past 16 years have often been directly proportional to the process that has begun with my capacity to come to the center of the present reality of my wife’s soul. And to offer her the same access to mine in crazy, risky love.

In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas suggests,

The hidden dimension of each human life is not visible to others, nor is it fully graspable even by ourselves. We usually know very little about what moves in our own soul, the deepest level of our life, or what is driving it. Our ‘within’ is astonishingly complex and subtle.

And within this complex, hidden dimension is the power and possibility of love.

The practice of coming to the center of another involves putting aside—for a time—my own pain, my need, my presumption, and my agenda in order to know and enter into the experience of the hidden dimension of another for his or her own sake. It is a participation in the Life of Christ, who does unendingly what we intend to do for a moment: enter into the internal experience of another.

That is the space of transformation.

Join Cherie and me as we head back into deep waters.

Let’s become the kind of people—the kind of marriages—where we can cause the world to believe, as Paul says, though much is not as it should be, the Kingdom of God is growing. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, in us and through us. (Phil. 2:15, Col. 1:5-8)

This is the fourth of a marriage podcast series. If you haven’t heard the first three, I’d encourage you to start at the beginning.

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She Has My Delight

It all started with one shimmering pair of pink cowgirl boots.

My then two-year-old princess, clothed in her leotard, would tug them on with a grin, then twirl with delight. And melt this daddy-heart of mine.

A tradition began, inspired by a row of cowgirl boots I’d seen in the home of a mentor years before. Each Valentine’s Day, my Abigail and I now head out on a date for her to select a new pair of cowgirl boots for the year. This last trip, I shared with her my request that when the day comes for her to leave our nest, she is welcome to take with her all the pairs that still fit. But the ones she has outgrown—those she’ll leave for me so that I might savor the years long passed, treasuring our memories of daddy and daughter in my heart. To relish with both ache and longing the reminder C.S. Lewis offers to us parents:

“Children are not a distraction from work. They are the most important work.”

Today there are already more outgrown cowgirl boots on the shelf than my heart can readily bear.

As a wise elder once said,

The days are long, but the years are short.

Never has a truer word been spoken.

It’s been said we only become the fathers we long to be by fathering. In the wise words of Dan Allender, it’s children, after all, who raise parents.

I’m not yet the father I long to be. But I am the father she has today. And I choose to be here.

On this day, I still have her. She is nearly 10, and radiant. Brimming with life, beauty, wonder, questions, and emerging shoots of wisdom set to burst forth.

Several months ago, Abigail confided in Cherie that she wanted a “promise ring.” We are still not sure whence the inspiration came to her. Though I too had a ring in mind, my original intention was for this day to wait a few years. But I have learned too slowly,

“Many are the plans in the heart of a man. But is is the purposes of God that prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

To be a student of her heart is one of the great invitations and sacred trusts of my life, and the life of every dad.

Her heart is now asking deeper questions, wondering deeper things about the heart of her dad and the heart of her Father in Heaven. So this day has come upon me. And I choose again to roll the dice of parenting and venture along the frontier of mystery and risk. Perhaps, in the words of Roosevelt, I may fail as I often do—but at least I will fail by daring greatly.

Father, come.

What is the promise this ring is intended by Heaven to signify? I have heard of girls who are given a “purity ring” when they come of age. A ring that seems to carry a sense of their pledge to keep themselves sexually pure until they are married.

But that is not the ring I have in mind for Abigail.

The ring that I want to bestow upon her is not an effort to make her promise something to me. Rather, I want to give her a ring that would communicate my promise to her. What am I promising? After prayer and inquiring of my wife’s wisdom born of the decades, I sensed this was my promise:

I choose to never, ever revoke my delight in her.

No matter what. I will not conditionally wield my delight in an effort to conform her choices to my will. No, I offer her my delight and extend to her a sacred place in my heart without condition. I promise that my favor and delight will always be hers.

The day came for me to present this ring to her. And as I looked into her not-yet-10-year-old eyes, I glimpsed a flash of future moments reflecting back to me. I felt warm tears on my face. Then, with the rush of whitewater rapids, the scenes cascaded through my imagination:

The first was her driving away in a car with a young man I barely knew, heading off to a school dance.

The next was an aisle at a wedding. Her wedding…and an aisle the end of which I never wanted to come.

Then I saw her at my bedside. I was an old man. She was radiant, the splendor of her maturity altogether lovely, offering me care beyond words.

I was nearly overwhelmed by the emotion of these unexpected glimpses around the bend of time. I did everything to come back to the present moment. Storing these up as treasures in my heart, I endeavored to simply offer the portion that was for this moment on this day.

Abigail, this ring is the symbol of my promise and devotion.

You are the delight of my heart,

and I promise that I will never withdraw my delight from you.

Nothing you do or don’t do,

nothing you say or don’t say

will ever justify me withdrawing my delight from you

or closing my heart to you.

With this ring, I give you the promise of my delight.

You are the delight of your father’s heart.

And with this ring, I give you permission and invitation.

I invite you to tell me if you ever experience me withdrawing my delight.

I promise to listen to you and to respond.

It is my hope that God will one day provide a husband for you who will nourish and cultivate your feminine heart in all its depth and wonder.

Yet today this is my promise:

With my sword and my strength,

I am with you to the very end.

I will always protect and always provide.

You are safe.

You are loved.

You are known.

And you will never be alone.

You are the delight of your daddy’s heart.

Though my flesh and my heart at times will fail,

Our Father will always be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.

May this ring be to you a symbol of my enduring delight and the place you have in my heart that is yours and yours alone.

And with it, I pledge to always point you to our Father, who is the Father of us all.

May you experience Him chasing after you.

He has you, Abigail.

Your soul will always be safe in Him.

Boots and Ring-4

Hours later, I came into the house from a project in the garage to find her at her art table, creating another piece of beauty. I caught a sparkle from her ring in the afternoon light. Its shimmer compelled me upstairs to her childhood room to look at her collection of outgrown boots yet again.

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I felt the paradox of grief of years lost and the hope of what time I do have. I consecrated my life to God again, quietly and simply, as a daddy. And I asked Him to lead me, as if He were me, living my life. Asked His life to flow into me and through me to my daughter’s heart.

On this day and in this decade, I ask you, Father, would you guide me in bringing Your heart as Father to the heart of my little girl?

Father, I confess how often I blow it as a dad.  Father, I ask that where I lack maturity I might excel in affection and pursuit of her heart. I am deeply in need of growing as a student of her heart. Cultivate in me an increasing capacity to see her as You see her, to delight in her. Father, apprentice me to become the kind of father who is no longer capable of withdrawing my delight.

So that she might receive time and time again the miracle of validation—the gift of being known and received for who she truly is.

So that through me she might know You as Father, and in every circumstance, find rest and restoration for her vast and ever-expanding feminine soul.

Through my pursuit and my delight, by day and by decade, may her heart grow to know,

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring to a flourishing finish on the very day God appears again in his fullness…” (Philippians 1:6 MSG)

Abigail, may you and every daughter be able to say, from the depths of your being, far deeper than words,

I am the daughter of a King.

My Father is with me

And goes before me.

I will not fear.

Because

I am His.

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We are not yet who we will one day become. Yet we are the fathers they have today.

What will you do to communicate, to model your unconditional delight in your daughter?

What will you do to become the kind of father in a decade who offers even deeper delight to your daughter?


Justin – A special thanks to you for making these pictures possible. You capture soul with your camera and work in the unseen spaces in the lives of so many to bring light into darkness and to give voice to the sacred in all things. Thanks for your strength. It’s changing the world…

#029: Plank and Speck Wrap Up (The Marriage Series – Part Three) [Podcast]

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The offer is Life.

Yet that abundant life is often found in the least likely of places.

What is the most effective path toward the much looked-for restoration in the heart of your spouse?

Join Cherie and me in this second half of a conversation in which we reflect on the particular elements of Reality as Jesus reveals what can bring more life to our marriages than we ever thought possible.

Jesus, we choose to pause.

Jesus, we open the gate of our soul and trust that You are reliable and fully capable of providing a way where there is no way.

In this episode we offer some reflection questions for deep consideration. Take the time to stay with God in those questions until you are led into the more He is making available.

With deep anticipation,

Cherie and Morgan

Note: If you haven’t listened to the first portion of this conversation on The Plank and the Speck, you’ll want to start here first.

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#028: Plank and Speck (The Marriage Series – Part Two) [Podcast]

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Jesus and His words… are essentially subversive of the established arrangements and ways of thinking. That is clear from the way they first entered the world, their initial effects, and how they are preserved in the New Testament writings and live on in people. He himself described his words as “spirit and life” (John 6:63). They invade our “real” world with a reality even more real than it is.

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

Where are Jesus and His words subverting your established arrangements and ways of thinking? How are His words and way invading your “real” world with a reality more real than it is?

A mentor encouraged Cherie and me to immerse ourselves in the four Gospels, taking our places as Jesus’ apprentices, attentive to what He said and taught. We are discovering much treasure, including Jesus’ teaching on what is wonderfully Well in the Reality of the Trinity; and we are discovering much challenge, including sobering insight into what is still unwell within and between us, where is it not “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Yet even in the revelation of what is unwell, Jesus’ words insist on the Good News that the Kingdom is open to us right here and now, even in these places.

Particularly, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 on “the plank and the speck” has revealed something unwell in our marriage and illuminated a way back into the joyous Kingdom-Among-Us.

Join Cherie and me in this second episode of conversations reflecting on the particular elements of Reality as Jesus reveals that are becoming the new and reliable foundation for the house of our marriage.

Jesus, we give You permission to subvert us. Open our eyes, subversive Christ.

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#027: Venturing Toward the More (The Marriage Series – Part One) [Podcast]

 

If we are relational to our core, fashioned in the image of the One who is Three, then it is in dynamic relationship that we participate in the unending Life of God. And among human relationships, there is none more brimming with the loving potential to both expose our “not yet” and to beckon us forward than marriage.  

In The Mystery of Marriage, Mike Mason writes,

The book of Proverbs as a whole takes a view of marriage that remains proverbial to this day: there is nothing in the world worse than a bad marriage, and at the same time, nothing better than a good one.

Man, if we haven’t tasted that truth, for better and for worse.

As we reflect on our marriage and on the stories others have shared with us, we hear Love’s offer that pain need not be the final word. Rather, we are finding that the pain in our marriage is becoming a spiritual trailhead of sorts, inaugurating a journey to increasing expanses of goodness and life.

“You are a rare couple. You are choosing not to just phone in some prescription and call it good enough.”  

These were the words that marriage counselor spoke into the lives of good friends of ours last week. When my buddy shared them with me yesterday, they became a mirror, causing me to inquire in my own soul—could the same words be spoken of my marriage? I was reminded of how much easier it is—at least in the short term—to settle, find some medication for the pain we experience in our marriage, and simply call it good enough. It is far riskier to let the pain be a teacher, guiding us to risk both the belief and the action toward choosing the more.

Our friends’ choice for more surfaces a question: Am I willing to forsake the shallow waters of good enough and set out into deeper waters where it is all frontier?

Seventeen years ago, having very little acquaintance with what it really meant, Cherie and I included the following poem by Sir Frances Drake on the final page of our wedding program.  

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, 

when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, 

when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore. 


Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; 

when having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity;

and when in our efforts to build a new earth, 

we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. 


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, 
where storms will show your mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. 
We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, 
and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. 

Now, with a bit more experience, more pockets of pain, and yet a growing vision of the Goodness of Trinitarian Reality, we take hold of these words afresh, drawn forward by the promise that we do not go alone. There is one who offers His kind, competent—though unnerving—leadership if we are willing to follow.

Our need is great: there is much that is hindering love. We are in need of deeper submersion into the Life of the Trinity; we are in need of the continual exposure of our imposing blind spots; we are in need of deliverance from our vast entanglements with the narrow self-life and all the harm it brings to us and to our marriage.

Yet our hope is greater still: we want it all, the full portion of what is available between a man and a woman in marriage.

We want to uncover and experience all the treasure hidden in this mysterious union as two become one: all of the transformation, joy, co-creativity, ecstasy, play, intimacy, shared mission, and unending giving and receiving of love, honor, cherishing, and delight that is available.

In the spirit of a shared expedition, with joy and a healthy dose of trepidation, Cherie and I offer this series of Become Good Soil podcasts as we venture out toward the more in our marriage.

Together may we seek, ask, and knock unceasingly in order that as it is in the Trinity who is Love, it might be in us and between us and through us.   

God, you have our yes.

And, friends, we invite you to set sail into deeper waters with us as we all risk believing there is more.

With all our hearts and hope,

Morgan and Cherie


Looking to go deeper into the mystery and possibility of the full portion in marriage? Consider these onramps to the Narrow Road.

Intimate Allies by Dan Allender

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Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

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Love and War Video Series

Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason

 

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