Archive for May, 2016

beautiful dreamers

May 31, 2016 10 comments


IMG_5671You knew it the second you crossed the border. No disrespect, but it’s like a dream-ish time warp. It’s not the slow boil of a frog in water analogy. It’s hot grease verses pinky flesh, in an instant, kicking and screaming different. Hello Cambodia. So, this is how you roll?

We walked across the border from Thailand. The afternoon sun poached us up real nice (hundred plus with 95 percent humidity). Sweat was a full-body symphony. Order was out the window. Clean streets and evident prosperity were on the other side from where we came. This was very different. It required a different gear, another level of patience, and a different way of seeing things.

IMG_9751It was indeed a sensory overload moment that I’ll never forget, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t inject here that Cambodia is filled with the beautiful too. There are ugly things in just about every country on this planet. Trafficking, prostitution, and glue-sniffing kids are not just Asian issues. Cambodia does have its share of hurt, but to be fair, First World citizens are just better at hiding what’s not so beautiful. The poorer places aren’t as slick in what they’re able to hide. It’s much easier to exploit in the Third World, and desperation camps out on the back porch constantly. So, there is no reason for us to ever be haughty. Should we be concerned and willing to help? Always. Offended and put off? Never.

IMG_9947The team of guys I was with are regular visitors to the country. They smoothed out most of the transitional edges, but you still felt the culture. It’s like walking into a spider’s web. It’s all over you before you even see it. As we were indoctrinated about the people, we were also exposed to a simple philosophy of planting seed for future change. People in Cambodia don’t dream for change. It’s too painful. They survive. So instead of pushing a major religious agenda, this little band of brothers cultivates dreams for change. Oh yeah, it’s a Jesus thing that sits on the strong legs of compassion and the substance of Jesus’ love. But ultimately, their vision is for the most tender incubation of playing children. Science suggests that playing children are much more creative with their imaginations. This is the perfect environment for the natural and practical stimulation of creative change inside the minds and hearts of Cambodia’s most precious resource: CHILDREN.

IMG_9229Finding playgrounds in Cambodia is like looking for ice in the Gobi desert. It’s a non-existent thing. So, my friends Mark Roye and Mike Lynch ( are doing their part to be agents of change. It was a privilege to witness their work.

I barely know which end of a hammer to grab, but I made a pretty good go-fer. In 31 years of ministry, I’ve never been a part of anything like this. It was beyond way kewl. Seven American gringos, one Canadian, one Australian, and four Cambodians built a quality playground. And strange as it may seem, the kids just knew what to do when the project was nearing completion. Like ducks to water, the IMG_9892waves of smiles, laughs and screams were instantaneous! It’s a costly roll of the dice, but Compassion Acts’ hope breeds the faith that the investment will produce great fruit. Their dream is that Cambodian children will dream. Not like we dream, but as we dream. We dream about me. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I succeed? What’s my next adventure? Cambodia needs children who dream way beyond our norms. The hope is that Cambodian children will dream about their country, its people, and its future change. Here’s to the simple planted seeds of future dreamers.  Cheers IMG_9899Cambodia! You indeed are filled with beautiful dreamers.

Thank you for all you do for us!  You helped make this happen.

Love you all!

MDP  xo

Here’s a time-lapse video that shows the process.  Enjoy!

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May 3, 2016 10 comments

Since the move to Colorado, I’ve tried to do more long walks outside instead of only working out in the gym. We live in an area that provides ample views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range, so being outside (if it’s not 25 degrees, cloudy, with 30 mph winds) has its sensory advantages.

But, we weren’t in Colorado last week. We were in Texas. The good thing about small towns is that you can be in the country within minutes. That is especially true around McGregor. Rich farmland surrounds the community. From McTown, a five-minute ride in any direction puts you in the middle of black dirt heaven. The wheat fields and wildflowers normally dominate this time of year, so it’s a good time to get outside. It’s green everywhere in Tejas right now.

So I did that last Sunday morning. I went for a long walk. I had my mom drive me out of town and let me out at the desired mileage marker. After mom drove away, I lay in the middle of the road and did some stretching. It was quiet. Nice. I was alone. Just what I had hoped for.

grassI made a few calibrations on my phone and popped in the ear buds. While walking briskly I noticed that the recent rains had really stimulated the grass growth. Most everything was some variety of green. The gentle breezes caused the carpets of grass to sway and swing. Every gust moved the grasses with memorizing motion. I was really dialed into the podcast, so I primarily focused on the teaching, but I do remember thinking that there is nothing but grass for the next five miles. Long, green grass.

After about 30 minutes of absorbing the podcast, I noticed I could barely hear the podcast any longer. There were sounds of birds, grasshoppers, frogs, and crickets. It got so loud that I took the ear buds out of my ears. Suddenly I was aware that I wasn’t alone. There was a whole variety of smells and sounds that I guess I had been ignoring. Then I realized that down in the tall grass and weeds, the Texas wildflowers were everywhere. Indian Paintbrushes, Bluebonnets, Buttercups, Blue-eyed grass, Black-eyed Susan, Mexican Hat, Indian Blankets, Thistle blooms, Winecups, and Mountain Pink. The colors and smells were spectacular.

I had only been looking down the road towards the next turn. That perspective facilitated only one visual aspect of what was around me. As I’ve already mentioned, the long grass was standing above everything else. In the distance, all I could see was green grass. But when I started looking at what was immediately around me, I could see the hidden color exploding everywhere. The butterflies and bees were doing their thing. The crows, dove, cowbirds, Red-tail Hawks, and Scissortails were putting on a clinic. I am usually pretty good at taking in what’s around me, but for some reason there was a whole nature drama thing happening right under my feet, and because I was focused elsewhere, I almost missed it.

I don’t usually quote or think about scripture in such reflective moments, but a passage did surface in my mind. I spoke out loud, “The whole earth really is filled with His glory.” It wasn’t so much that I felt God’s presence in all of that, but I was aware that His creation is still paying dividends. I know we know a great deal about how things work on this big ball we live on, but the fact that man has only been drawing, photographing, recording, and sampling the goods on earth for a relatively small window of time is argument enough for me that He is good with man’s brief taste of the goods, but the overall show of glory was for His own delight. He’s enjoyed earth and its changes for billions of years.

I feel we children of God are mostly naïve and misguided by our presuppositions of what we call our walk with God. I do think we’re sometimes sincere, sometimes not, and mostly we just follow the bouncing ball without any direction at all about what we’re to do if the ball actually lands in our laps. Indeed, there is a good chance the whole earth is filled with His glory, and that challenges me to tap into that—whatever it is. I want to slow down on my assumptions of what I think that means. Sure, there are some tares in the wheat, but there’s also beauty in the weeds and long grass. What you usually see or don’t see kind of depends on what you’re looking for.

I’ll end with this: don’t be so sure your mission is His mission. Don’t be so focused on “out there” that you can’t be effective in here (and visa versa). Don’t dismiss the weeds. There could be some unexpected or unexplainable glory just waiting for you to discover as you tackle the daily grind. You don’t have to be on an exotic adventure to uncover His wildly glorious creation or His sacred purpose for your life. Look closer. It could be right where you are or right where you’ve always been. I have found that to be more true about my own life than not.

Oh yeah, if you thought I was going to talk about the “grass” in Colorado, sorry to disappoint. In that context, that’s a whole other conversation. Maybe, next time. : )

Love you all,


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