Grand Slam

It was my sister, but come on, it’s been over a week.

Today, I gave my wife, Brenda, permission to give a me a Cher-like slap to the face saying, “Snap out of it.”

I have buried two parents. My wife lost a brother. We’ve been down the road before, so why has this loss hit me so significantly.

It’s a grand slam. First, it’s my little sister. Second, I’m the last one standing in the family. Third, she didn’t have a husband or local family, other than me. And fourth, sliding into home (literally), is the the PTSD around alcohol and my family that has existed my whole life.

First Base. As a big brother, you have this birthright responsibility to protect your younger siblings. I wasn’t able to do so here. What did I know? Should I have seen warning signs? How could I have helped? Was I enough of an advocate? For the most part, I feel like the “Yes’s” and the “No’s” align to the appropriate question, but those queries still bounce around in my head.

Rachelle’s health had been a struggle for years, according to her bedside doctors. The few signs I saw this spring, would not have made a difference. We had seen Rachelle monthly for haircuts, but during the pandemic, she was not comfortable coming over. That loss of regular connection resulted in not seeing any signs. Intermittent visits left intermittent excuses.

Rachelle cutting our daughter’s hair for her wedding.

Second Base. From my family dinner table, I’m the last one standing. That just feels odd. We didn’t have a close extended family. I have an aunt and a couple cousins in California but most family have passed. Fortunately, I have married into a very large and well-connected family. All the while, I have felt “orphanish” since my last parent passed in 2004 and that feeling is only heightened in this season.

Third Base. Rachelle lived with a man for many years, but was not married. Her one daughter is young and lives out of state. I’ve been the arbiter between boyfriend and family, everyone and hospital, and am now figuring out how to wrap everything up and honor Rachelle well. I have received the emotional texts and phone calls, absorbed the tears, figured out the finances and tried to lift it all up to the Lord.

And sadly, Home. Everyone from my childhood dinner table had issues with addiction. I have co-journeyed through those addictions. My dad was the temper-filled drinker of my childhood. My poor mother, could never shake the demon that was alcoholism. I remember her drinking as a toddler and I certainly remember the upheaval of her drinking in my early adult years. These are not happy memories.

With our family journey, certainly neither me or my sister would have issues with alcohol. It’s too obvious. It’s full of negative energy. Co-dependency is a bear.

Who am I to complain? Life is hard. Death is real. Thank God for the health in me and my family. Thank God for the opportunity to experience Jesus in new ways. Thank God for the journey that I am on.

Dad passed in 1997 at 63. Mom passed in 2004 at 62. And my sister just died at 54. Bam, bam and boom.

Rounding the bases this time has been hard. There is no celebrating this grand slam.


Two-Word Text

I was explaining to a long-time accomplice that in my sister’s passing, I was trusting God to be the God of Grace.

Rachelle could describe herself as the “prodigal daughter.” IYKYK. Let’s just say, she squeezed a lot of life into that tiny, 54-year old body. Shoot, there was a TV show made about parts of it.

While she had received salvation and confirmed it on her death bed, she had not spent much time “measuring up” to our American church-going standard. The stuff of sanctification was slight.

Earlier this week, before her passing, I prayed for the God of Grace to meet Rachelle. That she would be welcomed by a God FULL of grace. That just this once, He may not check the tapes. There’d be no medical exam. That the God of Grace would welcome my lil’ sis.

My friend answer my statement with a two-word text:

“God ran.”

God ran. Two words with so much power. The most powerful sentence maybe ever constructed. The Pronoun and a verb, of which there may not be more life, smile, power, or energy. God ran.

I shared these two words with a number of friends. One of them said, slyly, “We’ll, you can take that two ways, right?”

The words barely touched my ears, responding, “God’s character demands only one way.” (I probably said it more “preachy” then you are reading it).

God never runs away. If you turn toward Him, He always runs toward you. God is always and entirely The God of Grace.

We can try to get our arguments together like the young lost son of Luke 15, but God waits and watches. When you break the horizon, He runs, hugs, kisses, does not check the records or listen to your case. He throws a party.

That is what happened an Thursday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. A failing-kidney, racked-liver, hard-living blonde bombshell turned from this world to the next and she made no other move.

God ran.

New CEO’s First Day on the Job

Jacinta CEO Intro Long
This comes from the Life on the Rutledge monthly enewsletter that gives short blurbs about the ministries with which Mason is involved.  Subscribe.  You can do so by clicking here.
January was a monumental month in the long history of CRISTA Ministries. It isn’t often that we transition between CEOs. CRISTA Ministries has only had six CEOs in its 69-year history. History was also made because we now have our first female CEO of CRISTA Ministries. On January 15, Jacinta Tegman took over the helm.
Vice Chair of the CRISTA Board, Jill Going, introduced Jacinta to the CRISTA employees the morning of her first day. It was a tremendous celebration and opportunity for Jacinta to share her vision.  You can watch the entire CEO introduction and Jacinta’s speech by clicking here.

Jacinta outlined “God’s plan for CRISTA.” She talked about her long history on the campus. How as a young teenager she worked in the laundry for just a few spending dollars. She shared the history of the campus, going back to the pre-CRISTA years, when the campus was a tuberculosis sanatorium. She talked about how this property became a place of hope in a difficult time for people being challenged and outcast by society.

Jacinta reminder the employees that while we are an organization that operates with professionalism and excellence, we are more than just an organization. “We are CRISTA Ministries,” she said, “not CRISTA Industries.”

And what does it mean to be CRISTA Ministries in this new era? Jacinta outlined four points to our common calling:

  1. Serve and Love God – “Our first ministry is to Him and to be transformed by His love, mercy and grace.”
  2. Serve in Mission – “We are called to serve needs. It’s as relevant in 2019 as it was 70-years ago…Ministry means service.”
  3. Service to Each Other – “We must trust the potential in each of us.”
  4. Service to Community and World – “Let us step into the world’s pain and make a lasting difference in Jesus name.”
It was a powerful first day on the job. In the campus’ long history – before titles, organizations or jobs – it was evident that God has been active in this place. “We don’t do the work of God,” Jacinta said. “We join in the work of God. This is a ministry to serve the needs of people with the love of God.”
“We are in the business of hope and the world is starving for it,” Jacinta concluded. “Let us be brokers of hope.”

Seattle-King County Prayer Breakfast: Intergenerational Leadership

One of the primary ways God is moving in Western Washington is in the integration of faith in the workplace.  The human construct of “ministry” as pastor or parish has been replaced by ministry reflected in your place and profession.

The movement has grown through the careful curating of business leaders, genuinely responsive church leadership (way to go, First Presbyterian Bellevue) and a handful of organizations, like KIROS or C3 Forum.

Prayer BreakfastThe Christmas or Easter event of this movement is the annual Seattle-King County Prayer Breakfast.  These attendees may be on the fringe of a C3 group or occasionally attend a KIROS breakfast, but the Seattle-King County Prayer Breakfast they attend regularly.

This year’s Prayer Breakfast was held this morning at the Seattle Sheraton.

The targeted purpose of this year’s event was intergenerational friendship.  It was stated that the average age of Seattle is 35-years old.  Young professionals are streaming into the region for new jobs and the Northwest lifestyle.  They are moving into the neighborhoods of a long-term population made up of experienced leaders steeped in generosity and innovation.  It is in this unique mix that the Prayer Breakfast invited us to engage.  There is a grand opportunity for generation-to-generation impact.

The keynote was from long-time Seattle attorney, Skip Li.  Here are a few of my notes from his talk…

Intergenerational Friendships

  • I found in these (intergenerational) friendships, like a love relationship, that there is a discovery process.
  • The deeper I get into (intergenerational) friendships, the more I learn about myself…I learn what I need to act on in my life.
  • Investment is the wrong word for a friendship with a young person…Friendship works in the exact opposite actions of exchange, agenda.
  • Skip offered his “Four Rules” here.  He did them so fast that I will have to post them after I am able to find them elsewhere…like maybe the bathroom of the Ave. House where he said they were posted.

Need for Development of Moral Intelligence

  • Moral compasses are so skewed today that they no longer function in the world.
  • We live in a bewildering moral wilderness…church or family can only take you so far…So, how do you do it?
  • Moral intelligence is the ability to live life doing the right thing regardless of the current environment.
  • Moral intelligence finds a way of out of confusion…It uses these roads:
    • The Road of Humility,
    • The Road of Sacrifice and
    • The Road of Faith… Roads that our culture long ago abandoned.


  • Remember the poor.
  • Pray for the poor.
  • Psalm 71.17-18

It was a powerful message and echoed in the introduction offered by Senior Associate of Centered, Jeff Vancil, “Don’t underestimate the power of simple friendship – it is the strategy of God.”

Everyday Crazy Goods

It was a week ago today that I posted a prayer shared by a friend, “God, do something crazy good today.”  There was a strong response on the Facebook…”Everyday,” “Please God,” “He did,” “Love it,” “Perspective,” “I’m going to try this too.”

Was there a strong response from God?  Well, I didn’t win the lottery.  I had to go to work.  I’m still 20 pounds overweight.  If you look at the general state of my life today before I started this new daily ritual, the conclusion would probably be, “No.”

The Crazy Good that God offered this week wasn’t in the ease of my life, size of my bank account or physical physique.

With each daily prayer the answer has come in significant conversations and deeper relationships.  It was found in a…

  • breakfast with a former co-worker, hearing his vision for a new business venture,
  • former Young Life kid, approaching their 25th high school reunion, and talking to Brenda and I about their marriage,
  • watching one son encourage another with a smile and “atta boy,”
  • long phone call with a childhood friend on vacation in the sun,Brenda Brunch 2
  • conversation with a business owner, just met during a breakfast meeting,
  • Saturday spent away from home with Brenda on a long-walk, Bloody Mary’s, brunch and a nap.

When I pray, “God, do crazy good today,” I can assure you that this is not the unanswered vignettes that rest in the back of my brain.  In today’s My Utmost for His Highest entry, Oswald Chambers wrote, life can become “a spiritual acrobatic performance high atop a steeple.”  It is in this precarious position that we cannot operate freely responding to His leading.  Instead we “cling to it, trying to maintain your balance and daring not to move.”

God didn’t put me in a precarious position.  He placed me in relationships, where I can move naturally and with His grace.

I wouldn’t mind a lottery win.  I have a mentor who buys one lottery ticket each week, just so “God can move, if He so chooses.”  Until then, lets keep looking at the people that God puts right in front of us and find the Crazy Good in those conversations.

Notes from C3 Forum Leaders Retreat

This weekend I attended the C3 Forum Leaders Retreat at Alderbrook Resort with a number of good friends.  Here are a few notes from the time. These aren’t all of my notes but the notes of note, if you will.  Those in italics were even more significant to me.  I hope you find them helpful and encouraging.

Cary Summers, Museum of the Bible

God has put things/callings into you, but you are just not getting to it.

Who will go for me? – Isaiah 6:8

When God speaks the next thing we say or do is our answer.

  • This will determine the course of your life forever
  • Living in His manifest of His presence.
  • Live in the manifest of His presence.
  • All of us will have to answer.  There is no out, you must answer.

Your calling will involved a “customer”

Run to the goal line and die doing it – A statement against retirement.

“It will be a hoot and a holler” – Dolly Parton

Nehemiah made himself available.

  • Are you in God’s deal?
  • When you are in God’s deal, the rules (math, time, everything) change.

God do something crazy good today – Cary’s daily prayer.

  • God is going to do it
  • If you are willing to submit to Him
  • You can’t explain these moves

Sticking to the Vision – the following timeline of challenges will roll out…

  1. It will start by being Opposed.
  2. Then there will be Mocking.
  3. Conspiracy.
  4. Discouragement will set in.  Know this, God is not a God of discouragement.  He is a God of encouragement.  If you are discouraged, that is from elsewhere.  It is not from God.
  5. Scare Tactics will happen.
  6. Internal Strife.
  7. Hidden Agendas will develop.
  8. Diversion.
  9. Slander
  10. The last step is Compromise — What will be compromised…
    • Finances
    • Worship
    • Relationships

Engage Great People.

God puts the “steel” in you when it is just the two of you together.

If your vision is right, God will use you to touch others hearts.

We are running 100 miles an hour to get to the starting line.

Quality Negotiation

  • Negotiate with your shoes off.  Enter their culture and honor them in the process.
  • Don’t have a McDonald’s philosophy.  Good negotiation takes years and years of drinking coffee.  It’s not a “grab-and-go” drive-thru kind of deal.

Three Key Principles to Success

  • Hire good people and trust them
  • It’s not about us, it all about God.
  • “I wrote the last chapter,” God.


David Gibbons, Pastor/Artist/Consultant

God is doing something new.

Are we sleeping while awake?

Pain Continuim

  1. We try to cover our pain
  2. Then, as we progress, we Confess our pain
  3. We learn to Embrace our pain/brokenness
  4. The pain can become a Guide – The primary determination of our purpose is our pain – suffering.
  5. It can become a gift. – Most of us won’t get close to God without pain.

Stages of Innovation

  1. Echo – Like a child repeating words to learn.
  2. Experimentation
  3. Emergence – Where we find the essence.
  4. Entropy – It’s bare, simple and there is a lac of order.
  5. Elixir – We finally find the “magic” and this can sustain the innovation for life.
  6. Elegance – We need to learn to dance in the now, enjoying the creation.
  7. Exponential – Growing.

Don’t pick your box too small because you are going to live in it.

The church can create a vortex within it’s building that just keeps pulling it’s people to the center of the building rather than sending them out to the world.

Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing.

Do you know who you are?

The main movement in life is from illusions to reality – Parker Palmer

If you start relating to the people, God will show you the person, the one.

The first face I’m going to see is Jesus – teenage blind girl.


You are called.  You are your calling.

I can feel like a carrier pigeon.  I carry the message but it’s not for me.

Not a Political Post

first-presWalking to church on Sunday, my wife and I discussed the issues of the day.  Knowing I’m a prolific poster, she warned, “If you post anything political, I’m going to be very, very angry.”  She didn’t say she’d be “mad,” but “angry.”  I got my sermon early that morning.

So this is not a political post.  You see, Brenda is my check and balance.  She is the one that saves my sanity in my swirling head and heart of designs and dreams.  She knows the questions to ask.  She knows when to ask them.  She asks them appropriately.  She’s earned my utmost respect by both position, as my spouse, and performance, as a 25-year proven partner in life.

So this is not a political post.  You see, this morning I am thankful for checks and balances.  This is especially true in our world where thoughts, ideas and opinions can shoot off unchecked.  Therefore our society has appropriately developed checks and balances.  These systems not only have positional authority, but have also proven themselves through decades of performance.

As a citizen of the West Coast of the United States and having earned a minor in Political Science from the Washington State University (impressive, I know), I have certainly known of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  I’ve known of them, but I have not supported them.

This week that changed.  I have prayed for the 9th Circuit Court more this week than I ever have in my life.  The bar wasn’t real high to start.  I don’t know if I’ve ever decidedly prayed for any court.  This week I prayed.

My prayer was very simple.  I prayed for wisdom.  These are wise people that were selected by wise people.  I prayed that their wisdom would shine bright.

I’m thankful for the checks and balances in my life and our world.  In writing this post today, this could look like I’m making a statement about the issue.  That is not the case.  I could have just as easily written this post yesterday morning or early this week.  The thankfulness of checks and balances holds true…and that is why this is not a political post.

Whew.  Glad no one is angry.

Taking Notes… at Funerals

Yes, funerals are a time to stand with friends who are going through this most significant of separations.  Of course, it’s also a time to honor the deceased.  I have also found that funerals are a time to reflect, review, receive and reorientate.  It’s therapeutic.

taking-notesI take notes at funerals. Nicknames, stories, Bible verses, quotes, themes.  I write it all down.  The notes help me ingrain the lessons in my own brain.

This last weekend I attended two memorials.  The first was a 56-year old man who died of brain cancer after a fairly short battle.  The other was a 77-year old man who suffered a heart attack. Two men who lived a whole-lot-of life and were taken far too soon from their grace-filled work on this Earth.

The 57-year old, Kelly, lived with a welcoming style that I’d like to emulate.  The style was literally style.  I’d seen him at home, work and in volunteering and he always looked sharp.  His style wasn’t hauty. It was honoring.  It spoke to the excellence he brought to the world.  The well-dressed can be anything but welcoming.  That was not the case here.  Anyone who knew Kelly talked about he changed a room with his presence, referenced at the memorial, “the Woo.”  His nephew even called him, “Up-man,” because Uncle Kelly helped him up the stairs as a toddler.  Kelly helped every man and woman “up.”

Seventy-seven years is a good, long run, but I am still amazed by the amount of life lived by Don.  He impacted lives in Alaska, Croatia, Bainbridge Island, Seattle, North Korea, Chile, Skagit Valley and where he died in Palm Springs.  He really didn’t have a plan for any of these places.  He was present and available to people and his strategy was simply “Jesus.”  As shared at the memorial, Don would say, “Jesus is the plan.” It’s incredibly kooky and it’s incredibly keen.  “God’s way is upside down.” Speakers at Don’s funeral talked about how his work would continue in North Korea and Croatia.  His simple plan worked.

My notes taken on two funeral bulletins about two brothers have been breathed in…as have the lives of two incredible men.  I learned from their in life…and with my pen while sitting in the pew.

Learning to Dive

Rockridge DiveThis picture captures so much of what is so great about summer camping with teenagers.  It is 9th-grade campers learning to dive at Rockridge Canyon in Canada.

At camp, these guys feel the freedom to be a kid, learn and explore without the pressures of back home.  They don’t have to fit into some role or be set in their ways.  These guys didn’t know how to dive, wanted to learn and they and their leader grabbed a college-aged lifeguard who taught them how to dive.

A key principle to effective summer camping with kids is, “Do new things, think new thoughts.”  This is why you see camping properties with ropes courses, horses, waterski boat and motorbikes.  These aren’t just actives to pass the time.  It is proven true that as kids experience new things in the physical world their minds (and hearts) and opened to things in the mental and spiritual worlds.

By the end of his private training session these guys were diving off the diving board…and so was I (I joined in the lesson…watching the 51-year old learning to dive was worth the price of camp).  Now we weren’t perfect and most of us were overrating on one foot, but we learned.  In the future we will all point back to the day that we learned to dive on a hot day in the Okanagan.

I don’t know these guys’ spiritual story, but I know that by learning to make that dive, they are more open to considering the big “dives” of life.

Why World Concern for Me?

World Concern LogoAs you may have seen on social media, I joined the team at World Concern, a ministry of CRISTA.  This was the conclusion of a five-month process of one-on-one meetings and interivews (you can read more about this process in previous posts).  This process was more than just looking for the right job; I was looking for the right fit.

So what made World Concern the right fit for me?

First, they are a human service agency that leads with Jesus.  Yes, they are involved in child protection/education, improving livelihoods, economic development, disaster relief, water, non-clinical health and nutrition.  As are many organizations.  A key differentiator of World Concern is that all of the work is done, first and foremost, in the name of Jesus.  Our faith compels us to extend opportunity and hope to people facing the most profound human challenges of extreme poverty.

Second, my mission has always been hard to reach audiences; a.k.a. “the furthest out kid.”   World Concern isn’t operating in just any country, but in the most difficult to reach.  Brenda and I were talking about it this weekend.  I asked, “Somalia?  South Sudan?  How is that even possible?”  She answered, “The Lord” (I’m so thankful for that wife of mine).  World Concern works with the poorest of the poor in the most difficult and hard to reach places at the end of the road, outside of mainstream humanitarian aid, to provide holistic and sustainable solutions.

My mission work has also been incarnational.  God’s model of missions is to move into the neighborhood.  The best work is not done by someone from out of town.  World Concern has just over 576 internationally-based staff in 13 countries.  First, just do the math on those stats.  World Concern goes deep.  Now get this…this stat is shocking to me.  Of those 576 employees based overseas, how many do you think are expatriates (a person living outside their native country)?

FIVE.  Five.  Can you believe that?  And one is a German, only four folks from the United States.  This is an incarnational mission.  World Concern hasn’t puffed itself up by sending Americans overseas.  This is a mission that is built on local citizens that are concerned for their communities.  They speak the language.  They know the customs.  They are actually less expensive to employee.  They know everyone.  It’s the best model and it reflects God’s model.

As I shared yesterday, I have a family history at CRISTA.  My grandfather was here at the founding of the ministry.  My mom walked the grounds as a kid and later served in her final years at CRISTA Senior Services as a nurse.  It’s good to be at a place where I have such deep roots.

I may have some history, but after 20+ years in the same organization.  This is a new organization and a new line of work.  My primary role is to help donors see the impact of their gifts and have a greater vision for Christ’s redemptive, holistic work in the world.  As a new line of work, in a new organization, it is going to be a challenge.  I’m committed to be a life-long learner, so I’m excited about the prospect of growing, trying new things, stretching new “muscles.”

Finally, it’s a gift to work for an organization and it’s leadership that actually wants my gifts and abilities.  In the job search process, I was entirely honest with who I am and what I bring to the table.  I’m aggressive.  I get after it.  I had one interview team that did not like that quality.  At first, I was apologetic and then I realized, God created me to be intentional, aka aggressive.  The leadership here has embraced my flat sides and my strengths.  In just two days of work and a few hours of interviews, I already feel affirmed for who I am and a strong sense that my gifts fit the organization’s needs.

Out of all these reasons, I did leave out one significant point…  God has called me.  That is clear.  I’m excited about to call the mission of World Concern home.