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.

CRISTA’s Prayer Week

Draw Near to God

This article 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.

This week is the annual Prayer Week on the CRISTA Campus and in CRISTA’s ministries around the world. Above, you can see the banner on the front of Martin Center. This week is set aside in the CRISTA calendar for designated times of prayer.

New CRISTA CEO Jacinta Tegman wrote, “As we prepare our hearts to come together in our week of prayer, it is my prayer that the Lord will open our eyes to understand His mighty protective heavenly army surrounding us… And, I pray that the Lord will grow our faith to do whatever He asks us to do knowing we are not alone in the battles we face. God is indeed with us.”

The theme for the week of prayer is “Draw Near to God.” Each day this week, the staff will gather for an hour of designated prayer for a specific ministry. This time includes prayer walks around the campus and specific prayer requests from the field. The time is rich and much needed in the challenging world of helping ministries in a hurting world.

Friday afternoon, students go home, offices close and only the most necessary of staff continue in their physical work efforts. The rest of us will gather in the auditorium for a few hours in the spiritual work of guided prayer.

We greatly value prayer in our personal lives, in our vocational work and in our organization. It is a thread through all that we do. This is simply our week to remind us of this central focus.

We want you to join us for any of our corporate times of prayer. The best time to join us would be for the Concert of Prayer on Friday afternoon in Schirmer Auditorium from 1 to 4 p.m. There are also daily prayer times. There are various times to pray for the different ministries. Shoot me an email for more information or to RSVP for any of the prayer times…

Please prayer for us as we focus corporately together on prayer. Thank you.

Good, Perfect, Pleasing Non-Balance

Two kids were arguing over cookies. The third was at gymnastics. Her bag was sprawled out on the floor. Husband just completed his masters. She is getting ready to enter into a new community project. This young neighbor, leader and friend said, “I can pick your brain…How do you balance it?”


Before meeting her at the coffee shop, I had led a Bible study on the end of Romans 11 — “Everything is from God, through God, for God and to His glory.” It’s all His. That is the calibration of the “life scale.” All His — from, though, for and to.

We talked for a bit and I threw out a few quips about how our family has tried to balance three decades in ministry, schools, sports, vacations, lawns and life on the Rutledge.

I ordered my coffee and headed to my continuing study of Romans. Romans 12 starts, “Therefore…” In other words, “Now that you understand, know, comprehend what was just shared, here is the next step…”

With all that was said at the end of verse 11, we now have the opportunity “by God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.”

As I read, I’m reflecting back to my simple discussion of balance. Again to properly calibrate the scale, it’s “All His” on one side and “Living Sacrifice” on the other.

With this targeted reality, where do we even get the concept of a balanced life? We get that picture from everyone else. “We could move out to the country so I can have horses.” “I cannot engage with my neighbor.” “Avoid the inner promptings to love or care because it might be awkward.” In other words, “conform to the pattern of this world”… the second verse of Romans 12.

So “How do you?” It starts at the end of Romans 12.2. It starts by knowing “His good, pleasing and perfect will.” The will of God may be complicated but there are a few priorities that can help us find balance in life. The famous NFL football coach, Vince Lombardi, would speak of God, family and football. He would tell his players that they are to love God, care for their family and “Give everything else to the Green Bay Packers.”

It’s not only clear from Vince. The Bible also make it clear that the base to a balance life is your relationship with God. It’s the foundation. You start to discover balance by having a regular relationship with your Creator.

StemsThe Bible’s greatest commandment says that you are to love God and love people. “People” starts with your family and your family starts with your marriage. Today, Vince would have said, “God, Marriage, Family, and Football.” If you are married, your primary earthly relationship is your spouse. Many, many people get out of balance because they lose this priority. They will blame “needy kids” or a “busy schedule” but the reality is they’ve lost this primary focus.

Then your kids. Young kids won’t fall out of priority because they cry or get into trouble. Older kids will quietly fade out of priority and into everything else.

With God, marriage and family properly prioritized, you can totally give everything else to your calling and community (note that I say “calling and community.” I believe that wherever you are is where you are called. It really doesn’t matter where you are or why you are there, you are there for a reason.)

So, balance? I am not sure it is the right question. There may be periods of balance, yes. For the most part, though, life in Christ is laying your life down for others.

That is not balanced, but if you have your priorities right, you will find it “good, perfect and pleasing.”

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.”

Wrap on the Ruts

mason-and-brenda-auctionI wrapped up writing the Ruts Series on with the close of January.  I still need to put a wrap on it.  This weekend I had someone ask about the series and I realized that it needed a summary or a conclusion to the series.

Thanks to those of you that have given positive feedback about the series.  It has been encouraging to hear how folks have discovered their own ruts and the need to find health, life and growth outside of those very ruts.  I am now walking with a handful of people that have launched their journey from the rut.  It’s nothing more than being a successful survivor and ensuring others that they’ll survive the jump as well.

For those of you that missed it, here is a summary of the seven-part series. You can also click on the date to get the entire post.

January 3 – The journey starts by choosing the high road.  It’s not the easiest road to take but take it, remain on it and enjoy the blessings that will come your way because of your choice.

January 4 – Relationships will change.  Be ready for it and understand the challenge.  You will lose some “friends.”  The good news is that there will be new, deep and fresh relationships that will develop during your transition.

January 6 – As you leave have top of mind the wonderful blessings that came from that job or experience.  Be thankful.  You may not want to, but choose thankfulness.

January 9 – The military has the principle of “Up or Out,” you are either moving up an organization or out.  If you aren’t moving up or have been passed over, it’s time to move on.  Don’t sit in the pain, discomfort, the unknowing but move onto the next great thing.

January 12 – As you transition, your “story” will have to be translated for the world to understand.  They won’t understand all of what you’ve done or for how long, so be prepared.  Prepare, adapt and tell about your journey well.

January 16 – Trust your gut.  This is especially true as you consider your future with an organization or business.  Listen to your instinct and don’t be afraid to ask questions based on what you are hearing.

January 23 – It was last but it was most important.  Remember that God has a plan.

It’s a step of faith. It’s a leap into unknown.  It’s a jump from safety and security.  When it’s time to get out of that “rut,” step, leap, jump.  I hope this series has encouraged you and, for some of you, helped you embrace the fact that you will be alright.

See you in what’s next.

Quadrant II Ideas

Yesterday I encouraged the importance of getting after Quadrant II ideas this week.  Quadrant II is from Stephen Covey’s book, “First Things First.”  You can read it by clicking here.

Quadrant II activities are the Important, Not Urgent activities that all of us have in our life.  Most of these activities never get done, but this week, the week between Christmas and New Years, is an ideal week to address these activities in your life, work and family.week-off

The truth is that most people completely relax during this week between Christmas and New Years.  Relaxing is good.  Never miss the chance to relax.  I just want to make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to use at least part of this comfortable week to prepare for 2017.

Today’s post will offer specific ideas that will address many people’s Quadrant II needs.  Here are some ideas…


  • Take a nap, if you need a nap.
  • Play.  Truly recreate.  Hike, walk, paint, snow shoe, draw, write, bike, ski, etc.  Whatever you like, do it.
  • Think.  Breathe.  Relax.
  • Take time to work on a personal vision statement…or think about what you want written on your tombstone (maybe a bit morbid, but very helpful).
  • Consider what you may do this coming year to improve your physical health.


  • Have coffee with a friend, someone that your really enjoy but don’t usually see.
  • Get together with a childhood friend.
  • Have friends over to your house for a potluck dinner.
  • Write a card to someone who could use the encouragement.
  • Reach out to someone you don’t know well but would like to get to know.  Invite them to lunch…you’re buying.
  • Plan a date night once a month with your spouse.  Be creative.  Put it on the calendar and protect that date.
  • If you have kids, plan a monthly “date night” with each of your kids.


  • Read a book that will enhance your spiritual life.
  • Take a long walk to pray and think.
  • Simply spend time thinking…nobody spends enough time just thinking.
  • Develop a system for praying specifically this coming year.
  • The best way to do these is to take a day away to pray, read, reflect and plan.

Around the house…

  • Do some deep cleaning…behind the washer and dryer, whipping down the kitchen cabinets, etc.
  • Check your cable/satellite plan.  Again, avoid the “up sell” (and they will try to give you more services).  Just make sure you have what you need at the best price.
  • Clean out the junk drawer(s)…we all have one or two.
  • Speaking of drawers, go through your underwear and throw out the bad ones.
  • Go through your closet and give away clothes you don’t need.  Personally give them to a neighbor in need.  This will bless you.
  • Check all of your secure documents, ie. wills, contracts, etc., are in a secure fire-proof box.
  • Does each car have an insurance card in it?
  • Is there a project you’ve been wanting to get after but just haven’t had time.

And this doesn’t even touch finances…

  • Check all of your insurances.  Do you have enough?  Set an appointment with your agent.
  • Get all of your information together for taxes.
  • Make sure that you have made any favorable financial moves before the 31st.
  • Check on your giving for the year.  Have you been a generous person?
  • Give.  Many non-profits thrive or just survive based on giving this year.  Be a blessing.

Around the office…

  • Clean your office…not just pick up but truly clean, as in dust.
  • Organize the files in your office…or just get loose papers in files.
  • Completely clear off your desk and whip it down.
  • Make sure your flat spaces are flat (ref. “Ordering Your Private World by )…desk top, shelves, tables, etc.
  • Clear off and reorganize any bulletin boards.
  • Select and change any calendars.


  • Check your cell plan.  Avoid the “up sell” but make sure you are getting the best deal and have the coverage you need.
  • Make sure all of your pictures are off cards or phones and properly stored and backed-up.
  • Take the time to pick out a few of your pictures from this year and print them, in a book or just as prints.
  • Ensure that your computer is properly backing up to the cloud.
    Take the time to learn how to use a new computer program.
  • Clean out your email inbox.
  • Delete old texts on your phone.
  • Check the Contacts on your computer and/0r phone.  Make sure the information is correct and that you have everyone you need.
  • Do a post-Christmas double check on your Christmas card list.
  • Organize the files on your computer.
  • Rework your passwords and your system to store the passwords securely.

Now I’ve overloaded you.  You can’t do all of these…shoot the week is already half done.  So, as you read the list, which ones catch your attention?  Do those.  Even just two or three of these items will help prep you for 2017.

What isn’t on this list?  What would you suggest to be done this year to prepare us for next year?

Work THIS Week

There is no week in your working year with more potential impact than this week.

Yes, the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  Yes, the week that most take vacation.  Yes, the week that so many are spending in warmer climates.  Yes, the week that has nothing but green drive-time commutes.  Yes, the week in which most are watching football, getting bored with their Christmas gifts and finishing off the Holiday sweets.

This week has massive potential for your coming year, 2017…IF you take advantage of the opportunity.

So how are you going to take advantage of this week?  If you need time in a warmer climate, get in the sun.  If you need time with your kids, get on the floor and play.  If you need time to rest, get under the duvet, turn on the bowl games, chomp on the Holiday goodness, loosen the belt and relax.

What do you really need?  You may have specific needs, but everyone single one of us has a need to be purposeful and planned in our lives.  What is your plan for 2017 and your life for which you can spend your time this week to prepare and develop a plan?

This week truly is a national “deep breath.”  Most people don’t have urgent deadlines.  Timely requirements are pushed into the new year.  Many of our customers/clients are closed.  Everyone is understanding in this season…”We’ll get to it after the first of the year.”

It is in this “sigh” that I’d encourage some of your most important work.  Planning.  Preparation.  Strategy.  Direction.  Dedicated time on the items that you usually don’t have quadrant-twotime to address.  It’s what Stephen Covey calls, in “First Things First,”  Quadrant Two activities.  Quadrant Two are the Important activities, which aren’t Urgent.  Make sure your to-do list is packed with Quadrant Two activities this week.  This is a prime Quadrant Two week.

One of my executive coaches takes a personal retreat every year during this week.  He prays.  He plans.  He spends extended time thinking.  He writes.  He priorities.  My friend will be ready to hit 2017 on January 1.

Whether it is a few days retreating or a few hours at Starbucks, take the time this week.  There may be many afternoons that are “wasted” and even weeks that “go by so fast.”  This is one week you can’t let pass you by.  Take a hold of it and purposefully use it for your highest and best impact on the year ahead.

Prime next year by this week preparing yourself  spiritually, physically and organizationally.

You will then be truly prepared to celebrate the New Year.

Competing with My Sleeping Self

I got a Fitbit for my birthday a couple weeks ago.  It does many things, but one of the things the Fitbit tracks is your sleep.  It helps you understand your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleep, tracking it in graphs and calculations.

fitbit-sleepingI compete and there is no more fierce  competitor that myself.  I’ve been competing against myself for years, trying to be the best me that I can be.  Consistently bike 100 miles every week.  Reading the Bible in a year.  Trying to gain and then lose weight.  When you compete against yourself, the good news is that you always win.  You lose the weight or you eat that delicious pie, either way you win.

This true, except in sleep.  The more I work hard to get to fall asleep the more I’m awake.  The more that I fight against the “times restless” the more “min. awake/restless.”

Let’s just say, it’s difficult to PR in sleeping.

Maybe I should just relax.  Yes, that’s nice.  Now I can sleep.

But when I awake…Check the Fitbit, how did I do?