20 years ago today.

About this time of day, 20 years ago, I was helping a friend move something out of her dorm room. I heard a siren and thought, I hope that’s not Jim.

A while later I got a call from my Resident Director, Pat. He told me to grab the other RA from my floor and come down to his apartment. He told us that Jim had been in an accident and it was serious.  I told him that last I saw him he was with our friend Heather, on my motorcycle.  Pat made a few phone calls, so did the rest of us.  All we knew was that Jim was being airlifted to Indianapolis.  We weren’t sure what was happening to Heather.

A few of us jumped into a car and headed south.  We got to visit Jim in the ER.  He was fairly conscious, bloodied, and scrapped up.  We knew he had several broken bones.  The thing that got me, was on the way out of his ER room I notices blood dripping off his gurney into a puddle on the floor.

It was the longest night of my life.

Eventually his parents arrived.  Jim was already in surgery.

At some point, I can’t remember when, I talked to someone that told me that Heather had died.

Jim survived. Barely.   He had so many surgeries I can’t remember.  He was in the hospital for weeks.  I visited him as much as I could for about a week. I postponed my internship so I could stay longer.

Jen and I travelled to London, Ontario, Canada where Heather’s funeral was.  She had a gorgeous wood casket.  We all wrote on it.  She’s buried in a beautiful plot, on a hill.  I was honored to be a casket bearer with some friends.  It was a good goodbye.  As best as can be expected.

They were on my motorcycle.

Jim had a long road ahead.  He is a miracle.  At every turn he over came adversity.  God seemed to have is hand on him.  He can walk, he’s married, he has 3 beautiful kids, a house, a couple dogs.  He’s been an electrician, a pastor, a coach, a brother, a friend. He’s alive and I’m grateful for him.

On May 10th I often wonder who Heather would have become.  Where her heart, sense of humor, and care for others would have taken her.  Who knows.

So Jim, I’m grateful I still have you.  Heather, I miss you and I’m sad you’re not still with us.  It isn’t fair.   The world is a little less bright than it could have been with you in it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.


12 Years

On this date 12 years ago I started a blog with some friends. It was narrowly focused on how the culture had shifted and how the church might adapt.  Specifically our little corner of the church.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

I’ve had a lot of contact lately with people that consider themselves in the midst of deconstructing or having had deconstructed their faith.  I relate to much of what I’m hearing. I struggle with the concept of deconstruction when I think of myself.  Many of them have been atheists or still consider themselves to be.  My belief system was never that binary.  I think it first came to my awareness on a summer day in 1998.

In summer of 1998 I decided to grow my faith differently.  My wife and I were visiting my Mom for the weekend.  That Sunday we went to the church that my Mom still attends, the church I grew up in.  (Some of you reading this still attend there.)  It was near the end of worship. I looked around and noticed almost everyone really immersed in the moment. I could feel the Holy Spirit in my bones, yet I paused.  As I scanned the sanctuary I said to myself “This isn’t for me.”  In the moment I felt guilty about that.  As we drove home that afternoon I was reflecting about that experience. I realized then, the type of church I grew up in was not designed for me.  Yet because of this mystical sensation that God was there with us I couldn’t throw out the church et al.  This set me on a path to explore what new ways we could live into the teachings of Jesus in community.  I’m still on the trajectory.

There are many reasons that I have not had to completely strip away my faith.  Maybe in the future I can share that journey in more detail.  It was that summer day in Lansing Michigan that was pivotal in my construction.  I’d rather speak of faith in more organic terms.  The seeds of my faith began to germinate into something new.  I’ve done some pruning along the way, but I have’t had to cut the whole thing down. When I need to I’ll graft new beliefs in and prune some shriveled beliefs off.  This is how organisms grow, in that respect I am no different. I’ll do what I can to share some of that process with you.

I couldn’t let the anniversary of that blog launch to pass by without a post. By the way, here’s a link to the first post.  Enjoy, I did as I reread it today.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

Icons of a Ritual

I think most of you have noticed that I’ve been posting on Instagram our new view a lot lately. I just can’t help myself. I wish all my friends could come and gaze out on the beautiful landscape with me. Since you can’t, I just keep posting.

Things often change with a question. Our friend Karen was visiting us last weekend. While on the deck sipping out coffee and tea she asked if posting those picture was a ritual of mine.  I pondered her question for a minute.  No, the photos are not the ritual.  They are the icons of my ritual.

An icon is visual representation, or a remembrance of something that holds meaning.   In this instance I’m referring to a spiritual symbol.  In Eastern traditions of the Christianity icons have been and are still important part of worship and spiritual practices.  Icons are meant to help us connect to God.  They give us something to focus on.  Icons help us to visually remind us of an ancestor in our spiritual family that empowered to change the world around them.  I think if we stop and think we all have icons that we favor.  Currently mine are right out the kitchen window and a long my drive to work.

Rituals are subscribed practices set for by an organization or a spiritual community or organization.  Merriam-Webster wasn’t that helpful in this case.  What I mean by ritual is something we do personally or corporately to worship God.  It could be something standardized like the liturgy or singing 3 songs before a sermon or partaking in communion/The Lord’s Supper/The Eucharist.  It could be something like yoga and scripture before breakfast or a walk on your lunch.  A ritual can be a practice that helps enrich your life and give it more meaning.

My younger, more Evangelical self, has a push-back to those words.  When I was in high school I the world ritual had some negative connotations.  Rituals were things that pagans or dry, lifeless forms of church did.  Icons were foreign to my church experience so like most unknown things I feared them.

Then, at about the same time my assumptions about these words were challenged.

Ritual was challenged by an invitation to church with a Catholic friend.  His parish was full of life.  People there were joyful and passionately partook in the aerobic nature of the liturgy.  I was greeted with huge smiles and energetic handshakes.  It was wonderful to see so much joy where in the past I had only seen what confirmed what I thought I already knew.  I had rituals all wrong.

Soon after that my soccer coach shared with us about an important icon to him.  I attended a Christian school that had a spiritual retreat every fall.  During worship he explained the importance icons in his Greek Orthodox tradition.  I don’t remember what he said that day.  Whatever he said changed my assumption.

When you look at my Instagram feed, now you know.  Know that accompanying the  photo you are enjoying was a moment or two of gratitude and worship to God.  A moment I felt the wind on my face, salty air in my nostrils, being more grounded in my body that God handcrafted.  I invite you to join my rituals.  Feel free to barrow my icons if it helps.  Their not really mine anyway.


Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.


Moving Into Our Nextness – Island County Here We Come!

Some of you have heard our news – The Bennett’s are moving!

This started a few months ago… Well, honestly it was before that. It really started in late winter. We were ready to pursue the answers of the complex questions, “Where to we want to be?” and “What do we want to do?” These were questions that Jen and I began to walk toward on quite Saturday mornings.  Armed with coffee mugs, prayer, honesty, and courage we began to explore what the next phase of life/ministry/work might look and feel like. Months passed.

One morning we got a shocking email which forced our hand.  Here’s the previous post about that. “…A couple weekends ago, my dad passed away. My bothers and sisters and I have decided to sell the house. Our timetable is 3 to 6 months, so you have some time….” That was not expected on a hectic Tuesday morning. After I could breathe again, I could only think this one thing “How are we gonna tell the boys.” After a few days the shock wore off and we told the boys over a homemade brunch buffet. There were many tears. I think we left them enough space to begin to grieve the move.

Segway: You might be wondering, “Why don’t just stay in the neighborhood? Why not keep the kids in the same schools?” Well in Queen Anne the houses that have 3 or more bedrooms are going for about $1800/bedroom. In the past 4 1/2 years housing in Seattle has skyrocketed. We rode the cheap rent train to the last stop.

After the news settled in with all of us we began the dreaming process as a family. We looked a different communities around Seattle.  For the most part we looked north of the city.  We asked ourselves “Where could be see ourselves living? Could we go to school there? Is this house a good fit for the people we are and want to be?”  We liked several of them of the places we looked, but we were left with “meh.” We kept dreaming.

Then came the Island. Someone suggested Whidbey Island to Jen. On a whim she checked rental prices. They were comparable to what we were looking for. So boldly we set up an appointment to see some properties around Oak Harbor. Our favorites were on or near the water. (I know, really? On the water, of course they were our favorites!) We decided on the one that had more space and has a community clubhouse with a boat launch and beach access. Here’s the view from the kitchen.



This is the first place we’ve felt at home since we left Michigan. Don’t get me wrong there’s things about Seattle I love. The food and beverage industry are overwhelmingly outstanding. It’s a foodie’s dream! At some level though I have not been able to land here deep within my being. We’ve made this house on W Raye St our home, but we always knew there was something missing. When we were driving around Whidbey it was like our hearts were singing.

Here’s a story about that day that I love telling. We were driving around our soon to be neighborhood and we met a man walking his dog. Instinctively the man and I waved at each other. From the back Joel asked “Daddy, do you know that man?” In unison Jen and I Sienfelded¹ him, “That’s the thing! People acknowledge each other in public! They just wave! They don’t stare at the ground and cross the street at a snail’s pace without looking.” We will be thawing out from the Seattle Freeze shortly.

While looking at homes we all embraced the dreaming process. Graeme scouted the biggest bedrooms and hangout spaces, Joel checked out the closets, and Levi laid on the carpet. I imagined where I could set up my homebrewing and tools. Jen mused about where she could create beautiful things. We all oogled at the expansive kitchens and living spaces we came across.

Today is moving day.  Our hearts are full of so much.  It is bitter-sweet.  Today we walk into our Nextness.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be Uncommon.



¹ We high talked/high yelled our response.

Exploring Our Nextness

Have you ever been in a place in life where things are coming together? You’re asking questions of “what’s next?”, “What might we want to venture into?” You’re just not sure yet. That’s where my family and I are living.

Then we get an email from the landlord. “We’re selling, you have to move.”

I feel grateful that we’ve already been leaning into the “what’s next?” questions.  We have months before we have to move.  Still.  We wanted to be the ones to tell our landlord we were moving.  Oh, well.

Now we’re looking at a blank canvas. We have an opportunity for another adventure. We’re looking at schools, homes, and communities, wondering if we could live there.

The news was a punch in the gut, don’t get me wrong. We’ve begun to grieve this house, our schools, and neighbors.  We’ll miss the walk-ability of the neighborhood, Blue Highway Games, and great coffee just around the corner.  Because we embraced how that news felt we’re not paralyzed by it.  Also, we haven’t left it to deal with it later.

I’ll let you know more as we move forward.  [Pun intended.]

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

Sea Legs

It’s hard to for me to imagine that I’ve had a job for 5 months. I still feel like a new therapist. At the same time I feel a veteran.

One of my professors said “Give yourself 3 years before you quit.  You’ll want to pay your clients to see you.  Then a client will come to you and you will quickly realize that they are more mature than you are.”¹  Some days I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.  Even though I have rough days and I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing with a client I don’t feel like quitting. I know I’ve made the right choice. I wonder if it has something to do with life experience. This is my second career, sort of.  I don’t see my work at a youth pastor much different than what I’m doing now.  At least, the meaty parts of youth ministry.  The moments that I lived for.  The moments I was like a tightly trimmed catamaran that’s literally humming in the water.  A catamaran that is cutting through the water, with the sails trimmed tightly, the hulls at just the right angle in the water, creates this resonance that’s like a tuning fork.  You’re part of the resonance when you’re aboard.  That’s how I feel at my job.

There is a lot of turnover in community mental health.  This means I’m not the new guy anymore.  When new hires arrive after company orientation I have some wisdom to share. Things like finding the extra office supplies, kitchen norms, forms that 99% of our company uses that our department doesn’t, and what mode of communication each supervisor prefers.  There’s also a “deer in the headlights period.”  I work in Children’s Intensive Services (The WISe program).  We work with a lot of trauma victims.  Abuse, neglect, substance abuse, substance exposed, attachment deficiencies, psychosis, severe mood disorders, self and other-focused harm for a few examples.  That’s just a Monday morning.   As my internship supervisor always told me “This work is chaotic.  Manage your inner chaos and you’ll be fine.”  I get to help some of my new peers at my supervisor help me.

It feels good to get my sea legs at this job.  I’m looking forward to learning more and growing as a therapist.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.



¹Dr. Dan Allender, in a lecture for the class Faith, Hope, &  Love.

What. A. Week.

This has been one of those weeks. A week that it feels like you’re just holding on for dear life. You’re reminding yourself that you’ve grown, and you don’t have to turn back to things of the past. You’re stronger than you were before. Good thing I am, because this one’s been a doozy.

Its way past my bed time so I’ll give you the short-short version of this week:

Got more clients. Clients that are in crisis, juvenile detention, ER, med checks, suspensions, CPS. Good to see their faces and hear their stories.

Passat breaks down.

Shelves don’t fit as I designed. More work, up late.

More clients. Trainings. Paperwork. Meetings. Clients. Super busy traffic on the isthmus.

Test Drive a Honda. Budget?

Passat is not where I left it…

More Clients. Actual sessions. Feelings, heavy lifting. Podcasts heading south.

Shelves cut down to size. Functional is in fact sexy.

Passat towed. Paying even more money for “The Black Hole.” Junk man scheduled for the morning.

Buying a Honda.

Clients.  Knock knock jokes, secret handshakes, and fist bumps.

Oxytocin hugs from my sons.

Stumptown Coffee.  Lots of Stumptown Coffee.

Short Friday.

A Therapist with a Job

I. Got. A! Job!

This afternoon I got a call from Compass Health’s Child Intensive Services team.  My new supervisor offered me a position as a Child & Family Therapist.  I stoically accepted.  I was in shock.  Morgan, my new boss, asked if she was the only one excited on the phone.  I told her that I’m excited and in shock!

Here’s why I’m excited:

I get to work with children/adolescents & families.  I love working with families.  Working with parts of the family and the whole.  There are some many different ways to approach family work and I like that flexibility.  I love the “ah-ha” moments of growing up and helping kids pass through them is truly rewarding.

Anyone who’ve I’ve talked to that has worked at Compass speaks highly of the organization.   I like the morale and the atmosphere I keep hearing about.  Now I get to partake and contribute to it.

I get to have a working rhythm again. It’s been 5 years since I had a full-time job and it will feel good to get back at it.  To have nights and weekends back sounds great!  And most of the people I love have those off too.

Team approach.  The teams I’ll be a part of are in the wrap-around model.  I haven’t heard of a more intense way of doing as I get to be a part of.  It’s like a therapeutic dog pile on our clients.  I’m excited to be a part of that!

I will no longer be a Master of Arts in Pizza Delivery.  I will miss my discount though.

I have  a commute.  (You’re like, “What?”)  I grew up 20 miles from church, school, and soccer.  The long drive home is a part of me.  On my way to work I’ll be going opposite of the rush.  When we were living in Greenville Michigan we lived 3 minutes from the church I was working.  At the end of a hard day I’d often turn north, in the opposite direction of home, so I could have some transition time.  When we were living in Saint Joseph Michigan I’d often go walk the pier at Silver Beach before I came home.  If I was short on time I’d cruise by the white sandy beach awkwardly slow.  Sometimes I’d get honked at when I did.  I didn’t care. I was soaking the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.  So podcasts and audiobooks here [hear] I come.

Here’s what I’m not excited about:

New jobs often suck at first.  You do things slower than you want.   You don’t know where anything is.  I know it takes a long time to adapt to a new culture.  At least now I have shed most of the contempt I used to hold for myself in those situations.  New is exciting, yet unnatural.

The commute. I know, I just said I was looking forward to it.  I love to drive, but Seattle drivers often frustrate me.  I’ll take my own therapeutic advice and do some deep belly breathing as I white-knuckle my way home.

The paperwork.  I don’t know many people who enjoy the paperwork of their job.


Well, here’s to a new adventure!  Thanks to those of you that have prayed, called, bought me a beverage or meal, or sat with me over the past few months. I’ve really needed your support, and I’m grateful for it.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

Making a Patio Table Out of Pallets

After graduating from graduate school I needed to make something with my hands.  I had created so much with my mind and this keyboard, but it was time to build something I could touch.  Here’s my journey and process.

For a couple years I’ve wondered about making somthing out of pallets.¹  I like the idea of reusing discarded things.  I also like to save money when I can.  The internet is bountiful with different ways people have repurposed pallets and other reclaimed objects.  Pallets are plentiful in Seattle so I knew I could find as many as I needed.

This has been a long and healing process.   In the past I had a hard time starting and finishing things.  I finished tons of papers over the past 3 years and they handed me a fancy diploma.  I’m sure at times I will have a hard time offering my work to the world, but now I have some new options. I can start and finish project much easier now.  I’ve grown those new nuero pathways in school.  Now I get you use them everyday.

This table represents many things.  It marks the shifing of my avaiability to others.  I now have more time in my life to invite people in.  I have room for them to come and sit at the table I made.  Now, it’s our table.  I’m finished with the time and energy commitment of grad school, and that feels really good.  I hold the hope of a schedule that someday soon can be mostly quarintined the standard Western work week.  It will be nice to be more in sync with my loved ones.  A schedule that I have a little margin for… well anything other than pizza delivery and writing papers sounds good.  Hopefully soon.


Now, here’s how I built the table.  For starters, I only spent $45 on this project.  It was it was split down the middle for the legs and stain.  The rest was given to me or I already had it.

I’m going to try to spell this project out as much as I can for those novices who are trying to get their feet wet with a project.  I’ve linked tools I’ve used in the project so you know what I’m talking about.  I used my compound miter saw to cut most of the wood.  You could also use a circular saw.

I started with a simple frame.  I lucked out and found a 6 foot long pallet.  That meant that I didn’t have to join the long sides.  Make sure that it’s square before you start adding the top decking.  I was so excited and distracted by my sons that I had to backtrack a little.


I laid out the pallet boards on the frame to make sure I had enough material.



I used 4×4 pressure treated posts for the legs.  I was hesitnet to use that thickness, but I wasn’t happy with the other sizes the lumber yard had.  I attached the legs with 3 1/2 inch hex bolts and washer on both ends.  Using a 1 inch spade bit I drilled holes so the end of the bolts would be flush with the wood or “recessed.”



My neighbor saw what I was up to and he let me barrow some tools.  One of which was a finishing nailer and air compressor.  That made putting on the tabletop really easy and relatively fast.  The last peices I put on the deck I cut or “ripped” on what would be the inside seam of the table, not the edge.  I don’t have a table saw and I’m not great at straight long cuts by a circular saw.  I chizzled and sanded the pieces of the top so they would fit together better.  I intended to make this a rough piece, so I wasn’t concerned that they fit exactly.  After I got the top on I used a jig saw and made the top flush with  the edge of the frame.





I used a belt sander and a grinder with a sanding wheel to even out the different thinknesses of boards.  Then I took a my finishing sander to it.  If you haven’t done much sanding, make sure you use sandpaper that increases in number.  For instance 60 is a rough grit paper, and should be used first.  It will take off more slivers and chunks for you.  Then move to 80, 100, 110, 120, etc.  It all depends on what you’re making and your preference.


I wanted to keep it rough, but I also didn’t want water to settle in to the frame so I filled seams in the middle of the table where the top rests on the frame.  This is the part of the table that I’m least happy with.  Maybe I should have used a darker filler or taken more time to sand it down.  I’m not exactly sure what I would change.  It just adds to the rough and reclamed nature of the table.  It’s not enough for me to sand off the finish and redo it.  At the end of the day it will hold, plates, glasses, and conversations just fine.


I knew I had the seal the table, this is Seattle afterall, but I didn’t want something high gloss.  I wanted rough, but not lacquered pine funiture you’d see in a lodge somewhere.  I decided on a satin finish.  I think it turned out quite nice.  Here are some pictures of “finished” product.





Now I’m ready for some (more) guests.  If you want to have a better view, you’ll have to visit.  Mic drop.  Gauntlet thrown.  You’re welcome (come by) and you’re welcome (for this post).

I hope you stop on by.  Be uncommon.



¹ I can’t pass by the word pallet without mentioning my Uncle Gene.  He had a saw mill and made pallets.  I thought of him off and on during this project.  [Chest thump] R.I.P.  Uncle Gene.

sometimes the well is dry

My well is dry.  I dont’ find myself talking all that much these days.  It’s not that I dont’ have much to say.  I’m just not ready to speak them yet.

I’m tired of looking for jobs.  I’m tired of delivering pizza.  I’m tired of living on a shoe string.  I’m tired of not taking care of myself.  I’m tired.

My words are just below the surface.  I know that I can speak, I’m trying to give myself the grace and space not to say them.

I know I’m speaking now.  I’m talking about saying things that really matter.

Grace and Space.  Peace and quiet.  Trees and chipmonks.  Rain drops on my nose.  Moss stained sidewalks.  Breath in my lungs.

If I keep breathing deeply the words will come. If I keep breathing deeply my muscles won’t ache as badly.  If I keep breathing deeply I will find myself in rest.

Ah, to feel rested.  Some day.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.