He Writes

Easter is Coming – A Celebration of Caleb Meakins

By He Writes

I hate death. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Death is the enemy.

Sure, we all think that it’s “natural” because it happens to 100% of us. Animals, plants, humans -death is coming for us all. But I believe it’s the enemy. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

Death breeds fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of grief. Fear of pain. All our fear is essentially just a fear of death. Of no longer being “us.” Death is coming for us.

Just a few days ago, an acquaintance of mine died. He was the pastor/leader of the Young Adults group at the International Evangelical Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was the owner of a coffee shop here with plans to open other branches, including one in LA. He led a non-profit focused on entrepreneurship and growing leaders. He once said “At the end of our days, let’s at least say we tried to make a difference.” He did.

His name was Caleb.

I didn’t know him well. I heard him preach one time – it was Biblical and full of grace. I spoke with him on the phone for about 30 minutes. His intelligence, enthusiasm, and love of Jesus was contagious. I’m not qualified to write about him, as we were just acquaintances, but even in the short time I interacted with him, his life affected me. When I heard he passed, I cried.

I cried because he was a great example. He was getting things done. He was glorifying God. He was making a difference. He practiced what he preached.

Caleb cared about people. He invested in them. He cared for them. He loved Jesus. He worshiped Him. He preached Christ and Him crucified. His words and actions affected those around him in a deep and profound way.

Caleb was a great man.

Until death. Traffic accidents, sub-par medical care, viruses – so many places we can try to place the blame because we think “this shouldn’t have happened.” And it shouldn’t have. But the means of death are not the real reason we grieve. Because if he died in some other way or at some other time – even 80 years from now – it’s still not right.

Caleb should not have died. Full stop.

None of us should.

This morning at church, the worship leader said “Hallelujah” a number of times. And I was reminded that in some Christian traditions we don’t say that word during Lent. Lent is 40 days (or 46 if you count the Sunday feasts) of waiting for Easter. Just like Advent for Christmas, when we wait for God to come down to us, Lent is for Easter. We wait for God to come back up from death. Spoiler alert: He does.

I will not say “Hallelujah” that Caleb is gone. The earth is worse without him here. He was standing against the gates of hell, and as Jesus told us, they WILL NOT PREVAIL.

I misspoke earlier. It’s not “His name was Caleb.” It is Caleb. Present tense. Why do I say that?

Because Easter is coming. Jesus is rising. And, while death may come for us, He is coming for death.

And then we will say “Hallelujah.”

He is risen, and we will rise too.

Caleb, we will see you soon.

Come, Lord Jesus.


By He Writes
To my Valentine...

I love you more...

(A short, non-comprehensive list of various comparisons)

...than a Romanian Christmas Faire.

(Technically, this isn't at the faire, but a picture with Santa Craig is awesome)

...than the dog loves food

(Not a picture of him eating, but you can definitely feel him thinking about food in this pic)

...than the girls love ice cream

(Fine, frozen yogurt. But you can't even tell in this pic!)

...even more than I love coffee!

(I also love you so much that I'm willing to post this terrible picture of me.)

...than Mercy loves Karate

(She looks so serious here. Don't get in her way, she'll knock your head off!)

...more than Addy loves Gymnastics

(She sticks the landing of this bar move, first time for her!)

Happy Anniversary of "First Sight"

I love you and hope that this year brings us happiness and lots of love 🙂

The Best Worst Week

By He Writes

Well, this wasn’t the week I was planning on having. I was supposed to be coordinating with Ethiopia, fundraising here in the States, working on projects for clients on my side-hustle, and just generally being a dad. I guess when you have 5 kids in the house you have a higher chance of getting sick!

I got 2 of these bands with 3 different stickers!

Monday I had a cold-feeling light sore throat. Nothing too bad until it was hard to swallow in the afternoon / evening. I start asking Marie if she thinks its strep – same question for every cold for our entire marriage. It never is. I send her gifs of red with white polka dots and say its my throat. Tuesday is worse – can’t swallow without grunting. In the mirror, my throat is swollen and I send her gifs of a train tunnel collapsing. Wednesday was the worst. Went to the office and had my call, but had to come home because of pain. My wife looks in my mouth and says, go to bed, I’ll take care of it. She wakes me an hour later and sends me to the Dr’s appointment she made me.

Actual image from the inside of my throat on Tuesday evening.

Guess what – I had strep. So, while I felt terrible, I also let my pride pick up a bit! But I also had a peritonsillar abscess, so my Dr sends me to the ER with a post-it note describing the problem. The ER checks me out, gives me fluids, and drains the puss. They send me home with some prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics and to follow up with an Ear-Nose-Throat Dr. the next day. Problem solved, right?

So that night was atrocious – I lived through Dante’s 4th circle of the Inferno. In the morning I was scared and in excruciating pain. I looked and the abscess had regrown to 2-3 times its original size and was almost closing my airway. We called both ENTs on the referral list and got an appointment for Monday morning. At noon, I went back to the ER, they were great and got me transferred in an ambulance down to Roseville (no lights or siren so basically just an uber where I got to lay down), and that’s when the fun began. Another sleepless night as we had to prep my body for the surgery to do a complete drainage of the abscess.

Friday morning at 630, they roll me into the prep room and I meet my ENT surgeon who happy and great and ready to get to work. He does his thing, along with the anesthesiologist, and just past 8 I’m back in my room recovering.

I explained it like this to one of my friends: Basically the bacteria from Strep that attacks your tonsils can sometimes jump into the interstitial between your tonsil and cheek and start ejecting puss to create a new home for their bacteria buddies. The downside is that eventually that abscess will block your airway and both the host and bacteria all die, so who’s laughing now? Or, the other option is to get a surgeon to go in there like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and kill them all. Which is what my Dr. did.

Still all puffy after they cut the nasties out of there. They even wrote on my face so they’d remember which side to cut on. Too bad it hasn’t washed off yet…

One more – actually restful – night in the hospital for monitoring, extra antibiotics and pain killer and I am home now and resting, abut to sleep in my own bed for the first time without significant pain.

Wednesday morning, when I awoke, I was struck with such fear from the pain that I was weeping. I hate pain and I have a low pain tolerance – I never said I was a tough guy. But the fear surprised me. It didn’t take me long to say “no, I will not be afraid of this.” Either I’m going to live or I’m going to die, but I will not fear. I am sick of fear. Jesus is Lord. He is a good king and I will not fear.

And I received such a feeling of peace.

After that, I realized how much I had to be thankful for. I was not alone in this – I was the only one in pain, but my support system was astounding. My wife – who’s getting too good at single parenting 5 kids – was a rock. One of my very good friends, Dan Getz, gave up his night to stay with me at the hospital. He took copious notes and made sure that drugged-up Christian didn’t miss anything important and that Marie was up-to-date around-the-clock.

On top of that, I wanted to give a shout out to all the medical staff. My PCP, Chapa-De were really quick an efficient and got me to get to the ER ASAP. Sutter Faith Auburn’s ER room was great – Kirk, Dave, Julie, and the Dr. who I *thought* was an ENT but just an awesome ER doctor who drained it the first time and then got me on an ambulance down to Roseville. Shane and Hazel, my EMTs – Hazel was adopted in Singapore, so we had some good conversations about adoption! Ryan, Rankesh, Kristine, Alison, Trent, Aimee, Kisha, and Dr. Dixit and Dr. Henderson and all the others I’ve forgotten! The team in both hospitals were AMAZING and I can’t recommend them enough!

Trent, Diana, and Me just as I was leaving. “Is there anything else I can help with” “Actually, can we take a selfie?!”

Finally, I was really happy to be back to hear my kids giggle as Addy had a little neighborhood birthday party. I’ve been too tired to participate much, but being home is a blessing. This is not the week I wanted nor planned, but it’s the one I got, and I’m thankful for it, because I looked fear in the face this week and I feel like I won. Not because I’m some great person but because I have a great Christ. I won before I was healed. Because even in death, Jesus is Lord.

At home this afternoon, grateful, watching the girls do some legos.


By He Writes

I’ve never really been a big talker. I’d like to say that I am the strong, silent type, but honestly my thoughts are just so weird I’d be embarrassed to share them with people. There aren’t a lot of people I share my thoughts with, as I prefer to stay quiet. But you know all that already.

That’s why it was a stretch for me to begin teaching in the church. I don’t really like speaking publicly. Maybe I was shamed as a child and don’t remember it, or maybe I just know that I don’t have a lot to say. When I started teaching regularly, it was a stretch. But that’s one of the ways I know that Spirit has moved in my life – preaching is different than just speaking. That’s when I met you, though. I was teaching and leading a small group of young adults when you walked in. But when you walked in, I stopped talking.

And for the last 10 years you’ve heard me talking. I’ve told you things that no one else has ever heard. I’ve told you things I wish I hadn’t. I’ve told you things you wish I hadn’t. We’ve lived life together: the ups and downs, the joy and grief, the silence and the speech. I can’t say I expected 10 years to go by so quickly. This adventure we’re on wouldn’t be an adventure without you. We’ve talked, cried, laughed, held each other, and sat quietly. Without you, I don’t know what my life would be like, and to be honest, I don’t care to know because it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as it is.

You’ve always been worth more than rubies, but when people talk about loving your spouse more as time goes on, I am beginning to understand. Because even now, when you walk in the room, I’m speechless. And in 10 more years, I still will be.

I love you.

Happy 10.

Service, Strollers, and Sewage

By He Writes

“These are my nice shoes,” I said, just as my feet started to get wet.

Craig and Alie had just arrived in Romania from the States, and had returned from an “epic Ikea trip.” Sarah had driven them there, where they selected all the big item furniture that they would need in their new apartment. After everyone ate dinner together at the mall, there wasn’t enough room in Sarah’s car for her, Craig, Alie, 3 kids, and 2 strollers. So Craig and I opted to take the empty strollers on the metro while the ladies took the kids home in the car. (Marie had already taken our kids home via metro).

Oh yeah, it was raining.

For most of the half-mile walk back to the house from the metro, we were able to keep our feet pretty dry. The wind wasn’t forceful, so it was relatively easy to stay on course. Sarah’s stroller (the one I was pushing) is a double-stroller, but not the side by side kind, it’s front/back forward facing. It’s the length of a limousine. Pushing it empty in the rain and the dark was a challenge.

As we got closer to our destination, the hope for dry feet ended. The street was flooded from gutter to gutter. Of course we would have walked on the sidewalk, but cars were parked there. Where else should they park?

“I thought I might wear my dirty work shoes, but I wanted to wear nice shoes for dinner,” I told Craig. A nice couple from a church in Georgia was visiting Romania on their way home from a conference in South Africa. They chose to spend a few days serving with Anchor of Hope. I didn’t want to show up with nasty, muddy shoes, so of course I wore my nicer shoes that cost around 25 US Dollars.

And then we found ourselves ankle-deep in water. Or so we thought.

“This doesn’t smell like just rainwater,” I winced.
“No, it doesn’t. I’m going directly to the shower after we get home,” Craig replied.

I can honestly say that when I moved overseas as a missionary I never expected to be walking through ankle-deep nastiness pushing a gigantic empty stroller at night. But sometimes, this is was service looks like. Sometimes it’s helping a friend so they can get their kids home and in bed while you walk through some stranger’s bodily fluids diluted with rainwater.

I got home awhile later, and Marie was already dozing. She stirred when I peeled my wet, aromatic jeans off my legs.
“I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Just got home,” I whispered. But of course I had to tell her right away. “We walked through ankle deep water – I think my new shoes are ruined.”
“We’ll wash them, and they’ll be fine.”

And that’s the truth – spoken from my half-wakened wife. Sometimes you get dirty while serving others. Sometimes you smell nasty afterwards. This is the life of service we have chosen. Loving people is messy. It’s hard, nasty, and it smells. and honestly it’s a job we don’t always want. But luckily for us Jesus washes us. And you know what? We’ll be fine.

No matter how nice our shoes are.

The Stupidity of Love

By He Writes


“It’s called a hustle, Sweetheart.”

That line from Zootopia kept going through my head. It’s what the lawyer said to us. Well, technically he said we “assumed the risk inherent in all adoptions,” but it sounded to me like we got hustled. Besides the emotional pain and the betrayal, we lost thousands of dollars, and we had a lawyer friend draft a letter asking them for reimbursement. No dice.

The thing is, we knew there was a risk, but we didn’t think about it. They were our friends. We believed them. We hoped for the best. And they changed their minds, which they are legally allowed to do. See: inherent risk.

And to be honest, I hate feeling like I was outsmarted. I hate feeling like we were hustled. I can’t for certain say they were intentionally planning to hurt us. In fact, I honestly believe that they had told us the truth. But, as my dad said, “People are people.” And it definitely *feels* like we got hustled.

I’m supposed to be smarter than that. Looking back, its an obvious, incredible risk to take, especially with two emotionally fragile children. Why couldn’t I see it then? What blinded me? What blinded both of us? What made us so stupid?


“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7, emphasis mine)

We went to America because we loved them. We believed them completely. We hoped that everything would work out perfectly. We were willing to bear this burden with them. You don’t see risks when love is involved.

But when conflict arises, you always choose who you love more. It’s natural. After just one month of parenting Noelan, my love for him grew. I called him “son;” he called me “daddy.” We could have “returned” him at any time. Even after the first rumblings that they may change their minds. But we wouldn’t let go. We were taking a risk of hurting ourselves and our kids, and our finances more, but you don’t see risks when love is involved.

So when conflict arose, I chose him. And I would do it again.

As I’ve been beating myself up for how stupid I was, I’m reminded of my Lord. Now, don’t think I’m trying to equate myself to Jesus. Never. But I *do* want to be like Him. And He knew full well the risk He was taking. He knew that if He came down from Heaven and told His people that He loved them, showed them how much He cared, bared their burdens, and sacrificed so much for them, that they would still turn on Him. It would cost Him His life. But He didn’t care about the risk when love was involved.

I can look at Noelan and say he was worth it, but I’m not sure how Jesus can look at me – any of us – and think that. And that’s something that I can rest in: that He didn’t care about the pain because He loved me. And I am totally unworthy of it.

The problem with love is that there’s always risk involved. So, technically we didn’t assume the risk inherent in all adoptions. We assumed the risk inherent in love. And love makes you stupid when it comes to risk.

If losing in love is called a hustle, then I’m pretty sure I’m going to get hustled again, Sweetheart.
daddy and noelan

Son for a Season

By He Writes

“I’m sorry, Noelan,” I said with tears streaming down both sides of my face. “I’m so sorry.”

It was just a few minutes before Noelan left our home to be driven to the social work office and transferred to the other family. I was sitting in the armchair, and he had climbed into my lap. Sadness filled the room; you could feel it. He looked in my eyes as if he understood it all. He knew that my weak apology meant so much more.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for the past. You’ve had an impossible start. There are so many things that should have happened for you. You should’ve been home 3 years ago. You should have been immediately settled in a family and not been moved. I’m sorry for all the pain you’ve had to endure.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for right now. The sheer act of moving you to another family will harm you emotionally. The situation you’re going to wasn’t healthy for you a few months ago, and it still might not be. I’m sorry that you’ll be disoriented and you’ll miss the family you’ve had. I’m sorry that there’s nothing I can do.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for your future. To be sure, I don’t know what your future holds. Maybe it’s a million times better than I envisioned for you in our family. I know that what I wanted for you was wonderful and that you would be unconditionally loved every single day. I’m sorry that I can’t guarantee that for you now.

These thoughts didn’t race through my mind in that moment. It’s taken me a week and a half to process this sliver of my grief, but as we were sitting there, looking each other in the eye, he understood.

He was our son for a season, and every day I loved him. I am – we are – in so much pain because we loved him so deeply.

He was our son for a season, and it was the best season. The happiness that we all had was contagious. We were a family, and it was beautiful.

He was our son for a season. And of all the days we had for those 3 months – the tickle attacks, the silliness, the playgrounds, the running and chasing, the snuggles and the holding and the singing – it’s that moment that haunts me. My son staring me in the face, totally somber.

He had climbed into my lap.. He looked into my eyes as if he understood it all. Then, with his little hands, he wiped the tears of my cheeks.

“It’s OK, Daddy.”

I love you, Noelan, and I will never forget the joy you brought us.


daddy and noelan

Happy Birthday Marie, 2015

By He Writes

As it’s my wife’s birthday, I decided to randomly list things I love about her.

Basically, I’m too lazy to go get a card.

Here goes:

Things I love about my wife:

  1. Smile
  2. her.eyes.
  3. Stubbornness
  4. Smarts
  5. Height
  6. Faith
  7. How you draw pictures
  8. How you take pictures
  9. How you model “best friend sisters” with Sarah
  10. Style
  11. Loyalty
  12. Honesty
  13. How you love your kids
  14. How you love me
  15. Service
  16. Connection to family
  17. Hospitality
  18. Writing
  19. Focused language learning
  20. Teaching
  21. Organization
  22. Ability to kill plants grow cacti
  23. Love for animals
  24. Strength
  25. Love of color
  26. Christmas spirit
  27. Do it yourself recipes
  28. Nomadic tendencies
  29. Your rebellious streak
  30. Love of sunshine
  31. Desire for justice
  32. Mercy
  33. Tenderness
  34. Sexiness

Happy Birthday, Marie.


I love you 🙂


By He Writes
ham bone


I remember a story my Bible teacher from high school told us once about the dangers of tradition and not asking “why.”

A family was having a large reunion. For the first time in many years, there were 4 generations under the same roof.

In the kitchen a little girl was “helping” her mom prepare the meal. The mom was following the traditional family recipe for ham. As she observes her mother carefully, the little girl asks, “Mom, why do you cut off the last 3 inches of the ham bone?” The mother, looking at her daughter and then the recipe quizzically, replies, “I don’t know, sweetie. That’s the way we’ve always done it. Let’s go ask Grandma. She’ll know why. She’s in the other room.”

A few minutes later, the little girl and her mother approach the grandmother in the living room. “Grandma,” the little girl asks politely, “Why do we cut off the last 3 inches of the ham bone for our family recipe?” The grandmother stops to think and answers slowly, “Sweetheart, I don’t know why. It’s the way we’ve always done it. I think we should go ask Great-Grandma.”

The three ladies enter the den, where the great-grandmother is watching TV. The little girl starts, “Great-Grandma, why do we cut off the last 3 inches of the ham bone in our secret recipe?”

Great-Grandma looks at the little girl and states matter-of-factly, “Because, dear, in my day, our oven was too small to fit the whole ham.”

grandma dine

As If It’s Long Enough

By He Writes
grandma dine

My grandmother with Addy, in May 2009.

My grandmother passed away awhile ago. I had the priviledge of video-conferencing into the funeral to see and hear everything from Romania. I also wrote this post, which I read during the service. I meant to post it immediately afterwards, but I didn’t. I wanted to find a good picture of her, and I couldn’t. I think that’s how grief works sometimes.


When I awoke to the news that my grandma had passed away, I started to realize how much more difficult it is to process the death of someone you know well as opposed to someone you don’t. I’ve written about friends and acquaintances that have died before. It was relatively easy to put my thoughts on paper. But when it came to Grandma Dine, I found it hard to express myself.

My grandma was 91 years old. She lived a long life, I’d say. She and my grandfather lived all around the world – San Francisco, Canada, Japan, but lived most of their lives in California. She was stubborn as an ox – a strong woman, as most (i.e. all) of the women in my family are. She had wisdom, I’m sure, but she played her cards close to her chest – figuratively and literally.

I think the hardest part about processing her death is that I cannot be objective about it. I’ve known her since I was born – I’ve seen the good in her, but also the imperfections.

I have some great memories. When I was 8 years old, my grandparents moved to Ripon, and every Tuesday, my grandma would pick me up from school and take me to the grocery store where I’d pick out a comic book and a doughnut. I’d like to think it was to help expand my mind and body, but looking back I’m sure they were both expanding in the wrong direction.

She taught me some grammar: Whenever I would respond to one of her questions a little too casually, she would remind me, “A pig says ‘huh.’ Pull its tail and it says ‘nu-uh.’”

I also have regrets – things I could have said or done. Questions I wish I would have asked to glean some of the wisdom of her years. Honestly, it’s not as if these things would’ve made her live longer.

And so, I’m grieving. We’re grieving, as a family, even half a world apart.

And it hurts.

It seems to me that something as universal as death wouldn’t be so universally painful if it was really “natural.” Acceptance of death as normal or right or good smacks of an “it is therefore it ought to be” fallacy. For me, death appears as an enemy, a distortion of who we were really made to be.

We sit here and say, “She lived a long life” as if 91 years is long enough.

I believe we were created for more. That’s what I get from my faith. I believe that there’s a God who has defeated death, and soon He will put an end to it. And in that day, we will be as we ought to be – fully human – without suffering, without death.

That’s the way we were designed.

So was this passing expected? yes. Will I celebrate it? no. Never. I will never celebrate death. I will be thankful for the time I had with my grandma. I will grieve her passing and her missing from our family. But I will only celebrate when I see her again.

My comfort, right now, is that Heaven is real. I know that my grandmother is reunited with my grandfather. I hope they are listening to Tchaikovsky and dancing together. They’ve waited long enough to be together again.

Enjoy, Grandma. And rest. We will meet again soon.

In memory,
Dine Burtt Pedersen


eisley hope

Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson

By He Writes

eisley hope

My niece is dead.

There is no subtle way to say this. She was just a baby. There’s a list a mile long of things she never had a chance to do, achievements she never completed.

I never got to hold her.

I’ve sat here, half a world away, looking at images of this sweet girl. I’ve sat here and I’ve wept. And my pain is minuscule compared to that of her parents.

Why would this happen to her? to them? It’s not fair. When this kind of nonsensical pain is so evident in the world, I understand why people don’t believe in God.

But He is there.

I can’t sit here and quote Bible verses attempting to explain why this happened to Eisley. I won’t quote Romans 8:28 or James 1:2 to Eisley’s mom and dad. It’s trite. It minimizes their pain, as if this is supposed to be a happy time in their lives. This is the worst – the unthinkable, unimaginable pain is something they should not have to experience.

Attempting to answer “why” is an exercise in futility, but answering “who” isn’t. Jesus is with them. Spiritually, yes – the Holy Spirit indwells them, but more than that. Their family, friends, everyone who has come alongside them is doing physically what Jesus would do. “Mourn with those who mourn. Weep with those who weep.” Jesus wept when Lazarus died; the Father’s weeping at the pain of all His children. Those of us who can be near them are actually being Jesus to them. So they can have some reprieve of the pain, some measure of comfort, but it doesn’t bring their child back.

What hope do we have, then?

That this life isn’t it. That when the Bible speaks of a New Heaven and a New Earth it’s not just blowing hot-spiritual air at us. It’s speaking to us of reality. That *this* life is the shadow, and the coming life is the really-real. It’s there that we’ll find ourselves alive and singing. It’s there that we will live life to the fullest. We’ll know more than we’ve known before; do more than we’ve done before; love more than we’ve loved before. But we’ll hope no more. Because our hope will be fulfilled.

It’s there that I will see my niece. It’s there that her parents will hold her, and get to hear her voice say, “I love you mom and dad.” She will smile, walk, discover, create, love, and worship. There’s a list a mile long of things my niece is going to do and achievements she will accomplish.

My niece is alive.

And she’s waiting for us.

Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson.

noah movie picture

What If…

By He Writes

noah movie picture

What if all the newest movies were heretical accounts of Biblical stories?

What if churches weren’t allowed to meet in any schools at all?

What if every pastor of a large church committed “moral failure”?

What if it were illegal to say “Merry Christmas”?

What if Christian churches were forced to do Gay Weddings?

What if church meetings had to be held at night time, with the shades drawn, in small homes?

What if Christians were being burned alive to light the roadways to Washington D.C.?


Would Jesus cease to be King?

Would God cease to be Good?

Would the commands of Jesus be null and void?

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2. Corinthians 4:16-18

We can choose to focus on the chaos around us, or we can choose to focus on Jesus.