What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Softer

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mer­cies and God of all com­fort, who com­forts us in all our afflic­tion so that we will be able to com­fort those who are in any afflic­tion with the com­fort with which we our­selves are com­fort­ed by God. For just as the suf­fer­ings of Christ are ours in abun­dance, so also our com­fort is abun­dant through Christ. But if we are afflict­ed, it is for your com­fort and sal­va­tion; or if we are com­fort­ed, it is for your com­fort, which is effec­tive in the patient endur­ing of the same suf­fer­ings which we also suf­fer; and our hope for you is firm­ly ground­ed, know­ing that as you are shar­ers of our suf­fer­ings, so also you are shar­ers of our com­fort.
2 Corinthi­ans 1:3–7 NASB

C’ello. Nice tae meetcha.

I’m lov­ing lit­tle serendip­i­tous hap­pen­ings and try­ing to hold onto them as teth­ers to this life… try­ing with delib­er­a­tion not to let them slip by unno­ticed, unre­marked. As such I want to relate the serendip­i­ty before expla­na­tive back­ground. I’m chuffed and a lit­tle bewil­dered.

This morn­ing in the last 10 min­utes of Sun­day wor­ship prac­tice it was decid­ed that I should have a go at play­ing a cel­lo part for the spe­cial music dur­ing the offer­ing. I was delight­ed and a bit ter­ri­fied (though sur­pris­ing­ly not trou­bled by jit­ters). We played a song I’ve long want­ed us to play, Your Glo­ry as per­formed by All Sons & Daugh­ters and I was priv­i­leged to join the beau­ti­ful piano, gui­tar and drums of Ingrid, Adam, and Stephen, and beau­ti­ful (Dur­ing prac­tice, beau­ti­ful. On stage, I’m not cer­tain I heard them at all.) vocals of the first two and our Glyn hold­ing down the low end of the vocal spec­trum.

I’m hon­est­ly not cer­tain how good it sound­ed, but it felt good and it did seem peo­ple were wor­ship­ing, and sev­er­al were delib­er­ate in giv­ing affir­ma­tions after­ward.

So, to the back­sto­ry. I’ve always loved the cel­lo. I feel it has a phys­i­cal res­o­nance with the human body that allows it to touch and pen­e­trate and stim­u­late and com­fort where oth­er instru­ments do not. That said, in all my oth­er musi­cal affec­tions, the cel­lo has always felt a bit beyond grasp. I’ve had Great High­land Bag­pipes. I’ve built a prac­tice set of Uil­leann Pipes. I have three ear­ly sys­tem flutes, two of which for cer­tain were built in the 1800s. I’ve got­ten to own and have enor­mous plea­sure from all sorts of whis­tles, recorders, gui­tars, ban­jos, a con­certi­na, man­dolins, a vio­lin, a Bodhrán, a Glock­en­spiel, pianos, clar­inets, and a bouzou­ki.

At uni­ver­si­ty, I stud­ied flute and bas­soon and played in com­mu­ni­ty ensem­bles. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for ensem­ble work, I’ve always strug­gled with get­ting lost, con­fused, and mud­dled if play­ing any­thing not hold­ing the core shape of the melody.

For some rea­son, the cel­lo seemed beyond grasp of my sil­ly hobbyist’s desires to make music with all the beau­ti­ful clever con­trap­tions that have caught my fan­cy.

Then, a cou­ple of years ago some­thing very unfor­tu­nate hap­pened. A good friend and musi­cal men­tor passed away sud­den­ly leav­ing the church bereft of a bass play­er to lay foun­da­tion and har­mon­i­cal­ly under­pin the melod­ic tex­ture of the oth­er instru­ments. Also, by serendip­i­ty, a young man of our church had moved on to dif­fer­ent mis­sion­al adven­tures, leav­ing behind a beau­ti­ful Ibanez 5-string elec­tric bass, and every time I’ve inquired if he want­ed it back, he has respond­ed by say­ing, “If it’s being used to fur­ther the king­dom, I think it prob­a­bly where God wants it.”

I start­ed teach­ing myself to play the thing while sit­ting at the sound­booth dur­ing wor­ship prac­tices, with­out much hope of being able do the har­mon­ic thing where I’ve always tend­ed towards the melod­ic. It turned out to be sur­pris­ing­ly easy and fun and not the bug­bear I’ve always made it… I want dots on a page, not Alpha­bet fig­ur­ings. I fear the abstract and cling to the con­crete.

I do love the bass and it’s growl­ing per­cus­sive some­times smooth voic­ings, but it put me back in mind of yearn­ing for the beau­ty and res­o­nance of the cel­lo. Each year I would attend our asso­ci­a­tion of church­es’ Faith­walk­ers Mid-west con­fer­ence and be joy­ful­ly trans­port­ed when Lucas Shogren of Clocks & Clouds would lay down his bass and pick up the cel­lo. As the bass began to seem with­in my reach it seemed to draw the cel­lo along with it. If I could teach myself to fill a role on one instru­ment, per­haps I could do the same on one very sim­i­lar in many respects.

I did not think to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try as cel­los are very dear and I could nev­er jus­ti­fy the ini­tial out­lay just to jour­ney down a road a piece to see how I got on. I talked to friends about look­ing for one, but only in a vague wish­ful way. Enter Face­book Mar­ket­place. I try not to look so that I don’t find a bunch of things I didn’t know I need to have. In one of my rare moments of weak­ness, I found what looked to be a beau­ti­ful used full-sized cel­lo here in town when I hap­pened also to have a few unbud­get­ed kopeks rat­tling around in my pock­et. It seemed a rather low price for a love­ly stu­dent-mod­el instru­ment in a very good hard-side rolling case with not much more than a small f-hole crack to pro­voke con­cern. I felt bad about talk­ing the own­er down to a price I could afford, but which prob­a­bly could not have pur­chased the case new.

Of course, I quick­ly found it to be unplayable with a tun­ing peg that had no affec­tion for the peg­box to which it should adhere, and a bridge that was placed nowhere near where it should be and had been inex­pert­ly carved to use­less­ness so that if the bridge were to be posi­tioned cor­rect­ly, the strings would lay on the fin­ger­board. I had to find a skilled luthi­er and save my shekels (They seem to hold val­ue bet­ter than do kopeks) for a while to engage him to stop the crack, replace the peg with one stout enough to stick prop­er­ly, and carve a new bridge.

I got the work done but life intrud­ed for a cou­ple of months, and I nev­er got a chance to get the thing out and play with her now that she was a playable instru­ment. It’s been grow­ing on my mind for a while that I need to put down the bass gui­tar, which is fun and relax­ing to play, and start the hard work of the neo­phyte learn­er. Halfway through this last prac­tice I remem­bered that deter­mi­na­tion and got my lit­tle girl out and tuned her. She tuned. Right away, things were look­ing up *chuck­le*. I start­ed fig­ur­ing out where notes make their home. I had hoped that I would have this under my fin­gers some­what con­sid­er­ing that the Man­dolin, Vio­lin, and my Bouzou­ki are all tuned to GDAE. Nae. A bit of a men­tal rearrange­ment as the cel­lo lives a per­fect fifth below but doesn’t quite make it to the low B I love on the Bass. In the mid­dle of the song they were prac­tic­ing, they asked me if I was going to play with them Sun­day morn­ing for the spe­cial. I thought they were havin’ a go, as this was pret­ty much the first time I’d done more than fight to tune and saw out a few scales.

This morn­ing dur­ing prac­tice, things real­ly sort of clicked into place. One of my friends on the stage has told me in the past that she val­ues bold­ness so I decid­ed that I could either stay silent and won­der and wish, or be bold and risk doing poor­ly. Risk was reward­ed. As vague and wish­ful as the cel­lo has always seemed, and as sur­re­al as play­ing it dur­ing wor­ship felt, this morn­ing it was made sol­id.

The poten­tial was made sol­id. Before me lies a good deal of work and frus­tra­tion; to pull from var­i­ous sources to try to learn good tech­nique and not prac­tice in poor habits that will hold me back fur­ther on. Before me lies the invest­ment to make as famil­iar and com­fort­able, the notes of first-posi­tion of the cel­lo as they have become on the bass, and to build a tool­box of tech­niques and orna­ments to add rich­ness and vari­ety.

My goal is fea­si­ble. I want only to do what I’ve been doing with bass, but do it with an instru­ment that makes me want to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly hold my breath and weep. I want to use this instru­ment and ask God to use me as His instru­ment as we seek to wor­ship and facil­i­tate the wor­ship of oth­ers in our fam­i­ly.

And Then There Was One: Goodbye My Little Thistlepants

This­tle­downe start­ed seiz­ing ear­ly Wednes­day morn­ing. MU Vet Emer­gency got him sta­bi­lized and able to come home with anti-seizure meds and pred­nisone for his extreme hyper­glycemia. My room­mate woke me at 2am this morn­ing to let me know This­tle had been act­ing strange for a half hour. A half-hour lat­er after try­ing to give This­tle hon­ey and cool his hyper­ther­mia with cool water, Dwight, my room­mate was kind enough to take This­tle back to MU Emer­gency (I was not able to func­tion after an ear­li­er mas­sive dose of Tra­zodone). They were unable to cool him, bring his blood-sug­ar back up or stop the seizures. He was hap­py and healthy two days ago… a lit­tle dynamo of sweet play­ful affec­tion­ate fun that when­ev­er I sat down on the couch to work for a while would glom onto my leg and take a nap, con­tent to be in close con­tact and to be stroked occa­sion­al­ly.

On the phone, before I start­ed sob­bing, still talk­ing through with the doc­tor (who lat­er start­ed sob­bing her­self) how hope­less the sit­u­a­tion was, Hawthorne in the oth­er room start­ed grief howl­ing for the first time in his life. He knew the lit­tle broth­er he’d come into the world with and had been insep­a­ra­ble from for his entire life was leav­ing him.

The only way to overcome the unpredictability of your future is the power of promising

When we make a promise we take it on our fee­ble wills to keep a future ren­dezvous with some­one in cir­cum­stances we can­not pos­si­bly pre­dict. We take it on our­selves to cre­ate our future with some­one else no mat­ter what fate or des­tiny may have in store. This is almost ulti­mate free­dom.

When I make a promise, I bear wit­ness that my future with you is not locked into a bion­ic beam by which I was stuck with the fate­ful com­bi­na­tions of X’s and Y’s in the hand I was dealt out of my par­ents’ genet­ic deck.

When I make a promise, I tes­ti­fy that I was not rout­ed along some unal­ter­able itin­er­ary by the psy­chic con­di­tion­ing vis­it­ed on me by my slight­ly wacky par­ents.

When I make a promise I declare that my future with peo­ple who depend on me is not pre­de­ter­mined by the mixed-up cul­ture of my ten­der years.

I am not fat­ed, I am not deter­mined, I am not a lump of human dough whipped into shape by the con­tin­gent rein­force­ment and aver­sive con­di­tion­ing of my past. I know as well as the next per­son that I can­not cre­ate my life de novo; I am well aware that much of what I am and what I do is a gift or a curse from my past. But when I make a promise to any­one I rise above all the con­di­tion­ing that lim­its me.

— Lewis Bene­dic­tus Smedes (1921 — 2002)
“Con­trol­ling the Unpre­dictable – The Pow­er of Promis­ing“
Chris­tian­i­ty Today Jan. 1983

I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, com­ing back from the fire; limp­ing, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been say­ing is quite right, I shouldn’t won­der. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Sup­pose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan him­self. Sup­pose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more impor­tant than the real ones.

Sup­pose this black pit of a king­dom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pret­ty poor one. And that’s a fun­ny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies mak­ing up a game, if you’re right. But four babies play­ing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hol­low. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narn­ian as I can even if there isn’t any Nar­nia. So, thank­ing you kind­ly for our sup­per, if these two gen­tle­men and the young lady are ready, we’re leav­ing your court at once and set­ting out in the dark to spend our lives look­ing for Over­land. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Sil­ver Chair
If it is dis­agree­able in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for your­selves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the Riv­er, or the gods of the Amor­ites in whose land you are liv­ing; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
— Joshua 24:15 NASB

Facing Fears — My Father’s Passing

Many friends have read and processed and giv­en feed­back on my pre­vi­ous arti­cle, “All Chances Gone. No Bea­gle Pup­py”. They have also extend­ed to me much love and sup­port, for which I am very grate­ful.

I too have read and reread, edit­ed a bit here and there as some­thing such as this, put out there for pub­lic con­sump­tion should be painstak­ing­ly authored. I have reread and processed, and tak­en into account much of the feed­back and advice, and even exhor­ta­tions I have received from oth­ers.

I do after all, pon­der.

I came to the con­clu­sion that I was still being manip­u­lat­ed and con­trolled… by my own fears. Was I fright­ened of a emo­tion­al bug­bear blown out of all pro­por­tion over the years even if that bug­bear may prove, in fact, to be real­is­tic in some ways?

I was giv­ing him too much pow­er… where he has none.

I was let­ting fear be jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for not doing what I tru­ly wished to do, for­go­ing two oppor­tu­ni­ties, one of which will nev­er come again, and the oth­er which may nev­er be offered to me again.

The first oppor­tu­ni­ty is that of being able to say ‘good­bye’ and tell my father that I loved him in every way left open to me, and those ways fierce­ly. Per­haps it is self­ish, and I don’t know if I have a need or not yet, but I would very much not like to real­ize down the road that I have need for this clo­sure. I acknowl­edge that time might damp­en some feel­ings and allow oth­er feel­ings to have pri­ma­cy and with those, find only regret at hav­ing made a mis­take.

The sec­ond is to see fam­i­ly that I dear­ly love and have had lit­tle oppor­tu­ni­ty to be close to. The lack of close­ness was my own fault. I was so with­drawn into a shell of pro­tec­tion that I self-denied myself one of the best gifts I have and ever will have been giv­en. The asso­ci­a­tion was too strong. Again, I think this was dri­ven by a sort of fear. I spoke of regrets above. This regret already exists and is far greater than I antic­i­pate the oth­er might ever be if I again let those fears con­trol me.

Time march­es relent­less­ly onward and I have already lost much oppor­tu­ni­ty as now age and dis­ease, and its thiev­ing nature may have already robbed (No, my hurt and fool­ish­ness did the rob­bing, alas.) me of what I most desire. I could eas­i­ly spend a lot of effort and hatred toward myself for this fool­ish­ness, but it is point­less and I must act on the les­son of giv­ing the grace I give oth­ers to myself.

I don’t know about Bea­gle Pup­pies. That sce­nario, with time and tem­per­ance, seems less like­ly, but I do acknowl­edge it is still a pos­si­ble real­i­ty. I hon­est­ly don’t how to han­dle it if those fears are real­ized. I only know that I can­not let those fears dic­tate what I do.

I had for a few days tried to pass the respon­si­bil­i­ty for how I han­dled those fears off onto the shoul­ders of my father. That is non­sense. He can do noth­ing to me, then or now, and he can­not ‘make’ me fear­ful. Only I have that respon­si­bil­i­ty. It’s past time I owned that. Anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty for self-grace in that I think that try­ing to pass the respon­si­bil­i­ty was an inevitable part of the process, but that grace only has mean­ing if I also admit it was wrong and chose to do that which is right.

I could wish that Bea­gle Pup­pies played no role. Such lament is use­less, self-indul­gent, and waste­ful. I could lament that Bea­gle Pup­pies -ever- played a role, -ever- were a ‘thing’, but lamen­ta­tions do not alter. Lament only hin­ders one from pro­gress­ing for­ward if main­tained longer than is appro­pri­ate and healthy.


I will, from this point rede­fine Bea­gle Pup­py to mean only some­thing that I very much love. I will dis­card that oth­er def­i­n­i­tion in a box of use­less things des­tined for even­tu­al anni­hi­la­tion in fur­nace infer­no. There is one Bea­gle Pup­py like no oth­er. He slum­bers on the apex of his dwelling… when he’s not patrolling the skies over France, keep­ing them safe from the men­ace of Man­fred Albrecht Frei­herr von Richthofen. He admirably serves as per­pet­u­al short­stop and nev­er lets a ground ball past in for­mal and pick­up-games. He did once make a failed bid to forcibly replace Char­lie Brown as team man­ag­er, but we will speak only of his suc­cess­es here.


I had more loved images than would make sense in-line in a post already push­ing those lim­its, so here are the remain­der:

All Chances Gone. No Beagle Puppy

A fol­low-up arti­cle has been added here: Fac­ing Fears — My Father’s Pass­ing

All the chances I might have had to final­ly fig­ure out how to for­give and recon­nect with my father, and hope­ful­ly, lead him back to a sav­ing rela­tion­ship with Christ from his jad­ed athe­ism end­ed five days ago.

A rel­a­tive searched out my con­tact infor­ma­tion and let me know last night that my father was dis­cov­ered by police on a request­ed well­ness check. They esti­mate he passed away four days pre­vi­ous.

A lot of mixed emo­tions. There is remorse for my fail­ure and inabil­i­ty; remorse for times when I became right­eous­ly angry at his (con­tin­u­ing) mis­treat­ment of my moth­er, my sis­ter, and myself. There is regret that he seemed a text­book Sociopath that might have nev­er been reached by any efforts of for­give­ness and reach­ing out. There is prayer that God gives grace to those who may have their free will com­pro­mised, through no fault of their own, by men­tal damage/illness. The remorse is most­ly qui­et remorse and it may grow more intense as God works on my heart, but I can’t see how I could have done any­thing much dif­fer­ent than I did.

I am glad that he is no longer able to affect my moth­er and myself. My sis­ter has been beyond his grasp since pass­ing away at the begin­ning of 2005. Glad, but I did not wish him dead. I wished him all the life it took to come back to God in humil­i­ty as a sup­pli­cant, and then, per­haps, a life remain­der of qui­et peace. Not the false peace of a sociopath unable to know of trou­ble­some things, but of one who knows, knows he is for­giv­en through no act of his own, and who is able to accept that for­give­ness and wrap it around him­self like a com­fort­ing blan­ket.

If there were to be a funer­al ser­vice as near­by as Kear­ney, Nebras­ka, and had I a sur­feit of time and mon­ey, I would very much like to attend, and tell him that I loved him in every way that was left open to me and that I hope that in spite of my fail­ure to reach him that he is some­how cov­ered under Grace.

My moth­er sug­gest­ed that I should attend for anoth­er rea­son, and one which, even the pos­si­bil­i­ty of would make me chose not to attend even were I able. She sug­gest­ed that I might get a Bea­gle Pup­py, and since I am try­ing to find a way to pay for Nurs­ing School, that it would be a very won­der­ful bless­ing to have a Bea­gle Pup­py. I can­not stom­ach the idea of one more con­trol­ling manip­u­la­tion, one more car­rot and stick, one more act of twist­ed­ness being done to me.

Briefly, as a child, per­haps 6 years old I had been giv­en a copy of the Amer­i­can Ken­nel Club’s Dog Breeds Book because I was nuts about anything/everything ‘dog’. I loved its bright yel­low cov­er (my favorite colour then) and all the black and white pho­tos of dif­fer­ent breeds. I had poured over it like oth­er boys pour over base­ball cards mem­o­riz­ing stats, or in this case, char­ac­ter­is­tics, clas­si­fi­ca­tions, tem­pera­ments, groom­ing needs, and so on. I had paper-clipped pages for dif­fer­ent breeds and hon­est­ly, I would have liked to have all of them, or even just one of them. There was one at the time that stood out among the rest and that might have met my father’s strin­gent require­ments of an accept­able dog. It wasn’t Ben­ji, Ben­ji after all being a shel­ter dog of mys­te­ri­ous her­itage. It wasn’t my present day loves, Shih-Tzus (I don’t think we’d yet dog­gy-sat me mum’s boss’ Roxy and knew Shih-Tzu joy) and Bor­der Col­lies (They weren’t even rec­og­nized by the AKC at the time and more’s the pity they ever were). It wasn’t a Samoyed or an Alaskan Mala­mutes like my beloved (ok, she belonged to my sis­ter Alli­son, but she lived with me for sev­er­al years) Nik­ki. The page I came back to over and over; the page with two paper­clips and a third big one on the few full-colour pages in the cen­ter, was the Bea­gle. I want­ed this small scrap­py smart trim lit­tle dog who just looked like it had a heart burst­ing with love for a lit­tle boy. Con­stant “Bea­gle Pup­py” desire fol­lowed but gained no trac­tion with my par­ents… or rather with my Dad who must con­trol every­thing.

May­haps not so briefly. My par­ents were active in the church I had grown up in as bible-study lead­ers, youth min­istry helpers, and as dri­vers for the church van. It hap­pened that the youth group decid­ed to go on an out­ing to the almost-bet­ter-than-Dis­ney­land-way-bet­ter-than-Six-Flags Knott’s Berry Farm. It also hap­pened that the day of the trip was my 8th or 9th birth­day. When we reached the park I was giv­en the ‘choice’ of going around the day with my father, or with my moth­er. How can you make a wrong choice when there’s no real choice at all. My moth­er made such things fun and excit­ing. My dad com­plained and groused about the price of food which he would nev­er have pur­chased any­ways. Mum would get small treats when she could but as she real­ly didn’t have much of ‘her own mon­ey’ (her nurse’s salary was tak­en and con­trolled by my father), even those occa­sions were rare. He crit­i­cized and belit­tled every­thing. He con­de­scend­ed upon every­one, espe­cial­ly inter­na­tion­al work­ers and vis­i­tors. There was no fun with my Dad, no joy. He refused to ride any roller-coast­ers (some of the best were at KBF, The Corkscrew, Montezooma’s Revenge, etc), and my mum was a roller-coast­er-nut. I went with my mum. Lat­er in the day we recon­vened at a cov­ered pic­nic area and there was a sur­prise birth­day cake and par­ty wait­ing. It could not have pos­si­bly been a more per­fect day and would have stood in my child­hood as one of maybe 3 or 4 actu­al hap­py mem­o­ries (Meet­ing Benji(Benjean) and her train­er was one, a cer­tain Day at Ange­les Crest Chris­t­ian Camp was anoth­er).

It’s not. It’s not one of those. It was one of the oth­er kind of days of which there were so many, and this the one that still hurts the most. As we were leav­ing the park and get­ting back in the van and I was nurs­ing the fire­ball can­dies (They had to last. When­ev­er would they come again?) my moth­er had dis­obeyed my father and bought for me, my father took me aside. He pulled out his wal­let and from that took a clip­ping from the clas­si­fied sec­tion of the L.A. Times. I still remem­ber the smudged newsprint attempt at includ­ing a pho­to of a lit­ter of Bea­gle pup­pies and their mum… a lit­tle hard to make out in pure black & white process. My dad told me that he had planned, if I were to come with him for the day, for us to leave the park while oth­ers were enjoy­ing the rides and attrac­tions and to go and pick out a pup­py from the lit­ter, but as I had went with my mom, I would be get­ting no pup­py. Not today. Not ever. I don’t remem­ber how I react­ed beyond sit­ting at the back of the bus for the long trip back to cen­tral LA with a for­got­ten fire­ball burn­ing a hole through my cheek as I nei­ther felt nor tast­ed it, cry­ing, being embar­rassed and think­ing that I just didn’t want to con­tin­ue. I -think- it was around this time that I tried and failed to com­mit sui­cide with my dad’s .22 auto that I had no idea how to charge or un-safe. I couldn’t bear the thought of my ‘mis­take’ and that it would have ‘for­ev­er’ effects. To chil­dren, ‘for­ev­er’ means ‘ever after’, not ‘until cir­cum­stances one day change’. I didn’t think in terms of ‘unfair’ because I had nev­er known ‘fair’. I had had so much fun with my mum, and I should have had fun with my mum, but I didn’t real­ize I was unwit­ting­ly mak­ing or break­ing some Faus­t­ian bar­gain at the time. I didn’t want to be alone with my father, not before, not that day, not ever, and because of it my ‘mis­take’, there would nev­er be a pup­py to replace Ras­cal and Sam­son who had both passed away long before I even got to real­ly know them. I would nev­er have a pup­py. I don’t remem­ber any­thing after that until my moth­er moved us out of his house. It’s all blanked out. I think I shut down. I think I was crushed beyond car­ing about any­thing at all.

Could he real­ly be that twist­ed so as to do it again? Could he put some stip­u­la­tion in his will where I would be ‘reward­ed’ for mak­ing the ‘right’ wrong deci­sion and pun­ished for mak­ing the ‘wrong’ right deci­sion. Nobody could pos­si­bly do some­thing that heinous, could they?

I don’t want a Bea­gle Pup­py. I don’t ever want a Bea­gle Pup­py from him. I don’t want to miss his funer­al, but I very much wish I had been able to miss that birth­day at Knotts Berry Farm.

The answer is, “Yes, he could.”. Mon­ey has always been his go-to method to con­trol and hurt or bless (not altru­is­ti­cal­ly, but for the returns it brought him) peo­ple in his life.

My answer is, “No, I can­not. I Will not.” Today I would say, “I Shan’t.” but it just doesn’t seem as appro­pri­ate here. I will find some oth­er way, like every­one else, to take care of Nurs­ing School and oth­er need­ful things, and the hard­er it is, the it will be all the wor­thi­er for the dif­fi­cul­ty.

I hope he’s been grant­ed grace and under­stand­ing for the dif­fi­cul­ties of his own child­hood and for the men­tal derangement(s) he suf­fered.

I feel free. Free­dom that being half a nation away could nev­er bring. Free of that nag­ging wor­ry that he could still find some way to hurt my moth­er or less like­ly, myself. I wouldn’t have trad­ed his life for that free­dom, but the equa­tion was not of my mak­ing.

I sup­pose I am final­ly free to change my last name to some­thing that doesn’t hurt because now doing so won’t hurt him. I won­der at even both­er­ing to wait, but I know it was in the hopes of reach­ing him for Christ. Would that I could embrace the won­der­ful Cepel­ness that was a small part of my life, my Uncle Al and Aunt Car­ol and all their kids and their kid’s kid­dos, and a fair bit of good Cepel­ness back in Nebras­ka, but put togeth­er, all rep­re­sent a drop of joy in an ocean of hurt.

Tom’s going home again water-lilies bringing. Hey! Come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?

tom_bombadilLis­ten­ing to an old favorite while get­ting show­ered this morn­ing and was struck with a real­iza­tion. In con­sid­er­ing mar­riage and rela­tion­ships, old Tom sets an exam­ple in his regard and con­sid­er­a­tion for his lady Gold­ber­ry which should be the no-excus­es, no-excep­tions stan­dard we men must hold our­selves to with our own lady Gold­ber­rys.

I can count on two hands exam­ples I’ve seen in my own life. They are what I aspire to for myself. Almost with­out excep­tion, they are men (and women) who have made God the head of their mar­riage.

This, of course, flies in the face of fem­i­nist clap­trap, and I make no apolo­gies. Any non­sense that makes less of a Daugh­ter of Eve in sil­ly pur­suit of mak­ing her ‘equal’ is to be laugh­ably dis­card­ed. I hope that they them­selves find some­one who con­sid­ers them of far more worth than ever he does him­self, and who like­wise makes no apolo­gies.

Most men may nev­er reach this stan­dard, but may be con­tent if like a stan­dard in bat­tle, it goes ever before him dis­play­ing his colours and char­ac­ter, as much reminder to him­self as cau­tion to those ahead.

For some rea­son, beyond my ken, this KHOD com­ic was list­ed in the marshwiggle.org site sta­tis­tics for yes­ter­day. I adore KHOD. How very apro­pos. Here, Spencer’s father is show­ing his stan­dard to his son and teach­ing him to yearn for a sim­i­lar stan­dard of his own.

KHOD, July 11, 2013, "It gets worse"
KHOD, July 11, 2013, “It gets worse”

And he lifts up his arms in a blessing; For being born again

I walked out the door this morn­ing and was checked hard by a moist cold wind that smelled so fresh and clean that I had lit­tle choice but to stand still, feel, smell, and then praise God for His bless­ings. Praise Him for sea­sons that turn and turn again and days so in-your-face awe­some that even should you be con­sumed with inter­nal­ized dol­drums or busy think­ing those work-a-day thoughts, they will gob­s­mack you with beau­ty and plea­sure.
RichMullinsHeadshot
And the wrens have returned, and are nest­ing;
In the hol­low of that oak, where his heart once had been.
And he lifts up his arms in a bless­ing, for being born again.

— Rich Mullins, The Col­or Green, A Litur­gy
a Lega­cy, & a Raga­muf­fin Band

If you want someone to know the truth, you tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.

andrewpeterson
“So it’s a good ques­tion, and I’m not sure I know how to answer it, but today I think He did it that way in the are­na of his­to­ry and time and place because our hearts can only grasp His love if we’re told it in a sto­ry. Some­one said, ‘If you want some­one to know the truth, you tell them. If you want some­one to love the truth, tell them a sto­ry.’ Since God is after our hearts… since He knows the only way for those hearts to work prop­er­ly is to exist in the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of His love. He laid down his life to tell us a sto­ry.”
— Andrew Peter­son in answer his wife’s won­der­ing
why the hor­ror of the Cru­ci­fix­ion had to hap­pen.
“He Gave Us Sto­ries”, Ref­or­ma­tion Bible Col­lege,
2013 Fall Con­fer­ence, Cre­ation & Re-Cre­ation.


Go back to time­code 34:45 to hear his guid­ing idea behind writ­ing The Wingfeath­er Saga. He had a vision of who the main char­ac­ter Jan­ner Igi­by was and who he was to become and that it could only be accom­plished through con­flict. “The only way for Jan­ner Igi­by to become that per­son was for me to ruin his life. To send him on an adven­ture that would cause him pain. To strip him of every­thing that was famil­iar. To bring him to a point where he could not see the light at the end of the tun­nel. And now, at the end of my sto­ry I keep think­ing about how my whole point, my whole goal at the end of this epic tale I’m try­ing to tell is to make the dark­ness seem so great that it’s insur­mount­able. To make it so that the main char­ac­ters in my sto­ry are on the brink of giv­ing up hope, so that at the very last moment, I can lift the veil, and blow their minds and they can see that there was some­thing stronger than all the dark­ness.”

Reading Narnia to Your Children

Andrew Peterson - On reading the Chronicles of Narnia to his boys
“I read the Nar­nia books to my sons when they were lit­tle boys and I cried the whole way through. I don’t know how many of you guys have read those books to your kids. It’s one thing to read the Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia as a boy. It’s anoth­er thing to read them as a man to your chil­dren and I just wept my way through those books.”

I too tear up through­out read­ing the Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia. I strug­gle not to weep upon lis­ten­ing to him say these things as he describes my own dream for father­hood. I rejoice that there are oth­er men out there doing exact­ly that and ful­fill­ing that self­same dream. This only serves to revive all the same feel­ings I had upon first becom­ing acquaint­ed with Andrew Peter­son through the below video, Fam­i­ly Man. Not every­one has their dreams ful­filled. I am glad that some do. I am grate­ful that God gives com­fort and con­tent­ment even to those who do not.

A Very Irish Day

A friend sent me a pho­to today, of a bunch of red­head­ed girls in school uni­forms and woolen pullovers and their ponies on a sparse beach under an over­cast day with the chill ocean wind blow­ing hair, manes and fet­locks and break­ers rolling up on the sandy shore. ***

It has every ami­able qual­i­ty of what I and my Lost Beloved would call a Very Irish Day… of our favorite days in Ire­land that com­bined what we called Snug­gle Weath­er with crisp clean scent, the smell of the ocean, the cool mois­ture of the air (but nev­er damp), the over­cast sky, and so much beau­ty that gave the feel­ing of a very High Dynam­ic Range pho­to.

2016-08-22 13.34.35

Such was our first day in Ire­land when we pulled into the car park of the Rocky View Farm­house B&B in Fanore, Co Clare. We were greet­ed by a lit­tle short-haired cat that despite the cool wind was almost painful­ly warm to the touch who insist­ed on being thor­ough­ly pet with a lit­tle pep­per-box grinder churn­ing away in its throat.

We get a cou­ple of Very Irish Days with the chang­ing of the sea­sons here in Mis­souri. They always leave me yearn­ing and nos­tal­gic. Until a few years ago I was still able to greet them in my scratchy Aran wool cardi­gan and wool dri­ving cap. Years before that we would tell one anoth­er that it was a Very Irish Day and hold one anoth­er and just smell and feel for a brief while. I con­fess, I always smelled the day through the scent of her hair in my face.

I’m very grate­ful to have these lit­tle occur­rences every so often, though in truth they now feel like some­thing that hap­pened to some­one else. It feels like I expe­ri­ence them at sec­ond-hand, vic­ar­i­ous­ly through some oth­er. I think maybe that is for the best. I think that in this way God gives me a way to re-expe­ri­ence the joy while buffer­ing any sor­row that might still be lin­ger­ing in clos­ets I thought well swept out.

*** Not so very dif­fer­ent from the pre­co­cious school chil­dren on the Aran Islands who want­ed to play tin­whis­tle with me and pet our Whin and exclaim, “Oh, and isn’t he gor­geous! Has he had his nuu­uts?”. For­tu­nate­ly by this time we had heard this exact state­ment made dozens of times across both the Repub­lic and North­ern Ire­land, and I was able to answer, “Thank you. He’s a she and yes, she’s had her kib­ble this morn­ing.”

DCP_2799[1]

Pondering? Or Ruminating?

Guy Winch http://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene

Cathy Dow­nen http://www.agapechristiancounselingservices.org/dont-worry-be-happy/

rumi­nate
[roo-muh-neyt]
Spell Syl­la­bles
Syn­onyms Exam­ples Word Ori­gin
verb (used with­out object), rumi­nat­ed, rumi­nat­ing.
1.
to chew the cud, as a rumi­nant.
2.
to med­i­tate or muse; pon­der.
verb (used with object), rumi­nat­ed, rumi­nat­ing.
3.
to chew again or over and over.
4.
to med­i­tate on; pon­der.

As Tim­on and Pum­baa say, “It’s a won­der­ful phrase.” Well no, they say -not- rumi­nat­ing, “Haku­na mata­ta” is a won­der­ful phrase.

Lost Beloved

This morn­ing, as I prayed ask­ing God to bless Raina, ful­fill her, give her hap­pi­ness, heal if heal­ing is need­ed, and seek her if seek­ing is need­ed, I real­ized that I referred to to her as my Lost Beloved. It got me think­ing and I real­ized that I have been using this epi­thet for a cou­ple of months now as God has grant­ed much heal­ing of heart.

I real­ized that I haven’t giv­en up on God’s abil­i­ty to restore my mar­riage, I’ve just turned the whole thing over to Him, and what­ev­er He decides to do will be the best and most ful­fill­ing out­come, whether that means a restored mar­riage, a new mar­riage, or liv­ing out a remain­ing life­time of sin­gle­ness.

I believe I’ve final­ly decid­ed to stop being crip­pled and bro­ken. I’ve come to the point of cast­ing off the crush­ing bur­den I’ve car­ried for so long.

Three years ago, near­ly to the day, I com­posed a poem as part of the heal­ing and deal­ing process:

Boxed it All Up and Put it Away for Good
BoxOnTheShelf-CleanedUp-130x130

No longer strewn across my life, men­tal dross to trip and fall.
Reminders of the long ago, hang not upon each wall.

Gath­ered in a card­board box, packed and ordered well.
Flaps fold­ed in and inter­locked, form cor­ru­gat­ed shell.

Place upon a stor­age shelf, away from thought and mind.
Dis­card­ed not, dis­turb­ing not, from now till end of time.

That was a nec­es­sary step then to cope and func­tion because I -was- crip­pled and bro­ken and I was trip­ping and falling and injur­ing myself over and over.

I’ve had the box open once since then and I think that too was nec­es­sary to bring me to the point where I am now, at Peace. The re-open­ing was recent and I didn’t beat myself up because I gave myself the grace to grieve again as part of the heal­ing process. Now I real­ize that I wasn’t griev­ing as I had in the past, and I wasn’t trip­ping; I was say­ing farewell.

Farewell not just to my Lost Beloved, but to all of my hopes, bro­ken promis­es (the ones I broke as well), lost hap­pi­ness and bro­ken dreams, all tied to her in con­nec­tion, and around my neck as a mill­stone.

I’ve said farewell and I’ve found des­per­ate­ly sought after peace which I had nev­er hoped to find. I didn’t believe it pos­si­ble. I think I’m ready to close that box and this time, seal it shut with tape. I may one day throw the box away, but I don’t by any means wish to for­get what had been up until 7+ years ago the best and most reward­ing por­tion of my life.

I’m open now to new best and most reward­ing por­tions.

My fin­ger is now unadorned.

She is lost, to me. I have found myself, and only by God’s lov­ing grace. I don’t know what’s next, if any­thing, and for now, I’m not fussed. I like it here. It’s so much bet­ter than where I have been pre­vi­ous­ly.

Courage and Kindness | writingmymelody

Source: Courage and Kind­ness | writ­ingmymelody

My own jour­ney has been a lit­tle dif­fer­ent and Nice has been a nec­es­sary step, but only because my start­ing place was Mean. My father*, manip­u­la­tive, mean-heart­ed, con­trol­ling, and crit­i­cal, raised me to be a car­bon copy of him­self in my think­ing and atti­tudes. Until I was res­cued from his con­trol, my basic oper­at­ing sys­tem was Mean, Con­de­scend­ing, and Hurt­ful.

Res­cued at some­thing like 10 years old, it took many years away from his influ­ence before I began to have an inkling that things were wrong. I was Mean, even towards my res­cuers. My inkling was no stronger than know­ing that there were some peo­ple in my life that I real­ly liked and admired who were dif­fer­ent from all I knew and I knew that they were dif­fer­ent some­how in ways I could not com­pre­hend.

It was not until I was in res­i­den­tial treat­ment at Char­ter Hos­pi­tal my fresh­man year in high school that a group-ther­a­py leader named Dar­rel final­ly got through to me. He was one of those dif­fer­ent peo­ple and I think it took my first admir­ing him, for the cri­sis event that soon fol­lowed to have an impact on my arro­gant, legal­is­tic, self­ish, con­de­scend­ing, and mean heart. Indeed it took that admi­ra­tion for there to be a Cri­sis Event at all.

In a group ther­a­py ses­sion, I was being my usu­al charm­ing argu­men­ta­tive com­bat­ive con­de­scend­ing-self when Dar­rel braked hard and brought the con­ver­sa­tion to a screech­ing halt and said, “You know some­thing Chris­t­ian? I just real­ized. You real­ly ARE an A**hole.” When I got back to my room after the expect­ed tantrum of “You can’t say that to me!” had run its course, the cri­sis began and it left me bro­ken and floored.

I thank God for putting Dar­rel, and anoth­er per­son who’s kind heart and love for God has saved my life over and over the past cou­ple of decades, Bart Lar­son, Chap­lain, Pho­tog­ra­ph­er and Artist and at the time Chap­lain for the ado­les­cent unit at Char­ter Hos­pi­tal. (This next to the author of the blog post I reblogged) [You’ve like­ly seen his name on the pic­tures that used to line the walls at Life Spring and still do at Val­ley View.] He coun­seled me then. He res­cued me from demon­ic spir­i­tu­al attack. He coun­selled me after. He did our pre­mar­i­tal coun­sel­ing. He tag-teamed our wed­ding with Pas­tor John Drage of The Rock. He helped us through mis­car­riage and pain and 6+ years of fail­ing to re-con­ceive and my lost beloved’s health issues with PCOS, autoim­mune night­mares and celi­ac dis­ease. He helped us as our mar­riage fell apart and helped me after she left and kept me from end­ing my life many times as I griev­ed and griev­ed. He even helped me fix things and pro­fes­sion­al­ly paint our mar­riage home to get it ready for forced sale from the divorce. All qui­et­ly and kind­ly and unas­sum­ing. He has nev­er stopped help­ing me and pour­ing out to me God’s kind­ness (mod­el­ing it to me).

Along the long road from Mean to where I am now, which on good days, is leagues and leagues down the path towards Kind­ness, there was a nec­es­sary inter­me­di­ary step, or rather whole long sec­tion of the path. Nice­ness. It start­ed clum­si­ly and inept­ly and most espe­cial­ly, delib­er­ate­ly. I didn’t under­stand Kind­ness, I only knew the effects of kind­ness, upon me, from oth­ers. I had to make very con­scious delib­er­ate deci­sions to ‘Be Nice’ where all my life my BIOS, my Firmware, my autopi­lot had been ‘Be Mean’.

Good days. Bad days. Good encoun­ters. Bad encoun­ters. Start­ing with far more bad than good until final­ly the bad became ‘the old man’ who stayed buried most of the time. He’s still not dead, but he’s not enjoy­ing the sun­shine and fresh air any longer and the guard I’ve set on his prison is usu­al­ly very dili­gent.

Being Nice opened me up to being able to learn and come to a deep and intu­itive under­stand­ing of the kind­ness of these peo­ple in my life, and through them, the kind­ness of Christ who ruled their lives. It gave me feel­ings of suc­cess (and self-for­give­ness/­grace/ac­cep­tance) instead of self-loathing, and encour­aged me to keep fight­ing to move from Nice to Kind. It taught me to move my life­long rela­tion­ship with Christ from see­ing Him from a legal­is­tic and truth per­spec­tive to a rela­tion­ship of rec­og­niz­ing His kind­ness and lov­ing Him for it and learn­ing to tem­per Truth with Grace (as is best exem­pli­fied in Randy Alcorn’s “The Grace & Truth Para­dox”).

I’m not Kind yet. I am kind-of Kind. I am Kind-er. I have times where kind­ness is my auto-pilot and love is the lift that keeps my plane aloft. Much of my ROM BIOS/Firmware has been flashed with new base instruc­tions.

Going from Mean, through Nice, to Kind, has been every bit a “Fake it ‘till you make It.” jour­ney.

Much of the dif­fer­ence between Kind and Nice has been the jour­ney from delib­er­ate and forced to nat­ur­al, heart­felt, and sin­cere.

* none of this can be sep­a­rat­ed from the lessons of Total For­give­ness as taught by R.T. Kendall. Total For­give­ness par­al­lels this idea ‘nice until kind’ in a strong way in that the process of Total For­give­ness is a dai­ly deci­sion to for­give. That prac­tice will con­tin­ue dai­ly for a life­time unless God even­tu­al­ly heals you to the point where you no longer need to decide each day because you have total­ly for­giv­en them.

One of the steps towards Total For­give­ness has been to real­ize that he would prob­a­bly be com­plete­ly bewil­dered and pos­si­bly very hurt that I see things this way. Real­iz­ing that has been one of the first steps towards extend­ing him true grace. He’s no more and no less a sin­ful fall­en lump than I am. We’re both raga­muffins, but only I’ve been giv­en the bless­ing of real­iz­ing it.

Peace

The Jor­dan is wait­ing for me to cross through
My heart is aging I can tell
So Lord, I’m beg­ging
For one last favor from You
Here’s my heart take it where You will
— Rich Mullins, Eli­jah

I’ve been work­ing hard since before Faith­walk­ers, dur­ing and after, to turn my desire for a beloved (specif­i­cal­ly my lost beloved) over to God and be able to know I’m not just speak­ing emp­ty words when I pray, “Lord, please build in me a desire to sin­cere­ly say, It’s yours. Do with it what you will. Do with me what you will.” I’ve been feel­ing at peace now for a cou­ple of weeks but as an arti­cle I’ve yet to pub­lish will show, I have great faith in God on behalf of oth­ers, but a great prob­lem with hav­ing demon­stra­bly lit­tle faith when it comes to myself. I’ve been hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty trust­ing in the peace to be what I asked for and to be real and last­ing. I think that uncon­scious atti­tude may be chang­ing as this seems twice on this issue God has answered my prayers with mer­cy and grace.

I was test­ed in this all too soon when a shared-friend shared with me a pho­to my lost beloved post­ed to her social media. A pho­to of her hold­ing a sweet pre­cious lit­tle baby. She spec­u­lat­ed that it might be my lost beloved’s own child. She knew I would like to know as I’ve been denied pret­ty much all knowl­edge for five years, but thought it might be unfor­tu­nate if true, espe­cial­ly if con­ceived out of wed­lock.

I was entire­ly sur­prised to be able to hon­est­ly respond that if the lit­tle one is my lost beloved’s, then it’s rea­son for joy. My lost beloved looked so much hap­pi­er, health­i­er, and more at peace than I’ve seen her in 7 years. From the ear­li­est days of our mar­riage, she want­ed des­per­ate­ly to have chil­dren and to be a moth­er, but it seemed that PCOS and some autoim­mune dif­fi­cul­ties would deny her the deep­est wish­es of her heart. If she’s remar­ried; If she has a fam­i­ly; yes, there is an ache, but I can­not help but be grate­ful to God. I prayed for this for 7 years while she was my wife. After a peri­od of learn­ing to see past my own bro­ken heart and what I thought unen­durable pain, I’ve prayed near­ly every day since that wher­ev­er she is, that God bless­es her, brings her peace, hap­pi­ness, ful­fill­ment, and most of all close rela­tion­ship with Him in all things. I want­ed, and still want, truth be told, these things to be with me, but I want even more for her not to be denied the deep­est desires of her heart. Gone is a por­tion of the self­ish­ness that ruled my heart, selah.

So, yes. Right now I am feel­ing at peace and feel­ing as though prayers have been answered and requests ful­filled. There’s noth­ing on the hori­zon, but, for now, that’s OK. My want for my lost beloved to return and rec­on­cile is in no way dimin­ished. My want to have a beloved and be a beloved and to raise a fam­i­ly in love is in no way dimin­ished. These deeply held desires have not been dimin­ished, they’ve been sur­ren­dered to a new keep­er… one who is far bet­ter than I with such things. There is peace. Unless I once again try to wrest back con­trol, there will be peace, and pos­si­bly through peace, ful­fill­ment, or ful­fill­ment of a sort not yet known or longed for.

Postmarital Singleness

I ran across this excel­lent arti­cle, and while there is much to take away, it’s clear that it was writ­ten to the Rebeu­tion youth. For those of us who have once been mar­ried, the temp­ta­tion is to seize on it all, most espe­cial­ly the opti­mism and hope Paul gives for those who are sin­gle, and while some of that is there to be seized, I do not think all, and care and con­sid­er­a­tion should be tak­en.


Sin­gle­ness is a Gift and That’s Bib­li­cal in Case You For­got

Sin­gle­ness is not a form of embar­rassed earth­ly pur­ga­to­ry. It is not a sign of God’s dis­plea­sure. It does not make you a dif­fer­ent kind of Chris­t­ian or require you to start your own sep­a­rate Bible study with the oth­er spir­i­tu­al lep­ers.”

Per­haps Kee­ley, but that’s exact­ly what divorced sin­gle­ness is. You’ve bet the farm on what you knew was not a gam­ble and you’ve lost. You’ve giv­en away your best; inno­cence, youth, ener­gy, opti­mism, all your ‘firsts’, hopes and dreams, and your entire heart and you come away with a piti­ful rem­nant.

I keep return­ing to the night­mare at the begin­ning of Josh Har­ris’ I Kissed Dat­ing Good­bye; “I thought I had your heart.” “You do. All that’s left is yours.” Mar­riage is the first mar­riage. Remar­riage, while it can be won­der­ful and can be many of the things the mar­riage was sup­posed to be but wasn’t is still some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Once you under­stand that you’re almost forced by good con­scious to lim­it your remar­riage yearn­ing to only those who are also the rem­nant that you are. You become con­vinced that you have no right to take from anoth­er what you your­self lost, even if freely giv­en. You rec­og­nize and defend in that oth­er per­son the poten­tial and the ethe­re­al “right” to have a mar­riage, not a remar­riage, with a ful­ly intact com­pli­ment of God’s gifts; inno­cence, youth, ener­gy, lifes­pan, etc.

It there­fore becomes dif­fi­cult to see post-mar­tial sin­gle­ness as a gift, because 1 Cor 7 sin­gle­ness is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent ani­mal. Your gift of sin­gle­ness has been spent. Your gift of mar­ried­ness has been spent. “Yes God, I’m ready to serve.….…..All that’s left, is Yours.”

’Іοϋλίαν ποθω*

snoopyhugwood

Farewell Hug

Five long years, wish­ing for just one thing
Dream­ing, imag­in­ing, yearn­ing. Know­ing.

Know­ing each friend­ship offer­ing meant, to me, more;
Meant more than would per­mit accept­ing.

Each, refused in love, to take unfair­ly.
Sneak attacks not with­stand­ing.

Resolved nev­er to accept with­out ring;
That sin­gle, soli­tary, most yearned-for thing.

Till today, blessed event, joy-filled radi­ant smile.
On beau­ti­ful hand a beau­ti­ful ring.

Par­i­ty achieved deep with­in.
Offered. Accept­ed, at last with­out sin.

The first the last.
A fond­est farewell.
A new desire kin­dled;
Bene­dic­tion of bless­ing;
Prayer for all joy.

May God bless and pre­serve;
New life togeth­er in Him.

Chris­t­ian Pud­dleglum Ran­som Harp­er
Decem­ber 19, 2015

*Until today.

Update: Jan­u­ary 17, 2017. I’ve had this as pri­vate for a while but decid­ed to just let it be what it is and make it pub­lic. I thought about remov­ing it all togeth­er as it’s not tech­ni­cal­ly true, ‘The first the last’. I’ve been hugged and hugged hard and hugged back a lit­tle, and endured/enjoyed sneak-attacks, and near­ly been knocked on my keester by the won­der­ful unre­strained exu­ber­ance. The won­der­ful thing though is the endur­ing truth of the line “at last with­out sin.” She’s like a crazy lit­tle sis­ter now and I can enjoy spend­ing time and con­vers­ing with her and her hus­band. God bless­es.

Fit Though Misfit

For all of you who won­der how my heart can still yearn for my for­mer wife (as well as the girl I thought to make my wife), I can final­ly explain it for you (and for myself).

I real­ized… I don’t fit in… -any­where-. I am odd­ly and eccen­tri­cal­ly shaped. Every sin­gle ven­ture out­side my door (and even those inside) are plagued with the pain and ten­sion of nev­er fit­ting in even despite much effort.

That’s ok. I have friends who extend grace and love and make a place I can fit in despite my odd shape.

So why do I not close off my heart to (and the hurt from) those few I have tru­ly loved? It’s sim­ple now to explain. With them, I fit. They loved me (I believed) and none of my irreg­u­lar­i­ties and rough areas stuck out in incon­ve­nient places… and in that con­text, I could relax.

Nev­er, ever, ever am I able to have that com­fort and relax­ation out of that con­text. Every day is an ardu­ous intim­i­dat­ing task to do the same thing I did yes­ter­day. Hat­ed it then. Hate it today.

I have had two, all too brief, peri­ods in my life when that wasn’t true.

I think there­in lies even some of my desire to have a fam­i­ly… Fam­i­lies fit, because they grow around one anoth­er. Love is the flex­i­bil­i­ty that not only molds one shape to the next, but also changes some of the dif­fi­cult things about each one so that they fit nat­u­ral­ly in that con­text and then out­side of that con­text.


Of course, I’ve also learned that I appar­ent­ly relaxed too much… the les­son there would be that I can nev­er tru­ly relax, but that’s a les­son, despite learned, that I will -not- embrace, because to do so would be to reject life and all hope of what­ev­er joy God may grant in this life­time.