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]

Ukraine on Indefinite Hold

We’ve got­ten news that after two years of cease­fire, hos­til­i­ties and shelling have resumed in the region we were going to work to rebuild and that it’s a flack-jack­et only area.

I’ve been up and down in weight with ill­ness, dai­ly full-body hives aller­gic reac­tions and try­ing to get trips in with Uber. Last weigh in was 288 which is twelve won­der­ful­ly absent bur­dens. Oh to be Bunyan’s Chris­t­ian and to lay -that- bur­den down at the cross along with my pack, my heavy-load.

This will be the last post unless the sit­u­a­tion changes. I’m still work­ing on my health and weight with the hope that the oppor­tu­ni­ty will again present. It’s one of those easy times to say with com­plete con­fi­dence, that if God wants it to hap­pen, He’ll do what needs doing.

Now to turn my atten­tion to the upcom­ing 5th Annu­al Men’s retreat. Last year’s was fan­tas­tic in every way, but the stress and wor­ry com­plete­ly did me in. I resolved to start plan­ning this year’s before even leav­ing the site. This year I have mar­ket­ing han­dled. Instead of mail­ing each of 7 church­es a PDF, we print­ed 14 pg pro­fes­sion­al fliers to send to each pas­tor. Because Sta­ples made a mis­take we end­ed up get­ting -both- sides in colour and they look absolute­ly fan­tas­tic (thank you Sta­ples. You moved moun­tains.) I still have half my mar­ket­ing bud­get remain­ing and firm con­fir­ma­tion that the region­al head will chivy the indi­vid­ual church­es into send­ing their men (He’s the guest speak­er after all *chuck­le*). I feel relaxed and opti­mistic. It’s great work­ing with Pas­tors Ed & Adam to put some­thing togeth­er that I trust will bless -hard-.

VVCC-2016-Men'sRetreatFlyerQuarterPg-Front
VVCC-2016-Men'sRetreatFlyerQuarterPg-Back

Progress, Mar 29, 2016, 287lbs.

60ForUkraineMak­ing slow progress towards the goal with only 8lbs since my last post. I had some set­backs for two weeks with health (requir­ing steroids) that have thank­ful­ly been reme­died and I’m back on track fol­low­ing those two weeks. I don’t know if it’s actu­al­ly pos­si­ble to reach the goal in time for the trip which is now ten­ta­tive­ly sched­uled to begin in mid June.

The orig­i­nal cost esti­mate of $1,500 had risen to $2,000 and that caused con­cern because I don’t want to use the schol­ar­ships the church is pro­vid­ing. I decid­ed to trust instead of wor­ry and soon after start­ed dri­ving for Uber and am already more than ¼ of the way to that goal and I hope to be able to con­tribute -to- the schol­ar­ship fund. I can dri­ve as lit­tle or as much as I want so it’s all a mat­ter of push­ing to make it hap­pen.

This hoop has been jumped through and arrived last week:
CepelPassport2016Sm

Still pray­ing to know if this is the right thing to do.

Progress, Mar 1, 2016, 295lbs.

60ForUkraineMany steps for­ward, a few steps back, but still mak­ing progress. I was down to 292 as of last Fri­day but the week­end was dif­fi­cult. Back on track as of yes­ter­day (well, Sun­day after­noon real­ly) and 5 lbs down. It hasn’t been too dif­fi­cult. Pro­tein in the a.m., Oat­meal for lunch, leav­ing only the evening hours to bat­tle with.

Ener­gy has been sapped for exer­cise but I still man­aged to reach goals most days. The Fit­bit food track­ing is both great and frus­trat­ing, but for the first time I have a intake track­er that I can make work for me for most things and I antic­i­pate that I’ll remain dili­gent in using it for that rea­son.

It looked for a while like the chances of my being able to go to on the Ukraine mis­sion trip might be nil and a lot of my ‘goal’ moti­va­tion was depressed. What was once a 6-per­son trip with -maybe- 1 or 2 open slots has now expand­ed to accom­mo­date all who would like to go and serve. Finances seemed like anoth­er lim­it­ing fac­tor but I received an esti­mate last evening that was about a third of what I expect­ed and there will be some schol­ar­ships avail­able. I am strength­ened in my resolve to press on towards the goal!

I have been using Duo Lin­go to try to bring back a near­ly com­plete­ly lost two semes­ters (10 hours) of Col­lege Russ­ian. I had for­got­ten how much I loved, and how dif­fi­cult I found this lan­guage.

Still pray­ing for answers and a heart to hear if my desire to go mesh­es with His desire.

Begin, Feb 20, 2016, 300lbs.

60ForUkraine
So begins a jour­ney that I hope ends in the Ukraine. I can­not join my church’s mis­sion team and be an asset at 300.bs and a BMI of 43 with bouts of Chron­ic Fatigue pulling me down unex­pect­ed­ly. I’m hope­ful that with prayer and a goal and account­abil­i­ty, that I can achieve return­ing to a weight I last saw in 2000 when I joined Tiger Chris­t­ian Life on a mis­sion trip to Hon­duras.

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.


When did Religion become a ‘bad’ word?

I’m hear­ing the word reli­gion being used as though it’s a bad thing and it’s start­ed both­er­ing me great­ly. I under­stand why peo­ple have turned it into a neg­a­tive word, but I think it’s very impor­tant that we fight the urge to go along with talk­ing about reli­gion as though it’s some­thing bad… or even some­thing good… because “reli­gion” is not inher­ent­ly bad or good, and any good­ness or bad­ness is added by what I myself make it.

No mat­ter how we might strive to empha­size the dif­fer­ence between our ortho­praxy and the ortho­praxy of some­one else… i.e., stress­ing that our Chris­tian­i­ty is about “rela­tion­ship” while dis­tanc­ing your­self from, say, the strict litur­gi­cal prac­tice of one denom­i­na­tion or church or oth­er, we are still com­mit­ting reli­gion and always will be.

It’s ok to self-iden­ti­fy as a Chris­t­ian of a par­tic­u­lar mindset/practice, but I’m think­ing we’re doing every­one and the Eng­lish lan­guage a great dis­ser­vice if we aid in the demo­niza­tion of a func­tion­al decent word that is free from the bur­den of the addi­tion­al bag­gage peo­ple are try­ing to incor­rect­ly (fool­ish­ly) hang on it.

Here­in I find irony… I myself have been doing this and doing it for years. My pro­file set­tings on Face­book have read: “Reli­gious Views: Chris­t­ian — Rela­tion­ship not Reli­gion” since I cre­at­ed my account lo these many eons past. That changes today.

My reli­gion is Chris­tian­i­ty, and by that I mean what was meant the two times the word appeared in scrip­ture, “One who is fol­low­ing Christ.” I’m going to strive to fight the com­pul­sion to hang more bag­gage on my answer.

Six years in… and trusting God

LovelyRainaSix years and a bit ago, my beloved, beau­ti­ful, sweet, and pre­cious Raina Janel left.

Six years ago I read an arti­cle writ­ten by a cou­ple, who, against all rea­son and over­com­ing insur­mount­able bar­ri­ers, had their mar­riage mirac­u­lous­ly restored from scat­tered ash­es after six years.

Six years seemed impos­si­ble, but even so, it always was a fixed quan­ti­ty in my mind.

« Six years »

5750790729_e7723ee282_xlargeAs it loomed ever clos­er, I real­ized that I had uncon­scious­ly begun to view six years as a cut-off… a lim­it on God’s sov­er­eign pow­er to enact any mir­a­cle He might desire to per­form. A count­down clock ticked ever near­er towards that day when all hope would be gone.

This I real­ized a year and a half ago.… four and a half years into my great and all-encom­pass­ing sor­row… and I real­ized I had been a fool.

TogetherWeddingGod is not lim­it­ed by the cal­en­dar. He may, by His own rules be lim­it­ed only by the death of one or the oth­er of us, but I don’t know His rules and so it would be fool­ish to expect that even death is any bar­ri­er or hob­ble.

I press onward, with no hope in the restora­tion of our mar­riage but infi­nite­ly increased hope and trust in Him. What a tes­ti­mo­ny He may give us. Six pal­try years… pshaw. Child­splay! Imag­ine the tes­ti­mo­ny to His Awe­some­ness of a mar­riage restored after 20 or 30 years; if only a cou­ple places their hope and their hearts in Him, and if not us, I pray oth­ers.

God is Great! He patient­ly and grace­ful­ly con­tin­ues to work on me… my heart, my all. I hope I’m an improved man for 6 years; more hum­ble, less cer­tain that I’ve got any­thing fig­ured out, less full of false pride, and a more lov­ing heart. I remain an abom­inably slow and stub­born, but still ded­i­cat­ed stu­dent.

This para­graph sounds con­tra­dic­to­ry. I real­ly have absolute­ly no hope in this any more and a over a year and a half ago I put all things Raina away in a box on a shelf, both metaphor­i­cal­ly and lit­er­al­ly, and for the most part, there she has stayed for the sake of my san­i­ty and so that my mind was clear to focus upward instead of back­ward. I speak of the gift of a tes­ti­mo­ny not in the sense that I har­bor hope for one, but in the sense that I know that noth­ing is beyond Him and so I don’t rule it out. For all I know, He has either noth­ing, or some­thing dif­fer­ent in store for me. What­ev­er it is, or isn’t, I trust in Him that it will be best.

Are you having a secret sordid affair… with money?

Hiding MoneyThink about it. In recent years it’s become very front-of-mind to have account­abil­i­ty in the area of our lives gen­er­al­ly described as sex­u­al integri­ty. We encour­age men and women alike to find like-mind­ed folks to sup­port them as they try to align this area of their life with God’s stan­dard. We invite these trust­ed peo­ple to have unfet­tered access (if we’re being hon­est) into our lives to make cer­tain that we can­not keep sex­u­al sin hid­den… sin such as porn, affairs, sex out­side of mar­riage, vis­its to strip clubs, pros­ti­tutes, cha­t­rooms, hookup apps, dat­ing sites, etc., even men­tal­ly lust­ing after those who are not our spouse.

That kind of account­abil­i­ty seems almost insane to one who has not gone through the expe­ri­ence of a self-moti­vat­ed “dying to self” and decid­ing that we desire God more than we love our sin and pride, or alter­na­tive­ly, of being caught out by a loved one or leader and giv­en a choice between being account­able or fac­ing con­se­quences we can­not bear to face.

Yet, even to those of us who are striv­ing for account­abil­i­ty in this area, many of us would balk far more strong­ly if some­one were to sug­gest that we asked our­selves if we need­ed to be Finan­cial­ly Account­able. We’d be will­ing to let oth­ers in to our sanc­tum sanc­to­rum of deep­est inner secrets of our sex­u­al thought-lives, com­put­er usage, and dat­ing activ­i­ties, but the very idea of let­ting anoth­er like-mind­ed broth­er or sis­ter see what choic­es we have been mak­ing with our mon­ey would be almost crip­pling­ly unthink­able. We’d take up arms and fight; Yes,fight to the point of destroy­ing friend­ship and fel­low­ship if any­one were to dare sug­gest that we might be hid­ing a dirty-lit­tle-finan­cial-secret; a lit­tle expen­di­ture here, a ‘just for emer­gen­cies’ maxed-out cred­it card there…

Why? I don’t know why for each per­son, but there is one rea­son I think would be fair­ly com­mon, that rea­son being that it’s not just that we don’t want oth­ers judg­ing our finan­cial hon­esty, but that finan­cial hon­esty would shine a reveal­ing light on a whole host of things in our lives that we are dis­hon­est about, things that we are ashamed of and want kept secret.

In some ways it might be even hard­er for those of us who have sought account­abil­i­ty in the area of sex­u­al integri­ty because we have, in our hearts, incor­rect­ly begun to feel that we’re real­ly upstand­ing folks. We’ve exposed the dirt­i­est, dark­est, most shame­ful, most hid­den parts of our­selves and let the light of hon­esty shine into the dark­est cor­ners and most hid­den nich­es. We might think our­selves jus­ti­fied in keep­ing this oth­er area of our life in shad­ow behind locked doors. We might be loathe to admit, even to our­selves that we might find our­selves far and away more great­ly ashamed of our lit­tle finan­cial dal­liances than ever we were about an occa­sion­al look at a skin mag, view­ing an imag­i­na­tion-inspir­ing Hol­ly­wood movie, hang­ing out on dat­ing sites where the con­ver­sa­tion can become… stim­u­lat­ing, a Google image search with Safe-Search fea­tures dis­abled, or that lin­ger­ing look we take each time we pass the desk of the sec­re­tary at work who is com­plete­ly unaware of just what we can see when stand­ing while she’s sit­ting.

The bible tells us that even our best is as filthy rags, I would think most espe­cial­ly if our best is help­ing us give our­selves a pass some­where else. Isa­iah 64:5–8 NASB

5 You meet him who rejoic­es in doing right­eous­ness,
  Who remem­bers You in Your ways.
  Behold, You were angry, for we sinned,
  We con­tin­ued in them a long time;
  And shall we be saved?

6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
  And all our right­eous deeds are like a filthy gar­ment;
  And all of us with­er like a leaf,
  And our iniq­ui­ties, like the wind, take us away.

7 There is no one who calls on Your name,
  Who arous­es him­self to take hold of You;
  For You have hid­den Your face from us
  And have deliv­ered us into the pow­er of our iniq­ui­ties.

8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
  We are the clay, and You our pot­ter;
  And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Some final thoughts:

Has some­thing very help­ful to the Chris­t­ian walk per­haps been mis­used and caused great harm for some in this area? How many of us Chris­tians would be inclined to wave our Finan­cial Peace Uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­a­tion cer­tifi­cates (metaphor­i­cal­ly speak­ing) to quell any ques­tions oth­ers who care about us might have for us. We’d nev­er wave our actu­al bud­get. I know I’ve waved my cer­tifi­cate a time or two when uncom­fort­able scruti­ny has fall­en upon me. Heav­en for­bid that we wave our “I Tithed” stick­er around like we’ve just left the vot­ing polls to rebuff inquiry into this area, because, “If I’ve tithed, I must have my finan­cial house and heart in order.” I’ve been amused at the social meme late­ly of com­plete­ly replac­ing rhetoric with the antithe­sis of rhetoric; the “Because Sci­ence!” or “Because Racist!” argu­ment [air quotes], how­ev­er, it’s not so amus­ing when I real­ize that I might have myself used the “Because FPU!” or “Because Tithe!” argu­ments to stomp on hon­est inquiry.

I think in a lot of ways, our hearts and pri­or­i­ties may far more clear­ly be reflect­ed in our bank state­ments than our CovenantEyes or X3Watch account­abil­i­ty reports.

I guess this area for some of us may be one more exam­ple of Col. Jim­mie Coy’s ABoBs (A Bowl of Beans one is will­ing to pur­chase in exchange for their eter­nal spir­i­tu­al birthright).

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book Novem­ber 1, 2014, as a fol­low-up to thoughts post­ed Octo­ber 17, 2014 and repub­lished here as An Invi­ta­tion to Self-Reflec­tion

An Invitation to Self-Reflection

Dark Corner
Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book Octo­ber 17, 2014.
Late­ly I’ve been pon­der­ing some ques­tions I would ask myself and invite oth­ers to ask them of them­selves.
If I would answer ‘yes’ to the fol­low­ing ques­tion, “Am I in a rela­tion­ship with oth­er believ­ers that involves some form of account­abil­i­ty?”, then these fol­low-up ques­tions to myself would fol­low:
  1. In all the aspects of my life in which I am osten­si­bly trans­par­ent, is there any activ­i­ty or aspect which I have com­part­men­tal­ized away and either con­scious­ly or uncon­scious­ly in order to make cer­tain that it nev­er gets exposed, dis­cussed or explored, by not bring­ing it up or by steer­ing the con­ver­sa­tion in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion when some­one else brings it up? Might I even go so far as to con­fess oth­er areas of weak­ness both to show a sin­cere desire for account­abil­i­ty and to direct atten­tion away from my secret activ­i­ty? Do I have a dark hid­den cor­ner?
  2. If the answer to #1 was yes, why do I do it? Am I:
    1. Ashamed or embar­rassed?
    2. Fair­ly cer­tain that I know what their response would be and that they might ques­tion whether it was wise, or God­ly, or some­how at odds with the kind of rela­tion­ship with God that I want and pro­fess to want to have?
    3. Com­plete­ly cer­tain that I know what their response would be because it’s come up before and per­haps I even agreed at the time (Do I not now?) that it was unwise or unGod­ly or some­how at odds with who I claim to (want to) be in God?
  3. Final­ly, if the answer to #2 matched any of the pos­si­ble rea­sons, or even rea­sons that weren’t sug­gest­ed, how impor­tant real­ly, is that activ­i­ty or aspect, and do I real­ly want to keep pos­ses­sion of that activ­i­ty or aspect?
I say final­ly, but it leads me to pon­der some­thing Col. Jim­mie Coy asked us about at the Val­ley View Com­mu­ni­ty Church 2014 Men’s Retreat; Does that ‘thing’ qual­i­fy as an ABOB, A Bowl of Beans, a bowl of lentil stew which I desire so very strong­ly that I am will­ing to trade away my entire birthright, as did Esau, in exchange for gain­ing or keep­ing. Fur­ther, when I’ve reached the bot­tom dregs of that bowl, will I still agree with the log­ic and rea­son­ing that led to my deci­sion? Will I find last­ing sat­is­fac­tion that replaces the val­ue of my birthright, or will I find last­ing remorse over that which I for­sook?
From Jim­mie Coy: ABOB, A Bowl Of Beans…is any­thing that will sep­a­rate you from your Spir­i­tu­al eter­nal birthright. ABOB calls to each of us but ulti­mate­ly it is what sep­a­rates us from our great­est trea­sure. As Desmond Doss would say, ‘If we miss heav­en, we have missed every­thing.’ IC, jdc”

Divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil

SurprisedByJoy1“If the North­er­ness seemed then a big­ger thing than my reli­gion, that may part­ly have been because my atti­tude toward it con­tained ele­ments which my reli­gion ought to have con­tained and did not. It was not itself a new reli­gion for it con­tained no trace of belief and imposed no duties. Yet unless I am great­ly mis­tak­en, there was in it some­thing very like ado­ra­tion; some kind of quite dis­in­ter­est­ed self-aban­don­ment to an object which secure­ly claimed this by sim­ply being the object it was. We are taught in the Prayer Book to ‘give thanks to God for His great glo­ry’ as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He nec­es­sar­i­ly is than for any par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fit he con­fers upon us; and so indeed we do, and to know God is to know this, but I had been far from any such expe­ri­ence. I came far near­er to feel­ing this about the Norse gods whom I dis­be­lieved in than I had ever done about the true God while I believed. Some­times I can almost think that I was sent back to the false gods, there to acquire some capac­i­ty for wor­ship against the day when the true God should recall me to Him­self. Not that I might not have learned this soon­er and more safe­ly in ways I shall now nev­er know with­out apos­ta­sy, but that divine pun­ish­ments are also mer­cies and par­tic­u­lar good is worked out of par­tic­u­lar evil and the penal blind­ness made san­i­tive. ” ~ C. S. Lewis, Sur­prised by Joy

Jesus Loved the Broken

Rich MullinsJesus said what­ev­er you do to the least of these my broth­ers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to iden­ti­fy ful­ly with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Sav­ior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to iden­ti­fy with the poor. This I know will go against the teach­ings of all the pop­u­lar evan­gel­i­cal preach­ers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Chris­tian­i­ty is not about build­ing an absolute­ly secure lit­tle niche in the world where you can live with your per­fect lit­tle wife and your per­fect lit­tle chil­dren in a beau­ti­ful lit­tle house where you have no gays or minor­i­ty groups any­where near you. Chris­tian­i­ty is about learn­ing to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the bro­ken.…” — Rich Mullins

Ran across some unre­lat­ed quotes that I don’t want to lose track of:

“I think that’s where the church is dou­bly damned; when they use Jesus as a vehi­cle for achiev­ing all of that [wor­ship­ing, plea­sure, leisure and afflu­ence]. Like, if you give a tithe, He ll make you rich. Why? … If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten per­cent of the root of all evil. You should be giv­ing nine­ty per­cent, ‘cause God can han­dle mon­ey bet­ter than we can.” — Rich Mullins

The secret of rock music: “If you can’t be good, be loud.” — Rich Mullins

The cur­rent trends in wor­ship: “Shal­low, mind­less, stu­pid, and per­fect­ly harm­less, at best.” — Rich Mullins

I don’t want to be tol­er­at­ed. Argue with me, and I will respect you. — Rich Mullins

It nev­er fails. God will put peo­ple in your path that irri­tate you, espe­cial­ly if you’re prone to be irri­tat­ed.” — Rich Mullins

I hope I would leave a lega­cy of joy -a lega­cy of real com­pas­sion,” — Rich Mullins