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.

Progress, Dec 21, 2016, 275lbs.

The mis­sion trip to the Ukraine is back on (ten­ta­tive­ly) for this sum­mer, this time at more of a safe remove from Putin’s aggres­sion.

Today I’m very excit­ed to go to my third or fourth Bariatric appoint­ment since start­ing tak­ing Belviq. I’d real­ly not lost any weight for the past 6 months or so that I’ve been tak­ing it. I thought I’d noticed a dif­fer­ence in crav­ings, but not sig­nif­i­cant­ly so, and even that did not last. On my last vis­it the doc told me that it would only work if I cut out processed carbs and refined sug­ars. I thought, “That will be the day.”

Today I will go in 25 lbs lighter than the last vis­it. Only 35 lbs remain to reach the go/no-go goal of 240 lbs.

The con­ve­nience of pre­pared food pret­ty much means processed carbs and refined sug­ars. I real­ized some­thing I already knew about myself… a diet nev­er works. Bad days undo a dozen good days. The only thing that works for me is an exclu­sion diet… forc­ing me to buy ingre­di­ents and pre­pare food… essen­tial­ly mak­ing all my choic­es for myself before I’m in the sit­u­a­tion of being hun­gry, tired, and in a hur­ry and apt to go get some­thing on the run. So… out with processed carbs, all gluten, all refined sug­ars, and uncooked milk (That keeps my love of Chex cere­al in chex, sor­ry, I meant ‘check’). In with lots of pro­tein and some rice and lim­it­ed pota­to. I began this new lifestyle on Octo­ber 30.

It’s been great for the most part. It has also had a sec­ondary ben­e­fit and a sec­ondary moti­va­tion. Any­time I spend mon­ey it’s with the thought of, “I want to be mar­ried.” Which to me means, I have to get a han­dle on debt and learn to bet­ter live with­in my means. Not buy­ing fast-food once or twice a day and a big (diet, caf­feine-free) foun­tain soda every day eas­es so much load on my finances and gives me so much moti­va­tion not to fudge the rules. That thought also per­tains to my weight as well. I don’t think I have the right to bind myself to anoth­er if I’m not doing every­thing to stay healthy for ‘us’ and for any chil­dren. It’s a mantra, “I want to be mar­ried. I want to be a father. I want to be of use to God.”

This makes 41 lbs lost since Oct 6, 2015.

I had hoped to be to 270 by Jan 1 and that’s still pos­si­ble. I real­ly thought I’d nev­er see (feel) 270 lbs again. I have vague mem­o­ries of the last time, exer­cis­ing with the Berrys, work­ing hard, and how much bet­ter I felt. Going back sev­er­al years to my times fast­ing and pray­ing as a des­per­ate alter­na­tive to sui­cide after Raina left, I remem­ber hit­ting 250 lbs and being stunned at how much bet­ter I felt. I hadn’t seen 250 lbs since get­ting sick in Ire­land and com­ing back 10 lbs heav­ier (and then nev­er look­ing back from there) to the seden­tary depres­sion of the Fibromyal­gia and Chron­ic Fatigue.

I’m very encour­aged. Nuvig­il has helped a lot in all facets of life. I’m more active and more pro­duc­tive and more pos­i­tive because I’m more active/productive and can think more clear­ly.

Oth­er mile­stones

  • 250 lbs — June 2003 after return­ing from the Green Isle. I’ve nev­er since been below this weight.
  • 240 lbs — the weight I had pret­ty much main­tained for sev­er­al years before vis­it­ing Ire­land in ear­ly 2003.
  • 238 lbs — the weight I was the day of my wed­ding. I fit into my suit though I still felt huge and con­strict­ed.
  • 210 lbs — I hit this weight short­ly (and briefly) before my friend­ship with Raina began. I had done anoth­er exclusion/poverty diet and my life had been going well. I fit into a 2x shirt and I couldn’t even remem­ber when I had done that… High School per­haps? My good­ness but did it feel so very mar­velous.
  • 170 lbs — I think I could be con­tent here, in the nor­mal BMI range, just below the over­weight range. My car­di­ol­o­gist said I would have to lose more, but he was an arro­gant ass who argued with me for half an hour and trot­ted out his degrees and acco­lades insist­ing that I’d nev­er low­er my cho­les­terol with behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion and that I -must- slave myself to use of a statin drug drug for the rest of my life. I proved him wrong in a year and I think 170 lbs would be a love­ly rea­son­able weight pro­vid­ed some of it is lean mus­cle.

Christmas 2008

2008 was the year I des­per­ate­ly clung to Christ­mas while sob­bing. This was the year I did all of our tra­di­tions alone, mis­er­able but not know­ing what else to do. Sob­bing and hold­ing the pups and telling them that their mom­my would be back know­ing I was try­ing to con­vince myself and fail­ing to con­vince any of us. Feel­ing like a child who had some­thing done to them, some­thing they had no capac­i­ty to under­stand, unable to see any­thing oth­er than the hurt and unable to believe such hurt was pos­si­ble. Won­der­ing if it would get worse, or eas­i­er, if it would ever stop, or if there had ever been a real­i­ty with­out the pain… All before, even the mas­sive pain of Christ­mases in child­hood seemed like a self-delud­ing fan­ta­sy made up to try to dis­tract from the only thing I could ever, would ever, had ever known.

God was there. Through God, Bart Lar­son was there. Greg Cranston was there or soon would be.

It is 2016 and I have cho­sen for the first time to put up a Christ­mas tree. A gift­ed tree and many essen­tial bits giv­en by friends who love me, whom God had put there to make Christ­mas 2008 look like a dread­ful long-ago night­mare, the David and Sarah Cranstons, the Col­in and Bar­bara Smi­aleks, the Dwights, the Cindys, the Boltons, all the peo­ple of Val­ley View, The Berrys, the Elder Cranstons and me mum Kay who has been grow­ing in wis­dom and inner strength and become able to coun­sel back.

I will put up trees each year and will hang, like del­i­cate heir­loom glass orna­ments, more names on each bough.

There will be a time when it’s not only my hands doing the hang­ing, but those with slen­der more del­i­cate fin­gers than mine, and more del­i­cate slen­der hands to join in years fol­low­ing. We will hang names until the boughs creak under the weight and I will feel only grat­i­tude for the Christ­mas Tree of 2008 for mak­ing me know what else is pos­si­ble so that I might nev­er take for grant­ed that which is.

At the top we will illu­mi­nate one name, bright, above all, encom­pass­ing all, mak­ing all pos­si­ble. Like a bril­liant star will sit the name of Jesus Christ.

Serendipity

I think I imag­ined the whole thing, or I would think that, but I don’t have that good of an imag­i­na­tion. Some­body imag­ined it.

Serendip­i­ty.

What a won­der­ful won­der­ful word.

Serendip­i­ty.

How bor­ing a world lack­ing…
Serendip­i­ty.

It took the imag­i­na­tion of Cre­ator God to give us serendip­i­ty. I can imag­ine the thought process…

Ok, I’ve cre­at­ed beau­ty, I’ve cre­at­ed time and physics, I’ve cre­at­ed crea­tures, I’ve cre­at­ed Aus­tralia and a bunch of crea­tures just to con­fuse them and let then know the holy impor­tance of whim­sy. I’ve invent­ed chance and prob­a­bil­i­ty. I’ve invent­ed con­se­quence and coin­ci­dence and I will be amused at watch­ing them try to puz­zle out which is which. I’ve cre­at­ed all the emo­tions of the Heart, good and bad, and I’ve giv­en them the abil­i­ty to know and under­stand hero­ism and the choice to choose to be hero­ic, and know and under­stand vil­lainy and giv­en them the choice not to be vil­lains. I’ve cov­ered every­thing. I even cre­at­ed the word “susurrous” and when they’re ready, I’ll let one of them use it and think him­self the word’s prog­en­i­tor. But there’s one thing miss­ing… A sit­u­a­tion. An expe­ri­ence. Some­thing that may be rec­og­nized after the fact, but can­not be man­u­fac­tured, antic­i­pat­ed or repeat­ed in exact­ly the same way more than once. Serendip­i­ty. I will give them serendip­i­ty. I can share my imag­i­na­tion with them in the tini­est por­tions and watch it grab them and car­ry them along to places they oth­er­wise would not have gone and be delight­ed at their delight. Yes. Serendip­i­ty. That’s the final gift, the composer’s last and most endear­ing inven­tion on the theme, the conductor’s final flour­ish of the baton before set­ting it down and step­ping back from the podi­um.

When Love is Not

I’ve had occa­sion recent­ly to pon­der, not the con­cept, but the word “Love”, and how tru­ly trou­ble­some it can be espe­cial­ly if it is divorced from the objec­tive stan­dard giv­en us by God and seen in His char­ac­ter through­out scrip­ture.

thefourloves-cslewisLewis penned an entire book titled, “The Four Loves” to try to add some clar­i­ty to this care­less­ly used word by exam­in­ing the Greek Language’s use of four dif­fer­ent words to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between uncon­di­tion­al unmer­it­ed love such as God pours out upon us, famil­ial love; an almost oblig­a­tory and instinc­tu­al love we have lit­tle say in unless we are dam­aged or seek to sup­press or cor­rupt it, broth­er­ly love and affec­tion, and erot­ic desire (born from some mix­ture of the oth­er three, one hopes.)

fourloves

It is to be hoped, nay expect­ed, that when two peo­ple vow to inex­tri­ca­bly tie their lives togeth­er that it is based strong­ly on the first three with deli­cious antic­i­pa­tion of the fourth, and that at the time of giv­ing one­self to anoth­er that the con­cept, the def­i­n­i­tion, is one shared and under­stood by both. If this a pri­ori is not true than all my fol­low­ing pon­der­ings are so much rub­bish, or at best only true a pos­te­ri­ori in select cas­es.

How is it if one or both come to alter their definition/conception away from that orig­i­nat­ing point, even into some­thing they both might have assigned the term ‘hatred’ to if asked back at that gen­e­sis.

The prob­lem aris­es from the same word being used to describe very dif­fer­ent things with both mem­bers believ­ing their descrip­tion to be the true def­i­n­i­tion of ‘love’. How can two such peo­ple ever hope to com­mu­ni­cate and under­stand one anoth­er? If one is stuck with their orig­i­nal con­cep­tion of ‘love’ and ‘hatred’, how can any accord ever be reached with anoth­er whose con­cepts have altered?

What one sees as love, the oth­er sees as the most egre­gious hatred. There can be no accord between them. The plea, “tell me that you believed I always loved you” is in real­i­ty a plea to, “please join me in accep­tance of my new for­eign def­i­n­i­tion and then real­ize that I have ‘believed, with­in that def­i­n­i­tion’ that I have always loved you.” I don’t think that can ever hap­pen, even if one desires to love the way­ward as God loves His way­wards.

It’s like ask­ing the per­son (or indeed, God) to please change the fun­da­men­tal make­up of their nature with­out under­stand­ing that, even were that pos­si­ble, that to make such a change would ren­der them no longer the per­son they were and are, and there­in lies the rub. There is the unre­solv­able para­dox. If that per­son were to change thus, the way­ward would come to feel towards them con­tempt and deri­sion. What­ev­er rem­nants they still pos­sessed of the orig­i­nal gen­e­sis of love would be turned to vapor, a nox­ious poi­so­nous vapor.

The cliché is “Apples and Oranges” and though cliché, no less true. If one asks the oth­er to give them an apple expect­ing to receive a eccen­tri­cal­ly-shaped red-coloured fruit and they are instead giv­en an orange-coloured near­ly per­fect­ly spher­i­cal­ly-shaped fruit. The receiv­er will not believe they have received the request­ed apple, but some­thing dif­fer­ent and not desired. The giv­er how­ev­er will believe that they have ful­filled the request for an apple and nev­er under­stand why the receiv­er can not, will not appre­ci­ate their gift­ing. They will con­test the def­i­n­i­tion of ‘Apple’ and in hurt and des­per­a­tion will esca­late their rhetoric to even greater lev­els of hurt giv­en. One will lament that this sim­ple expect­ed thing can­not be giv­en and the oth­er lament that noth­ing they give the asker will sat­is­fy unless it meets the asker’s (long since dis­card­ed by the giv­er) qual­i­fi­ca­tions of ‘red-coloured’, ‘eccen­tri­cal­ly shaped’, ‘core in the mid­dle’. Both will expe­ri­ence great hurt.

tristandormouseI want­ed to tie in a quote from the movie ren­der­ing of Neil Gaiman’s “Star­dust”, in which the fall­en star Yvaine pours out her heart to her beloved which a witch has bespelled to be a tiny adorable dor­mouse, think­ing and believ­ing that he can in no way under­stand her. It’s so well said and is sim­ple and amus­ing hon­esty when she says that love is, “unpre­dictable, unex­pect­ed, uncon­trol­lable, unbear­able and strange­ly easy to mis­take for loathing”. Her final, “Noth­ing but know­ing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”, I think high­lights best why “When Love is Not”, both are mis­er­able beyond all reck­on­ing.

You know when I said I knew lit­tle about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, cen­turies and cen­turies of it, and it was the only thing that made watch­ing your world bear­able. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and nev­er look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the fur­thest reach­es of the uni­verse and nev­er find any­thing more beau­ti­ful. So yes, I know that love is uncon­di­tion­al. But I also know that it can be unpre­dictable, unex­pect­ed, uncon­trol­lable, unbear­able and strange­ly easy to mis­take for loathing, and… What I’m try­ing to say, Tris­tan is… I think I love you. Is this love, Tris­tan? I nev­er imag­ined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can bare­ly con­tain it. Like it’s try­ing to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you want­ed it, I’d wish for noth­ing in exchange — no gifts. No goods. No demon­stra­tions of devo­tion. Noth­ing but know­ing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.

this is equal­ly true of the con­cept and def­i­n­i­tion of Mar­riage.

I do not agree with Yvaine on a few cru­cial points. She seems to be echo­ing roman­tic Pla­tois­tic non­sense that sug­gests that there is a true love, a des­tiny, a thing for which one’s own choic­es and actions are large­ly mean­ing­less. Love is -always- a choice in all its guis­es, even στοργή which may, by choice, be ampli­fied or depressed.

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

Can Goofiness and Manliness Coexist?

I real­ized that while I have many Quo­ta­tion­al Pon­der­ings entries, the Per­son­al Pon­der­ings cat­e­go­ry has regret­tably not seen much use. I attribute this to my inter­nal con­flict with the belief that oth­er peo­ple have things of sig­nif­i­cance to relate and I have not. To rem­e­dy, here’s a pon­der that I have been con­sid­er­ing late­ly:

In see­ing the goofy things I share and like on social media, I begin to won­der if a sen­si­ble woman could love such a man. Yes, I’m cer­tain that it is pos­si­ble, but is it improb­a­ble?”

I think the answer is a sol­id “it may be so”.

So, is that goofi­ness “who one is as a per­son”, or is it “how one choos­es to be as a per­son”, and if the lat­ter, should not one make the choice to be oth­er­wise at some point? Is there some mys­te­ri­ous bal­ance one needs must strike, and how can one pos­si­bly know that there is and what that bal­ance looks like? Can one mature from being a man-child yet some­how remain a unabashed fan of ani­mat­ed movies like How to Train Your Drag­on and Mon­sters Inc., Hayao Miyaza­ki and Stu­dio Ghi­b­li, and goofy goofy Doc­tor Who?

Fur­ther, when does eccen­tric cross the line into odd­i­ty; say, if one has pos­si­bly knit­ted a 16′ long scarf in emu­la­tion of Tom Brown’s fourth iter­a­tion of The Doc­tor, has a bar­ri­er been irre­triev­ably breached?

C.S. Lewis warns against fill­ing to our lives with habits, hob­bies, inter­ests, and lux­u­ries as a way to guard one’s life and heart against risk­ing love and so to try to fill the void. Are we choos­ing those things over the pos­si­ble joy and ful­fill­ment of shar­ing one’s life, heart, and being with anoth­er? Are we men choos­ing to be a child and in so choos­ing to for­go the dream of ever rais­ing a child (chil­dren)?

More­over, are we mak­ing the same awful mis­take in our rela­tion­ship with our Sav­ior Jesus Christ; with our lov­ing Heav­en­ly Father? What awe­some and impor­tant thing is it that we are choos­ing to give up if such is so?

I have mar­ried friends who appear to have found and struck that bal­ance and I look up to them as exem­plars. They how­ev­er, fig­ured out that bal­ance much ear­li­er in life. Is there an age at which it becomes too late and one must live with the con­se­quences of one’s ill-con­sid­ered choic­es.

Pon­der, pon­der pon­der.

Zen Pen­cils has craft­ed a won­der­ful com­ic to illus­trate what C.S. Lewis says on this sub­ject of hearts, hob­bies and lux­u­ries. [Orig­i­nal here]

zenpencils-toloveanything-hearthobbies-cslewis

Clive Staples Lewis

“To love at all is to be vul­ner­a­ble. Love any­thing, and your heart will cer­tain­ly be wrung and pos­si­bly be bro­ken. If you want to make sure of keep­ing it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an ani­mal. Wrap it care­ful­ly round with hob­bies and lit­tle lux­u­ries; avoid all entan­gle­ments; lock it up safe in the cas­ket or cof­fin of your self­ish­ness. But in that cas­ket — safe, dark, motion­less, air­less — it will change. It will not be bro­ken; it will become unbreak­able, impen­e­tra­ble, irre­deemable. The alter­na­tive to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damna­tion. The only place out­side of Heav­en where you can be per­fect­ly safe from all the dan­gers and per­tur­ba­tions of love is Hell.”
— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, The Four Loves

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,


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.

Where God and Love and Grace Abound

We stop and ask our­selves those crit­i­cal ques­tions which we believe we must have answered in the affir­ma­tive before we will go Danc­ing in the Mine­fields. The answers, if entire­ly hon­est, will always be insuf­fi­cient. We will nev­er start the music; nev­er take hand with a dance part­ner.

Our ideals exceed the graces of human­i­ty. We men wait on the Proverbs 31 woman. She does not exist. Many women wait for the sec­ond com­ing of Christ. His heart is already spo­ken for. When He returns it will be to car­ry home God’s daugh­ter-in-law. And so we wait rather than begin the great adven­ture. We stand at the edge of the mine­field, star­ing out across it, alone, yet yearn­ing to dance; for a com­pan­ion with whom to dance.

We are pris­on­ers there­fore, in our very hearts, held cap­tive by fears, clutch­ing tight­ly to stan­dards of per­fec­tion rather than stan­dards of hon­est yet often stum­bling pur­suit of excel­lence.

“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laugh­ter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beau­ty of flesh and the liv­ing col­ors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?” ― Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown and Oth­er Plays

The ques­tion then… the sec­ond ques­tion, bespeaks a more real­is­tic ide­al, prompt­ed when we defin­i­tive­ly have God. If we have God and His exam­ple of Love and Grace to always stand with us, then the sec­ond ques­tion becomes the one that mat­ters.

The third ques­tion becomes then, mere for­mal­i­ty. It was answered when we invit­ed God to a place of pri­ma­cy with­in our mar­riage and our hearts.

God will join our hands. God will start the music. Our eyes on Him we will dance with joy­ous aban­don and our feet will find only safe firm ground, ’til we come to the oth­er side and meet with Him, our Father, face to face.

Am I wor­thy?
Hard­ly.
Am I worth­while?
With great cer­tain­ty.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Will I always imme­di­ate­ly put you first?
I real­ly real­ly wish I could say, “Yes.”
The times that I don’t, will I get there before too long?
You may count on it.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I flaw­less?
Hard­ly.
Does my beau­ty out­shine my flaws?
I am per­fect in my imper­fec­tion.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I wise?
Hard­ly.
I peti­tion God for wis­dom, does He give?
Always, gen­er­ous­ly, and with­out reproach. a
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I com­plete­ly hon­est?
Com­plete­ly? No, nev­er com­plete­ly.
How then am I to be trust­ed?
My rare laps­es in efforts to be entire­ly hon­est are moti­vat­ed by imma­tu­ri­ty and fear. God con­tin­ues to mature me and expel my spir­it of fear, prompt­ing me to ‘fess up to mis­truths and strive for dis­ci­pline. b
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always under­stand­ing?
Hard­ly.
Do I strive to make a habit of lis­ten­ing dili­gent­ly?
Very near­ly always, and until I do under­stand.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I thought­ful?
Hard­ly.
Will my thoughts always return to you?
They can nev­er stray far.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I come with a guar­an­tee?
What fun would that be?
So what if things break down and stop work­ing?
I will not rest until we’re repaired and what’s bro­ken mend­ed.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I trust­wor­thy?
Hard­ly.
When trust is bro­ken, will I rest?
I shall not. Your trust is the very strength in my body.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I unselfish?
Not hard­ly.
How then can I love and serve?
God has shown me the joy of putting you first.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I stew­ard well my time and mon­ey?
What was the ques­tion again?
How then will I care for wife and fam­i­ly?
I have learned against my nature. To whom God gives much… c
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I above reproach?
I’d be lying if I said I was.
But is that not a stan­dard to which a man must work?
Yes, and I do, and that is why I can­not answer untruth­ful­ly.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I coura­geous?
Not espe­cial­ly. Much more so now than in the past.
Why is that? May I be count­ed on then?
God has shown me what is most impor­tant; much more than youth­ful fears.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I right­eous?
None are right­eous, no, not one. d
Do I seek after right­eous­ness and to hon­or God?
Very near­ly always I do.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always faith­ful in all things?
I try, but I some­times fail.
Can my fail­ure edure?
My heart will nev­er allow.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always kind?
There was a time, when I hard­ly under­stood kind­ness.
And now?
I am still learn­ing the more sub­tle aspects, but the new man I am under­stands and cher­ish­es kind­ness. My heart has been soft­ened to the point where kind­ness is very near­ly always my first response to oth­ers. I wish God to refine me, as impu­ri­ties are burned and then drawn away from pre­cious met­al in a cru­cible, to have no oth­er response.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I will­ing to change?
In myself? Far too reluc­tant­ly.
What if God puts it on my heart for you?
Watch how quick­ly the old man dies!
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I gor­geous?
You betcha!
Lev­i­ty? Humor? Here? In this seri­ous dis­course?
I val­ue so very high­ly the absolute beau­ty in your gen­uine smile; a smile which touch­es every fea­ture of your face, head, and shoul­ders; eyes that reveal a com­fort and hap­pi­ness; a smile which briefly melts away the ten­sion which seems con­stant com­pan­ion. I will always yearn and strive to engen­der those feel­ings in you until the ten­sion, per­haps, becomes stranger to us both.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
You betcha! My love and grace abound, for you, my love.
Am I hum­ble?
For too long have I gripped, white-knuck­led, to unmer­it­ed pride.
So, I have rec­og­nized and acknowl­edge the lack of mer­it?
I do. I have been hum­bled so much and so often that return­ing pride appears an inter­lop­er in these envi­rons.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I teach­able?
With this thick skull?
Have the years taught me hard lessons?
The hard­est of all my des­per­ate need to learn.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I, in turn, expect per­fec­tion?
No, no I do not. More­over I want it not.
What then, do I want?
I want only You; You as you are. No ide­al­ized ren­der­ing could approach the beau­ty and love­li­ness of who you are.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
I can­not answer for you. My love and grace abound.
Will I love?
I will love deeply.
I will love sac­ri­fi­cial­ly.
I will love you as Christ loved the church.
I will give myself up for you. e
My love and grace for you and our fam­i­ly will ever abound.

a James 1:5
b 2 Tim­o­thy 1:7
c Luke 12:48
d Isa­iah 53:6, Romans 3:10
e Eph­esians 5:25

There is a dif­fi­cult dis­tinc­tion to make here. I’ve bor­rowed the metaphor of danc­ing through mine­fields from Andrew Peterson’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal song, “Danc­ing in the Mine­fields.” Mar­riage is always a dance through mine­fields and always fraught with dan­ger.* We live on a fall­en earth of fall­en peo­ple under the influ­ence of the Bent Oyarsa. We will encounter mines; in those sea­sons when our eyes waver from God, or when the fal­l­en­ness of this world (sin by those out­side our mar­riage and sick­ness being a major con­se­quences of fal­l­en­ness) asserts. With God in our mar­riage how­ev­er, our dance will be more grace­ful, more beau­ti­ful, and less apt to put a foot wrong in clum­sy stum­ble. More­over, when we do encounter mines, our devo­tion to God will equip us to bet­ter deal with what­ev­er the Bent Oyarsa (Satan) throws at us. Our devo­tion will mean that -we- react dif­fer­ent­ly, and choose to weath­er storms with one anoth­er, storms that shred mar­riages based only on things earth­ly. Andrew says it beau­ti­ful­ly: “And we’re danc­ing in the mine­fields. We’re sail­ing in the storm. This is hard­er than we dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for.” These storms are best illus­trat­ed (quite lit­er­al­ly) here: Fam­i­ly Man — Andrew Peter­son

* “Life is pain, high­ness. Any­one who says dif­fer­ent­ly is sell­ing some­thing.” ― William Gold­man, William Gold­man: Four Screen­plays with Essays

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.