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Category Archives: thoughts

The thrust of this poem is…

the letters have     c
                                 o
                                  l
                                  l
                                 a
                                 p
                                 s
                                 e
                                 d
black holes threaten to swallow whole
any abstract word they attempted to create

even concrete words find themselves
endangered, drowning in the pools of
quizzes and lectures, having grown
weary from academic nonsense

the narrow views of those who think they
know more than the Omniscient:
chronic disease filling lungs with a
sickness worse than pneumonia

pretty piano music plays softly while
silver-tongued lies relentlessly reveal
their designs of attack on the Spirit

refuge is offered:
no latchstring is needed
to unlock some imagined bolt—

protection found
in the Word which never will collapse.

written for Monday Melting #19

Nature’s Work (5/7/5 haiku)

forces stronger than
i work to influence you
Faith: my one true Hope

 

This little poem can mean so many things, and I certainly had specific life situations in mind when writing this haiku.  But a “nature image” (which I believe is a requirement for a “true” haiku) that came to mind as I wrote this is a “sideways tree” that grows in my father’s pasture.  Decades ago, the tree was blown over by a hurricane.  But instead of dying, it just grew new roots and became the best “climbing tree” one could ever hope for.  The tree is also inspirational to me.  There were times as a teenager, and even now as an adult, when I’ve felt “blown over” by life and will visit that tree to remind myself that I can dig in and become stronger no matter what blows life has dealt. 

p.s. the tree above is not my father’s but looks very similar.

A Very Important “Mother’s Day Story”

Several weeks ago, I shared with you how a young man from South Sudan had deeply impacted me.

Today, I want to do a little follow up with a “Mother’s Day story” from someone who has adopted a child from South Sudan.  It’s very timely and even more touching.

I’ll be out of pocket for most of the weekend, and may not have a chance to “catch up” until after Mother’s Day…so let me take the opportunity today to tell all of you wonderful Mom’s out there:  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Pleasant (and unpleasant) Surprises

Today has been really interesting.  Felt sick and mostly stayed home.  Ok, I felt lazy too!  🙂  But, my stomach has been a “blender” today, so I didn’t feel like venturing out too far.  However, I needed to do some venturing and forced myself to do so starting around 1ish.  About that same time, my 2-year-old daughter decided to find out whether or not my cell phone can float in the bathtub.  It can’t.

Later in the day, my van would threaten to leave me stranded—I’m still trying to figure out what my 2-year-old did to the van!  Surprisingly enough though,  I drove about 100 miles in said van after the unpleasant surprise of nearly stalling out.  I spent time with my father and saw the parents of an old friend.  Enjoyable, but put me behind schedule for a Small Group I lead on Monday nights.  With no phone, I was unable to let people know I would get to the meeting a little late.   Well it wasn’t really “people” I wanted to notify; they are teenagers.  They used to be “people.”  They will one day be “people” again. But I digress…

No worries though, the students who were able to make it tonight waited patiently for me to arrive.  And when I say “waited patiently,” I mean they rearranged our meeting space!  They also created a new game using notecards, pool balls, and bolts. There I go digressing again.

But now the “real fun” begins—the pleasant surprises.  Since we were limited on time, we wound up just hanging out and having an informal discussion about what it means to “follow Jesus.”  This discussion was loosely based on the book we are studying, Not a Fan.  Mostly it was just a chance for them to talk about the challenges of living out their faith in the day-to-day reality of teenage life.  And, long story short, they are passionate about being more than fans of Christ—they passionately long to follow Him.

The other pleasant surprise happened when I left the meeting to go home.  About a mile from my office I realized I had left some things behind. I needed to return and grab them, so I started driving back.  I decided to make my return trip through a neighborhood I don’t frequently drive through—a student lives there who has just lost his father to cancer.  My intention was to merely do a “drive by” (shooting up prayers for him as I drove by the house), but he was actually out in his driveway playing basketball.  Alone.  It was a great opportunity to visit and pray with him rather than just for him.  And I absolutely believe God orchestrated the opportunity to meet with him on “his turf.”  It was a moment that perhaps surprised me, but not God.  🙂

I hope you’ve also had a few pleasant surprises today!

The Week in Quotes!

I’ve done precious little blogging this week.  Haven’t written much and haven’t read much.  But I have found some really great “nuggets” of wisdom in much of the little I have read.  I wanted to share with you some quotes from a few of the writings I was impacted by this week.  This is also a great way for you to perhaps discover a new blog you’ll love.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll pick up some “finder fees” for sending you their way?  I doubt it, but a boy can dream, right?!?  🙂

This pretty much punched me in the gut.  Lots of wisdom in this quote:

No one is ever satisfied when they’re not doing their best.  When you do your best and fail it’s more acceptable than failing when you aren’t really trying.”

The quote below touches on some conversations my wife and I have had this week.  I’m “thankful” to know others are in our shoes and can speak to it in such a powerful way!

The last few times I was faced with this blatant ungratefulness I didn’t handle it very well.  I got irritable and frustrated and snappy.  How dare my children be so ungrateful?  Don’t they appreciate all I do for them, all I give them?  It was at about that point I felt God whispering in my ear about my own gratitude towards Him.  Do I even notice all the things He does for me on a daily basis?  How many blessings in my life do I treat as burdens? …I realized then and there that if I expect my kids to be grateful, I need to show them exactly what it looks like.”

Charles is such an encouraging blogger/author/poet.  I look forward to reading his homespun wisdom and Godly insight every week.

God puts us on this earth to do His will, and He blesses us with everything we need to do it. It might be assets, talent, a strong body, intelligence, health, or just a good and loving personality. Whatever attributes you need, to do what the Lord needs done, are available to you, and I believe when you begin to focus on God and His will for your life, He will provide them to you, and you will know how to use them to His glory.”

Linnea’s site has become one of my favorites to read each week.  Especially this week!  Things were hopping over there, and as usual, she brought much insight “to the table.”

My hope in readily confessing my dark side is to get people to stop and think about their own….Truthful self-awareness must exact humility and humility is required in order to love others as we love ourselves.”

RabidMongoose always is a straight-shooter with well informed posts about issues of spirituality—especially for men.  But this post was a great read for all of us since it deals with an issue we all face at times.

We look at resentments. We’ve found out they are a distortion of the truth – a way to take a situation, cast the blame on somebody else, and totally escape, so we have nothing to do with it whatsoever!” – Joe McQ, The Steps We Took …This quote from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took sums up perfectly what I do with my resentments: I absolve myself completely of all responsibility for a problematic situation, making the issue everyone’s’ fault but mine. Resentment is a tool I use to live in denial: It allows me to create a shield around my fragile persona that ‘protects’ me from the truth about myself…I cannot keep holding all these resentments in. I need to accept responsibility for my own actions…

Feel free to share some quotes you have found (or wisdom you have written) in the comments below!  You’ll help me do a better job of catching up before the week is *officially* over!

Now I have the privilege of getting ready for a “date night” with my Beautiful Bride.  Hope to catch up with all of you wonderful bloggers soon!

This is the day…

Today has been a long one.  For me.  For the girls.  Especially for my Beautiful Bride!  I’m tired just remembering it all!  🙂

“Day in the life” posts aren’t the norm around here.  But I think there’s some spiritual insight worth sharing along with, so here goes:  Ran over a bike first thing this morn.  Oldest left it right behind my van!  (Yeah, I’m cool enough to drive a van!)  Not a happy Dad, but no time to dole out the proper punishment cause I was running late for church.  Same daughter decided to go to “Neighbor Boy’s” house for breakfast (yes, that Neighbor Boy!).  Only she didn’t ask for permission.  Her mother assumed she had gone to church with me; I had told her to go back in the house to Mom.  Brief moment of panic when I returned home and we realized we had “lost” a child.

Find her, scold her, load her in Mom’s van so we can drive the 45 mins. to a different worship service where I’m scheduled to speak.  Really encouraging service, and then off to lunch at Grandmother’s.  What a special thing that my little family can spend time with my grandparents who are both in their 80’s!  But it did mean almost an hour of driving home mid-afternoon only to load right back up and head to the talent show.  (with a quick meeting somehow squeezed in between)

Middle child and I were asked to sing a song; one I had written and she loves to help me sing.  So we did.  Which means my wife went “above and beyond” to support me when I spoke this morn, and J when she sang tonight.  But I could tell she was really worn out and I encouraged her to go home after J’s performance and get some rest.  Leaving me at the mercy of someone else for a ride home.  Someone who couldn’t leave talent show/church for another couple hours.  Oh man, it was a long day!

But on the way home, my “taxi driver” really needed to talk about some things going on in his life.  And I realized that a verse I had read in worship earlier today was being lived out nearly 12 hours later…even if I’m being poured out as an offering for the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice*…Poured out.”  I felt that when parenting today.  I saw that in my wife today.  I lived that in “church life” today.  And at the end of the day, hopefully I will join Paul in being glad and rejoicing for the chance to pour my life out if it helps others grow closer to Christ.

This is the day…the day the Lord has made!  I will rejoice.  I will be glad.

* Philippians 2:17


Tides of Crimson

This is the first poem I wrote for Shawna’s Monday Melting.  Today I’m posting it on my blog as well and  linking it to dverse.  Hope you enjoy.

“Tides of Crimson”

The glint of your luminous devotion
remains perfectly visible
from just the right angle

Corseted against your ivory skin
that crimson velvet
punctured, yet worn

Extracting passionate ripples
from a past
recent, not irretrievable

I yield not
Refusing any ochone

 

Notes: ochone is a Scot/Irish word and was part of the “word prompt” that day.  It is defined thusly: “an expression of sorrow or regret”

“Bummed” Out

I briefly thought about a different kind of bum picture, since this post is about a different kind of bum.  Any kind of “bum” pic I posted was going to be a funny one, but the one above really made me laugh.  “Monkey butt” would have also made me laugh, but I found this pic first!  🙂

And since I’m *loosely* writing a post about thankfulness, the pic I chose gives me a great opportunity to state that I AM THANKFUL!  Thankful I can speak and walk.  Thankful I have (most of) my teeth.  Thankful for a job.  Thankful I’m not yet wearing diapers again.  Thankful that God does indeed bless!

This post is also about something I’m fearful of: my oldest daughter growing older!  She’s always been a challenge, but so far we’ve only had to deal with “little girl challenges.”   Yesterday & today, however, I’ve gotten a real big “wake-up call” about what the future may hold.  We have a newish neighbor who is the same age (9) as our oldest.  She has already proclaimed her undying love for new neighbor boy.  Anytime she has permission—and many times she doesn’t—she makes a beeline for his house.  Last night was an example of a “no permission” trip to the house next door.

We had just returned home from church, and before I even had a chance to realize she wasn’t in our house, she comes running through the door shouting: “You won’t believe what I just saw!”  Turns out, she was right!  I didn’t believe what she had just seen.  As I was getting her younger sister out of the van and in our house,  Big Sister snuck over to “neighbor boy’s” house—at bath time.  As her visit was unexpected, neighbor boy was apparently standing in his living room in the buff.  He took off down his hall as soon as my daughter began knocking on their door.  Thankfully, she only saw his backside.  (See, I told you this post is about thankfulness!)

I tried to downplay the event last night.  But today she made it pretty clear: I definitely have reason to be worried.  She said (in a rather dreamy manner): “Dad, last night was the best night of my life!”  Having “sometimers disease,” I just had to ask:  “Why?”   She grinned and said, “You know Dad…cause of what I sawww!  I can’t believe I actually saw his bum!”   (Insert mental image of Dad pulling hair out here)

But thankfully I have a pretty level-headed wife.  She reminded me that these emotions in our daughter were bound to happen some day.  (Though she did admit it’s earlier than she had expected as well!)  But she also said something that is crucially important.  While we continue to teach our daughter the benefits of living with moral integrity, the most important lesson we can teach her is to live a life of love for God!  Whether I like it or not, there will be a day in the future (like when she’s 25) when she won’t be constrained by any of my rules or expectations.  It will be her love for God alone which will compel her to make wise, godly choices as she grows, spreads wings, and becomes completely independent.

So today this “bummed out Dad” is most thankful for a God who has made this promise: “(be) confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

What Has Your Journey Been Like?

written for Kellie’s Free-Write Friday prompt

The “blogosphere” is a somewhat new experience for me. I’m still learning much; in fact, I’m barely able to post my own writings. No joke, this is the second time I’m writing this post because I just lost the original writing!

What I’ve come to enjoy most about the blogosphere is the genuine sense of “community” that can be found when one is actively engaged with other bloggers. It’s really quite a wonderful community to be a part of! Plus, there aren’t any speeding tickets given out in this community! (Can you tell I’ve been the victim of a couple of “small town speed traps”?) 🙂

It has been a real joy to read your blogs and get to know you through your posts. Fellow bloggers have inspired and encouraged, made me laugh and cry. Thankfully, I’ve laughed more than cried! And you’ve also made me think. An example of this was earlier in the week, when I read a post by a blogger who is new to me. In his post, he shared the story of how he came to a faith-relationship with Christ. I commented (a brilliantly insightful comment I’m sure…lol) and moved on to read another blog. However, this new friend invited me back to his blog by asking a really important question: “What is the story of your journey with God?”

That question has stayed with me all week. It’s stayed with me because I think it is not only a great question to ask of others but is also a crucial question to ask of ourselves from time to time. Today, I discovered the perfect photo prompt to motivate me to write about this question. My personal journey has been a drama and a comedy (you’ll understand if you ever see me *try* to dance). My journey has been poetic, but it’s also been some very poorly written prose (of course, that was mostly due to college assignments!). I was fortunate enough to become a Christ-follower at a young age. However, I’ve been stubborn enough to choose several “wrong paths” in the years that have followed. In spite of my obstinacy, God’s love has been constant and His Grace sufficient. The longer I live, the more I realize I am completely dependent upon God’s faithfulness!

And now it’s your turn to share. I’ve been so blessed, and even honored, by the honest comments so many of you have left in the past. So I end today’s post with the same question for you: What is the story of your journey?

How to Get Freshly Pressed

Post a picture of a Volkswagon. Maybe several. They really seem to like the VW vans.

Here’s a really groovy VW van:

If that doesn’t work, make a post about a TV show. Especially one that appeals to twentysomethings. I watched the season finale of Justified tonight. It was great and “the bad guy” even hijacked a yellow VW van. Not sure that’s enough to get me “freshly pressed,” but it is a weird coincidence! 🙂

Another good idea is to write about dating. More specifically describe in detail every horrible date you’ve had in the past week or two. And the more descriptive you are in running down some poor sap who was foolish enough to shell out a few bucks for your frappe or entree, the better your chances! I think a great many of my readers are beyond the “dating stage” of life, but you can always write a fictional account. Just be sure to make fun of the fake text messages your supposed admirer sent to you.

This week is my anniversary, and it just so happens I’m married to the most amazing woman in the world. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to start dating again (nor do I want to!). I’m tempted to post about the first two suggestions from time to time, but I’m just sharing this bit-o-wisdom to help the rest of you. 🙂

can underwear outlast a marriage?

can underwear outlast a marriage?.

Just to make you laugh on a Monday afternoon!

I don’t know anything about the author, but this was too funny not to share!

Real Life Hunger Games: Andrew Mohandis

I’ve had something on my mind all week, and keep thinking I’ll write a post.  Then I don’t.  I’m not good at much, but I’m GREAT at procrastinating!  Which makes me realize, if all I do is have great thoughts, but no action due to great procrastination, I’ll experience my own great hunger.  Just some “food for thought” for myself.  I do bounce around a bit…sorry!  🙂

Normally (well, always) my wife uploads my posts because she actually knows how to do it.  But she explained a few things to me the other day, so I thought I’d give it a go on my own today.  Here’s to hoping my attempt is successful. (And if you’re reading these words, it has been!)

REAL HUNGER for a REAL BOY

Sunday I had an opportunity to hear from Andrew Mohandis, a young refugee from South Sudan.  Due to God’s mighty work, Andrew is now attending college near where I live.  I call him a “refugee” because he has been delivered from a life of unbelievable danger.  As a boy, he and his family were ripped apart when some of his siblings were abducted.  He and his parents then spent several years living in the woods, eating whatever they could find for survival.  His father taught him to hunt and fish, and also encouraged him to share his blessings with others who were living in the forest—family or not.

After a few years, U.N. Peacekeepers were able to establish some semblance of safety for the people of South Sudan.  At that time, Andrew’s family moved back to their village.  However, there were still weekly attacks, including bombs dropped from airplanes.  The U.N. workers would sound an alarm, and all of the villagers would run to take cover in foxholes they had dug themselves.  Andrew spoke of how this was a time of singing and praying for him and his family, but also a time of loss, as there were almost always casualties somewhere in the village.  By the time Andrew was a teenager, some missionaries had helped him attend high school in Uganda, but even there, he witnessed much bloodshed.

Andrew concluded his time of testimony by sharing with us that, as much as he enjoys the freedom and safety of life in the U.S., his plans are to return to South Sudan and begin a school there to help other young children who need love, food, security, and education.  He’s been blessed for these past few years with a life he could have never imagined when fighting to survive out in his boyhood jungle.  Yet he is itching to return to that war-torn area, so he can be a greater blessing to others.  Powerful.

You can read some of Andrew’s testimony, in his own words, here:  http://threesixtybirmingham.blogspot.com/2010/08/from-sudan-to-birmingham-for-sake-of.html

HELPFUL HUNGER

I’ve thought frequently of Andrew this week.  His story and some of your blogposts have reminded me of how important it is to “count my blessings” and not get caught up in my own problems or worries.  And Scripture has served as another great reminder!

But then this morning, my wife and I were talking about the book The Hunger Games (which I’m currently reading), and she mentioned something about how some of the characters in the book had the benefit of not being hungry.  It was these people who had the luxury of being entertained.  Any number of things could entertain them—even the starvation and deaths of those less fortunate.  And in that conversation, I realized that one of my greatest problems is that I live with the luxury of being entertained.  So much so, that when not “entertained,” I have the luxury of dwelling on my own worries a bit too much! 

In days to come, I hope I will be more like my new friend Andrew: Thankful for this luxury I now know, but hungrier than ever to share my blessings—however meager they may be—with those who don’t have the luxury of being entertained.

“One Eye Closed”

She writhes in discontentment,
disturbed by the hacked gauge—
a mirror reflecting acidic accusations.

Robbed of joy, removed
from tenderness, repulsed
by the false images her supple fingers
refuse to relinquish.

Mr. Bluejay lands on the lemon tree,
violet feathers flutter, almond beak bellows,
and she listens to the sweeping tune sung
just beyond her paned glass.

Creative juices will contribute to her craft,
leaving little time to root out the lies—
looming specter of tomorrow’s repeat.

written for Magpie Tales, Monday Melting, and Sunday Whirl; linked to Dverse Poets Open Link Night

image by Duane Michals

Sharing IS Caring

I took my lovely bride to a book store last week. A big book store, with a coffee shop and lots of books. Several overflowing magazine racks too. With the ipad, iphone, kindle (and my blog), who still buys books and magazines? Anyway, seeing the massive amount of printed material and then coming home to read dozens of blogs and other websites that same night, made me wonder: with so many people “talking” (writing, as it were), who is actually “listening”?!? So with that in mind, I want to “tell” you something. 🙂

What I’m writing about today has little to do with my opening paragraph. You only have to be consistent like that in sophomore English! On this day, I’m writing about something else that’s been on my mind of late: sharing common interests with your significant other. I have recently discovered how critically important “shared interests” are in a relationship. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way. In my case, I spent years pursuing my own interests and not “sharing” nearly enough interests with my spouse. Oh we shared interests in children, church, and chores. (Ok, not the “chores” so much, but I liked the 3 “ch” words in a row: cha! cha! cha!) But I was so busy with work, hobbies, and MY interests, that I failed to invest in creating OUR hobbies and interests.

It’s easy to find things in common when you’re dating. Like, when my wife and I were dating, we both found yours truly to be quite a handsome guy! We had other things in common. I’m only sharing the first thing that came to mind. 😉 But, seriously, a big part of dating is expressing interest in one another and finding things you like to do together. If you don’t do those things, chances are you won’t continue dating for long enough to get married. What about after marriage though? Do most of us continue to spend time together in the same manner we did while dating? For that matter, are we making “time together” a priority? And since I mentioned the plethora of books available to buy, I’ll share a powerful quote with you from one of those books:

“In successful marriages the husbands and wives spend time together alone. If your schedules never allow time for you and your wife to be alone with each other [no children involved!], then you are too busy. You need that time of togetherness to talk, to work things out, to share interests and dreams, to just be together in silence, and to have intimate times that are not rushed.” The Power of a Praying Husband, p. 89.

Another quote I’d like to share was spoken to me by a friend who has just published her first book. I should have looked for her book while sipping my coffee last week! She asked me this question one day, and it motivated me in a big way to get my act TOGETHER: “When you’re older, and you’re sitting down together over dinner or on the front porch, don’t you want to be able to look at each other and say, ‘Remember that time when…’?”

So now it’s your turn to give the world more words to read. I’m listening. I promise! So write away! Just use that little comment box below…

What are your favorite ideas for spending time together? How have you and your SO (sig. other) found interests you can share that create special memories and bonding in your relationship? And if you haven’t made “time together” a priority, perhaps you have some thoughts to share as well.

“Why I Walk With a Cane”


Flipped Helix left little doubt:
his days as an easyrider were over.
Gestures to passing cars seemed futile.
Carrying the scratched-up, dented-in helmet,
he footed it to the nearest rest area—
stepping over lilies and on maple leaves along the way.

Thankful for feet to stand on.

Previously, he had no worries about the dangers
inherent in such freedom-riding activities.
Yes, she had expressed concern about how
she may one day be a grief-stricken bride,
but hobbies are for enjoying and exploring,
even if, sooner or later, the crash is inevitable.

written for Sunday Whirl and Monday Melting; linked to Open Link Night at dverse poets

“The King and I”

 
 
The King and I
 
Out for an evening stroll; napping is over,
there’s much plotting to be done.
 
Plotting for kingdoms and wars and
lesser things.
 
Things that arouse and excite, inciting
temptations that have ruined a stronger man.
 
Ruined little people too.
 
People like me.
 
 
An Explanation
This was written in response to “Free Write Friday.” The prompt today is to write about an affair, from a “fly on the wall” perspective. I’m not sure that I “nailed” the perspective, but my hope was to at least capture the destruction caused when people abandon those sacred vows. My inspiration was the story of David and Bathsheba.
 
photo

Fathers – Where are you? Part III

Fathers – Where are you? Part III.

Long read, but worth the time.  Nice follow up to the “real man” post from a week or so ago.

Here are some important statistics to share from the link above:

According to the Barna Group in their series on the state of the church:

    • Church attendance declined by six percentage points among men, The research showed that the proportion of men who had attended a church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or funeral, during the week prior to their survey interview fell from 42% to 36%.
    • Sunday school attendance declined by eight percentage points among men since 1991. Only one out of eight men (13%) presently attends such a meeting in a typical week.
    • The percentage of men who volunteer at a church during a typical week has slipped by six percentage points since 1991 to its present level of 18%.
    • The proportion of unchurched men has grown by nine percentage points since 1991. Today an estimated 39% of all men can be deemed unchurched – that is, having not attended a church event, other than a special service such as a wedding or funeral, in the past six months.

Additionally:

We are abandoning our homes and families at an alarming rate.  In the United States there are 9.9 million single mothers living with children under 18 in 2010.  This is up from 3.4 million in 1970.

“Arriving Home”

arms and hands reach high
naked feet dance funny jigs
screams ring out: “Daddy!”

written for Sensational Haiku Wednesday (theme: excitement)

“Still Standing”

 
Feeling that tingle again, she shifted her feet—
feet that screamed for her to flee, running fast from
whomever, whatever was watching.
 
But acorns don’t choose where they fall, and
trees spring up growing tall. No matter how
chaotic their branches bend, they simply stand.
 
Still.
 
So she stood, gingerly
twirling too-short-cropped-hair,
eight inches cut off, no longer there.
 
Ponytail gone; no string to hang on.
Leaves loudly scraped pavement,
driven by winds that could not move this
Little Red Riding Hood, who simply stood.
 
Still.
 
 
written for Magpie Tales #108, Monday Melting #8, Real Toads “Open-Link Monday,” and dverse poets “Open-Link Night”
 
image by Uzengia Aleksander Nedic

“Across the Street”

 
 
Woman unknown, I
saw you cry for the man you
love. I know plenty.