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The Greatest Show on Earth

Looking out the window didn’t inspire much:
old tire not swinging, and barren trees casting
reluctant shadows over barely-white-snow.

But as she ran out into the backyard,
my daughter saw visions of magic—charms
only she could discover on that hallowed ground.

And I stood in my kitchen that day
entranced,

awed by the beauty of a restless little girl searching—
finding treasures in the world she had created.

Blissfully unaware that magic is just an illusion,
she transformed herself into a princess,
mapped out her kingdom, and invented all sorts
of bizarre creatures over which she would rule.

I had the cumbersome chore of washing dishes,
yet lost myself in the fullness of that moment.

As night’s fog moved in, she returned to the house,
whistling a magical tune—one of the treasures
she found that day in her backyard kingdom.

written for Kellie’s Free-Write Friday prompt based on the cover of her new book

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. 🙂

“At the Front Door”

written for Sunday Whirl #51 and Monday Melting #12; linked to dverse poets “Open Link Night”

“Off the trampoline!” Mom yelled.
I pretended not to hear and just jounced:
up and down, up and down, until
the crinkled lines on her forehead told me
I had pushed as far as she would allow.

It was near dusk as I staggered in the house,
knowing my destiny was a scolding—and
chores. Tonight’s first order of business was
wiping down the door I had just stepped
past and making the prismed glass sparkle.

I was entranced by transmuted images of sunlight
dancing against the wall, the last rays of the day
becoming beautiful rainbow paints when not blocked
by the old sleeveless t-shirt I held in my hand—I
controlled this adagio, though the colors chose their partners.

The shirt had been Dad’s; so had the song I softly sang.
I was careful that Mother not hear any happy tune winding
its way down the hall and risk infecting her broken
mentality—a grief she carried since Father was buried.
She has a mawkishly sick addiction to anger and sadness.

Yes I’m careful. Fearful really. I’ve learned not to emit much joy
in her presence—apparently I’m not yet allowed to feel such.
But kids like me still need to hear bedtime stories and fairy tales
to ensure sweet slumber. So I choose to hope that playmates
will knock on this door tomorrow. Not an undertaker.

And I clean this door, eviscerating the prints of the man
with a bony hand who was wearing the heather gray tie.
By now, Mom is standing next to me inspecting my work.
“I’ve never seen the glass shine so brightly,” she says, almost
sounding proud of the job I’ve done and the girl she has raised.

About Me: Going Postal

Don’t let the title alarm you (too much).  I”m just letting you know that I’m (sort of) creating an “about me,” but using a post to do it.  As Shawna has noted, at this point I can’t create an actual “about me”…that section has taken on a life of it’s own.  A very funny life at that as evidenced by comments you’ll find here and another comment Chris has made on his blog.  He pretty much threw down the gauntlet and called my “about me” section the “absolute worst” on wordpress!  But don’t get mad at the boy for calling me out—he gave the residents of my house great cause for laughter!  Plus he might have a friend who just won lots of money in the super-duper-mega-biggest-lottery-ever!  I’m thinking we all should become his new best friend. 🙂

And now, a “junkie” has come to my rescue!  By way of tagging me.  So now to play my part in this game of tag!

1. Describe yourself in 7 words.

Christian (saved by Grace). Husband. Father. Minister.

2. What keeps you up at night?

Blogging!  And other interests, such as: hanging out with my beautiful wife, wonderful children (when they have trouble sleeping), reading, netflix, college football, saving the world, etc.  And of course there are those ‘life issues” which occupy my thoughts and keep me awake for way too long some nights.  And, oh yeah, lock-ins, retreats, and camps!

3. Who would you like to be?

Honestly, I’m pretty happy being who I am.  But if this question is an attempt to get me to name some other person in the world who I’d like to be, I would choose Nick Saban.  Not that he’s the most pleasant person, mind you, but that is how deep is my love for the Crimson Tide.  (I answered honestly, even though I may have just lost half my readership!..lol) 

4. What are you wearing right now?

Shorts and a t-shirt, no shoes.  It’s my day off 🙂

5. What scares you?

I really hate to fly.  I used to fly quite a bit “back in the day.”  Never liked it much, but did it anyway.  But I’ve refused to board a plane since 9/11.  And now, I might actually be more afraid of TSA with their scanners and body searches.  I know I need to get over this, and “just do it” but as of now I’m pretty content with both feet on the ground (and far away from the TSA).   🙂 

6. The best and worst of blogging:

Best: For years I’ve known about the abundance of talented writers and rich information to be found in the blogosphere.  I used to drive my wife crazy because I would spend hours reading the ramblings of strangers from around the world!  But those ramblings were (and are) full of brilliant thoughts and great topics for discussion.  It’s only recently, however, that I’ve started my own blog and enjoyed the benefit of the “community” one can find when becoming an active blogger.  And for me, this has been the best by far.  I sincerely enjoy all the opportunities to read, comment, and dialogue with so many of you.  You all have made me smile, laugh, think, and even cry.  It’s really an awesome opportunity we have to engage like this.

Worst: The main negative I find in blogging is how consuming it can be if one is not careful.  I already mentioned about the crazy amount of time I spent on reading blogs all those years ago.  And that was just reading with the occasional comment!  Now that I post to my own blog, I can easily be tempted to spend even more time reading, commenting, & writing.  So far, I think I’m maintaining a pretty good balance this time around.  I’m certainly much more aware of my priorities and committed to quality time every day with my wife and daughters.

7. The last website I visited:

WordPress.com of course!

8. What is one thing I would change about myself?

Oh boy!  Several things about my past, but if we’re just talking the current version of me, it would have to be dropping about 40 pounds and getting in shape physically.  Got to keep up with my hottie of a wife. 🙂

9. Slankets. Yes or No?

Apparently this is like a Snuggie.  And that would be a definite “NO” for me!

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.

Oh, this is the junkie I mentioned.  But it’s all good, cause she’s just an “apple junkie.”  She loves apples—not the computers or phones, but the actual fruit.  Bonus points for that! (and less trips to the doctor according to Ben Franklin!)  She may just be a “fruity” girl as she also loves kiwis.  She admits to being clumsy, but I think she’s ok with it. 🙂  Beyond that, she is an “international” college student (seriously, she’s been to college in 2 different countries), a very entertaining blogger, and a Christ-follower. 

Hopefully this resolves at least some of the mystery surrounding my existence 🙂  I’m supposed to tag 8 of you now.  But I’m going to do that in a comment, because I think this post is pretty long already (and I need time to figure out who to tag). 

“Soul Food”

Chocolate Mint Milkshakes
don’t nourish bodies much, but
they sure can cause a soul to shine.

It’s natural to treat cuts and scrapes
with aloe and band-aids of funny shapes,
kiss it and wish it “all better.”

Yet those dark seasons come and
whisper “despair”; over here, over there,
pouring salt in wounds no one sees.

One of life’s cruelest tricks
leaves us broken and sick
no package to buy for our healing.

Soon it is June, the perfect time
to smell soft summer air drifting—
stringing hope like bright rays of sun.

In winter’s absence, grass grows
in shades of green; minty delights
meant to be tasted.

 

 

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

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

“Undignified” ~David Crowder Band

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

Oh No You Didn’t!

So you had an idea that I kind of liked;
Can’t remember why now, but I really was psyched.
“Let’s get married ‘fore the end of the century!
And give up your sports; can’t risk an injury.” 

“Two become one.”
Signed. Sealed. Done!
And while it was still ’99,
you showed yours and I showed mine.
 
“Two become one.” Could we have known what it means?
In-over-heads, newlyweds, barely out of our teens.
Love. Honor. Cherish. It would have been so awesome.
Had you only liked me and your mother-in-law some.
 
“Two become one.” Let’s get started!
Wedded bliss ruined? Just ’cause I farted?
I was such a good spouse, as everyone knew.
I’d have been completely selfless—had it not been for you!
 
So you had an idea that I (secretly) approved of;
let’s move on with our lives, find us some new loves.
Turned math upside down—that was so you!
Hired lawyers and judges, turned one into two.
 
 
 
written for Poetics “1999”

“Insomnia”

 
Sleep was my mistress; how I loved her embrace.
She held me all night, made me feel so grand.
But lately, she makes excuses, won’t come by my place—
Sleep was my mistress; how I loved her embrace.
 
Tonight she refuses to meet face-to-face;
at this point I’d settle for a one-night-stand.
 
Sleep was my mistress; how I loved her embrace.
She held me all night, made me feel so grand.
 
 
 
This triolet was written for dverse poets “Form for All

“Across the Street”

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

Looking at the Flip Side of Love

Looking at the Flip Side of Love.

If you click on the link above you will find a bit of explanation about this thought-provoking piece written by Linda Krushchke.

Hate Is . . .

Hate is impatient,
toe tapping, eye-rolling,
in a hurry for instant gratification

Hate is mean,
treating others unkindly,
bullying, and insulting

Hate is envious,
not happy for others’ prosperity,
wanting what others have,
and for them not to have it

Hate is boastful,
puffed up, pointing to self-accomplishments,
not recognizing contributions of others

Hate is not humble,
but is arrogant, filled with hubris
proudly thinking oneself better than all,
pretentious and vain, always vain

Hate is rude,
abusive and insulting, vulgar,
disrespectful, and never caring for others

Hate is self-seeking,
it’s-all-about-me attitude,
selfish and egotistical, self-important

Hate is easily angered,
irritated by the slightest mistake,
hot-headed, unwilling to forgive

Hate keeps a record of wrongs,
every little sin catalogued and indexed,
ready as part of its arsenal of hostility

Hate delights in evil,
revels in rebelling against authority,
is pleased to go its own way

Hate despises truth,
closes its ears to teaching,
refuses instruction and correction

Hate attacks,
harms loved ones and strangers alike,
injures all in its way without care

Hate distrusts,
lacks faith in God or anything,
doubts there is anything good

Hate despairs,
has no hope for a future,
lives in misery and sorrow

Hate gives up,
at the smallest obstacle it gives in,
is defeated by the tiniest tribulation

Hate never wins

Written by: Linda Kruschke

“Turn the Page”

Signs all around;
change is upon us.

The flower—freshly picked—
beauty pressed upon beauty.
Barren trees,
soon to be cloaked with lively leaves,
jealously watch
as lucky clovers brilliantly bloom—
dancing at your feet.

You take it all in, excited
at the thought of new days and new seasons,
ready to join in with a spicy two-step.
And me?
I lean into your shoulder, content.
Spring spores give rise to more than flora;
hope springs eternal. At least today.

I read the signs;
change is upon us.