Pleading for a life that matters

Teach me humility

Lead me where you want me to go

Help me understand and respond to the plight of the poor

Make me more like Jesus

Grant me more faith

Grant me victory over sin and temptation

Grace upon me self forgetfulness. What glory that would be!

Grant me love (in action) toward others

Teach me kindness and mercy. Gratitude and thankfulness.

Grant an ever increasing love for you

Teach me to forgive, to seek forgiveness and where needed to make ammends

Deliver me from useless living

Grant me your interruptions into my life that I might die to self and willingly and gladly expend all for others. Whatever the cost. I surrender everything to you. I claim all that I have as yours.

Only … Do not leave me or forsake me. This one thing I ask – all the more – that I may dwell in the house of the lord all the days of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Confessions of a Contumacious Monk

Blog Note. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Some of you gave me a nudge to get another post out. I really appreciate that. It does help. I’m humble that anyone is interested in reading any of this. I do write down thoughts and notes as they come. It’s not unusual to be jotting down notes as I read in the morning or at the local coffee shop during lunch. On occasion I even send texts to myself to capture a wayward thought here and there (am I the only who does self-texting?). Eventually, it just takes a series of sit downs without interruption and distractions to get some semi-intelligent and randomly coherent thoughts out. In the end; however, I realize on pre-post proof read that my words may not make sense to some and perhaps to no one. I just allow for that. Such is the nature of churning.

There is risk in sharing some of these thoughts. Words simply fail to capture everything. One risk is that a reader might assume I am completely miserable. I am not. Another is to assume that when I reflect on a truth or a needed and desired life action – that I have my act together and am now ‘getting r done’. Not so. Change and certainly sanctification are a long uncertain processes with a lot of mystery and inevitable failures.

It seems I tend to write long blogs. I think shorter blogs would be easier for the few readers who have decided to delve with me here. But that does not seem to work for me right now. It comes as it comes.

The goal here is not content management.  I find this ironic, as my job title at present is – Content Manager. God does have a sense of humor.

If there is a theme in this blog, I think it would be, “The Confessions of a Contumacious Monk”. I try to explain that below. Note that I did have to look up the definition of ‘contumacious’. It does fit me I fear.


Phone Sighs. Renee just called. We don’t usually cry on the phone together. Sometimes we do. She had heard a song that reminded her of Micah. We do laugh more than we cry but they are often mingled together.


Pause and Pray: Jesus please guide my words. Even in my lamenting, let me not detract from your work… in me or in others. Let the Spirit speak to me and through me.


January 17, 2015.

Today is January 17, 2015. It’s been 90 days without Micah. I’m down right mad as I write this. I want my son back and I’m furious that he is not coming back. Today I have screamed, pounded my chest and waved my arms in the air. It changes nothing. Who would have known that emptiness weighed so much? Not sure what will come out of my ‘pen’ – but here it is. Let the soulful-ink flow!



Lamenting Prayer I wrote this in my journal recently:

Deliver me oh lord from wasted living – whatever the cost. The cost already seems too high. There is no turning back now. Let’s get it on Lord. No games. You are the king. You are God.

You know my past. You know my future. You know the burden of my soul as I write this. Reign in me now oh lord!

I surrender to whatever you would have of me. I surrender to the crucible of your love. I plead with you lord to break the strings that bind me from total surrender.

I willingly surrender my mind, body, soul, spirit and will to your love. I confess my flesh (all that crud… pride, arrogance, addiction to comfort, greed, envy, judgment, slander, demanding my way, unkindness, ingratitude, grumbling, laziness, self pity, self-obsession …and all that other crap – must I name it all?

You know me. JESUS! Jesus! …Jesus…?

Help me oh lord to be emptied and annihilated that I may know you more.

I want escape Lord. I want to feel better. I want to be distracted forever.

For all my Jesus talk …. courage evades me like the plague. What does that say of you? Of me?

I want some hope and I want to feel it right now ..damn it!

My self-obsession is …self-obsessing me. Go figure.

Teach me Lord to seek you in my pain, increase my thirst for you, turn my passion to you. Zap me, transport me, fill me, or do whatever is necessary for me to surrender fully to you.

What will it take lord to transform me into a grateful person? A contagiously grateful person. A dude who gets you, abides in you and with that – loves in action the world around me – in EVERY circumstance …with goodness and Joy.

Open my eyes to see! Take me there lord. I cannot get there on my own. I cannot see it. 

I surrender everything I know about me to everything I know about you. I surrender to your perfect love. I love you Abba.”



Texting Micah

As I was texting this week – I was reminded that I still have my texting history with Micah on my phone. Sometimes I will look at his texts just because it feels like he is talking with me again or so I want it to. It’s pretty obvious that I did most of the talking in our conversations …even with texts.

Kind of weird I guess but I sent him a text today:

“I miss you so much. Love dad”.

No bounce back. I suppose AT&T does not reach that far. There are lots of ways to pray.


Grief Prolonged

Grief is not an emotion. It is a process. It occurs to me that grief can take on an unhealthy life of its own. Another grey flesh prone reality to mess with. Yet we have to allow for the process.


Last Touch

I was remembering Micah’s last day. I was not able to hold him in my arms. I so wish I could have. Painful memories.


A Haunting Question

A pastor friend is supporting an upcoming youth rally. He approached me and asked if I would be willing to comment with an answer to the following question. It is a great question. I love the question but I must admit – the question is haunting me:

‘Where is God in our broken places and where and how do we find a handful of peace in the midst of storms?’

I’m asking that question a lot myself right now. However, my soul tends to get stuck on the question more than yielding to the answer. The answer is super crucial to me – now more than ever. Renee and I had a conversation the other day where we discussed – if we could go back -before Micah left us- but now know what we know and with our now (after Micah’s death) perspective – if we could do that, then how would our conversation change? The answer is super crucial. I should be able to give this answer to my own soul and to any trouble soul who crosses my path.

What would your answer be? How would you articulate it to a troubled soul?

I want to be haunted by this question. It must be answered – well.   More to come on this.


Anti-Thesis Dirge: Heaven Is Not My Home

I’m going to try and explain something here. I’ve been churning on it for some time. It has to do with perspective on hope and a future of desired grateful living. My perspective has changed and is changing more I think. This is no small thing because any life of gratitude lived is a life that also experiences and acknowledges pain and suffering. It is a difficult resolution. For me, I feel it is the crux of my faith walk. Its failure seems to me at present to be the potential failure of a faith walk. It lives or dies here.

There is an old hymn I have favored over the years. The version I have on my ipod is titled, “This World is not my home” with familiar lyrics that include, “if heavens not home oh Lord what will I do…. I can’t feel at home in this world any more”. It’s kind of a corny cutesy country twang of a song. But I must admit it has at different times actually brought tears to my eyes. Indeed I it was on my playlist for a reason. It soothed my soul and seemed to bring comfort when I was down. This is no longer the case.

The song started to play the other day and I had an immediate reaction of – anger. I realize now that these words represent the anti-thesis of my present outlook following Micah’s death. I now find the song to represent a cop out, a cowards mantra – a self-pity feeding instrument of the enemy. I’ll try to explain.

Today on planet earth, heaven is not my home. The world I find myself breathing in is my home. Furthermore, I believe more than ever that I am called to make the most out of the life I have in this world and indeed to do everything I can to make this world a better place. I readily admit that I fail at that much more than I succeed.

I also acknowledge that too often – arguably, even as my norm – I have been and am a self-obsessed ungrateful stick in the mud. I have the audacity to be miserable and complain simply because things have not gone my way, or my comfort is negatively impacted, or my abundance is scarcer than I want it to be…etc. etc. etc.

Instead of dwelling on the mud I seem to think I’ve found myself in – while soothing myself by singing jingles of “if heavens not my home, oh Lord what will do” (now said sarcastically in the squeaky and intentionally insulting voice of a munchkin), I need to repent of my grumbling self-obsession. And so I shall over and over again.

Happy about it or not – I’m in this world and it’s time to embrace it, learn to celebrate what is worthy of celebrating and seek to become – truly grateful. Please be clear: I’m not pulling this off yet …not in any way shape or form. Here ..right now … I’m simply acknowledging my real calling to make the world a better place and to at least attempt to learn to be grateful in the process.

This world IS my home. This is where God has placed me. Right here and right now – with the hurt, the pain, my failure, shortcomings, sins and weaknesses but also along with the good and the ever so many things worthy of thanks.

Whether or not I ever mature into a grateful person – I will no longer be soothed by this pathetic theme song and the lie (within me) that it has supported. END diatribe. BEGIN to contemplate anew – Unconditional Gratitude.


Contumacious Monk

In his book “Ruthless Trust”, Brennan Manning refers to grumbling as the “antithesis of giving thanks”. I’m beginning to understand that more. Manning also quotes a work by St. Benedict where he stated that he ‘considered grumbling a serious offense against community life’. I’m sure I’m not up for the ‘rules of monastic living’ but I like the response St. Benedict suggested and Manning’s chapter close:

 …he describes the appropriate response to a “contumacious monk” who is creating discord in the monastic community. ‘Let Father Abbot send two stout monks to explain the matter to him’. The saintly founder of Western Monasticism implies that a left jab to the solar plexus and a right hook to the jaw would swiftly clear the grousing brothers mind.

To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.

(Ruthless Trust, kindle location 464).

As a self-confessed “contumacious monk”, I think a left jab and right hook might be deserved on occasion …as I hear myself grumbling all too often. Even so it’s probably best to not tell that to my 4th degree black belt wife.

Pondering the path to grateful living in a world of pain. Its a narrowing road.


THE FAM, WEIRD PONDERINGS, LIFE-N-STUFF LIKE THAT


Christmas

We did ok over Christmas. We never did get many decorations up. Renee bought a small live tree. We had a few lights on it. There was only one ornament on the tree – a red-bull motorcycle (Thank you Kaitlin & Chris). We all seemed quite fine with the decorations as they were.

On Christmas day our friends and next door neighbors joined us along with a friend of Paul’s who does not have family in Alaska. We shared a red-bull toast for Micah. I think that is now a Christmas tradition. We allowed for personal preference on red bull substitutions (it really is nasty stuff!).

We exchanged some Christmas gifts. However, I must admit I did not buy anyone a single gift. That does seem really selfish when I think about it now. Renee bought some things for the boys from both of us. I just had no desire to engage in the shopping and wrapping thing. Normally I go nuts with gag gifts in the stockings. We did not hang any stockings this year.

Renee surprised me significantly when she handed me a gift and said it was from Micah. It contained a bag of premium coffee beans from a roaster in Vashon Island, Wa. Renee said it represented the kind of gift Micah would have gotten me. That’s so true. It also contained a small roll of cash. Indeed this was from Micah as Renee had found some cash amongst Micah’s belongings – and subsequently split it between Paul, Noah and I. I was not expecting this at all …so it hit me hard.

I am sending the small amount of cash to our compassion international child in Uganda. Please be clear, there is truly no real sacrifice in that…it’s not a lot of money. It’s just a born of a need to express our love for Micah in any way we can. I plan to drink the coffee over the 4 days we are camping in June – where we will spread Micah’s ashes. Micah and I often enjoyed a good cup of French press coffee together. …as do Paul and Noah and I.

This holiday recap seems heavy as I’m re-reading this. Honestly though, we were not hanging our heads in misery. We did enjoy the holiday and the time together. We did a hobbit and lord of the rings marathon and then we all went to see the new hobbit movie together. We have also begun a chronological watching of every James Bond movie (Noah has them all).

Christmas was just different and I think will be for the duration.


Bitter-Sweet

Renee and I have shared that many things right now have a bitter-sweet nature to them. For example, I greatly enjoyed watching my favorite team win the NFC championship game. It was a blast. I truly enjoyed celebrating with the family and a few friends (our neighbor said she never imagined I could jump so high). However, within seconds of jumping and shouting with glee over the last-minute victory – a wave of tearful sorrow came on as I thought of how much Micah would have enjoyed this and again of how significant his absence is and how much I miss him. His absence pierces so many moments…and I want it to.


Hobbit Tears

Renee and the boys did not believe me when I told them that I cried during the last Hobbit movie. I’ve been mocked severely with laughter.

Seriously thought (no really… Seriously) I was impacted by the perpetual – and often severe – battle between good and evil. With each victory there is more pain and another battle brewing. Yet help comes from unexpected places and at times from unexpected characters. Friendship involves trust, sacrifice, and sometimes betrayal.

Forgiveness requires intentional sacrifice in love.

There is loss along the way.

Sacrifice in love can be ever so difficult and not always well received. Doing so can take immense if not also stumbling courage … with the outcome never sure. Sometimes indeed, we need to see those whom we perceive as our enemies with an awareness of our own self-obsession and propensity for evil. We each deal with our own internal demons.

Most importantly it was a reminder of how important it is to be grateful and enjoy what you can with every opportunity along the journey – before, during the lull and after each battle. There’s nothing like a good puff on some long bottom leaf from the Shire to lighten the spirits and fill the soul with gratitude (or in my case some occasional Arturo Fuente leaves). Ok..ok.. the Hobbit metaphors go on and on. At least I’m not crying over some chic flick.


Gimli:

Paul did find us a new family dog. Technically it’s his dog which is a key point Renee makes when it comes to walking, feeding, etc. Gimli is an American Bull Dog / Terrier mix. Paul rescued Gimli from a local dog shelter. Gimli is basically a big powerful but gentle lug-of-a mutt. He is very mellow. It’s pretty clear that he likes his new digs and family. He does not like having his new collar removed. I’m guessing he equates that with abandonment perhaps.

It’s good to have a dog around again although our cat would share a different opinion. Well done Paul.


Tragedy, Comedy and Love

Noah and I have been meeting two or three times a week for about 6 weeks to prepare a message for Sunday services on Jan 11, 2015. I’ve include a link to the podcast below for anyone interested. Basically we used the concept of “Holy Curiosity” and asked each other to answer the following questions: Question for Dad:

1. Where do you see room for comedy and humor in spiritual life? 2. When in your life do you think you were weakest in your faith?

Questions for Noah:

1. How do you see your role as a faith leader/Pastor in your everyday life right now? 2. What has affected or influenced your faith walk most in the last 3 years?

Shared Question 4:

Where do you think your faith walk is most challenged right now?

These questions really hit home for each of us in different ways. By far the best part of the experience was the time, discussion, coffee and chess shared with Noah. Thank you Gus.

Podcast: http://www.audio.communitycovenant.net/audio/1501/150111.mp3

Quote Shared: Improvised Shakespeare Company: Acting, Improv and Public Faith. http://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/acting_improv_and_public_faith

Message Closing Prayer:.

“May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness. that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is father, son and spirit. …Today on planet earth, may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abbas child and temple of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Brennan Manning quoting his spiritual director Larry Hien. Abba’s Child, Kindle location 121 and 117).


Quotes of Note of late:

  • “There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.
  • “The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment.” (Brennan manning).

Other stuff I’m thinking on

  • Second Conversion (Brennan Manning)
  • Ruthless Trust (Brennan Manning)
  • Aware of fear of being insignificant and marginalized and then thinking of where I may be making others feel that way.
  • Propensity to seek distractions as an escape. How hard it is to just allow time to take in what is.
  • Grace Before Meat (an old article Noah introduced to me)
  • Huddle. A huddle is a high commitment small discipleship group that meets for a year with intentional focus that includes the concept of invitation and challenge. I’ve participated on several and now I’m wanting to start one. Prayerfully looking for willing and interested candidates …or victims.
  • Gratitude for Renee, Paul and Noah. They are awesome.

Elusive Rhythms

I’m struggling to write the last few weeks. I think in part because I feel like I want to have better ‘battling in the thick of it” stories than I do. I want to have heart felt moments or scripture studied and read that is making handling of all of this better.  I want to know I am encouraging others and helping my family. There is some of that but life is still jumbled and disconnected. My own sin and self-obsession is all too evident.

It is not all sorrow. Nor do I want it to be. I love joking with others. I cherish humor. I love to see Renee, Paul and Noah – doing stuff. I love our fires, chats, movies, cat chasing, meals and just being together.

I know I keep saying this. But the pain of Micah’s absence seems to grow. It’s at least different with each passing week. We had printed a lot of Micah’s pictures for his service. At one point I put most of them downstairs as the presence of so many pictures was too much. But this week I’ve gotten some of them out again. I just want to see him. ..to be reminded of him. I want frequent cause to remember him. I cry more when I do.

Weekends are still the worst. So I churn and write…

Christmas: We have discussed on several occasions what we want to do for Christmas this year. No earth shattering changes.

We usually have decorations out by this time. But we have yet to get most of them out. I don’t think we will. The desire is just not there. The boys are all older and Christmas was already changing with age and normal maturity. The change is different now of course. I think we all want a simple Christmas. I think we are ok with that.

Renee did buy a Norfolk pine-in-a-pot and put some lights around it. It looks nice. We may put out the stockings ..Micah’s included. I found a nativity set I had in bought in Chicago last year and put that on the mantle. I then promptly dropped one of wise men. I think we have found all the pieces but he is currently not himself.

We have talked about an annual Christmas toast with memories and thoughts of Micah. We want him to be a part of whatever we do. Still ..it’s hard. I’m feeling it more than I thought I would as Christmas approaches. Christmas has always been a big deal for us on the whole. Lot’s of good memories. I’m glad for that.

Struggling Perspective (others). I am aware everyday – that we are not alone in our struggles and sorrows. Every one struggles. Many trials and tribulations of others are as great or greater and so much more difficult. I do not want to get lost in my own self-obsession. I feel very strongly about that and do not want to forget about the struggles of others; friends, family, local community, nation, world – near and far. I do not want to be unaware of nor isolate myself from the daily struggles of others. That seems even more important now. Paul has mentioned several things to do for others at Christmas.

Cake Walk? There is in fact a strange reality that I am aware of: Micah left us quickly and without warning. There was no lingering illness or expensive medical bills. There is nearly nothing more to do. Micah is just gone. It is a sudden emptiness. From a logistical impact perspective .. I have made the sarcastic statement that it is ‘a cake walk’. That is a strange thing to say and I don’t really mean that but the sudden emptiness it is part of our reality perspective. The loss of presence – past, current and future impact is none-the-less … harsh and beyond significant.

Walking in the midst of the mess: Before all this I claimed to have a life of ‘walking in the midst of the mess’. It was kind of my “spiritual director” calling card. I had issues and life challenges before (don’t we all). I was an imperfect father before all this. Now I’m more aware of my imperfections. That is not meant as a statement of guilt or fault or blame. It’s just fact. Noah and I were kind of joking about this. I was a wacky nut before all this. Now I’m a wack job – with more stress. We laughed …perhaps uncomfortably… at the reality of that.

Red-Dot Reality Check: I have a thing I often do. I stole it from author and counselor, Larry Crabb. I call it the red-dot reality check. The reference is to the “you are here” red-dots on the signs in the mall (i.e. where are you relative to where you should be or want to be?). The red-dot reality check is to ask yourself, “where on my spiritual walk am I – relative to where I believe God wants me to be” – and then identifying the path to get there. It is analogous to ‘observe, reflect, discuss’ learning circle I’ve mentioned in the past.

However my red-dot map is currently steamed over. The path is not clear. All I know to do right now is to keep checking the compass ..and try to move toward true North.

Paul is Back. Paul moved back into the house last week. It’s really good to have him home. I hope he can tolerate me. He moved into Micah’s old bedroom. We cleaned and repainted the bedroom. It took longer than we expected. Packing or relocating Micah’s things slowed us down… a lot. Paul had to hang with us more than he planned I think to help move us along. Paul has built some awesome computer apparatuses. His color changing keyboard is particularly cool. In the end we just repainted the bedroom the same colors. Micah had picked out those colors. It’s good to have Paul settled in. To my surprise he has been getting up on most mornings to have 6:30 am coffee with Noah and I. Good sipping.

Renee and I have shared more tears. Different things remind us of Micah.

I found Micah’s bible in the stuff we brought home from his apartment. It was a gift from me. I gave it to him in 2010 in Coos Bay Oregon. I wrote the inscription on the cover page. I remember he had come by the house in the last year and specifically looked for it to take it home with him. It sits next to my reading chair. So far I can’t hold it without tears.

Family Dog. Paul loves animals. We lost our long time family dog in August. Paul is now searching for a new family dog for us. However it has taken us some time to convince mom. She claims she always ends up being the one to take care of the animals. Don’t know where she gets those crazy ideas (I can feel the stare as I write this). Regardless, Paul tells us it has to be a rescue dog. He is unwavering on that. Yes, we do have a cat but …no matter how you shake it …it’s still a cat.

Elusive Rhythms: What am I doing to cope? There is really no simply answer to that. It’s too early still. I am seeking healthy rhythm. Finding and keeping a healthy rhythm has always been a challenge. More so now. I am wanting more healthy eating and exercise rhythm than I‘m actually realizing (naturally J)..but I think about it a lot. Such is the story of my life. I press on … and sometimes pedal.

I am a churning thinker. I’m allowing for more of that than ever. I do a lot of sitting and thinking. Most often in our living room ..in my reading chair. Sometimes this is healthy and sometimes ..maybe not. But I like the down time right now. I have set up my schedule through mid January to have Friday’s off in addition to normal Holidays. I want to have more time to seek the Lord, work on healthy  rhythms ..and prepare for the January 11th gig with Noah. We are still meeting at least twice a week. He still carry’s the mood and is the primary on assuring we meet. But we are having some good discourse. ..and I have beaten him at chess 3 times in a row.

I listen to a lot podcasts (Tim Keller) and daily 10 minute devotional podcast from an organization I like (3DM). I typically have them playing all night long. I read psalms. The Psalms are prayers and as such I know the spirit is praying for me as I pray the psalms.

I journal. Mostly a bit of scribbling here and there. ..and some blogging.

Not reading books much. I have been a kindle reading nut for many years. But I can’t read much right now. A friend who had been through similar circumstances told me the same. Still it surprises me. Normally I love to read. I think I’m starting to warm up a bit.

Holy Curiosity. I meet occasionally with just one or two others. Mostly I talk with Renee and the boys. Admittedly I don’t want to talk with others much. Yet I do …but I don’t. In part I don’t want to get together just for the purpose of ‘my talking about my problems’. It feels unnatural and pressured. Those limited few (ok …just one really) I do talk with are primarily trusted friends that understand the concept of “mutual Holy curiosity”. Effectively this is where you enter every conversation with the understanding that God intends to use the other person to speak to you as much as (if not more so than) He also intends to use you to speak to them and you begin to listen with a belief in your own intended divine weight of impact in the midst of – and also being aware of – your own sin, struggles, weakness and self-obsession.

I find professional counselors to often be the last to grasp this or exercise it. Clearly, this is a pet peeve of mine. I’ve spent years studying this topic. Having said that …I do know that I do have more trusted friends around who could handle this. I just have not opened the door to them… yet. I talk big but in the end I struggle with opening up as much as anyone.

I do have one trusted ‘professional counselor’ and I speak to him on a rare occasion. But even he also knows that booking his time always irritates a part of me as well. The church family (or spiritual friends) are intended to fill this space and not ‘professional listeners’. The modern church in the Western world has devolved in this regard. Having said that … I also recognize and confess my own propensity to be a recluse and to not open up to others. My own sin and self-obsession blocks the path.

I read the word. I’m not very disciplined about it. I often read what others reference in notes and communication …but with thirst. I read what comes to mind. It’s sporadic but usually at least daily. I often read the daily Moravian texts.

All of Acts, All of Micah (I identified Micah 6:8 for Micah before he was born ..now I guess it’s my life verse).

Psalm 116 …The cords of death entangled me,…Then I called on the name of the Lord:    “Lord, save me!”.. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people….

Psalm 27… One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. … Though my father and mother (and son) forsake me,    the Lord will receive me…. I remain confident of this:    I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 143 ..Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you.10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground…

Weirdness -Talking of family and kids with others: Normally in the past I would talk often and frequently of my kids and inquire with others about their families. We parents like to do that. But now I find myself hesitating because discussing my family now has qualifiers and caveats. Still sometimes I just naturally do talk of family but the talk seems to frequently turn awkward. If I mention something about ‘my son’ ..you can feel the unsaid thoughts (which son is he talking about?). I hate the qualifiers, caveats and hesitations. No one is at fault. There is no one to blame. It’s just something we have to learn to get through.

Fences with Gates: Healthy boundaries are necessary to maintain good relational health. In particular when your own defenses are down. This is not news but it’s good to be reminded of. Some trusted advisors have helped us remember this of late. The actions of a few others also help us remember and encourages us to set healthy boundaries when needed. The ones that stand out are the few who want you to let them help you in just the manner they think you should allow them to help you and if you don’t then they become offended because you have not allowed them to help you in your crisis as they think you should – and in their offense make sure you are aware of their disappointment in your behavior toward them during your crisis. It’s a mouthful but it really happens.

The real challenge of course is to set healthy boundaries – or fences with gates – and respond with love. Easier said than done. Fortunately there is little to no chance of offending any of the offenders noted with the statements I’m writing here … simply because those individuals will seldom be able to see or be willing to acknowledge it in themselves and as such will likely never be faced with admitting a possible problem with their “expectations of how you should let them help you in their way during your crisis”.

Loving well …can be such a hard thing amongst us. I know that I struggle do so. Setting “fences with gates” boundaries is necessary to maintain your own relational health – but cannot be used with any intent to change the behavior of others.

———–

Meanderings:

Tripe. Things that once seemed enjoyable and meaningful – but are not.

The formulas are all broken. A+B does not equal C.

Desire for hope. Intense. Desire to know the basis of hope and be able to share that effectively with – anyone at any time. If only I could have given more of  that to Micah.

Love for Noah. I love it when he comes in the door humming a tune. I love it when he flips his mom’s pony tail …knowing the ramifications may be painful. I enjoy his hugs and humor.

Noah hates my channel surfing… so of late we watch Netflix series ‘Arrow’ together. The agreement is that we must be together to watch arrow. Billionaire kid with a green hood, cool gadgets, lots of action and arrows. Renee claims it is confusing.

Love for Paul. I love his natural love for animals. I love his care for people. I love to see his passion for different things (computers, weird movies and books ..n stuff). I enjoy his hugs. I hope he finds us a dog.

Love for Renee. As one of her self-defense students said to her recently (which she took as a compliment), “Mrs Hammett you are both intimidating and fun”. While the wee little woman does not usually intimidate me …the statement describes her well: Beautiful, soft of heart, kind, self-sacrificing but passionate tough and ever so determined.

End

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Imagine this, “A Spherical Cow” (Noah ..are  you reading this?)

Kairos Hurdles

cropped-christmas03097.jpg

Thanksgiving: We had a good Thanks giving. A few friends came over …and brought food. We did not sit around the table. In part I think because we did not want to bring attention to the empty place at the table. We just relaxed, watched football and ate. Renee and I were kind of joking that we thought the Lord was instrumental in the Seahawks win – just so we would have a lighter and more enjoyable Thanksgiving :).  Devine providence or not – we were indeed grateful for a lighter and enjoyable day. We really needed that.  I know Micah would have enjoyed the food and football watching.

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Micah Memories: I remember something Micah had said to me in recent weeks before his death (I struggle with referring to Micah in the past tense. I just don’t like to).  I had shared a quote with Micah from something I had read. It went something like, “If you want to make a congregation mad – preach a message about works. But if you really want to make them mad – preach a message on Grace”. I think we were talking about how hard it is to really accept even the concept of God’s full-on unconditional grace.  ..and that even thinking about accepting total grace has a way of…ticking us off.  I could tell Micah was really thinking about it and then he said, “you always give me stuff to think about”.  That is a difficult memory. I now am realizing how much I want to keep all my memories about Micah. Thinking of loosing memories of Micah – leaves me in tears. I so wish I could hear his voice again.

Paul is planning to move back in with us for a season. I’m looking forward to having him at home. We are getting Micah’s old room repainted and ready for Paul. Micah had moved out some time ago but we simply had not gotten around to getting his room ready for use again. Renee and I figured 4 days over Thanksgiving would be more than enough. Not so much it seems. Every handling of Micah’s things is difficult and brings up churning heart ache. Yet we also feel it is important to have the full use of this room. We want life in this room. ..we must enable living a full abundant life.  Even the room itself ..is one that Micah and I had fixed up for him. I have a picture of Micah and Renee in that room just after we finished it. In the picture, Renee is bald as she was in the middle of cancer treatment. Even then we were moving forward with living while in the battle for life. Renee set the example.  It is important to let battles and memories support life living and not discourage life living. But that is not easy.

Friends have offered to make a memory quilt from some of Micah’s stuff. We love the idea. Yet I hesitate to let go of anything of Micah’s ….even his coat. I’m not a keeper of things typically. This is different. At least for now. The beloved quilters have told us the offer stands whenever we are ready. Thank  you.

Kairos Hurdles: You may not be familiar with the concept of Kairos. Over the last few years my ‘desperate pursuit of Jesus’ journey has led me to learn more about processing ‘Kairos Moments’. A Kairos moment is one in which the Spirit brings something to mind. It may be a lyric in a song that touches our soul. It may be the word of a friend speaking into our challenges. It can be as simply as a sunset enjoyed, a motorcycle ride, or stroking my son’s hair… it may be a memory or event that hits close to home. In my case- today- it most certainly is a 45 caliber bullet ending my son’s life.

I guess I should apologize for my bluntness … but I’m not messing around here. There is no tip toeing around this. It does not get any more real. Before all this I had already come to believe that learning from the Kairos moments in your life – is necessary to walking in faith. If it is not true now ..then it never was or ever will be.

In contrast, not processing life experiences (Kairos) leaves you with just experiences …not learning. I heard a speaker today say that the world is full of people with ‘life experiences’ but that lots of people with life experience – are also idiots. It struck me as funny at the time but it hit some chords as well. You have to be deliberate about processing life experiences (or Kairos moments). Just having life experiences does not mean you have learned from them.

It’s no surprise, I think, to anyone that I am dealing with guilt and a litany of associated ugly off–shoots …should haves, what ifs, should not haves, etc, etc, etc. Significant, painful, sleepless nights of churning abound. Renee is my witness to nightly tossing and turning.

Yet, I struggle when I hear well-meaning people say something to the extent of, “you were a good father, you did the best you could do” (i.e. it’s not your fault, don’t feel guilty). I don’t think so friends. On my very best day I have not done the best I could do. I have made mistakes …every day of my life. My mistakes had an impact on Micah and still have an impact on those close to me. Before you throttle back on this comment – listen to me: Learning from life experiences requires a process. This does not negate full-on unconditional grace. Thank God.

Accepting forgiveness, grace, mercy …all that stuff is distinctly different from processing guilt, fault and failure and all the other ugly stuff we want to just wave off. You cannot just wave it off. I cannot. I will not. Honoring my sons lives (all 3 of them) requires that. Seeking the lord in the most painful of Kairos moments … must be pursued. There’s a reason I refer to it as a desperate pursuit. Do we not think Jesus was in desperate pursuit when he asked his disciples to pray for him as he knew the cross was coming upon him imminently?

I know it will be a long and probably often revisited process…whatever the outcome but the Kairos churning & learning must go on.

Jesus help me… I am weak and desperate.  I miss my son ever so much.

ViewPoint

Micah and Paul. Whittier, AK

Micah and Paul. Whittier, AK

This Week

This week had ups and downs. It was more difficult than I had expected. I have I think returned to some rhythm at work and I’m glad for that. Yet tears are not uncommon on the commute in and back in the evening and sometimes …some yelling as well. I felt more anger this week. I think part of us feels like we should be moving on. ..but part also knows that’s easier said than done. For me there is a civil war struggling within.

As I observed the family, I think the processing is different for each of us. Renee and I had an exchange where I told her, “I am more worried about you than I am about me” ..upon which she answered, “Well I’m more worried about you than I AM about me”. There you have it.

Renee and I both agree that we also are just naturally missing Micah – because 4+ weeks is the longest we have ever gone without one of us being with him. We simply and deeply miss him.

Spiritually – I found this week a struggle. I simply offer that to the Lord. It feels like a desert time.

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The day of story:

I’ve been working on a summary document around the facts and events of Micah’s last day. It has taken over a month to pull together some of the facts and memories …and to find the courage to finish it. I think Renee and I needed to put as much context around this as possible. While many questions will go forever unanswered this effort at least allowed us to define what can be ascertained and perhaps to at least hypothesize some answers.

I do not like the document. In part because I know the document is not a good read …certainly not in content but also not in grammar, flow or readability. The facts are generally correct but I wonder about my words, the tone, the implied meaning. Words cannot begin to express my thoughts that day nor now. I cannot look at it anymore. We shared more tears over the finalizing this 5 page document this week. I won’t say any more about that here.

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Noah and I

Noah and I are meeting twice weekly now for coffee, chess and our January message planning. Notably, I won both chess games J. I must admit I think I signed us up for this January gig in part because I knew we would meet several times a week to prep for it. I think I wanted that most of all…whatever the actual outcome. Just to hang with Noah and to see his creativity and humor in action. Truth be told, it has been awhile since I have beaten him at chess twice in a row.

This week I was not very focused in our conversations. Noah carried the conversation and the mood. He had some great ideas. We gave ourselves some homework for the next working session:

While we were talking I asked Noah what is going in Him ..Spiritually. He quickly asked me how I would answer that as well. Honestly this week – I did not have an answer or at least did not choose to voice one. I’m glad Noah can be patient. I was moody this week. I can be moody. That is nothing new.

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Paul and I

Paul came over to watch football with us today. The Seahawks won! Paul has come over to the house at least two or three times this week and continues to call me daily just to check in and say hi. We are getting a bedroom painted and ready for him over thanksgiving. He plans to move back in with us for a while.

Paul is into building computers. He asked me if I would help him build a custom box for the latest new build. It is a pretty wild design. He is already busy buying the components piece meal. We are brewing some options on the box. Paul is also rebuilding our home network and shopping for some new gear ‘for me’ on black Friday week. We scored an awesome wireless router. Paul strategically put in my Amazon on-line cart. I know Micah would have that thought that this was cool as well.

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Humor:

Renee and I cried and laughed this week. Laughter and humor are key ingredients in our house and lives. That is more important than ever now. We do laugh and joke with each other a lot …even now. I thought of a couple of things we laughed at this week.

Chopped

For some reason as a family we have enjoyed watching a couple of cooking shows on NetFlix ..Chopped and Cutthroat kitchen. Kind of surprising. Weird but fun.
The Cat and the missing puppy

We have discovered that our Cat likes to chase stuffed mice tied to helium-filled balloons. Lots of laughter this week watching the house cat chase the flying mice.

Admittedly, however, we still prefer dogs. Paul and I are brewing a new puppy purchase scheme. Renee is not so thrilled. She claims she always ends up taking care of the pets. We have no idea where she came up with that idea.

Reinflabbergasperinating:

My brothers and I used to make up words when we were kids. I have always remember this one. I joked about this with some friends and coworkers this week. As an outcome, I decided it is time to officially define what it means. So here goes;

Reinflabbergasperinating is the feeling a person or persons get when something is suddenly or unexpectedly fun or humorous. It is the equivalent of a refreshing mood lightening pleasure from a sudden and unexpected cause for laughter. For example, the first time you successfully use the word reinflabbergasperinating in a sentence, or in a business meeting … and as a result find others unexpectedly smiling and laughing.

Loot crate:

I had no idea what Loot Crate was until Noah said, “hey dad have you seen what came with my latest loot crate?” I responded with, “Your loot what? What’s a lootcrete anyway?” Noah evidently has been receiving a loot crate for several months. I am just now noticing. I actually found it interesting and admittedly, I am looking forward to the next Loot Crate. Indeed, I think the whole thing is reinflabbbergasperinating. What is Loot Crate you ask? Evidently some ‘geeks have made it their mission to find all of the geeky, gamer stuff out there and send you a box of it every month’ …for a small reasonable fee … of course! It was only a matter of time. https://www.lootcrate.com/

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Salutation:

Keep smiling and laughing friends…even in the midst of the mess. It is a gift from the Lord. I think Jesus enjoyed a reinflabbergasperinating moment here and there.

Day 33 – Thoughts and Ponderings

cropped-easter2004-29.jpgYesterday and today were hard days. I guess maybe weekends will be more difficult as I have more down time at home. Time to remember. Time to think. I was struck hard again by the harsh thoughts of Micah never actually coming home again. I can’t bear that. The thought of it makes me angry and sorrowful. Every where I turned seemed to be a memory of Micah. Even little things ..like sending an email to the family but immediately aware that I had not and would not need to include Micah’s email. Ahh!

I often will write the families names in my prayer Journal ..Renee, Paul, Micah, Noah. I’ve been pausing on Micah’s name ..not quite knowing what to do. Saddened. I’ve decided now to keep including him. I even decided it’s ok and appropriate to keep praying for him. That’s a new kind of thinking ..praying for loved one’s now gone but believed to be eternally alive ..and doing stuff. Think on that…pretty wild.
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This weekend seemed unexpectedly difficult. I guess I thought I was settling in to a stable churning. But I guess I should expect waves ..ebbs and flows. It’s only been 4 weeks.

Friday I booked the summer cabin in the ‘Alaskan wild’ where we intend to spread Micah’s ashes in the spring. That was hard. It is a strange thing to prepare for, to talk about, to think about, to write about. We have left details for later. The weekend is booked. That’s all that matters for now. I booked one weekend in early summer and one in late. I love the area, the quiet and the beauty. Micah, Renee and I walked with our dog in that area together on Micah’s 18th birthday. The dog is gone too now.

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I am aware of a wide and seemly perpetual spectrum of opposing thoughts. It is a whirlwind of intense churning I cannot begin to express. It’s hard to explain. Good thoughts, happy memories, righteous anger, anger not righteous at all, guilt, love, hope, discouragement, what if’s, if only’s, denials, surrender, refusal to surrender, quiet.

I am aware of an increased desire to work out…to eat healthy…to make good choices. Desire and reality are two different things of course. We shall see. I even fasted one day this week. I don’t think I have ever successfully fasted for even a day before. Yet I am also aware of old temptations swirling louder. Escape from the blanket of sorrow is appealing – whatever the mechanism.

historically I am prone to depressive negative thinking. Given the circumstances I am appalled and disgusted by negative thoughts. There is a threshold now upon which I shall never tread. I cannot escape the thought of nor can I presently bear the burden of how my own negativity may have impacted Micah. I shall stuff that thread in a hole for now. I now more than ever keen on deffining clearly and sharing definatively – hope, love, joy, peace – in the midst of any circumstance. Raise your eyes up and out.

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There is a desire to be happy and guilt for having even an inkling of happiness being felt. Enjoying a moment with the family or laughter with coworkers – feels desperately good, even refreshing -and wrong.

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I woke up angry Saturday after staying in bed until late morning. I did not sleep much. I planned to go work out ..but could not find my warm ups. I had a hissy fit tossing clothes, cussing and hollering. Stupid. Silly.
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Noah and I met at sleepy dog to kick off a new joint endeavor. We asked our Church if they would allow us to give the message on a Sunday in January. The church readily agreed. We know we are crazy. But we have done this before. ..four years ago. Noah was only 14. A lot has changed. As was the case then, the basic premise is for two guys, father and son, to share what it means to be followers of Jesus. The church family needs mutual authentic visibility. Noah and I both want to do this. Perhaps now for different reasons. I’m not sure. For me is the basic premise – that if I claim to have real faith …if I claim to truly believe what I say I do – then it should be real now more than ever. And if it is true, then now is the time to allow our extended family to see into our lives as we walk with our faith in the midst of our mess. Now is the time to reflect Christ ..or at least to share a glimpse of the battle within. Still ..we are crazy.

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The dichotomy and the hypocrisy of my Saturday does not escape me. One moment I am cursing while looking for my warm-ups and the next planning a message for a Sunday service. That’s the mess I am. Only grace covers the gap.
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I hung up a square plywood board in the basement that Micah’s construction coworkers had made for his celebration of life service. We have put some of his pictures on it. More churning as I read some of the notes others had left and looked at Micah’s pictures.
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We went to church today – the first time since Micah’s service. It was good and it was not. I kept thinking of Micah running up and down the halls, sitting next to me, serving coffee….

We came in late and left early. Renee and I both appreciate all the well wishing but we also are emotionally edgy and I think both not wanting the next hug to push us too far. But it was good to be there.
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The four of us went out for breakfast this morning. Good times. Good laughter. Admittedly I am so quickly drawn to tears as I think of Micah’s absence. Not sobbing… just aware of tears forming. I’m just allowing for that. I think Jesus knew this kind of sorrow and pain.

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Paul came over late Saturday night and stayed the night. I so love having him around. He has been so good to me. He calls me nearly everyday just to say hello.

I am not a panic prone person. But I am aware of a hypersensitivity right now. I need to know where the boys and Renee are. I need to know they are ok.
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I will intentional end with some thoughts of thanks:
I am thankful for
Renee, Paul and Noah. More than ever.
A good job and a great team to work with.
Good friends. So many have been so good to us.
Faith. God’s love, provision. The comfort and assurance of His word.
Humor, laughter.
Fires in the fire place. Lots of em.
Christmas lights (I put up our house lights ..earlier in the season than ever before as I did not want any of us coming home to a dark house. Now now).
Long drives
Alaska winter sunsets. Beautiful.
Kind words, texts, emails, hugs.
The peeps.

Rebaseline

It has been almost two years to the day since I’ve posted to this blog. I’m not quite sure why. I just did not seem to be able to muster my thoughts for posting. Perhaps I grew weary of my own words and found satisfaction enough with the ‘picture frame’ exchange of facebook sharing. But now …. everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same. There is cause for a rebaseline.

Just 4 weeks ago, on Friday, October 17, 2014, my 19 year old son Micah passed away.  He took his own life.

I intend to share some of my journey here on this blog as I walk through the grief and the redefinition of living life in this new paradigm.  My hope and prayer is that doing so may be part of my own healing and in that … to help me to somehow be an instrument of healing and encouragement to those closest to me.   I love them so much.  I so want to love them well. I am desperately committed to that.

Micah my son …I miss you so much.

Dad

Psalm 7O:1  God, hasten to deliver me; O Lord, hasten to my help!

Nomadiac!

I have not blogged for some time. In part simply because I have been very  busy – but also in part because my soul has been churning in silence. … I think that’s ok.

I am in the process of a new adventure. I have taken a new role that will have me traveling to the midwest monthly for the foreseeable future. Following is an excerpt from a note I sent to my home group.  It reflects some ponderings as I move into this adventure.

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Hey beloved messy group:

Thought I would share some ponderings and prayers to give you a glimpse of my journey.

I am on a 30 day trip then home for only a week and back again…and then home for 2 weeks over Christmas.  Not quite sure what I’ve stepped into. Yet I am committed to seeing where it all leads. 

I spent the last week in Washington at a client meeting. Also had a chance to see my family and some friends over the weekend. Mom was happy to see me :).  I am back in Indiana as of last night.

I do believe God has me here for a reason. I think you have all heard my ‘move to the inner city for Jesus’ speak over the years. It has not escaped me that – here I sit in a rundown part of the Midwest. I’m already looking for direction on an apartment or house. I can elect to stay at the Hampton for the duration but I do not think that is what I should do. I asked God to lead me to His ‘house church’ today. ..literally praying for a place where people could meet – with ample parking!  Admittedly I hesitate to share that – because I don’t want to be just blowing smoke :).

I’m not really sure where I’ll end up. ..perhaps leasing an apartment in a gated community?  May God help me!

Please join me in asking that my time here honors Christ. I want to be poured out. Three weeks a month away from my family is a sacrifice I am willing to make – for the kingdom but not for self.  I am not here for pleasure. I want a joyful heart while I am here but I want to be poured out for the cross while on the journey.

There is so much that does not make sense. I still expect any second for the client to wake up and realize they have made a mistake. I have yet to feel like I am providing any value. Part of me feels that Jesus has me here for His purposes ..so much so ..they he has the job completely in hand. The job is perhaps Christ means for a tent making opportunity to bring me to the mission…even if I turn out to be a maker of ..relatively lousy leaking tents. Excellence is desired regardless ..of course.

Words are not enough. I’ve had a lifetime of words. It is time to be poured out. Please join me in my prayer …”Fill me up and pour me out”. If any prayer of mine is to be answered let it be this. Words said from the voice of a pouring-out-soul will resonate with holy armor-piercing harmony. May I  be silent until it is so! 

I do believe that ‘the mission’ is in play every second of everyday. ..in every conversation…in every temptation thwarted ..in every prayer prayed ..in every repentance confessed. .in every word of thanks given in praise …in every moment of His forgiveness and Grace embraced.

 Whether I am here for 1 more week, a year or decade – I want it to matter for the kingdom. I do not want this desire to just be words. Please pray that I will be filled and poured out.  Pray for spiritual protection and Holiness. Pray for humility and thirst for Him. Pray for boldness. Pray that the presence of Christ would pour out from my life. I do not see that…but I desire it.

 I have made initial contact with a pastor here in Hammond. No idea if that will lead somewhere. I wonder? …. perhaps God has brought me here to support him? I do know that I come as wounded healer … one who needs to be part of giving but also of receiving in community. I am not Paul the apostle …I am rather more the limping broken down nomadic wannabe prophet … whispering the name of Jesus as I walk. …’Jesus Son of the living God have mercy on me a sinner’.  

 It’s one day at a time as yet. I question my own qualifications to do what has been asked of me. I worry of not being diligent.  I think it may end imminently. It may. Regardless, my desire is to be Christ and be made holy in every second ..no matter how long this season may or may not last. 

Please pray for diligence, faith, perseverance – extreme radical knees on the ground obedience. I must be made holy. I most know Him more. Perhaps I am only here for a short season. Perhaps it will be a quickening season to prepare me for something else. It may be difficult …it may be joyful …perhaps both. But I want it. I want full brokenness and full filling and full pouring. I ask for it. I do not see it yet  …but I plead with Christ for it.

I ask Christ to hold up my family. I truly believe that He will work His transforming power through my family – as I am obedient to His calling. I ask that Christ would use this to bring my sons closer to Him. Pray for my faithful obedience… I must be faithful.

Even as I sit here – fear of failure threatens. But I know that Christ can be glorified even in my failure. Success is not my prayer. Obedience and quickening and pouring out to others – in the midst of every circumstance – is. I want to Love well  … as I never have before.  That seems an impossible prayer. Imagine an answer to that prayer. How glorious that would be!  My soul glows … just thinking about it.

I would like to end this journey and come home as a saint who cannot be stilled ..who cannot be stopped from uttering and living the love of Christ in every crevice and corner of my life. Unashamed and boldly proclaiming His name in every thought, word and action.  I am not yet that person. That is the sifting I desire. It is my prayer.

I think I have shared that I have a broken piece of a clay pot I carry with me and put on the nightstand in my hotel. On one side I have written ‘FTFR’ with the words “Make me Holy Lord ..whatever the cost”. One the other side it says ”I have but one passion – it is Jesus and Jesus only. Lord I surrender to whatever is needed to make this true.”   Truly -these are words of desire but not yet reality.  I fear hypocrisy in that as well. 

I came back to the hotel one day last week and found my bible and this piece of broken clay pot laid neatly on a white towel next to my bed. I wonder what the housekeeping person was thinking as they put it there?

 Press on messy brethren peeps,

Nomadiac Brother Ted

 ….I must know Him more. …I must. Nothing else matters. My fingers shake as I prayerfully type these words …Oh may Jesus answer my prayer.

Note:  FTFR: pardon the crassness but this is ..’Finish The Freaken Race.’). There is a story behind this as well ..as you would imagine :).

Alabaster Ponderings

Recent quotes and words of note:

  • Vacuity (the state of being vacuous or without contents; vacancy; emptiness, absence of thought or intelligence; inanity; blankness, a time or state of dullness, an empty space; absence or lack of something specified). 
  • Our inescapable narcissism of consciousness (Moore ..which moore I know not)
  • Humility is stark raving honesty (stark raving ..sounds familiar)
  • Mystery is spoiled by a word (the short fall of any contemplative blog).

Legacy ..so much to say. So many questions. So few answers. This shall be a blog unto itself but know that I begin with the premise that the topic pricks my irritable nature. Until then leading questions to ponder:  

  • What is the nature of legacy? Of what legacy should I embrace and pursue: Country, God, Church, Family, mine ..and what does it mean to do so?
  • What is a biblical view of legacy
  • I hear a lot of Christian speakers talk of legacy? Why does it irritate me?
  • What is individual vs corporate legacy?
  • Can I participate in another persons pursuit of their legacy? Others seem to think so.
  • As I think of historical Christian figures ..I wonder if leaving a legacy was part of their thinking? Mother Teresa, C.S Lewis, Billy Graham …etc.

I’ve discussed the topic recently with small group, family (wife and sons)… similar questions seem to be shared. More research. More pondering.

Wounded Healer. “Physician draw back”. The words of an angel as he stepped in to block the way of a physician who sought healing from his melancholy at the pool of bethsada…with further dialogue: “Without your wounds, where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women.” (The Angel That Troubled The Waters” based on John 5:1-4..as read in Abbas Child).

Prayers of Blessing: Brother (not from my  home church) who targeted me at a coffee shop, sat down and started in with church platitudes and talk of ministries, men’s retreats and other religious rhetorical foofoo. Ending with an unrequested prayerful blessing – that went on for 4 or 5 minutes.  In the past I would have responded wholeheartedly with my own litany of religious platitudes and then patted both of us on the back for our mutual hearty pursuit of the kingdom. Now, I find the conversation vacuous. I subsequently wrote these words in my journal:

“I grow weary of the political and religious rhetorical noise, so deft of love and hope. Throw out the score card and the meaningless platitudes. Let us simply and actually just do love (imperfect as it may be) in living life together ..and shut the (*&#?!) up.”

I would rather give and receive the prayers below than an intended blessing with  religious feel good or ‘step it up’ platitudes.

  • May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness. that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is father, son and spirit.
  • Today on planet earth, may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abbas child and temple of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Brennan Manning quoting his spiritual director Larry Hien. Abba’s Child, Kindle location 121 and 117).

Developing theme:The love of God now. Not tomorrow. Not only when I am behaving better, experiencing better health, eating better, sinning less or feeling accomplished (real or perceived). ..but now.. damn it! right now! Jesus does not withhold his love until I quit swearing, stop smoking, successfully hold to a diet or miraculous love my teens with patience, wisdom and understanding.

His love is not increased or decreased when I move forward with a mission trip, a volunteer engagement or start a bible study. His love is not conditional. I must quit assigning my view of myself to Him.

He can turn my sin into good. He can use my weakness for good ..even in the moment of my weaknesses? This is piercing.

Returning to the prayer above:

     Today on planet earth, may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abbas child and temple of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I admit that I when I read this the first time I was at my latest low point of self-condemnation and as such my first thought was a passionate, “NO! ..this is too much. I simply cannot (and will not!) experience the wonder and beauty of myself as Abbas child”.  The shock of my response pierced my consciousness. The statement is the core of the gospel – yet I could not in the moment accept it. Caution: I have found that many brothers and sisters upon hearing from me this type of “I need to accept God’s grace” proclamation – will readily agree that I need to accept grace – yet misunderstand that accepting grace is not disavowing the depth of (nor propensity for) my sin. Acknowledgement of both – in the moment – is necessary. In fact, grace cannot be realized without fully acknowledging the other… accepting forgiveness not withstanding. Poverty of spirit.

The harshness of my response has been churning within. There is a broader discussion at work in me on how self-condemnation is directly proportional to perception and action toward God and others. I am not ready to elaborate on this at present. Churning continues.

His words_I’ve read_ of late: And continue to do so.

  • Isaiah 58. A view of fasting.
  • The Johns. A view of Love.

 EndBlog. Jesus I love you…Today in this moment, may I experience the wonder and beauty of me as Abbas child. Really?

The screwed generation?

My 9th grade son made a comment just before his first day in high school – that caught my attention. In effect he was sharing how he is tired of hearing the media describe his generation as the screwed generation (No jobs, inherited uncontrolled debt, etc). In so many words he told me it is sometimes depressing and hope killing.  Go figure.   It made me think of how I may be feeding this hope killing discussion as well. It forces one to really think – on what their hope is based. If my sons generation is truly ‘screwed’ due to any real or potential circumstance then the faith that I claim (and profess to my son) has a weak and meaningless foundation.

Did God suddenly leave town? Can you just hear the Divine chatter, “Well we took care of the boomers and tried to help gen x but they have just hosed the whole thing and as such gen y is just screwed..too bad for them”.  Did Gods Divine plan become less meaningful, less appealing, less loving – due to unfortunate (man made or not) circumstances. Has God blown it and left this generation …hosed?

I’ve thought of this as I have been listening to eelection year chatter via conventions and water fountain discussions… “it’s their fault”, “our guy will fix it”, “I worry for my grand kids”, “there are no jobs”..blah..blah..blah.  Think of what this would do to your own outlook if you were a 9th grader looking forward to the prospects of the future. I think my son is very astute for his age. He does take this in. It does impact him.

Here’s what I told him:

God has not suddenly left town. He has made you for this day and his purposes. He has a plan for your life – right now and through your whole life,.. a plan that has everlasting meaning.  God’s plan is not swayed by circumstance, politics, economics, or inflation. Neither riches nor poverty will sway God’s plan for your life. He is good and he desires good for you. God’s goodness at work in your life will not be swayed by the circumstances of the world around you – nor by the circumstances you find yourself in. Do not listen to the naysayers (even if at times I seem to be one of them). Be encouraged and move forward with great expectations.  God’s intends to use you to impact the world – for good.

Ok… this sounds good. However I am also forced to look at my own life in light of these words and in light of my sons perspective. My proclamation of hope only stands if I believe the message of the gospel.  I read this in book by Brennan Manning today,

“Do I really believe the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do I hear His word spoken to my heart:”Shalom, be at peace, I understand?”…Are we optimistic about what will happen to us in this world, or are we fearful and pessimistic? Are we celebrating our union with the bridegroom. .. Our hope, our acceptance of this invitation to the banquet, is not based on the idea that we are going to be free of pain and suffering. Rather, it is based on the conviction that we will triumph over suffering.” (Ragamuffin Gospel Kindle location 1884)

I am struck with the crisis of my own calling at this stage in life (Brennan Manning refers to this as a second calling). I cannot give my son …nor anyone else in this world … hope if I do not first believe it myself and then commit afresh to a life that is perpetually wanting to grasp it more and more and then share this only true hope with those around me.

Also in the words of Brennan Manning, “Faith means you want God and want to want nothing else” and “Evangelical faith is the antithesis of lukewarm-ness;  It always means a profound dissatisfaction with our present state.” 

Now ..translate this into hope in the future for a 9th grader ..in such a way that he gets it? Stick with the Gospel.

What I am convicted of is that much of my own day to day language and more particularly my internal thoughts communicate something other than the hope I have stated.

My stated faith – through God’s work – proclaims that  God’s grace must result in joy ..a joy that reigns through any circumstance. I have concluded that the lack of experienced and expressed and believed joy in my life – reflects mostly a lack of (my) receiving God’s grace.  I am therefore in the midst of surrendering to His grace as I never have before (hopefully!). This is hard to described in a such a way that it conveys something different in my Christian journey. Today I had a bit of an epiphany ..simple as it may be .. that brought it to the forefront. 

It occured to me that I could not recall telling Jesus that I loved Him. I have said the words ..but I have not said them as I have heard myself say to my struggling son, my bald headed cancer laid-en wife, my dying father, my struggling best friend, my best friend on hearing my own struggles and weaknesses, my sacrificing mother, my 3 small sons running toward me shouting, daddy’s home daddy’s home!  ..and most certainly not as a sinful surrendered sinner receiving grace and forgiveness in love undeserved. I think to date I have mostly only acknowledge the gift of His love as if it were a Christmas package received from a wealthy, generous, loving and well admired benefactor. I am thankful for the gift. I acknowledge the generosity and the goodness of the giver. But I would most likely not run to the generous but distant benefactor, joyfully wrap my arms around Him and proclaim, “I love you”.  Yet ..would He not want me to?

Here is the kicker: Jesus wants us to. As I want my son’s love expressed ..so does He. As I want my wife to profess her love for me ..so does He. As I have so enjoyed my small children embracing me full on ..so does He.

Prayer:

Pause.                                       Jesus … I love you.                                         Pause.

Can I be so bold as to ask for more grace ..that I may Love you more?  [I know his reply: yes, yes, yes!]

May the hope of the Lord reign in my heart, in my son ..and through his generation.