Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My blog has been an important device in my life to give me a place to think. Granted, some of my thoughts are clearly inane, some are just noise, but others are critical to my personal growth. I am certain that without my blog as an outlet, I would not as intentionally dive into important issues that have affected my past or could shape my future. Thoughts would bubble up into my head and just as quickly wink out, supplanted by whatever the next shiny object is that captures my attention. In this way I would never take the time to wrestle with deeper or more complex notions that could serve to give me perspective or options. I also think that I would miss out on a host of moments that I now linger over and appreciate more fully.

I have learned over the last 5 years that I have been blogging that if I don't jot down an idea as soon as it occurs to me, it quickly slips away from me and is gone. Sometimes the ideas that get away can be silly or trivial. Other times it seemed that they were important. A kernal of a notion or a concept that was promising or necessary that I held in my grasp for all too brief a moment and I let escape. Ephemeral, fleeting, fragile. Perhaps a missed opportunity that I would regret if I only remembered.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I did not deal with you I know
Tho the love has always been
So I search to find an answer there
So I can truly win

Every hour of fear I spend
My body tries to cry
Living through each empty night
A deadly calm inside

So I try to say
Goodbye my friend
I'd like to leave you with something warm
But never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm

(Storms, Fleetwood Mac)

A little bit of melancholia brought on over the last few days through the rain and wind and gray that shrouded my life during hurricane Sandy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Founding Fathers

In case you might have missed the subtle inferences on the evening news, we are in the midst of "election season", which is kind of like autumn, only more gubernatorial. In this period, you are quite apt to hear mention of our founding fathers (FFs) and what they would most certainly order on their pizzas. The FFs were the exclusive group of upper class white males who wore comical hair pieces and came up with the constitution. Of course, a common dude or dudette cruising along the colonial boulevards on their way to the candle shoppe, saw what these guys were selling, were a might displeased, and quickly tacked on a bunch of additions. Of this list of "amendments", some stand out more than others, such as:
  • First amendment - protects the freedom of speech, religion, and the right to urinate in public after a night out shooting one's musket.
  • Second amendment - protects a southerners right to bare arms.
  • Fourth amendment - prohibits unreasonable seizures, unless one is quite ill.
  • Seventh amendment - provides the right to trial by fire.
  • Sixteenth amendment - allows the federal government to take whatever it sees fit from your paycheck whether you voted for Mayor McCheese or not.
The most recent amendment written into the constitution (using a "Sharpie"-type marker directly on the original parchment) was added in 1992. Because of the great trust of the citizenry toward those in political office, this 27th amendment allowed members of Congress to decide their own salary.

Now that I have lived through another season of Major League Baseball, I think it is high time we unilaterally add another amendment. This one, I think you will agree, should have been in place from the very beginning. My new amendment would prohibit any person who is not on the active roster of a major league team from saying "we" when referring to how a team played. This amendment, of course, would apply for all professional sports leagues.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Skin Map

The first book in author Stephen Lawhead's "Bright Empire" series,
The Skin Map, is a fantasy novel with a concept ripe for a long and interesting series of adventures. Kit Livingstone is a Londoner, 27 years old, who works a low-level management job. He is bored with his go-nowhere life and is marking time with his girlfriend Mina until someone better comes along. One morning he is working his way through the Metro to meet up with her, when the subway breaks down and he is forced to walk. As he passes a shadow-filled alley, he hears someone call his name. Inexplicably the man addressing him claims to be his great grandfather Cosimo and speaks of parallel universes and alternate realities. This leads to a mind-blowing journey for Kit to another place and time.

When Kit is brought back to his world he ultimately meets up with Mina, arriving many hours late. The upset Mina begins to chew him out, forcing him to defend himself with some of the details of his "trip". Of course, Mina does not believe a word. Kit then takes Mina back to the alley where the portal into the other reality was located, not only to mollify Mina, but to firm up his rattled mind. Upon entering the rift, Kit loses Mina. He ultimately meets up with Cosimo who begins to teach him about the present understanding of the "multi-verse" and about the quest to locate the map that details how to navigate along the connection paths. A map that began as a body tattoo on the explorer Douglas Flinders-Petrie who first unlocked the long-held secrets of these pathways.

Cosimo and a small group of allies have been working to explore and understand the links between the different times and places connected by the pathways. However, there are those who seek to use whatever means necessary to learn the secrets for their own nefarious reasons. These evil men are led by one Lord Burleigh who seems to turn up everywhere our intrepid explorers do, Egypt, Macao, and Prague. Everyone is seeking to locate and claim the various pieces of the skin map before the others. So far, a very interesting and well-written story. Now onto the next book in the series, The Bone House.

"The distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion - albeit a persistent one." Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Observations 8

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Thus we see everything from a different perspective and with different purpose than normal folks.

Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • A couple was crossing a busy intersection pushing a baby carriage. Normally the turning traffic would wait for them to get across the road, but two drivers in their selfish haste pushed right on through. One passed in front of the couple, the other simultaneously passed behind the couple.
  • A performing arts center that is part of a university in my town has put up a banner advertising upcoming performances. Jackson Browne, Emmy Lou Harris, and Liza Minnelli. The pictures on the banner were each from the 1970s heydays of the different artists instead of current pictures.
  • As I was walking into the grocery store the other day I saw a gang of street toughs on bicycles hassling a man walking into the store. Each of the ruffians inexplicably was carrying a plastic bag containing aquarium fish.
  • I have reason to believe that my last church "shared" my personal information with several companies. If true, I think this is definitely sketchy behavior that marks a breach of trust.
  • When folks move into a new township, that information is often made available in a public forum. Sales folks pounce on these lists and immediately start sending mailings out to you. When I moved into my new place several years back, my name must have been typed into the "system" incorrectly. I still regularly receive mail with my first name listed as Dandyl.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There was a girl in my high school class who was not at all popular. Awkward, overweight, and physically unattractive. She was too often the butt of jokes and derision, particularly from the girls in the popular clique. To make matters worse for her, her father was a teacher at the school who was kind of an older, only slightly less awkward version of her. One day the girl had a brain aneurysm in the middle of class right in front of everyone. In a flash of scraping desk chairs and a flurry of loose-leaf paper that brought her one last volley of negative looks, she fell dead to the tiled floor.

The next day we had a school assembly, called by the principal, to help the healing process of the entire student body. I remember sitting in the gymnasium bleachers a couple of rows below the huddle of the popular girls. This same group who had been the leaders in deriding the dead girl and talking down to her and making her feel like crap on a regular basis, was sitting there just crying and sobbing. Tears of mascara streaking uninhibited down their young faces.

I wondered at the time what was going on in their hearts. Was it just an outpouring of emotion where emotion was called for? Did they regret their behavior? Were they aching with guilt and shame? Did they just mourn the loss of a young life, taken well before its time? Did they feel even a small amount of the agony of the girl's family?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hitchhiker's Guide

I can't tell you the number of times that I have felt like an outsider at some fancy cocktail party when someone has dropped an allusion to the "Guide" and I had no idea what they were going on about. Naturally I was made to feel like an complete clod, an unwashed beast, a hopelessly disconnected lout. ... What's that you say? What is the "Guide"? ... Well hello fellow clod. I am, of course, speaking of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Actually now that I have read it, every last word, I feel like I have somehow evolved to a higher plain. Watch out folks at future cocktail parties!

The book that I read actually was an omnibus of all of the parts of the "Guide". These included the books:
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Life, the Universe, and Everything
  • So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
  • Young Zaphod Plays it Safe
  • Mostly Harmless
Now I can chitter on at length about Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and poor Marvin the robot. I shall no longer be left behind when folks go on about the Vogons destroying the Earth to make way for a new galactic superhighway. Now I can be nauseatingly condescending to the uninitiated!

Actually, this vast tome was a pretty humorous body of work. Kind of random and stream-of-conscious-like. Sometimes pure silliness that every now and then approached the neighborhood of poignant. Definitely worth going through once and then crossing off your to-do list so that you can finally get on with your life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poof and You're Gone

Last year I wrote a piece on the melancholy that I face whenever I think ahead to retirement (see Call it a Day). Walking off into that sunset that marks the beginning of the winter phase of one's life. Where I work, that phase seems to commence whenever the big green recycle bins appear outside of one's door. It kind of made me think back to the old Logan's Run show. They always come and get you when your time is up and nobody is exempt. Today's piece is written from a similar vein. Yet it is more about just how quickly we can be replaced with another.

There was a guy in my hallway at work who had been here for nearly 30 years. One morning I learned that he had decided to take an early retirement package that was being offered. I overheard this nugget as I was heading off to a 9:00 a.m. meeting. Walking back to my office about 45 minutes later, I passed by my colleague's office. He had just begun to pack up his belongings. By 10:30 a.m. he was gone, carrying his last box out to his car. On my way to lunch at noon, I walked past his old office and was blown away. The entire office had been completely reset and a new occupant had fully settled in. She was sitting at her desk looking fully comfortable. There was some cool jazz playing low on a small radio, while she chatted away casually with someone on the phone. There were personal photos on the wall, a potted plant in the corner, and her small conference table was adorned with a small bowl of candy. Poof and you're gone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Brotherhood of Betrayal

In the 1990's, author Randall Arthur penned three novels. The first was entitled Wisdom Hunter and the second Jordan's Crossing. Now I have just completed reading what, in my opinion, is the jewel of the set, Brotherhood of Betrayal. All three books deal with the dangers of extreme mindsets in the church, their possible consequences, and a model of what a faith that honors God actually looks like.

This book centered on an American missionary family living in Sweden. The patriarch, Clay McCain, is a pastor who founding a thriving church plant outside Stockholm. Clay, along with his wife Rachel, had been living in more than a bit of tension as their funding was provided by a foundation based on a strict fundamentalist tenet. Yet through the years, Clay and Rachel had embraced a much more liberal, grace-based ministry. The story begins as Clay was set to leave his house early one morning to meet a group at the church to go on a few day retreat. Clay never showed up. After an all-out manhunt, he was not found. The evidence that did come to light during the investigation showed that Clay had run off with his mistress. Yet how could a popular Christian leader leave his wife, his three young children, and his church without an explanation?

After many months had passed without any news, Rachel was forced to move back to the states with her children. Yet instead of unconditional support from her family, friends, and home church, she was treated as a contemptible pariah. Out of money and with her family on the brink of collapse, she tentatively reached out a hand and was rewarded with the first tendrils of human compassion and support. When we finally meet Clay in person about a third of the way into the book, we find a man who has fully given into the worst sorts of hedonism. When he finally comes to his senses, he is penniless, stranded, dependent on alcohol, and his health is gone. Slowly Clay begins to find himself and rediscover his faith. Eventually, after seven years, he locates his wife and family but through circumstances, never gets to talk to them. Dying, seemingly broken and alone, yet Clay finishes the race in victory.

Randall Arthur has written another book in this series that just came out this year. It is called Forgotten Road. I look forward to reading it. After a long search, I have finally gotten my hands on a copy of it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


One of the first excuses that folks make, me included, is that there are just not enough hours in the day to spend time with the Lord. We have work, family, meetings, and appointments that keep us fully occupied. When I get home in the evening and have completed making supper and cleaning the kitchen, I don't know about you, but my mind is fried and my body is just flat out fatigued.

So that's it then. We have our demanding jobs, families, and human bodies and there is nothing that we can do. If we have any crumbs of time left over, then God will just have to be satisfied with that. End of discussion right? Right? ... Well, I think that our relationship with our God can be greatly enhanced even if it is not practical for us to:
  • get up an hour earlier each morning to spend a long, interrupted period on our knees,
  • spend an evening each week volunteering at our church,
  • set aside blocks of time each day for reading through our Bibles or other devotional works.
Let me make a few suggestions that can get you thinking about being more intentional with spending time in worship that work for me.
  • Spend some time in prayer when you are in the shower. Just spend some time talking and sharing with God where you can be free of demands and pressures for a few moments.
  • Get hold of a daily devotional (e.g. Our Daily Bread or a host of books available from your local library).
  • Pray regular short prayers throughout the day. Before your meals, when you go on your breaks, or when you are walking to your meetings. You don't need to spend hours on your knees in your prayer closet to have an ongoing and deep relationship with God.
  • Keep a pad and pencil next to your bed or on your desk with a list of names of folks that you would like to pray for. This helps to take some of the focus off you and your needs, it makes your prayer time for intentional, and it serves as a reminder for your prayers when see it.
Find what works for you. Also, to keep things fresh in your Christian walk, don't be afraid to mix things up from week to week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cat Woman

Despite first appearances, this piece was not written to attract attention or in an attempt at humor. It was borne out of the deepest of frustrations with my life. Try as I might to deflect blame or to project it onto others, the true source of all the ills in my life, the hatred, the regret, the anxiety, the myopia, the cowardice, and the wrong focus, starts and stops entirely with me.

When I use the term "cat woman", many will likely have an image of Halle Berry pop into their mind. All slinky, lithe, sexy, and dangerous. If you are of a certain age like myself, perhaps a slightly different image forms, conjured up from somewhere in the deeper recesses of your mind. Yet I am referring to a foe of an altogether different stripe. One much more sinister, menacing, and life destroying. An enemy called loneliness.

My pastor talked recently that the Bible makes it clear that we were not designed to live life on our own. The deep involvement of others in our lives is essential to keep us strong and engaged, to keep us on track, to help us maintain our spiritual walk, and to maximize the quality of our living. As I heard his words, I certainly understood and appreciated them as obvious truth, yet as I get older, I find that I am tending to isolate myself more and more from others. The effects of this isolation are not something that manifests itself in an immediate impact in my mindset or level of joy. It is a process, so slow, that the issues and problems are not noticed day-to-day, but only looking back over a longer period. I fear that I am not too far away from becoming not the Catwoman, but the sad caricature embodied by the cat woman.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sippy Cup

A guy at work read somewhere of the benefits of drinking water throughout the day. He has really bought into this notion of "hydration". He has purchased for himself a big plastic bottle with a built-in straw that he now carries with him everywhere he goes. In every meeting that I sit through with him in attendance, he makes a big production of sucking down vast quantities of water from his bottle. If he passes you by in the hallway, he will bend your ear on hydration. Hydration, hydration, hydration. He had never heard of this before, and now he acts like he is the prophet of all things involving with sucking water all day long. He acts as if you don't drink water like he does, then you are not only hacking years off your existence, but you are likely a complete cretin.

It turns out that many folks behave just like my co-worker whenever they latch onto the latest craze. Today it is this hydration kick, tomorrow it will be whatever the next thing is that comes down the road. How about folks tone it down until they have at least a bit more experience and today's fad has worked its way into something a bit more solid and understood?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grind My Gears 30

My gears are a-grinding, worn down to the very pith of their marrow (if gears had marrow). As all regalings of tales macabre, my story begins with the telling words, it was a dark and stormy night ... It was a dark and stormy night, and I was leaving my office after a long day at work. Outside, it was pouring down buckets. As I exiting my building, I was carrying my briefcase, my lunch bag, my thermos, and my coffee cup. I was also holding my umbrella, trying to keep at least some parts of me from getting completely drenched. As I approached my car I knew that I was going to be in for a bit of a challenge as I needed to transfer my load so as to free up a hand to be able to extract the car keys from deep within the pocket of my pants. When one's hands are full, this series of manuevers is typically tricky. It goes from the realm of tricky to the bailiwick of flat-out impossible if you add a force 10 storm. Eventually I managed to get a hand free and began to awkwardly crab my newly freed fingertips into my pocket. After several minutes of earnestly seeking, with my clothes well beyond complete saturation stage, would you like to venture a guess at what I found in my pocket? ... Yeppers, absolutely nothing. My car keys were in my other pocket. Then I had to begin the ordeal of switching my load to free up the hand on my other arm. Sure that is completely gear grinding, but what sets me off into the stratosphere, is that regardless of what pocket I begin my search in, my keys are always, always in the other pocket.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jordan's Crossing

The follow-up to Randall Arthur's book Wisdom Hunter is entitled Jordan's Crossing. This is a worthy sequel that is centered around the internal struggle of an American missionary named Jordan Rau. Jordan had been pastoring a church in Tennessee when he fell into significant debt due to an investment gone bad. Without seeking out his Lord in prayer or consulting his family, he took a well-paying job as a missionary in Germany. His move deeply impacted his faithful wife Susan, his 18 year old son Chase, and his 13 year old daughter Donica. Once in Germany, life slowly re-adjusted to a level of normalcy that resulted in a reasonably stable time of peace and comfort for the Rau family. Though the move overseas was not popular, Dad was still the larger than life hero of his family.

Jordan's world was forever changed when his son was brutally murdered one afternoon while coming home from school with his girlfriend. Jordan, whose religion was based on taking charge and relying mostly on self to effect change and to deliver specific outcomes, turned his entire focus on a dripping, hateful, exacting revenge. His attitude was in direct contrast to his wife who believed in reliance on God through faith. Caught in the middle was poor Donica. Jordan intentionally vowed to get to the bottom of his son's cold-blooded murder at the expense of everything else in his life. He became obsessed with following every lead, chasing every shadow, and neglecting everything else. On the one hand, his diligence and patience, led him to answers of all of the questions and to find his son's killers. To exact and eye for an eye vengence was fully in his sights. Yet why did he hesitate at his moment of victory? Why did the words of his wife and those from a chance meeting with a pastor from New York (Jason Faircloth from Wisdom Hunter) pull so strongly at his heart? A wonderful tale of rebirth and laying aside the old for something much, much better. Now, onto the next book in the series, Brotherhood of Betrayal.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Food Touching

When I was a teenager, I used to be a regular viewer of T.V. chef Julia Child on her PBS show, The French Chef. Her culinary style was not based on pretentious or stylized presentations. Simple food, simply prepared with a minimum of muss and fuss. I remember that in several interviews she stated that she did not particularly care for eating fancy food, meticulously laid out in an artful presentation on her plate. Her reasoning was that this likely meant that somebody had been doing far too much touching of her food. In this I am wholly in agreement with the late Mrs. Child.

I still watch my share of cooking shows on the tellie. I can tell you that it really turns me off to see T.V. chefs with dirty fingernails and nasty looking hands getting anywhere near a kitchen. What about those who are always double-dipping with their tasting spoons or sticking their disgusting fingers in the food that is about to be served to their guests? Yuk. Given the number of folks who go to the bathroom and leave without a single thought of washing their hands, I don't want any part of any hand-formed, hand-tossed food. So those restaurants who dress their ads up with such verbage, please stop. You are driving me further away from your establishments.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Observations 7

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Thus we see everything from a different perspective and with different purpose than normal folks.

Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • The other day I passed a Porsche Carrera 4S as if it were standing still. The car was based on a horizontally opposed 6 cylinder, rear-mount engine with a 3.8 liter displacement. The 400 hp beneath the hood purred confidently with its 325 lb-ft of torque as it sat idling at the stop light in the turning lane.
  • A man in an expensive suit passed me by on a busy sidewalk and just spat right on the path in full view of everyone.
  • I tend to vent more at drivers who cut me off in traffic or who take too long to get moving when the light turns green if they are driving a really expensive car. I tend to think things like, "Come on Mr. Big Shot, the rest of us have to get back to our work camps."
  • Unfortunately, I also grumble fiercely at drivers who frustrate me when they are driving junk cars. I tend to think things like, "Get that piece of crap off the road you idiot." I do not like what this says about me.
  • A clear sign that I am not planning to truly participate in a meeting that I am being forced to attend against my will is when I walk into the room with my laptop under my arm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Encouraging Two-fer

For those who suffer from depression or who see far too much of the world around them through dark, stained glasses, seeking out positive messages can be one avenue to help reprogram their mindset. It is important to recognize that behavioral patterns that have become entrenched into our psyches over decades, cannot ordinarily be affected in any substantive manner in a short period of time. While we struggle and suffer, sources of positivity and inspiration can be a boon.

For me, pastor Charles Swindoll has also been a wonderful resource. Over the past few weeks, I went through a couple of his shorter books during my devotional times. The first was a touching and simple "mini-book" entitled For Those Who Hurt whose message is to point us to the Great Comforter who knows our hurts. God allows our suffering so that we might be prepared to comfort others, that we might not trust in ourselves, and that we might learn to give thanks in everything.

The second book was entitled Encourage Me (Caring Words for Heavy Hearts). This book is just a little pick-me-up source that can help you to find your smile in a storm. Sometimes simple reminders that we are loved, that we matter, that even though we are messed up, we still have value, can help to keep us from sinking further when the gales blow. Sometimes they can help us to hold on just a bit longer until we feel stronger.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Unfinished Symphony

Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor is well known as the "unfinished symphony". It hints at great potential and artistry, yet the specific reasons as to why it was never completed are lost to history. Experts and pundits can only speculate and guess. Yet most would agree that the world was denied something of potentially great beauty when this work was set aside.

I thought about this the other day as I was hanging up some clothes in my daughter's closet. Up against the closet wall were several plastic bags containing unfinished art projects that she had started. As soon as I peeked inside the bags I was immediately transported back several years to the exact moment when she had gotten fired up on them.
  • One bag contained a Disney fairies coloring book. I remember going to several stores looking for this book. Once we got it home, we spent a couple of hours picking out her favorite shades of colored pencils. She then watched over me as I carefully sharpened each one. One evening we sat together and wandered through the pages of the book and let our imaginations soar. She then got started on the page that she had picked out. Now, after all this time, there is only this one page, half finished to mark what could have been.

  • One bag contained a Perler bead peg board with a sketch of a design that she wanted to make. I remember when she got started laying out the beads. Something distracted her and I remember that she bumped against the table that she was working on and the beads spilled off her work. We carefully put everything into the bag and set it next to the couch for her next opportunity. That opportunity never came.

  • Another bag contained a paint by numbers set. She was so excited to dive into this one. A lively canvas of spirited colts in a field. Yet after unpacking the box and laying everything out, not a single brush stroke was laid down. Now everything sits as it was at that moment and the ponies are stabled.
I can't help but feel a bit of melancholy that a wonderful spark of excitement and creativity and muse was given off but never captured. Now the bags filled with their projects sit forgotten at the bottom of my daughter's closet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wisdom Hunter

My online friend Bill has turned me onto a number of good books over the past year. His latest recommendation was Wisdom Hunter by missionary Randall Arthur. Bill, who is a pastor at a church in Indiana, raved "this book changed my life." Thus I decided to read this story centered on a lesson about the perils of strict legalism in the Christian church. Right off, I would say that, unlike Bill's experience, this book certainly didn't change my life, likely because my background differs from his. However, this book was very enjoyable to spend time with for two reasons. First, I found the story engaging, poignant, and relatable. Second, it has some things to teach about what Jesus truly would have for His church.

The story begins by introducing us to Jason Faircloth and his wife Lorene. Jason pastors a large church in Atlanta and is the very essence of a Christian legalist, a modern day Pharisee. His brand of religion adheres to a very strict code of ethics and is marked by a myriad of laws. The trouble is that, in Jason's narrow world, there is no room for differing opinions.

His style of hardline legalism in the church attracts its fair share of followers. Many church-going folks only feel cleansed and "religious" in a dour and rigid environment. His large and respected church provides a feeling of power that sustains him, which is especially critical for him ever since his teenage daughter Hannah ran away from home. Although he loves his daughter, he never could understand why she left. Yet his domineering and controlling ways were slowing smothering her will to live. With their daughter gone for more than a year without contact, Jason's
wife seemingly bravely soldiers on, but she too is fading under her husband's tyranny.

Jason's world comes to a complete stop when he first gets word that Hannah has died in childbirth. Then just a few weeks later, Lorene dies from a condition linked to her depression. Jason had felt so sure he understood every aspect of God. Without the slightest doubt he believed that God watched out for and blessed his faithful servants. In a flash, everything in Jason's life just kind of unravels and he loses his faith, or at least the faith that he had developed over his lifetime. We then follow Jason over the next 20 years as he seeks to find his granddaughter and as he works to lay claim to a new brand of faith, built on scriptures and not man-made rules or cultural influences. Definitely worth reading. Now onto the next book in this series, Jordan's Crossing.

Christian growth is the lifetime process of personally discovering what is inherently valuable, and what is not.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The world of sports is filled with lots of great examples of human triumph. Perhaps like the champion gladiators of old, our sports heroes are put on pedestals and idolized, especially when they come through with the new world record, or the game winning homerun, touchdown, or 3-pointer from the corner with the game clock expiring.

There is a great example from the world of baseball that I find just perfectly defines a true champion. At the start of the last day of the 1941 season, Ted Williams, who had been doggedly pursuing a 0.400 batting average all season long, found his average sitting at 0.3995 (179 hits in 448 at bats). Technically, this would have fulfilled his goal and would have been listed in the official record books as a "400 average". The final day of the season, Williams' Boston Red Sox were scheduled to play in a double header against the Philidelphia A's. His manager gave him the opportunity to take the day off to preserve his average. Ted Williams looked him in the eye and told him that the record meant nothing to him if he did not accomplish it over the entirety of the season. In the first game of the double header he went 4 for 5. In the second he went 2 for 3. His season ending average sat at 0.406. This champion stepped up when his moment came and made history.

Another compelling example from the world of baseball came up last night. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was poised to become the first man to win the triple crown of hitting (leading his league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in) since Carl Yaztremski did it in 1967. With a game left in his team's season, he lead the American League in all three categories, albeit by the narrowest of margins. His manager offered to let him sit out his team's final game. He declined, deciding that he would rather lose the triple crown pushing all the way through to the finish, than sitting out and keeping his fingers crossed. That is the mark of a champion.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


You don't bring me flowers ...

You said that giving flowers was just too easy, that it was a lazy gift that required no thought. Yet you never could have imagined how much joy there was in my heart as I labored over the choices that I made for each arrangement. How I beamed at the thought of bringing you a smile, at taking your breath away. How I hoped that the gift would make you think warmly of me in the next few days when their beauty and fragrance drew you in.

You don't sing me love songs ...

You said that when I sang that it seemed that I was trying to show off. Yet I sang out of the joy in my heart. I sang because my spirit was light in your presence. The songbird doesn't warble and whistle when it feels under attack or when threatened.

For every action, there is an associated reaction, intended or not.

... any more.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cost of Boredom

I was perusing the headlines online at cnn the other day. After trudging my way through the usual litany of depressing headlines regarding war and drugs and politics, I found a headline that pulled me in with its query. A simple question posed that had me thinking for hours afterwards. "Boredom conquered, at what cost?"

The premise of the piece was that with so many in our society outfitted to the teeth with smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and handheld video game systems, we have truly become a society that is triggered to kill even a few idle seconds of boredom with some sort of stimulus in the form of an electronic gadget. With this automatic and nearly instantaneous tendency to grab something to pass even the briefest of moments of down time, is there an associated cost? The answer seems to be an overwhelming "yes". The cost is our natural creativity.

Creativity, that wonderful flourish of inspiration, that loose thread of an idea that can suddenly be grabbed and instantly coalesce into a new technique, a solution to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, a way around or through a sticky situation, cannot happen if our mind is grinding away and focussing on something else. From my own experience I know this to be true. I can't tell you the number of times when I have been in the shower, free from all urgencies and distractions, that something that I had missed or couldn't see comes flashing into my mind out of nowhere. I guarantee if I were in the middle of some intense video game or reading a book or surfing the web, that nothing else would be able to penetrate my thought stream. What do you think on the question, "Boredom conquered, at what cost?"

Monday, October 1, 2012

Photo Album

There are a number of places that I have not been to in quite some time, yet because of their strong association with events in my life, they are captured in minute detail in my mind. If I close my eyes and think about them, I can vividly see the whole setting. I can even recall sounds and smells that were part of them. Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time to these places at the moments when I was living in them, just to experience and savor those times just once more.
I remember and will always cherish the memories of this place shared with you.