Doings

I’ve been away for a while; went on a cruise with the family and extended family. It was great!

While on the cruise I read a new treasure I recently bought: The Hobbit facimile first edition. This is the original 1937 version with the original Riddles in the Dark and Tolkien artwork. I forgot how good that book is.

In other news, I’m going to seminary. I start my first class in a couple of weeks.

And, as always, I’m a sinner saved by grace.

Hurting just a little bit

I’m hurting, but just a little bit.

These past two years have had their share of joy, but also lots of staring over the cliff. Most of the joy has been related to the fact that we didn’t go over.

The Lord has been our Savior, in every sense of the word. Really.

We had a setback today; it’s recoverable. I’m feeling the loss, but I worship the Restorer.

It still hurts.

Just a little bit.

Be there

Back on the bus; it’s been a few days. I spent a lot of time in cars over the long weekend. Trip to Waco Friday. Unplanned trip back to Houston Friday night to deal with an attic leak. Saturday drive to Dallas to meet back up with the family. Marathon one-day road trip on Sunday with Bethany to get her car back to Chicago. Flight back home yesterday. It was a gauntlet but I made it, and there was a lot to enjoy along the way. I think I did a decent job at not missing out on the good things happening in the moments that made up what was, physically, a fairly stressful weekend. Being present in each moment doesn’t always come easy for me. I’m still learning.

There is a balance to be found between thinking only of the future or only of the past at the ends of the spectrum, versus being where you’re at, now. The past offers wisdom and experience. The future is something to press toward, but the present is where all the real action is.

Be there.

Instructions

When it feels like the wheels are coming off . . .

Stop the car.

Take a deep breath.

Call in the family.

Call your closest friends.

Remember – this has happened before and you made it, all of you, intact.

Get a wrench.

Lift it to the sky.

By God’s grace, work on tightening the lug nuts. Even though you know the whole axle may yet come off. You have a duty to do that’s right before you.

Thank the Lord that you still have firm ground underneath . . .

2nd verse

2016 was a really rough year, personally. I know that many, even many close to me, had worse years. We faced death but we were rescued. Others were not.

But still it was a very hard year.

While I know the turning of man-made calendar boundaries don’t really grant a “new start”, there was a hope that 2017 might be a year of healing. I think it might still be, but we once again are facing darkness and despair. It came on quickly, striking another of our beloved ones.

But there is more intentionality and certainty in our steps this time. Swifter action. The fear is still there – the yawning abyss of fear that kept me up all night the night before last. But, dear Lord, may the endurance, peace, love, and even joy that your word promises be ours.

We need thee every hour.

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4 (CSV)

Decisions

We prayed

We talked

We laid it all out

We made plans

We adjusted plans

We prayed again

Our youngest is going to get the ball rolling and take care of what he has to take care of.

God is good. We’re believing the decision has been led by him and so I’m not going to worry about it anymore. It is done.

Determined to move forward on the new path intentionally, with courage, and to do whatever tasks fall to me.

Not knowing

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I don’t know what to do. I’m coming out of my skin right now because so much of me wants to do something, anything. Oddly, most of what I want to do would be a distraction from the decision/problem/heartache/fear we’re looking at. Because about that, there’s not a lot I can do other than offer advice and love and push down, down, down the fear that I feel.

I want to create. I want to dig in. I want to make a difference, to play music, to construct something. I want to push back on the strange feeling of being twenty five in my head and fifty three in my body. I want to do ministry, and to give ministry away, all at the same time.

I passionately want everyone in my family to flourish and thrive. I’m pushing back on the feeling of the unknown, of ticking through every second of twenty seven years of parenting looking, searching, scouring for the reason that not everyone is. It has to be my fault. It’s always the father. But I don’t know the root cause. Maybe I’m blind to it because blindness to obvious things is the root cause.

I know that the future is all we have. I know, I know, usually we say “all we have is the present” but that lasts an infinitesimal slice of time and inexorably leads to the immediate future of the next tenth of a second and all the daisy-chained ticks afterwards. The present doesn’t stand alone – it’s the tail that wags the future’s dog. Choose Carefully.

I am stuck in the not knowing. I’m fighting against fear and the background noise of despair and learning patience in my old, tired, weary soul because while I believe the promise, with all my heart, that all things will one day become as they were intended to be, I know that we are often compelled to wait years or lifetimes for that one day. I’m tired.

I’m writing this because I have to. I’m writing it publicly (not that this will be read, but because it can be read) rather than in a closed journal, because I need to risk.

Lord Jesus I need you. I need my distracted mind calmed. I need to know if it’s OK to just go to bed and pull the covers over my head and rest tonight or do I need to take action? The future has a million different paths. I know the fork we’re standing before only looks dire because of the events of this summer and the awful scourge of this sickness that I hate with the fire of a million suns that has attacked my family. Was I not supposed to protect my family? But how can I fight against an attacker that I can’t see, who always, always sneaks up on me by surprise?

Do I know I would choose the right path?

I don’t know. I’m covered, buried in Not Knowing.

What would have been a simple decision in May now doesn’t look so simple. I don’t know. And it ultimately – if my words are to be believed and I’m to stand true to them – isn’t my decision. And maybe both paths have their merits and ultimately this will be no big deal. If I described the situation to you, you probably would think so. But that’s not how it feels. Perhaps being held over the edge of the cliff so recently has me afraid of heights of any kind.

But listen: God is sovereign.

Lord, this is what you meant when you said we needed to have faith. Faith isn’t believing the Bible to be true, though that’s a good foundational starting point. Faith is believing, leaping, trusting, falling, burrowing into the YOU that your true word speaks of.

It is resting in the not knowing,

knowing that you know.

Talks

Lord grant wisdom.

Be the bringer of light,  the path-builder,  the One who brings clarity.

Ease our fears.  Bring perspective.  Heal wounded minds. May we be filled with the energy only you supply.

I love you, Lord. Imperfectly, hesitantly. But where would I go without you? You have the words of life.

We’ve been saved from great tragedy and loss. But we bear the cuts and bruises from our terrifying fall and look to you for healing and more wisdom and light as we look along the path and recognize some of the same dark places we’ve been to before.

Lord have mercy,  Christ have mercy.

Amen.

Happy new year!

This was a hard year
We faced death
We went to the brink
Yet the Lord was gracious; I don’t know why
Others have suffered and lost far, far more
Before going over the edge,
He pulled us back to safety

We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas
In ways I could only dream of
Dreams do come true
There was no empty chair at the table

Plates are still spinning
We’re in God’s hands
May we be faithful
That’s really all we can do

I know the change in year is artificial
Tomorrow won’t be any different than today
or if so, it won’t be because a digit has flipped
But these rhythms and cycles are good for us
It’s good to reset, if only emotionally
Nothing bad has yet happened in 2017

I’m face down.

Happy new year!