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!

What a game!

No, not that game.

Blake had a soccer game tonight – and what a game! Three assists and one goal in a 4-0 victory over Emery. He had three or four other chances and could have scored more. He is poetry in motion.

I’m going to miss, so much, watching that young man play soccer. Here’s hoping his dream of playing next year in college comes true.

Hard run

My expected ten mile run this morning turned into just over five miles, partly walked. One of the strange things about running is how much better a run might be if started at 7:00am versus at 10:30am. I haven’t been able to explain it but both Andrew and I were pretty wiped out after just a couple miles (me more so than him, I expect).

I don’t think it’s wise to over-spiritualize everything, but I think this is the way life in Christ and the race we run in Christ sometimes goes. Some days our run is joyful, free, easy. Other days all we can feel is the pain in our legs, the wind in our face (it was windy today), and the numbness in our feet (I definitely need some new shoes). I was really feeling my weight (I need to lose weight, desperately). After a while the run slows to a walk.

I have been running hard this past year and a half, inflamed with the calling I feel toward college ministry and joyful at the progress God has made happen there. I’ve been running hard at work as well, loving my job (not something I could have said back in 2012), even when it’s stressful or I haven’t performed as well as I feel I can – I’ve been pushing hard. Today was just one of those days, though. We had so much fun last night with the grands and that continued into this morning.

Then I went running.

We cut the run short after we’d only covered half the planned distance. It was a nasty, hard run. I then came home and did some catch-up work (a status report, some code repository work, etc). Then I basically spent the rest of the day in my pajamas watching Alias reruns with Jill. I feel like I have been taking more breaks recently; I missed out on a Lord of the Rings viewing tonight with our College/Young Singles pastor and a number of our people. I didn’t do my Bible reading. In short, I’ve been a bum today. I wrote recently that I know those days are needed, but I also know that we can’t spend our whole lives sitting on a couch.

Tomorrow is a new day. Church will happen and prayers for our Lone Star college will happen with two brothers that I pray with every Sunday. I’ll come home and rest some more, and then attend a College/Young Singles Super bowl party. Then comes Monday and I’m back at it.

I pray this week I will run better, not just physically but spiritually as well. I pray the shoes of the gospel of peace that I put on will fit well and put wings on my heels. I pray the spiritual food I feed myself with will promote muscle, not fat. I pray I will laugh at the wind in my face and rejoice when it’s at my back. That I won’t be numb, but will feel deeply the love and passion of our Lord.

Please pray for me as well, whoever is reading this, as I prepare a subject and discussion for Bible study Tuesday night at Lone Star college. What a privilege that is.

Lord, please prepare me to do your work.