Saturday, June 29, 2013


Renewal is coming and it feels good. For the past 3 days I have taken my lunch break in the same spot and have simply sat in silence and enjoyed the presence of God around me. The quiet time has been so energizing for my soul and I recognize this need in me now as something that can only be filled by spending time alone with God and with my thoughts. Hopefully in the future I will understand this need sooner, before I get as distraught as I had found myself this last time.

To me it seems natural that we all need a break now and then. We choose to take vacations or days off of work. Children commonly take the summer off of school to recharge for the coming year. It is a normal occurrence to find ways to recharge but for some reason, even though I have outlets to recharge myself and I have taken a vacation recently, my soul was burdened, not my body. Physically I was just fine and in fact, I am in peak shape and condition, but my soul was tired; even my heart was heavy from what I perceived was some much needed conversation. But the conversation I thought I needed was with someone down here. As it turned out, what I really needed was some one on one time with God.

Philippians 3:12-14 has been such a summation for me this past week, especially after our amazing prayer service on Monday. During the service, it occurred to me how truly blessed I really am in this life. I have certainly seen my ups and downs but as I sat there praying for those in attendance, including and especially a young man that attends our church, I was struck with one simple truth that has carried me, and that is that God can be seen in my life, let there be no doubt! I cried several times that night and in each case they were tears of joy and wonderment as I acknowledged God in my life and the lives around me. I love what God is doing to me and through me and Paul's words mean so much...

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back."

As a runner, I love Paul's metaphors about running the good race and so forth. I often try and imagine that Paul was a runner and would jog between cities. I know this is most likely not the case, based on what I know about Paul, but his inferences about running are common so who knows, maybe he liked to run. I, however, love to run, and I view my ability as a gift from God. Part of this renewal has been my return to running after my injury that I incurred this past winter. Being patient through that trial was not easy but God brought me out of that season so I might find Him in this next one.

As this renewal of my soul takes place, I pray that God uses me as a source of strength for others who are in the midst of a trial, especially one like I found myself in. The soul does indeed get tired, the heart does indeed need to be recharged. Physical strength is great but it does nothing for a soul in need of renewal. Listen closely for those times and react by seeking little pieces of quiet amidst the noise of life, your soul will thank you.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Writing and reading

Posted from The Spokesman - 6/26/13

I have nothing clever to say today, so I’m just going to sit here and write. You shouldn’t mind that, since it means you get to just sit there and read. I love our symbiotic relationship.

In the act of writing, I can tell you that today would be a good day to go for a hike, or possibly a run. In the act of reading, you can decide that I’m crazy and people like you don’t hike. Or run for that matter. Or even read that much… today I just goy lucky.

In time, however, you might sit back and recollect how much you appreciated the suggestion to get outside, get some fresh air and possibly a little exercise. You might have enjoyed a healthy dose of Vitamin D, or a chat with a friend, or a chance to walk the dog. I, on the other hand, might possibly enjoy the idea of making you do things from the comfort of my desk chair. That sounded diabolical, didn’t it, almost like I might enjoy that too much.

This banter is healthy though, even if it is slightly off the deep end. Ultimately, we need each other; you need me to write something interesting and worthy of your time, and I need you to read it, while sipping your coffee and checking to see what the weather will be like today. Trust me on this though, today is going to be epic. Wear shorts and grab the sunscreen.

Aside from this seemingly visceral need, of writing and reading, is another need. I need you to simply be. This is not some existentialism speak where I quote Nietzsche but instead, your being constitutes a space that is filled. Without you, there would be nothing in the space you occupy. And since you’re here, you might as well read this post. Besides, we’re almost done, so hang in there.

In some alternate universe, you would be the writer and I could be the reader. As we ponder how that would go, imagine what you might write about. The opportunities are nearly endless, you know, such as the price of gas or the things people wear to the grocery store. You could encounter so many topics and subjects you might even have days like this where you’re at a loss for what to write. Then we would be here again.

Or you could simply absorb this column, finish your coffee and breakfast, gather your things and head for the door. It might be that you’re staring at a commute to work, or a trip to school, but regardless, step outside, breathe in the day and be thankful for it. For tomorrow, you could be the writer.


Today was a better day. Somewhere around mid morning I found myself in that spot again, that place where I really want someone to talk to but no one is around, or at least no one I want to talk to anyway. Work is so full of well, work, and there is really only one guy I could kind of talk to and to be honest, I really don’t want to sit in our very open office and talk about the stuff I want to talk about.

When these moments come up, I almost feel like crying, like literally bawling my eyes out. I can’t really explain that and am not sure I want to attempt it, but the feeling comes nevertheless and it doesn’t go away immediately. This desire for companionship is growing, I’m afraid, and it is not something I can fill with more conversations with my wife. While we have wonderful conversations, they are not what I need right now and I know it. For me at this moment, I crave being able to talk to a buddy or someone else that I can parse deep subjects with and not just run into walls of disagreement.

I’ve been in that space before, where lines of reasoning and discourse get drowned out by utterances of sighing and the withdrawing of proper conversational etiquette. There are going to be times like those and I’m OK with that, but again, that’s not what I need right now.

For a while I thought that I needed some sort of father figure type of conversation that would validate ideas from an experienced perspective but I’m finding I don’t want that at all. I want banter, I want reasonable arguments, cross examinations and a critical eye for reason and judgment. Maybe I want God to talk back for a while, that would be cool. Or maybe that’s a bad idea, I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of criticism, who am I kidding.

There is something special that happens when you release your thoughts and opinions and they come back at you in a thoughtful and positive way. Not everything you think about is necessarily right or true. There are some ideas and thoughts roaming around in your noggin that might be a little messed up and sometimes it takes hearing them come out in a conversation and then having them repeated to you in a sensible fashion. Then, in return, for you to offer the same perspective for someone else allows you to hear your own arguments and lines of reasoning as it relates to differing perspectives. This type of discourse is what I long for and I need it badly. Sooner or later I will discover a source for it. I just have to keep looking.

What made today a better day though was that after I experienced the need again, I decided to drive myself to a quiet spot about 10 minutes away from the office, where no other people were and just sit in silence with my thoughts and prayers. I talked to God, I talked to myself, I sat there and pondered my need and I wondered why it’s become so necessary lately. After about 30 minutes I realized that I was actually OK and I began to contemplate that maybe I just needed to write more, spend more time alone like I did today and concentrate on getting my thoughts out here so I can parse them as well as see what some others have to say from the safety of their computers. I might get some good feedback, I might not, but today was good because I realized that most of my issue right now is simply getting a lot of this stuff out of my head. Once I do that, I can think straight again…

A brother

Currently, I am struggling with connecting, specifically relating to friendship. I’m not sure why it’s become such a big deal in my head, but it has and it stinks. Over the last year, I have felt a deep seated need to reconnect with my dad, which has not worked out yet, as well as several friends who were once closer than they are today. Following a personal assessment I reaffirmed something that I’ve always known and that is I have trouble keeping close friends for long. My current dilemma, if you can call it that, is simply not having any close friends in the area I live, whether old friends or new.

This might sound like a pity party but it’s not, trust me. I exist well on my own and in fact am quite adept at self motivation. However, friendship is something that I crave when I want more meaningful conversation. As an aside, my wife and I are very close and share many great chats on a regular basis, but they are not the same as if I had a close friend to parse subjects with. So where I find myself at the moment is simply needing deeper and more intense talks with someone; that is the crux of the matter.

The older we get, the harder it gets to meet new people. No longer being in school puts a damper on the regular inflow of new people in our lives. A job will only fill that need so far, as the pool with which to pull from is limited. A church or a club or sports teams are also options with similar limitations. Meeting new people becomes very intentional if we are to make new connections at all. One good option is your neighborhood. We may lead busy lives but getting to know your neighbors has a multitude of benefits, among them the opportunity to make new friends. I have reached out to several of my neighbors over the past seven years and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a few of them. There are, however, several more that I hope to get to know in time, so the opportunities are there.

I am inclined to believe that what I need is a brother of sorts. Camaraderie is something we hear about in movies and books but rarely do we discuss it, much less experience it in real life. The word means good fellowship and brotherhood. I experienced a little bit just recently in a relay race with some friends. The conversation was good and the laughs were great and overall we all had an amazing time. But missing from that was any long lasting relationship building moment. At best, I will maintain relative conversations for a week or two with 1 one of those guys. There have been others, but as I mentioned earlier, I have trouble keeping those close friends for long. Most notably is a friend who lives about two and a half hours away. He and I had something special but it was built around working together for the same company, doing the same job. For four years we were inseparable and for a time he was jokingly considered my other wife. Even after I moved away from where he still lives, we maintained a tight bond. But like everyone else, distance became a barrier and today he and I talk about every two to three weeks.

The thing for me about this type of relationship is that now that I have experienced it, I want it even more. This brotherhood ideal is powerful and meaningful and carries strength. I used to feed off of it and now I am starving for it. This type of relationship takes time to build and even more time to maintain, but knowing that does not deter me from wanting to develop that type of bond again. Time will tell if I am fortunate enough to find another friend like that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My trail

The deeper into this trail I go, the more I seem to know about the trees. In fact, the more I seem to know about the trail itself, the creatures who reside here, the air, the wind, the features of the land and everything else that makes up this place. This metaphor for the road we take in life is apt for me, because instead of coming to more open places, like one might think would be the case, I find that the further I go, the deeper I get and not the opposite.

This is not to say that there is an absence of light, nor are things getting darker. In fact, I believe that things are getting clearer for me and in fact I am attaining some sense of clarity, but everything around me takes me into a deeper sense of understanding, not a lighter one. I do not feel as if I am shedding, nor am I feeling weightless, but instead am taking on new layers that reveal wisdom and experience.

Tonight, my wife and I attended our church for an evening of prayer. Specifically we prayed for each other, we lifted up those who are hurting, struggling with addiction, struggling with relationship issues, coming to terms with a major illness or disease, trying to determine which course to take concerning difficult decisions and so forth. Tonight I bowed my head and prayed for specific people standing or sitting near me. I prayed for specific people in my life. And tonight I prayed corporately for the people in my city, including the guys I work with. As I sat or stood and prayed, it occurred to me how very blessed I am and in fact, how very blessed my life has become.

I could list off my blessings but instead, let me say that I have endured everything and more of what I heard and prayed for in that room tonight. This is not some to-do list that I've checked off so I can compare with others, this is honest, open-hearted revelations of a guy that has tried life his way and finally come to the conclusion that I need to live life His way. This does not make me some sage on a hill, full of BC comic wisdom, but instead, it makes me appreciate the things that others are going through.

I sat next to a young guy tonight. I know for a fact that life has been a serious mess for him lately. I can't divulge details but you get the drift, you can surely imagine, you've undoubtedly dealt with similar problems. This guy doesn't like to draw attention to himself and yet here he was asking for help. I'm not sure what drew him there tonight because he has withdrawn for several weeks now, but there he was! That takes courage, I remember. I understand his doubt, his cynicism, his anger, even his loneliness. I know for a fact that at the very center of what is messing with him is one simple thing and that is grace.

I say it's simple, but of course, there's more to it than that. For years, I struggled with the concept of grace and in fact, it's what kept me away from church and from God for 20 years. Even though I accepted the idea that there might be a God, I couldn't believe that I personally could be forgiven, that I personally could receive grace. At the heart of everything that was wrong in my life was one simple truth; at the end of the day, I could not even forgive myself for being such an arrogant, self-righteous, conceited, know-it-all of a jerk, so how in the world could God forgive me?

Coming to a place of understanding grace was not easy for me. It would take years for me to process and to dissolve the layers I had built up. But now, as I look back I realize that grace was shown to me by a few brave men who were honest enough with me when I needed it and now, sitting in that room tonight, I realized that I now have a similar opportunity to share with others who cannot fathom the idea of forgiveness and grace.

This trail I'm on is new, for sure, but even though I've never been down it, there is a sense of comfort that cannot be escaped. The amazing part about the trail is I'm getting to put up signs so others can check it out too, it's not a private pathway. I know there are many who will not even look down this trail, and for them, my heart breaks. But for those that are interested, the trail is here and it turns away no one. All you have to do is follow it.