A birthday remembered & other musings on a Tuesday…

Johnny 1988Today would be my brother Johnny’s 40th birthday. 40. How time has flown since I last saw him at 17 & death separated us for a breath as long as the rest of my lifetime here on the earth. The picture you see is his sophomore class pic from Carson High, 1988. He took my red-bow tie for the day – my PeeWee Herman costume bow-tie. And he rocked it, as usual, with a sense of style that would have made Elvis Presley jealous.

I’ve been celebrating Johnny’s life in a special way today – through the music he loved. Johnny was one of the first people I knew to create mix-tapes (remember, this was the 80s). He painstakingly would take tracks off of CD’s & other audio tapes, & put them on his own high quality audio tapes for me, then create a custom playlist to serve as the tape/CD liner so I would know what was coming. I took it for granted that this is normal – this is just what one does with ones free time.


Thank the Lord for Spotify – Johnny would have loved it. All the joy of a mixtape at the click of a keyboard. I recreated several of the playlists he made for me with his favorite artists to serve as a soundtrack for the otherwise mundane activities of my day.

It’s amazing to me how music, a song has the power to stir memory – to vividly recall glimpses, faces, events, & remembrances from long ago. More than once I found myself wishing for windshield wipers on my eyes so I could see my computer screen – only to hit “repeat’ on a song because of the sweetness of the memory attached to it.


Time doesn’t heal all wounds. And at the same time, this wound is not infected. I know my brother is experiencing the presence of God in a way that is my own hope & dream. And at the same time, there is a family here that is like a tree with a missing limb – a tree that has recovered, but that is forever scarred by the loss of a vital branch.

Though he’s been gone for almost 23 years, I see Johnny everywhere. I look at my family of origin – my parents – still loving Jesus & each other, committed for the long term to be people who intentionally look for the dancing after the mourning, to be living life fully in the here & now, with a firm grasp that this Here & Now is but a glimpse of the Real Life that is to come.

Joel (Moe) is married to Jenny – with 2 great little ones (both boys) under the age of 4 – T-Bone & TyBone (my names for them that I only whisper because they have real life grown up man names that will fit them well when they step into adulthood.) So proud of Moe & his fam – & the compassionate excellence with which he/they live their lives. Moe is world class in his work, but even moreso as a man.

Ben (Benny, CTC) is married to Jessica – & has 3 little ones (2 girls & a boy) under the age of 6. The kids reflect their parents’ joie d’vivre, & Ben reminds me of Johnny’s funny side – a side that often manifested with wit & with a discontent for the status quo (if that makes sense.) Proud of Ben & the fam. Happy that their pursuing their dreams.


MytheBean & I dated for about 6 months before Johnny was diagnosed with cancer – so she knew him well, both before & after, something I appreciate more with the passing of time as she holds me in the times when tears overwhelm & laughs with me other times of recalling the LIFE with which he lived. The gentle, humble, fierce strength which which you live each day, mytheBean, is a reminder of how fortunate I am that Jedi mind tricks work & you committed yourself to me so many years ago.

Then there’s my kids. Pasty, (actually his uncle’s namesake,) one of the whitest kids you’ll ever see, with the rosiest cheeks in the world. Sometimes just looking at his resemblance to my brother catches my breath. My Pasty.

iDoey – no longer a kid, now a man. His personality & “Never give up, never surrender” attitude, determination, & fierce loyalty most closely mirrors that of the uncle he never knew. Time & time again, theBean has asked me how I can so accurately predict what iDoey will say/do/respond in a certain situation, & I have to answer – “I grew up with this.” And I smile.

TheWeez – Johnny would have been amazed that I could have such a beautiful daughter & would most definitely (& correctly) have attributed it to her mother. He would have doted on theWeez – & I see him in her eyes when they flash, & when she speaks her mind, standing for truth, justice, mercy & life in her interactions with the world.

Something else that stands out to me is that running through our family is a trait of perseverance, hard work, a “never give up” push in the face of adversity, no matter what. We have what Eugene Peterson refers to as the “ability to engage in a long obedience in the same direction.” I have to believe it goes beyond human genetics & is a part of the spiritual DNA passed down to us from generation to generation of Christ-followers, that we would be people who, in spite of our many failings, human frailty, & other weaknesses, carry a relentless commitment to love Christ & love others. The longer I live on this planet & the more I experience the temporal nature of this life & the fleeting, often unpredictable nature of human relationships, the more I appreciate this & desire to embrace it as a part of my own character & hopefully, what is left in the wake of my life.

Happy birthday Johnny – see you soonish. Save me a spot at the dinner table. I get the corner.

“Come to MY house!!!”

During the workday, one of my favorite activities is the “Field Trip.” My field trips consist of a walk-through our preschool. I love the opportunity to interact with the 2-5 year olds, to listen to them talk about what they believe is important, & to break my own day up with something that really matters.

Today, I went into a classroom & saw my little friend Noah – I’m going to his house for dinner soon, so I told him I was coming to his house. His brow furrowed… & he declared, “YOU are NOT coming to my house. My MOM & my DAD are coming to me house!”

Oops. He was ticked.

I told him, “Noah – your mommy & daddy ASKED me to come over. Its ok.” He was not convinced.

Out of nowhere, another little 4 year old guy started yelling, “Come to MY house! Come to MY house!” I told him, “I didn’t get invited to your house, but thank you.”

He shouted, “No! Come to MY house! I only have a mommy. I don’t have a daddy. You can come to MY house! Please!?”

I gave him a big hug & we talked about lunch. And bugs. And dinosaurs. And gummy worms. He went back to play. I went to my office & wept.

Through the Gospels – Matthew 1

SOAP – Through the Gospels
Matthew 1

S – SCRIPTURE
Matthew 1:1 – the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

O –OBSERVATION
When I was just learning to read, one of my daily routines was going through a devotional bible reading plan called “Bible Pathways.” Their particular plan was set up in such a way that if you followed it closely (reading approximately 3 chapters/15 minutes/day), you would finish reading the entire Bible in one year. I absolutely loved finishing my reading because then I could put a check mark on the scheduled reading plan for the day. (Nothing like crossing things off a list! DONE! Still love doing that.)

That said, I hated reading the genealogies & family trees. Whenever I came across them, I would just SKIP over them to the end; the spot where the ‘boring’ & meaningless to me list of oft-unpronounceable names ran on & on. I can remember asking several people WHY this was in the Bible; it made no sense to me to have all these people listed & that I had to read over it. And it wasn’t like there was only one spot in the Bible where the genealogies were, like the “Book of Genealogies” located after Esther & before Job, so you could just kind of SKIP over them to get to the good stuff. Nope. They pop up all over the place, invisibly connecting narratives, histories, & stories like connective tissue – its there, but you don’t know the reason for it.

Matthew 1 begins with a genealogy – one that I have skipped over many, many times. Until I got frustrated & asked God a question: “Why? Why are these in the Bible? Is it to build my perseverance? To make me thankful for the end of the list? I don’t get it – but if its in there, its gotta be important. What is it?”

A – APPLICATION
The answer to my prayer/question was not immediate, & it came from an unlikely source: my dad’s cousin Laurie. Cousin Laurie is our very own “Family Tree & Ancestry Expert.” For some reason unbeknownst to me, she has been passionately researching our family line for years, even crossing the Atlantic to peruse family records in Scotland. To my knowledge, she has traced our family of origin, with multiple branches, back into the 16th century. I had heard many 2nd hand stories about her searches, but never really got the straight scoop until one day she stopped by my office after church on a Sunday, & started in on a story about “our family.”

Laurie pulled out a notebook with several pieces of paper – it was obvious she’d spent a lot of time with it, & that the information on it was valuable. In a very short period of time, she showed me different branches of the family tree, complete with names, birth/death dates, & interesting vignettes. What had once been a poorly understood & mostly unknown collection of names came to life. These were people, with lifetimes of stories – & every one of them was connected to me & my own story. The actions, choices, & lives (good, bad, & ugly) of people living hundreds of years prior had somehow, someway led to me & my reality.

As I listened & observed, suddenly threads began to emerge in my mind – I could see & trace God’s hand of mercy, grace, & purpose on my family line. Generation upon generation, God had been working redemptively & faithfully. The family tree revealed a forest of purpose & intentionality. It was like a puzzle piece being placed into the 10,000-pc puzzle it originated in; somehow it fit.

And then I saw it – an answer to the prayer/question I had asked God long before. Genealogies are reminders of the importance of individual lives in the grand story of the gospel, as well as a picture of the absolute sovereignty of God to weave those threads of story into a beautiful tapestry that reveals HIS story, purpose, plan, & the Good News of Jesus Christ.

P – PRAYER
LORD – thank you for not only being a “big picture” God, but also for dealing with the small & seemingly insignificant life story threads… that You make something beautiful from it. Remind me of the significance of my actions, choices, & the way I invest my life today. Fill me with awareness of where You are at work in & around me, & show me how to cooperate with Your Spirit in that work.

school’s out for summer… er, 2 weeks, an anniversary. And other musings.

Sunday morning I woke up early… earlier than normal for my Sunday workday. Many reasons for that:

    -the nagging of unfinished school work; had to write a couple paragraphs for the conclusion to the paper for the END o Class project for TH600 (which is a fancy way of saying Advanced Theology & Worldview. Its a 600 class, not a 500 class. So it is 100 better. Or bigger. Or badder. But I digress.)
    -My back hurt enough that rolling over repeatedly didn’t make it go away. Better to rise than to lay there.
    -I smelled the foff (coffee for laymen). The timer went off at the weekday time instead of the weekend time, calling to me with her siren’s call: “Come & get me! I’m Guatemala today!” Sounded just like that too.
    -Bad dreams. Woke up thinking I’d gotten a certified letter LEGALLY declaring the demand that I cease & desist, with no further talking to or interacting with my family. That was a fun. Felt real until the afternoon.

And yet, the biggest reason was it was Father’s Day. June 17, 2012. Exactly 22 years since my little brother John Leavy Locke went to be with Jesus. He passed at 4:34 a.m on that day in 1990; I’ve written about it a few times. Here. And here. And now, every year on the anniversary of his passing from death to life, I wake up at precisely that time. I’ve probably tapped into some latent superpower that allows one to wake up WHEN they WANT to, though this one is a bit out of control as I don’t wanna wake up then. But I do. Perhaps I always will. I do know that while I still grieve, it’s not without the hope of seeing him again. And perhaps I shall write on this topic yearly… until such a time that other such days color my world grey.


The last 9 months have been something of a blur – I have felt more than a bit overwhelmed emotionally – talked with my friend Chuck about it a couple weeks back over a Shepherd’s Pie & he asked the question: “Have you experienced any loss or significant relationship change over the last while?”

I got to thinking, & images of people, dear friends & pseudo-family members, rushed through my brain. All people that have moved on. Many due to school, jobs & opportunities outside of the Reno area, a couple due to the moving on associated with life change & finding a new church to attend. Tried to count the number of people that had moved/transitioned since January 1. Stopped at 30. I looked across the table at Chuck through misty eyes & he said, “I’ll take that as a yes.” It happens. Its a part of life. And it hurts. Love these people, & when they go, it leaves a mark. More than when Charlie bit my finger… it really hurts.

And the hits keep on coming – TheAge & Sandra Nell are relocating to Boston – TheAge, one of the truly greatest creative musical artists I’ve ever known, is off to Berklee School of Music to pursue a dream that I know he will catch. Sandra Nell, teacher, baker, artist, & cake designer of the rarest sort… Chris & Natalie (& their progeny, including my namesake, lil Mo’Lou, are heading to their hometown of Vegas…was just hired as the worship pastor at the church he grew up in. Chris. a gifted songwriter, artist, worship leader… Natalie Rose, writer, photographic artist, creative soul, and freestyle, stream-of-consciousness thought sharer.

My friends. People I love dearly. My eyes are swimming.


And in other news: now that I have 2 whole weeks off from the required reading & writing of grad school, I shall endeavor to reread the LOTR (aka, The Lord of the Rings.) It is one book, not three, divided into six sections. J.R.R. Tolkien, how I love thee.


Went to Father’s Day lunch at the Little Wal with theBean, theWeez, iDoey, & the 3 of the last 4 people to live with our family, along with their spouses. (Missed you YoooooouuuulleeeeeeeeAHHHHHHHH!) It was like a family reunion. Beautiful, especially seeing the lives that the girls are living now with their very own boys. Brings me great joy.

The Little Wal has an extra special Sunday Special – buy one burger at regular price, get another for 1cent. Booyah.

TheWeez got up from the table at the end of the meal to go home with iDoey – her long dark brown hair fell perfectly across her face, partially behind her right ear. I was mesmerized – & I told her, “Wow, Weez. You look absolutely Elvish! All you need is the pointy ears!”

Which of course in my world = Absolutely Beautiful. It makes total sense. To me. And to other Tolkien speakers.

TheWeez grimaced at me & left.

Three of the ladies at the table, one being my wife, the other two being grown up, surrogate daughter-types, let me know that I had committed a faux-pas. Fortunately, they gave me some good advice for communicating with my girl in the future.

    -“if you think she looks beautiful, tell her she is pretty. Pretty. Not elvish.”
    -“elvish is definitely not something a girl wants to be compared to. No matter what any other man at the table might say.”
    -“if you keep that up, you could give her a complex.”
    -“don’t mention her ears. She doesn’t want to hear about her ears.”

Duly noted. I will keep my sci-fi/fantasy comparisons & metaphors to myself.

TheWeez – you are beautiful.

You didn’t let ME run!

“You didn’t let ME run, Dad.”

TheWeez’s comment took me by surprise. I had no context. “What do you mean Weez?”

“You sat up on the stage today after church, & there were like 100 little kids running crazy all over the church, & you just sat there smiling. And then later on, you pointed out that little kids run & make messes & are loud… & you’re okay with it, because they are also a great sign of life. But you didn’t let ME run!”

Hmmm. She was going back in the archives to the Olden Days. The days before Boys entered her world. Before self-consciousness had struck. Before there was anything else on her agenda for the day except getting where she wanted to go as fast as she could. And what she recalled was that when she was small, like the running mitey-mites that had filled the sanctuary today, I wouldn’t let her run. My daughter.

I remember THAT guy. Sometimes he feels like a completely different person than I was, but then I see that he has scars on his shoulders in the same places I do, & I can remember thinking what he was thinking, & knowing, KNOWING that I KNEW what was most important in life… & kids not running at church, especially my kids, was important. Sigh.

That guy. Uptight. Grumpy. On the edge of angry most of the time. Easily frustrated. Defensive. Insecure. Immature. Trying sooooo hard. Working harder. Faster. Longer. Wearing out. Breaking down. Bottled up. Hurting. Confused. Tired.

He was so hard to be around; I couldn’t stand him. Its even harder to come to grips with when I know that I know that THAT guy was me. He left marks on the psyches of those he loved the most, theBean, Pasty, iDoey, & theWeez. Among others.

What I don’t remember is when that guy left. It seems that he might have lingered, neither here nor there, for quite a while, until finally he was gone, no longer welcome.

“You didn’t let me run, Dad. I just wanted to run,” theWeez said, softer this time. “WHY? Why didn’t you?”

“I’m so sorry Weez. I thought I knew what I was doing, but looking back, I was silly, in the worst grownup kind of churchy silly that I could be. I’m so sorry…” My voice trailed off. My eyes reacted with vigor to the dust-storm that must have just appeared in the room; otherwise, why would my eyes be so clouded…?

“If I had it to do over again, sweetheart, I would let you run. And I would run with you.”

“You would?”

“Yep. I would.”

She thought for a moment… “Yeah, you probably would.” Big smile.

Wind and fire, a return to school-ness, family, & other musings…

Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Fire is one of my favorite things – candles, camp fires, a back yard fire pit. Fire. In moderation, under control, providing ambiance, warmth, cheer… Sigh. I’m sitting at my desk looking out my window at the smoke filled sky… yet another wind-blown rager has descended upon the Reno area, consuming at least 10 houses in the Pleasant Valley-ish area. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Sunday evening marks my return to my Master’s program & with it a 6 month deluge of reading & writing before my next break. I find myself wanting to drag out the days until I go “back to school” as long as possible. Its not the work – its the stress that keeping my school schedule in the context of an already full life – puts on my attempts to live “in rhythm,” balanced; to not only have a good day off, but to Sabbath. To cease. Rest. Celebrate. Reflect. Deadlines, assignments, pressures have taken me & my resolve to Sabbath to the bending point… bending to the point of recognizing a great need for an iron backbone and a forehead made of flint that, for the good of me & mine, will enable me to navigate the next phase of life & school. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


It has been exactly 5 months & 7 days since #1 son, the Pasty Gangster, moved to Knoxville, TN. He is doing well, has a great job, is prepping for a return to school in the fall, & his relationship with Alexandrea is going gangbusters… (He inherited from his Papi the uncanny ability of having a beautiful, talented, compassionate, caring woman fall in love with him. 3 words: Jedi mind tricks.)

I miss him something terribly. There’s a part of me that is so happy for him – the prayerful choices he made to get where he is, the hard work he’s put in to excel at his job, & set himself up for the next phase of life… And there’s a part of me, that is still grieving, missing him; it is so close to the surface that merely thinking on it moves me to weepyness, & I find myself “dad-gumming” the dust in the room that has gotten in my eyes. Oh, the joy of feeling one’s emotions… Don’t have a date to see the boy yet, but I’m hopeful. And praying for him. And us. And asking the LORD for mercy on our lives, and favor upon his.


Joey, aka iDoey came into our room last night, and laid across the foot of the bed. The whole thing. He was even hanging off the edge of it. What HAPPENED to that kid? When did the little man turn into the tallest member of the family? His drivers license tells me he is 17. I don’t believe it. I still see the 2 year old boy that used to try to sneak into my room in the morning (if 4 a.m. is the morning), dodging pillows that I’d toss at him, trying to make it to his mom’s side of the bed so he could alert her to his need for food & drink: “I’m hungry, and thirsty, and hungry!” Always the same words. The same intensity and desperation.

iDoey is passionate. His personality is reminiscent of my brother Johnny’s – super strong, articulate & well-expressed. I have oft been tempted to counter his strength with my own tidal wave of forcefulness, strength, & power… but that’s been shown, long ago, to be ineffective. Meekness, controlled strength, patience and perseverance is what was required. Oh, so many times I blew it in a blow up, only to repent later, asking forgiveness of my God & my boy. There’s not much time left before the world we live in calls my son an adult, challenging him to move out on his own to pursue life, dreams, & God’s plans for His life. I resist the temptation to control, and find myself praying for this boy/man. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Alyse, theWeez, Princess Weezer-brooks just had birthday #15. She takes great joy in tormenting her father with stories of her dreams of getting married in just a couple more years… Oh theWeez, you can wait a little while, can’t you? I will spoil you something terrible, & you will get to have your mom & I all to yourself…

We, she & I, picked out a ring for her birthday – its special, with her birthstone – we call it a “getting a vision for sexy-time with her husband and only her husband” purity ring. To save the specialness of intimacy for marriage. Because my girl is special, & worth waiting for. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Thankful for the peace of God that transcends understanding & circumstance, filling my heart & mind with the comfort of KNOWING that I KNOW that He is with me. Is sufficient for me. For my life situations. And my kids.

So say we all.

Wanting to be resilient & other musings as October slips away…

I’ve been thinking a lot about things that I want to be true of me. Characteristics. Attitudes. Traits. Things that could be good & accurate descriptors to help paint a picture of the man that I am & the man that I am continually becoming.

A few that have come up.

Gracious.
Compassionate.
Thoughtful.
Faithful.
Substantial.
Consistent.

One word keeps coming to mind, over and over. Resilient. I want to be resilient.

To be “resilient” is to be pliable. Able to bounce back from being stretched. Quick to recover. Not rigid or inflexible.

I want my friendships and relationships to be resilient. Able to withstand adversity, difficulty, & even being wronged. Not easily broken. Characterized by a steadfastness of commitment to life-giving, encouraging relationship, come what may.

Cause life is tough. And its not always easy to see the personal and relational challenges that await us around the corner.

And life is too short to be wondering, “when it gets bad, really bad, will this friendship last? Will it stand?”

Some things that may lead to a trend towards resilience: humility. Peace. Truth. Grace. Perspective. A positive outlook. A determination, in advance, of how I will live, act, and be towards others.


Pasty has been in Knoxville for coming up on 3 months. Sigh. Happy for him; he’s working at a great restaurant & gets to see his Alexandrea just about every day. If I was him, Ida moved too.

Missing his laugh, his routines, and his hugs before bed. His unswerving commitment to keeping me updated on what is happening in the sports world.


Yesterday was pastor appreciation Sunday – I’m thankful and amazed at the kind words, written notes, & heartfelt encouragements that so many shared with theBean and I. It seems surreal to be “thanked & appreciated” for pastoring, something that I do because I know God has put me in that spot & role. Maybe its because the early years, there wasn’t so much appreciation as there was criticism, suspicion, and frustration with me & the “Job” I was doing. I tried not to get “too low” based upon what people were saying or writing in the special anonymous notes. I wonder if now I’m just guarding my heart & not wanting to get “too high” from the good things people have shared with me & my family. Not sure. But I know that I do want to be able to receive compliments, ‘thank yous’ & the like, without self-deprecation or minimizing it.

Hmmm. Change my heart, Oh God.


Just started Week 2 (out of 8) of my 6th Masters Class – at the end of the class I will be 50% of the way through the program. It has been a battlefield between my ears for sure. One of the most difficult things hasn’t been the workload, but rather the new ideas, theories, terminology, and ways of conceptualizing what it means to lead.

I caught myself last week wrestling with an especially challenging assignment in “Leadership Theory & Praxis” & I wanted to quit. Stop the program. Be done. Quit challenging & trying myself, exposing weakness, inadequacy, & ignorance. (Nice & melodramatic I know.)

Heard the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to keep going – to resist the discouragement. To stand firm. To apply myself, & also to ask, believing, for wisdom & understanding.

So I am. Prayers are appreciated.

musings on being thankful in the wee hours… morning or night, I forget which…

I’m up late again. Or really, really early, depending on how you look at it. Either way, bed is something that I find myself anticipating falling into. When I’m sleepy. Now, not so much.

Its not insomnia, its that my brain is in the “on” position; perhaps it got stuck there because I’ve been in research & analysis mode for the last few days. Then after I got home from work & everyone else went to bed, I stayed up to ponder. Think. Plot. Write. I’m on my last paper for class #4 of my masters program (4 classes out of 12, for the souls that are keeping track. Bless thee. But I digress…)

I don’t trust my midnight writing, but I can live with my midnight data analysis… because there’s always an editing & re-editing that happens to clear up any of the dust bunnies left in the papers by my late-night activities.

Done writing, my brain kept going. That’s ok. I will roll through some thankfulness.


I’m thankful for me & my brain. The way I think. How everything somehow ends up looking like a teaching/learning opportunity. That I don’t make snap decisions. Or say everything that is on my mind. Or turn the direction of my life over to the unstable groundhog that wants to drive my life by the seat of my emotions (obscure “Groundhog Day” reference. Just remember, “Don’t drive angry.”)

I’m thankful for the Word that dwells in me richly. For the stabilizing & transforming influence it has upon my tempestuous, out-there thought processes. For the Living Hope that is resident in Christ, the One I can (& do!) put my hopes & dreams in, knowing for sure that I won’t be disappointed.

I’m thankful for my parents – they still love each other, & they live what they believe… loving people in practical ways. Investing their lives in a manner that I hope to emulate, long term.

I’m thankful for my wife, theBean, a woman that I thought I understood, but have only recently realized that I may never fully “get” her… & being 100% comfortable with that. (make that 93%… I’m working on it.)

I’m thankful for my kids. All 3 of them. Pasty, iDoey, & theWeez: a greater 3 have never been found. So different, yet with similarities that evoke memories of those dearest to me. Sometimes I even see myself there.

I’m thankful for friends – without whom the joys of this life wouldn’t be nearly as high, nor the lows so bearable. For listening ears, kind hearts, compassion, & desperate prayers, offered both for & with me.

I’m thankful for a church family that I would love to be a part of, even if I wasn’t the person charged with leading & pastoring the incredible people that have grown from strangers to family.

I could go on; the more I write down ‘thankful thoughts’ the more they rush into my head like a strong, cool, refreshing dip in Tahoe.

But I won’t. Continue that is. It’s late, & I will sleep.

Thank you God for Your provisions for me – I can truly say that what I have, where I am, who I’m with… Your lot for my life… has fallen to me in pleasant places.

Life is beautiful.

ACTS, working out, & other musings…

This year, I’ve probably read through the Book of Acts at least 10 times for “me,” & another 10 times for a chapter-by-chapter blog series. Now, I’m going through it again, this time in ‘study mode’ for the ‘story by story’ series at Hillside. So, this morning I was reviewing my notes for tomorrow’s speech from Acts 8:3-25, & a couple of elements from Philip’s story hit me fresh. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times I’ve read a passage, or how familiar it is to me, the Holy Spirit brings life to it, & shines a bright light onto areas I’d never seen, noticed or considered before.

Philip (& the other believers) were on the run from the wave of persecution that arose in the wake of Stephen’s martyrdom. All but the apostles had left Jerusalem & headed throughout the region of Judea, & even to Samaria… in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic words from Acts 1:8. I guess the “Jerusalem, Judea, & Samaria” passages are so familiar that I never really considered that the very thing that drove the disciples out of Jerusalem (persecution & threat of death) led to the gospel message being spread everywhere they went, going places that they’d never even considered going before.

God didn’t CAUSE the persecution as a way of shaking up His people; rather, its an example of one way that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him & are called according to His purpose (ala Romans 8:28.) There was no master plan the disciples followed – they were on the run. And in the middle of their flight, their faith provided an anchor, a safe place, a point of encouragement to keep them going.

It gives me great hope to know that our faith is made for times EXACTLY like that – times of uncertainty, danger, threat, fear, illness, when the darkness is closing in. At those times, we find that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, provides for our every need. Sustains, strengthens, & gives us life. Love it.


Lately, I’ve got a new workout partner: theWeez. Its been fun hitting the gym together & getting to teach her about different exercises, free-weights vs. ‘the machines,’ & of course, kettle-bells. Today, she told me that she thinks that she’d like to get into MMA. As in mixed-martial arts. As in cage fighting.

Sigh. This should be interesting.

All I know, is I’m loving our time together.


It’s official. ThePasty Gangster is on his way to Knoxville, Tennessee. Countdown: 32 days.


I am an uncle. Again. Moe & Jen took baby TyWill home from the hospital last night, so 2 year old TBone has a little brother. I love that my brothers’ have little kids & that I have big ones. Family.


At no point in my life have I ever felt the need to try to plant flowers or plants in the ground, to nurture, water, & talk to them.

Until now. For some reason, I have a vested interest in seeing the 5 grassy willow-y plants in the backyard stay alive. I speak to them. Water them multiple times a day. Command them to survive in the spite of Nevada’s weather & my feeble attempts at caring for them. If they last, I may even post a picture.

Hope is my choice…

I’ve been down in a hole.

Emotional. A little depressed. Weary. Grumpy. Frustrated. Grieving.

It all came to a head last week as I realized what was happening, & forced myself to take a look at what I was dealing with rather than avoid &/or run & hide.

Change. Pasty Gangster is 99.9% moving to Tennessee in 6 weeks. I’m happy for him, but I’m also grieving the change that his move will bring to our family. I’ve wrestled regret at time lost that can’t ever be recovered. Wished for a do-over; an opportunity to go back in time & make up for the areas I totally biffed it as a dad.

Pasty, being the firstborn, was the child that got to experience, firsthand, my parental mistakes. Overzealousness. Immaturity. Inconsistency.

He got to live with the dad that didn’t know how to balance life. Who had wacky priorities. Who was confused about how it does no good to work hard to provide for a family if there is no time taken to BE with the family & enjoy it.

And now as he prepares to pursue his dream, I realize he is exactly the age I was when I married theBean. When I knew that I knew what I wanted from life, more than anything, was to be with the girl of my dreams for the rest of my life. The rest of the details of work, college, living life, etc. were mostly irrelevant details that I just knew would be resolved in my future by my Father in heaven.

I flash back to being 19 years old, & think of when I proposed to theBean. I didn’t have a job; I was filling in as a delivery driver for my uncle’s pharmacy, & I was desperate. I wanted to get married, to grow up, to be able to provide for my wife (& in the future, a family) but I had nothing. So, I listened to Christian radio. Every teaching I could find on faith. And I prayed.

One day, I ‘heard’ from God – not a voice, but an impression. The impression was of a page in the Bible, one from which I could clearly see the chapter & verse. Matthew 6:25-34… the verses before & after it were blurry, but those particular verses were crystal clear:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Nothing about my circumstances had changed; but something began to break inside me that day – worry. Anxiety. Fear of not having enough.

Faith grew. God would provide. He’d have my back. I just need to keep taking steps of faith.

So I did.

And now, I look at my son & the knowledge that in the very near future he’s moving. And I’m faced with the option to worry. Be anxious. Fear. Live in regret. Be depressed. Stay down in a hole.

And instead, against my feelings, I’m choosing hope. A hope that doesn’t disappoint. A hope that isn’t based in me or my abilities, but rather in Jesus Christ, the beginning & completion of my faith.

I can trust Pasty to Jesus. I can trust my family to Him too. And I can trust my present & future to Him as well, because He hasn’t changed His commitment to me.