Depression & other musings…

I started writing tonight… some musings on depression… launched from the context of the tragic death of Robin Williams by his own hand.

After reading the paragraphs I’d written, I erased them. Too simplistic. And I think, “man, sometimes I think I don’t understand this at all.”

Sometimes I wonder if the wrestlings I’ve been having over the last 24 months could be depression. And I self-analyze, trying to figure out the WHY’s behind the feelings. Its not that I haven’t worked through (or attempted to do so) my stuff with Chuck, my counselor… but what happens when its still there, kinda lurking? Cliches & over-simplistic ‘answers’ don’t do anything to help the situation… just make one feel a little more inadequate to address the waves of thought, coupled with unidentified emotions.


I think about my friend Bobby. He was 16 – & his girlfriend had broken up with him. He was home alone, despondent. And he decided to take his life using a shotgun. His little brother found him the next morning when he didn’t show up for breakfast before school. I remember riding my bike in front of their house, dutifully delivering newspapers at 6 a.m., & the alarm in my heart to see 2 police cars. An ambulance. And the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies such moments.

I went to his funeral. Heard people talk about depression. Said it was such a waste that he had killed himself, that he had so much still to live for, if only he could have gotten through that night. I can still see the family – attempting to keep it together, grieving at the horrendous loss they had just experienced. And I also sensed the family’s guilt & shame… as though somehow, someway what they were experiencing was a result of their own failure… that they’d neglected something important which led to the depression & death.

And I didn’t know what to say.


I think about my first year as a pastor in Reno – I was 30, & many of the people I was called to care for were as old as my grandparents… I can remember thinking, “How am I supposed to pastor people who have more than double my own life experience?” I knew I didn’t want to offer up cliches or Bible verses as “pat answers” (I’d learned as much enduring the onslaught of well-meaning but oh so terrible words of ‘encouragement’ I received after the death of my own brother, Johnny after his battle with cancer.) I’d only been at the church a couple of months, & I’d preached on the topic of hope (looking to Jesus as our Living Hope – I still have the cassette tape of the message. Which is weird.) A frail looking lady who looked to be in her 70’s came up & wanted to talk to the pastor about her problem. Depression.

After a couple of minutes, I discovered that she wasn’t in her 70s. She was around 50 – the care-worn face bore the scars of years of a life of pain, & a life lived having seemingly experienced all the rough spots & none of the grace. She knew Jesus. Had a relationship with Him. And she was depressed. Down in a hole. Mental, emotional, & physical pain. And suicidal. Would I talk with her? And pray with her?

I remember the lump in my throat – the quick & silent prayer I sent to God asking for His insights, to intercede on this lady’s behalf, to work a miracle, to take away her pain. I don’t remember anything I said to her – I do remember listening a lot. Crying with her. Praying with her for hope. She told me she didn’t want to die, but also that living hurt so much. And she felt so alone.

A couple of days later I got a phone call from someone in our church in the early morning… she relayed that this lady who I had been talking with on the previous Sunday, this lady who lived in the same mobile home park as she did, had been found by her family that morning. Dead by her own hand. I felt numb.

I went to the mobile home park, & walked up to the police car outside her home. Yellow “crime scene” tape was being put up… I wandered around, looking for someone to talk to, someone official. One of the officers asked me what I was doing, & asked if I knew her – & I told him that I was her pastor, & I’d just heard what had happened & I didn’t know what to do. The officer shook his head, & said something like, “this kind of thing happens all the time.”

And I didn’t know what to say.


 

I just re-read what I’ve written above… & I took some time to think about it. And pray. And here’s what came to mind.

When I don’t know what to say or do, & when I’m overwhelmed with intangible & hard-to-identify cloud of doom & gloom, I know I’m not alone. I know that I know that I know that in my middle of my own helplessness in attempting to care for others, in the times where I feel like I can’t even help myself so well, I have hope. At the worst, I’ve never been in that hole that many others find themselves in, depressed & hopeless, where suicide seems like the solution.

And I feel something inside rising up – I want to know what to say when I come in contact with others in their point of despair. I want to be able to transmit to others the hope that I cling to, the rock & safe place where I hide.

I’m praying that God builds me in my heart & my guts to “be becoming” a man of depth & compassion – a person God is healing, that He will use to help heal others.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about tonight.

 

 

O Holy Night #2 – A New Hope…

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is the account of the birth of John the Baptist. His parents, Zechariah & Elizabeth, were childless; they’d been unable to have kids their entire married life together, & now they both were way, way beyond childbearing years (Luke 1:7). At this point in their lives, the dream of having a child, an heir, had moved off of their collective radar, & now most likely just existed as one of life’s greatest disappointments & unfulfilled dreams. And then God intervenes, declaring a new hope, not only for their lives, but for the whole world.

God sent Gabriel the angel to proclaim to Zechariah that he & Elizabeth would conceive, & she would give birth to a son. And the best part was that he wouldn’t just be a ‘miracle’ child… no, their son John was to be the one promised by the Scriptures who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah, the Christ, God’s promised Anointed One. (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:3).

You’d think such a jubilant angelic declaration would be received with shouts of joy… but instead, Zechariah’s response was one of skepticism, negativity, & doubt. This is one of the reasons I love this story – not because I like Zechariah’s displayed lack of faith, but rather because I GET it. After years of hoping for a child, years of disappointment, & years of attempting to comfort his wife in the midst of her/their grief, the message of HOPE hit Zechariah’s ears (& heart) in such a way that revealed that he was “done,” & couldn’t grasp, let alone believe that God was on the verge of a miracle in their lives.

I love the angel’s response to Zechariah’s unbelief: “I am Gabriel, & I stand in the presence of God, & I was sent to speak to you & to bring you this good news. Now, you will be silent & unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which WILL BE fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:19,20 ESV). He basically tells him – “C’mon, man! This is good news! What I told you came direct from the throne of God – so because of your lack of belief, I’m going to shut you up so you can’t spread the doubt to your wife & others.”


Every time I revisit this story, I feel the Holy Spirit doing a heart-check on me – & I find myself examining where I am… am I open to God’s new hope for my life? Am I open to it even if it is in an area I have given up on? Do I really believe all things are possible for God, if I believe?

During this Christmas season, I’m praying that my heart will be prepped for God’s miraculous new hope for me & those my life connects with.

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.

on the way to prayer…

Every big city has beggars. The sheer numbers of people making their way to and through the city center provide a steady opportunity for the sick, lame, & down on their luck, to eke out a living begging, albeit always dependent on the benevolence of others.

Jerusalem was no exception. Acts 3 tells the story of one man, lame from birth, that every day was carried to the “Beautiful Gate” of the Temple in the early afternoon in order to catch the crowds coming & going from the Temple at the hour of prayer (3 p.m.). He’d been there every day of his life, which means that he was ‘known’ and recognized; not by name most likely, but as “the lame guy at the Beautiful Gate.”

Unnamed in Acts, the lame man was anonymous; most likely, passerby didn’t stop to talk & interact to see how he was. If his situation was like that of the beggars I have seen & observed, people rushed by him, avoided eye contact, hoped to miss all interaction with him & to just sneak by without having to give alms.

And somewhere along the way, the lame man had learned to just look out at the world, at everything & nothing, to avoid even a little of the dehumanizing experience his helpless begging had reduced him to.

Until Peter & John came by… & stopped. Peter said, “Look at us.” He made eye contact. He addressed him directily. He wasn’t speaking to a beggar; he was addressing a man, a fellow Israelite, an equal. And he healed him in Jesus’ Name.

I love the picture of this guy being so excited at being able to walk that he is literally JUMPING for joy, praising God at the top of his lungs because he has experienced a touch from God that changed his life forever.

And he experienced a connection with another person, who tangibly showed the love of God by taking the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, & to respond to what the Spirit said.

two years…

Two years.

That’s the amount of time Paul waited in a Caesarean jail cell for his legal case to be acted upon by the governor.

Those two years pass in one sentence in Acts 24: ”When two years had elapsed, (governor) Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”

Two years.

In that time, Paul’s testifying about his court case and the charges against him morphed into regular opportunities to give witness to his faith through conversations with the governor. Further, he shared with all that would listen about “righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment…”

And instead of getting bitter, wondering how God could forget him in Caesarea (after all, didn’t Paul have God’s promise that he would testify in Rome?), Paul used the challenging circumstances of prison to encourage others through letters that we now refer to as Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, to name a few.

Two years.

Paul saw it not as a waste of his time, but as an opportunity from the LORD.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:12-14

Two years.

LORD, I pray you give us eyes to see our lives & circumstances, come what may, as God-given opportunities – & may Paul’s words from his jail cell ring in our ears: “Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice!”

on the road again & other musings from an early Monday…

No, I’m not traveling; just reading.

TheBean’s schedule for theBucks means that several days a week, she’s up & at’em in the wee hours of the morning, often by 4. Perhaps there’s not a whole lot of ‘quality time’ one can spend with their spouse while they’re getting ready, applying makeup, doing hair, etc… but I can make sure that the coffee is hot. And ready. And delivered to her in person with a smile (or at least the best version I can summon at such a time.)

I need to be up – I purpose to be up – but my body disagrees, protests, & lodges a complaint against the management… which is why I made the decision to GET up last night, before I was in the spot to have to deal with my recalcitrant self. The early morning is for coffee, yes, but its also reading time. Stolen moments for pondering in the Scriptures.

Today it was Luke 24; what jumped out at me was the walk the 2 guys had with the (unrecognized,) Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. The time of discussion, supposing, wondering. Confusion, frustration, crushing grief. Having seen Christ’s crucifixion, they’re now trying to wrestle through the reports of “Christ sightings” by Mary & the ladies. Hoping beyond hope that it could be true. Fearing that its not.

And Jesus meets them. He hears their conversation & joins in. Challenges them for their slowness to ‘get it.’


And He said to them, “O foolish ones, & slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things & enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses & all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

When I see the word “fool” in the Bible, I can’t help but think of Mr. T. And then I remind myself that Jesus isn’t ‘pitying the fool’ the way Mr. T would. It helps.:)

The two men don’t recognize Jesus until the point where He’s breaking & blessing the bread – there’s an “A-HA!” moment, & He’s gone.

This morning I resonate with these two guys – so focused on the difficulties, troubles, & disappointments in my up-close-&-personal world, that I miss the living, risen Christ right under my nose. I think that’s what happens when one walks with one’s head down, eyes on the ground. The obstacles & worries on the road become the focus, & its easy to get stuck in the potholes.

A song comes to mind, a reminder to lift my eyes up – its from one of the Songs of Ascent – something that the Jewish pilgrims returning to Jerusalem for feast & festivals would sing on the journey up the hills into the City of David.

I lift my eyes up/to the mountains/where does my help come from?
My help comes from You/maker of Heaven/creator of the Earth
Oh how I need You, LORD/You are my only hope/You are my only prayer
So I will wait for You/to come & rescue me/to come & give me life –
Psalm 121 – I Lift My Eyes Up – Brian Doerksen

Nobody owes me anything…

January 2006, I was in Los Angeles with theMoses & brother for a the National Foursquare Youth Leadership conference. One of the plenary speakers is my now District Supervisor, Ron Pinkston. Something he said that morning has stuck with me to this day, & I repeat it to myself daily.

Nobody owes me anything.

When he first said it, I smirked, & my internal response was, “That sounds good… &, even better, I don’t owe anybody anything…”

That thought was still on the tip of my brain (you know what I mean; it was still bouncing around, being pondered & whatnot,) when he said, “And don’t go thinking that you ‘I don’t owe anybody anything’ is the same thing as ‘Nobody owes me anything.’ Cause its not. I don’t owe anybody anything is selfish. It’s petty. It numbs us to our personal responsibility to love one another, actively. To do to others as you would have them do to you…”

I was floored.

You know the times when someone is talking & it seems like they are talking just to you? That the subject matter & the things that they’re saying specifically address you, where you’re living, right on the dot? This was like that. Except stronger.

My heart was in my throat & it raced 100 miles an hour.

I. Was. Convicted.


The rest of the speech is like a dream in my memory; I remember bits & pieces vividly, other details not so much. What I do know is that the whole time Ron talked, I was consumed in an inner-dialogue with the Holy Spirit.

It felt a lot like Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” (the George C. Scott version of course,) where the ghost of Christmas Past, Present, & Future view scenes from Ebenezer Scrooge’s life, & let him be an observer to himself & to the people in his life.

Unbeknownst to me (or at least successfully ignored by me for a time,) a virtual bastion of thoughts, strong beliefs, & feelings that I was OWED something by others had born ‘fruit’ in & through my life.

Anger. Resentment. Entitlement. Bitterness. Offense. Pessimism. Negativity. Biting sarcasm. An inability to enjoy people, relationships, & situations that SHOULD’ve been enjoyed.

Some fruit.

I saw:

  • A wife & family that OBVIOUSLY didn’t appreciate all that I did – from working hard to provide for them, working around the house, personally going without so that they could play a sport or purchase a ‘want.’ I was OWED at least a regular diet of “Thank you’s.”
  • Countless times where others, especially those closest to me, should have known what I was thinking, feeling, hoping for, only to let me down. I was OWED more consideration.
  • ‘Friends’ who hadn’t reached out, hadn’t called, hadn’t sought me out, hadn’t done ANYTHING, when it was OBVIOUS that I was hurting – I was OWED more attention from them.
  • Times where I found out that my friends had gotten together to do something fun, & that I wasn’t invited – I was OWED an invitation.
  • People that had left the church without a word, a note, or an email – people I had loved, cared for, wept with, & invested in – I was OWED more than silence.
  • Being overlooked for a series of special assignments within our church family – that I was BEST qualified for, & didn’t even get ASKED about. I was OWED more.
  • Disappointment at unmet hopes, dreams, & expectations, even feeling let down by some as though they should have been a part of making MY hopes, dreams, & expectations a reality. I was OWED that.

You get the picture.

A really bad part  of the ‘fruit’ of my entitlement was the collateral damage  it had caused to other people through my example, my frequent ‘sharing’ of my feelings (complaining? gossiping?,) thereby influencing them towards the ‘dark side’ of cynicism, negativity, & self-focusedness.

I saw that I’d given away, neglected really, the responsibility for myself. My feelings of peace, happiness, &  joy. My contentment.

People had to walk on eggshells around me, not knowing what to expect… Because the very worst part of feeling like I was OWED, was that I didn’t express my feelings or thoughts to the people I was feeling OWED BY.  In retrospect, it feels silly to me to look back; embarrassing even.


This last week I ‘tweeted’ that I’d be writing a blog on this topic – my friend Tim wrote me giving his take on it & I want to share it with you…

I just saw your twitter post. Wanted to chime in.

Nobody owes me anything. I started to try to intentionally live this way a few years back. There are many great results, but one of the most unexpected ones was this: I am more confident in my communication of who I am and more bold about what I would like.

It’s like this: As long as I felt like people did owe me stuff, I’d either:

1. Sit around and expect that they would know what they owed me and wait for it to come, or
2. Speak out the things I felt I was owed and have emotional turmoil about the potential response.

Now, I can freely talk about who I am and even the things I’d like to see without putting a visible or invisible expectation on anyone else to actually give it to me…

Nobody owes me anything” allows for a kind of detachment that allows me to fully express my heart, because I don’t believe my heart must be confirmed by anyone else. If it is, great. If it isn’t, it does not diminish who I am or the dreams I have.

Nicely put.

Bottom line, I know that what I have learned & am learning can be redeemed, & maybe someone, somewhere can learn from me & what I’ve gone through, instead of having to choose the ‘way of pain.’ That’s my hope.

Nobody. Owes. Me. Anything.

home for Christmas & other musings…

My Pasty Gangster will not be home for Christmas this year. It will be the 1st Christmas in 19 years without him… as he is headed to Cookeville, Tennessee to spend the holidays (& then some,) with his girl Alex & her family. For me, it isn’t hard to deal with him being gone; it’s just… different. I am very happy for him being able to have special time, & even happier that he gets to be with the one person in the whole world he’d want to be with.

What I’m pondering is the most visible acknowledgment of the very real transition that he is in… really, for me, this is much more of a transition than his high-school graduation ceremony was. He’s making many (most? All?) of his own choices. TheBean & I have & continue to trust our #1 son to Christ. Believing that as he makes his own choices, & lives his life, he will live in a manner honoring to Christ. It reminds me of when we dedicated him as a baby. And in retrospect, I see that we didn’t just have a fun ceremony, but instead we were making a lifelong declaration of faith, trust, & purpose: He is Yours, LORD. Now we’re getting to see him live it.

So, it’s new & its different. Most notably, theWeez is already missing her brother, the protector; as is iDoey missing the one that he’s consciously or unconsciously measured himself against.

In 20 minutes we’re heading to get “Christmas Picture 2010” taken – quite possibly the last Christmas picture of us with our nuclear family all living at home, all looking this way.

Sigh.


Pondering 1Timothy 4:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life & also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy & deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil & strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Training up in godliness – what’s does this mean? What’s it look like, lived out?

I’m confronted by areas where I’ve shied away from a ‘strict spiritual regimen’ – maybe because it seemed that the focus was on the ‘performing’ of the regimen or workout, & not on the desired results of the workout.

Hmm. I’m confronted & convicted… there’s a bad heart attitude lurking in there… in the name of not falling into a rut, or a stale routine, instead I fell into something worse: a hit & miss haphazardness.

There’s a picture in my head – me & my kettlebells. The focus & goal of the workout isn’t to be able to brag that I did 25 minutes & 7 different exercises – its to increase strength, flexibility, stamina, cardio, & overall physical condition; that’s only going to happen if I regularly exercise, & simply do the workout faithfully – whether anyone knows about it or notices.

Read. Study. Pray. Repeat.


Hard to believe theBean & I are celebrating our 22nd Christmas season together – when I look at her, I can’t believe that she isn’t 22. And I’m blown away that after 21.5 years of marriage, 3 kids, & living with me, she is even more beautiful than she was when we met.

And those legs. Oh goodness.

Thank You…

I was going through my notepads today, gathering all the notes for our next series we’re doing at church. Turns out I’ve written in 6 different notepads over the last month, intending each time, no doubt, to make THIS pad the one I’d use for the rest of my notations, thoughts, impressions, etc. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to keep myself confined to 1 notepad; its not like I don’t have one in the binder that I carry everywhere with me in my trusty & oh-so-masculine European Man Bag. Its just that inspiration strikes & life happens at the most interesting times.

In notepad #3, one that I’d had with me in Germany a couple weeks ago, I found a note that I’d written to myself to make sure that I’d remember something spoken to me by someone at the Foursquare Deutschland conference on November 8… unfortunately, I don’t have a clue who it was that spoke it, just a few lines jotted down in my ‘fast-scribble’:

There’s a picture – its you (Louie) & you have a backpack that is full of a bunch of resources. You’re surrounded by people, & you’re giving away everything you have to all the people; they’re taking it away, & you’re so happy – you’re beaming with joy at being able to give everything away.


And then you’re alone. Happy.


And then Jesus comes to you, gives you a robe, a special set of clothes, & you walk away with Him, close, to spend time together. God is sharing His heart with you in a new & close way.


Take joy in the little things, & you’ll have a new joy in the LORD. Look to the little things, & see joy – new & not obvious things. You will receive joy in he LORD, & He will sustain you.


I don’t know who said this to me, but I am so glad that I had a random notepad with me to write this down, this impression & this picture. I’m encouraged & don’t really know why. I do know that I want to say, “Thank you” to whoever shared this with me. And to give a shout out to ME for not throwing away notepads. Booyah!

20 years ago… an anniversary…

I woke up this morning a few minutes before my alarm… not surprising… except for the fact that the alarm was set for 4:50 so I could have enough time to get to to the church office to make coffee & read a little in advance of the guys showing up for Thursday morning prayer. The blurred numbers on the clock came into focus as I clumsily fixed my glasses onto my face… 4:34. It would be 4:34 today. Sigh.

My mind raced, mentally flipping through the calendar that exists in my head (isn’t there one in yours too?) finally coming to rest on today. Yesterday was June 16th, so that would make today… June 17. Hmm. It’s the 20th anniversary of the day my little brother, John Leavy Locke, went to be with Jesus early on a Sunday morning, Father’s Day, at 4:34 a.m.

I wrote a little bit about my brother not too long ago HERE. And as I sit here pondering the fact that its been 20 whole years since his death & ‘home-going,’ I take the time to revisit & rehearse the memories I hold most dear of my brother. They flicker through my brain like the rapidly turning pages of a picture book.

Folding newspapers together in the early morning as we prepared to go do our paper routes. Football. Soccer. Baseball. Hoops. What an athlete. He was the best of the 4 of us, by far. Rocking the mullet that shook Carson City on Day 1 of his tenure at Carson Middle School. I don’t know if it was the surf shorts, Jetson’s T-shirt, vintage Air Jordan’s or the infamous mullet that got him called to the office as a “distraction.” They hadn’t seen anyone like him before. His mix tapes. The rosy cheeks I see every time I look at thePasty Gangster. The smile. The temper. The baseball being thrown at me simply because I went in to wake him up. The grumpy comments because I was on the phone (again) too late with theBean. And a million others…


The picture at the left was his last school picture before he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And yes, he was wearing MY red bow tie, the same one I’d used to complete my Pee-Wee Herman outfit… It’s not like this day is a dark, morbid day that I dress up in black & mope around. Not at all. Rather, its a day of remembrance. Prayer for my parents & brothers. Thanking God that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. But a day where I still grieve. Laugh. Play his favorite songs on my mp3 player (he’d have loved the iPod & iTunes, & the ease at which mixes could be created. He was a Master mix-master.)


Father’s Day has been forever linked with Johnny since 6/17/1990. Can’t seem to think of one without the other; not that I want to think about death an inordinate amount, but hey, its inevitable, barring the preemptive Return of the King. Came across a great book about death, heaven, & processing the loss of loved ones called Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die. Great book, which I’d heartily recommend.

But I digress.


It’s a celebration, a day of remembrance. So join me:

Here’s to Johnny – & the profound influence he has had & continues to have on me & the man I hope to be.