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.

A door for a hobbit hole, navigating the plague, & other musings as Christmas approaches…

My Hobbit DoorSpent the last several “Sunday Family Movie Nights” watching the LOTR (Lord of the Rings for the uninitiated,) & during the “Fellowship of the Ring,” I was hit by an epiphany: the hill directly across the street from my front door needs a “Hobbit Door.” Granted, in a perfect world, I would create an entire hobbit lair, but I can’t do that, for a plethora of reasons. A door, however, would most likely be a pretty easy install, & though it would go NOWHERE, you could imagine.

I mentioned it to theBean, & she wasn’t a fan. For some reason.

And then a backhoe showed up in front of my house. Obviously, I took this as a sign that God wanted me to have the Backhoe Guy dig a hole in the hill, & have a few handy friends come over to shore up the hill & ‘install’ a hobbit door. I could see the unveiling over next couple of months, complete with grass, flowers, a hobbit mailbox, & other accessories that I know that the neighbors (& of course city officials) would be very appreciative of.

As I was dreaming of all the upcoming construction, & mentally thanking the LORD for His providence at sending Backhoe Guy to my front porch, Backhoe Guy drove the backhoe up the hill to work on an install of some drainage pipe.

Noooo. Come back, says me.

It could still happen. I’m dreaming.

I have spent the last 10 days recovering from the flu – it was by far the ‘worst’ sickness I’ve endured in the last 20 years, as if there could be a ‘good’ sickness to have. The most troubling part of this sickness involved a renegade lymph node that swelled to the size of Kentucky. It was round, hard as a rock, & oh-so-conspicuous on the underside of my jaw, strategically placed on the left side. It was huge. TheWeez kindly said I resembled the dad from “Family Guy.” Though it has diminished in size due to prayer, antibiotics, & anti-inflammatories, I shall remember this little bundle of joy for all time.

As of Sunday, I am officially done with my first year (of two) of school in the pursuit of my Master’s degree. The year I’ve just completed is marked by a 4-week break from any real school activities. And there is great rejoicing!

Just about every day, in addition to my ‘regular’ Bible reading, I read the Psalms. My ‘way’ of reading them is to take whatever the date is today (the 20th,) & read Psalm 20, then add 30 & read Psalm 50, 80, 110, & 140. By doing this, I will have read through all 150 of the Psalms in a month.

A few weeks ago, I was given the Kathleen Norris book “The Cloister Walk” – I’d encourage you to check it out – & though it wasn’t something she recommended in the book, I felt compelled to return to reading my Psalms like I normally do, except OUT LOUD. One of the things I immediately noticed is the significant shift that happens when I have to slow down in order to speak each word, each phrase the psalmist has written. I find that I’m hanging on the words more, as though they are not just the words I’m reading, but are part of a prayer I’m praying, joining in with the church that has been praying these same psalms for thousands of years.

I am comforted by the humanity of the words, the acknowledgement of the suffering, need, and pain of the human condition, especially with how all of that is submitted to the glory & greatness of God. No whining. No complaining. No “woe is me” stands up to the fact that He is with me. He gives me peace, life, power, freedom, encouragement, and strength. And as I read, I sense the bedrock surety that is built in a life that depends on God & His Word.

Life is good. God is better.

I’m looking forward to 2012…

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.


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.