Entering God’s rest…

In  the middle of life’s busyness & hectic pace, have you ever had the thought, “I wish I was on a quiet beach somewhere with no noise, no demands. Just the sun, a good book, & a loved one? THAT is where I’ll finally be able to get rest.”  I have… & I’ve been thinking more & more about what theBean & I going to do on our sabbatical when this quiet beach becomes our reality.

But I know me. It will do me no good at all to get away for 8 weeks, no matter how incredible the beach is or how isolated, quiet, & perfect the surroundings if I don’t REST. In my head… you know, find the relief, the mental & emotional tranquility that brings a refreshment to the depths of your soul. I know that the last thing I want to do is be laying on beach next to theBean, all the while going 100 miles an hour in my brain, preoccupied, distracted, worried, & stressed.

And so I’m trying to prepare myself, in advance… wrestling through Scriptures on Sabbath & rest, wrestling with God in thought & prayer, determining to find those “unforced rhythms of grace” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 11:28-30


 

One passage that I’ve been spending time in is Hebrews 3 & 4 – & I have really been digging into  Hebrews 4:1-13 & the specific wording about entering God’s rest & what it means. The authors of Hebrews talk about how Israel was unable to enter God’s rest (a.k.a. the Promised Land, the place promised to God’s people) due to their disobedience to His word & instructions. So, as I see it, there is a direct tie in between entering God’s rest & obedience – hearing God’s word, the Good News & receiving it (acting on it.) And there is a Sabbath rest promised to us…

…there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

For the word of God is living & active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul & of spirit, of joints & of marrow, & discerning the thoughts & intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked & exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.        

Hebrews 4:9-13 English Standard Version


As I’ve been pondering the question, “What do I have to do to enter God’s rest & to really experience the Sabbath rest this talks about?”, I keep coming back to verses 12 & 13 above. You know, the part about the power of the word of God – & its ability to cut through to the very core of our being, even weighing our thoughts, motives, & intents of our heart… & it makes me think that entering God’s rest (& finding true rest for my soul) is tied to time with Jesus… meditating on His words… allowing Scripture take root deep in my heart. Because it doesn’t seem to be about doing something – its about transformation of heart & mind… not striving… learning to BE & BE dependent on His word.

It reminds me of what Jesus said when He was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:

“Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

That’s my goal. That’s how I want to be becoming, more & more. And I’m gonna find rest.

Do I ever REALLY stop? & other musings…

Just looked at the calendar. Five Mondays from today, theBean & I will be on our first day of sabbatical. I’m trying to prepare for this time away, with the purpose of being as intentional as possible about what we’re doing. So, I’m revisiting some studies that I began about 10 years ago on the Sabbath & Sabbath rest. I’ll be blogging some of my thoughts, discoveries, wonderings, & questions here over the next several weeks…(If you’re interested, you can read more about WHY we’re taking a sabbatical HERE)


 

A couple of my favorite ways to study something in the Scriptures are to

  1. find the word in the original language, along with a working definition of the word;
  2. do a word-search & find the first place in the Bible the word is found…
  3. ‘popcorn’ around to other places the word is found, referenced, discussed, etc…

I looked up Sabbath & found the first time the word itself is used is in Exodus 16:23  & it shows up quite a few more times, most notably in Exodus 20:8 – the place in Scripture where God gives Moses the commandments (of the most famous “10 commandments,” the command to remember the Sabbath & keep it holy is #4. But I digress. Fun rabbit trail though.) The definition of Sabbath is “to stop; rest; come to rest; cease.” The more I dug, I discovered that though the word first showed up in Exodus, the first time the concept or practice of Sabbath appears in the Bible is in Genesis 2:1-3 as a part of the creation narrative. It says:

Heaven & Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By the seventh day God had finished His work. On the seventh day He rested from all His work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day, because on that day He rested from His work, all the creating God had done. The Message

Think about it. The final ‘act’ of creation was God creating Sabbath, Holy Time –This was so important that He built it into the fabric of creation by working six days, then on the seventh day, He STOPPED. And then He RESTED.


The more I roll this around in my head, the more I see how tied together the two are: you cannot rest until you stop. So I think about what it takes to stop, to REALLY stop. And I think about myself & my own life patterns & pace of life. I reflect on our cultural norms, behaviors & attitudes that are normal, at least until they are held up to the mirror of God’s Word. And I ask myself, “Do you ever really stop? Do WE?”


We live in a 24/7 city – in a country that celebrates busyness, activity, & multi-tasking. We rarely think about let alone embrace the fact that we have limits – on our time, our physical/mental/emotional capacity, & on what we can do & do well. We often push ourselves & our schedules to the limit, cramming as much activity into our days & weeks as possible. We usually don’t get enough sleep & survive/re-engage with life because of coffee/energy drinks. (An interesting fact – in 2006 when I began my studies on Sabbath, I researched the caffeine, how much was consumed in the US, & how much money was spent on it. Here’s what I found: In 2006, more than $12 Billion was spent on coffee, & another $1.1 Billion was spent on energy drinks, most of which were consumed by people in the 18-25 year old range. Fast forward to 2014 – close to $40 Billion was spent on coffee last year & a staggering $13.5 Billion was spent on energy drinks, a figure which is estimated to rise to at last $21.5 Billion by the year 2017. And the reason more than 60% said they drank coffee/energy drinks? In essence it was, “I need it to get going & keep going. Can’t do what I do without it.”)

When we have time off, we use it to get everything done that we couldn’t finish during the work week, &/or we pack our free time with all sorts of activities. Technology doesn’t help us out here – the modern conveniences of ‘staying connected’ through our smart-phones, computers, omni-present wifi, mp3 players keeps a constant barrage of stimulation & noise bouncing around our brains.

No wonder silence seems strange.


 

Do I ever REALLY stop? When was the last time I took a day, set apart as Holy Time, & didn’t work… didn’t get preoccupied/distracted with something… just intentionally set myself up to BE?

The defense mechanisms kick in quickly. Countless reasons for WHY I do what I do, & WHY taking much time (let alone a day) is just about impossible with all the things that fill my busy schedule come to mind.

And then I think about what I read last week from Matthew 11:25-30, especially the part about finding God’s rhythms of grace for life… & I contrast that to the driven, life-sucking pace & practices that lurk around me… And I want that rhythm, God’s rhythm for me. And so I invite Him in to the mess of me… & I trust He will FINISH what He starts.

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.

Day 7 & 8 – Deutschland 2010 – Rest, Talks, & Study

Day 7, #2 –
Martin & Sandra came & picked me up around 8:30 p.m. to take me to one of Sandra’s favorite hangouts from her university days. It’s a wine & cheese bar around the corner from the U of Frankfurt, & it’s located in a cozy cellar lit mostly by candles. My kind of place.

We sat at a communal table, meaning there were other people seated at the same table as us, having their own little ‘date’ & going about their own evening. This is a pretty common practice (sharing the space) here, though it wouldn’t fly at home. I mean really, sharing a table with a stranger? Who does that? :) One might even make a new friend.

Had a chance to catch up with Martin & Sandra over a Spanish Navarra red wine; it reminded me of a great zinfandel. Martin ordered us pretzels (yes!) & a vorspeise (appetizer) plate that came with hummus, bread, sun-dried tomatoes, some white beans (don’t know what they were but they tasted good,) black & green olives, parmesan cheeze, & some salami. Ahh.

Interesting talks about our kids – their oldest daughter, (2nd grade) is facing some pretty tough stuff right now & has a classmate who is seemingly well-versed & connected in the occult; her mom is a practitioner of the dark arts. Sandra & Martin were trying to figure out what they could do to address the situation; they can’t just forbid their daughter from seeing the classmate because they can’t move her out of that class. So, we talked about praying for our kids &  “blessing & cursing” – speaking life, God’s protection, & physical/spiritual covering over their daughter; basically taking a firm stand in the spiritual world.

The night was over way too quickly, & they dropped me off around 11, just in time for me to crawl under the covers & go to sleep.


DAY 8 –

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the shutters on a German home; I mean the kind that you lower at night for protection, heat retention, & ‘blacking out’ the room. Well, I must have lowered the shutters all the way, because I slept until 10:30 this morning – there were no tell-tale rays of sun coming in to alert me that the day had arrived. Must have been tired as well. I do know that I dreamed quite a bit.  :)

Had my morning coffee, then prepared for my only appointment of the day, a visit to Koriander (the Italian restaurant that has a killer pepperoni/pineapple pizza) with Tobias. We had a great time getting to know each other better over lunch. A large part of our conversation deal with the Sabbath (he went to the seminar last Saturday.)

He also had a lot of questions about Foursquare – I’m finding that many pastors & leaders in the Foursquare Deutschland churches are looking for a global perspective, insight if you will, on the movement that they’re apart of. Each person that has asked me questions about the Foursquare family has stated that they’re incredibly thankful to be a part of something bigger than just them & their church. They want to hear the “family stories.” It reminds me a lot of my daughter, theWeez, asking my mom to tell her stories about her own life growing up, & about the family & how it came to be like it is. These questions, (& the stories that follow,) give a piece of solidity & groundedness to us, & build a bit of confidence about our ‘world’ & our place in it. If that makes sense. It does to me. :)

I’ve walked Leipziger Strasse at least 100 times in my life – never have I seen what I saw today: Jacque’s Wine Shop. I stumbled into it & found a collection of wines from all over the world… except the USA. I’d been planning on going by the Aldi or the Penny Markt, to buy wine for Julia’s family for when I see them on Saturday, but Jacque’s provided a better alternative with a great selection. The pictures don’t do the store justice, but I think I was making the proprietor nervous. I know one of the other customers just about lost it when I pulled my phone out to take pictures. He gave me the Look of Doom, & shook his head at me just like my old German teacher Frau Carson used to do in order to show her displeasure at my inability to put the verb in the right place in the sentence. Ah, dear Frau Carson, I do miss thee.

Ended up getting a Spanish Tempranillo/Crianza for Eddy & Laura, & an Italian Primitivo for the family Kern. I could have spent a couple of hours (& a couple hundred euro) in Jacque’s but alas, I needed to get home so that I could study for my speeching on Saturday & Sunday.


Spent the afternoon/early evening going over my notes for “Foursquare Friends Day” – a multi-church celebration in Engstingen where I get to share ‘my heart’ – meaning what I believe is important & close to God’s heart. I’ll be talking at least 2 times (about 45 minutes a shot): the first will be about the Monday Morning Church; the second is about living the Spirit-filled life… which is HOW we live as the Monday Morning Church in the 1st place.

Sunday, I’ll be in Ottersweier (where Julia lives) & talking from John 13:34,35 about living a simple life. And Julia gets to translate for me. That will be some good fun. :)


The time flew by, & I ended up studying for several hours… it got dark & the rains came again. But by the time I finished my studies, I needed to get out & walk – so I did, rain & all. The rain & cold have left my right knee achy,  especially where the screw from my ACL repair goes into the bone.

Goodness.

Getting out & walking helps a bit & keeps most of the stiffness away. I had hoped for some running, but I’m not nearly hard-core enough to run in the dark, rain, & cold. :)

Day 3 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Revolution of the Soul

I woke up early today, mostly due to the 24-hour road construction that began around 11 p.m. last night. The City of Frankfurt U-Bahn/rail system is taking out the pavers that surround the rails in certain parts of the city, & replacing it with asphalt. The “perfect storm” has happened & the next few days have the section of street in front of the Dueck’s home getting asphalt-ed. Fortunately I made it to about 5 a.m. before the backhoe in the street woke me up by dumping pavers into the metal dumpster 10 meters from me. I have to believe that the LORD gives sweet sleep to those He loves.:)

Had coffee & prayer with Eddy, then we headed over to the rooms that TPLF had rented for the “Revolution of the Soul” seminar – it was truly a great space in a phenomenal building. It reminded me a lot of the building in  “The Office” episode where Michael falls into a koi pond. Because it had a KOI POND Booyah. Major excitement from This Guy.

The seminar went well – I told my own story of God’s dealing with me about the Sabbath. Talked about being thankful & content. The affect of adrenaline & stress on the body, & the built in need for rest we have. The talk about adrenaline & stress probably got the most response – it seemed that many had never really heard how our bodies work – that when we have a ‘high demand’ time where we produce a lot of adrenaline to meet the demand, it’s followed by a ‘low time’, which is our bodies natural resting & restoring property – though during the rest & restoring time we usually feel “blah.” Irritated. Down. Like something is ‘off’. And all it is is the ‘normal’ process that our body uses to heal itself. It just feels so different from the ‘on,’ adrenalized, up version of us that it feels something is wrong.

With Christians it can be worse, because in the down times, we think something is wrong with us, & that we’re doing something wrong. So we try harder to ‘get right’. Pray more. Read more. Do more. Thinking that it will cause our ‘low’ to turn around.

One lady shared with tears in her eyes that for the first time she realized something WASN’T wrong with her when she experienced her post-adrenaline lull. That it was just her body recovering.


I had a lot of fun today, in part because the majority of people there were from TPLF &/or were people I’ve known for many years. It was very gratifying to be able to share with others  something that God has used so powerfully to work inside of me. Also, dear Julia! who lived with us for almost 6 months, drove for 2 hours from her home to be there. I love that girl. What a special treat!


At the end of a long day with way too much of me talking, I am spent. Looking back, I would do things a lot different today, most notably have more opportunities for people to interact amongst themselves. Still, it went very, very good. Eddy was on his way to a kindergarten party, so he dropped me off at the house. I Skyped the beautiful Bean, (I miss that woman!) & then made my way down the street to the corner Pizza Parlor for a pepperoni & pineapple pizza with a dunkleweizen. Ahhh. Life is beautiful.

Tomorrow is church with our TPLF family. I can’t wait.

Day 2 – Deutschland Fall 2010

Today was Eddy’s day off, which perfectly coincided with my day too. I woke up at 7:15 to the sound of the Brandenburg Concertos, my preferred alarm. (It’s hard to be grumpy hearing the sound of Bach, even in the morning when one’s body is telling you that its really 11:15 p.m. & you should be GOING to bed, not getting up. But I digress.)

Laura made pancakes, Eddy-style, meaning they were filled with almonds, apple, & coconut. I ate to my hearts’ content, using syrup, Nutella, & apple marmalade as toppings for different rounds of pancake-ery. Good times. The coffee was excellent as well.

Beings as it was the day off & the two oldest kids were at school, it seemed like a good idea to take a nap. So I laid down on the couch with a favorite book, (Heschel’s The Sabbath,) & read/napped for about an hour. I think. :)

Woke up in time for lunch, which was raviolis. Eddy & family headed off to a birthday party & I set myself for an afternoon of solitude. Which is my favorite. Read & dozed for a bit, then decided to head towards the city, through Bockenheim, which is where the church is located. Walked past the White Tower, which is located near the university. It used to be a watch tower, a line of defense for the city of Frankfurt.

Made my way past the familar cafe’s & university dorm-style apartments towards the city center. It was quite a ways away… further than I’d remembered, which is funny, because I usually take the U-bahn downtown. And now I remember why.

This is the “Hammering Man” – he symbolizes the 24/7 work ethic represented within the city of Frankfurt.

He’s about 45 feet tall – makes me think about the Sabbath & the need for rest. (Probably because this is where God first ‘convicted’ me about my own work-a-holism…) To me, Hammer Man stands for the worst parts of humanity,  Western Civilization & how we so easily work ourselves to an early grave, valuing each other only based on what we make or produce. I know its just a sculpture, but it stands out in my mind as a symbol of what God has rescued me from.

It also makes me think about tomorrow – I’m giving a presentation called, “A Revolution of the Soul” on the topic of living life in all its fullness; talking about rest, life rhythm, & the Sabbath. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. :) Truly, God’s work in my life in this particular area has been one of the most impactful things that has ever happened to me, & the thought that I get to share what He’s done in me, & what I’ve been taught & what I’ve learned brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I get weepy. It happens.

Came home from my walk just in time for pizza & movie night with Eddy, Laura & the boys. Then to bed early so I can get good rest & be ready for the day tomorrow.

Blessings to you!

pride rears her ugly head, taking stock of life, & other musings…

I know that I just personified pride as a ‘her…’ not really sure why, other than when I was typing the title, it just seemed so wrong to write “pride rears its ugly head…”

Mostly because my confrontations with pride seem to take on an almost other-person-ly interaction… as though my wrestlings with pride aren’t internal, but rather external, taking place in conversations with self that contain an element of shock; the same type of shock at turning the light on in the garage when you’re taking the garbage out, only to discover a rat. Not a little mousey-mouse, but a big rat. There’s a “WHOA!” element to that discovery, & something more than distasteful. Repulsive even.

That’s how I feel about discovering bastions of pride lurking within. I found her this time when I did something I haven’t done in many a moon: I slept through an appointment.

I take pride in being on time. I take pride in remembering people’s faces, names, & phone numbers. I take pride in being able to remember & keep track of my schedule, both in my head & on my iPhone. I take pride in being prepared for multiple scenarios in which I’d need an alternate route & directions to get where I’m going. I take pride in other people knowing I can do all these things, & like it when they talk about my preparedness, my memory, & my punctuality.

Hmm. Seems like I take pride a lot.


I hadn’t been feeling very good, most likely due to keeping an overloaded, breakneck-paced schedule for three weeks prior… so I thought I’d take lay down for a short early morning nap (which would fall conveniently after my even earlier morning devotion.) Which would leave me plenty of time to rest, then get to my 9:45 appointment. Except for one thing. I slept until 11.

I awoke in a stupor, which is a warning sign for me that the candle has been burned at both ends for too long… I looked at the clock… & couldn’t believe it. I had missed the appointment. Totally slept through it.

The self-flagellations began. Pride had been dealt a blow by my frailty, by weakness brought on by attempting to be superhuman. Ignoring my limits, ‘just this once.’

The worst part wasn’t so much that I had missed the appointment; it was how wounded & deflated my pride was. And how long it took me to get past it. (NOTE: the person who I had the appointment with was more than gracious, forgiving, & compassionate.)


So, being the melodramatic over-reactor that I am at times prone to be, I decided to take a complete inventory of my life. To measure, evaluate, & scrutinize my life, my calendar, etc.

And also to repent. For getting caught up in the greatness of me. For subtly & quietly feeding my pride, letting her grow, nourishing & encouraging her development. Asked the Holy Spirit to check me out, search me for areas where pride & other infestations of destructive self-absorption may be lurking. Silly me.

I feel better today.


Over the last few months, I’ve been doing my devotions & Journaling (the SOAP plan if you’re interested.) Usually I do the journaling on my lappy, but lately I’ve gone retro, & am using my old-fashioned pen & paper… a real leather-bound journal even. I love the feeling of the pen in my hand, & the tactile sensation & smell of the leather/paper combo.

Except today I couldn’t find My Pens. They’re mine because I purchased them special, just for me. I had placed them in My Spots (on my desk at work, by my sofa, & at theGiant Scofield table, so no matter where I am, I have a pen,) but there was no pen to be found.

No. Pen.

Pen thieves.


Playoff baseball, & this year I’m watching intently because My Giants are involved. My history with the San Francisco Giants has oft been one of great disappointment & frustration. The teams from the 70s & 80s were largely also-rans, though my heart didn’t care. I loved (& love) the Giants. The lineups from years back still fill my brain, remnants of radio broadcasts listened to on my very own transistor radio & the imaginary action I reconstructed as I hung on every word from Lon Simmons, Hank Greenwald, & the others…

I know its only the 1st round of the playoffs, & that the mighty Phillies are waiting for the winner of this Giants/Braves series… but my team is in it. So, hoping beyond hope, I watch the games intently, often through clenched eyelids, thinking that maybe, this will be the year.

It could happen.

a series heavy sighs, or wondering how many times I dance this dance?

Oops. I did it again. Over-scheduled my life, with the best of intentions, & a complete disregard for the fact that:

  • a) I’m human;
    b) I’m married & have three kids, each with their own complex layered schedules;
    c) Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on you
    d) sitting in meetings for hours on end counts as a double no-no

  • And so I find myself to be spent; physically, emotionally, & relationally. Spent. Done. Finis. In need of a ‘hit the alarm 2x in the morning,’ followed by a 2 p.m. nap. And to bed early.

    I’m not scratching my head, wondering, “What happened?” I know exactly. I went to Sacramento the week of 9/13 for our fall pastors conference. Great conference. Fun with friends. Challenging speakers. Meaningful interactions. Late nights & early mornings. Came home, hitting the ground running to catch something that could not be caught: Monday & Tuesday – they were long gone.

    Jerry came in Friday, & I spent the weekend trying to spend as much time hanging out, talking with him as I could. And Friday/Saturday, I managed to shoehorn in a wedding rehearsal & wedding, a gathering & hang out on Saturday morning with Jerry & some friends, another gathering Saturday evening, & a full Sunday. Which was my birthday.

    Ended the day with packing… cause I had to catch the first flight out on 9/20 to Burbank for special meetings… in which I sat on a ballroom chair for a total of (drum roll please…) 21 hours over the course of Monday – Wednesday morning. Rushed home for round 3 of a special Marriage Enrichment series (which I’m loving, btw,) & staggered to bed.


    We’re hosting friends, a family of 4 Germans from Mainz, Germany through Friday 10/1. NOTE: this is not a bad thing to have & to host friends. But it does take it out of you.

    Did a Quincenera Saturday – absolutely wonderful time. Church on Sunday. Home & slept for 3 hours in the afternoon. Oh goodness.

    Still trying to catch up. Heavy sigh.


    Throughout the madness, theBean mentioned to me once or 30 times that this pace wasn’t ok. That my sabbath day of rest & recharging wasn’t getting the priority & attention needed. That the schedule I was keeping was… wrong. Too costly. Heavy sigh.


    At some point I gave at least mental assent to what she was saying, then hurriedly justified the 2 week sprint as “fun” or “mostly fun.” She wasn’t buying it. I’m not either.


    Today I spent time in repentance, embracing a change of mind, asking God’s forgiveness for the pace I’ve been functioning at. I know better, but it happened anyway. And I’m paying the price. A small part of me is questioning my ‘toughness,” as though if I were just BIGGER-FASTER-STRONGER this wouldn’t have happened, & I SHOULD’ve been able to make it through this, kicking the calendar & schedule’s proverbial butts, taking their proverbial names. Heavy sigh.


    Then I realize this small part of ‘me,’ isn’t me after all… its the enemy of my soul. The one who wants to steal, kill, & destroy. To poison & drain the very “life in all of its fullness” Christ came to bring & give. Hmm. Duly noted. Heavy sigh.

    On that note, I look at my calendar & see I have 34 days until I’m off to Frankfurt – November 3 -16. And the schedule there is full-ish, but I have some downtime intentionally included in the travel schedule. Praying for wisdom. Aiming for balance. Staying on rhythm. Heavy sigh.


    I might fall down, but I’ll get back up.

    Got a note from another ‘scoey’ the other day (2 weeks ago now… at the beginning of the madness.) He had the same nickname as me – who’da thunk it possible? And lots of similarities in the happenings in our lives. I wrote him back, but it seems that the earthlink spam filter may have been bouncing me back. So scoeyB, if you’re reading this, thank you for writing. And I’d love a penpal. :)


    Pasty is dominating his college schedule, passing all tests with flying colors. And getting A’s, which is better than colors. His girlfriend from Tennessee is coming to visit in just about a week. We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it.

    There I times I have to literally refuse to get offended… to not be antagonized by someone else’s (real or perceived) actions, words, slights, condescensions, etc. My anger & indignation rises up… & I realize that at that very moment, I’m thinking an awful lot about me. ME. And goodness, am I of primary importance? Oh yes. Heavy sigh.

    Last night, I was playing with EllieG, my niece… we were wrestling around on the ground (which means I lay on my belly with my face in the carpet & she & her little sis the ZoeHawk use me as a jungle gym. Good times.) EllieG stopped climbing for a second & touched my head, smack dab on the big bald spot. She did it again, harder. Then she asked, “Tay, what HAPPENED to your hair?”

    “Ellie,” I replied, “it fell out. Sometimes when a man gets older, his hair falls out. And I’m getting older…”

    She pondered this for a second & said in the sweetest voice, “Oh. I’m SOOO sorry Tay. But I still like you.”

    Heavy sigh.

    the good news is…

    …this work week is only 3 days long, due to the impending Thanksgiving holiday. The bad news is… there’s still just as much to be done as is in a normal work week, but with 2 days less in which to accomplish it.

    So the only sane & right thing to do is… to downsize the work load for the week. In a marked departure from what I would have done just a few short years ago, I will intentionally do less, & aim to ‘walk life’ at a leisurely pace.

    Rather than try to pull off 3 marathon days in which everything I can think of doing is crammed into a 30 hour span, I will do what I can… prioritize & finish the “Have to’s;” delegate what can be delegated. Put off til next week the stuff that can wait.

    Then, I can enjoy the time off, be thankful for what God has provided for me, & truly BE present, emotionally, physically, & mentally for the food, football, family, & friends.

    And that is something that I can be truly thankful for.

    a few things…

    Had coffee & good talks with Shontell’s brother, Kristopher yesterday… we coffeed locally, at a place owned by a guy named Jim, not one of them coffee chains. We got to hang for a couple of hours, & the only interruptions we had were from Jim pouring beans into the roaster right behind us… throughout our entire coffee-ing. Made me think of the Age’s job in Minden as KOTR (King of the Roaster‘s) for the Siren Coffee Chain…


    Over the last couple of days, we’ve seen some interesting things…

    Driving from Blacksburg home to Christiansburg, we saw a motorcycle pulling something. I was intrigued, so I pulled up to find that it was a hollowed out log, like a log from a theme-park log ride, with a dog in the back of the log. A dog wearing aviators glasses. A dog named “Ruby.”

    Now, it’s not that I’m a dog lover, or that I thought that the scenario of the guy pulling his dog was especially cute, or that my mother-in-law’s name is Ruby…


    On the same drive, we saw Bo & Luke Duke, as well as the General Lee, sitting outside of Cooter’s Garage. ’nuff said.

    Went to the Salem Avalanche game last night – the “Salem Men’s Choral Group” – old guys in their 80s & 90s, in tuxes – sang the National Anthem, which was cool. The best part was that they walked (& walk-ered) onto the field to GNR’s “Welcome to the Jungle…” Truly.

    I’m thankful for our daily discussions with Chuck – every day, I’ve/we’ve spent at least 90 minutes in conversation – & have received a lot of input. Things that stand out to me so far as I process internally & in this virtual arena…
  • Making sure that I know, recognize, & live within my limits (& rhythms) in the areas of time, relationships, energy output & investment (among others) is a key for me…
  • Being able to lead oneself is imperative for personal & relational growth… Knowing what to say “Yes” & “No” to. Not living by my whims, taking on a victim’s mentality, blaming others for my issues, choices, etc. “Leading oneself” might also be called self-control, self-discipline, self-governing, self-boundaries… & it’s not a rigid, militaristic way of life, but is a “fruit of the Spirit” way of life.
  • Feeding my soul is necessary for life in its fullness.
  • Feeding the soul of my relationship with theBean is necessary for that relationship to thrive.
  • The kind of relationships I want require that 2 people are both feeding into them; are taking responsibility for their own selves; not looking for the other to fulfill or complete me… Not being taken advantage of. Not being used as a ‘means to an end.’
  • If I don’t stop & grieve, I can’t grow. This means grieving where I’ve experienced loss: death, of friendships, unfulfilled dreams, hurts, disappointments, friends moving, etc. My observation is that we (Americans) & we (the American Church) don’t grieve much. Or well.
  • Jesus is more concerned with me, the person, & in the process I’m in, & how I “play with others around me”, than in anything I could ever do, any role I ever fulfill, any output or accomplishment that comes from my life.
  • There are things that I would still be doing/living even if I didn’t have the job I have; remembering that, & trying to stay congruent by ‘doing/living’ those things now, is something I’m pondering.

    I have a couple of travel uniforms – meaning, I wear the same pants & shirt… funny, but comforting. My ‘new’ jeans. White T. Sweet black support socks (to keep the blood flowing instead of pooling in my feet.) Blue polo. Comfy black slip ons. My 1 belt. Yeah. It’s all laid out, right now, ready to go. Only 24 hours & I’ll be on a jet plane with my girlfriend, coming back to my family. And the life that I love. And am thankful for. Sigh.

    Thank you.