Tuesday musings…

There’s been construction of some sort happening at work for so long I almost forget what it’s like to NOT have men (& women) at work, with things in a constant state of not quite finished. It’s a reminder that we can get used to just about anything through prolonged exposure. I guess that’s why its important to always invite “Outside Eyes” to look into our lives to point out the things that might be off, weird, or just need questioning.


Baseball is a metaphor for life. For so many reasons. Think about it: its possible to fail 70% of the time & still be considered an All-Star. You can knock the cover off the ball & make an out, or you can do THIS & drive in the winning run for your team in the bottom of the 9th. Go Giants.


The last few days I have been on a Sam Harfst kick – he’s a German musician/artist whose music I became acquainted with about 10 years ago when a dear friend gave me his Audiotagebuch CD. I’ve been a fan ever since… a lot of the music is in German, but he’s got quite a few songs in English… & I think one whole album. THIS is a video of one my favorites, “Das Leben ist schoen,” or “Life is beautiful.”  To me, what he does is a better version of Ed Sheeran – thoughtful, melodic, simple, & easy on the ears. Check his music out on Spotify. You’ll thank me later.


Its funny to me how God speaks to people in different ways… it seems a lot of the time, He inspires a thought or idea, one so simply placed that it seems to originate in one’s own heart/mind… & then what follows from acting on that initial thought is so obviously something He had a hand in orchestrating it makes me wonder how we could ever have thought the original idea had its genesis with us. Case in point: last week, our preschool team leaders, theBean & Steph, had a request from a couple of parents of existing students if we (the preschool our church runs) would be open to taking babies into the school when they delivered their kids at some point several months in the future. Now, we’re licensed for babies, but we haven’t done baby care for years because of the amount of work & labor they require. But, this time, with these requests, it seemed like a good idea. We could do 2 babies. And be open to the idea of more should there be anyone calling needing baby care. This was Thursday, May 19. As of yesterday, May 23, we have 5 babies on site, with 2 more coming soon. Not counting the original 2 we agreed to open the baby side of daycare for. Boom!


One of the things I underestimated about my boys getting married: the oceans of love that I feel for my daughters-in-law. What incredible gifts they are.


I saw pictures of my daughter, theWeez, in her wedding dress, all decked out with Swag & a veil… pictures taken during a fitting last week. It must have gone well, as the dress has now been squirreled away until its time… I could see hints of my little girl in those pictures. Mostly what I saw was a beautiful woman… with all the hopes & dreams of life & love in front of her. Makes me cry happy tears. Go figure.


Everybody has a story. A past. Many have unmentionable things they have endured, survived. And they’re somehow functioning, making their way through life with varying degrees of success. Reminds me to be a person who lives out & extends God’s grace to people, even when its tough. Because God gives His grace to me.


Read something yesterday from Jerry’s journal – his thoughtful take on what it meant, to him, to be a spiritual person. I thought his 7 points were spot on, & even better, they provide some concrete reference points in a world where its hip & cool to identify oneself as “spiritual, but not religious.” Check it out, & click the links for the verses he references:

7 ELEMENTS OF SPIRITUALITY – from Jerry Cook’s Journal

1. My awareness and acknowledgement of God’s presence (Heb. 13:5; Col. 1:23-27)
2. My ability to recognize and respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:25)
3. My ability to sense and respond to the needs of those close to me (James 2:14-17)
4. My ability to verbalize my faith (1 Pet. 3:15)
5. My ability to see and appreciate beauty (Psalm 19:1-4)
6. My ability to live a life of worship (Psalm 117:1-2)
7. My sense of destiny (Eph. 2:10)

Sure miss that man. Once he called me “A little piece of Jesus…” And each day, I do my best to live up to that… Jerry could really say, maybe better than anyone I’ve ever met, “Follow me, as I follow Christ…”

Still following…

Family dinner, IT’S A BOY!, & a journey to feeling…

One of my favorite things at this phase of life is getting together with my family – my kids, their spouses/fiance’ & families – for a meal. Being able to gather in one of our houses for a couple hours of good talks, laughter, fun, & of course food. This last Saturday we got together at Joey & Grace’s place for an early dinner – tacos. It was a little surreal for theBean & me as we brought drinks & let the rest of the family take care of the cooking. And goodness! Those Locke girls are really great cooks! I could get used to this.


Upon our arrival, we discovered that the girls had planned a surprise for us – not only were we going to eat great food… it was a gender-reveal party for Johnny & Joelle’s little 22-weeks-along-or-so biscuit… our grandbaby. They were really creative in how they set up the living room/kitchen… there was a white board where everyone not in the know could place their vote (Mister or Miss)… pink & blue balloons abounded… as did white-chocolate covered pink & blue popcorn… Nuts or No-Nuts M&M’s… lots of fun.

And then it was time to find out… a closed box full of chocolate strawberries was produced & Joelle teased the moment just long enough for my emotions to kick-in & my eyes to get misty… & then she popped the lid… IT’S A BOY! They’re having a boy. Which means grandson #3 for us. We couldn’t be happier.


Up until I was about 30 years old, I would have had a difficult time identifying the majority of emotions I felt. Mostly I cultivated a stoic, Spock-like (or Lt. Data, pre-emotion chip, for you TNG fans,) visage to cope with the overflowing cauldron of unidentified, powerful, & often incapacitating feelings swirling around somewhere near where I’d identify the location of my guts.

Sorting through faded memories I remember some of my early life’s painful things: being bullied… I was a pretty small kid who turned his L’s & R’s into W’s, which made me the target of a handful of boys (& one 5th grade girl) at ages 5 & 6. Being mocked for wearing Toughskins jeans sized “Husky” (which evidently got translated as “Fat” by my 3rd grade class). Being picked last for sports. Abuse at the hands of a relative. Being told in 6th grade I didn’t have a good voice for public speaking (I had had to do a speech for reading class & after I finished my ‘helpful’ teacher was evidently trying to point me away from a career path where I’d have to talk in public…) The list goes on.

I also remember GOOD memories. Positive things. Finding out I was going to be a big brother, 3x/over. Excelling in school. Making a real friend who would stand with me. Parents who worked long hours at multiple jobs to provide for our family. Falling in love with the Giants via my transistor radio & a headphone… knowing in the deepest part of me that I knew Jesus Christ, & even more importantly, He knew me too.

Through all of it, good & bad, joy & pain, I never really knew what to do with my feelings when they rose up, other than not being quick to get angry… (learned that from the Bible). So, I kinda just let them be, not realizing the impact that would have on my own life, but especially on my relationships with others. I kept people at a distance (physical & emotional). I rarely shared my real thoughts & feelings with others, & the few times I really risked, my over-correction/self-protection responses kicked in at the speed of a snapping resistance band that’d been stretched too far. This led to me being angry a lot of the time… or at least on the verge of being angry. Loved ones, esp. theBean, Pasty, iDoey, & theWeez, walked on egg-shells around me, never knowing what would make me ‘snap.’ And I never cried.


So what changed when I hit 30? I came home from work & heard my oldest son say, “Dad’s home!” This was accompanied by the sound of little feet scampering… AWAY from the front door. They all ran to hide. In their rooms. I was crushed… & asked theBean if I was really as bad as it seemed I was… & she bravely answered my pop-the-lid-off-the-can-of-worms question truthfully. And hearing her answers, watching her tears, & seeing her pain (& fear) hurt worse than just about anything I’d ever been through… I hated this, & felt powerless to do anything about it.

And then I felt a nudge. “Go see a counselor.” A guy I’d grown up with had just moved back into the area to open a counseling office… & his name was the one that I believe God popped into my head… so I called his office, & made an appointment. I saw him 12 times, (1x/week for 12 weeks). There were no real “A-ha” moments in those weeks, no ground-breaking, earth-shattering times when the angels sang, the heavens parted, & the lights shone down on me. But something definitely changed, or at least began to change. The counseling sessions, the questions asked, & the investment of money we really didn’t have to spare (still remember it was $120/session…) coupled with my drive for self-improvement & the insights of the Holy Spirit helped me identify WHAT I was feeling… another dear friend & mentor, Chuck, helped me through countless conversations & questions discover how to find out WHY I was feeling what I was. Through it all I was growing in what I’ve since discovered is called “Emotional Intelligence.” 


And then one day I was wrestling with a general feeling of “blah.” Like I was stuck in emotional quicksand, aware of the overwhelming-ness of being down in a hole with no real idea or ability to get out. I remember asking myself out loud, “WHAT is wrong with me?” And I got a response from the Holy Spirit… “You need to grieve the loss of your brother.”  I had no idea what that meant. I thought I’d done that when he’d died 11 years earlier.. How was I supposed to grieve him again?

So I talked myself through it, & verbally identified different feelings I had surrounding the memories of the discovery of Johnny’s cancer. The months of separation, distance, & treatment. Good news from the doctors only to be followed by news of a relapse. Nothing more to be done. The anger I felt at the nurse who asked him, “So, you want to die here in the hospital or at home…” His last weeks. Our last conversation. My heaven-directed, heart-rending desperate prayer in my parents driveway, asking for a hope-beyond-hope miracle. The phone call that came on Fathers’ Day, June 16, 1990 at the crack of dawn/doom. The empty spot in my heart. The funeral. The conversations with well-meaning friends who, not knowing what to say, said stupid things anyway. (NOTE:” If you don’t know what to say, limit your words. Sometimes your presence does more than any words you could say.” -Jerry Cook.)

And the tears started to flow. Like a summer rain, it started slow & then turned into a tempest. I was crying. Snotty-faced, out of control, can’t breathe, no sounds coming out/terrible anguish sounds coming out – Crying. The dam in my soul that had been there seemingly my whole life broke. And not just a little. It BLEW UP.  And I cried. About everything. Nothing. It felt like I spent the next year crying, & I didn’t know how to make it stop. Chuck wisely said, “Well, maybe you’re just catching up on all the years you DIDN’T cry.” And he smiled when he said it.


I don’t think any of my kids remember their dad who didn’t cry & who was pissed off most of the time. What they remember (& rehearse to the point that it’s an inside joke) is that I am a crier. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry at movies. When I listen to really great music. I cry when I’m proud of them, & I cry when they hurt. TheWeez said she didn’t want me to do her wedding because, after all, “You’ll just be a crying mess. You can sit in the front row & do that.”  She knows me :).


And so I go back to Saturday, to the gender-reveal party… I had already cried at finding out they were pregnant. And in that moment right before the pink box was opened to let us know IT’S A BOY!, I felt the flood of emotion overcome me. By this point in my life, I have gotten more comfortable with my feelings & emotions, & its not a foregone conclusion anymore that I’m going to be a weepy & melty mess when it happens. I can remember thinking, “K.I.T. Keep It Together.” And I only cried a little bit. A couple tears, rolling down the face in a most-meaningful way.

And we celebrated our soon-coming grandson. And a growing family. And I thought about the  journey of emotional discovery, growth, & freedom of the last 16 years… & I’m so thankful for a God who wouldn’t leave me bottled up & broken, but who answered my prayers with people to help me.

Opening Day, a book I read, & other musings on a Thursday…

I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated baseball’s Opening Day like I have this one… this one is special – because I get to say (& hear repeated over & over by announcers & play-by-play commentators) “the World Champion San Francisco Giants prepare to defend their World Series title…” Nice.

And today its against the Dodgers. Fitting.


Why, yes. I HAVE been blogging more. The reason? I’m in the middle of a project. A few friends & I are writing a devotion/response for every chapter in the book of Acts – started a couple weeks back in the middle (Acts 15,) & worked through Acts 28. Then, I’ll take the next couple of weeks to finish Acts 1-14. All of my thoughts for this project are showing up on this blog, so if you read it, you already have seen some of them.

What happens when we’re done? Good question. We shall see.


Finished Love Wins the other day. Interesting (in the German sense.)

Choosing words carefully… I’d say that this book presents a reinvented, reinterpreted, more ‘palatable to the masses’ christianity. Love, as an attribute of God, is elevated above & seen almost exclusive from all of His other attributes, & therefore provides the canvas for the reinvention. e.g. “Because God is a god of love, we can know that hell isn’t permanent or eternal, & that ultimately even the hardest hearted individual won’t be able to resist God’s love, & will be saved.” And it seems that any time there is a mention of God’s judgment or addressing the consequences of sin in the book, what is presented is a small, twisted caricature of a ‘little g’ god, not the God revealed in Scripture & in Christ.

After I finished the book, I read a couple of reviews from people that had actually read the book – here’s one that is pretty thorough & isn’t mean-spirited, antagonistic, or an ‘anti-Bell’ diatribe.

What we believe about God matters. The cross matters. And this isn’t one of those topics where we can just say, “I guess nobody really knows, & everybody has an opinion, & everyone’s opinion is just as valid as the next…” We have Scripture, & we have Jesus’ words on the subject of both heaven & hell. Simply because in our oh-so-enlightened 21st century the idea of hell is distasteful & repugnant to many doesn’t mean we can validly redefine & re-imagine it (& God. & Christ. & the Bible. & the cross,) to better fit our own, more ‘appropriate’ world-view. Sigh.


TheBean is down to one job – officially doing Starbucks & only Starbucks as of last Saturday, 3/26. To say I am a little excited would be an understatement. Saturday nights are now free.

Evidently, the Glowing Orb will be especially bright & warm the next couple of days. And then we get rain, clouds, & coolness on Saturday. I love Reno.

Sweetness. We get to go to Reed High tonight to tour it with theWeez. Tomorrow, she gets to spend the day there for a soon-to-be-a-Raider-freshman-orientation.

Yes. TheWeez is on the verge of High School.

Oh Goodness.


Coffee calls. Enjoy your Thursday.

Spring Training is here! Or Opening Day is just around the corner…

I love baseball. It’s a metaphor for life. Here’s a few reasons I think so…

    -There’s no real ‘clock’ governing the time that each game will take. It’s over when it’s over. And not one minute earlier.

    -Everything and every player in a game matters; there are no insignificant roles, and no inconsequential people.

    -The very best hitters still fail 70% of the time, even when they’ve given everything they know how to give.

    -Self-sacrifice (the sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, and moving the runner over by grounding behind him) is greatly appreciated and vastly undervalued.

    -When times are hard with your team, its imperative that a fan looks for bright spots, the silver lining of the clouds if you will, rather than focus on the negative. Because what you look for, you’ll find.

    -Enjoying an ice-cold beer and ballpark dog at the park with your girl is one of this life’s truest enjoyments.

Part of my baseball on the brain comes with the advent of Spring training & the exhibition games have begun in earnest. The season is just around the corner.

The start of the season makes me feel both nostalgia and hope – from all the years of Spring training that I’ve experienced, the memories of listening to games on my little transistor radio, the baseball biographies (& fiction) that I incessantly devoured, (the Jackie Robinson story is still a favorite), and the series of old movies that I inevitably found a way to watch at this time of year, like “It Happens Every Spring”, and “Angels in the Outfield” – the original, though my kids loved the Disney adaptation.


My team, the World Champion San Francisco Giants, (that never gets old) won the 2010 World Series – something that had never happened in my life time. SF won series – hope deferred; hoping beyond hope that this would be the year. 2010 it was. Makes this year’s spring training more fun.


Spring training brings hope; to me it’s new life and new opportunities – a veritable clean slate. I ponder what I want to be true of me… less insistence on needing to be heard, to be right. To want to listen better, to understand. To speak my mind, in truth and love… to function at a ground-level in relationships rather than leaving them layered in unexpressed deep thoughts & feelings. To value what is truly important. To love well. Full of grace. Quick to forgive. Hoping the best. Celebrating life & relationship.


On that note, me & theBean aim to be at more Aces games – a lot more. We’re partnering with friends on some season tickets… should be finding out in the next little while when the joy starts.

30 more days til Opening Day.

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.