What’s in a NAME? A couple more ThoughtFormative books (pt.2), & other musings…

12 years ago, theBean had a dream – to start a preschool in our church. With the help of a dear friend & a lot of hard work (& through too many twists, turns, & versions to mention,) it is thriving & is functioning far beyond anything I could ever have imagined. She (& her team) rock. About 2 weeks ago, most/all of the Kindergarten-age kids transitioned out of the preschool & into “the Real World;” at the same time, the school has had an influx of kids (babies through age 5) that has not only kept our enrollment up where it was at the end of the last school year, there are actually more kids currently attending than at any other time in our school’s history. Very cool to see.

What’s also cool is that, through the school, we get to reach people from all over the world, right here in our town. Currently,(in addition to the U.S.) we have kids from:

  • China
  • Russia
  • Mexico
  • Syria
  • Nigeria

It stands to reason, we’d have our share of interesting names… & we do…  In that vein, I’ve noticed a baby name-trendSee if you can pick up the pattern – we have:

  • Jackson
  • Jaxon
  • Jaxson
  • Jaxzyn (also pronounced JACK-son)
  • Axton
  • Paxton
  • Daxon
  • (STACK-son)

True story. (Mom of Staqxson said she had invented the name. I believe her.) No judgement from me. It does make me wonder, however, what do people consider, what do they think about, what is the process for picking a name for their baby? In Bible days, kids were given names specifically because of what they meant, because of the significance. Take for instance the name –John it means, “the grace/mercy of the Lord” & “God’s gracious gift.”  I can totally get that (named my own kid that. Makes sense in the case of Zechariah & Elizabeth too. And in the instance of Hosea’s kid, the name given served as an object lesson from God to His people – the boy was named Lo Ammi” which means, “not My people,”  (Sorry kid. God told me to call you this. Nothing personal.) People could end up naming their kid after a favorite movie character like Edward. Jacob. Bella. The Twilight Saga.)  or after a favorite TV channel, like ESPN, (there are estimated to be 93 kids named ESPN in the US.) Made me giggle a little bit to see that there is even a web page dedicated to the topic, “How To Pick A Baby Name” which includes helpful insights like “5 Pitfalls to avoid when choosing a name.”

For me & theBean: we wanted all of our kids names to mean something significant to us & them. We named all of the kids after loved ones. We (mostly I,) also used a couple of tests to screen names. They were:

  • The SCREAM IT FROM THE BACK PORCH test – (patent pending). It’s pretty self-explanatory. You yell the full name, out loud, outside & then listen to what you said. Many things in life can be avoided by simply Saying Them Out Loud before you do it. Think on that.
  • The KINDERGARTEN FRUSTRATION test – I figured when my kids were in Kindergarten, they probably had enough issues to deal with other than trying to spell out a long, unusual, elaborate name (esp. if it was something many adults couldn’t spell.) We avoided this with my daughter because she went by Weezer, Weezie, or theWeez for the 1st 12 or so years of her life.

Anyway – should be an interesting school year.


ThoughtFormative Book List, pt. 2 (pt. 1 can be found HERE.) 

  • The Monday Morning Church: Out of the Sanctuary, & Into the Streets – Jerry Cook – in a nutshell, this book explores what it could look like if every person who follows Christ would pray, think about, & then act as if they were doing what Jesus would be doing, if He were walking in their shoes, in their world. Because, in essence, that is EXACTLY what our mission is. And we are all little pieces of JesusEphesians,, & we all know how much the people of our world need that. It’s also a study through the letter to the & it is a (30 years later) sequel to Love, Acceptance, & Forgiveness.
  • A Long Obedience In the Same Direction – Eugene Peterson – this ThoughtFormative gem is a breath of fresh air & a slice of real-life Christianity on the topic of discipleship – the process of becoming like Christ. Life w/Christ is NOT all emotional, “on-fire,” mountain-top experiences where it seems God is SO close, all the time. Many times, it feels like God gives us an encouragement, a direction to head in, & then… nothing (real or perceived.) It details the need for perseverancea never give up, never surrender , a stick-to-itiveness, life outlook (ala, Isaiah 50:7). The clincher for me is the quote Peterson used for the name of the book: The essential thing in heaven & earth is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction, there thereby results, & has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil. 

Enough for today. Look for opportunities today to BE & DO what Jesus would be BEING & DOING in your shoes. Because He is. And you’re it. #BeTheGood

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.

Sanctuary Guy & other musings…

One of my favorite things about my job is getting to know the kids that attend our preschool, Little Lites, during the week. I love going into their classes during lunch time & talking with them – & hearing how their days are going & what they’re thinking about. Because my now-grandson is in the preschool, most of the kids have taken to calling me what he does – “Pop-Pop Louie” or “Poppy Louie.”

There is one exception – one little 3 year old boy calls me “Sanctuary Guy.”

It comes from the times that I would lead worship for the preschoolers in the sanctuary – & for some reason, this little guy decided that “Sanctuary Guy” was the name he would call me. It’s always made me laugh, especially when he talks about me to his parents.

This last week, I was on my way to run errands & this little guy was standing in line waiting for lunchtime recess. I heard him yell my name, “Hey Sanctuary Guy!” I responded, “What’s up?” And he said, “Sanctuary Guy, my parents got in an argument this morning, & it made me feel really sad & I’m scared.”

I immediately knelt down to look him in the eye & asked him if I could pray for him – he said yes. I prayed for peace & joy, & for his parents to get along… At the end of the prayer, he said that it helped.  I got up to leave & almost made it out the door when he said, “Hey Sanctuary Guy! If my dad needs to talk to you from his work, would you talk to him?” I said, “Absolutely I would talk to your dad. I’d talk to your mom too if she wanted.” And he said, “Nope. My mom doesn’t need any help.”


 

Today marks the beginning of week 3 since we’ve been back from our sabbatical… still getting used to the routine of work & life again… slowly adjusting to wearing real shoes…  The thing I miss most about our time away is the uninterrupted days with theBean. No distractions. No work to do. Nothing but each other & whatever fun we wanted to fill the day with. I’m trying to find ways to capture some of that in the middle of life’s hecticness – to remind myself (& theBean) of the great gift God has given to me in her. I love that woman.


 

A birthday ode, to theBean…

I love to hold theBean’s hand. Love it. I can remember the first time I ever did – it was August 21, 1988 & we were walking across the Florence Avenue Church parking lot, & I used the excuse of wanting to “keep her safe & close” in case there were any runaway vehicles. In the parking lot. She didn’t let go. (Point of order: we had actually touched hands accidentally on August 12, downstairs at my parents house – I was watching baseball… go figure –  but once I realized what was happening, I tried to play like I didn’t know our fingers were touching. And of course I left my hand there. But I digress.)


A little background:

TheBean was headed into her Senior year at Sonora Union High, & was preparing to go to UCDavis & study medicine. To become an osteopathic physician. She’d served as a trainer for the Varsity football team & loved it, & figured a career in medicine would be just the thing for a girl that A) didn’t want/need a man to support her & B) didn’t want kids. She even worked at a local eatery in her spare time (looking back: where she found the time, I have no idea, between school, cheerleading, training, etc… She always has been good at doing  a lot & doing it well.)

And then there was an US.

We both realized at the same time that this was the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with – we didn’t tell each other that we KNEW what the other was thinking… I think it was the first time that we’d read each others face with a glance, the first of thousands.  This lightning bolt changed everything for both of us, but mostly for theBean. I remember the day she told me, “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you live, I’ll live.” I was taken aback by the commitment, by the fierceness of her statement, so I asked her, “What about UCDavis & becoming a doctor?” Her answer? “Now that I have you, what I really want is to be a team with you, in what you do… to support you. To support US.”  I know that I did not at that moment understand the enormity of the decision she made, the incredible tidal wave of love that choice brought with it, nor the cost she would pay (willingly) to follow through on it.


So instead of pursuing medicine, theBean pursued US. We got married July 1, 1989.  Instead of pursuing school, she picked up a food service job, the first of a few she would work in Reno/Carson over an almost 25 year period: El Charro Avitia, Carson Station Grille/Rotisserie, Pinocchio’s, & Starbucks.) In each job, theBean found herself rising to the top, a valued employee, skilled in customer service, the best at hospitality. A person  loved by management & her fellow employees. (Sound familar? :)

I’ve never worked food service, so I didn’t know one of the downsides of the job is that your hands are always in bleach water/sanitizer. And the constant exposure to this wreaks havoc on your hands, drying them out to the point where they get cracked, rough, & raw.  I don’t think I ever really noticed theBean’s hands being rough, but she did. (Remember, I love holding her hand.) She was self-conscious about the state of her hands, & often when I’d take her hand she’d make a comment about how dry they were or how bad of shape they were in. I didn’t really pay attention to that. I just wanted to hold her hand.


Nevada’s dry climate + 25 years of exposure to bleach water/santizer DID make theBean’s hands perpetually dry, & I know she still battles the self-consciousness of how her hands must feel to me. I’ll tell you what I think:

When I hold mytheBean’s hand, I feel the hand of the woman who traded in the pursuit of her solo dream to hitch herself to the idea of an even better dream in her eyes, the dream of US.

I feel the hand of a woman who has worked hard – enduring the demands of being on her feet all day/evening; who endured stupid, rude, & inappropriately flirty demanding customers; who survived on not enough sleep; who sacrificed for me, for US, & for our family.

I feel the hand of a woman who has contended for us to be a team in life & work, even through my own stubborn pig-headed meanness, selfishness, & times I didn’t treat her right.

I feel the hand of a woman who has never, ever, once given up on me or held a grudge, & has extended grace, mercy, & forgiveness through dark & stormy days & nights.

I feel the hand of a woman who could have chosen to do whatever she wanted to do in this life, a woman who is beautiful, intelligent, hospitable, hard-working, driven, a visionary… the kind of woman I’m proud that theWeez has become, the kind of woman that I have prayed that my sons would have the privilege of marrying someday.

When I hold mytheBean’s hand, I feel the evidence of her lifetime of love & devotion. It doesn’t feel rough to me – it feels as beautiful as the first time we touched. She has been, is, & will continue to be the girl of my dreams (the good ones, not the bad ones,) myOne, myOwn, myLover.

Happy birthday Bean. You are loved. You are IT for me. And will be. As long as we both shall live… 

musings on a Valentines Day…

Our first Valentines Day is a little blurry in my memory. I know that I made myself sick with worry (really, I barfed. TMI, I know, TMI.) I wanted to get theBean, my fiancee a gift. A good gift. Something that would perfectly describe my commitment to her, encompass all of my undying love & devotion, & make her absolutely positively sure that she was making the Right Choice by marrying me. I wanted all of this to be communicated in the gift I got her. And I wanted it for under $50 (Which was a lot of money back in the day… But I digress.)

I don’t remember what I bought her. Neither does she. Funny. And I’d gotten so worked up, anxious, stressed, and worried. What I do remember is that she kissed me good after I gave her the present, & that I never wanted it to stop. The kiss that is. But it had to because theBean couldn’t (still can’t) breathe so good through her nose.

I knew I loved her, & for some reason, she loved me back. I didn’t (don’t) understand it, but I am not one to argue with a stunningly beautiful woman who wanted to pledge her undying love & a lifetime of devotion to me. Go figure.

Something that I’m thankful about is that theBean doesn’t need presents to make her happy; they’re not her main “love language.” (Go to that link. Learn about love languages. Talk to your loved one. Listen to what makes them feel loved. Do it.)

Granted, she likes bling, appreciates kind gestures like flowers & cool looking cooking pots, but what she wants is me.

Me. That’s a tough one. Because I know the depths of my heart, the levels of junk I’m capable of. The things I’ve put her through out of my immaturity, selfishness, and brokenness.

And still, what she wants is me. My attention. Approval. Support. Encouragement. Ears. Commitment. Good words. Touch. Eye contact. Heart. Acts of service. Cleaning up around the house. Pretending I know what I’m doing in the kitchen/bbq.


Today, she asked me to be her Valentine. Again. Still. I said, “Yes. Will you be mine too? Forever and ever and ever…?” She agreed.

I watched her drive off to work, & as she started to pull away, she rolled down the window & said, “You’re all mine, baby!”

Like I’m a prize worth having. Like she still means it. Goodness.

My heart is full, & I am so thankful for the favor of God on my life that He would give me such a woman.

letting my words be few & other musings…

For the last 8 weeks, I’ve been consciously pondering what it means to “let my words be few.” Rather than give full vent (and voice) to my every thought, I’ve been trying to weigh them to see if they’re worth being expressed or left unsaid. What I’m noticing:

      -Complaining is contagious
      -Sometimes the act of articulating something negative causes it to balloon, both in size & scope.
      -The more I look for positive, encouraging thoughts to think on (& words to express) the easier they come.
      -Praying through the Psalms is an incredible way to test the heart.

Last week, theBean & I were blessed with a ‘sponsored’ trip to Tucson – a friend flew us down & put us up in a hotel for 2 nights so we could participate in a “Worship Summit.” It wasn’t a conference; it was a gathering of about 35 people, meeting, eating, hanging out, & worshipping together in a home that easily accommodated us. The last night, a couple prayed over theBean & I – many of the things they prayed & encouraged us with were things that God had shared with us before, both as a couple & personally. It was amazing to know that God knows our current life situation, & even better that He would use another person to (unknowingly) remind us of many of His promises for our lives. I came away with layers of weariness stripped away from my soul. Good times.


When I was but a lad of 16, I had two of my four wisdom teeth out; don’t really know why they didn’t take all four, only that for the last 26 years, I’ve been wrestling with the growing irritation on the right side of my mouth. TheBean’s insurance through Starbucks has been a God-send… & has allowed us to take care of many dental/medical/vision things that we hadn’t been able to do… Monday was my day for my teeth to come out.

After I came out from under the anesthesia, I asked the dental assistant if I’d said anything interesting during the procedure; she just said, “You must really like the 49ers. You told me more about them in the last 40 minutes than I ever wanted to know. Ever.” Ah. I am a 49er fan. Go figure.


On that note, I cannot wait for Harbaugh v. Harbaugh – 49ers v. Ravens. Thanksgiving Day. Night. Booyah.


TheBean has just begun the 2nd phase of her training to become an Assistant Store Manager (ASM) – this has necessitated a move from the Starbucks nearest our house to the one at Northtowne. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by & say “Hey, theBean!” She always appreciates smiling faces. Its her favorite.

Her schedule is occasionally tough in that it is opposite of mine – working afternoons & evenings to ‘close’ which sometimes ends up about 10:45 p.m. Even though she’s the one doing the work, I find that its easy to feel sorry for me, sitting home, holding down the fort, interacting with the kids, doing school (& house) work, waiting.

I recognize that I could get whiny. Lose perspective. Forget that theBean doesn’t exist for my convenience. (Sounds so childish saying it like that, but hey, sometimes there’s ugliness revealed in the soul that needs to be addressed.)

I’m challenged to find my peace in Christ – to learn to be content, even in a non-optimum situation. To be thankful for God’s provision & working in her life, for the favor that she has been shown. Knowing that this, too, is just for a season. And that I have an invaluable opportunity to nurture a relationship with iDoey & theWeez… & to grow in my dependence on the LORD.

Plus I can catch up on my ‘for fun’ reading.


Which reminds me. I was given the book “The Cloister Walk” by Kathleen Norris. It took a couple of weeks to find the time to get started, but once I did, I’ve had a hard time putting it down. Quirky book. Thought provoking. Reminds me of what got stirred up in me while reading “the Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning.

No formulas for life; no pat answers. No clichés. Just God’s faithfulness & goodness in the face of the challenges that life inevitably brings, & reminders that He has promised to finish the good work He’s begun in me. And for that, I am thankful.

musings on a Friday day off, waiting for theBean to get home from work…

She volunteered to do my makeup. I was at a High School camp at Old Oak Ranch; I was too old to be there, but on a medical leave of absence from my work due to a shoulder dislocation. I was helping out with a variety show for the camp, & had the good fortune of being able to do a pretty good impersonation of the classic Paul Reuben’s character “Pee-Wee Herman.” Oh, the red bow tie, grey suit, & big white shoes. How I miss thee.

When I met her, she wanted to be an osteopathic physician. Even though I’d spent more than my share of time under the care of an orthopedist who so graciously made sure my shoulders & knees got patched up, good as new, I had no idea what that was; I just knew that talking with her as she applied her wares to my face was fun. I’d never been this close to a girl for this long… She wasn’t interested in a relationship (not that I was fishing; it just came up in conversation. Really. Innocently. But I digress.) She just wanted to grow as a Christian, focus on school, & help people. I was fascinated by my new friend, & couldn’t wait for makeup time to talk with her. So I didn’t. Wait to talk. I searched her out. Looked for opportunities to sit where she sat. Managed to learn her oh-so-spontaneous-but-still routine routine & maneuver myself to be in the right place at the right time.

Camp was only a week long, & when I got home, I knew something was different. I missed my new friend. There wasn’t really anything romantic in my thoughts, just a desire to connect in conversations that almost always were filled with laughter. So I called her on the camp pay phone. Talked as much as she was able with her work schedule. Shared hopes & dreams. Way too soon probably, but it happened nonetheless. She was many things I was not: fun, carefree, graceful, joyful, in touch with her emotions, able to identify what she wanted in life…

I felt myself slipping into something I’d never known before, something I couldn’t identify, something deep & strong; something I wanted to grow.

Weeks later, her grandparents were returning from the mission field of Brazil, & she & her mom were off for a week-long visit to Los Angeles to welcome them back to the States. They invited me. Still on work-leave, I went, not really knowing what to expect, but looking forward to time with my friend.

One night in LA, we were watching TV & I happened to look at her… she turned to look at me & at that moment, I knew that I wanted to marry her, that I would marry her if she would only have me. & somehow I knew that she knew too. She kissed me. Goodness, she kissed me.

Later that week, we talked about our hopes & dreams, our plans for the future. I will never forget her looking deep into my eyes & telling me, “I want to go with you, wherever you go, whatever you do… to be a team.” Somehow it didn’t seem too much to hear, but I couldn’t believe my ears… I asked her about her dream of becoming a doctor, an osteopathic physician… & she said, “That was my dream. Now I want to be with you.” & that was that.


More than 23 years have passed since that conversation, & I have watched this capable, gifted, talented, called, driven, unbelievably positive, “so beautiful it makes you think you’re dreaming,” woman make choices to choose me. Us. Often at the expense of herself. A career. Becoming something, somebody, someone. She stayed home with the kids. Worked jobs that others may have seen as menial or beneath them. Supported me. Believed in me. Stood by me, even when I acted like a fool & a tool. Even when I forgot that a team was what we were supposed to be, she didn’t. & she has contended for & believed in the very best version of me & us, with the greatest hope in her heart (& on her lips) being growing old, together, with me.

With me.


She started working at Starbucks last December – & her gifts, talents, optimism, & people loving have all contributed to her being recognized & elevated in her role with the company. She’s a shift-supervisor now, & has lots of potential opportunities for advancement; the sky is the limit, & I see the favor of God all over her life.

She has chosen me, time & time again. Her unwavering love has given me the support, the strength, & the courage to change, to grow, to contend for more; to not settle for a stunted, diseased version of myself, but to hope & grow, through pain, into the person God would have me be, the person that I think that she must see in order to love me as good as she does.

I am so proud of & thankful for this girl. My friend. My theBean. MyJoni. MyOne.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is beautiful.

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.

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