John Leavy Locke – 1/22/1973 – 6/17/1990

If I Stand…

This is the 34 year anniversary of my brother Johnny’s death… sometimes, some years, the grief waves are small & manageable, barely tinged with a sting. Others, the waves are wild, unpredictable, & unruly, crashing into me & dashing me around like a rag doll.

This is one of those “wild, unpredictable, & unruly” wave years.

And so I write. I’ve found that the combination of remembering & rehearsing memories – & writing them down – helps mitigate (or at least spread out to a manageable level,) the grief.


Grief. It is a weight that causes shoulders to slump, & backs to bend. It can approach slowly & almost imperceptibly, or it can slam you to the ground. Sometimes carrying grief feels like carrying a 5 gallons jug of water with 3 gallons of water in it; its uneven, unbalanced, & sloshy… making any sort of movement difficult to sustain, as the sudden sloshing of the water can throw you off balance & knock you to your knees. Or face.

I’ve found grief makes people uncomfortable… especially when its been a while since the passing & loss of a loved one. “Time heals all wounds,” is a mantra I’ve had stated to me more than once. Or “…at least you got him for 17 years…” There’s a whole bunch of “at leasts,” people throw out as leaden lifelines, meaning well, but doing nothing except to emphasize their own discomfort & disconnection with the feeling. (I’d recommend checking out Brene’ Brown’s short video on Empathy  – in a few short minutes she offers several great insights on how to come alongside someone without making the pain worse. But I digress.)

I’m thankful for the people in my life who will just sit with me, without having to say something to try to make it better. Who send a text, a note, or a phone call to say, “I’m with you today.” I’ve learned that one of the greatest helps for navigating grief is to feel it, to be where you are, & to acknowledge it as the present reality I’m experiencing. Denying it, ignoring it, burying it, minimizing it, etc… none of those things “fix” the grief… because, I don’t believe, it CAN be fixed. Nor should we try to FIX it.

At this point, I think the best course of action for navigating grief, FOR ME, is to ride it out. To talk to another person who will listen without judgement or excess word-spam. To intentionally make sure to do things that make the day bearable. To get a good work out & take a “mental & emotional health regulating” sauna. To read in the Psalms. And if I feel like crying, I cry.

Yesterday, on the actual anniversary, I wrote (typed out) a long blog with all sorts of things I remember about my brother Johnny – from our childhood up through (& past) his death. And right before I posted it, I had an issue where the whole thing was deleted. Unretrievable.

Instead of trying to re-create it immediately (or breaking things & losing my biscuits,) I decided to take the rest of the day to “be” & then to tackle a new blog today, taking it where it would go. I’ve decided to touch on a couple of the memories here.


I remember…

  • Folding newspapers in the wee hours of the morning. The smell of newspaper ink & rubber bands. The conversations about nothing & everything. Our beloved Giants & 49ers. Spiritual matters. Family, younger brothers, chores, & school.
  • Sharing a room in Carson. We’d had our own rooms in Reno so the forced shared space was a great gift & a time I treasure… especially remembering Johnny’s rants about me talking too long on the phone with theBean.
  • Johnny getting sent home from school on the 1st day of 9th grade for wardrobe infraction. He wore his Jetsons T with multi-colored board-shorts & vintage black-white-red Air Jordans. Carson Jr High had no clue what to do with him. Our great-uncle Bruce used to scratch his head & loudly declare, “That boy dresses like a clown.” The world wasn’t ready for Johnny’s style, & he didn’t care.
  • The mixtapes. Johnny & I spent hours curating our own ancient version of today’s Spotify playlists using our dual cassette boombox… Russ Taff, Steve Taylor, Rich Mullins, DeGarmo & Key, Rez Band, Altar Boys to name a few. The title of this blog IF I STAND, is taken from our favorite Rich Mullins song… something we both declared we wanted to aspire to be. People who STAND.
  • The cancer diagnosis, treatments, & battles… too many & too painful to go into detail again (did that yesterday & it helped. Don’t want to go there today.) I just know that throughout, Johnny didn’t complain or ask, “Why me?” He embraced his life-path as the one God gave to him – kind of like Hananiah, Azariah, & Mishael – aka Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-nego in the fiery furnace. He knew God could heal him in a moment; but if He didn’t, Johnny was still going to worship Him with all of his heart.
  • The last days at home, where Johnny’s body betrayed him & he weakened. We talked around his home-hospital bed. I got up to leave & he said, “I love you brother.” And I kept walking up the stairs, echoing back to him, “I love you too.”  The pain & intimacy of the moment seemed too much to bear & went & stood outside by my car in the gravel at the top of the driveway, weeping, asking God to heal my brother. And I KNEW that He was there; I could sense His tangible presence. And in a way, His sadness too. But there wouldn’t be a healing this side of heaven. So many times I wished I’d gone back downstairs & just sat with Johnny some more instead of leaving. It is one of my life’s great regrets, & was a great source of pain & sorrow for me for many years.
  • The phone call from my mom in the late 4 a.m. hour of 6/16; the blur of the day(s) following. The memorial service. The songs. The eulogy. The people who came. The numbness.
  • Having to move forward with “normal” life again. The weird things people would say to try to make it better, failing miserably. The religious pontifications people would spout thinking they were providing answers, all the while filled with so much crap & lack of awareness that it was physically painful. Still fires me up a little. (Ok, a lot.)
  • Our family unit moving forward, albeit with a hole in it. There was a big gap where in a different world Johnny’s wife & kids would have taken their place in our hearts & my kids would have had cousins near their own ages. Birthdays & holidays & anniversaries & life. We’re still growing, & still moving forward. And still, there’s a hole.

One more thing – remember the “life’s great regret” I mentioned a minute ago? About 10 years after Johnny’s death, I had a vivid dream where I encountered Johnny in a vividly colored, almost too bright to see place… I had to squint to see, but he didn’t. He was older than I last remembered, somewhere between 18 & 35ish, the picture of health, with fair skin & ruddy cheeks, his signature flowing mullet (he pulled it off so well,) & he radiated LIFE. I embraced him for what seemed to be an eternity & then we talked. He told me stories that were wonderful & that are just at the edge of my memory today, things that feel like a promise of what is to come. I expressed to him my great regrets at not coming back downstairs & sitting with him, & rehearsed the fact that I love  him. He hugged me again & gave me reassurance that it was more than ok. The pain & regret I’d carried for years melted that moment, & have never returned. And then he had to go; he turned to me & smiled & headed out & I woke up.

It was healing & restful for the soul. I’m not sure how to define what happened, so I won’t. I just know my burdens were lifted.

Miss you Johnny. So much. Save me spot; I’ll be seeing you eventually.

“It’s your choice…”

“It’s your choice.”

Years ago, a German friend confronted me in the middle of one of my “minor” fits of anger using just those words.

“It’s your choice.”

His admonition didn’t alleviate the slow burn I was experiencing; it made it worse. He obviously didn’t understand that I was JUSTIFIED in my anger, & that it was BECAUSE a whole series of things had gone WRONG & I was DISAPPOINTED & when I tried to share my disappointment using my WORDS, my wife (seemingly, to me in my agitated slow burn of a fit) DISREGARDED my (righteous) frustration. It was like she MADE me escalate my anger.

A disclaimer: It wasn’t one of those loud, visibly angry episodes; rather, it was my preferred kind of fit… kind of storming around with a furrowed brow, abrupt movements, fierce silence… I was mad, after all. And I was justified in being mad; all the things that hadn’t gone the way I WANTED them to go MADE me mad. Not “feeling” heard made me even MADDER.

At this rate of simmer & feeding the fires of indignation, I could have a full blown rage going pretty quick. Here it comes.

My friend interrupted my huffy-puffy-ness with a question: “What’s wrong with you? Why are you acting this way?”

So I let him have it… both barrels of explanation & indignation at all the things that were going WRONG, all the areas I was FRUSTRATED, all the things other people were DOING to antagonize me…

He listened for a minute & then… shrugged his shoulders, made a disinterested (to me) expression, & told me, “It’s your choice.”

And then he walked away. Leaving me speechless. I couldn’t believe it. How could he SAY it was my CHOICE? I was RESPONDING. I was FEELING.

I was, I was, I was… what?

…I was choosing to give myself over to stupid anger. I was feeding it with bits of indignation & throwing the fuel of misunderstanding on as well.. I was working myself up towards a rage under the guise of something happening TO me, completely ignoring that the response was coming from a force of will & my chosen action.

The rebuke of my friend turned into a time of soul-searching. I couldn’t help but hear the whispered conviction of the Holy Spirit, emphasizing, firmly & gently, that this response that I’d conditioned myself to accept as normal & ok & NOT my fault (or my choice), was actually 100% me. It WAS my choice to respond in anger. It WAS my choice to allow the offense to escalate. It WAS my choice to engage in self-pity. It WAS my choice.

Which meant…

I could CHOOSE differently.

Maybe not in my own strength & abilities; its not an easy thing to undue & break out of past patterns of behavior, especially those with such a strong dopamine hit of self-righteous pity & anger. But I could ask Jesus to do a work in me, by the power of the Holy Spirit – to CHOOSE something different. To still FEEL & PROCESS, but not to give myself over to self-indulgently negative, self-focused pity parties, masked with the ugliness of an on-the-edge anger that threatened (or at least made noise about) blowing up & really losing it.

That was A turning point. Not necessarily THE turning point, but A turning point. From that day forward, I would hear my friend’s rebuke, flavored with extra by the Holy Spirit: “It’s your choice.” And because it was my choice, I could CHOOSE differently. Consistently. Choices that led to stronger relationship with my spouse & kids. Choices that would foster relationship, trust, & healthy predictability with others.

And that is still my prayer – that I CHOOSE well, in each moment where I am tempted to fall back into the well worn rut of what is now a 20 year ago path. I don’t want to fall back into that behavior, & neither do I want to lose ground that was gained with a lot of blood, sweat, & tears.

It’s your choice…

I am a seed, embracing limits, & other musings…

I find myself doing more pondering than I used to do, even a few short months ago… not sure if its solely the lag & slowly-but-surely attempt to re-engage the motor that always happens for me coming back from a long trip as I work through the physical, mental, & emotional costs of said trip, no matter how enjoyable or productive it may have been.

Work is different & the rhythms I’d grown used to (fallen into) over the last few years have been shaken up with a (virtual) head-shaking, sinus-clearing whiff of smelling salts brought on by change. Instead of just jumping back into the known & the familiar, I find myself stopping & observing, thinking on & through, & leaning more & more on my foundations for encouragement & possibly, for some directions as I go forward into December & toward the brink of 2024.

Jerry Cook used to say, “If you don’t know what you’re DOING, limit your activities. And if you don’t know what to SAY, limit your words.”  And so in these days I’m finding myself choosing (rather than begrudgingly complaining my way to & through) to embrace those limits of NOT knowing, surely, confidently, what to do. To say.

It’s not apathy. Nor inertia. It has the feel of a ‘gathering of self’ kinda like you’d do before you’d JUMP or SPRING towards something. (I’m picturing Mario C Champagne, a childhood cat much loved by all, getting ready to pounce. And pounce he did. But he could also linger. But I digress.)  i occasionally feel pressure (probably from firstborn, formerly Type A me) to DO something, to JUMP in & lead loud & fast & confidently towards… something. But what I have is nothing concrete, merely the subtle encouragements, a sense of being drawn towards/by the things/person I know & trust… to keep taking the steps in front of me that need to be taken. To lean on myBean & also on my Savior, trusting that I need both to encourage & remind me of things spoken to me long ago, things that are in process of being worked through now.

Sitting at my desk, looking out the window. Melancholy? Peace?

And I’m hit with this: I am a seed, (with the lyrics too.) Haven’t thought of that song in a minute (or a decade.) And yet… I am a seed. SOMETHING is definitely happening, but there’s not much ACTIVITY happening. Like a seed. In the ground. Waiting for the shaking off of the old form, the kernel that’s held me for so long, waiting for roots to sprout DOWN & for life to spring UP. Knowing I can’t make it happen by wanting, as the process isn’t mine to force. I’m on the timeline of Another; the Gardener who planted me knows His times & His seasons. And He knows not only WHEN the shaking/breaking will begin (emerge?) but also WHAT will come forward. And, like the fruit/plant/green that doesn’t even remotely resemble the seed it came from, that which is coming (probably) won’t look like the seed did… but it will be GOOD. And then the activities, the words, will be more evident.

This is the way. Walk in it. These are the words. Speak them.

Deutschland 2023 – Days #15 & 16 “Fun with Alex & Linda, which mostly involved trying out new restaurants & street food… “

Day 15 – the afternoon & evening

We met Alex & Linda in the courtyard of the building where our flats are located, & made our way through the maze to one of the adjoining streets to meet our Uber. They typically employ 1 of 4 modes of transportation: walking, riding a bike, hiring an Uber/taxia, or (rarely) taking the public transportation system (combo of buses/S & U-bahn trains.) The driver dropped us off & it was just a short walk to Parma Pizza. To say it was a hole in the wall makes it seem bigger than it was… there were 3 or 4 tables crammed into 2 rooms, & the ‘kitchen’ was literally 2 steps from our table. Alex stepped into the kitchen twice & was reprimanded each time for violating the ‘chef’s’ space, but it’s not like he could access his seat without stepping into the kitchen. Inside of the rooms looked like a half-finished construction site where the workers had gone home for the weekend, leaving a bunch of stuff half-done, with tools & supplies strewn around the room. There were two guys in the kitchen area; one, the owner/chef, the other, a guy who kept sampling the box of wine on the edge of the super tiny refrigerator. He reminded me of someone who was probably a buddy of the owner who comes to hang out at his buddy’s place in the hopes he’ll be able to sponge some free food & drink if he hangs out long enough. The chef guy looked as though he was an Italian photographer just returned from a taxing & oh-so-draining photoshoot somewhere & by the way he acted, it sure didn’t seem like he was happy to have customers. I dubbed him “Artist Guy” & the other guy was “the Leech.” 

He finally got around to bringing us our menus & made a big show about the artistry of his pizzas… he took the time to explain several of the pizza options to us, in German & English, even though we already knew what we wanted to order. Once we ordered, he engaged in conversation with the Leech for about 15 minutes, seemingly forgetting we were there. Eventually our drink orders came, with our bottled water & the finest boxed red wine the kitchen had to offer placed hurriedly on the table so Artist guy could get back to his conversation.

He remembered we were there to EAT, so he frantically began to assemble the ingredients for the pizzas we’d ordered on his prep counter & then painstakingly made the pizzas, popping them 1 by 1 into the pizza oven on the far side of the kitchen. Good thing they only had to bake for about 90 seconds. Artist guy deposited the pizzas in front of us & stepped back into the kitchen. 

About this time, a younger guy arrived, complete with a dark mullet of curls on his head (theBean said they were the size of the classic pink 1 1/2″ sponge hair roller that hadn’t been brushed out after removing the curlers); he spoke only broken English & his native Italian, & he seemed to be there to do all the jobs Artist guy didn’t want to do.

Pizza was ok – I got a Salamewurst & Tomato & Mozzarella & theBean had a ham pizza (ham put on after the pizza cooked, much to her chagrin & displeasure.) We ate our fill & laughed a lot around the tiny table in the bizarre pizza place/construction zone while the Leech drank more wine & the Mullet guy went through the motions of cleaning & puttering around looking for something. 

We had a blast… time with Alex & Linda is always the BEST time. Good conversations on a variety of topics: Jesus, church life, health, exercise, conspiracy theories, Joe Rogan, specialty meal replacement shakes, work (Alex works in a start-up that does high end health supplements & Linda is a supervisor in the educational system, focusing much of her life on helping foreigners & others trying to make the best of school in Germany.)

Alex had us rolling with his active & quick sense of humor & Linda’s joy & love of life are evident in every conversation we had with her. Truly dear & much loved friends. 

After our meal, since it wasn’t raining (YES) we decided to stretch our legs & walk home through the dark back streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg & Neukölln neighborhoods; it only took about 30 minutes & it was really refreshing, esp. considering how much we had sat around with little activity the first week of our trip. Went up to their flat for more talks & a late night glass of wine… eventually made our way across the courtyard to our flat & were in our room a minute later. It was a good day.


DAY 16 – Templehof, Street Food, & Crazy Kim’s

Woke up late & headed to the Cafe Bread for coffee & a breakfast pastry… guy from yesterday wasn’t working (bummer) & but the new girl hooked us up & quickly as we settled into our spot to read, enjoy our coffee & people watch. Alex worked until 1 p.m. & Linda until 5, so theBean & I went for a walk through the neighborhood & picked up some supplies from the local grocery store. When Alex called us, we met him outside at an Uber & made our way downtown for some “on the go” site-seeing & a quick stop for a ‘snack’ at Goldie’s Smashburger &.I’ve had smashburgers in the US & they were ok… nothing compared to a good 3×3 animal style, protein style, w/extra grilled onions & cheese, no tomato, no spread, ketchup & mustard please @ In-N-Out burger, but ok.  

This was > ok. This was incredible. Keep in mind, we stopped here for a snack… & also because we hadn’t had a burger our whole time in Germany. So of course, we ended up getting doubles, which were the size of my two fists together. We came at the perfect time, so no line. By the time we were done eating, the line had wandered down the block. We crushed our burgers (so good) & took turns sampling the fries until we couldn’t eat any more. This was, by far, the food highlight of our trip. 

After eating waaaay too much for a snack, we wanted to do some walking, so we made our way through the streets til we finally got to the old Templehof Airport (check out the link for Templehof above), the site of the Berlin airdrops that saved Berlin in 1948 & 1949 (go USA). This massive former airport is now a recreation area, where miles of former taxi & runways have been turned into places for exercise, (bikes, roller blades, scooters, & foot power), with large grassy areas here & there for picnics, kid-friendly recreation, & a couple designated dog parks. Very cool, & lots of places to stop & read about the history of the place. Spent about 90 minutes walking & ended up on the far side of the airport, where we (thank the Lord) found bathrooms that were open & available for usage, without any fee. (NOTE: most of the time to use a toilet in a store/restaurant in Germany/Europe, it will cost you at least 1 Euro. Put that on your list of Even More Things to be thankful for at home.) 

Caught an Uber home, with just enough time to rest, change clothes, & meet Linda to catch another Uber to our dinner place, Crazy Kim’s Korean. We got seated by Kim herself at a table in the entry way, & placed our orders. This restaurant was one they hadn’t been to before, but our coming to visit gave them an opportunity. Food was decent & there were 15 appetizer bites brought to our table (no choice in the matter) & it was fun to try different things. For our main dishes, I got bulgogi & theBean got Korean short-ribs.

But the highlight of the night, for me, was the 2 women who came in shortly after us. One of them HAD to be the owner’s daughter & the other seemed to be a beloved best friend, because Kim doted on the super fancy & chic ladies, dressed in what were probably pretty fashionable (definition: super weird clothes that real people don’t wear) all the while snapping photos of themselves, each other, & the little pocket sized dog the daughter brought in in her purse. If you’ve ever seen wanna-be IG ‘influencers’ in action, you have an idea of our entertainment for the duration of dinner. They helped themselves to all sorts of things behind the bar, often leaving their table to walk around the building, often retreating into the “private” & “Staff only”, only to emerge later & hit the bar again. So. Funny.

Finished dinner & made our way to our Uber outside. The drive home only took 5 minutes, so we had to be close, but it was raining & we’d already walked about 8 miles earlier in the day. As it was our last night, we made our way up to Alex & Linda’s flat again, & sat around their table trying to pack as many conversations as possible into the time we had left. So precious. 

We sadly made our way back to our flat to sleep the short night’s sleep that comes before the departure flight home. We’d made plans to come to their flat in the morning for a cup of coffee & hugs goodbye, so we knew we’d get to see them at least one more time before we left. 

Slept well, with dreams of home in our minds.

On the way…

A big chunk of life happens “on the way.” Our on the way time could be when we’re driving to/from work. Walking our neighborhood or heading to our next appointment. Waiting in line while getting a coffee.  I believe much of our on the way time flies under our radar because our focus/our thoughts are on something else. Stuff like: 

What’s next. Where we’re headed. What we’ll do when we’re done with work. Our destination. What has to be done at the destination. Our ‘to-do’ lists. Afternoon snacks. 

I find that my on the way time is often “multi-tasking” time where I pop in my earbuds to listen to the audio book I want to read, or the podcast I’ve been meaning to catch up on, or zoning out to a favorite playlist. It can be a great way to get stuff done, but with these on the way time fillers, I don’t often take time to sit in silence & think or observe closely what’s going on around me.

You get it.


I was thinking on that this afternoon while I was sitting in the sauna… not much to do in the sauna except for sweat & drink my LMNT-filled Nalgene bottle while waiting for the timer to wind down to zero. One of the things that came up for me was something I read in Acts 3 .

Peter & John were on the way to their church for the 3 p.m. prayers & ended up having a conversation  with a guy who had been lame from birth, that turned into a Holy Spirit inspired healing & life transformation, that turned into a “What’s going on here?” moment that caused a couple of thousand people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.  

Really cool stuff. And it made me think, & it made me wonder about my own usage of my on the way time.


Ultimately, the nudge I’m following here is to write out my desire to be more alert, aware, intentional, & present while I’m on the way. To take stock of where I am; to purposely build a little time into my schedule for on-purpose Holy Spirit interruptions to my day; to not immediately pop the ear buds in as soon as I sit in the drivers seat… or head into some other version of being on the way.

We’ll see what happens…

 

 

 

 

ZAPPED! & other musings on a Tuesday evening…

Several times over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation. It starts with someone bringing up something about God. Church. Religion. And each time, the person has said something to the effect of:

I would NEVER, EVER even think of going to church… if I did, as soon as I walked through the doors I’d probably:

  • get ZAPPED by lightning
  • burst into flames
  • cause the building to fall down around me
  • experience something crushing, cruel, & horrible…”

The first couple of times I heard it, I was in Germany; once in downtown Frankfurt, once at the youth hostel where we were having the pastors’ conference. I attributed it to the general state of unchurched-ness of The Fatherland. Silly me.

And then in the last 10 days, I’ve had similar conversations here at home, at Starbucks, the new & improved Great Basin Brewery, & even in the parking lot at church. All people bemoaning the probable (& most certainly horrible) outcome of their crossing the threshold of the church building.

In a couple of the situations, I had the opportunity to pursue some clarification – here’s a ‘sum-up’ of what the people I talked to thought…

  • most had funky ideas about God & His character.
  • A couple thought that somehow, someway Fred & the family Phelps are accurate representations of God’s heart for people.
  • Most expect church to be a place of  self-righteous nitpicking, & an endless barrage never-measure-up condemnation & accusations.
  • A common thought was seeing self as Excluded. Beyond help or rescue.
  • Not seeing how they in their uniqueness could or would fit in a ‘church world’ that is perceived as mostly irrelevant to ‘real’ life.

I don’t know whose quote it is, or how bad I’m mangling it, but  it goes something like this:

You may be the only church a person goes to, & may be the only Bible someone reads.

For me, it speaks to the need to live in a way that accurately & faithfully reflects Christ’s love, acceptance, & forgiveness – & a love that meets people right where they are. And it reminds me a bit of a post my friend Tim wrote not long ago about getting the church to people.


TheWeez is on her middle school basketball team; I love going to her games. The last several, her playing time has been next to nil, & she’s discouraged. More than that, she’s frustrated with what her coach says to her (& the 2 other girls in similar spots:)

“I’m really sorry I didn’t play you; but we needed our good players in the game so we could win big, ’cause I really don’t like the Coach from (insert school name here). Next time I’ll try to get you in the game more”

My theWeez is a smart girl – & after this happened the 2nd time (its been 4 games & counting by now,) she vented to me, saying, “Daddy! Does he think I’m DUMB? That I don’t know that when he’s ‘apologizing’ for not playing me he’s really saying I’m not a good PLAYER.”

I’d love to be able to soften the blow to my precious theWeez, to somehow make this situation better… but I can’t. She’s getting a chance to experience, up close & personal, that just because someone is an adult in their 30s, there is no guarantee that they’ve ever really grown up.

I’m sorry my girl.

Oh, & Coach N, theWeez is on to you. And she is not amused.


December, where are you GOING in such a hurry? Stop, sit a spell, & hang out a while.


I’m reading, slowly, through a great book right now by Dallas Willard called, The Spirit of the Disciplines . I know for some that the word ‘discipline’ has negative connotations; I love how Willard works through & around the twistings & perversions of the good word ‘discipline,’ which comes from the root word disciple. In it, he discusses the actions, behaviors, attitudes, & practices that go towards spiritual formation, which to me is something like the nuts & bolts of what it takes to grow up in Christ. I’m already thinking how I can take what I’m learning & apply it, both personally (in my life,) & corporately (within our church family.)


iDoey is in the final week of preparation for his Christmas holiday extravaganza – a song & dance-fest put on by his show-choir-type group called Intermezzo. I’m amazed at the preparation this group of 40 students puts in, & am thankful for the dedicated coordinator & the staff that makes this so much fun for my boy. Thanks Mr. Lorentzen!


Ahh. Pondering greatness: The San Francisco Giants are STILL the World Series Champions.

I’m sailing! I’m sailing! I sail…

NOTE & DISCLAIMER: I’m not sailing. Haven’t sailed. Don’t have any plans to sail. Not against it. Just wanted to share a What About Bob?! moment I had this weekend.

Last Saturday, I finished my 40th birthday celebration. I do realize that the date was February 13th, & that it was almost a full 5 months since my ‘real’ September 19th birthday… but a couple of scheduling conflicts kept the final celebration from taking place; most notably, Petey’s 6-week National Guard deployment to an unnamed location in the Middle-East.

See, as a part of the inevitable ‘taking stock of life’ that my birthday always brings me, I decided that there were a couple of things that I would like to change – habits, patterns, ways of living. (When I was getting ready to turn 25, I read a statistic that said something to the effect that a person develops most of the habits & skills they will have by the time they hit 25. So, I decided that I needed to learn to play guitar. And I did.)

One of the things I decided to change this year involved a decision I’d made about a particular food that I had chosen not to partake of since a rather negative experience from 22 years ago. Sushi. I had it once, & I didn’t like it one bit.

I decided I’d try it again.


I’ve never been a fish or seafood guy. Don’t exactly know why, other than the smell of fish & fishy-ness sets me off. A fish market is the worst. (Actually, any really strong smell has the potential to do that. Fish. Chemical-ly & flowery perfumes. Floral ‘plug-ins’ that are supposed to make the air smell better. Most air-fresheners. Except for the new Febreze that is like the ‘clothes fresh out of the dryer smell…’ But I digress.)

Growing up, my family ate fish. Trout. Shrimp. Crab. Salmon. Halibut. You get the picture. I didn’t. I can remember trying a few of them, & feeling the repulsion, revulsion, the nose-wrinkling displeasure of EWWW!

I’ve heard from plenty of people that I just needed to try “fill-in-the-blank” seafood, prepared in the “fill-in-the-blank” way, & that I would be a convert. I tried a few. Always ended with EWWW!


My friends Petey & Debi kept encouraging me to try sushi again. Not just any sushi, but sushi prepared by Iron Chef Heif: Chris Heifner. My friend Chris is an artist in the truest sense of the word – amazing musician. Worship leader. Painter. Writer. And sushi chef.

And so, the combination of their gentle encouragement, Iron Chef Heif’s skill, & a willingness/desire to change created the perfect storm: a 40th birthday sushi celebration where I would once again give sushi a chance.


It happened Saturday, around our counter, in the company of a few friends, good music (theBean’s 40’s swing/big-band faves,) some Sapporo (as a shout-out to the real sushi-masters,) & a healthy appetite.

I don’t really know what I ate, other than I ate at least one part (portion? slicing? proper terminology would be helpful,) from every roll that Iron Chef Heif made.

My reflections:

    -I don’t like fish eggs. “Caviar.” Big or small. Black, brown, or pink. But I ate it. Salty. Like tasting a fishy part of the ocean.

    -Spicy is better. Jalapenos, wasabe, & the hot red sauce (don’t recall what it was,) were very much enjoyed & appreciated.

    -Soy sauce. The more the better.

    -Enough is enough. The pace of the eating, balanced by the time necessary for the preparation allowed me to know I was feeling full before I’d reached the proverbial “Super-Bowl” or Thanksgiving full-ness. Which probably made the whole experience more enjoyable, in that I didn’t have the “I can’t believe I ate so much” regrets. Other than the little fish-egg leftovers I was picking out of my teeth for at least 3 hours after.


I’ve been asked if I liked the sushi. It was good. Different. Don’t really have anything currently in my world to compare it to. Not a negative experience. Just don’t know.

But I’ll let you know if I end up craving it.


So… Thank you Chris, for your hard work & artistic preparation. And Pete-Debi, for your encouragement. And friends for celebrating with me.

Did you know what’s happening? I’m growing.

40 going on 21, part 1

I’ve been ruminating on a series of conversations that I had with my buddy, Chuck, while I was at CSR this last August.

The conversations were brought on by the fact that my 40th birthday was coming soon – & how much I was looking forward to that event & the stage of life that would come with it. (And, by the way, I’m 40 days into my 40th year, & so far, I’m loving the fact that I’m a man! I’m 40!)

A lot of our talks centered on the infatuation our society seems to have with YOUTH & being YOUNG… & the seeming inability to accept the fact that people age… & aging is seen as a bad thing, something to be ashamed of, avoided, &/or denied.

Bummer.


Part of what really drove it home for me was that a lot of my ‘thinking time’ happened on & near the Virginia Tech University campus – there were literally thousands of 18-25 year olds all over the place just arriving in Blacksburg for the start of the fall semester… In Walmart. Starbucks. Borders. The campus bookstore. Swarms of people. Checking each other out, visually measuring self against others, masking anxiety with volume… The pretty young things got the most attention & savored it.

In the midst of it, I felt strangely secure. Comfortable in my own skin. I pondered Chuck’s words, & thought about what he’d said about the privileges & things gained as one ages…

…experience & wisdom to be shared. Perspective at having seen seasons of life, fad, & fashion come & go & come back again. The weight the words carry of one who has not only lived, but has lived well, without striving, through the tides, peaks, & valleys that life brings. The joy of watching one’s children grow. Peace at being able to simply enjoy the moment.

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29 New Living Translation


Being 40 is great. I’m lovin’ it.


Things I’m thinking about:

  • Associating ‘young’ & ‘youth’ with childish, irresponsible, immoral behavior
  • Peter Pan syndrome…
  • valuing people by their outward appearance…
  • living selfishly, without regard for others
  • attempting to avoid the responsibility that comes with the making of choices – & the consequences (outcomes?) of those choices
  • the inevitability of aging… something that no amount of cosmetic surgery, hair dye, or botox can avoid.
  • my dream…

    Hmmm.

  • Wednesday was a funny day…

    I found a new gym. Or should I say, it found me. Its only .9 miles from my home, & my whole family can gymnasium (I totally verbed a noun) for less than $30/month. Haven’t left my old gym officially, but I’m not going anymore, because my new gym has NEW equipment. Functional treadmills. Nice barbells. And kettlebells. They had me at kettlebells.


    Worked out today. Happened to put my car/house/every-important-thing-that-requires-a-key-in-life-key chain in a locker. Forgot my own lock, but that’s ok, right? Came back to pick up my keys to find… someone had put a lock on the locker. Sigh.

    I went around to every male in the gym (thank you Jesus that there is a Men’s locker room, because it totally limited my search) asking, “So, did you happen to put a lock on locker #37? Cause my keys are in there, man.” Everyone said, “No.” It was awkward, especially with the BIG men, the guys that have a Routine, guys listening to their iPods, guys like Sal who seem like they’d rather break me into several pieces as soon as look at me…

    So I called mytheBean. She brought me keys to my car so I could take care of some of the errands I needed to run. I rationalized, “I will come back in 2 hours & the lock will be off #37 & my silliness at not putting my own lock on will be but a distant memory…”


    I had planned on driving the Ex down to the gym to pick up my keys. Turns out, everyone left me at home WITHOUT keys to the Ex. So…

    TheWeez & I walked the .9 miles down to the gym & I expected that my keys would be at the front desk by this time. Not so. The lock was still on #37. I was able to convince the manager that the best course of action was to CUT the lock on #37, & let me get my keys. Then, I would buy a new lock at the Home Depot & bring it back. A small price to pay for my… forgetfulness.

    Got my keys. Ran the .9 miles uphill home, while theWeez waited at theBean’s work. Got the Ex. Drove to pick up theWeez. Went to the Home Depot. Tried to find a lock that resembled the 1 that was cut for me. No dice. Looked for 1 that I would want, & found 1 for only $6.34 (tax included.)


    Went back to the gym to drop off the lock. Girl at the front desk was amazed at the quality of the lock I chose. Go figure.

    Turns out the guy that had put the lock on #37 had been in the gym the whole time, (4 hours bro?) & had said, “NO!” when asked if he had put a lock on #37, but had obviously been simply trying to avoid the responsibility of locking a space that had held my keys… go figure.

    Drove home with theWeez. Weary. 3 hours & counting of my life, poured out in the pursuit of right. Gonna watch a moving picture with my girl – Shanghai Noon? That’ll work…

    coffee in the afternoon, & other musings…

    Maybe its a coping mechanism, but when I am noticed that certain days I crave coffee in the late afternoon. Its not the need for caffeine, because the decaf will do… its the smell of the brewing process, the taste of the 1st sip, the reassuring heat emanating from the ceramic cup. Sigh.


    Took a spill last night in our softball teams’ victory… lunging for a ball hit just beyond my reach, I landed on my left shoulder. Thought it came out of the socket… had brother PULL on the wrist to see if there was any give… nope. Just a jammed shoulder. Its ache-ey today. I will have to apply the Bio-Freeze.


    I was taken off guard today by Baby Zoe. She was sitting in her little bouncy chair, as she usually is, but this time she had her eyes open. And she was looking at me. And when she noticed I was looking at me, she smiled & yelled for me, “Tay-tay, I want you to pick me up & play with me.” (That last part about the yelling I’m PRETTY sure happened. Though no one else seems to have heard her do it… I did.)


    The more time that passes, the more I am convinced that 3 of the really great Sci-Fi shows of all time were:

  • Stargate SG-1
  • Farscape
  • Star Trek: TNG
  • Others, like BSG, Star Trek, & even the other Star Trek off-shoots are good. Still, I can put in a DVD of one of my personal big 3 & watch it over & over.

    That might say more about me & my longing for the old than it does about the new stuff. But I could be wrong.


    Off to soccer with theWeez. Lucky us. We have a 6:15 p.m. game tonight instead of the 7:45 game that ends at 9:15. Sweet.