Why vote Republican? Reason + able = Reasonable

It is high time that we (as a society) put reason back into reasonable. Reason, which is defined as “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic” has been
altogether removed from our society, and with it the ability to think for ourselves without fear of being stampeded by a culture that is content to let others think for them. The word itself is derived from the Latin word “Ratio” which contains a host of different applications. For instance, we might say that it is reasonable in times of famine or scarcity, to ration our food, fuel, and other essential resources. It would be unreasonable to do otherwise.

To marry reason with the word able, which is defined as “having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something,” is to say we have the power or skill to think with logic. This process then leads to understanding, which in turn leads us to make certain judgements. Judgements that are then used to form our decisions or thought processes. Logic is often (but not always) informed through experience. Meaning that if I touch a hot stove and get burned, I learn not to touch it again…lest I have the proper protection.

While experience is often logic’s greatest instructor, we must not disregard the influence of patterns. The human race, as advanced and accomplished as we are, have been and always will be utterlydependent on the ability to identify and distinguish between patterns. Whether they be patterns of thought, patterns of behavior, or patterns of nature. We arrive at these patterns by studying the data. If the data suggests that a certain level of destruction seems to always follow a specific type of behavior, then it stands to reason, we should avoid that behavior.

With that as a foundation, we can then look at our culture and society with clarity. Our society is
being pushed in a direction that seems to defy the very laws of logic and reason. Yet, we are so
detached form understanding and perhaps even fearful of questioning the merits of such foolishness that we simply hide away in our homes and hope that “this too shall pass.” I have news for you…It will not pass, lest it be challenged on the merits.

To defund the police is irrational and foolish, we all seem to understand that throughout history there has been some sort of authoritative measures of control. It is reasonable to conclude that evil exists because we can see it everyday and at times even experience it. Therefore, we can all agree there must be some check on this evil. The historical data seems to suggest that without these controls, even a civilized society will spin dangerously out of control. When these controls do not exist, justice is denied, and when justice is denied, people will naturally seek to execute it on their own. This is called mob justice, and while our own experiences coupled with historical patterns demand that we not go there…we still hear the cries to defund.

Likewise, historical patterns again coupled with our own experiences indicate that men are not women and women are not men. Men cannot give birth, nor can they breast feed a child, similarly there are things that women are incapable of doing, that men are not. Who cares? Why is it so important to society that everyone be equal in every way? Again, experience and history don’t just suggest this idea is wrong, they are in fact immovable on the issue. We are not and never will be equal in ability…it is unreasonable to suggest otherwise.

Changing our pronouns in order to be more inclusive is once again, more of the same. It is an
attempt to not only defy the patterns of the past but to ignore the experiences of the present and the past. We see the hypocrisy yet pretend it doesn’t exist. We hear Nancy Pelosi encouraging
members of the house not to use gender specific pronouns, all the while being referred to as madam speaker. There is just simply no logic to it at all, which by default makes it unreasonable.

I could go on and on about all the ways our culture has rejected reason. Yet, there is no point in the pointless. It is an exercise in futility and last I checked; exercise only helps the one who is doing it. As for me and my house we will choose to vote vore the candidate that most clearly walks the line of reason and logic. I would encourage all to do the same. That is unless we choose to continue living in a society at war with each other because we have allowed the unreasonable to rule over the reasonable.

suicidium

I stand at a distance and watch as the flames consume the foliage that has been piled for weeks. The heat is intense, and the process seems to unfold at lightning speed. What once, was a constant presence (vibrant and alive) is suddenly nevermore. Although the process seemed quick, it was much more involved than it first appeared.

I watched, as the fire inhaled the surrounding oxygen and breathed out its wrath. The heat, which seemed to draw nearer than the flames, left the leaves recoiling in fear and reduced to a shadow of their former glory. At times, the intensity was so great that the leaves would turn black before spontaneously combusting into an orange ball of relief. Yes, it was quick, but it was still a process.

Life is much life that foliage in the flames. Our circumstances, seem to consume us leaving us to wonder how suddenly things have changed. Disaster, without fair notice, has swept in and taken over. Our lives can be turned upside down in a moment’s notice – the resulting shell shock is enough to do us in alone. Yet, we march on, hoping that as quickly as things have changed, perhaps they will just as quickly revert back, back to a time when we were comfortable and safe…they do not.

What happens then, when life is falling apart at the seams and the flames of our circumstance threaten to extinguish the very life we have come to loathe? For those on the outside, those who may be watching the fire burn…know the process. Know what to look for in those that are suffering in silence. Perhaps, they can be saved from what would appear to be the inevitable – their own destruction.

Sadly, I have known too many people in my lifetime that couldn’t overcome their circumstances. They, like the leaves were consumed. The pain they had come to know had finally exceeded their desire to live, and by their own hands they would bring what seemed like the only available relief…death. It was, in many cases, during these times that the destructive process was visible. Visible, in that they began to show a lack of concern for others; their own circle of friends grew increasingly smaller; the things that had previously captured their attention could no longer incite even a shred of interest.

These are just some of the symptoms in a process as complex as it is quick. I know, only because I have been there myself. When the consuming fire of circumstance flooded my heart with pain and made no offer of relief…I wanted it all to end, or I would end it all. This was my new reality; I was shell shocked and broken beyond repair.

Thankfully, I remembered the scriptures that dreadful night.

I remembered that Ecclesiastes says “there is
nothing new under the sun.” It was important for me to remember that others had gone through the same torment and had lived to tell their stories…I needed hope.

I remembered that we are instructed in Romans “to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” That if I was to get out of my funk, I needed to think differently about my problems. Instead of seeing them as problems, I had to look at them as solutions…Solutions to the suffering of others. If I could live through this, I thought, then someday I can show someone else the way.


Lastly and most importantly, I had to remember the fall. Yes, the fall of man, which invited sin and suffering into a once perfect order. The pain that was inflicted upon my family, was done so because the nature of Adam (which is the nature of sin) had manifested itself in someone I loved deeply. I needed to be reminded that sin is real and so is hell. That I have an obligation, seeing to it that everyone I know can be shown how to exchange that old nature for a new one…I needed a Gospel reminder.

Perhaps it is the case that someone reading this is in the fire and without some sort of relief are in danger of providing their own. If that be the case please take the time to reach out and ask for help, whether it’s myself or someone else…just please reach out. Your life matters more than you know.

FAILING TO COMMUNICATE IS COMMUNICATING FAILURE…

Sometime back in the early 90’s, my mother decided to take my brother and I on a trip to Colorado to see my great-grandmother, who at the time lived in Loveland.  We loaded up in her 80’s model mustang and headed east. By that time, I had seen a lot of landscape, but I was completely unprepared for what lied ahead as we began our trek through Wyoming.  As I consider this, I think about the political landscape that we, as Americans, have witnessed over the last several years and most recently, the last 7-months. 

Heading into Wyoming, there didn’t seem to be much to talk about as far as the scenery was concerned. However, off in the distance was a massive blockade of mountains that appeared to cast its shade over the length of the whole state. Even still, my brother and I were somewhat uninterested. In fact, we played bloody knuckles for at least a solid two hours. That was, until I surrendered due to the broken blood vessels and a large amount of swelling.  It wasn’t until we reached the base of those mountains that the full picture could be seen. The large cliff faces and rocky outcroppings, the valleys and canyons, the wildlife that seemed to come out of nowhere. This, was without question, some of the most beautiful and dangerous landscape I had ever witnessed. What I had previously been uninterested in had all of the sudden captivated me and placed me under its spell for the duration of our travels through it and over it.

What I fear, is that much of our country has had the same haphazard approach to the politics of our nation.  For some time now, folks have gone on about their daily lives completely and totally uninterested in the political landscape that lied somewhere off in the distance. We had grown accustomed to the way things were, the constant back and forth, one party this cycle and the other on the next. Nobody, and I mean nobody foreseen a day when Donald Trump would be president. Furthermore, when he did become president, nobody thought he would be a good one. Half of this country was enjoying the new scenery, while the other half could only see the dangers. As it turns out, he really wasn’t that bad after all. Of course, we can all say that after having had the benefit of looking into the rearview mirror.

The Landscape has changed again, and unfortunately the current president is actually guilty of doing the very things that we were warned the previous president would do – but didn’t.  Incidentally, we are now once again taking sides…myself included.  To be fair, I was never a big Donald Trump fan.  Not, because he was making poor policy decisions, or at times taking a much much different approach than his predecessors and more distinguished colleagues would have taken.  My reasons for not having a greater affection for Trump than others had were petty, as compared to the reasons I do not like our current president. To put it simply, Trump was just not polished enough, too sharp with his tongue and often times, far too reactionary.  These are the same reasons I am at times disgusted with myself.  But, I am also not the president of the United States of America.

Now that the landscape has changed, we have come off and out of the peaks of that mountain and are standing at the edge of much greater and far more dangerous territory.  What looked so promising from a distance has now presented us with a challenge that we shall likely not overcome.  The very things that this nation has held in highest regard have now been made obsolete – our rights. That is, the bill of rights, enshrined within our founding documents and engraved into the heart of every red blooded American that has ever been born to this Nation.  This new administration, rather than trust people to make decisions regarding themselves and their families, has now gone to mandating those things for us. Why?  Because in their minds, we are not capable of making those decisions ourselves. What does it matter if I choose not to take a vaccine, or wear a mask? Am I somehow infringing on the rights of others, others who have had the same freedom to make those same choices? If the vaccine reduces the severity of sickness, but does not prevent a  person from getting sick, than what does it matter if I choose not to get it? It will be me who suffers the greater consequence, not the one who has been vaccinated.  I am much more willing to take that risk, than I am willing to see our country destroy the fundamental rights of all Americans.

The problem, both in this case and likewise with the botched mission in Afghanistan, is a failure to communicate, and failing to communicate is communicating failure.  This president, as well as a long list of those that have gone before him, has failed to communicate to the American people on a level that we can all understand and appreciate.  With covid-19, give us the information we need and allow us to work in partnership with our family doctors to determine the best course of action for ourselves.  Be honest, be honest about the origins, be honest about the vaccines, and be honest about the death rates. Unfortunately, it seems honesty works against their agenda. What is that agenda? It’s the same thing it has always been, re-election and power.  

Communication and honesty would have saved our politicians a lot of trouble over the years when it comes to Afghanistan as well.  Did our politicians provide a clearly defined mission? Did the mission change, and if so, was that clearly communicated to the American people? Perhaps it was always the plan that the Taliban would continue to run their country, were Americans aware of that? More importantly were our service men and women aware of that? You see, this is the problem. Most Americans know little about Afghanistan, let alone the complexities involved in fighting a war there. Having said that, had we known from the beginning that the way it ended was always going to be the way it ended, perhaps the American people would not have been so pissed off.  Instead, we believed that we were there to defeat the Taliban and likewise any other organization that modeled itself after it or worse.  Sadly, what has happened is that Americans have been made to feel as if we have failed in our mission. Why does that hurt so badly for some? It hurts because of the investment that was made. Not the money, not the time, and not the resources, but the investment that was made with the lives of American service member who believed they were fighting a righteous war, only to have their government give up on them.

Pain Management

I stand at my window peering through the blinds – afraid to be seen and knowing that if discovered I will have visited upon myself the worst of my fears. I batten down the hatches and make no effort to stand out. As always there are children playing in their yards, fathers washing their cars and mothers hanging their clothes on the line – the typical Saturday in a community where (like Cheers) everyone knows your name.

It is true that while others know our names, our stories are as unfamiliar to one another as are the strangers to whom we have never met. I continue watching, knowing that soon the children will scatter and hide, as will the fathers and mothers that tend now to their daily chores. Yes, the scene that unfolds daily here will change, transitioning into a scene full of fear, uncertainty, and chaos. This is what terrifies me…this is the reason I hide behind these walls.

My assumption is correct and soon my prediction comes to pass, the children are frantic, the parents even more so. The shadowy figure that has visited himself upon my neighbors has again made his untimely appearance. Fear now creeps through the streets like slow churning ooze. I step back from the window and hold my breath, praying he does not come to my door.

The streets are empty now; as everyone has taken notice of the thief, they call pain. Soon there is a knock on my door, a slow, steady, and hard knock. He is letting me know (in no uncertain terms) that he intends to come in. I am persistent in my refusal to answer, yet he is all the more – a standoff that I am sure to lose. Pain will have his day whether I choose to invite him in or not. I am reluctant, but complicit, knowing that the sooner I get it over with the better off I will be. I slowly and cautiously begin the process of allowing this unwelcomed visitor into my home.

As the door swings open, pain floods into my home like the warmth of an afternoon sun radiating off the windowpanes. I am rendered speechless; the pain is intense and I am stripped of whatever strength I perceived myself to have. I am lying now at the foot of the door and unable to move, or even cry out for help. Pain now fully enters my home and leaves me begging for death. Those whom have had the unlucky pleasure of entertaining his company will say that in time it gets better. I disagree; the pain is still there, we just don’t feel it anymore.

Pain like medicine is good in small doses; it still tastes bad, but serves its purpose in making us stronger. Unfortunately, when pain is poured and not measured it is deadly. Pain in small doses will let us know we still have life, but too much will leave us wishing we didn’t. So how do we manage when the pain is so great that death is the better option? We don’t! The truth is that pain usually manages us. We see this often in those that have a pulled muscle, a pinched nerve, or a twisted ankle. Watch how they walk…how they carry themselves. It doesn’t take long for the casual observer to notice that something is wrong. We see the limp, we notice how one might favor their hurting members.

If this is true of our physical bodies than it stands to reason that it is likewise true of our non-physical bodies as well. When we hurt…we limp! We favor the part that is hurting until the pain stops, or until we stop noticing the pain (The former to our benefit – the latter to our detriment). When pain makes his home in our heart and becomes for us a new normal, we are in grave danger of losing sight of others and the pain they too have borne. We become less sympathetic, less concerned, calloused and hard hearted toward others who are also hurting, those who just need to know that someone understands and is willing to walk with them, and if able, to share in shouldering that burden. I am grateful that through it all I have “a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A friend that walked his own road, full of suffering and pain, but still willing to return in hopes that he might shoulder mine as well.

2 COR 1:3-8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.

TYme-OUT

So many thoughts rushing through my head, like an engine that was never meant to be shut down, but neither was it meant to run at idle. Wide open, always, torturing me through the night as I toss and turn fighting for my rest. I wake, exhausted and hoping today is not more of the same. I reach for inspiration, but often I pull back an empty hand. I know well that my grasp will not likely be rewarded…yet still I reach.

I pray that things will change, that the tide will turn as the momentum shifts in my favor, yet the battle remains uphill-it seems it always will.  I play defense mostly, as I guard my heart against the bitterness that threatens to overtake me. The same bitterness that feeds the deadly mouth of cynicism. The combination of the two is a poison that kills our joy and adds misery to our suffering.

The word declares that if we ask it shall be given, we must however ask with right motives, and for any who lack wisdom the scriptures proclaim that we should make that request and father of lights who is the giver of all good gifts will provide in abundance. So I ask, checking and rechecking the motivation behind my requests. My prayer is simple – Lord, give me back my voice, give to me the inspiration that fuels my passion…Simply put: Restore my passion, restore my joy.

Finally, it happens. It’s Friday night and the community has gathered into their holding pen like trained sheep. The hometown football team is ahead by a significant margin, so with only a few minutes left on the clock my son will finish out the game at QB. This is the day he has waited for -his moment in the sun. Ty ran the first few plays and watched as the clock unwound. On what would prove to be the last play, and winning by a comfortable margin, he looks to the clock and finds 3 seconds remaining. What does he do? Instead of running out the clock and ushering in the moment when they all can celebrate their victory – He calls a timeout. I must admit that even the refs looked stunned. The coach appeared to wave off the time out and the game ended. When asked why he had called the timeout his answer was simple – I wanted to score.

I was proud of the determination he showed and I am thankful for the lesson this taught me, both in life and in ministry. You see, the clock is running and though we might be ahead and the victory a certainty, we need to realize that in life there is no timeout. We cannot simply stop the clock when time nears its end. If we are going to score in life we cannot wait till the end of life to do it. We should start now.

This may seem like a small thing, but for me this simple anecdote was enough, it was a reminder that “he will never leave us, nor forsake us.” In my moments of greatest despair I have trained myself to look for inspiration, and in his goodness the lord saw fit to provide – even if it was through a boneheaded move by a determined young man who just wanted to score.

She walks when she’s weary…

Its early, one of those mornings when you abruptly waken to realize you have overslept your alarm clock and are late for work. I jump out of bed and begin to rush through my typical morning routine, as if it really matters now. Through what little light that is offered from a soft morning sun, I fumble for my clothes, I try in vain to not wake my sleeping beauty. Yet when I glance to the place I know she will be, I find that she has already risen. Then it hits me, its Saturday, while I have somewhere to be, it’s not work, and I am not late. I slow my pace considerably. Instead I take it in.

I take in the fact that while I have spent the solid part of 20 minutes rushing through a simple routine, my wife has instead been methodical about hers. She has in fact already finished her morning walk and is now sitting in her chair reading her bible and drinking her cup of coffee. This routine has been as important as any routine that mankind has mustered in his mind. It began with simply an exercise. For health reasons, Lori began to walk every morning, this walk however would turn into a journey with Jesus as He too would rise early and go along.

Its here on these walks when she has the time and the chance to unload the burdens she’s borne. A chance to drop that excess weight, both physical and spiritual. I think back sixteen years ago to the birth of our first child and realize that from day one she has questioned her abilities as a mother, mentor and friend. Having added five more to the fold things have yet to change. She still has doubts…We all do I suppose.

But there on those little walks with Jesus, he calms her fears and applies his grace like a slave to her often broken heart. If she spends too much time pondering the events of the last year her pace will slow and the weight is added back like a heavy coat, slowing her even more. Thankfully the weight is a reminder and not a burden. A reminder “to come unto to him.” And she does.

Her strength is remarkable and her faith is unparalleled. As a man, like many, I had, I think formed an element of pride in what I considered to be my own strength. Perhaps I have a failed understanding of strength. I adjusted, I pressed on, I dug deep…all the while never really being honest with myself about certain events and how they have affected me, or should I say infected me. Truth is that strength is what I was witnessing in my wife, I was instead dealing with an infection. One that if not handled by the great physician himself would have been deadly.

What I have witnessed in her is the resilliance of one who knows where to take her troubles and is determined to do so no matter how much it hurts.”A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” She gets up every morning to school the children, nurse their wounds, kiss their cheeks, and make their many appointments. She knows the strength she needs must come from another source. So she exposes her weaknesses, believing that in her weakness she will find his strength…and she has. I however am still learning this lesson and still nursing the infection. Thank you Lori for all that you have taught me and for your deep and abiding love of Christ.

 

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY….

Isabel…Isabel…Isabel

Just a little over sixteen years ago Lori and I welcomed our oldest child (Isabel) into the world. To say I was nervous would be an understatement, I was scared to death at the thought of being responsible for another human being. Making sure she was fed, bathed, and even clothed properly. I remember the first time Lori left me in charge of all these tasks was on a Wednesday night and when I got to church a kind lady (Linda Mullis) politely informed me that Isabel’s pants were on backwards. I was a mess, and truthfully speaking I wasn’t just nervous about being a new father, I was scared to death.

A lot has happened since that time, and I am not longer as scared as I once was. In part that is because I have learned that “perfect loves casts out all fear.” If one should desire to be a good father it is of particular importance for them to learn from the heavenly father about the heart of a father. Having spent some time attempting to understand my role better from a scriptural standpoint, I now realize that a good father will only carry you so far. At some point he must set you on your feet and ask you to walk. Of course he will never abandon his child, but he will have certain expectations.

When Isabel started her Ballet journey several years ago, neither myself nor Lori knew how far she was willing to take it. She had already tried playing ball, she was done with that the first time she got hit. She tried piano for a while as well and for whatever reason it just wasn’t her thing. Lori worried about her not making friends and/or being willing to get out of her box. In fact there was even a time where as a family we prayed about her making friends. It has always been difficult for Isabel to step up and step out of that box. That is until she found Ballet. She seemed to metamorphosis right before our eyes. She was captivated by the world of dance, and even developed a love for classical music, which is a strange phenomenon in this generation of teens. I remember one year we went to browsers flea market in Eastman, Georgia in order to buy up all the classical records they had for Isabel’s Christmas gifts…that was all she wanted (along with a record player of course).

However the Journey now seems to be more of a passion that is likely leading to her calling. The only advice I can give her is travel the road as far as it goes, and go no further lest the Lord instruct you. Just because the road comes to an end does not necessarily mean the Journey is over, It may mean the Lord is expecting you to do a little off-roading. Unfortunately the path is not as smooth, and your bound to hit obstacles and barriers when you do go off-road. Having said that the smooth sailing for Isabel looks to have come to an end, at least in her eyes anyway. You see last year when she left IBC in Mississippi, she knew she wanted to go on to more intensives the following summer. However Isabel has still not gotten over the fact that she started ballet late in life and cannot seem to understand that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” Therefore in her mind she honestly did not think she would get accepted to any of them. Turns out she did, in fact she was accepted into both places she auditioned for.

Here is where the grand illusion begins, the school she wants to attend is in Orlando, Florida and the cost is fairly significant. As a father who wants to teach his daughter to walk and work, I put the ball in her court. I told her if you want to go, you must raise the money. For Isabel this seems like an impossible task. She has sold some t-shirts but the task in her mind is insurmountable. For this I am glad, I say that because until we reach the point of humble resignation to God’s plan, we are only spinning our wheels. Isabel sent me a text this morning and I have been thinking about it all day long. Here is what she said:

I know if God wanted me to go, he could provide the resources. I have no doubt about that. But I am really worrying myself to death about it and I am scared the scholarship thing wont email me back in time for me to register. Like I said its ok, its not a big deal. When I said I wanted to audition I told you I would raise the money, but I didn’t think I would get into any of them. let alone both. I wasn’t prepared, that was my fault and I learned a lesson.

Yes, she has learned a lesson. I expect she will also learn the heart of her father now. Not me, but her heavenly father. Like I said, it is my job to teach her how to walk, but I will not abandon her on the journey. I am posting here a go fund me page that Isabel started and am humbly asking that if anyone is willing to help her please do…it’s all I want for my birthday. I am so very proud of her and I know that you all are as well. Thank you for reading my musings.

https://www.gofundme.com/summer-intensive-2019-fundraising?fbclid=IwAR0Gq4IUUkDN_dCWgM2PMeDVVNIAsroaRaq7OAWlNKPhZNqXtJipZtqkolY

 

…A BROTHER IS BORN FOR ADVERSITY (PROVERBS 17:17)

It is true what scripture says…”A brother is born for adversity.” But before I explain what this means to me today I must put things in the proper context. Just before Thanksgiving Lori and I discovered that our Son Ty had done some things in our home that have and will continue to have a profound effect on us. This is a deeply personal matter and I have debated as to whether or not I should write about it here. Yet it occurs to me that what has happened in our home has likewise happened in the homes of countless other people around the world and maybe just maybe the Lord will use this post in a way that brings healing and hope to others.

Like any other couple with 6 children, Lori and I came to the realization that we needed to make time to invest in each other. As a result we began going on dates, usually Friday evenings when Belle was home and could watch after the little ones for us, Justin and Ty were more than capable of seeing after themselves. Typically it was a movie night for us and we would wait until the last showing so as to make sure we had time to get the feedings and baths done before we left. Belle would only then be responsible for putting them in the bed. On this night as we made our way home from Warner Robins I received a phone call from Belle, she sounded as if she was hyperventilating, hysterical would be an understatement. Immediately I assumed the worst, I tried for several minutes (minutes that seemed like hours) to calm her down as I attempted to find out what was wrong. What she would eventually come to tell us that night would forever alter our family. Belle had discovered some things that Ty was doing to another one of our children. Unfortunately that night she blamed herself. She was the one on duty, the one we had entrusted to watch over the kids, in her mind it was all her fault.

The emotions I felt that night were emotions I had not felt in decades. In the past I struggled with anger, I would hold onto things, continue to push them down deep into my soul and hope they just went away. They never did. Eventually I would store up so much anger that there was no room left and I would explode in a blind fit of rage. I know full well what it means to see red as my eyes would literally fade into black and turn into a sea of red. This all came to a head while I was in the service and dealing with a mix of complicated emotions. In the process I was forced to seek counseling in a program known as ADAPC. I likewise spent about 3 days in the hospital for what they would call homicidal behavior.

Within the next couple of years I made the transition from military to civilian life, Lori and I would go on to start our lives together and most importantly I would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Since that time I have not dealt with anger. I guess in a naïve way I thought it was completely gone, that is until this night. As I arrived home I felt that anger come over me, I ran upstairs and picked Ty up out of his slumber. I honestly have no idea what my intentions were that night, all I know is, my eyes were fading to black and as the sea of red began to crash over me in a flood of hate, something else was coming over me as well. This had never happened before, I was never able to hold back this flood in the past, but now something else was happening and suddenly I began to see clearly again. My only explanation is that the God I had come to trust in had somehow broken through and the separated the waters of rage that began to fill my mind.

The next few weeks were without question the hardest weeks of my life. I have experienced pain in the past, both physical and emotional. This however was beyond pain, it was paralyzing. I struggled with knowing how to minister to my family, my wife, my daughters and my sons. How do I hold us together when forces that seem to be much stronger than myself are literally tearing us apart at the seams? Lori and I have faced difficulty in the past, but after 18 years together I can say that never before has our marriage been tested as it has through this. I began to fall apart, I offered to resign from the Church even, thinking that I was no longer qualified to serve. I demanded things from my family that they were not ready to give. I grew impatient with them when they failed to respond in what I thought was the biblical way. As I reached out for help I found that the Church is still there and Jesus Christ is as alive now as he ever was. But still I was hurting, I felt as if I was dying inside, a slow and agonizing death.

Thankfully several months before this incident occurred, my brother had planned and paid for our family to join his in Disney World a couple of weeks before Christmas. Ty could not join us, but for the rest of the kids it was a welcome retreat from the misery we had been living. While in Orlando my brother and I had an opportunity to sit and talk…a lot. There were many nights there when we stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning just reminiscing. It was nice, it was needed more so than he will ever know. I always looked up to Jason. He seemed always to be the one that could make anything work. I never knew quite how he did and still does it, but he hasn’t changed in that regard. Yet the thing that I looked up to the most was his compassion. Jason always seemed to identify better with the broken, maybe it’s because he can identify the broken. He is no stranger to brokenness himself, there was a time when I had entered into his suffering and it was dark, so dark I wondered at how a man could live in such darkness for any length of time. I grieved for him daily and I worried about him often. Yet the experience has shaped him in ways that have made him the man he is today.

During our adoption training we were told that the sibling relationship is the strongest relationship in the human experience. Jason and I have been through a lot together, and I guess it’s partially due to our shared experiences and the sibling relationship that he is able to see the things in me that others could not. Jason Knew I was falling apart, he knew that I was in exceptional danger of allowing my circumstances to overwhelm me. To my surprise, he called just after we returned from Orlando and said he would be flying into Atlanta just after Christmas to spend an undetermined amount of time here. He assured me his wife and children were ok with his plans, that his church and in-laws were both in agreement with him and that they were all praying for our family.

For the next four weeks Jason would show me how to properly minister in a time of such pain and uncertainty. He was patient with us, he was kind to us and he was always near to us. He represented the Lord in ways that I had not. He was a welcome distraction for Justin and taught him many things about life in the process and Justin will miss him dearly as will we all. The Sacrifices that I have made in the past for my own family pale in comparison to the sacrifices that Jason has made for us all in this time of desperation.

Sadly Jason will be getting on a plane today and returning to his own. However I have learned so much from watching him, things that will stay with me forever. But perhaps the most important thing is the simple reminder that Ministry is about making one’s life a little easier to live in the midst of a broken world, and to do so in a way that screams the Love of Jesus in the process.

Thank you Jason for making my life easier in this process…a brother really is born for adversity.

P.S.

Thank you Paula, Cameron, December and Isaac for sharing your husband and father with our family during this difficult time. I pray your sacrifices will be repaid in full and that your cup shall runeth over.

…and she danced

The day began with a great sense of anticipation, it was Sunday, and as always there was a certain amount of anticipation for the obvious reasons. After all it is the Lords Day and anything is possible. Yet brewing and bubbling in the deeper recesses of my own heart was another reason.  Something I had looked forward to for a long time, something that I likewise had been praying about for a long time as well. Now here it was, the day I had been waiting for, the day when I would see with my own eyes how all the prayers and all the work would come together to culminate in a performance that in my mind was brilliant.

For those that know my oldest daughter (Isabel) they know that she is a quiet and reserved young woman. Not one to make a fuss or even attempt to stand out for any reason at all.  Isabel has never been one to crave attention. I often use my children in sermon illustrations and when I do, I absolutely expect there to be some fallout when I get home. She has always been this way, even in school she was afraid to raise her hand and ask questions about matters she didn’t understand.

Having said all that I was shocked when she came to me several years ago and said she wanted to take ballet. My first thoughts were that she would try it out, only to discover very quickly she was swimming in the wrong lake and want to jump out as quickly as she jumped in. To my surprise, she fell in love with it. Since that time her love has only grown and matured in ways I never expected. Unfortunately in the ballet world Isabel had a late start. This has haunted her for years, thinking that she will never overcome in diligence what she lost in time. The 6 or 7 years prior to her starting ballet, in her mind were critical and formative years…years that she missed.

However discouraged she was and is when she thinks too long about those lost years, she never let it be a deterrence. She only pushed harder, trained harder, stretched more often, read more books, and followed more dancers. One day she came to me and asked if I would let her try out for a summer intensive in Atlanta. I prayed about it and agreed, the only roadblock she had left was her mother. Who for obvious reasons is very protective of her children. Initially the answer was no. Isabel would come to me and ask if I would talk to her momma and try to convince her to say yes to her dreams. I would tell her to pray, “pray that your momma would have a change of heart and concede to your dreams, with the knowledge that this could be God’s will for your life, and the only way to find out would be to travel this road.”  There is just as much of a need for missionaries in the liberal arts as there is in Africa.

This went on for what seemed like months, then one day while in her room I noticed a small notebook that read “BALLET JOURNAL”.  I did the unthinkable…I read her journal. Afterwards I sat on her bed and cried, this journal was full of prayers, prayers that her father would approve, prayers that her mother would approve, prayers that God would help her on this journey. Until then I had no idea just how important this was. I prayed harder and with more sincerity as a result. Eventually God would answer her prayers and Lori would concede to the idea of Isabel going off for the summers to study this art she had come to love.

So here it was, the day that I had prayed for and longed for in my own heart, the day that Isabel would take center stage and dance on her own, her first real Solo since she began this journey. My heart was racing in the moments leading up this cataclysmic event. My eyes shifted from left to right scanning the stage and waiting impatiently while at the same time never wanting this moment to end. Suddenly she appears and I watch in utter amazement at the beauty of it all. This was my daughter, the shy one, the one that never wanted the spotlight, and here she is embracing her moment and dancing as I had never witnessed her dance before. With every leap from the stage my heart would leap from my chest. The beauty and the grace literally took my breath away, and just like I had after reading her journal…I sat and wept.

In the midst of all that I was feeling in that moment my mind shifted to the passages of scripture that tell us of a time when David danced before the Lord. I realized then that David too must have felt a great deal of anticipation as he waited for the day when he could finally bring the Ark back to its proper home. The dancing seemed to be an impulse that he couldn’t shake, the day that he had waited for was now finally here and the natural response for him was to dance. I’m not quite sure how Isabel feels about it in her own heart, but looking back I cant help but wonder if the same was true for her.  That in some way all of those years she had prayed and begged God to give her the chance had now culminated in what I will dare to say was the proudest moment of my life as her father…

I Love You Isabel, and I couldn’t be prouder.

-daddy

 

 

WORLDS APART…

I see world filled with wonder, full of life, love, hope, and peace. It’s a bright world filled with dazzling displays of light and color. Flowers drape the landscape, and snowcapped mountains rise in the distance. Everything is safe, there are no dangers lurking in the shadows. In fact there is no shadow to behold. Darkness takes no form here.

I look closer, my eyes have narrowed their focus. There in the distance, a child stands beneath the glow of a perfect Son. She is small, frail even. She appears to be overcome with sorrow. I call out to her, she cannot hear. My heart breaks as I watch. Her eyes are screaming with sadness, but still they are focused. She raises her head and looks out over the horizon, slowly she moves in the direction of her gaze. Each step appears to carry the weight of a thousand stars…I follow.

We draw closer to the object of her attention, the scene changes, the sun has drifted behind the clouds. They too are heavy, even the sky seems filled with sorrow. I wonder why she is leaving her world behind. What is she after? What has caused her heart to mourn? My eyes peer deeper still, and there in the depths of her soul I see the strength of a thousand men. She is resolved to go…I follow.

As if instantly we are transported into another world. It is ominous and dark. No warmth seems to pass through the biting cold. The landscape invites no color and everything seems as a shadow of something worse. Light has escaped through the night sky and darkness abounds. My senses are heightened now, I hear the sound of her pounding heart as it beats against her chest. She hears something too, it is faint, a whimper almost. She races toward it…I follow.

The whimper has now morphed into a moan and a voice cries out from the dark. I am terrified, I plead with her “Turn Back, please turn back.” Still she cannot hear, or perhaps she refuses to listen. The volume of my pleas has now reached a fever pitch. The more I plead the faster she moves. We come to a river, slowly churning its way through this world of crippling darkness. The water is blacker still, there is danger there. “Please, please turn back,” I am begging now. “Go back to the place you left behind, it’s beautiful there, you don’t belong here. It’s much too dangerous to stay.” “Why leave the beauty and splendor or your perfect world?”

She raises her arm, pointing across the river, and there lying in the distance is another child. He is desperate for help, but wonders who will come for him. Curled in a ball with his arms thrown over his head. He is shaking, his clothes are tattered and worn. He is cold, and scared. The groans grow louder by the moment. Her eyes are pleading with me now, “Save him, please save him.” With every tear that flows her pleas grow louder. The stench air is filled with desperation. My own fears have fled from her strength. I go, knowing there is danger, yet I am not afraid.

I take the child in my arms, my mind is fixed on his safety. In my heart I know we must bring him into her world, I also know that pain in the soul is different than pain in the body. The pain in a man’s soul will often times infect the people around them, inviting destruction upon them all. There is a remedy for this pain. Unfortunately the remedy is more painful than the ailment it cures, and making matters even worse, the pain is felt only by the one who administers it. She sees my fears, and comforts me in my distress. She says to me “I have power that remains unseen.” I ask what it is. She smiles as her eyes soften and the glow returns to her nature “the power to love”…I am stunned.