Friday, March 30, 2007


I greatly appreciate all the comments, prayers, advice.

I'm too tired to write a clever post, but I thought I could drop a note to all of you, kind readers, just to let you know I'm still kicking.

It's Spring Break which means I have had time to deal with various things.

My wife and I are talking, and that is a good thing. I'm still uncertain about the future there.

And as been the case before, when things gets hard and weird, things tend to get harder and weirder.

Case in point. Went to the ear doctor yesterday... I definitely have hearing loss. It won't come back. Additionally, it turns out that due to some lack of paperwork when we adopted our children 13 years ago neither of them are U.S. citizens. We have set up an appointment with an attorney on Tuesday to look into it. His ballpark is that we can probably work it all out... after a year or so and $3,000. Jeremiah is the more difficult problem as he is already 18 and getting citizenship is not so easy for the developmentally disabled. (I thought adopting a child meant they were citizens!)

I'm spending tomorrow morning with a good friend... a guy I trust who can give me good advice.

Bottom line... my wife is still glancing at rainbows, my back hurts, my head hurts, my skin is peeling, and there is a deafening (literally) ringing in my ears.

I love the Lord... I just don't know why life is so weird.

Ah yes... one other weird piece of news... I heard last week that my dad owns a bar in Thailand now... it's a brothel.

If I was reading all of this in a novel I would say that it doesn't seem very plausible.

Stranger than fiction.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Over The Rainbow

But sometimes,
We forget what we got,

Who we are.
Oh who are are not.
I think we gotta chance,
To make it right.

Keep it loose, Keep it tight.
Keep it tight.
-Amos Lee

I have forgotten what I’ve got, who I am. I cannot be everything to everyone.

When I was a kid, about once a year, The Wizard of Oz would appear on our television set. It was a special event; so rare it almost seemed a holiday.

At the time I thought it was just a story about a fantastic adventure to a wonderful place. As a young adult I became aware of enough history to see the allegory about moving off the gold standard, but back then it was simply a wonderful story, a fantasy.

My English major education shows me more important aspects of the story.

It’s a story of someone wanting more from life. Someone tired of the ordinary, the dreary life of work. A place where the whole world seems to be cast in sepia tones.

Dorothy thinks there must be a place where things are different. A place where things are beautiful. Perhaps beyond that occasional arch in the Kansas sky, the rainbow:

When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around

Heaven opens a magic lane

When all the clouds darken up the skyway

There's a rainbow highway to be found

Leading from your window pane

To a place behind the sun

Just a step beyond the rain

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high

There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream

Really do come true
--“Over The Rainbow"
(as sung by Judy Garland

Brenda feels like that. She is frustrated, and angry, and tired.

I understand. I am tired too.

Raising these boys has been a tremendous amount of work. And now, as we sprint (or stagger) toward the finish line, the time when they should be ready to go out into the world, it seems they are not at all ready.

Brenda fears we will never be done with the job.

Our parents didn’t work so hard at it. Neither of us were really raised. We were grown. We were provided with food and shelter. Nothing more. No guidance, no training, no practice runs at the skills we would need. As first borns our place was to take up the slack in raising our siblings.

There was no leisurely move into the world when we turned 18, it wasn’t in the cards. Brenda went to business school before the month after high school let out (she met me soon after). I was told to be moved out by my 18th birthday (even though I wouldn’t graduate high school for another two months).

Today her frustration is tangible. Some days are better than others. A roller coaster for both of us. (She is in a good mood tonight, sweet, generous.) But underneath everything is the tension about how much further we will have to go in raising these two boys. I suspect that when the job is nearly done, she will go seeking that path over the rainbow. She will be within an arm’s length of graduating college and will take the freedom that education offers to flee this burden. She wants desperately to run away from her life.

I'm in love with a girl,
Who's in love with the world,

Though I can't help but follow.

Though I know some day,

She is bound to go away,

And stay over the rainbow.

Gotta learn how to let her go.

Over the rainbow.

--Amos Lee

I don’t know what to tell her anymore. I have tried, and I have failed. I am a very imperfect person. I try to ease her struggles, to honestly see my shortcomings and grow into someone that provides all she needs. But I cannot conjure up that brilliant world beyond the rainbow.

Sometimes we forget who we got,
Who they are.
Oh, who they are not.
There is so much more in love,
Than black and white.
Keep it loose child,
Gotta keep it tight.
Keep it loose child,
Keep it tight.
--Amos Lee

I have failed her in making my work too great a priority, in focusing too sharply on things outside our home. I seek to bear as much of the burden of our home that I can, but I cannot change her heart.

Her disappointments I cannot heal. I cannot change the fact she cannot bear children. I cannot change the fact we were misled regarding Jeremiah’s abilities. I cannot change the fact our first child died. I cannot change the fact we must diligently watch Jeremiah to ensure he does not play with fire. I cannot take away her guilt and shame over the burning of our church. I cannot stop the constant references to the rebuilding of the church. I cannot take away her anger at God, argue theology with someone who does not accept the premise God is good.

I want to keep her close, love her forever. Perhaps that is how it will turn out, but I have doubts.

When someone sees life in sepia tones, and a sparkling rainbow appears in the mind, a portal to a wonderful place, a place without worry or cares, it is very tempting. I understand.

That portal isn’t really there. It is an illusion. There isn’t any way to get over it, or under it or through it. There isn’t an end to it. The pot of gold isn’t there. It is in one’s heart... or it isn’t.

Oh, Brenda... a rainbow is a circle. Much of it may be invisible, but it is still a circle. The center of that circle is ourselves... or the shadow of ourselves. If you look closely at the exact center of every rainbow you will ever see, you will find that it is framed exactly on your shadow’s head. You are the center of it... it is your viewpoint which carries the rainbow and as long as you have a body it will always be so.

But if you turn around, put your back to that fanciful imaginary portal, you will find you are looking at the sun, the true source of the power of the beauty which is framed around you. The rainbow is the earthly halo bestowed upon your shadow.

And just as the sun places this metaphoric crown over our heads, the Son places a spiritual crown on each of us.

I can’t prove it. I can’t point it out. But I know it is there. He does love us, and He is good.

I am a scientific man in many ways, and I understand how people can view a rainbow as simply the refraction of light through glistening raindrops or virga or mist. But I can also understand how people can marvel at such things and wonder at the miracle it holds. Not of its existence, but of the wonder that we can see it as beautiful. a dog can see a rainbow. Perhaps not all the spectrum we see, but enough to see it is there. But a dog never feels a rising passion within his breast, the emotion we call awe.

Logic can not prove the existence of God. Just as logic cannot explain our sense of beauty. Those are discernments of the heart, not the mind.

Ah, honey... I love you. I don’t know where this will all end. But if you can’t see the invisible blessings which streams earthward I am incapable of pointing them out to you. You must see them with your own eyes, with your own heart.

You wonder how God can let so many hurtful things happen in the world, happen to you. I cannot answer such questions.

But I know that wherever you may go, the rainbow will always be outside of your reach.

I’m tired. I am having trouble keeping this smile in place. I will always love you. I won’t try to force you into a mold, into anywhere you do not wish to go. This means that if you want to chase after rainbows, that will be your own journey.

Dorothy chased her rainbow... and found that everything she wanted was always where she began.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I don’t know what to tell you, my friend.

Things have gotten rough, and for a little bit there I thought I might even be headed into some sort of a breakdown.

There have been a lot of pressures on me. Some I have shared. Some I haven’t.

I’ve been thinking aboout this blog. What is its purpose? Who is my audience? Why do I write it?

The answers to such questions have shifted over time, sometimes from post to post.

Sometimes I wrote with the idea I might be helping people to draw closer to God.

Sometimes I wrote to get something off my chest, sometimes to work through things I didn’t quite understand.

Sometimes I wrote from pride, wanting to impress, wanting to show off.

Sometimes I stopped myself from sharing things I thought would offend certain readers. Sometimes I wrote things that I knew would touch particular readers.

I don’t feel like sharing all that is on my mind, all that is on my heart, right now.

I know that I want to be the best at what is important.

I think there are things at risk in my life right now. My health, my family, my sanity.

So... here is this strange little post that I think may mark a shift in this blog.

I want to write about the things that I think are important, but only when I think I have the dicretionary time, and the proper inclination.

I’m no longer going to worry about trying to get two posts a week out. Instead, I am going to listen to heart, keep things in perspective.

I’m not goinng to work twice as many hours as I sleep. I’m not going to run my tank empty at work and other pursuits and give my family the dregs.

I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m not going to be overly concerned about what others think who read this blog.

Monday, March 05, 2007


(Click to enlarge)

It’s been a long project. Wings are tricky things.

When I was five I was told we can do all things in Christ.

I pulled on that rope which connected me to the bell in the tower above, pulled hard. The rope coiled at my feet and the bell sang across our small town... “It’s time for church,” it sang; it rang.

I believed those words. "I can do all things."

I let the rope slide through my hands as the bell swung back above me. When the rope slowed, hesitated, I jumped as high as I could, grabbed the rope, held on, and my kindergarten-sized body pulled the bell above me harder, further.

I can do all things.

“Come to church. It’s time to come and sing, to hear about Jesus.” My 60 pounds were turned into a voice that rang down the street, past my house, past the library, clear to highway 99 in that small northern California town. “Come to church! Come to church! Come! Come!”

Mom told me to find out how many kids were in my kindergarten class and she would make cookies for us, one for every kid. At recess I asked my teacher. She told me, I raced outside.

I hadn’t noticed the fence before. I stood looking at the chain link and wondered how I was going to tell my mom how many kids were in the class.

“You can do all things in Christ.”

I closed my eyes and walked straight through the fence. Well, that was what I thought I would do. But I bumped into the fence, scraped my nose a little bit. I must not have had enough faith. I climbed the fence and ran home.

My walk of faith has been a strange one. From seeing a stained-glass Jesus smile at me when I was five, being told I was too young for communion, living in a Hindu ashram and claiming Jesus as my avatar, reading Bible stories, a "Jesus Freak" in high school... strange adventures, strange paths.

It’s been a tricky project. I’ve been working with wax and down, balsa wood frames and long white feathers. It’s been a long, tricky project.

These past few years I’ve been taking my faith very seriously. I’ve been praying, alone, in groups large and in groups small. I’ve been praying through writing and through painting. I’ve prayed in the solitude of snow-covered trails, in the darkness of early morns, and in walks around a paved track at work.

Each prayer has been a part of that project, a piece of wax tacking a hope or desire into place. I’ve been pressing the parts of my spiritual disciplines in the wax.

I’ve been taking my faith seriously. I’ve been confessing my weakness to friends. I’ve taken the surprisingly heavy plumage of my sins and stuck them to the ribbing of my faith.

I’ve gotten someone to mentor me. I’ve followed scripture reading programs. I’ve sung hymns and whispered and spoken and shouted words of praise. I’ve laid those disciplines beside each other with an eye to making them fit into a smooth aerodynamic shape to help me to glide higher anjd higher to my Lord.

I’ve take the sorrows of my life... I’ve taken the things which make my heart race, which terrify me, and turned them into threads to bind and reinforce these wings.

I have raced off cliffs with these wings and gliding into blue skies. I’ve flown high, reveling in the joy of drawing near to my Lord.

I have soared to such heights. I’ve looked down on the patchwork quilt of my life. I’ve seen the depths of my pain, far and distant. I’ve seen verdant fields of my successes, small in a landscape bordered by the roads leading to places of work and worship and family.

And suddenly...

Suddenly I’m afraid.

Feathers are coming off my long, tricky project, they drift below.

I’m afraid I’m going to fall...

I see an airport below me. I’m not sure how I can get to it safely.

I’m afraid.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Black River

(Song by Amos Lee)

I don’t get it.

I’m trying to understand. I’m trying hard to be kind to myself. I’m trying to give myself the time to breathe, to work through the wide range of emotions churning within my heart... but there doesn’t seem to be any clarity.

My friends ask me how I’m doing. Depending on my mood I either smile and fake it, or I talk about one of the things which concern me. Both responses are a lie.

Sometimes I really do feel great. My heart is full of joy. I am glad, glad, glad.

Sometimes something seems to creep up over me.

Oh, Black River
Gonna take my cares away
Whoa, Black River
Gonna take my cares away
Gonna take my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take my cares away
Gonna take a my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take a my cares away

I do a lot of writing. Much of it never goes anywhere, not even onto this blog. The other day I sat down to write, and this came out:

I feel like I am spinning away into darkness...

Of late my emotions have been rocking between joy and despair.

I’m so tired... so tired.

Perhaps this will be a post for my blog... perhaps it will be nothing at all... Just the way I feel sometimes... nothing at all...

I walked along the river yesterday. It was swollen, muddy, filled with debris washed from the banks.

Jeremiah turns 18 tomorrow.


There was a woman from the county visiting us yestereve. She will be Jeremiah’s case worker now that he is a legal adult. She will facilitate services which will help him learn to take buses, balance a checkbook, pay bills, prepare for job interviews, all the details an adult needs to do.

As I sat on his bed last night, I spoke softly about the implications of turning 18.

“So you’ll be 18 on Saturday...”


“Is it a little scary, thinking about being a grown-up, living somewhere else someday?”

“A little.”

I let the words hang in the air for a bit.

“You can live here for as long as you need to, but it is important that you someday learn to be independent.”

A thoughtful pause...

“One thing that changes when you turn 18 is how much responsibility you will have. When you were playing with fire a couple of years ago and the church burned down, we were able to step in as your parents and protect you. When you are 18 you are responsible for everything. You have been a good boy for a long time, but now you will have to be careful of your choices in new ways. You will be responsible for all your actions.”

Oh, dear Savior
Gonna take my cares away
Whoa, dear Savior
Gonna take my cares away
Gonna take my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take my cares away
Gonna take my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take my cares away

Brenda is having a hard time with all of this. It seems that we have been taking care of others for a such a long time.

Her mother, a paranoid scizophrenic, was in such bad shape ten years ago that we moved her in with us. We helped get her meds straight. We helped he through her stroke. We helped her to the point where she can be in her own apartment, though it means Brenda goes over there almost everyday to help her shop, wash her clothes, refill her meds, and a hundred other little things.

And now that our children are becoming young men we look at them and they are so far from being ready for the world.

Brenda is having a hard time with all of this. It seems that we have been taking care of others for a such a long time.

“How long will we have to do this?” she pleads.

Oh, sweet whiskey, Lord
Gonna take my cares away
Whoa sweet whiskey Lord
Your gone gonna take my cares away
Gonna take my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take my cares away
Gonna take my cares gonna carry my cares
Gonna take my cares away

I don’t drink. Oh I order a beer when we go out for dinner sometimes. But it is usually only half finished and very warm by the time the meal is cleared.

Brenda is four years sober, and I don’t wish to tempt her by having anything in the house.

But there is something about the idea of buying a bottle of scotch and going off somewhere by myself and pitching a drunk like I haven’t done in decades.

Your gonna take my bottle, my Bible, my mess
Your gonna take all of my empty and my loneliness
Gonna take all of that sadness inside of me
Gonna take it all and set me free

I was at the church early this morning. I was meeting a few others for a little prayer time. While I waited for the room to be available (it’s our monthly 24 hours of prayer and the previous time slot had a good friend of mine in there), I walked outside and looked at the construction underway. Clean wood, freshly painted beams, the building is rising up from the old remnants of the basement where my son had gone off by himself a couple years ago. It’s all fresh and new. But there is still something dusty and old in my heart when I look at it.

The prayer time was pretty good. Except that when I started to pray in that small group, just four of us, a sadness creapt over me. I forced myself to pray thankful things. I threw my mind into a distant future, a time when all of the sadness in my heart will be gone. I prayed about eternity...

I prayed a prayer of gratitude for the free spirit I will become when I will be able to live and breather pure love and joy, in the shining glory of my Lord. I thanked my God for the joys I will feel when I can dance and sing with Abraham and Moses and Paul and Mary and Peter... when gigantic ancient beings of eternity will kneel beside me and bow into the warm embrace of the only arms capable of embracing a universe.

I can’t let Brenda see me sad. I have to pull myself together. I can’t add to her burdens...

What the Hell is the mattter with me!?!

Suck it up man! There is such great suffering in the world and you are groaning because you’re tired?! Get it together!

Struggles?ILoveYouLordBrendaSaysShe Regrets


I took the day off yesterday, hoping a day of rest would change things.

I need to go pray...

Oh, Black River
Gonna take my cares a way