Friday, November 26, 2010

Light and Darkness

Last weekend we traveled to Columbus, GA to see our son Josh's art exhibit at Columbus State University, and to celebrate his 28th birthday. Josh is an incredibly talented young man, can master anything he sets his mind to, and is a gifted artist. His exhibit filled and entire studio, yet when you first entered the studio nothing was obvious at first glance. Then, all of a sudden you began to see a remarkable sculpture that captured light, turned the entire room into an optical illusion, and simply wowed everyone who gazed upon it. Time and again we heard people ask him, "How did you come up with this?" Josh's response, "It was just there in my mind, so I decided to bring it to life." People from the art world were taken aback by the work of his hands and creativity of his mind.

Originally, his installation was to be on display for that weekend only, but once it was unveiled the Columbus University gallery director extended it as 3 week exhibit.

After the show we went to "85" - a little hole in the wall (actually a basement) and celebrated our son's birth with a group of his long time friends. The place was rocking. We were surrounded by "electric music - a solid wall of sound," as Elton John's, lyrics blared out in, Benny and the Jets. Josh's friends genuinely like us, trust us, seek us out, and lay their life and thoughts out in plain view for us to see. Never once have we gotten together and had anything less then fabulous and meaningful conversation, and downright fun with the partying crowd of twenty-somethings.

Sandy and I got back to our room at 2 a.m. They were just getting started!

In the morning we went over to the house where Josh and 2 of his friends live. Original plans were to have brunch. Plans changed, and Sandy, Josh, and I were in Josh's room listening to a new CD by John Francis. All three of us were sprawled out across his bed talking and staring up at the white ceiling with the big fan in the middle. In a moment of silence Josh said, "Dad, this was Heath's room."

Heath was a creative 25 year old, loved music, played in a band, and worked at a Christian radio station. One of those guys with a thousand friends-very popular and easy going. Like so many of us who pursue God can identify with - Heath struggled with the complexity and questions that authentic Faith brings with it. On September 7, he came home to grab some lunch and walked in on a home invader. Nobody knows exactly what happened except that the room became a battleground; the scene of a life and death struggle. The intruder had a handgun.

I sat up on the bed and Josh pointed out the bullet holes that had sprayed the room. One over the door. One at the bottom of the door. Two in the walls, and one through the bathroom wall. At some point Heath tried to get out of the house, and as he fled through the front door his aggressor fired one last shot that pierced and furrowed the top of Heath's head. Heath stumbled as far as the driveway, crumbled, and bled out. The police did say that in the battle Heath had beaten the robber nearly senseless. I know Heath had fists the size of cannon balls.

The story just gets uglier, so I will stop.

Light and Darkness . . .

Just hours before we had celebrated the gifted life of our son. His artistic creation was a light bending, spectacular work of art. Sandy and I stood back shaking our head as the glory God had hidden away in Josh came shining through. We listened to the rave reviews and thanked God for his bright future.

Then in a matter of hours I felt like I was being swallowed by darkness. A life had been snuffed out. A beautiful spirit and soul had left this world. Friends and family are still reeling from the devastation of such a senseless act. Another manifestation of the cruelty and darkness - that is never far from any of us - made its despicable presence known.

Heath's soul - as eternal as the God who gave it to him - is accounted for. There has never been any doubt about his final destination . . . Heath took the journey through a corridor veiled by death's shadows. In an instant what was once only seen by faith came into focus. What at times seemed like an illusion became a place bathed in the purest of light. Heath is so much more than any of us can really imagine. God thought him up and brought him to life! Though his life on earth was cut short, it is wildly celebrated in The Presence and on display for all eternity . . .

Friday, November 5, 2010

Duck And Cover

All the islands up and down the river belong to the Native Americans, and hunting season began in October for the Penobscot Indians. Birch Island is directly across from the cabin. As I sat in my red canvas chair writing my head snapped up, and I instinctively went into a semi-crouch when a series of three rifle shots cracked loudly in rapid succession. So undiminished was the sound, I expected to see the shooter when I began scanning the island not 300 yards from where I sat. It also occurred to me that I could actually be hit by a stray round, so I got up and went into the cabin!

I am back in my red canvas chair now, but I am wearing a blaze orange hunting vest, and glassing Birch Island with my binoculars! My heart is still thumping at about the same speed as the woodpecker's rat-a-tat-tat as it drills into the ribs of a dead oak tree to my right. But now that my upper body glows like a Jack-O-Lantern I have decided to venture down to the rivers edge to write. Seated on a large gray rock, with one leg tucked under me, and the thigh of my other leg as a writing surface, I am ready to once again enjoy the serenity of this very special place.

Surprise! Surprise! Coming down the river is an aluminum boat piloted by a man in a red jacket. The bow of his 14 foot vessel is bobbing and making a slapping sound. "Beautiful day, huh?" He says. "It sure is!" I respond.

Finally it is quiet again, so I moved to another rock more ergonomically designed for the particular shape of my posterior. In between the two writing locations I walked along the shore with a long thin stick that a beaver had stripped of all its bark. I used the stick to flick away debris and turn over the gravely riverbed, so as to give attention to unusual stones. My eyes were drawn to some unique ones that were pure white, translucent and luminescent. Remarkably, they resisted being stained by the tea colored environment where they lay submerged most, or all of their existence. I slid them into the front pocket of my wranglers. I picked up another kind of stone. This one - smooth, flat, and round - perfectly fit my hand for skipping. I stretched my arm a bit to get it loose, leaned my body, so that my arm was on the same plane as the river surface, and I slung it!

Splash. Plunk. Not so good . . . I think the stone was defective.

Later on the same day I told my brother-in-law about the gunshots. He told me it was probably duck hunters firing from the cover of the island . . .

O . . . a shotgun is not considered a rifle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Change

My journal, 5 3/4" by 4" is called, The Big Little Notebook. One of the "Rug Rat" characters dons the cover. He has orange hair, purple square glasses, and is wearing a crew neck pullover sweater with a planet on the chest. A thin crooked line - with the exception of two buck teeth - is the artists idea of a mouth. I left my own journal back in South Carolina, so I am using this child's notepad to capture my thoughts; at one time it was Meg's camp journal. For the next 4 days I will be in Maine, and at the cabin whenever I can. My brothers and sisters and I are gathering to put together a plan to care for my father and my mother. Mom and dad are no longer able to maintain their home, so we are securing elderly housing for them and making financial, medical, and legal arrangements for events yet future.

It is not a common occurrence to be able to sit outside in summer weight clothing late in October in Maine! But here I am seated in my red canvas chair taking in the Master's masterpiece, and listening with a spiritual ear for God to speak through the natural world. Great is the change in scenery since I was last here in July. Leaves are fading from brilliant to a blush. Like raindrops hundreds of them fall silently around me. Sweet grass that once swayed and danced with summer breezes along the river's edge look beige and tired and discolored. Beech, oak, maple, and birch once clothed in lush emerald hues look beggarly and scantly clad in bits of tattered rags. What's more, strong winds and driving rain have stripped some trees of all dignity and glory - nothing but their bony skeleton remains. Since I was last here the river has widened its boundaries, picked up its pace, and with impressive determination and outspokenness is heading south. In a rich baritone voice it sings its own compositions and musically flees from the coming winter. Old Man River will forever be an explorer on the move. Today he is excitedly running at full speed. further along he will peacefully meander through meadows and marshes. But he never makes a clean getaway. Frigid winter temperatures chase him down and clog his veins with ice - stranding him frozen solid in his tracks.

Spring and summer and fall disappear have disappeared like a ghost, and now the ledges to the northwest are more visible. Though bland in color - drably gray - they symbolize the beauty of strength and staying power. Neither the angry floods of spring, nor the freezing breath of Old Man Winter, nor tons of retreating ice - so powerful it often carries away islands and splinters massive trees into toothpicks - can so much as nudge the ledges from their subterranean moorings.

I love this place. . .

It speaks to me of change and the cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

It speaks to me of things that do not change, will not change, and should not change.

I constantly need clarity in both . . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

Heath And Miller

Life is like the dew on an early morning's grass - it is there for a moment and then disappears . . . James the Elder.

Meg called tonight, and Josh called last week. Meg's call came just a few minutes ago - her good friend, Miller, died from a brain aneurysm. Joshes friend, Heath, was shot and murdered on September 10 - Sandy and my thirty-third anniversary. On our twenty-fifth anniversary our son, Justin, lost his best friend, Matt Puccio in a car accident. Matt Puccio got a Mustang and his drivers license on the same day he died. No alcohol was involved - just an inexperienced driver and a twisting road.

Meg is on the road with Invisible Children - she is distraught. Sandy and I have been texting with her for the last hour. She is somewhere in Idaho and the phone reception is spotty. We wish we could intercept her on en route and be there to comfort her. She is a warrior Princess, and she will push through. Josh is in Columbus, GA, and over the last couple of weeks we have spent a lot of time on the phone talking him through Heath's death. He, too, has a hearty faith. He will press onward.

It is in situations like these that the lines separating faith and non-faith are paper thin. No mortal can understand why such things happen - but instead must rest in a ruthless faith and trust in the Providence of God. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is saying.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Enigmatic Life

While at the cabin . . .

I spent hours last night and today in the Scripture sifting through its pages and passages and mulling over the tragic and triumphant - confounding and confusing - comforting and conflicting - pitiful and precious - gritty and glorious life of David. Were his life a palette it would be a collage of contradictions . . .

Great heights to which a good man can ascend - yet great depths to which a good man can descend.

David was God's man - yet he was a fallen man.

His passions made him - yet his passions broke him.

He was a fountain of poetry and praise - yet often a sea of poison and pride.

He was a man after God's own heart - Yet he broke God's heart.

He lived close to God - Yet often estranged from God.

Men adored and died for him - Yet men loathed him to death.

He could be righteously crafty - Yet he could be ruthlessly shifty.

He was brilliant - Yet he was stupid.

David's Psalms were paradoxical - Raging against God and resting in God.

As was the father, so was the son - Solomon penned the wisdom of the Proverbs and the vanity of Ecclesiastes

David's story gives me hope - Yet his story frightens me.

I want to be like him - Yet I fear I am too much like him.

When all was said and done the New Testament Scriptures had the last word on David and chiseled his epitaph into the foundations of eternity . . . David served God in his generation - then he died.

In my journey . . .

Is it the beginning or middle - the highs or lows - the kudos or curses - the seen or unseen - that is most important in the continuum of life ? No. Most important will be God's summary of my life.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Outward Face of Cynicism

I have never scoffed at sentiment. Cynicism is ever the outward face of emptiness. What, after all is romance? It is the music of those who make the world turn. The people who make things happen. Romance is the story of dreams that could come true and so often do . . . Why do men ride the range? Go to sea? Explore the icecaps . . . It is because of romance, because of the stories they have read and the stories they dreamed. ~ Louis L'Amour

Shocking how a succession of deep wounds and disappointments - both physical and spiritual - compressed into a brief time span can hammer away at the bedrock of one's soul and slyly replace each ding and chip with emptiness. Reading L'Amour's words distilled the inquiry that had been trying to organize in the depth of my heart for several hours . . .

Have I lost the heart of the romantic . . . the heart so willing to risk, explore, adventure, and dream big?


Seams and stratum that make up the ledges in me have been slowly degrading and becoming brittle and porous like limestone. Music in my spirit as of late is often discordant and in the melancholy of minor keys. I speak of life in the context of Faith . . .

Scoffing at sentimentality . . . my own

Despising and disowning my love of the romantic - rather than setting my jaw like flint and embracing the fact that I don't want to live safe and secure - exposed my disenchanted, disillusioned, and fatigued soul.

Introspection at such a gut level began shortly after arriving at the cabin. Canvas chair and journal under one arm, I stood perusing the bookshelves for a potential muse. There were the green spines of the Harvard Classics with the philosophy and poetry of history's most prolific authors bound between their covers. Grouped together on another shelf were eclectic volumes covering a wide array of disciplines. Hardbound and paperback books on outdoor survival, astronomy, field guides to North American wild life, compass reading, hiking the Appalachian trail, and stacks of the National Geographic. Novels on yet another.

A muse I had been seeking - muses I found. Authors as diverse as John Steinbeck, John Eldridge, John Meir, John Dunn, Jack London, G.K. Chesterton, Cormack McCarthy, C.S. Lewis, Least-Heat Moon, Annie Dillard, Dostoyevsky, Brennan Manning, and the Holy Spirit (Bible) were evoking memories of evenings spent reading by flashlight and firelight . . . or anticipating lecturing in China . . . of romanticising a hundred adventures yet to be lived.

Cynicism the outward face of emptiness . . . would not be mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Incense

Crowned with a golden brown tassel sweet grass grows lush, tall, and green along the riverbank. For hundreds of years the nimble fingers of indigenous peoples weaved it into baskets and cords for everyday use. This morning I shuffled down over the steep bank and harvested some into sheaves, separated it into strands, and braided it from its golden crown to the bottom of the stem. As it is twisted and bruised it releases an aromatic scent. I had been planning to do this before I left Columbia, so I brought with me hemp (not the hallucinogenic kind) and bamboo cord to tie off the ends. My purpose in doing so was because sweet grass, once dried, can be lit and it consumes with a slow-burn releasing a sweet, soft scent. Even now, since plying it with my fingers, I can cup my hands around my face and and breathe in the sweet fragrance that clings to my hands.

Edging Out The Edginess

I have unpacked my spartan luggage. A year has come and gone since I last sat in my red canvas chair at the top of the riverbank. I am at the cabin. In my spirit a sense of contentment is edging out the edginess that resides in me. Slouched in my seat I sleep a bit, scratch a few words in my journal, doze a little more, and then tune into nature's communication - that always speaks on God's behalf if you know how to listen. The soft breezes sift through the leafy branches speaking to my anxieties like a mother to a troubled child - shhh . . . shhh . . . shhh.

I am not sure this is a correct meteorological term but windstorms sometimes take an unexpected turn toward violence and form into micro-bursts. Like mini-tornadoes they can twist the tops off trees and leave a tangled swath resembling pick-up-sticks. Evidences of just such a rampage are to my left. One such outburst felled the aged white birch that used to lean over the river. The same birch that eagles have perched upon for decades eyeing the world below in search of their next meal. No longer gracefully bent it is now prostrated - its emerald wreath being stripped away by the currents of the Penobscot.

Just a while ago the sun that was behind me, then over me, is now sinking away from me. As it does every airborne insect is back-lit and can be seen flitting and dancing on a liquid stage. A red squirrel that's had the run of the place in my long absence nervously scampers up and down a big pine tree sassing this trespasser.

In a few more hours darkness will surround me. Kindling formed into a pyramid is in the fire pit. A match will be struck. A blaze will leap and crackle beneath my feet. A billion stars will flicker above my head.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Driven and Drawn

An inexpressible joy came over me when I found it to be just a little over two hours from our driveway to Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. A place where endless hiking trails, cycling, natural waterfalls, wildlife, and a very generous camping policy allowing someone like me to throw on a backpack, get away from everything and everybody, and sleep under a canopy of stars a dream come true. When Sandy and I were married over 32 years ago, part of our honeymoon took us across the Blue Ridge Parkway that intersects Pisgah. Again in 2003 when we rendezvoused there with our oldest son, Justin. At the time he was leading a band of rowdy, court ordered, at-risk kids on a 30-day wilderness trek - a final effort to rehabilitate young lives fast-tracking to a sad ending.

On Saturday, July 3, Sandy and I arrived at the entrance to the national forest with its sign--a wall of granite stone--with the words, Pisgah National Forest chiseled into its face. For me, the sight of it was like an invitation into the mystical. My entire disposition changed. I felt invigorated, alert, aware, renewed, and at the same time a sense of relief and security. I live with a constant and unyielding compelling to get back to nature that has to be satisfied.

As we drove the serpentine roads of the 80 mile loop, we were following a car with 20 or more bumper stickers plastered unevenly across its hatchback. Mostly, they were satirical, sarcastic, political, and new-age stuff. One of them was rather crude but also pretty pithy. It said, "WWJD? He would slap the s#*t out of you for the mess you have made of things!"

One of the driving forces behind my being drawn to the wilderness is to get perspective.
Poets and prophets are everywhere - if not always appreciated . . .

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uncivilized

Did you know that the biblical king, David, engaged in hand to hand combat with a lion - and won?

Brian is one of the sub-contractors involved with the ongoing construction of our first Planet Fitness in Columbia, SC. A couple of weeks ago I was walking him through several thousand feet of unfinished space we are considering sub-letting. How it came up is unimportant, but the necessity to bring it up is important is to me . . . "it" is any conversation about adventure in the great outdoors!

As we swapped stories I found out that Brian hunts wild hogs with dogs and his weapon is nothing but a knife. Guess what? I am going on one of those hunts! No, not as an observer, but as a hunter. I will be carrying a blade and following the pack. My heart is pumping just writing about it.

At this point I would suggest that if you belong to PETA you might want to quit reading . . .

Hunting with the most primitive of weapons - such as a knife or spear - is not inhumane. It is just a lot more challenging than the sniper tactics we have grown accustomed to, using rifle or bow. Taking a wild pig with a knife involves stealth, physical strength, quickness, and getting down and dirty (and a touch of insanity). It's hand-to-hand, or should I say hands - to - pigs feet, combat once the hogs are cornered. Getting them stopped is the easy part - the dogs do all that work. The hard part begins when it's time to dive through that window of opportunity that stays open for mere seconds. It is then that you jump in, grab the hog in a headlock, and pierce it's heart or cut it's throat with your knife. Keep in mind that the beast wants no part of this! There are no similarities to this and catching the greased pig at the county fair!

With this adventure some risk is involved:

1. In the tussle the dogs grab you instead of porky
2. Boars have long ragged tusks and they can mortally wound you
3. You stab or slice yourself with your razor sharp blade
4. A herd of swine come out of a thicket determined to go on the offense (This happened to Brian - 3 dogs were killed and a couple of the hunters tore up)
5. You hesitate - you've got to be all in once you enter the fray - miss the window of opportunity and crash into the ribs of an angry sow or boar.
6. People will call you uncivilized

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Unfinished Business

About 20 posts are in the "draft" phase. I can't seem to find suitable time to arrange words and sentences that capture the fascinating flukes and fluctuations of life.

For me writing is a sacred exercise. Like the physical body with out a workout - my spirit weakens, gets short of breath, and undisciplined. Days feel unfinished - each second like a loose end that needs to be gathered in and tied.

Soon I hope to dedicate some soul-space for that single purpose - these few lines are a start.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Better Late Then Never

I began this post the night before Meagan's graduation from GCSU. It's been a difficult one to finish . . . not because of time restraints.

Before I began writing this post I lay on Meg's bed scanning the art work, cards, letters from friends, and posters on the walls of her apartment. Tomorrow this world she has lived in comes to its conclusion -- graduation procession begins at 8:45. Melancholy refrains of Pomp and Circumstance will usher in one of the greatest life transitions our daughter - and her fellow graduates - has yet to experience. Something inside me wishes she could stay with her tightly knit group of friends forever. Theirs has been a true community. I don't know of anyone who has enjoyed their collegiate years as much Meg.

Sandy and I never finished college life together. We did attend a private "Christian" college that was stupidly strict and bandied a world view that was both spiritually and educationally irrelevant. Meeting each other there was the only grand "destiny" we can extract. Now, more than 3 decades later we both have our sheepskins, and Sandy will finish a Masters at Harvard (4.0 GPA).

I am in the extremely cluttered living area (earlier Meg and her roommates were gushing with pride about how much neater their digs look, because the parents were coming). I don't have enough vocabulary to sufficiently describe the surrounding landscape! I decided to stretch out on the cushions - all that remain of a futon - spread out under a picture window. Above me the slightly pitched paddles of a ceiling fan steadily churn. Soft wisps of cool air brush my skin. It is so quiet I can hear the low hum of the refrigerator. Meg and Sandy are strolling throughout the shops of Milledgeville looking for shoes and dresses. Outside mother nature is pulling the shades on another day. Street lights wink and flicker. Artificial light is doing its best to hold off total darkness until the advent of another sunrise.

Saturday morning . . .

Commencement is outside. Justin, Josh, Sandy and I are sitting in filtered shade of a sprawling oak tree. As usual we are having a more fun than anyone should. Craning necks, big hair, gleaming bald heads, and an assortment of hats obstruct our view of the procession. 1,100 grads - swaying and looking much like penguins - are making their way toward the platform. Turning their tassels. Receiving their degrees. Flinging their mortarboards into the clear blue Georgia skies. The Recessional. And another life chapter is closed. They, as well as their parents and families, are immensely proud of their commitment to reaching this milestone. Most of them will be exchanging their academic robes for business casual (in Meg's case Planet Fitness wear - she is working with dad this summer). Tomorrow, will be like the first day of college - they will be adult society's freshmen again.

I think I can speak for thousands of parents . . . we, too, are a little nervous for you.

Meg . . .

As you have done, continue to do - Live life with eternity in view
Enjoy good friends
Enjoy community
Enjoy the Adventure
















Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Shimmering Facet

In the course of my life there have been few times I have not gathered with friends to observe communion - sometimes referred to as "The Lord's Supper." Be the group but a handful of friends, today I was unable to make that connection. Yet this holiest of days resurrected memories long buried by the clutter of everyday life. Much of my life has been so adventurous, with experiences so epic and dramatic they often seem surreal or contrived. In particular one year I celebrated the New Covenant on the banks of the Mekong River and soil of Laos with eight men. On that day the communion elements were orange juice and broken bread purchased with a stack of Laotian money from a hole-in-the-wall bakery, but a stone's throw from the flow of muddy water that stood between us and Thailand. Our adventure in the faith bordered on the mystical. For days, God had been showing up in epoch fashion. Since then I have hungered and thirsted for that same relevant God. I have yet to sort through the entire experience. Truthfully, since then I have battled mightily against a serious sense of loss and emptiness.

Today, seated across from one another in the quiet of our home, Sandy and I honored the Lord's death, resurrection, and promise to return with unleavened matzo bread, broken to signify Christ's battered body, and a chalice of red wine to signify His shed blood. Recounting the good and the ugly, we tearfully thanked God for the power of His resurrection to redeem our lives and make all things new. Without a doubt we have been sailing uncharted waters, and though refreshing none the less, the last 3 years have been our greatest test and challenge. Faith has many facets, and we are seeing a shimmering never before experienced.

Friday, March 19, 2010

When Spring Arrived!

Officially spring arrives on March 20. Old man winter is laid to rest - disappearing like the snow he once heaped upon us. Bitter, cold days and nights are displaced by the onset of brilliant sunshine and warm, dewy nights. Drab gray, brown, and barren trees resurrect and transform into palettes of living colors and hues. Birds that months ago retreated for warmer climates wing their way back to the place of their birth to rebuild their homes and continue the cycle of life.

Twenty-two years ago the vernal equinox brought with it our perfect daughter Meagan! If only everyone could know a person like her - full of warmth and color - a transforming presence wherever she makes an appearance!

Meg . . .

Mom, Dad, Justin and Erika, Josh, and everyone who knows you - loves you. Your infectious giggle. Your wit. Your passion. Your unpretentious disposition. Your humor. Your tears. Your artistry. Your boundless compassion. Your commitment to things of substance. Your understanding of God's grace. Your freedom in Christ. Your beauty - inside and out. Your boldness. Your love for family, friends, and life itself. Your wildness and elegance. Every thought of you a reminder of the splendor of a life well lived!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!!!!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wii Are Having A Good Time!

Meg and Josh are here for the weekend - a belated celebration of Sandy's birthday. Last night they walked through the door with a birthday cake, hugs, smiles, and overflowing joy. In the strictest sense you could also say that they were in their birthday suits.

Our apartment is "colorful and trendy," says Meg. Josh says we are "cool."

Agendas aren't a real strong suit in our family, so we just kind of go with our whims. Watching TV is not the norm either, but last night Funniest Home Videos got us laughing hysterically. Josh continues to help me with the guitar, and I am beginning to play a few Cover songs. Lyrics and melodies of my own creation are beginning to emerge - I think I can eventually write some stuff.

Waffle House is our high end joint for breakfast cuisine - we always go there for breakfast when we are together (unless we are at the cabin, and then we go to the 95er - our 5 star dining). Tradition prevailed, but no more food for me until dinner.

Intermittently Josh and Meg are playing Call of Duty on Wii, and some other video games. When I can hold up my left arm I am going to play - and play the guitar even better!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lost (Pt. 2)

In the last post I wrote about being spiritually lost. Most who read Enjoying the Adventure have some kind of spiritual orientation. Usually those beliefs are based in Judeo/Christian roots as found in the Bible. So when I speak of being lost such readers understand that I am referring to a condition that means we are disconnected from God. We are living this life without His direction and our truest purpose.

To give us understanding about our disorientation He describes our condition with strong metaphor - Spiritually, we are equated to someone who is physically dead. Physically dead people no longer have the use of their five senses: taste, touch, hearing, seeing, or the ability to smell. Apart from a Divine work, we are spiritually unable to taste and see that the LORD is good, sense His touch, hear His voice, or offer up spiritual sacrifices. God is clear about that.

At the soul level most people live with an unspoken sense that something is missing or broken. An haunting emptiness resides within that nothing from the material world can permanently satisfy. The well of the human spirit is meant to be filled with God, and none of us can collect enough of the other stuff to fill that void.

Are you like me, a bottomless pit in your capacity to receive mercy, forgiveness, saving, grace, goodness, kindness, etc. from your friends and fellow man, but find it is like trying to collect water in a sieve? Do you soon find that they can't give you enough; you immediately hunger for more?

There is a reason - God is forgiveness, salvation, grace, goodness, kindness, and more. Everything that was lost in the Garden of Eden - everything we want the most - can only be found in God.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lost

I have come to seek and to save that which is lost. ~ Jesus, Gospel of Luke

Jesus' main mission was to rescue and redeem everything that was lost in the crisis of the Garden of Eden. At Eden all became lost. Creation's first couple lost their innocence and the immediate presence of their Creator. A catastrophe of that magnitude may distract us from realizing that much more than innocence and relationship was lost. ALL was lost. Every created thing spiraled into a tailspin of devolution. Literally, in a blink, everything turned on itself - and all within its reach. Nothing was forever safe.

Jesus' announcement that he came to seek out and save lost things is one of the grandest statements in the Scripture. Revealing that His plans for us are good and not evil. His Plan is to turn failure into success, and He will stay on task until that which He began is finished.

God alone is able to save and restore ALL that is lost, and He must. Our soul is vast enough for a dwelling place for God himself, and that's far more territory than we can cover. Unfortunately - to use metaphor - we go into our interior like a rescue team with no map or compass believing we can recover what is lost. Relying on instincts, survival techniques, and training with no spiritual foundation we get even more dizzy in our attempt to find ourself. Navigating the labyrinth of God's dwelling results in scrambling up slippery slopes, wading through muck and mire, and the thorns and brambles of a futile search that leave long, red, painful wounds on our already bruised soul.

We keep trying to find our way independent of God, because even though lost - not all the journey is intolerable. We humans are a determined lot, and we find ways to temporarily free ourselves from the tangled vines of our emotional jungle. From time to time the hungry insects, and the vicious briers of our wanderings give way to forests of towering pine trees, and momentarily the oppressive sense of being lost finds respite. Briefly, the trail feels like a comfortable walk on a soft carpet of fallen quills. Optimism returns. A renewed strength to enjoy the adventure inspires us to keep searching.

But that haunting remains. So much is lost and still un-recovered . . .

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The River

This time my muse was River, by Garth Brooks. Melancholy was piqued and that compelled me to write. Journaling is one of the ways God leads me back to joy and a sense of well-being. I was returning from my second trip to the neurologist, and wanted to pull to the shoulder of Interstate 77 and pen my thoughts about dreams.

Listening to Garth's lyrics raised the question, "Do dreamers carry the dream - or - Do dreams carry the dreamer." Trying to speak for everyone is almost always a mistake, but I don't know how anyone can live without a dream to carry them, or without carrying a dream - be they whimsical, futuristic, or even broken and thwarted.

Brook's metaphors are insightful and they resonate . . .

Summers mean that I get to spend a few days living on a river in Maine. Many times its churning currents have carried me and my dreams from northern points downstream to the south. Sometimes the vessel that carried me was a black wetsuit. Fins, a snorkel, and mask allowed me to navigate, breathe, and see the boulder strewn underside of the river. Bouncing off underwater obstacles, or getting swirled onto the gravely shore was a real possibility.

Most times a kayak kept me gliding across the river's surface. Either way - and regardless the vessel - to explore the Penobscot's hidden beauty you have to struggle against its collaboration with gravity. Propulsion through its tea-colored water with webbed feet, or digging paddles into its liquid skin are my only options to discover its secrets unless I have no higher goal than to drift, releasing my will to the river's single purpose - to make its way as quickly as it can to the Atlantic Ocean.

Striking sceneries, romantic imaginations, and mystical sensations are for those who break away from the main flow, but nature's sentries - fallen logs, sand bars, and branches that claw at all who enter - guard the entrance to meandering cuts and coves shy to reveal their beauty.

Never once have I met someone exploring those hard to get to places . . .

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows

And a dreamer's just a vessel

That must follow where it goes

Trying to learn from what's behind you

And never knowing what's in store

Makes each day a constant battle

Just to stay between the shores...

And
I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky

I'll never reach my destination

If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside

And let the waters slip away

'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow

Has now become today

So don't you sit upon the shoreline

And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids

And dare to dance the tide...

(Chorus)

There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain

I can make it through them all...

Yes
I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky

I'll never reach my destination

If I never try

So I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry

(The River, by Garth Brooks)


I choose to be a dreamer . . . To learn from what's behind me . . . Not to fear what's in store. Not one who lets the waters slip by . . . I choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tides. Not pretend I am satisfied . . . I can make it through it all. I will not let my river run dry. I will carry dreams . . . dreams will carry me. I know the Dream Giver . . .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

He Didn't Wait

Saturday night we listened to our youngest son, Josh, play and sing. A week ago he was asked to open for a band that would play at The Loft in Columbus, GA. As only Josh could do, he put together a band and rocked the joint. Song after song, he was applauded with gusto. To our surprise there were probably twenty or more of our friends who came out to see the show, and about seventy-five friends of Josh's that squeezed into the venue where people stood shoulder to shoulder. Several hundred music lovers came and went throughout the evening.

All of our kids are ridiculously talented, but Josh is our Renaissance Man. He has a wide range of interests and talents, and everything he puts his hand and mind to he does it at a high level of competency. He is an impressive young man. Josh has played and sang at the Loft before. We have heard him practice, but we had never heard him perform.

For his finale, Josh introduced a song by saying, "I want to dedicate this song, Requiem of a Good Man, to my father. As one of the lines says, 'He was a good man, but he is gone.' Well my father is still alive and he is here tonight. He is the man back there with really white hair." He pointed me out and introduced Sandy. Josh belted out the song, and the applauds kept coming.

Requiem of a Good Man

Well he stomped with his feet
And he clapped with his hands
He summoned all of his joy when he laughed
It suffered all of his joy when he cried

And sometimes when he got into talking
Man he could rattle on and on
He was a good man and now he's gone

Well in war he was a tiger
When it was over like a dove
He summoned all of his strength in the climb
It suffered all of his strength in the fall

And sometimes when he got into fighting
Man he could fight with you all day long
He was a good man and now he's gone

He put his trust in a higher power
He held his power like a holy grail
He summoned all of his faith in the lifting
It suffered all of his faith to fail

His heart was stronger than a heavy metal bullet
And that's why I dedicate this song
He was a good man and now he's gone

His heart was stronger than a heavy metal bullet
And that's why I dedicate this song
He was a good man and now he's gone

There was a time when I thought I had lost Josh. Alienated for many years, we walked around the elephant in the middle of the room. Like so many young men, his greatest and most grievous wounds had come from his father. In spite of the fact that I pursued the purposes of the God of the Scriptures, as the leader of our household I didn't always get it right. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. My intentions were good, but at critical times my methods were grossly flawed. Mistakenly, I put my standing before the churches I led ahead of my standing before my family. Always, always, always a colossal blunder.

Around the year 2005, during a ten day fast, I believed that God gave me encouragement that our relationship would be restored, and we would Enjoy the Adventure together. Of all places, encouragement came from the very last words of the Old Testament; a passage unlikely to be seen scrawled on a placard as an evangelistic appeal during a nationally televised sporting event, or on Tim Tebow's eye black. Obscure and ancient, the promise comes from God through the prophet Malachi. Surrounded by two hard shelled warnings lies a pearl of hope I believed was the promise of a future restoration.

I will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6

It happened - a God thing. Bleeding has stopped. Wounds are closing. Debris we once stumbled over and barriers we could not see over are gone. Never have Josh's heart and my heart been so closely linked. Now we enjoy a relationship that far exceeds all I asked and prayed for.

Listening to the lyrics and the beautiful voice of my son, I thought of how blessed I am that Josh honored and blessed me in such an unlikely setting. He could have waited to eulogize me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dream - Believe - Inspire

Be joyful and give thanks. ~ The Apostle Paul

For the time being I only have the use of my right hand and arm (I have an appointment with a neurologist tomorrow), but I prevailed and assembled the dining table and four chairs we purchased at IKEA. The table is tall, has a black finish, and is made of rubber wood. Bar stools with bench-like seats take the place of standard height chairs. Cool!

To say we have down-sized our domicile is an understatement of the first order. Our home in Georgia is situated on a large lot surrounded by mature pines and flowering shrubs. Within its brown brick walls there is over 3,000 square feet of living space, an attached two car garage, hardwood floors, ceramic tile, vaulted ceilings, two fire places, chandeliers, four bedrooms, 3 full baths, large patio, and landscaped yard. Our floor plan was designed for entertainment, and new faces and feet crossed the threshold of our front door during our entire stay there.

Our new digs - an apartment with not quite 1,200 square feet - is on the first floor and overlooks a pond. Two bedrooms, two full baths, a living room with unobstructed views of an oblong pond, and a small dining area is now our home. We love it. It feels really good, and we are having an absolute blast giving the interior an eclectic look. Our bikes are part of the decor - they are hanging on our wall!

The build-out of our first Planet Fitness is underway. In many ways life has come full circle. As a very young man, 23 years of age, I began church planting. That meant starting from scratch. No buildings. No staff. Scant resources. Only a dream and a rock solid belief that something yet unseen would come to fruition. That inspired us and inspired others and led to many a great adventure. During those days I was a key leader in eight different church construction projects. Three times I acted as the general contractor. Looking back, I can see that in those years of my spiritual formation the stage was set for a non-typical, but exciting journey.

Now I am in the secular workplace, and once again on the ground level. Still dreaming. Still believing, and still inspired by visions of a better future. Soon I will be the point man as we begin retrofitting an unfinished building for our first Planet Fitness Club. No staff, but we do have the blessing of a steady income! In the days ahead I will be interacting with thousands of people on a weekly basis; by observation and conversation I will learn the stories of many of those yet nameless and faceless persons. My life, as it is so defined, will impact theirs. Their life, as so defined, will speak into mine. It's all good!

I believe, as the Old Testament sages did, that everyone's life plays an important part in a grand drama. There's is one of purpose. Antagonists and protagonists, and seemingly disconnected fragments, mystically synthesize to reveal their destiny. Madness and gladness, confusion and clarity, blessings and brokenness are ours. Divine and the dark characters take center stage. Some are but subplots. In the end we learn that there was a purpose for every event under the sun. All the chaos and beauty that takes place between our two most epic events - our birth and our death - tell others of our tale and adventure.

On the wall of our tiny dining area are three weathered signs. Dream. Believe. Inspire. Dream, believe, and inspire. There is always more. Now. Beyond the veil.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Bruised or Broken Body Part

I have plans for you. Not for evil, but for good. Plans to prosper you and make you a success . . . God's word - for God's people - to the Prophet Jeremiah

When we finished unloading our belongings on Tuesday I started to have some pain at the base of my neck. On Wednesday it radiated into my left shoulder. On Thursday the tips of my pinky finger of my left hand started getting numb - except for the burning sensation that would come and go. On Friday my entire left arm, from just above the elbow, and 3 of my fingers went completely numb. On Saturday I didn't have enough strength in my left hand to loosen the cover of my water bottle. It felt like jagged pieces of glass were coursing through my veins and muscles on a river of molten lava.

Throughout the week, Sandy tried to massage the knots and pain away; I methodically used ice and heat, stretching, traction, and took 3-4 thousand milligrams of Ibuprofen every day believing the pain would eventually go away. I kept going all the while unpacking, putting things together, journaling, writing posts, and talking to friends. Sandy and I even hiked 6 miles on Wednesday.

But you know how that goes . . . I will go to a doctor on Wednesday . . . Well, maybe a chiropractor would be a better choice . . . I will give it another day to heal . . . It should be better tomorrow . . . We are in a tornado watch so I can't go today.

By 2 this morning I could not sit, stand, lie down, or find any position that did not leave me gasping for breath and feeling faint, so we headed for the Emergency Room at Providence Hospital.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the ER, a worried and stressed looking mom was hustling across the parking with her little girl cradled in her arms. The tiny face, circled by ringlets of blond hair, was streaked with tears and her raspy, ragged cough made MY throat hurt. Once they got inside, Robin, a male nurse with a teddy bear persona, immediately took the little girl in his giant arms and began rocking her, speaking lovingly and sympathetically. The effect was magical; she quit crying and coughing in seconds.

Confession . . .

My stinking neck, shoulder, forearm, and fingers hurt so bad, I found myself wishing Robin would either pick me up and heal me, or body slam me and kill me!

In a few minutes I was signed in and led to a room where Emily, a nurse that looked like a 13 year old, told me a doctor would see me shortly. She took down some more information, while commenting that I didn't look too good. "Are you in pain?" she asked. I think my ashen face and trembling body gave me away.

"Most definitely," I responded. She continued, "Dr. Boyer is with another patient, and it will be a few minutes before he is free. Are you sure you are alright? I will ask him if we can give you something for the pain." Just then the doctor came in and began banging around on my left arm with one of those little rubber hammers. There was almost zero reflex. "I am going to get some X-rays, and schedule you for an MRI at 8 a.m. We will have to take you to another hospital. We don't have an MRI. You can sleep here until then."

Emily returned a few minutes later with a needle and syringe. "I am going to give you a shot. It's a mixture of Demerol and [some other drug] that will help with nausea (For my friends who know me well . . . no, I did not tell her that I am 54 years old and have never vomited. Although it is a story worth telling).

Highly motivated to get this pain under control, I began to roll up my sleeve . . .

"Sir, I will need to inject this into a bigger muscle."

"You are going to stick it in that muscle?" Just for the record - I didn't even flinch when that needle penetrated the dermis of my derriere. In no time at all the pain began to subside, and I was being pushed in a wheel chair to the X-ray lab (They would not let me walk on my wobbly, Demerol-influenced legs).

Here's the really cool part . . .

After the X-rays - sure enough - two EMT's were waiting to put me on a stretcher and load me into the ambulance, and we were on our way for the MRI. Sandy rode with us. Sandy was in the front talking to the EMT Kelsey. I was in the back talking to the EMT Dave.

It just so happened that Kelsey and his family train "cutting horses," and his mother is a teacher. It also "just so happens" that Dave is an advanced kayaker, and his wife is a media specialist in the Columbia school system! Just like that, we have two new friends! Sandy has 2 direct contacts into the school system she desires to teach in, both of us love to kayak, and I will get to ride (and fall off) horses again!

But first I must finish regimen of Prednisone and wait for the inflamed nerve canal to cool down. A neurologist will decide where we will go from there. More good news: the pain killers prescribed help me enjoy this brand new adventure!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

From the Mountains to the Seas

His mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness O LORD ~ From the Psalms

It is official. We now reside in Columbia, South Carolina - Home of the University of South Carolina. The Palmetto State received us with a sunny 68 degree smile!

Everything of consequence is unpacked and in place. Our 2 bedroom apartment has a warm feel to it. Just beyond the back patio, which has a western exposure, is a man-made lake surrounded by deciduous trees stripped naked by the cycles of nature. But soon they will be cloaked in their newest spring fashions with floral schemes. Yesterday, I sat outside and watched a family of Mallard ducks bob for food as they paddled from the edges of the shore-to-the-center, and back again. A gaggle of geese gracefully glided to the placid surface - their webbed feet skidding to a less graceful stop. A tall, bony legged heron stood statue still, but on the ready to stab an unsuspecting fish with its spear-point beak.

Depending on the direction we choose, a commitment of 90 minutes behind a windshield will put us at the foot of mountains, or the shores of the Atlantic. For centuries rugged, mountainous terrain has tugged at the hearts of explorers and adventurers. I am one of those men drawn to scaling rocks and cliffs, and walking the ridges. Taking a seat on a benched shaped outcropping to log my sojourn, trace the sunset, behold vistas - constantly changing as shadows shorten and lengthen - mesmerizes and recharge me spiritually. Grandeur puts things in their proper perspective - the infinity of the Creator - the finiteness of his creation.

When we lived in Columbus, Zach Thomas, a good friend and an Army Ranger, taught me to rappel - feet first and head first (Australian). Our first leap was off the roof of the educational building at Morningside Baptist Church. My second leap took place in the sanctuary of Morningside Baptist church. Zach and I rappelled from the rafters of the soaring vaulted ceiling onto the platform. At the time it seemed like a good idea - it was part of a promotion for our men's event, "The Call of the Wild." Since then I have rappelled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and from platforms designed for that purpose in other places. I hope to hook up with some like minded guys down here and pick up where I left off.

Sandy loves the ocean. Over the years she often retreats to the rugged, rocky shore lines of Maine where the incoming tides violently crash into granite seawalls and natural cliffs, or to the feel of sand beneath her feet as she strolls along the endless strands and textures of beaches on the coast of Massachusetts and Florida. Such places are akin to the Celtic lore of, "Thin Places." Sounds, sights, and smells, elicit tranquility, comfort, and meditation. Journaling, long walks, collecting drift wood, peculiar stones, sea glass, shells, or quietly waiting for the sun to rise or set soothes her. Toes buried in the sand, pant legs rolled above the curve of her calves, wading through the surf, wind tussling her hair, and watching waves gently caressing the shoreline- fills her cup to overflowing.

I know that we will not be frequent guests of the majestic mountains or mesmerizing seas for some time. Getting the first Planet Fitness franchise off the ground is going to occupying most of my time, and presents a learning curve and challenge of a new kind - one I am anxious to get started on. Columbia represents: new adventure; new friends; new Faith community; new doctors and dentists; new geography; new experiences, and new responsibilities. This side of eternity nothing remains the same. His mercies are new every morning . . . and I am grateful that it is so.

Let the Adventure begin!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Appraised Value

We left New England later than we planned, but the extra time in Massachusetts was well spent. Justin, Josh, and I loaded the truck - more fun than work. Whenever the three of us get together it is always a good time. Sandy, and our daughter-in-law, Erika, packed the house while the Shorey men got the bulk of our belongings from storage and packed them into the truck. Time flew by, and the job was really a breeze.

Sometimes such events bring about poignant "moments." One came about for me as I placed the last of the boxes and miscellaneous on the truck. I grabbed the looped strap to pull the roll top door down - then stopped. I stared at the insides of the big white box of the beige and orange U-Haul. It contained all of our possessions after 32 years of marriage. "It's not even full," I thought to myself. A splintery question emerged, "Is that good, or is that bad? Should there be more material evidence of success and prosperity?"

Some would say, "Yes."

Some would say, "No."

I would say, "It depends."

Over the course of a lifetime each of us develops a value system that steers (actually dictates) our life. Yet, almost every person I know has pursued a set of goals only to conclude, It's not worth it. The price is too steep. At a higher level we experience an epiphany, awakening, or change of perspective, and in most instances come to realize that we over-valued a specific dream at the cost of under-valuing an even greater one. Wisdom tells us to abandon the chase and reset our course.

So the question arises, "Is there a single, precise, and correct way to assign value to things we deem worthy of our pursuit? Is there a catalyst for an epiphany, awakening, or change of perspective?" I believe there is. Fair warning - if you espouse it as the most important consideration in prioritizing your life - be prepared to make some drastic changes.

Here it is . . .

God is keeping the records that count, and His account is the only one that will one day count.

In the end, that is the only appraisal we need to be concerned with.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Offering

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because there were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he [Jesus] said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. ~ The Gospel according to Matthew (9:36)

This morning Miss Meagan called to catch me up on her adventures, and to bounce some things off Dad. Meg graduates from College in May, and for at least 2 years she has been talking about backpacking in Europe with her best friend when school ends. That led up to her telling me that she was seriously thinking about going to Haiti on a relief mission, rather than touring parts of Europe on foot. Meagan is uber compassionate, passionate, mission minded, and to use a cliche, "Puts her money where her mouth is."

Coincidentally, I had just finished reading and viewing online the pictures of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Needless to say my daughters words touched me deeply, and I was trying to keep my voice from quavering as I responded to her devotion. Our conversation continued around missional themes, and we swapped anecdotal illustrations to explain our personal perspectives. One thread of conversation led to the financial aspect of missions. After all - you have to have money to put your money where your mouth is.

Meg proceeded to tell me about a podcast on Youtube; a message spoken at Mars Hill Church. The theme was about missions and giving. She briefly summarized what she had heard, and described how a line of buckets separated those who spoke from those who listened. Meg then began to tell me how the message ended.

Those buckets were there for an offering.

Before Meg even finished the story my mind cynically raced ahead to a probable conclusion, "Let each of us prepare our heart to give an offering. Let's fill these buckets remembering, '"Give and God will give even more to you . . ."'

I was blindsided.

I was wrong.

There was no emotional appeal for an offering. No video clips to pull on your heart strings. No promise that if you would give a Hamilton toward God's purposes - God would give you a Benjamin. There was no plea for an offering at all - the buckets were already filled with cash. Instead, an offer was given to any and all present, "Many of you are trying to survive terribly difficult financial times. We will not ask you for anything, but anyone who needs money come forward, and take as much as you need."

I lost it.

Meg consoled me, "Dad, I cried when I listened to the podcast."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Getting Re-Centered

On January 15-16, Sandy and I will be at Planet Fitness Corporate Headquarters for pre-sale training (Sandy is going to work with me until she starts teaching). On January 17, pull an ox out of the ditch (we load up a U-Haul on Sunday). Early in the morning on the 18th we head south. This week is incredibly busy, and we have a list of people we want to see next week before we leave. Stress is trying to gain a footing in our spirits. We keep pushing back.

Both of us are adventurous, but we also realize that once again we are starting over. Starting over is not a new thing. Several times during our 32 years of marriage our journey has required that we let go of a lot of stuff and travel light - this time we are traveling ultra-light. At the present all we know is that we have a home address in Columbia, and that we have employment. This one is a whole new journey - this one is definitely different.

For us, these are times when the hand of God is the most difficult to trace. Personally, more than any of the other moves, I think I understand the trepidation biblical Abraham must have felt when God (who was a complete stranger to him) spoke, told him to pack up his belongings, and depart for a land he would eventually show him. Never have I felt I knew so little about the One who directs our steps. Faith looks very different from this view from the deck, so God looks different.

Also, there is an in congruency that is mine right here. Right now. Physically I am dead tired, yet my mind and soul are beyond wide awake. I know I am out of balance. Wobbly. Scattered. But it is through journaling that my mind, soul, and body begin to get reoriented toward God. It creates a vortex that helps draw everything toward a center, rather than spiral out of control.

Friday, January 1, 2010

All Things? Yes, All Things

And we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God, and for those who are the called according to His purposes. ~ The apostle Paul

2010 . . .

It's here!

Now what?

If the world continues until January 18 - and presuming that Sandy and I also do - we will be moving to Columbia, South Carolina. Not in our wildest dreams (or nightmares) did we believe we would be making such a quick turnaround. We moved from the Southeast to the Northeast in 2009. Now we are moving from the Northeast back to the Southeast in 2010.

2009 was a spiritually, emotionally, and physically draining year. So much transpired it has been really hard, if not impossible, to process all of it. I just don't have enough context at the present.

Spiritually nothing went as I thought it would when we returned to the Northeast. Spiritual growth has come through facing my own failures. If you have traveled that road you are fully aware of how unglamorous it is, and how deeply God is drilling.

Physically there was the ruptured plantaris that kept me hobbled for at least 2 months, and then in July the violent motorcycle accident that damaged my back. Six months have since passed, and I continue to experience back pain that never takes a day off.

Emotionally, 2009 left me with little reserve. It often seems that my soul continually sighs. But there is always enough desire to keep the pace that life demands.

Writing a post such as this exposes a dark side that one does not ordinarily reveal. We would rather display our bullet proof side. But there is a reason I just go ahead and write. It is a simple reason. As a young boy I was introduced to the Bible. I was told it was inspired by God. It was explained to me that its central theme was God's unrelenting determination to redeem man - restore His image in his beloved. The central character of the Book, Jesus, was God's rescuer. The rescue cost God's Son his life. But he conquered death - because the life in him was God. Since his death and resurrection he extends a 24/7 offer to any and all, "Come to me . . . I am the way to God, I am truth, and I am the life you need. I will restore you." Many years ago Jesus called me, and I responded. Since then, few moments pass when I am not aware of my need for for Him to show me the way, lead me into truth, and bring me the life I need.

At the top of this post are the words spoken by a man in desperate need of redemption and rescue - the apostle Paul. God had taught him, "all things work together for the good for those who love God . . . "

So, whether it be times when all is well, or whether it be times when life is hell - it is this settled belief that God is in "all things" that fuels my hope to "Enjoy the Adventure."