Friday, April 30, 2010

It Was Worth It

Is life just a series of chance happenings or is it something orchestrated by someone divine?

We will never know in this skin why some things happen, but would you change anything if you could? I feel like I would change one thing. But I am not sure it would have made a difference.

I believe life is designed by our Creator. I believe that all major events in one's life happen for a specific reason. I believe God is much bigger than our minds allow for. What we cannot see can be the things that define us in the end.

I would take back the last year and do it again if I could. I don't think it would change a thing. God does what He does and allows what He allows. Who is the pot to ask the potter why we were made? But I will say, God is always perfect and faithful. I trust Him as He has given me everything.

So I will think about things that are holy and lovely. I will think about how much fun Will is having right now. I will think about his laugh and how that is all he can do right now. Even if I weep, it means more to me that he laugh. Because his laugh could make the whole room laugh.

I will tell you this: Even if I knew the ending, I still would have embraced him as my brother. He brought me joy and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Sing.Migrate.™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Take It

What is the difference between sadness and misery?

We were talking in our small group about it as we studied Ecclesiastes. Some are sad for a time, then fight to get out of it and smile again. Others choose to live in that dark place. We set up camp there because it is where we are most comfortable. Misery is choosing to live in that dark place.

I met with Will's mom for lunch the other day. It is amazing how God is working in her. He has given her the desire and inclination to give all of her anger and sorrow to God. In speaking to her, I have realized that I have not really done that. I have prayed and asked God to pull me out of this. To lift me up as I cannot walk. But never once have I asked God to take it all on Himself. To fight the battle for me. I haven't really given over my anger and rage or my misery and guilt to Him...The only solution to it. So I am doing so now. This is my prayer: Take my heart as it bleeds. Take my anger because it's fire burns as hell burns within me. Take my guilt because I cannot go back and change a single thing I did or did not do. Take my sadness because it is much more than I could ever bare. Take my grief because what the world has lost is greater than what it deserved. Take it all. I don't want it anymore.

I want to have good memories of Will and smile instead of feeling my heart sink and my world crashing down. I want to do the things he never did, but always wanted to do because that is what he would want me to do. I want to play music again. I want to hold on to the wonderful person who filled my life with laughter and love, not the guy that suffered so much.

Through so much loss, I have gained though. Jo Ann helped me see that. I have gained a mother, a father, a sister, cousins, and a deeper love for me brothers. I realize the things that are important when before I lost my way.

So take it all God. I don't want it.

Sing.Migrate.™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amazing God

Something has been stirring at church lately. God is active and alive. I have been praying and concerned over the past couple of years that our little gathering has become stagnant. Lately, God has been moving in powerful ways. I was on the praise team this morning and as I played guitar, I felt compelled to put that instrument down and lift up my hands to Him. I did not because I fear it would have distracted from the Body's worship. I could not play that instrument well or hard enough to equal the joy of lifting my hands and falling face down on the ground to my Savior.

God is so good. I may say a lot of negative things and preach a doctrine of sadness often here, but the truth is that God is amazing. Not the amazing that current culture has defined, but amazing in it's true definition. God makes me stop and stand still. I have no words, only an overwhelmed tremble in the presence of God.

Sing.Migrate.™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


We are studying Ecclesiastes in my small group Bible study. It is depressing. It brings to light just how careful we should be when asking God for wisdom, because ignorance truly is bliss. If we do not know, than we are not accountable for it. But what kind of life is ignorance? No one wants to be the fool who has no idea what is going on right in front of them. It may hurt a lot to know the truth, but I think in the long run, it hurts a lot more to be ignorant of it.

To be in the dark is confusion. Just try to get up and pee in the night with all the lights out and obstacles everywhere and you wind up hurt and cursing, or peeing in the closet. God allows mistakes in part to help us learn what the mistakes are, so we won't be in darkness. He drags us kicking screaming sometimes into the light. Us and all of our miserable sin get's exposed, and we are forced to make a choice: Will we repeat, or walk away in another direction. To repeat is foolish and common. To walk away is the beginning of understanding.

But do we really need to know the truth?

I don't know.

I wanted to know who my father was, what he looked like, and if he thought of me. I spent so many years searching. I found him. I contacted him three times without even a note in the mailbox in return. So I stupidly went for my sister and cousin. Only to be rejected as a misinformed sad soul. I was pitied, but turned away. I knew the truth, yet was written off as ignorant. Solomon would call this a "Chasing after the wind." "Meaningless." He would be right.

But at least now I know. I put myself out there like a fool to be rejected and the worst happened. I had these delusions of spending holidays with my new family that, after a grave mix up were so glad to have my family as part of theirs. Instead: Reality. I was sent kicking the can again, for the final time. The upside is that at least I know what kind of person my father really is. He is proud and he is a coward. He is the fool. He is left with no excuse. God gave him three chances and he ran every time, as if God did not know he was lying and weren't going to hold him accountable. The Bible says that a person who doesn't provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever. Enough said there.

I don't think we always end up happy once the truth is made known to us, but I think we do get a sense of peace and closure in being able to see straight.

Sing.Migrate.™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


You don't need to win.

I tell myself that every day. As I battle many different things at different times, I do not have to win all the time. I am too competitive. I have needed to be throughout my life. I have needed to be a fighter. I have needed that little voice inside that tells you to get back up and fight. I tell myself I am better than this. I have more heart. I have been through more, and it has helped me to survive. But now, it has become a way of life; to compete against the world. Me against you and I am taking me.

This causes problems. Why? Because we can't always win. We lose sometimes, everyone does. We need the fight when we are crippled and down and are barely breathing, such as right now for me. We need it to subside when we take too much pride in the fight. We were meant to lose some. Without lose, victory isn't sweet at all.

Yet, I don't shave much anymore. I trick my body to get out of bed. I pretend to still love the hobbies I have always loved. I am here on autopilot and my mind is somewhere in space, floating around, bouncing between pain and regret. I need the fight right now, but have given up most of it. I am down and continue to lay there barren. My God lifts me up and I fall back down again. It is my fault I cannot keep my legs straight. I am too weak.

I miss the time I would light up at the chance to compete. I was always the underdog in my mind, I made it that way because I was better coming from behind, when no one expected much from me. I remember in basketball, I would size up the other team, find their best player and go for him. I would beat him up physically and mentally until he broke. I won. I had heart. I miss that fire. Something has been taken from me. Someone. It isn't coming back. But God, who is faithful and allows us pain has something better on the horizon. I can't see it now, and I can't feel it, but I know it's there. He allows this pain for a better ending.

But for now, I will sit at this computer and open all of my pictures of him and weep. Because it is all I can do. And crumble into the arms of Christ, who is the only source of strength.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Death Of America

Guy on Maury: "I am 150% sure, I am not Devin's daddy." "I never even slept with the girl."
Maury: "When it comes to 2 year old Devin, Darryl, you are the father."
Guy: "Oh man, I knew it."
Mother: (Standing in the guys face) "I told you. I told you. What! What!" "Whatchu got to say now?"

This is television. It is hard for me to imagine bringing something so private and important in front of 100 people in a studio, cheering and booing. Millions on TV watching. The camera backstage fixed on the little kid that has no father no matter what happens with the test. This kid will get to watch this episode over and over again and remember being exploited on his worst day in front of everyone. It makes for entertaining TV, but it is a horror show for the kids. It always is a horror show for the kids when an idiot dad takes the ultimate walk of shame. It is pathetic and weak.

What makes a man a man is the way he takes care of his family. In this culture, walking away is encouraged. "Walk away from marriage, the laws make it easy now." "Walk away from the kid, just send the checks, or we can make it easier and take them out of your pay for you, so you don't even have to write that little piece of paper." "If it is hard, just quit." "It isn't cowardice, it is looking out for yourself, being smart." This has been the death of America.

This is why we are falling.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


The whole house is sleeping. Caeden and Aidan (Will's 7 year old) are sleeping peacefully in the basement after a long night of laughing. Aevry and Laura are right down the wall. Aevry is breathing heavily as usual. The windows are open and the wind is blowing the drapes forward and filling the living room with cold air. The microwave clock is 4 minutes fast and keeps telling me to go to bed. The heater is on my lap fighting the draft with every watt it drains from the earth. I am sitting on the couch surrounded by life in repose. Again.

It has been a tough week. Things have been hard for me. Even the simple tasks have taken their toll. I can't get my mind off of Will. My dreams have been filled with oddities and strange happenings. I have angry thoughts and can't shake them. Thoughts that remind me that I am not a very forgiving person lately. This is a condition of my attitude that must change soon. Anger hurts only yourself. It doesn't matter if I am right and they are wrong, they don't care and I am the only one thinking about it. So it hurts only me.

The street lights are out in front of my house, making it too dark to make out the small shapes that pass beneath my front window. Probably stray cats the crazy cat lady has forgotten about, roaming the streets when everyone is sleeping. When the lights are out I feel alone. No one else seems to be doing the same thing I am, and that makes me sad; or happy depending on the night. Sometimes I want everyone to see me struggle like I were a fish in the bottom of a boat, flipping around and gasping for air waiting for the knife to separate me from my bones. Other days, I just want to blend in and be the clown, performing the circus tricks that make everyone laugh and have a really nice time. It is a toss up lately which of the two I will be that day. Sometimes I want to stop traffic and make everyone mad at me, just to remind everyone that I am here, and other days I could crawl into a small box on a boat in the middle of the ocean and just exist alone with no one but God to listen to my ramblings. Loneliness can be a really loyal friend if you embrace it.

I love to listen to the second hand tick like a metronome, cutting the silence 60 times a minute, taking that much time off of my life. I often wonder what I can do in all that time I have been sitting here, if given to me at the end of my life. Is life Purgatory? Are we just waiting for Heaven?

I refuse to sit and wait. Living life with a mission is what life is all about. I may be in a waiting room, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't stay busy.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why I Do Youth Ministry

I have spent years trying to put into the right words why I do youth ministry and why I do it the way I do it. It is hard for me to figure out. I attract a certain kind of kid I think. I may be like the pied piper of dead end kids or something. Or I could be exactly who God is making me to be. My youth group isn't like any I've been to before. There isn't much flashiness to it. The sound system sucks and we don't have a sound guy to make sure things are mixed properly. We meet in a gymnasium of another church, but before that we were in basements, bowling alleys, music halls, Falcon Halls and even in a park. We wander around running a vagrant ministry to vagrant kids. The vast majority of the kids have little to no family to speak of and a good portion of them have been kicked out of school. If I shared their stories with you, you would never believe what some of these kids have been through, things you didn't think really happened in the real world. Things you would see on the news and cringe and shake your head at. We gather them together in a little gym in Wyandotte and work on it. We work hard and progress is slow moving. Our staff is realizing what it means to live in their worlds and go to great lengths to be someone in their lives. But when the smoke clears, we look around and see real progress. Kids loving Jesus in practical ways and sharing it with each other. If we want to gauge whether our ministry is working, meaning God has us right where He wants us, we just watch teenagers living in misery bringing with them more kids living in misery. This means they are seeing hope here. This means Christ is chipping away.

My mom really is one of my models of youth ministry. When we were kids, she bought a big van, mostly held together by duct tape, pulled most of the seats out of it, and used to drive around the streets of River Rouge and Ecorse picking up kids and bringing them to church. She did all of these silly antics to keep them there too. She even resorted to buying a clown suit and acting a fool to make them laugh. The kids rarely had shoes on, and their faces were always dirty, but my mom saw Christ in them, so she chipped away. These were street kids, who were willing to pile into a clown's van and sit inside of a church. To me, that is a pretty amazing feat.

God has gone to great lengths to keep us a humble, grass roots ministry. He has made sure we always had just enough. Nothing more, nothing less. We get by borrowing peoples cars, meeting at their homes, and begging for free help. We are blessed to function this way. Because it reminds us that there was nothing glamorous about what Jesus did when He came here. He took a beating from the religious who hated the people he spent His time with and didn't run a flashy ministry (Unless flashy to you means basically spitting in a blind man's eye and making him see again). Jesus got His hands dirty and didn't need to wow anyone to show people what love really is. I think resources can get in the way of real love. Resources are great to have until you covet them, then they become a hindrance to the point of what we are doing. Get enough resources in student ministry and soon you will have a ministry thats god has become entertainment and sugar coated lollipops. We do what we can to keep the kids excited and their attention on the right place, but in the end, it is about showing them what real love is and how to spread that love out to other people. This is a backbreaking task and runs staff right out of here.

I have to remind myself every so often that what I am doing is what God wants me to do. If I forget that, I will loss my mind and burn up with all of the static from every force pushing against us.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Dead End Kids

We were the dead end kids. We knew that none of us were getting out of here, at least not for very long. I think that was always OK with us. We had each other. I didn't mind driving the same streets over and over again wearing out the pavement every day. Some people complain when they move away about how everything has changed when they return. All of their hiding places are gas stations and strip malls. We got to watch it happen. We would share in the levity of the moment when our childhood places were demolished. Those that remained, we returned to often, just to tell the same stories over and over. We would scratch our names in the walls to remind everyone that the dead end kids were here. Will worked on the rails and would spray paint his symbol on the cars.

We had a direction that would correspond to each of us. I was South, Will was East, Joe was West, and Jeff was North. We had matching Eskimo hats with our directions written on the label inside. We would wear them to Horse Island to ice fish beneath a blanket of bitter cold.

We practiced shotgun rules, always. Will had an Escort ESP, which had no back seat, just a hatchback area to lay in. The rules were, you had to call shotgun within sight of the car while we were leaving. If you were ever caught crying, you were in the backseat for a week, and if you "Busted," meaning fell down, it was also a week. Will was the driver, so it was usually me and Joe who would cast the lots to lay in the hatch.

I miss Will tonight. To the point that I can't breathe again. I miss the lobster fork he kept stuck in his dashboard when we were kids. I miss arguing with him over trivial things for hours, he could never handle hypotheticals, he was too mechanically minded. I miss the way he ate steak, cutting off a small piece, then dipping it into the butter jug and pulling out a chunk twice the size of the steak. I miss the way he always tucked in his undershirt to prevent his butt crack from being exposed. I miss the little money change bags he would sow from old flannels. I miss his loud snoring. I used to hate when he fell asleep first, because I would be stuck making music in my head below his bed to the beat of his breathing. Right now, hearing him snore would be brilliant. Most of all I miss his stained and greasy hands, ripped and cracked from the work he loved so much.

I still pick up my phone to call him when something funny happens. It hurts to remember he isn't going to pick up that phone. The battery is dead.

In Vegas, I set my mind to forgetting what was at home as much as I could. I focused on my little brother Andy and my wife. I had such a great time with them and for a few moments, I wasn't back here. I got on a plane to fly home and it began coming back. All of it. We landed and got home and I snapped at my wife for absolutely no reason at all. It just all came back so fast and I was right back where I was before I left and I was frustrated and angry about that. One day before I was standing in the beauty of one of God's most beautiful Creations, the next, I was staring in the face of death again. Watching our ghosts move from place to place under the rolling street lights. It isn't at all fair. No one said it would be.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Glove Box

I was 5. We were riding in the backseat of a small car, squashed together like folded socks in a suitcase. I don't know where we were going, but there was something in front of me that had me terrified. It lurked in the glove box like some phantom waiting for me to sleep to creep on me. I was afraid the glove box, which isn't for gloves at all, would pop open and he would be there, staring at me with those disgusting eyes and that long tongue. I was playing with my fingers as my mother sat in the front seat with her friend, who was driving. They were laughing. My brother, a foster child my mom took in, and I were in the back waiting to get out of this Spam can and run around. It was dark outside and the street lights didn't seem to work, which brought on my fear of the phantom in the glove box.

Smash! We were hit from behind. My senses jolted, and I became confused. Something sharp was driven between my left arm and my side and pushed through to the seat in front of me. I didn't feel hurt and I wasn't bleeding. No one in our car was bleeding. People were panicking, my mom was holding her neck. Still I had no idea what just happened. But I do remember looking at that glove box as it had popped open. There he was, the phantom. It was as my mother explained, the bass player and singer of KISS. None other than Gene Simmons in full make-up. I was hysterical at the sight of the monster. I have learned to be more afraid of this guy without the make-up.

Then a man from the car behind, who had hit us came walking up to the passenger door. He was covered in blood and was dyed red on every part skin should appear. He asked if we were OK. He was really nice. I remember being calmed by him as he looked back at my brother who was hysterical. He was 9. He was crying uncontrollably and wanted out of the car. The man offered to take him to his truck and show him his CB to calm him down. My brother went with him and as he was lifting my brother into the cab, a drunk driver hit the man's open door, causing it to swing back at devastating force and hit the man as my brother was cut on the knee. The man flew backwards and landed in his own truck bed.

My mother retrieved my brother and that is the end of my recollection of the incident. I don't know if the guy lived or died and I don't think I want to know. But I remember being shocked that the sharp thing which punctured through the truck (Later to be identified as an umbrella with one of those suicidal pointy things on the end) hadn't killed me. I was amazed and thankful. It was so close.

I am glad God allowed me to remember that.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spontaneous Destruction

Last week, while at the pier, I witnessed a tweener aged boy walk out of a car in which his mother had driven him to drop him off, walk over to the pier and just stand there looking at the Detroit River. This is not an unusual occurrence, it is what everyone does at the pier, the unusual part was that he was dressed like a banana.

I had a special place in my heart for him. This was me when I was his age. I used to "Jones" people. It came from the movie Mr. Jones where this insane guy would walk up to pretty girls and kiss them on the lips in front of their boyfriends, then run. I made this a habit. There isn't much more of a rush, outside of boosting, than being chased by a crazed boyfriend who just witnessed you assault his girlfriend.

I would pretend to be a professional at everything and take on huge jobs wreck them, and then walk away from them. Because it was funny. I worked construction for a few years, and once on my birthday, I rang the home number of my boss, who I could not stand (not you Brison or Jim, a different boss) at 3:30 AM and screamed, "It's my birthday!" "I quit."

I once walked into a funeral home and planned my own funeral without the director knowing it was for me. Thank God I did not die. It was my intense desire to have an outdoor funeral in the rain with an open casket and allow people to break my fingers in an upward fashion so it looked like I was giving jazz hands.

If it was abnormal, I was in love with it and still am to an extent today. I grew up a little, not a lot, but a little, and have steered away from the destructive stuff. But I have to admit that sometimes, I get the urge to do something so stupid, it would make people scratch their heads. But I don't. And I won't. Maybe.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Mess We Leave As We Pass through

It is officially Easter in the Eastern Time Zone. Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of what it means for me. And for you. My wife pointed out yesterday that it is only Christian holidays that have some phony character to take the place of Christ. There is no Hanukkah Bunny, or Ramadan Fairy. No Boofalooni in a red suit to hand out gifts on Kwanzaa. Nope. Just all Christian holidays have been perverted, and you know what that tells me? That Christianity is right. The enemy attacks what is dangerous, not what is false. That makes it all worth while. So I will celebrate and rejoice in the salvation I have because of and only because of Jesus, my Savior, God in the flesh, sent to save me. And you.

Christ's resurrection meant everything. If He had just died this horrible death, we would still have nothing in our hands. Since He rose, we hold eternity. It gives me chills. To sit and think about where I was going when Christ whispered in my ear with thunder that cracked even the darkest and strongest part of my heart. It left me lying in piles for days. The raw fact that someone paid for me and is still active in me. That my Maker and God would peer down into my wretched guts and see something He loved. The thought that He did what He did for me. And for you. It isn't fair what happened to our Christ, but I can never wish anything different. I can only say thank you. So Thank you.

I still remember walking those tracks. Looking only at the ground as I kicked the rocks that sat scattered between the railroad ties. I wept as I walked blurring my vision and creaking my voice as I spoke aloud the reasons I was walking these tracks in the first place. I found the place and laid down, wishing inside that my whole life had been different. I wanted so bad to feel like other people did, or appeared to feel. I wanted to be loved, but I felt nothing but anger and hopelessness. I would alternate between consoling myself for a life wrecked and giving courage for a train wreck. I was not getting off those tracks. That I promise you. I was certain of what I wanted and had decided years before that this was going to be it. I had no idea what was on the other side of my eyes. Once they were closed and I reached eternity, I feared that I would be waking up in torment, but nothing could be worse than what I already felt. At least I thought that. I thought about Will and Joe. They were my angels sent to hold me up. I thought how they would go on. I guess I know the answer now to that question.

Sometimes it takes a person with nothing left, to see what Jesus really meant when He hung on those jagged sticks. He was looking at all of the suffering people. The lost and dying inside. He was looking at the orphans and remnants of war. He was looking at the mess we leave as we pass through. This made Him more miserable that any spike or glass shard could. So it was worth it. I am eternally grateful. My God walked past the religious and came over to me, the filth of this miserable earth. He reached out His hand and picked me up. How could I not be eternally grateful.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Beauty

Driving on route 62 just inside Arizona, we come upon Rosie's: A small little Indian cafe sitting between 200 hundred miles of desert sand and stone. At Rosie's, they sell gray steak and eggs, and Indian rugs. We sit and eat easy to forget food, and walk along the little sand path through the tarp covered shop that displays knives, honey, leather, and miscellaneous trinkets and ding dads...Nothing a Yankee would ever want to buy. Rosie's is the heart of America. Little business put together by the blood and sweat of real people, not money hungry corporations. So we were honored to eat there. It made me forget for just a few minutes that my life is upside down and sideways. I saw something different in the toothless man that served us our food. Andy ordered a Bartles and James just as a joke and quickly had to rescind when the toothless man began his journey back to the fridge to grab one. We thought wine coolers had gone out of style in the 80's. Not at Rosie's. Not in the desert.

Things are easier there. We drive by the slabs that sit quietly on the side of the road that would later connect us to the Grand Canyon. Across the street is a Family Dollar, which is the trailor community's only source of supplies. We stop to use the bathroom in the most pristine loo I have ever sat in. It was a 5 hour journey, but one that was necessary for all of us. Andy has suffered from the rigors of law school for the past semester and is screaming for a break. Laura and I have been kicked around by the rodeo bull we call death for the past three months. We needed to see a different perspective. Most people would hate this place, but we cherish every second of it and will remember it's warmth forever.

I think when everything is fast we forget to remember that life is short and wonderful at times. There is still beauty left. It isn't all bad, all the time. There are places like Rosie's left all over the place. People life Andy, who I love more than myself. Good people who really care about more than just themselves. This is what I needed to be reminded of. So I head off on a journey into the desert and find the beauty God has always wanted me to notice. The beauty in family and friends, and the beauty in all He has made.


™Zombiehaven 2008. All ideas and photos are copyrighted under Zombiehaven. Anything used from this site, must have written permission.