Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rust





        It was seconds after the door slammed shut, that I realized there was someone behind it. The ball would drop and I would be sitting beneath the moonlit sky, but buried inside of this refrigerator. I pinched myself twice and slammed a fist into the door, that I could not believe I got inside in the first place. That red glowing light was like some kind of cheese and I was the mouse that just could not resist. Finally doomed. I had made a lifestyle out of following little red lights. Everything about them tells you to stop...that they are profoundly dangerous. But I never much feared the dangerous, but the predictable. I had always said that I would rather die not knowing or by accident than in my bed a hundred years from now, wondering if tonight was the night my eyes wouldn't reopen. As I sat alone in this vertical tomb, my mausoleum, I took it all back. The things I had said. The things I had done. The people I'd hurt. Walking away laughing. I would regret everything.

        Just seconds after the door slams shut, I regret my entire life. It felt deeper than wishing I hadn't wondered into this junk yard and especially sat down inside this fridge. Somehow I wanted to die. I was glad to be getting what I deserve finally. I started praying to rewind the entire tape and record over it. The looks on their faces will haunt my hell I am guessing. I was so terrible to them. Any kid that looked weak, I would pounce on. Now I am under their feet. I slammed my hand into the door again and again until I felt a trickle of warm fluid down my forearm and into my sleeve. I slam it again in anger; and again. I listen as the bones creak and snap as I shatter them on the steel? What was this material anyway? It was soft, yet unforgiving and unwavering. I was trapped.

        Her fingernails were painted red. It was all I saw as the door slammed shut. What witch of a woman locks a child inside of a refrigerator? But I am not a boy anymore I guess. I am no more a child than a feeble old man staring out at the world he once loved. It's been days since that door shut. Maybe years, I don't know anymore. It's too dark in here to count my fist marks in the door. They used to heal and stop hurting. Now they are brittle and falling apart. They bleed no more. I have long since stopped crushing them on the door. The light of the sun crosses only my memory and I am left to my doom. To my regrets...



Photo credit to: http://intao.deviantart.com/





Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading. - Z

Monday, December 26, 2011

When All The Presents Are Opened


You keep moving forward no matter what's behind you, and you put all your love left onto your wife and kids. This is how you survive the things you never thought you could make it through. Without God, none of these things in the formula will work. God is good and as my friend Jerame said, "Even when He doesn't." Your faith and strength in God will not take the pain away, only time will work on that, but it will give you a peace about what happens when we close our eyes, never to awake. Our God gives us the hope to endure the suffering that life can bring. He doesn't save us always from the pain of being alive. He had to endure it. Why not us? Instead of asking why me? Ask why not me?


Every year is hard when you lose someone you love, but every year does get easier as the harshness of our emotions fade into submission to the pain of sin in the world and our desire for deliverance from it. The fact of the matter is that we are gonna have to bleed to come out alive. We are gonna have to taste the poison that death and hell bring to see the grace on the other side. I am not special. I don't get to be except from what many around the world have to endure. I love my God and He loves me, but that doesn't make me special. My birthright in the eyes of God makes me special to Him, as does yours, but I have to live in this disease that entices mankind as well as any other. What's done is done.

He is gone...my brother that slept on an extra skinny, double long bed, right beside me. I am not gonna hear him snore or the strange mumblings he would say in the night anymore. Jesus alone listens to those, but I get the grace that was planted on this day in 2009, when my God allowed us to be shredded into tiny, sharp pieces to get us to Him. My brother is happy and dancing right now. He isn't alone. He isn't in his garage in the cold. He isn't still stuck in that hell he was living in. He isn't the guy that left us anymore. I gave that to God. He isn't weeping anymore. My brother is dancing. He is building things he never thought possible. He is waiting for us. Because of Christ. Because of the cross. Because of the birth of our God into a stable. May God give you every good thing that your heart needs to be free of anger, and sadness, and loneliness, and fill you with His grace. Merry Christmas.



Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12-25-2009


2 years. Two very eventful years. The first was the worst I have ever had to endure. The second? One that has changed everything about me. Two years ago you were doing things that only God could see and thinking thoughts that only He took to heart. It was quiet and cold and I was sitting ignorant...as I usually am. I wouldn't have any idea you had gone until the morning when people missed you. So what happens two years later after the family Christmas festivities have ended and the kids and wife are all in bed? This happens. I write about you...my big brother, whom I love. Whom I miss so much. Whom I have outlived.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and that hasn't changed, no matter how hard I have tried to hate every twinkling light. The celebration of the birth of Christ is just too important to be overshadowed by the anniversary of an enormous enemy victory. It was because of Him and His birth in the very place that the cattle eat and sleep that gives me assurance that you are happy in Heaven right now...because nothing is bigger than the cross, and you believed. This year nothing has fallen from the sky. Oddly enough, two years ago, it was rain all day. There are no parades for you. No one is lighting a candle for you at your house. The world is as it has always been...a very loved by God and sometimes terrible place to be. I am not gonna dwell on the terrible things this year. Last year, those things reigned in my life and made me punish myself endlessly. There is nothing good that can come from blaming yourself for another's actions. So I will focus on my God.

This God. This Beast from Bethlehem. This divider of families and friends. This giver and taker of life. This Savior of all. It all belongs to Him. This day. These wrapped gifts. These moments of happiness with our families. Even these tears we shed over who isn't there with us this year. It is His. He paid for it. He was born in humility and died in agony, but raised in all the splendor of God and clothed in absolute majesty.

This huge God also found His way to weave himself into the very fabric of our lives. He is the tissue that holds the entire universe together. Today we celebrate the day He was born in a barn in the filth of animals. It is because of the loss of my brother that I celebrate today. It is because of Jesus that I can lay my head down and sleep in peace, knowing that my brother has lights strung all over his home in Heaven. I believe he has an ornament of our lives hanging on his tree. I believe tonight he is looking at his mother's dangling ornament. His father's, His children's, His sister's, his brother's, and even mine. His tree is perfect and his lights never go out. Christmas is not a source of pain for him anymore and it shouldn't be for us either. Christmas is about Jesus. His birth into the world to save it.


May God rip away all that holds your face in the cold ground this day. May He lift you up out of the guts of hell and seat you right next to Him in His glory. May we remember His love and love those equally around us.







Sing.
Migrate.





Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buried in Christmas

Please check out my short story on Blurb.


Click on the words to bring up the entire text on each photo. Or, if you have an iPhone or iPad, download Blurb for free and all your wildest dreams will come true.






Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Regrets?

I checked it out. Yes, she really did.

People always say they live their lives without regrets. I have never understood this statement. I don't believe it. Even if our mistakes serve to teach us something, wouldn't that lesson have better been learned without the mistake...like maybe if we had listened to wisdom in the first place? I don't buy it. No one is happy about failure. Here is a short list of my failures and regrets. I will leave the deepests things out because I write too many serious things on this blog in such a short span of time. I must water this mix down a bit.

I regret coughing that phlegm ball onto that poor girls forehead.
I regret looking over at those girls watching me skateboard in the 4rth grade, because I regret the terrible wipe-out that ensued and the walk or run of shame that followed as those girls laughed at my demise.
I regret most everything I say that I think is funny, so I say it louder than my normal jet engine volume level.
I regret the way I danced the night I met my wife at a wedding.
I regret that horrible green, skin-tight sweater I wore to show my sexuality on our third date. She regrets it too. It didn't show my sexuality at all. Possibly the opposite of my sexuality.
I regret calling my wife the day after I met her and leaving a desperate message with her grandma. I should have waited the customary 4 days to call....and NOT left a message with her grandma.
I regret shaking my infant son all about while holding him above my agape mouth as he spilled his stomach directly onto my taste buds.



I regret much more serious things as well. Those can wait.






Sing.
Migrate.





Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deciding To Dance

The Tree The Homeless Man Decorated (2009)

Christmas. The most haunting time of the year. It cannot be replicated. None of them can copy the others and yet the feeling seems like they do. At Christmas, I remember the little creepy elves my brother and I used to play with inside the tree, much like my son does now. I remember the glare of the twinkling lights outside as they reflected off the snow which always made me wonder how the reflections didn't melt the snow itself. I remember a choir in a packed church singing as bodies clinged to each other as if the ship were sinking. Outside, the snow fell silently but impacted every square inch of my soul. So much life all around me, even as it fell from God to the cold, frozen earth. Something was moving inside and out. I think of walking through the streets, making sure to stay right in the middle of the road and follow the lines as not to make a decision between right or left. I looked into houses and saw families flinging tinsel into the air and onto their trees with Christmas movies playing in the background. Christmas has always reminded me that as bad as the world may get, there is still something inside of everyone that wants to watch the lights dance in reflections off the snow. I remember Christmas 2009 when I went to put a box of food under a tree on a hill a homeless person had decorated for Christmas. I was touched by his desire to continue celebrating. I was wondering if he was lying under that tree reminiscing about his mother's smell when she sang "Silent Night" to him. I was hoping to find him there. He wasn't. I left the bag of things and went home. Two nights later, my brother said goodbye with his eyes. I still see Christmas as warmth. I still believe that people have a sometimes very deep down desire to watch the lights again. So every year, I string mine up and turn them on for them. Maybe they are watching. Maybe they are walking in the middle of the road down my street, mindful to keep to the crack in the middle. Maybe they see my lights and dance with me. Dance with joy. Dance with hope. Maybe for even a minute they consider that the snow falls silently, but fills our hearts. The warmth in here can be shared with (out there). It is hard for them to feel anything but the bite in the air, I know, I've chattered my teeth on the frozen tracks. But sometimes when we reach out our hands and turn on our lights, they decide to dance.

Sing.
Migrate.
Dance with lights.









Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Type 2


The moon is our back-light. We move through the night as ghosts presenting the past to the those that aren't watching or listening. We are stone in the light of day, but delicate and thorough as we sweep the night sky while, the rest of the world is somewhere behind their eye-lids.

There is a place for us...the people of the night...the people who will stop and stare at the way the light hits an icicle as it gently bleeds in small drops as the world warms, slowly killing the beauty of winter.

Some do not understand us or our decisions and habits. Some are so different and "Responsible." We are called lazy because sometimes when they turn around we are staring at a rose in bloom. We are called stupid because we see in the abstract, finding a picture in every blotted mess littering their senses. We are called foolish because we will spend hours painting the veins of the human hand, desperately trying to get it right. This makes the world no money. It is an in-efficient way to live.

It is in-efficient if you are seeing the world in digits and numerals. We do not make sense to you because we don't make mathematical sense for a thriving person, trying to get things done. To us, we are truly living.

Life is so short, we just want to experience the beauty of it. God has made everything beautiful and we want to express these things, sometimes to our fault. We may not be perfect and we may not be efficient, but we are full of color in a black and white world.

The other side of the coin. This is our downfall. We would rather take a picture of a homeless guy than help him. We will paint pictures of poverty and think we have done our parts by "Raising awareness." We often think too highly of the gifts God has given us, leaving us shamefully plugging ourselves. We often have the softest hands, while the "Black and Whites" are calloused from doing. This is our fault and will be our demise if we don't find a happy medium somewhere. I say, just listen to God and follow His word.

We are the type 2 personalities. We are both the marquee and downfall of our culture. We are both darkness and light. We are only understandable if we are seen as more flawed humans, just like you.

In the end, we are all forced to take the bad with the good, realizing that we would not know the good without the bad. People are people and lots of people cannot see beside their own people, yet we still live as people. It is a good thing to be human, but an even better thing to be a loving human.







Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Into The Winter Sky



I watched the way the snow jumped off as I slid my hand down the icy iron handrail. In the middle of the night, no one is around to contain the forces that only God can control...the beauty of the snow as it fell underneath the abandoned streetlights...the bend of the branches under the weight of God's cotton. When the wind blew, a mist was driven into my face as I stood in the middle of that field bending down to light that rocket fuse. I had spent all night on it, precisely cutting cardboard and electricians tape. I was careful to make sure this rocket met my Lord in the sky. I flicked the wheel which ignited a spark on the flint and the wick erupted in flames. I took a step back to take it all in...the beauty of the moon lit sky reflecting off of the un-plowed snow...the wind that blew over garbage cans in a silent rebellion against mankind. I watched my breath rise from my mouth and find a home in the night sky. The rocket engine sparked, then flamed hotter than the sun and lifted the cardboard missile into the air so high I could not see it once the engine exploded. What a spectacle. What a sight to see. The smoke of it's desire to burn lingered in the night air, forming a trail of it's journey as far as the eye can see into the darkness, back-lit by the moon. It was a night to remember. One of those very few times when it is clear that God's beauty was still present in this destruction. One of those nights you would never forget a detail about. It was a night only my brothers could understand. It was an entire childhood bursting into beautiful sparks and finding purchase in the atmosphere, never to be found again. The next day, things would be normal again and we would forget what magic happened the night before, but we never forgot those nights. We were the only ones up in the entire world. No one saw us. No one lived at all during those moments. It was just us in the universe, blasting off into the winter snow. It was just us sitting on frozen park benches, eating the fresh powder that fell from God. Everyone and everything else faded away into the night. The world always slept when the Dead End Kids opened their eyes, spread their wings, and flew into the atmosphere.

It's been a long time since the Dead End Kids have opened their eyes.








Sing.
Migrate.





Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, November 25, 2011

On The Other Side of the Shadows


All kids are afraid of the dark. There may be some exceptions of steel plated souls, forged in the molten lava of courage, but I have never met one. I was no different. The things I could not see scared me every time I encountered them. Darkness is scary. No one wants to be blind. No one wants to bare themselves vulnerable. It is too hard to trust people. There are too many scary things out there.

Every kid has a moment when they grow up a little and take a step into something they can't see through. They let go of their mother's hand and step out into the unknown if only for a second. One day curiosity overcomes the fear and we have to know, even if the consequence is destruction. We must see for ourselves. The Prodigal Son was all about this in the Bible. This kid that used to hold his fathers hand and trust everything he said, one day decides that he must at all costs experience what is out there himself. I can relate. I can see why. I think the moral is that we all can see why. We all have had periods of our lives when wisdom was not enough. It was not enough to know the truth, we must experience it ourselves. How did it end?

For me, I was raised in church...literally in church. My brother and I spent more time in churches than in our home I think. We had Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Monday nights, and the others were singing practice for my mom and her sidekick, Joy. We knew all about church. We knew their various doctrines and creeds. We knew what they stood for and what they damned. We knew all the rules and which hoop to jump through. We knew all the words to "This Little Light Of Mine" and never to participate in the "Tall man" portion of "Where Is Thumbkin." We knew that preachers got sweaty and shouted a lot. We knew that their wives were always in charge of the bake sales and whatever else didn't require preaching. We knew there was more to the story.

I didn't want to live that way. I didn't want what they offered, at least the way they portrayed it. I wanted something bigger, and less defined. I wanted something that reached inside of me and grabbed hold. So I let go. I let go of my mother's hand and took a step into the darkness. Wanna know what I found?

Darkness. I found more darkness. I got lost quickly and terribly. I didn't find what I wanted out there. Out there was more pain and suffering...more than I had ever been through. I was given more than my share of death. It ended sitting in a rocking chair writing my letter of resignation to my life. The darkness was exactly what the devil wanted for me. I thought I wanted it because the devil was in the "Light" too.

The problem with resisting the devil is that he comes as an angel of light. He sits in churches. He sits in Bible studies. He sits in soup kitchens waiting for us...telling us that He is the remedy to our blindness. For a minute, it seems as though he is until we find ourselves in darkness again.

I ran too far from the light. I had seen the devil in the light, so I wrote off the light as evil. I gave up on the good crop because there were weeds, and fled to the place that produces nothing but weeds. That is how I got to the bottom of who I never thought I could be. I got to the devil. I stood with him face to face, exchanging our anger...exchanging rage at God. I was enticed.

I was wrong.


I didn't know it until I found myself saved despite my best efforts to sleep in hell. I had to surrender. That God that I had grown to hate was not the God represented to me by the weeds looming in the light, but by those driven from the darkness.

My life and upbringing was not so bad. Nothing was terrible. I had friends and a small family that loved me dearly. It just wasn't enough. There was too much out there for me to hate. The things in the darkness were the very things I wanted most. I wanted a father, but he lived in the dark and had fled before I was even born. I wanted the stability others had around me when they spoke of their huge families and growing up together in the same schools. I wanted these things I didn't have so bad that I forgot what I did have in the light. I had a loving mother and four loving brothers. Right now, I can honestly say that is all I ever needed and would ever ask for. I wish I would have seen that then. But in the light, I do now. None of them were perfect. None of them were without mistakes, but they were my heart...my armor.

Sometimes in the light, we have to sift through the darkness and pray for discernment between the two. They become cloudy at times, but be assured that the devil is trying to destroy what God has lovingly given you.

Protect what God has given you with your life. This is not a story of how things happened, but how it happens. The Bible says that sin is crouching at your door, waiting to devour you.

To devour you.









Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vapor






There is something about watching your breath flow up into the night sky that brings calm. It tells you that you are still warm. You are still an alive human being that is capable of much more than you know, both bad and good. Rest assured that it isn't over until your breath has gone from the world and the heat transfers into your surroundings. This tells me there is always time. There is time to turn it all around. This life you live does not have to be the end. It does not have to be who you really are. You can change. People can and do change. I am a testament to that. I could list the ways in which I have changed and it would take 12 years of blogs. None of it is because of me. All of it is God. I will give you an overview.

I wanted to die, now I want to live.
I used to hurt people on purpose so I wouldn't be alone in my own sorrow, now I would give anything to take away the pain I've caused.
I used to live in this place of despair. I now live in the warmth of God's love and grace and beauty. I didn't deserve any of it.
I used to drink myself to sleep in fear of my next nightmare. Tonight I will fall asleep knowing I am safe in the arms of God and excited for whatever tomorrow may bring.
I used to walk the streets at night staring into windows and wishing those families were mine. I am now one of those families.
I used to see things in the darkness of my room at night, now I have only the music of my wife's heartbeat and the comfort of knowing I am God's child.
I could go on forever with better words than these, but they would only deflect what God has really done. I pray His work in me would be evident without my words.


Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading. - Z

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Little Web Redemption Of My Own


The atmosphere was electric. The lights were dimmed as I walked across the room, on top of the world in so many ways. I had broken through to the other side of my troubles. I had overcome my desire to give up. I followed my beautiful wife across the room full of laughing people and beautiful light bulbs to a table of more laughing people. This table could decide my future, my wife tells me just before walking over there. At the table were two male nurses at Heritage hospital in the Taylor ED. This is where I want to work...desperately. I was excited and had my best game in front of my face and ran my fingers back through my slick hair. We arrived and I shoved out my hand with confidence and introduced myself as if they NEEDED to know me right away. I may have even winked, I don't know, I was in the moment. My wife began the intro and I was off making poor countries rich with just my words. I was slaying every linguistic dragon I encountered and used awesome words like Encephalopathy, and Reddenbeagle. I was what swagger was created to define.

Then something went terribly wrong. Something broke inside me. Something turned off the lights and made the entire room look at me in complete disgust. It was something awful, something that blanks faces.

Let me preface by telling you about a different, but not unrelated story that happened many years ago. Put the first story on the back burner for a moment.

It was the day after Christmas, the year 1999ish. I was returning stacks of gifts of things I did not want to Macy's (Hudson's then)...a few were for an ex-girlfriend I decided to dump before I had to give her a present. "Good thinkin," I was saying to myself the entire time. I had a terrible upper respiratory infection which was producing much congestion in my chest. My hands were full as I tried to set the presents down after waiting in a long line to return them. The teller was pretty. She had a glisten in her eyes that was inviting to speak to her. She said "Hi." I looked at her in the eyes and as I said "Hi" back, I half-coughed. Half-coughing is a phenomenon where half words mix with half coughs and things happen...unspeakable things when the person had a respiratory infection. As I began to speak, I coughed and could not cover my mouth and a single, tight rolling slug of infection flew from my mouth and the world went silent as I watched it make contact with the center of her head, right between the eyes. My eyes grew wide at the same time hers did. We were both equally offended by my violation of adequate human courtesy. Her eyes crossed looking at what I had tattooed on her face. I picked up those gifts and ran away. I would return a different day when I was sure she was not working.

Back to my original story much more recent...Last Saturday. I was throwing verbal flames at these potential employment leads and the world stopped again. This was my redemption...my chance to make wrong things right. The lights went dim and the world softened it's voice as I watched a single, tight rolled piece of saliva fly from my mouth and find the tip of his nose like a Marine heat seeking missile bent on destroying my life. The room was so still that I had time to look to my left at the people watching and then to my right at my wife still talking as if nothing happened before the person exhibited their initial reaction. He was a picture of grace, just reaching up and wiping his soaking wet nose. I apologized immediately. This was not something that could be blown off. This was a catastrophe. He said, "Oh, no problem," but underneath I could only see complete hatred and rage.

What word was I saying you might ask? I don't know, but I suspect it was something with a strong P sound. Something like: Plagiarism, or palaeontologist, or human pappilomavirus.

Such is the normal of my life. I am an idiot who is ripe for the world's laughter.

Do you think I still have a shot at that job?







Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, November 11, 2011

God Is.....


God is the sunshine. He is the One that puts a genuine smile on your face. He has knit us together in our mother's wombs. He is the reason we can breathe clean air. He is the electrical charge that sends the blood coursing through your veins. He is the sun and the moon. He is the song that you put on repeat to get you through the night. He is that vivid memory of your childhood that you cannot shake. He is the reason you have overcome. He is that moment that you are glad you got up this morning. He is the only reason for life and the only comfort in death. He is that moment you fall asleep smiling. He is the middle of the night snowstorm thats beauty in the morning astounds you. He is the crystal that twinkles in your eyes when you have finally gotten what you have always wanted. He is the sound of children laughing. He is the comfort when our children are gone. Our God is what He is even when we rebel. Our God is merciful. Our God is loving. Our God is bigger than our imagination of Him. My God is rockets launching into the night sky. My God is the sway of the trees in the midst of distress. My God is victorious despite a million obstacles. My God is the brilliance of light when everything fades to grey. My God is the rays that beam when you squint your eyes while looking at Christmas lights. He is the sound of children singing slightly out of key. He is the rise of the sun when you have fallen asleep under the moon. He is the chatter of the loon in the morning and the owl at night. He is the maker of constellations and the Northern Lights. He is. My God is. Our God is.








Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

It Was Never About Fishing


It is cold in Michigan. Tonight it snowed. It usually doesn't snow this early. I guess the three proponents of global cooling might be right in which case, I am thrilled. I am one of the few that cannot wait until it is hard to walk on the sidewalk. I'd rather fall on my face slipping on ice than fall on my face tripping on a stick.

Reminds me of something very important. Every time it snows and gets cold, it reminds me of a Total gas station, which are scarce now if even existing at all. The four of us bought these winter flap hats made of wool and fur and used to go to this Total gas station to buy machine dispensed coffee before we headed out to our special place to fish in the middle of the night. We seldom went out before 11 PM. There were girlfriends and teenage obligations, so the night was our time...when the Dead End Kids arrived.

We never caught much and what we did catch, Joe would either torture or we would put into a local video store drop box. It wasn't about the fishing, it was about the time. Those times could never be taken from us. We spoke of things four guys would usually not speak about, we were not superficial. We were real. This time was real. The moon always stood at attention and glistened just right for us there. There was always magic. Even after Will died, we took his mother there at night and the snow blew like crystal across our faces and promised us something better. Reminded us that there was so much beauty left. Many people have a place like this. I think the common denominator is the beauty of God's creation and the way He chooses to manifest it to us. Those nights could have been anything, but to us, they were pure beauty and we knew it, and enjoyed every second of it as if it were going away.

It did go away. We seldom visit. We don't see each other as much as we would like. Sometimes we forget we even existed...That we even did anything worth remembering. Life does not allow it when you grow up. But I will never forget the magic we had there. I will never forget that we were different than the other kids. We were the Dead End Kids that dreamed of a world more beautiful right where we stood. We would die before leaving and we would die for each other.

I can be so grateful for that tonight.

Photo credit to:  http://winter-fairy-tale.deviantart.com









Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Number Seven

Please click on all the links in this post as they aid in telling the story.


 This is a Blurb story I wrote, click on the words to see their entirety. Thanks for reading.

I have been through the grieving process it seems. I am a very self aware person. I have realized all of these steps as I have gone through them. Knowing is only half the battle. Believing is a much harder task.

I had been a Christian for 12 years. I had been serving in the Church as a pastor for 9 of those years. I had never once had my faith in God questioned and shaken. The death of one of my three my best friends/brothers rearranged my faith and life. I have been upside down ever since, just trying to replace negative feelings with other things. I have played avoidance when actually dealing with some of the issues in my faith in regards to Will... and I guess.....everything. I would never vocalize them. I would never dare even think them, but they became more and more clear when I found myself identifying with things that were expressions of doubt and disenchantment with God. I listened to this CD by Mumford and sons, which when listened carefully through, is clearly a struggle of faith in God. There is a song I have listened to on repeat a hundred times called "White Blank Page." There is a lyric in there that says this: "You did not think, when you sent me to the brink." There literally has never been a lyric in any song that I have identified with more. This alerted me that there was a problem. There was something not right. I was avoiding doing something. I was avoiding reconstructing. I was comfortable living destructed. I had seen the upward turn and chose to better myself, but refused to reconstruct. I think I felt guilt for leaving him behind and afraid I might forget about him. I was used to him consuming my thoughts for so long. I didn't want to really let him go, and as long as I held on to that resentment, he was still kinda there. He was at least present in my anger, and I think I kind of felt some of his in a strange way. But I can't live there. I have realized that recently, and I just don't want to anymore. God is too good for me to keep avoiding Him. Here are the steps and the checkpoints of my arrival to number seven.

1. Shock and Denial- I faked crying when I arrived on the scene when hugging Joe, his brother. I did not believe it, at least in emotions. I held on to him and faked weeping for his sake. I stared blankly instead.

2. Pain and Guilt- A day later, I was a mess of tears. I was inconsolable, and wanted to do nothing but punish myself for not fixing everything. I stayed here for a very long time.

3. Anger and Bargaining-I spent the most time right here, alternating with number 4. My anger was a conscious choice. It kept the tears at bay. Blaming God helped me to stop blaming myself. So I stayed here for so long....for more than a year, I could not pray without trepidation.

4. Depression- This has always been my case, so it alternated with number 3 the entire time and I took medication to try to subdue it and it did do it's job. I punched religious statues and shouted at my God. I put myself in hell.

5. The Upward Turn- I bettered myself by going back to school during the thick of it. I hate school and did want to punish myself with it. I also wanted to keep my mind off of things and away from God and coming to grips with what really was the issue....I had lost faith.

6. Reconstruction-For some reason this started the day I passed my state boards for nursing, at the gym. I was listening to music to motivate me to lift more weight and found myself having to stop lifting and concentrate on not weeping. I did this at least 8 times during my work out. I went home and celebrated with my wife, but could not shake this overwhelming feeling of, "It's time." I opened my Bible and read the third verse of the first chapter of the Bible I had read for real learning in a year and a half: "Zech 1:3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty." I was wrecked. I was listening to music and this song crossed my ears and everything inside me busted.

7. Acceptance and Hope- I am here. I am happy to finally be here. I am excited to see my God again. I am excited to see my brother. I have much more to do here and am excited for the future as my faith has been reconstructed and I resemble something stronger.








Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Thing That Separates Us From God


Not writing a ton lately. Usually this means things are going well or at least average. I am happy to report that things are going well with me. Not because I graduated nursing school or because I passed the state boards, or that I have my first interview on Monday, but because I have re-prioritized my life. School did something terrible in me. It made me read my Bible as a chore instead of as a life boat. I was always thinking, "I should study," instead of thinking, "There is nothing more important than this." Shame on me because of my folly, I became a belligerent Christian, intolerant of the things that put the breath in my lungs.

You always realize you're an idiot when you are at a red light and cursing the guy next to you for driving at just a speed to keep you from passing, but enough to keep you 5 miles under the speed limit. He is an old man. He is missing his wife that may be in Heaven and remembering their Saturday nights. This is the guy I want to get mad at? This guy? Really? I tell myself to "Stop it!" But frustration wins often. Frustration tells me I am messing up.

This past week, I have put an end to it. I have closed the doors that open while I should be spending my time with God. I have amputated the things that cause infection. I have set aside a significant amount of time to talk to God, and read what He has said. The result.........?

Everything has changed.

God is faithful when we are not. Always. I cannot remember a time I have been more satisfied with what God has given me. For the past year and a half, I have been avoiding things. I have been angry about Will so I have taken it out on God, as if He were to blame for human mistakes. If I used simple human logic, I would see that when a person is given the right to choose, he may choose the wrong thing.

I have been bitter. I have been so angry. I have given God what I thought He deserved...silence. I gave God what was left from my table. Meanwhile, He sustained my life. He gave me the things that make life for me beautiful....My wife, my children. I never acknowledged that He has kept my kids alive and my wife from harm. I only felt victimized by Him. This is a mistake. This is a part of the grieving process that needs strict attention. God is a provider, but also God. We have NO right to question Him because He is perfect. We seldom make the right choice. Freedom is based in humility.










Sing.
Migrate.






Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, October 31, 2011

Down 75


The sides of the path begin with buildings then move to company headquarters, then to warehouses. Somewhere an hour or so away, you will see a giant mall and retired stadium. Then pine trees. Maple trees. Spruce. Then oak. It is the route to "Up North" which in Michigan has become an official place. On the way you have to watch for deer jumping into the road and keep your eyes on the road while trying to watch the hawks weave around the silhouette of a Stay Puff Marshmallow Man looking cloud.

When we reach our destination, we read magazines and buy gasoline for the boat. We sit in the wicker and wooded chairs and sway with the wind and the distant hum of boats on the lake. All around is the sound of a big family...at least big by my standards. I was never used so many people calling themselves brother, sister, father, grandma, nephew, niece, cousin, or mother. I was used to my mother and my brothers. It freaked me out at first...having so many family members in one house, stepping on each others toes. It didn't take long for me to love it. I had never played catch with a nephew before. I'd never grilled hot dogs for 15.

Laura and I watch this television show called "Parenthood." Laura had to beg me to watch it with her because I thought it was clearly for girls. She won and I loved it from episode one. The thing that I loved the most was big and how close their family is. Rain or shine, strength or fault, they were always there for each other. I never knew I ever wanted to be in a large family. But here I am, in one. I love it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas was always great for me. It was me, my mother, my brother, and most years we had a straggler or two. I remember once I brought home a homeless man I found under the viaduct while riding my bike. I wish I had a picture of those moments...the one where the homeless guy is riding on my bike pegs and the one of my mom's face when I got to the front door with some dirty, smelly guy. She might not remember this, but she showed me Christ when she gave him food. He did not come in as there was something off about him, but my mom always had a big heart. We would watch the parades together and my mom would sit down and say this prayer: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the food you have provided for us and use it for the nourishment and strength of our bodies, in Jesus name, Amen." We would eat too much and take a nap, which I still do. We would then go see a movie, the three of us, and come home and put up the Christmas tree and eat the banana pudding she is famous for. It was great so imagine what a shock it was to go from one house 30 min. away and hug 40 people, then another 40 min. away and hug another 30. So much more to be thankful for than I had previously been accustomed to. It was shocking. Now it is warm.

Christmas. My big brother and I would wake up at 5 AM and sit in his room listening for any sign of movement from my mom to give us the slightest inkling that she was waking up. We usually made up a phantom noise and went running out into the living room, where she slept so we could have our own rooms, at about 6 or 7AM shouting "Santa came here!" She would sit up and grin and tell me to sit down and wait. She would stagger, still barely awake into the kitchen and get me orange juice and make a pot of coffee. The rule was, since I was hypoglycemic and definitely would pass out at times, that I had to drink a glass of orange juice before I could open presents. We would open them and go crazy until we fell asleep on the couches, playing with our toys. We grew up and Christmas became different and just as beautiful. Christmas Eve, we go to see Laura's family on her mother's side and eat a feast and open presents, but most importantly share in the second most important part of Christmas, family. Growing up, my uncles and aunts were all distant and I never knew any of them very well. The few times I saw them, it was like sitting in a room full of people that can't stand each other. It was so different to sit in a room full of people who care so deeply for each other. Christmas day, we open the presents with the kids and hold back tears thinking of Will and loving our excited kid's faces as they get everything they wanted. My mom and big brother come over and exchange gifts and we eat until we are full, then Laura and I fall asleep while we are all still talking and the day ends well.

I write all of this stuff because it still amazes me the way that God sustains a person from where they came to where they are. God was with me as a child and He is with me now. I was happy then and am happy now. Whether there are three of us in the room or 50, my God is always there too, celebrating life with us. I thank my God today for my family, who has become larger than I ever expected it to be. There was a time I could name my family...Mom, Jason, Andy, Will, Joe. Now I fear I would forget people it is so big and disrespect my love for them.








Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Top 5 Scary Movies

My top 5 list of scariest movies of all time. Though I have not seen all scary movies ever made. Here is my list of the ones I did and why.







1. A Nightmare on Elm Street- There is no more a vulnerable and inescapable time than while you are sleeping. Freddy could not be physically hurt or figured out. His passion as much as killing was terrorism of the mind. For many years after first watching it as a kid, all shadows were Freddy's blades.














2. The Ring- Every time a group of people watch this, someone gets "Got" with the phone ring thing by one of their prankster pals. I was thourouhly freaked out after watching this not expecting much at the theater at 3 AM.






 3. Event Horizon- Saw this one alone, in my room, in the middle of the night on a faulty VHS player. It's intensity is almost unmatched.








 4. 28 Days Later- Not the scariest horror film, but it is by far my favorite. Intense and creepy soundtrack and ridiculous camera work make this "Non-zombie" zombyish film amazing.









5. Jaws- The single biggest reason the world is afraid of sharks...besides the shark attacks. I was a weird kid, I saw this as a child and wept my eyes out, not because people were dying or that I feared the shark, but because Jaws died in the end. Creepy kid right?





Give me your top 5!!!!!!



Sing.
Migrate.






Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Can Do.........


Today was a big win for me. I passed the state boards and became a registered nurse. For most in my class, it is just one of many sunny days. For me it was a culmination of a thousand thunderstorms.

This is a testimony to the power of God and His way of shaming the wise.

I am an idiot. My internal filter is faulty, my logical leads me to the longest route to my destination, and my stubbornness hinders me from following very closely. But God inside me is something special.

I have been told my entire life that I can't do things. It pisses me off and I hate it, because sometimes I believe it is true and at times it has won and I have given up. I even had a high school teacher tell me when she saw me with a wife and kids that she "Never expected this much from me." Something so easy...to marry and have children? These things are easy. Anyone and most everyone falls in love and most get married and have kids. She didn't even expect the easiest of tasks from me. The hard part is holding all of these things together.

The enemy's passion is telling you that you are nothing. His goal is to get you to believe it. Ask my mother who was told to abort me by her own father and left to her own defenses by my father. They told her to give up, the enemy told her to give up...but she didn't. Instead it pissed her off and she fought harder and raised two kids by herself. By the strength and grace of God I sit in this squeaky chair and write victorious. I have her spirit.

This is another testament to Christ in my life, that he took a bastard child and raised him up with sometimes nothing, clothed him in sorrow, drenched him in tragedy, shattered his heart, and made him one of His children. The world took my brother the year I began school, instead of derailing me, God used it to keep me busy and unable to sit and feel sorry for myself. The world told me I cannot go back to school full time while working full time and raising three kids and a wife at home. God made special moments with my family and gave my wife the heart to forgive me for what I have left behind for her to clean up and picked me up where I fell.

During this past year and a half, I have shouted into the open air about the unfairness of God. I have punched religious statues. I have punished myself in any way I could find for the loss of my brother. I have doubted that I really had it in me to do anything good. God stood there in complete disagreement. I think He is proud of me today.

I was at the gym after I found out that I had passed this miserable exam that was the final barrier to what I have been working so hard for. I was lifting weights and I got madder and madder at the thought of people telling me what I could not do. At least six times, I almost cried. The gym is not the place to cry. You do that on your pillow at night or in the shower so you can blame the soap. Not the gym, so I held back the tears and praised my God for His strength that He freely put in me. I have overcome much because of Him and am a living testament to His strength, power, and ability to bewilder the wise.

I dare the enemy to tell me I can't do it. Because I can.

Philippians 4:13 I can do ALL things through Christ, who gives me strength.







Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things


A few of my favorite things...

My God
My family
Wind chimes...and wind to chime them.
Train whistles
The sound of rain.
The sound of wind blowing things over.
The glare of street lights
The smell of leaves as they die
The Michigan Wolverines
The sound of the ice as you hockey stop
Christmas lights reflecting off the snow
Homeless people that call 911 when you have been struck by an SUV
People that pay attention to everyone
Cows grazing
Shuttle launches
The smell of new pencils
The sound of the wind blowing through the trees
Little kids laughing
Seeing people get what they have always wanted
Holding my wife's hand
Finding money in your pockets
Finding something you have lost
Writing things down
Thanksgiving
My mom's banana pudding
My own face in the mirror when pretending to cry
People watching me doing my favorite things
Being freezing cold and pulling the blanket over my face
Letting lightning bugs go
Knowing I am right and not saying anything
Justice
Michigan beer
Saying "I am sorry" and the person not knowing what I am apologizing for.
When people you think hate you stand up for you
Television
Sad movies
Sad music
Sad anything
The Counting Crows
The smell of Febreeze
Leather sofas
New socks
Soft bristle tooth brushes
Adult butt wipes
Scottish accents
Coffee
Old pictures
Duct tape on vinyl seats
The distant smell of gasoline
Snow
The Detroit Red Wings
Pretending to be dead
Old, nasty conversion vans with mattresses (Not for the perverted reasons)
Anything Scotland
Sleeping when I am exhausted
Playing hockey
Remembering how good I was at basketball
The feeling you get 1 second after finishing a workout
The taste of good steak
Really, really sad music
Stories of how people came to know Jesus
Memories
Doc Martins
Horror movies/zombies
Beards
Moose
Bears


I could go on all night. What are your favorite things?









Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nice Dream


I usually have bad dreams. I have posted before about a couple of them, but I get effected by them sometimes. This last night I had a great one.

I was sitting in a hockey locker room getting my gear on. I rose up and walked out the door to find something beautiful. I saw more than a thousand people screaming surprise to me. A thousand or more people, all people I have at least met. The guy that owns the corner store that I had words with the week before Will died. The guy that lives down the street and speaks to no one. A ton of people were there. My wife had set this all up...A surprise to me because my wife usually sets me up for dreams of her cheating. Of course she really isn't, but that is the dream I am accustomed to.

All of these people are here to watch me do the things I love to do the most.  She leads them to another arena where they watch me play old man drop in hockey and suck horribly. She then leads them to watch me play video game hockey, which I am awesome at (at least at the pro EA level). All of my favorite things get witnessed by thousands of people.

Best dream I have ever had.








Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home





A quick message to those that have strayed from their families for whatever enticement has engulfed you....

It is more beautiful in there than it is out here. You walk past the warm lights of another home glistening with flashing lights and laughing children and wish it was yours. Go back. Go home. Make it work if it is at all up to you. There may be people inside that are willing to forgive you and desire to lay on their dad's/mom's chest again on Saturday mornings. Some kids love to be watched as they sleep. Some kids want both of their parents sitting on that brown leather couch in the living room laughing with them.

Maybe it isn't so bad. Maybe the multitude of little things are small compared to the memory of that day you said "I do" to one another.

Stop and reconsider. Is your family worth fighting for? Is it worth dying for?


Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading. - Z

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ink

 
Base photo credit too: shichigoro756

It has been almost 4 years from the time I typed my first letter on this blog for anyone to stumble upon. I sit and think about all that has happened in that time, the ups and downs and the in between. I remember being a little apprehensive about posting what I would have normally written in my private journal, on the web. Then I decided that there was nothing about me that I wanted to keep inside anymore. The things that are kept inside have always caused me tension in my chest...this feeling of guilt like I was hiding something. There is nothing wrong with anyone being a private person, but there seems to be something wrong with me being a private person. I wanted to spill my life onto the internet so people could see all that God has done in me, despite my failures, weaknesses, and sins. I wanted to force myself to confess to anyone who would listen, who I say Jesus is, both in the Biblical-highlighter sense and in the very fabric of who I am.


I would check back in every day after a post and look at the comments, never expecting to have any, and I never did for the first few months until I got one solitary message of encouragement from Ashley Weis, who no longer keeps a blog or I'd link to her. This was scary to me. There was for sure someone out in the world reading my blog, sharing in my thoughts, and possibly judging my life. I got over the fear and kept seeing person after person sharing their thoughts on my words. It was exciting. I installed a statistics program onto my blog and looked at the map. I was shocked. Hundreds of people from all over the world had read my blog for whatever reason and had by freak chance gotten my guts spilled on them.


This is a humbling thing. I have never really bought in to that statement. This is humbling is usually said when someone is praised or critically acclaimed and in those cases, I always wonder how it would be humbling. I look at defeat as humbling, not success. But there is an aspect of humility that comes when you absolutely know that all good and perfect things are from God...That absolutely nothing you have accomplished can be attributed to you. It is humbling to see how God has taken my many defeats and made them victories in His name for His glory. Thank you to all who have been reading all these years.





Sing.
Migrate.










Thanks for reading, Z

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Politics in Real Life


This will be a very rare political post with no agenda or sway. I was thinking yesterday while watching congressmen argue with each other on TV while our country drowns...What if people lived in real life how the politicians do?

We would all have shiny teeth and hair doused in Aquanet. We would make our way through the crowds at the mall, kissing babies and waving while fake smiling at everyone we could possibly make eye contact with. Imagine if everyone was doing that, it would be a sick circus of clowns that look strangely familiar to news anchormen/anchorwomen.

We would get up from our horse ranches and have a cup of coffee and read what the world wrote about us, take a pony ride, eat a fritter of some kind, clean our butts with $200 a roll toilet paper-government issued, smoke an illegal Cuban cigar, go shoot some quail and possibly coyly shoot one of our friends/subordinates in the face, listen to the crowd shout about having no jobs and needing relief from the taxes and begging for less spending of money they really don't have, eat another fritter of a different flavor, go sit in on a meeting with a lobbyist who promises us $3,000,000 for our campaign if we support marriages between quails and fritters or unborn babies being bathed in foreign oil, go home and sleep with our wives or even a sub-wife or prostitute, then go to bed on a million thread count silk sheet-government issued.

What a relaxing life. This is debauchery. This is idiot-ry. Fool-itry. What would happen if we didn't ever show up for work and got paid anyways? We just got our pictures taken smiling all the time. What if we stole all of the supplies at work? What if we kicked a homeless person on the way in? What if we couldn't come to a compromise, so we shut down our jobs, but refused to suspend our pay? What if we sat in our $20,000 leather chairs-government issued and watched a CNN/Fox News/MSNBC newscast about how terrible a country or leader is and without real intelligence, sent our hard working and devoted heroes there to fight them? Then what if we blamed each other or the president for that decision so no one would have to take the blame. What if when your bank account was empty, you just wrote checks that weren't there to cover it and never, ever got questioned for it?

There is a very strong similarity between the the two major political parties. They both enjoy their luxurious and smiling lives and will do anything short of nothing to keep things that way, no matter what the country is going through. If you want to see the two parties come together and get things done, tell them congress is getting a pay cut or losing some power. Then the elephants and donkeys (Combine the two and you get a fat donkey- meant to be read how it would appear in the King James Version style of writing) will get something accomplished for the betterment of themselves.

I think this is why Jesus stayed out of politics.







Sing.
Migrate.






Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flames


I held fire to my fingers. I flicked the wheel with my thumb and the volcano erupted in a dancing light show. I felt the wheel heat up as I placed it under the wick, then a spray of sparks. The rocket was lit and after a few moments, it flew into the air.  It left a tail that weaved between the stars and shot into the atmosphere unlikely to return to it's origin. It's composition consisted of a used toilet paper roll, a huge wad of Kleenex, some glue, and a rocket bought in the middle of the night from a local Meijers. It was beautiful the way it sailed off as if it had a specific destination.

I lit mine and it did the exact same predictable things. We lit the rockets according to simple rocket science...make it straight, make it symmetric, and give it propulsion. Joe lit his according to Joe science...make it strange looking, make it square, and gave it fire. His lit because it had a rocket attached and flew 3 feet before veering off to the right and fizzling out.

At least his was honest.

Ours was a showing of what smarts we had. His was a work of art, descriptive of his passion. It died.

Passion dies often.  Especially when it's misguided. If he had the guidance that matched his passion, it would have overcome the atmosphere and lived with the stars. But it didn't. It succumbed to gravity and fell back to a foggy earth.

Our lives were meant to be lived with guided passion for what is right. Any other scenario will end in a rocket dropping back into your parent's back yard.

The Bible says (this is my favorite verse), that ALL things work for the good of those that love Him. I believe that, because I believe our God is good. I believe, despite my anger and rage for what He has allowed, that my God is still in control.

It has been a rough couple of years trying to convince myself of that. I have had times when I was playing the part because it was my job to, there have been times when I was sure everything happens for a very good and unknown reason. But to be totally honest, most of my time is spent in the middle... not really knowing. I am still so pissed off and cannot bring myself to an understanding that sin has taken hold of all humans still alive. And that God has reconciled ALL things to Christ. Somewhere in the middle is this emotional and misguided feeling that God is playing games that are set up for us to lose. Set up to make us feel stupid to make Him feel better.

I understand now the feeling of complete loss. I understand Job (somewhat, as his collapse was much worse). God isn't God because things are going well, but because He is still God and loving when things are terrible.

It's been the hardest year and a half of my faith. I have been so angry and acted out. I have made myself the fool, just to show him that I still had a choice. I have given God the worst of me, just to tell him how mad I am at Him. But when the noise had died down and the fit has subsided, He is still holding my trembling hand. God is still good, even when we blame Him for everything.

There are pieces of me scattered all around this place. Pieces I will never get fully back. But this is growth. You lose some of yourself and innocence when trying to survive the evil life brings. It is then you experience defeat. The next step is to reach toward God and take hold of victory, which is found only in submission.



Sing.
Migrate.

Photo credit to: http://dragonoflust.deviantart.com





 Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another Side

Joanna Newsome- Sadie



The link above was my ringtone for my brother Will.

I have written so much about him, but I fear I have not represented him accurately. He wasn't all doom. He wasn't always this object of my collapse. He....

He was a real person. A person with likes and dislikes and a person that laughed more than the average person. He was just like me.

When I met him, we were sitting in church on a Wednesday night at some strange youth gathering without any direction. He was wearing a purple and greyish satin jacket that belonged to his father and smiled the smile of a million braces. He was quiet...just the opposite of his little brother Joe (Gumby on this blog). He was taller than anyone I could see and had really large hands. That's all I remember about the first time we met.

Soon after, I came to his house with his little brother Gumby. That day, we all watched CB4, a Chris Rock movie, and laughed through the whole thing as though it was a funny movie. It wasn't, but we laughed anyway. This is what friends are made of. The three of us became friends. Joe and I once hated each other and then became best friends. Will came along for the ride, but ended up my brother. All of this happened in the Michigan winter. The snow cleared and we were family. I slept at their house at the side of Will's bed. I moved from my home into a flat and Will slept in the recliner next to my bed. Joe and I woke up on a dock somewhere like brothers in a backseat.

He was an icon. The things I say probably are exaggerated now, but to me, he was a complete hero. He was everything I wish I was, and he loved me for who I was and wanted to be near me. I knew I had someone different than ordinary friends. The three of us soon became the Dead End Kids. We got in trouble and made it clear to everyone that we were not going anywhere. We weren't. We stayed for each other. It didn't matter the opportunity, we would not move away from each other. I still will not move away.

I think what we had in each other is what everyone really wants...We had unconditional love and respect. Will and Joe didn't care that I had a nervous twitch or that I was quietly sad about everything. They were family. They wore my badge and I wore theirs. They knew that there wasn't a single thing that they could tell me or do that would change anything and vice versa. I wouldn't have changed a thing...except the way my big brother met Jesus. We always dreamed of purposely getting kicked out of retirement homes and ending up dying doing something stupid together at 103 years old. Not parting ways at 31 years old. 31years is too few. It isn't nearly enough. But it is truth. Truth is He's gone and I can store up thousands of memories about him that are wonderful, but the last few eat my soul away.

We still are the Dead End Kids. We have gone nowhere. His ghost is everywhere we turn. We cannot leave. We are a part of the mess he left as he passed through.

So what does it all mean? Nothing. It means he is dead and we are not. This should be encouraging to you because we still have the chance to see the way the lights dance around the snow and the leaves fall red before being raked. It means he is in Heaven and we are not. We are here in a beautiful creation, experiencing a faulty human, wonderful life. You may be a dead end kid, but the dead end may be the place to start a new path. It's ok to remember the path while taking another. 

Photo credit to: http://sultan-alghamdi.deviantart.com










Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Re-inventing Myself


It's been a long and sometimes very bumpy, but rewarding ride. Last Sunday I made my announcement...a decision that my wife and I have been miserable over making. I think the misery came more from the guilt we felt over knowing the right one to make for our family. It has been an 11 year ride as a youth pastor for Living Water Church. In this time, I have lost students to many things, even death and gained devoted staff, committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. It has been the best 11 years on my life. I can say that without a moments thought. I was doing something I love. I love loving teenagers as tough as they can be deal with.

I am on to different things. Not bigger and better as some would say. Nothing has been bigger or more rewarding than serving Christ in ministry full time. I remember the night we got the call after a very intimidating interview with a Q&A with like 12 people. I waited for the time they said they would call by, and just like Living Water's timing, they were late, so I was terrified. I had never wanted anything so badly. The phone rang and they offered me the job. I grabbed my soon to be wife and hugged her tight. I knew this meant family. This was what I had always wanted. I finally got what I wanted. To be honest, I had never gotten what I wanted. I fought for it with all my heart and got hurt and cut and struggled through my own weaknesses and thin skin and found my way to now. Right now, I know more about youth ministry than I ever have...and I am walking away from it...at least full time youth ministry. It is bittersweet. I cannot even explain to you how it feels to stand in front of a kid that was troubled and desperate for God 10 years later and officiate their wedding to another committed follower of Christ.

This is not the end. I will be taking on the role of a volunteer, non-vocational pastor at Living Water and will have my hand as much as I can in the youth ministries and anything else I can submerse myself into. I miss doing things for God just because I want to sacrifice without the lingering thought that it is my job in the back of my head. This is my chance to work on my weaknesses and devote my strengths to this church in different and exciting ways.

I am excited about the future, both mine and this church's. They both go together as this church has raised me and I have served and will serve diligently. Thank you to all who have supported me throughout the years. I will need your continued prayers and support as this church tries to transition in the smoothest way possible.








Sing.
Migrate.






Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And if You Don't Know, Now You Know


People think life is all about trying hard...that it isn't about succeeding or about victory, it is about trying.

It isn't about any of those things. Life is about submission.

Submission is harder to accept that defeat. Submission is giving up. If you were ever involved in sports, you have been taught that giving up is not an option. How completely wrong that is. Submission is the very fabric of our being. Let's take a look at some things we can control and some things we HAVE to submit to...

Things we can control:
Our temper.
Our weight.
Our attitude.
Our choices.
Our relationships.
Our appearance.
Many more small things.

Things we submit to:
Our birth.
Our death.
Our circumstances.
Our age.
Our God.
Many more.

In nursing, they call these things unmodifiable risks.  Things that you cannot control that can cause you harm.The former are modifiable.

Trying too hard will cause you harm. Trying to fix things for yourself or others will cause you both harm. Thinking that your efforts deserve respect or reward will get you. Nothing we can do is good.

The Bible says that even our good deeds are like menstrual clothes compared to Him. It is clear that we are helpless. God requires perfection. We cannot achieve that, ever. But Jesus did. That is why we believe. Because we are helpless to save ourselves. Jesus did the work, we submit to His death and resurrection as He did...even death on a cross.

God desires our submission to Him as He has overcome the world. Our efforts are futile. Our faith in Him produces results, just ask the woman who bled for years, or the man who died and was risen again, or the blind man, who can now see. God desires desperation and submission, not our feeble attempts to save ourselves.


Photo credit to: My good friend, Patrick Richardson- Januarybegan.com








Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Redemption Under A Rock


I wrote it down. I wrote everything down in those notebooks. I wrote about the anger and the hate, the rage and defeat. I wrote about being hopeless and helpless. I wrote about death and life. I wrote about me against the world.

I set it all on fire and danced as it burned when I encountered Christ on my road to death.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't burned that stuff. Maybe it was just another hasty decision made by a very unpredictable person. But I doused them in gasoline, along with everything I had ever written and flicked a match on top and watched all my sorrows burn. It was beautiful in the moment. It was beautiful to watch your past go up in flames in the face of this new and beautiful future. I had never had a future in my mind. In my mind, things always ended in me taking my own life. For the first time, I saw something out there on the horizon. It took me seconds to make the decision to burn those feelings. I hated them so much.

I wish I hadn't. A true record keeper keeps the bad records too. The bad ones remind us of how far we have come. I have but one notebook left from that time. I could not burn it. I could not deny that night. It was the only notebook I left from the fire. I lost all the rest.

It isn't about holding on to the past. It is more about the reminder of the miracle of God and His personal touch in your life. This last notebook held my final letter to my brothers written over a previous post. I was so drunk, I didn't notice there were already words written there. It is barely legible, but I can make out it's point.

The point was goodbye. The point was that I still believed there was gold in the world, but grew weary of trying to find it. I had failed, not the world.

I tremble writing about it as I tremble thinking about it...the tracks vibrating beneath my head...the cold breeze blowing over my cigarette, almost putting it out. The night sky was brilliant this night, with it's colors and light beams. It was cold and lonely outside. I wept like a child lost from his mother. I wanted out so bad.

Wanting out is our way of excepting anything real. It is the bottom that some people need to take hold of what is really the truth. Even when God saved me, I still held close to my contempt for Him and my doubt that His hands were anywhere near me. I could not hold on any longer and I tried again. This time in a more uncertain manner...the blade. I could not even hold it to my wrist as I trembled, so I dropped it a few times. I shouted at God or the devil or whoever was messing with me and grabbed it again. I was certain this time and held the blade furiously. I took a deep breath and thought of my brothers, Andy, Will, and Joe, and then prayed for real. I had never really talked to God frankly. I had only gone through the motions with the "Dear Heavenly Fathers" and stuff. This time, He answered in a voice that does not reach my ears, but pierces my heart. A voice I cannot explain or prove. A voice you will probably not believe in. I dropped the blade again..this time for good. I reached the floor and prayed. I wanted to hear more. I laid there alone for days weeping the hardness from my heart. Weeping away all of the pain. I was healed. I don't even care if you believe me about God. What I care about is that you seek out your own experience with Him. Ask. Knock.


Photo credit to: http://drpip.deviantart.com







Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pioneers




What does a real human being look like? Life is made out to be a quest to at least appear to be subhuman. To be great beyond anyone's normal expectations. To be something the world has never seen before.

What a profoundly ignorant lie. What a seduction to believe we can be something that has never been, when all we are is a repeat of what has been over and over. I know it sounds harsh and rubs some people the wrong way, but it IS the truth. We are no different from those that built the same fires before us. We build with matches, they built with friction. The end is still fire. Every hair on our heads are counted, but so were theirs and I bet there are many with the same number as ours. But we are far from cookie cut.

We are originals. God does not make subdivisions. We do that because it is easy and profitable. He makes completely different models with similar characteristics...qualities that resemble Himself. God's signature on us to show others that we belong to him. Just like we hope that our kids look like us. God wants us to look like Him.

You may never experience a truly unique existence, but you will experience it in a unique way. Because God is that big and is infinitely creative. We are individuals despite our resemblance to those before us. We are unique in that no one person has lived in this time period in this skin with this list of experiences. We are the first to ever exist like us.

I like to play strange games to feel important, such as: Who was the first to ever fart into and armpit? Myself and Dan. Who was the first to burp directly onto someones teeth? Also Myself and Dan. It is sick and gross, but funny. Really fun to think that maybe no one has ever done this in the history of the world. Try it. Come up with something truly original. Post it here. I want to know about it.






Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mouth


Who wants to be the center of attention? I raise my hand. I always raise my hand at that question. I don't even know why and that is sad to me. Do I want attention? I don't think so, but maybe. Do I want to be the fall guy or the victor? I don't think so, they both make me cringe, but my hand rises above my head anyways and that will be that. The teacher, or boss,  or whoever will call on me anyways because they have seen enough of me to know I have no problem speaking in public.

I get mocked a lot and that's fine with me. I am funny, but much funnier as a caricature of guy that has no value in social mores or norms...just says whatever.

The truth is, I don't say just whatever. I say what I feel at the time as long as I don't see any negative harm coming from it. If I feel something is really messed up, I will tell you as long as I don't get the feeling that the truth will drive you further from the truth.

When you do things this way, there will be mistakes. I have learned through the years, some things to watch for. I will share them with you.

1. Most of the harshest and most honest people are the most sensitive and unable to take correction.
2. People who may be otherwise able to hear the truth, may be sensitive to a few different topics and will let you know when you have infringed on their ability to maintain peace with themselves. Even if it is the truth.
3. Many Christians do not like to question their own faith and get offended easily when you do. They may feel for whatever reason that you are questioning theirs.
4. You may be right, but you may make yourself wrong in how you say things.
5. The truth is, and was never about you finding it. It has always been about your being exposed and enlightened to it by God. Others may not yet have been enlightened yet, and to them we show grace.

Communication in the age of information is everything. People have digital courage on the computer and may not say the same things face to face. I think we should say all things as if we were face to face with our Creator standing right at our sides. If we think this way, we may not make so many errors in transmission of the facts of God and life, and the way it pertains to our existence.

It's Ok to be a mouth as long as it is the mouth of God. A mouth that shares the things of God and His Word. Anything else was found at the Tower of Babel.


Photo credit to: http://empressdementia.deviantart.com







Sing.
Migrate.






Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, September 12, 2011

White


There was one color. White. Snow was everywhere and we had the day off from school. We went to the park in front of Will's house. It wasn't really a park, but a lot of grass that had led a driver years prior to slam into his living room with his car in the middle of the night. It was a great day to play in the snow, even for a sophomore in high school that really wished he could be a kid again.

We called our creation p#nis de milo. It was an 8 foot statue of Frosty with a 3 foot ***censored***.  We may never have cared about it or what happened to our 6 hour creation, but we cared about creating something. I think that is what I miss the most about my brother, besides his hearty laugh, I miss his passion to create. Especially create with me. We invented toilet paper rockets and songs and tools, and so many phrases. At least once a week, I repeat one of them and explain it's meaning to my wife.

So much went wrong so fast. Never has anyone been hit so hard while carrying such a fragile heart. It really was the perfect storm. I was thinking about it today in church...people are terrible to each other. They really do not think of it's possible repercussions. Not that any one person caused Will to make this profoundly wrong choice, but many, including him made a series of destructive choices. People saw his innocence and gentle spirit as weakness, so they stomped him as much as they could to get where they wanted to go.  The problem is, they wanted hell instead of Heaven. They wanted the things this world offers instead of the truth. He wanted to be loved unconditionally.

Sometimes I hate living here...in this rotten world. Sometimes I love it, after witnessing a real transformation by God. Most days, as my friends know well, I love the beauty of God, but hate the evil more. This isn't right. This isn't what God meant when He offered "Life to the fullest." He offered much more, but we get caught trying to fix "Life to it's emptiest."

We can't fix anything. We are helpless. We are unable to change even one thing. It is God who does this work. God is the ONE that comes to save our dreadful existence.



Photo credit to: http://mj-gn.deviantart.com/







Sing.
Migrate.







Thanks for reading...Z