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.


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 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.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, November 19, 2011


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.


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 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?


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.


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:


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.


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.


Thanks for reading...Z