Thursday, March 29, 2012

Always Talking

Ever thought to yourself when a person is talking, "What does that even mean?" People talk a lot. Some people more than others. Some people, when talking, makes us want to vomit on their faces...for no good reason. They mean well enough, it's just that they will never shut up. They drank a gallon of warm milk that morning and like to talk 5 inches from your face and you got like 4 hours of sleep because of a false alarm 911 call from your great grandmother Myrtle, who lives in Florida, but sends you Michigan postcards from Florida. Things don't always feel right. Patience is something to be achieved through long suffering.

At my current place of business, people want what they want and nothing else. The Dr. wants the little people to tell him he has cured the sick person, even if he hasn't. The nurse wants to believe they were the difference between life and death because they really do run the joint. The aid wants to believe they are doing everything the nurse does with less pay. In the end, the attitude of the person poisons the entire batch.

As humans we do a lot of talking. We complain and let our pride decipher who we are gonna be. Maybe we should stop deciding who we are gonna be and let God. Consider??? I am.


Thanks for reading. - Z

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stepping off Part 2

"So what happens now?"

"What do you want to happen?"

"I want my life to mean something to someone. My whole life has been about trying to make myself happy and I found myself on this ledge knowing that I haven't done a single thing to inspire anyone to do anything good. I complain about everything. Politics, religion, taxes, war, the dishwasher constantly breaking...but never once did anything about any one of them. I am always just talking and half the time I cannot even decipher what I am saying."

"So jumping off this ledge was the answer instead of just simply doing things different? I asked myself that question too when I stepped off and found the invisible ground. I fell about 10 feet down and slammed onto what I thought was the pavement and my final feeling. Then I got up and looked down and was a little relieved. I knew all along that I was taking a really illogical route to freeing myself from myself. The problem was that I had always trusted in myself. This step off the ledge left me with no answers. I stepped off and gravity failed. There was more to life than what I could see, even the ground beneath my feet."

"So what now though. Nothing has changed. I still got nothing. I still wrecked everything that loved me. But here I am standing on this invisible ground in the night with some guy I don't know, wondering if you are an angel or a demon."

"If I were and angel, I would have caught you. If I were a demon, I would have pushed you. I am a person who walked up those steps at a certain time and found a guy that has never trusted in anything but himself trying to find the guts to step off that ledge. I saw you and I saw myself."

"You mentioned that Peter started sinking when he saw the waves engulfing him. I kinda see the waves man. I am figuring out now that I am standing on top of the world with only a clear view below me. It's starting to freak me out."

"Peter began to sink because of doubt. But did Jesus let him drown? He put out His hand and pulled him up. Faith is trusting that God is in control even when we doubt and let the world bring fear into our hearts. Acts of faith have never been strong ones, but extremely vulnerable ones, mixed with intense emotion. You think Abraham raised that knife to his only child without intense crisis of the mind? He was a mess unlike any other. He doubted for sure, but took the leap anyway. This was faith. He was rewarded. You have been rewarded. So I say what you do now is stop and think. Forget quickly what you have always done in the past and let God answer your questions. Walk in the light of day and connect yourself to something different. We have choices. No matter what your history has given you, you have the choice to be who you want to be and see things the way you want to. You are free. You are starting over. You are forgiven."

"Who are you?"

"Does it matter right now? Right now I am only a witness to what God has done in you. I am a humbled witness."


Thanks for reading...Z

Stepping Off The Ledge

The night was humid, a sticky humidity that made you want to be frozen in the winter ice. On top of that building something happened...something outrageous and entirely out of the ordinary. Something magical was what he was looking for as he plummeted to the cement. But this was only his plan...

"Don't tell me what to do! You don't know me, you don't know anything. You just found me here, now move along and mind your own business, this is not your business." He stands on the edge of a building overlooking the lights of a city that promised him something new and wonderful, but delivered only the ugly truth about himself. He was going to have to be him, no matter where he lived.

"I am not telling you what to do. I am telling you what I would do. I would just jump. Just go. You took 100 flights of stairs to get here because the elevator is broken, why not jump?"

"I can't right now. I need you to go. I don't want anyone to see. I want to be alone."

"I was up here once you know. You aren't the first person to step on this exact ledge in the night while happy people are sleeping. I was here once in this exact same spot...only ten years ago. I came here to celebrate the night everything changed. I was not you, I was me in your shoes and I stepped off that very small piece of concrete you stand on now. I just did it. I stepped off and I fell down. At first I thought I was still falling, but really I had fallen on something hard hanging over the sky, invisible to my eyes. I stepped on it many times and jumped on it, hoping it would break like glass but nothing happened, even when I had walked clear across these buildings. Someone was telling me that I had no choice, I was going to understand love, no matter how hard I resisted."

"I am not messing with you. I am not crying for help. I had no idea anyone would be here. Tonight is the night, just go away and leave me be. I didn't ask you to be here."

"Then jump. But before you do, understand that there is more to life than what you see in front of your eyes. There is much more. Before you go I want to show you something." He closes his eyes and pauses for a moment and walks to the ledge and steps off without hesitation, devoting his body weight to gravity. Gravity failed. He steps his foot down on the surface of something unseen and takes another. He walks ten feet into the night then turns around and holds out his hand toward the man on the ledge.

Perplexed, clearly, He says "How are you doing this?" An understandable and fair question to ask at this point in time.

"Step off man. There is this story in the Bible where Peter was in a boat in the middle of the night and Jesus came walking on the water during a terrifying storm and tells Peter to step out of the boat. Peter does and begins walking on the water just like Jesus. Peter starts looking around and takes his eyes of Jesus and gets scared looking at the waves and storm and starts to sink. Jesus reaches down and grabs his hand and pulls him from the abyss. It takes faith to see God ruling in your life. It takes faith to know that you aren't in control of the waves and lightning, but God is. You can step off that ledge and be assured that you will fall 100 stories and die, or you can step off in faith and grab my hand knowing that God is the floor beneath you. can turn around and walk away and end up here again in a month. I say take my hand."

"I'm scared."

"You think Peter wasn't scared when he stepped out of the boat? He was terrified, but faith is not about knowing you are in the hands of God and walking without doubt. Faith is still stepping off despite the doubt. Take my my hand out here, knowing you are taking His. "

His hands shake and shiver on the roof that may change his life. He looks up in tears at the the God he has doubted his entire life. He has no choice now. He came all the way here and walked 100 floors x10 steps each. He had to trust because he had nothing else to lose. He steps off with his eyes closed and his hands shaking and finds the floor. He opens his eyes and looks down at the street full of moving cars a thousand feet below. He begins to laugh. Even he has no idea why he reacts this way... it is surely inappropriate for the moment, but he cannot help it, so he gives in and just stands there on air laughing while tears flow down his face.

"Didn't I tell you not to jump? Didn't I tell you that it was what I would do? Why did you jump?"

"I had no choice. I have nothing left, now I feel stupid, as if I have everything and almost left it. I had built a fortress and vowed to never leave this place...this hopeless place. So I stepped off, begging there to be something out there that cared and here I am standing on nothing."

"Then I guess you know now."

"I guess I do." 


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Covering Your Eyes - Part 2

Going back to my last blog about covering our eyes to the scary things...I have been thinking about it and another thing stands out about it. Possibly

the biggest thing we cover our eyes to is ourselves. Maybe it is fear of what we know is underneath all of what you put out into the world, or maybe it is because the thought of such a person is revolting to you and you simply will not believe you have become what you have become...someone you never wanted to be.

It isn't at all what you see when you look in the mirror. People see what they want to see when they look into those. It's more about what you see when you lay your head on the pillow at night and you cannot keep it from surfacing. I realize my worst nightmares in the vulnerability and silence of the night. It keeps me awake sometimes, thinking that I am not what God is leading me to. I am not. This is a fact. I resist, like a baby that is so tired, but tries with all of his might not to fall asleep. It usually isn't about misfortune or bad luck, it is usually self sabotage succeeding. Sometimes we think we are too good and sometimes we think we are too bad. There are problems with both thoughts.

Too good: This is pride. We aren't too good. Our good deeds are soiled menstral clothes to God. Nothing we do is good. We are no better than the guy that beat up that old woman, we are just different with different circumstances and leading from God. There is simply no excuse ever, for self-righteous behavior.

Too bad: This is pride. We are thinking too much about ourselves. This is destructive because it helps no one. We cannot see with God's eyes, but we can take His word for it...He gave His Son for us because He loves us. We are worth more than we may think. Our mistakes do not have to ruin us and become more mistakes. We can ask forgiveness and walk away from them, with assurance they are forgiven and forgotten, at least by God. To some people, we owe apologies.

The point is to take the blinders off if they are present and active in distracting you from God's path.


Thanks for reading. - Z

Friday, March 16, 2012

Covering Your Eyes

I remember going to King's Island as a kid. There was this ride called the Beastie!!!!!!! It was hundreds of feet of towering fear drenched in the blood and torment of the souls of demon puppy ears.  I was 178 inches under the height requirement to ride this fear inducing monstrosity. On the other side of the park, there was a ride called the Jr. Beastie. This one had my name of it. I got in the car with my mom, who also liked roller coasters and my older brother in behind us. He didn't know yet how he felt about roller coasters. He was sitting next to a stranger, some guy that answered the call for one single rider. Maybe his girlfriend had left him at the alter and this was going to be his honeymoon that he already paid for. Who knows how he got the misfortune of sitting next to my older brother's first roller coaster learning experience. The ride started and my brother was already in tears. By the end of the first 10 foot hill, he was hysterical, being rocked and comforted in this strangers arms. He cried to get off the ride and covered his eyes.

This is what we do when we don't want to know what's going to happen. As children, when there was a bogey man in the room, we pulled the covers over our heads and pretended we didn't just see what we thought we saw. Sometimes we would just rather not know what was standing in front or behind us. My son is like this. He is afraid of everything. I have never understood this because I have only really feared two things...Nuclear Holocaust and being in a plane crashing into an ocean of sharks. He is afraid of the color of the sky in the summer. If it is red, he thinks a tornado is coming. If it is green, he things that tornado is going to throw up. It took me a while to really understand that the fear was real and not just a superficial phobia.

The fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter if the thing that a person fears is real, because the fear itself is real...and sometimes crippling. It is scary to take a chance on something. I grew up in a family that took chances. My whole life I have taken the chance more often than not when I recognized the opportunity. I may have had smoke in my eyes but I jumped anyways. Until I had something to lose. I didn't recognize that there was anything to lose until my eyes were opened and God gave me a family to care for. All of the sudden with my infant son lying on my stomach and a picture of my wife on the dresser, I realized that I absolutely, positively, empirically cannot lose them. Things change then. Good and bad.

Good- You learn responsibility. You learn that some things are not worth opening your mouth or acting on in a whim. You learn that there is more to life than your instincts and human carnal nature.

Bad- You learn really fast to love your life and take no chances, even if God is drawing you to them. You can sell your very soul to the mundane.

You cannot hold your hands over your eyes on the scary parts. You have to watch those horrific things  to learn. Today a little sweet old man was told he was gonna die by September this year, the morning of his birthday. My instinct was to go spend the day with the other sweet old man down the hall who was going home happy, but my heart kept tugging at me to keep my eyes open. We must see the things that scare us. We must face those fears. This builds character in us. Below are examples of people I have met that have removed their hands from their eyes and met the storms head on.

This guy that fought and lost a thousand times with addiction, but kept dusting himself off and going to those musty basement church AA meetings. He walked 2 miles to get there...and still does.

This woman who fought cocaine addiction and a brain tumor to emerge a wonderful parent and actress. She died unexpectedly several years ago, leaving behind a 12 year old son, who I pray will keep his eyes open.

A woman who had lost the love of her family as a teenager and the love of the men in her life and raised two kids on her own. She fought through the demons that surrounded her and emerged with her head above the surface.

A badly burned man who had been set on fire by his step father as a small child because he refused to watch his mother abused. He had lost 7 fingers and all resemblance of a human being. He was homeless and on crack, but called me at night from a pay phone downtown to pray with him as he faced his demons. He did fade away into the night and I didn't hear from him again, but I believe God still reigns in him.

A mother and father who lost their firstborn to something no one could ever understand, and his kids that will never understand why daddy left. But they fight on.

I have many more, but you wouldn't want to read them and you get the point. 


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, March 5, 2012


One of the difficult things about working in a hospital on a floor that has so much grim illness, is having to watch the horror of a body shutting down. We don't think about that often in our busy lives. Most of our nervous systems fire and our bodies cooperate with what our minds tell them to do. We usually don't think about their betrayal. This betrayal of the flesh from the mind is the most saddening part. Many of my patients are not coherent enough to decipher what is going through their minds, but some of them are. Some of them understand fully how bad it hurts to have the dressing changed on their pressure ulcers. Some of them can just shake their heads and look at you with embarrassment when they have been incontinent. They have lost their dignity. They have lost control of everything except for pain. Right now I tell myself to press down these keystrokes to send this message across the world to the dozens that read my words. I never think about the possibility that I will not one day be able to express myself at all. I may not be able to speak or write things down. There may be an end to my written history, at least how I see it.

One of the organizations I respect the most is Hospice. Hospice deals in dignity. I think that is pretty admirable. They don't care who you were when you were still a cowboy, they only care that you don't go out screaming in pain. They make it not hurt anymore. This is a very basic of love. When my son broke his femur, I would have torn off my own flesh to make the hurt stop. It made me sick every time they had to touch him and make him shriek in pain, it cut me deeply every time. Pain is a large part of the human condition. It is the very thing we have always feared the most. When I was a boy it took several nurses to hold me down when I had to get a shot. Now I see things that make me want to cry. As a student, one of my patients had an open amputation above the knee, but could not speak anymore. Every day I had to tear that dressing out of the open wound as it had dried, removing pieces of her life with it. She could not speak or scream, but tears rolled down her unresponsive face. I remember coming in to clinical after Hospice had taken her care over and removed the bandage and got no tears at all. No reaction. Her pain was gone, taken away by the people that deal in dignity.

I want someone to come and read this passage to me every day if I ever become unable to raise my voice in coherence. Rev. 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." There may not be a more comforting passage in the world in regards to our state of humanity. Those who find themselves in the fellowship of God are His Children. The Bible says that those who believe have the right to be called a child of God. I can only imagine what God feels when we are in pain. The Bible even gave us His Spirit, which intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. When we cannot even express ourselves to God, He is still at work. No promise of reduced suffering for knowing Him. I could do nothing to end my son's pain as badly as it hurt me. He can do all things, yet in this present time, we are a subject to the pains of being human. I believe He did tear off His flesh to give us the hope that we see in that Revelation passage. He is in the business of dignity too. He gives us hope and strength to stand firm in the shadow of death.


Thanks for reading. - Z

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When You Wake Up

       He picked up a picture of his mother attached to his father, only with a label on the side. The picture was old enough that his fingers caused damage to the delicate peeling that threatened to eliminate the memory of it's subjects. It was like a fire had peeled it away for years and years. The scrape of the wheel and the flash of light brings out the shadows hidden behind the cracks and 70's chandelier giving light to darker places in the memory. Smoke billowed from his lips as he breathed in what would pierce the amateur breather. Below, his feet kicked back and forth, just as they did when he was young and sat in this very same pose in this very same moment 20 years ago. The chill in the air made the smoke billow like a forest fire from his mouth as he blew rings which seemed to connect for a moment, then evaporate into the night sky. Beside him sits an entire box of memories all tattered from different fingers holding them in different atmospheres. He throws the one in his hand into the water below him and watches it dance with the moon until his eyes could no longer see it. He reaches for another. He is wearing a cape in this one, and running crazy, pointing at something on the other side of the camera. His hair was long, curly, and blonder than he ever remembered it. Behind him were streamers many different colors and children laughing as though no one were watching them. No shame or feeling of embarrassment for their lack of human dignity. They are little eulogies for their own funerals that will be taped to a poster board many years from this moment. But here, they are more alive than the stems that pierce your fingers when you pick the rose from your grandmother's garden. He watches his own hand fling it into the abyss and watch it join the parade of dancers fleeing the place they have called home these last 20 years.

     The last one finds purchase in the moonlight saying goodbye like the loons do when the sun is going down. Finally a key. He knows full well what this key unlocks, but in his mind, what it has locked. He throws the key high into the air several feet in front so he can watch it's reflection tear through his eyes and into his heart, knowing this is the last of it. This is goodbye. He cannot hold on to it any longer. He has to let go now. He knows there is much more on the other side of where he has taken residence. His home for his entire life feels no more like his home now than a box in the water, floating toward the morning sun taking in water. The ghosts that once sat at every corner waiting for him to pass, now sleep in the sun, appearing only in his dreams from time to time. What kept him here is gone.

     He climbs back over the wall and walks back to his car from the bridge. Something is pulling him back and eating at his throat, but it is ignored this time. He looks straight forward refusing to become ashes and turns the key and presses down the pedal. He knows the sun will be up soon.

Photo credit to:


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Being Used By God

Rom 9:21 "When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?" NLT

Ever wonder if you are being used by God in a negative way?

I will warn you, this post is gonna seem angry, but it isn't. It isn't anything but a question that I have yet to be able to answer sufficiently enough to give a proper conclusion. I have studied the Bible for 14 years and have been teaching it for 11. I am in no way a Bible scholar. I cannot read Greek or Hebrew, although I did try a "Teach yourself Greek in 7 weeks" book, but only made it 5. The point is, that from what I have read, people have been used by God for both positive and negative reasons, at least as far as they are concerned. All are positive as far as God is concerned. Judas fulfilled prophecy, but did he have to do it? God hardened the Pharaoh's heart to change his mind about Moses, but did he have a choice? You do have to wonder if you really think about it, if everything happens for a positive outcome. The Bible says in Rom. 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This gives us reassurance that the outcome is always for our best if we love Him, but it does not say we will perceive it that way.

A few years ago, I was walking on the Southgate High School track with my wife for the first and only time ever. As we were walking our first lap, I bent over to pick up a cell phone. I opened it and checked the contacts to see who I should call to tell them their phone was lost. I opened the recent calls and saw a kid with my father's apparent last name. I was torn on what to do. I had heard that I may have a cousin that goes to this school and  had to assume as a person who is always looking for the voice of God, that this may be my chance. I had always wondered about my father's side of the family as I had never met any of them...or my father. To my wife's surprise, I hit the call button and spilled out my guts to some teenager, hoping for some answers. He told me he would call me back after he spoke with his dad. He called back an hour later and apologized for not being able to help me and was sorry I couldn't find my father. I would not give up. There was a reason I picked up that phone.

A couple of months later, I went to his Myspace page and found my sister. For the first time, I looked at another person with my father's eyes. To my wife's surprise, I messaged her and spilled out my guts to her. I don't really know why, I was just desperate to know something about her...anything. I spoke to her over the course of several days with excitement at every message. I wanted to be her brother. In the end, she had spoken to her/our father and come to the conclusion that I was not her brother. That was that. I sent her the blood test results, but got no answer. She acknowledged that my father received the letter I sent to her grandfather (I only could track down his address at the time) telling my father I forgave him just after my introduction to Jesus. Again, she said she was sorry I couldn't find my dad. Again, I believe my mother. I had found him. Just no one else believed I had.

Years later and I still don't understand why I came across that phone on that day with that number being the last called. I thought that when I called it my leap of faith would finally get me the answers I was searching for. I believed that God was setting me up for something beautiful. Instead I was left with disappointment. I often feel like He was setting me up for more failure for the purpose of giving my father no excuse. This is a troubling thought for me. Not because I don't believe that God is righteous, but because as Christians, we have this attitude that God is always using us to make us happy. God never promises us this. God promises it to work for our good, not for our happiness.

I thank God for all the things He has freely given me. I never deserved any of them. I am not complaining at all. I am not asking for answers, I am only asking questions that may or may not be answered in the time my pulse beats resurrected blood. I know that God is always good. I know that God sees the beginning and the end of the parade, but my only observation is that sometimes the middle gets a little messy.


Thanks for reading...Z