Saturday, December 31, 2005

Creation's Rhythm

Is rest impossible for a young family? My wife and I have a few days to ourselves, a few days off, a few days away from work and routine during this break for the holidays. But, then, we also have this horde of little people snapping at our heels like hungry dogs, hungry for love.

I'm a guy who likes rest, who needs rest. But children are paragons of busyness; they are incarnations of activity. Like squirrels chasing squirrels through the leafless branches of oaks they scurry from branch to branch, squirrel to squirrel, nut to nut. And I get dizzy watching them. They chatter incessantly. They make me smile at their grace and laugh at their clumsiness. Their activity warms them. Their restfulness warms me.

I've wondered lately why we as people don't hibernate. I mean, how fabulous of an idea is that? All that rest. All that time off. But then I think of all the pony rides I would miss. I think of all the parties I would miss - the friends, the memories, the holidays, the tiredness. Will I ever miss the tiredness? I bet I will. Will I ever miss the constant Go? I bet I will. Will I ever miss the endless work, the stress of sibling rivalry, the angst of pre-pre-adolescence, the fears of little children, the screeches of No and Stop It and simple wordless frustration? I bet I will.

I'm cycling through the week of my life and Sabbath seems a far way off. For now, perhaps, I'll try to learn to love the labor. Perhaps I'll even resolve to.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Monkey Boy

I saw Kong over the holiday with my big brother. For some reason, ever since, I've been grabbing Barbie dolls and running around the house like an oversized silverback. Weird.

(Obviously, I haven't shut up yet. My apologies.)

I'm Back Home

It was cold and gray and rainy (of all things) in Michigan the week we were there. It is sunny and 54 here today. Why the weather report? It's the most prominent feature of a blurred day of naps and meals. We got in around 3:30 am and I've been in limbo since. Lucidity seems a distant cousin, so I'll use what sense I have to say Hello and then shut up.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Last Train to Clarksville

We're leaving tonight for Michigan, which means we'll be driving through the night. Please pray for us.

I'll still have access to the Internet, but I suspect my activity will be minimal. If you need to send a message, send away - I'll get it.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Sophie had her first school concert last night. I almost didn't go. The thought of sitting in a room packed with strange people, trying to wrangle three children, and taping my daughter's performance, simultaneously, left me feeling incompetent and tired. I called my wife and talked to her about it and decided not to go - it would also be a 40-minute trip each way. I talked to Sophie over the phone and explained my dilemma and she said she understood and then said, "Just try, Daddy. Just try." So, of course, I got off my lazy ass and went. I'm glad I did. Sophie had a smile that wouldn't quit. And while I probably only recorded half of her performances (the other half ended up being the backs of people's heads and floor shots as I tried to keep Will from wriggling away and dashing off), I had an excellent time. No regrets here, except that I almost didn't go.

I went to Target to pick up a tape for our aging Sony Handycam - digital Hi-8 - in order to tape Sophie's concert. (I like the handycam except that it's difficult to transfer to the computer and do any editing - probably because of my ignorance more than anything - and then create a DVD, but I digress.) As I was at Target I walked past the teensy-weensy book section and paused. Oh yes, I knew what was there. I wanted what was there. I went into the aisle and found Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice. It was $18. I had only brought a Jackson for the tape. (We're strictly cash this time of year because of the hardships imposed on us by the commercialism of Christmas, but I digress.) The tapes, of course, even the cheap ones were $5 for a pack of two. Tapes and book together, that was more cash than I had brought. I flipped through my wallet and found my credit card and paused and wondered. I thought about the book and how much I've been wanting to read it and how I could read it in Michigan over the holiday and how some of the family would react seeing me read an Anne Rice book about our Lord. I trembled with excitement. Then I paused and wondered and, because of the evil in my heart, decided against buying the book. It was a first, but I walked away from purchasing a book that I had held in my hands and drooled over.

My wife's parents are on their first cruise right now. They've called once on their cruise and sent an e-mail. The e-mail details the sunny, warm weather and the sandy white beaches. I've never been on a cruise, myself. I've never been to pristine islands in the Caribbean. I've never seen what a pirate's eye(s) has(have) seen or walked where a pirate's leg(s) has(have) walked. But I'm not jealous - I'm too busy looking forward to the snow and cold of Michigan and being with family.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hail, Mary

Gabriel: "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! . . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Elizabeth: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."

Mary: "My soul magnifies the Lord, / and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, / for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. / For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; / for he who is mighty has done great things for me, / and holy is his name. / And his mercy is for those who fear him / from generation to generation. / He has shown strength with his arm; / he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; / he has brought down the mighty from their thrones / and exalted those of humble estate; / he has filled the hungry with good things, / and the rich he has sent empty away. / He has helped his servant Israel, / in remembrance of his mercy, / as he spoke to our fathers, / to Abraham and to his offspring forever."

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I took my two oldest daughters to see Narnia today. The only thing I'll say, other than it was excellent (and scary for little girls - who loved it anyway), is what my nearly-five-year-old said as we were pulling out of the theater parking lot.

"Daddy," she said, "I wish there was a Lion like that in my closet."

My Professional Life

Alison, who is Older than Jesus, posts regularly about her professional life. Her most recent post is about her job as translator. Alison is one of my favorite writers and one of my oldest friends. She's vintage. I wanted to comment on her site, but I got, well, wordy. So this post rises up out of and is completely inspired by her post, which I recommend.

The yellow-haired child says something to Mr. Smith, I laugh; Mr. Smith smiles and nods with eyebrows raised. I interpret, but it spoils the conversation - like explaining a joke.

Sometimes Mr. Smith will look at me and say, "What'd she say?" And I'll shake my head and say, "I have no idea." Sometimes I'm lying.

. . . . .

My yellow-haired child has some dysfluency issues currently so that makes the job of translating particularly difficult with my short attention span and 3-kb memory:

"Ah wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa . . ."

"Look at me, Sweetheart," I say gently. She looks at me.

"Ah wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa mah jess."

"You want your chips?"

"No, ah wa mah jess!"

"You want your dress?"


Translating is part of my profession too. And it's usually not so easy - many times it breaks down into one or both of us throwing fits. But we stick it out because the benefits, Ah! the benefits are overwhelming.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Slice of Narnia

I haven't seen it, so don't worry about any spoilers in this post. In fact, this post isn't so much about the movie as it is about the criticisms I hear so much of lately about Lewis and, specifically, Narnia. I was walking by the Slice today and overheard some unfriendly words being spoken about Jack. The post there was titled "Narnia and Paganism." Here are some of my thoughts (basically the comment I nailed to their door).

Lewis was fascinated with mythology - the stories it told about the people who created it and the stories it tells about us. Mythology for a literature professor has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with story - I'm not sure how to explain that. Lewis does blend his faith with mythology in much of his work (one of his greatest works, Till We Have Faces, is a re-telling of the Cupid-Psyche myth). But he did it as an English professor whose study, whose work, was literature - he saw God, the Christian God, revealed in stories that aren't explicitly Christian.

Mythology for Lewis, I suspect, had everything to do with metaphor. It was his language. Just as a Sunday School teacher whose profession is Coach might use sports metaphors to convey spiritual truths, so Lewis used literary and mythological references to convey spiritual truths. And the result, I believe, is beautiful. Of course, it's my language too.

We write because we are writers. It's who God made us to be and we glorify God in the writing. Lewis's theology is not perfect (glaringly imperfect at times), nor does it have to be in order for it to be suitable for us. If you strip away imagination, even "sanctified" imagination, from the church, then I think you will lose far more than you realize in the end. Our imaginations are gifts from God, and I would bet that God was pleased with Lewis's use of his gift.

Now maybe some of you think we should read just the Bible all the time. If that's the case, then there's not much we can discuss. Because at issue then is not Lewis's use of mythology so much as it is that Lewis was a professor of literature. It is not a discussion of whether Lewis can use his imagination to create a story about redemption so much as it is that it is not the redemption story. I don't want Lewis to write a gospel, I want Lewis to write Narnia and the Space Trilogy and Till We Have Faces. I want The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters from Jack, not the 95 Theses or Augustine's Confessions. Don't you understand? He gave us something unique and something good. Not perfect, but nontheless good. Not Luther, but Lewis. He resonates strongly with some of us, not because we're pagans wearing Xian Tees, but because he was authentically Christian and sought to authentically follow Christ. Just as we do: as best we can, as best we know how.

This Day

We've had some freezing rain overnight, here in God's country. It's still coming down, but it doesn't appear as if it will be doing any severe damage in our neck of the woods. Our power is still on. And Laura and Sophie get to be home today. Best of times. I, of course, would have liked to see it a little heavier so that a day off became a four-day weekend that lead to a three-day week that lead to Christmas break. But I'll take today and enjoy it.

My sister turned 37 on Tuesday. My dad turns 63 tomorrow. My oldest brother celebrates his 18th anniversary on Monday. A good time of the year for celebration.

Speaking of which, my blogger friend ScottB, aka Berkhimer, and his wife are in the hospital today where their third boy (if I'm not mistaken) is entering this world. "Has entered" by now. Prayers and celebrations for and with him and his family. And he can mail me a cigar or some pipe tobacco if he'd like. : ) Congratulations, Scott! (Are you going to name this one Steve?)

I began reading Luke in the much-censored New Living Translation (is that why I like it so much?) this morning. The Magnificat is, well, magnificent. Most blessed of women indeed. I need to do more of this sitting and reading the scriptures as a story. I would love to have at least one copy of the scriptures that has no verse or chapter delineation. That would be mucho cool. Does anyone know where I can get one? I might even be able to live with the chapters as long as they got rid of the verse indicators.

Anyone want to babysit my kids so I can go see Kong? I think it's going to be spectacular. C'mon - it's just four kids. Only one is in diapers. They only fight sporadically over the course of a quarter-hour. I'd pay at least $1 for every hour and maybe an extra quarter for every dirty diaper. Anyone? Anyone?


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Swing Sets

Swing sets and chalkdust make friendship so easy. Some friends are so pasted together with Elmer's and scribbled upon with Crayola's that the marks are indelible, the bonds unbreakable. They are as broad and deep as a child's imagination, and whether they play on one side of the playground today or the other tomorrow, you know they are still on the playground.

But I have lost friends. I have pushed some off the playground. Some I've mistreated in small or big ways, and it makes me hurt inside and out to think about it. (Do they know how much I miss them? Do they care?) Some of their needs have overwhelmed me. Some, I've ignored. I am not a perfect friend.

Some have walked different paths and the people we were no longer are. We mutually laid aside our friendship because it no longer fit. Wearing those garments is awkward and, sometimes, ridiculous. That is not to say that I stop loving them. That is not to say that I stop thinking of them.

I am thankful for my friends. But there are miles and miles between me and them. The playground has gotten a whole lot bigger. Around the corner now means across the mountains, state lines, borders, and oceans. New friends? I admit it would be nice. But I'm afraid I don't know where the swing sets are.

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel
- Hamlet

(The quote is a little on the Annie Wilkes side of relationships, but it's well-intentioned. And I like it. So hobble me.

The Internet eats up the miles and spits them out contemptuously. It makes a nice swing set, especially if you prefer zeroes and ones over the tangibility of presence. It's an imperfect medium in many ways. But it does do in a pinch, doesn't it?)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kingfishers and Dragonflies

(This post represents some of my initial thinking-through/my restatement of the G.M. Hopkins poem.)

The sound of plucked strings on an instrument, of a rock tumbling down a well, or of a ringing bell - the speech of the inanimate declares themselves. But in their declaration, they also speak God. For they do as they were created to do, glorifying their Creator. As a Christ-follower, I glorify my Creator as well, but with a difference: I know, I mean, I am intentional in my glorification.

I justice.

I keep grace.

In keeping grace, all my goings become graces.

I act Christ - Indeed, I am christened with Christ; I am Christed. Christ plays to the Father through me. Kingfishers and dragonflies, being themselves, catch and draw something that is other than themselves, that then becomes part of themselves. They dwell indoors (they are true to themselves) but, in the dwelling, catch fire and draw flame.

We do this at a different pitch. We are created uniquely, our very inscape, as Hopkins would say, shows quick looks, peeks, glimpses of God in our self-expression, in our creativity, in our being what we are. For we are Image-Bearers, though broken. And as believers we are not only Image-Bearers, but we are also Christ-bearers.

The Spirit hovers over the deep of our hearts and speaks into it. He reigns as King, but his reign is as the reign of a lover with his beloved. We are wooed and won; we are smitten.

And if enamored of him, there follows a convergence of head and heart and hand. We are not merely servants seeking to follow the rule of the King. We are bewitched by the beauty of our Lover, and so we seek to become his desires for us; we yearn to be as he sees us - Christ - and play, lovely, to our Father.

So I justice.

I keep grace.

In keeping grace, all my goings become graces.

I am Christed, Spirit-hovered, spoken into and to, loved.

And so are you.

Friday, December 09, 2005

In the Meantime

Laura was heading to a conference today, so I had to drive Sophie in to school this morning. Laura pulled out first, but we basically left at the same time. She called me five minutes down the road.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey, I have a sexy man behind me in a white van."

I looked around and her Jeep was nowhere in sight. "Oh really?" I said.

"Uh huh," she said.

Then I spotted her a quarter of a mile up the road. I said, "You don't, by any chance, mean the white van that's tailgating you, do you?"

"Uh huh," she said in her oh-so-sultry voice.

"Well that sexy man ain't me, Baby. I'm the white van behind that white van."

This past month a local church put up a new message on their sign out front. It makes me chuckle every time I pass it.

"Be Thankful for Little
& Enjoy Much"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

G.M. Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

(I plan to make some comments on this poem in the next day or two. But for now, just get a feel for the poem. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Stereotypes" for $200, Alex

Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

Now this upsets me. Main St. ends at this delightful storefront in my small, rural town. (Yes, that's a Christmas angel, freshly hung for the holiday, between the two Confederate flags.) Now, I don't know the name of the store, or if it even has one, but they sell knives, caps, T-shirts, and lighters - a niche market here.

This is really not what the South is about, by the way. Any North Carolinian can tell you as much. But I can't figure out why some people so tenaciously cling to a symbol that is so offensive to so many.

As a tie-in with national news - I wonder what would happen if we started burning Confederate flags? Not that I ever would, but if I did burn one, my guess is that there would be one less blogger on the Internet.

And a Horse

Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

Here's a horse Anna drew yesterday. Blow this baby up, and you'll see how she used some highlights in the horse's mane and tail.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yesterday's Unicorns

Yesterday's Unicorns
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

A current sample of Anna's drawing. This is not her best work, but I thought I'd snag a picture while I was thinking about it.

What I love about this picture is the different poses of her unicorns and the shape of her pink unicorn's body. Very nicely drawn.

Anna is four (almost five).


You wrenched it away from me:
Shifty-eyed, Janus-faced brute,
To whom I spoke solemn vows,
To whom I pledged loyalty.

Inconstant, treacherous whore:
Thief of love, thief of life, thief -
Cutpurse, cutthroat, cut me down
Till my face faced the floor.

You ripped it away from me.
You left me nothing but you.
Alone with you I'm lonely;
Alone with you I'm rhymeless.

I stood upon Reason's bar
Amidst the deep of mourning
And watched the waters rise up.

Despair and doubt flooded me.
Sorrow rose above Reason,
Swirling in slow, sluggish turns.

Then I remembered that tree,
That strong hands created me,
And threw back my head and laughed.

And my laughter filled the world.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I enjoy where I live. In the middle of North Carolina, I have mountains and an ocean within driving distance. I've made day-trips to both places. I enjoy telling family in February that it's in the 60s here. I like all the flowers - some, if you plant them, will ride out the entire winter season.

But today it is raining, stay-in-your-bed rain, read-a-book rain. In the mountains it's snowing.

I grew up in Michigan. It snows in Michigan. And I, and turn away if you cannot bear it, love the snow. Especially the first snow of the year. But snow in general is pretty fantastic in my book. Yes, it's cold. Yes, it can be dangerous. All the more reason to curl up with a good book. Children make it difficult, sometimes, to enjoy the snow. But if you get a good snow, then children provide a good excuse to build snowfolk or to go tobogganing or sledding. Children love the snow. And after you come inside from a good romp in the snow there is, and this is mandatory, hot cocoa for drinking.

And so today, all day, I've been rather depressed. I want the snow. I want the magic that shuts down the world for a day or two.

. . . . .

Toboggan is a superlative word, apparently. So superlative that in North Carolina we use the word to refer to a stocking cap instead of a long wooden sled. The etymology behind this usage is beyond me, but even so, it is so.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Apple Fur

Sophie tried peeling her own apple today with a vegetable peeler. Two Band-Aids later I was peeling it for her. Then Anna ran up to me and asked if I would take the fur off her apple too.

The apples are old, people, but they're not that old.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The End Is Near

It's true: The end is near. This is the time. This is the season - the season of advent, of coming. And yet . . .

I still haven't done my Christmas shopping. Now this isn't unusual for me. We're heading up to Michigan for Christmas with my family and we usually wait until we're there to shop - it saves packing the gifts and there are eager (almost eager) babysitters present. Anyway, we eagerly await our time in the frozen tundra. We eagerly await time away, time with family, time to rest. And the kids also eagerly await, of course, stuff - wrapped in the magic paper of possibility. Sure it's the size and shape of a book, but maybe it's a Barbie. Yes, it rattles like a maraca, but does that mean it can't be a new dolly?

Let me enjoy my kids and my family. Let me observe Advent and celebrate Christmas. Let me praise God for being faithful to his promise to send the Messiah, our King, his Son.

I don't want anything this year. Nada. If you get me anything, I'll be offended. Give the money to the poor instead (no, not me - the other poor.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Writing Through

Some of you are perhaps frightened or angered by my last post. Some of you just want me to go on posting about my legion of children. And I will. But the Scriptures have been on my mind lately. At Via Media they have begun what will be, I think, a good discussion about the Scriptures.

I believe that we are too set on defining the Scriptures. We can describe them, but that's something different completely. Inerrancy tries to define the Scriptures - tries to put them in hand. If we are able to name something, we have a certain amount of control over it. And I think that's what we try to do with this tag. We want to be able to make the Scriptures something we've got mastery of, instead of being mastered by the authority expressed by and through them. But because some people choose to question this tag, or not discuss it, the traditional church tries to marginalize them. And this defeats the whole purpose of unity to which we were called. And I want unity.

Mostly, I'm just trying to write through this issue. To explore it in my writing and to be able to, I hope, better understand the Scriptures. I'm not turning my back on my faith. But I am trying to better understand it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Do Not Remove

I remember getting a new, tabbed, leather-bound Thompson Chain Reference NIV as I started high school and how I just wanted it with me - I was in love with it; we dated, I think. This book was fresh off the lips of God. I didn't really know how to open it, how to read it, how to take it all in; nevertheless, I wanted it with me. As time went on, though, I was able to build complex scaffolding around it (all prefab, of course) - systems that helped me compass it. I understood the scaffolding. And it was good.

But I've started thinking about this strange construct of mine. I've begun to think about a word I've used to describe the scriptures: inerrant. This word has helped me systematize and categorize the Scriptures. But now I'm wrestling with it. And not because I see the Scriptures as rife with error (I don't) but because I wonder why I feel the need to put it there. Why not be satisfied with the Scriptures' own description of themselves? Why this insane desire to classify, to define, to measure, to have the Scriptures in hand? Does the word inerrant even adequately describe them? Is it the highest word I can use to describe the Scriptures? Psalm 119.96 says that all perfection has limits, but God's commands are boundless. Shouldn't that mystery be wherein I dwell? I've begun to believe that inerrancy binds the scriptures. I want to unbind them again. I want to let them be bigger than me, broader than me, purer than me - to let them break through the scaffolding. Instead of trying to compass or measure the immeasureable ocean before me, I want to dive in and explore its riches, confident and happy that I do not have enough time to exhaust them. I want in on this Story.

I know, I'm mixing metaphors. I know, you're far more concerned that I'm ripping off the tag. The tag says not to. But I am anyway. I don't mind if you keep yours. This is personal. I love God. I love his words. (Oh, how I love them!) And I'm going to let them be what they are. I'm going to dance with them. I hope that's enough for you. I hope you'll understand.

Rambling through the Ornery

72 degrees today - can you believe that? Humid from all the rain. I've been feeling ornery lately. If it's not one thing, it's another. I am overly critical and combative. No, no, it's true. My wife would say that's the status quo, but it's not. Depression is the status quo, ornery is me engaging. But that's me just being ornery and depressed. Joy is the status quo. Depression and orneriness just come with rain and friends moving out-of-state and doubts and wishing that Christmas break were here.

My last post is a nice little ornery rant. I like it. I like that it has some teeth. I even think there's some validity to what I have to say. But it is a rant and it doesn't cover every base - it isn't meant to. I actually really like the song too - just as my wife does. I just don't think it belongs on the worship roster. Enough said. Just me ranting and rambling and smoothing down the orneriness.

Today was an ornery day. But there was a lot of good in it too. A couple of things offhand: (1) We set up the Christmas tree last night. So all day today I've been seeing Christmas lights reflected in the dark eyes of my babies - talk about sublime. I wish I was a good enough photographer that I could get some pictures of it. I want to capture it. I don't want to let it go, or let it be. (2) Today I cooked a simple but good supper - pierogies with sauteed onions. I havn't cooked supper in so long, it isn't even funny. And I love to cook. I guess with all the cereal and macaroni-and-cheese . . . I don't know. I need to cook more adult meals though - for Laura and me.

Oftentimes, in the orneriness, in the frustration, I find myself saying, "I hate [fill in the blank]." Lately when I say this, I purposely reduce it: "I hate." "I hate" - ouch. We're not talking about broccoli either. We're talking about other drivers, you know - those stupid people that share the road with you. (Oops, I said the S word.) We're talking about little frustrations in my life, obstacles in my life, speed bumps, distractions. Anyway. There is hate in me. But there is something bigger than hate in me. There is someone bigger than hate in me. So hear it: I love. I LOVE! I love rain. I love people. I love my family. I love Jesus. I love. YAWP!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Impart What?

If you love Michael W. Smith's song "Ancient Words" (written by Lynn DeShazo), please skip this post. I'm feeling critical and grammatical and downright villainous.

I was sitting in church today and we began to sing "Ancient Words." You're probably familiar with the song, but in case you are not, here are the lyrics:

Holy words long preserved / for our walk in this world, / They resound with God's own heart / Oh, let the ancient words impart.

Words of life, words of hope / Give us strength, help us cope / In this world, where e'er we roam / Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true / Changing me, and changing you. / We have come with open hearts / Oh let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our faith / Handed down to this age. / Came to us through sacrifice / Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved / For our walk in this world. / They resound with God's own heart / Oh let the ancient words impart.

We have come with open hearts / Oh let the ancient words impart.

And while we were singing this song, I looked around at the congregants. They were worshiping. A few people had their eyes closed and their hands in the air. And I thought, We are worshiping the Bible. The song is not a song of praise to God for his revelation. It is a song praising the revelation. I certainly don't mind singing the praise of things in poem or song - this bird's regal bearing, that lady's beauty, yonder rock's jut, or even the scriptures' authority. And I am not trying to disrespect your favorite artist or Ms. DeShazo. But we don't bring these kinds of songs or poems into our church and use them to worship God. "Ancient Words," regardless of what else you might think about it, should not be peddled with the likes of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "In Christ Alone" any more than "She's Got a Way" should be. It's not that songs or poems praising something's beauty or singularity cannot or should not be used in church, but that they ought not to be used to lead people in God-adoration.

(My wife, who loves this song, is frowning fiercely nearby. So I'll shut it.)


Sometimes I just feel. I can't express myself legibly. I can't express myself properly poetically. But sometimes I can't help but just feel.

It's raining today.
It's raining down gray.
I'm lonely and cold
And left here, I stay . . .

It's raining and still -
The woodpecker's drill
Unheard and untold -
I'm praying it will . . .

It's raining, and dead
Trees' leaves fill my head
With whispers so bold -
I swear that I bled . . .

It's raining. The rain
Drums on on insane
Never stop never fold
Rolls feverish brain . . .

It's raining, raining,
The world is hanging
And I have been sold
Without so much gaining.

It's raining and cold.
It's raining and cold.
It's raining and cold.
It's raining, I'm told.

And I am still lost.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Exhortations and Blessings

Thanksgiving is a day for feasting. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Worship God with eating. Do not spoil the feast with miserly thoughts of self or of judgment. And after you have loosened your belt, thank God for his abundant provision in all things. Feast upon him. Enjoy him by enjoying your family and your time together. Be gracious to one another.

May God's grace and peace rest upon each one of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Raccoon Is on the Move

Will on the Stump

The older the raccoon becomes, the more boy he becomes. He's evolved into Apollyon, the Destroyer Raccoon, in the last few months. He likes to clobber and investigate and climb and get into everything that I do not allow him to get into - and nothing else. He's particular in that way.

Yes, he still likes the garbage - the egg shells and coffee grounds are sweet rewards. But that's child play, in some respects. There are toxic cleaners in the world; toilets - basins of fun, pools of pleasure; computers to bang on; and, in general, messes to be made. And the raccoon is smart. He knows things. It's scary what he knows. He refuses to speak English, but do not be fooled - he knows it. Smart and destructive are two characteristics I do not like to see working together in such harmony, so mutually enraptured with one another.

So what does a man do? Play ball with him, wrestle with him, hug on him, kiss his cloven earlobe. I suppose, that's all a man can do. After all, at the end of the day, he is my raccoon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Incarnation: A Kingdom Archetype

The scriptures tell us that in order to see God, we must look at Jesus. The incarnation of YHWH in a young Jewish man is the beginning of the re-creation of creation from within it and without. And Jesus is more than just God embodied, more than the mortal clothes of Immortality (for instance, as I might wear a snowsuit or, God forbid, a wetsuit). Jesus is the very union of divinity and humanity. And I don’t understand it.

I find incarnation as a grand archetype emerging in other Kingdom venues as well: Eucharist, Scripture, and the Church.

Before I go too far let me explain what I mean by archetype. An archetype is a “recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.” It is the often-imitated original. The savior or rescuer is an archetype within ancient, modern, and postmodern stories. Some examples include Beowulf, Arthur, William Wallace, and Hester Prynne. Superman and Neo are more recent types. By the way, this isn’t blasphemy or sacrilege. The purpose of these types, though not always intentional, is to point us to the archetype. Types aren’t copies of the original, but imitations, signposts, reminders of the original.

The Eucharist is a type of incarnation. Many of us Protestants view the Eucharist as merely a memory or symbol of Christ and his work for us. Catholics view it as the very presence of Christ, realized somehow in all senses. But right now I prefer the Anglican view of the Eucharist: It is the real presence of Christ in every sense, except the physical sense. So when we partake of communion we are, in reality, receiving Christ and his cross-work into ourselves. The Eucharist is holy and it is incarnational.

The scriptures are a type of incarnation – a product of the Spirit-flesh union. Some of us focus on the spirit and so we say that the scriptures are, literally, the very words of God. Some of us focus on the flesh and so we say that the scriptures are man’s record of God’s revelation. But, as I understand them, the scriptures are both and neither. The scriptures are an incarnational work, a Spirit-flesh work, a creation of divinity and humanity.

And finally, the church (and, to some extent, the individual members of the Kingdom) is incarnational. We are the body of Christ. God is present within each of us, and the church together is the fullness of Christ. What are the implications of this truth? First, as Christ's body we must strive for unity - to be one body - in all things.

All incarnation is inexplicable - it is only a matter of degrees. It is believed, not fully understood. It is reasonably embraced, but it is not rational.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Last night I watched Hide and Seek with Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. My wife, you see, wanted something that would keep her awake, something scary. Now, I don't like scary movies as a rule. And some of these new horror flicks with the jerky-motioned dead people in them just ain't my cuppa, if you know what I'm saying. I get into my stories. And when I watch a movie it takes me a few minutes to extract myself from it once it's over. Oh yes, that's my toilet and my broken window blind. It takes me a minute.

Hide and Seek is pretty creepy. You have your blood and your dead people and your eerie music - and, of course, the obligatory freak-child. Interestingly, the tone of the movie - the very genre of the movie - changes near the end. Overall the movie is done well and I enjoyed it.

I've been told that all horror movies are no-no's for Christians. What do you think? And more broadly, is Philippians 4.8 a checklist for determining which movies we watch and which books we read and which music we listen to?

Whatever is

of Good Repute/Report
has Excellence/Virtue

Meditate on these things.

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's the Little Things That Are the Big Things

I am resting on the bed trying to lose a migraine when Anna sits down behind me. She begins scratching my back and says, "I peewishiate you, Daddy."

The Lordship of Jesus and the Empires of the World

Some talking points from Wright's lecture:

  1. The problem of postmodernity within empire and empire within postmodernity. (Postmodern criticism doesn't succeed against empire, but colludes with it.)

  2. The Lordship of Jesus against the lordship of Caesar.

  3. How can we be people of New Creation within postmodernity, within empire?

Wright said some fascinating things last night and it was difficult to scribble notes fast enough, but I would like to share a couple of items. Though Wright believes that Christians must go through postmodernity (rather than stay in modernity), he believes we ought to punch through to the other side. In modernity, the I carved up the world as it saw fit. It distanced itself from God - God became something I did in my solitude and had no part in the rest of my life. Modernity's hamartia, or flaw, is the problem of evil. And postmodernity's God-appointed task is to preach the Fall to modernity. But we also need redemption from the Fall.

  1. Empire actually co-opts postmodernity's critique by turning, or spinning, postmodernity against itself. In other words, as postmodernity speaks truth to empire, empire simply says to postmodernity, "What is truth?" So postmodernity fails in its critique of empire.

  2. God's "new" way of knowing is love. Love celebrates the other as well as the close relationship. All knowing should partake of the model of love.

  3. The metanarrative, or big story, of modernism is pulled down by postmodernity. But underneath both is God's story: love, Jesus, New Creation. And God's story is not a power story, but a love story. It reached its climax in Jesus and is waiting to be implemented through us in the power of the Holy Spirit. The vocation of love, therefore, is the appropriate Christian critique of empire.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The End of the World As We Know It

I was going to condense some of last night's lecture. In the process, I realized that I would not be condensing anything unless I presented a minutes of the talk. The only way to explain N.T. Wright is to break off a few pieces and start chewing. For you Wright fans, probably none of this material will be new; if I misrepresent him or his beliefs, please correct me.

  • Wright's view of apocalypse is more about his view of Easter. (Ultimately, Jesus and the gospel are apocalypse - the unveiling of the righteousness of God.) The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning, the birth, of the New Creation and the New Creation is, for Wright, what "the end of the world" is all about. As I understand it, Wright does not believe in a rapture or a literal millennial period of history (though I need to read more about his view of millennial prophecy - my guess is that he would find it either metaphorical or descriptive of the New Creation).
  • The material world is the locale of evil - it is not evil. It was and is meant to be our home. We are not bound for Heaven, more Wrightly viewed, Heaven is bound for us. And even to use the word bound creates problems because Wright believes that we create a distance between Heaven and Earth that is not revealed in the biblical record. Jewish thought viewed Heaven and Earth as two interconnecting, overlapping spheres. Thus Heaven could be peered into by Elisha and his servant (surrounded by a heavenly host) and John could pierce through the veil as well. The temple is perhaps the best example of this interconnectedness. The Israelites did not go to the temple in order for them to be in a place like Heaven. They were going into the very presence of God - into Heaven itself.
  • Apocalyptic events in our lives include (1) the preaching of the gospel, or the proclamation of Jesus as Lord, (2) Christian worship, in which we join together with all the saints and the angels, and (3) in Christian ethics - not about a set of rules, but about the fact that the New Creation has begun and we are agents of that New Creation. Each of these events is apocalyptic because they unveil God and his righteousness and they unveil the New Creation begun in us.
  • The sacraments are apocalyptic as well - unveiling more than remembrance, substance as well as symbol. The Eucharist, for instance, is apocalyptic as it reaches forward into the future and reveals our fellowship with Christ in the present. Just as the spies brought back the fruit of the Promised Land to be enjoyed in the wilderness, so the Eucharist brings back the fruits of the New Creation into the "wilderness" of our present lives.

Anyway, a few ideas. If you have thoughts, questions, additions, or corrections, please share.

The Bishop Took Me out to the Woodshed

Tonight I shook the hand of the Lord Bishop of Durham. He signed a couple of books for me and we had a moment of small talk. I was at the first of two lectures that he is giving at Davidson College. Tonight's lecture was "It's the End of the World as We Know It: Apocalyptic Then and Now." Bishop Tom Wright took me and many of my ideas out to the woodshed - and I enjoyed every minute of it. So I'm going back for another beating tomorrow night, Lord willing. Why the sudden masochism? He provided an explanation that is more rich and interesting and palatable (and, I believe, scriptural - though I still have plenty to check out) than the one with which I entered the building. In other words, I feel as if I'm trading up.

I have a lot of material to digest in the coming days, but, Man! it was a good time. I wish you all could have been there with me. I took five pages of notes and when I have the time I will try to condense some of it into something meaningful that I can post here. I'm sure the lectures will also eventually be posted at N.T. Wright's homepage.

Anyway, I'm headed back tomorrow night to hear him lecture on "The Lordship of Jesus and the Empires of the World."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

About the Boy

Our first three children are girls. They are as different as one flower is from another, but each of them are flowers. I didn't know what to expect with the fourth, a boy. Something wild, I supposed, something more mushroom than flower.

And he was born, ready or not, in the middle of a thunderstorm, wrinkled like a morel.

He is surrounded by pink and bright and Barbie dolls. It's hardly the ideal environment to grow a mushroom. But Barbies make nice clubs and there are increasingly more cars and balloons and balls for him to play with.

. . . . . . . .

And Anna just threw up. Nice. Everyone in the house, taking their cue from Daddy, begins crying for Mommy. Gotta run.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Shake It Up, Baby

Do you want to know a secret? I had a friend in college, we'll call him Charlie Brown, whose testicle twisted up on him - 720 degrees as a matter of fact. Half of the bugger spun around twice, in other words, resulting in abdominal pain like you wouldn't believe and creating a life-threatening situation. He had to be rushed to the hospital and have the testicle removed. His roommate and I went to visit him and, as the school nurse was coming out of the room, his roommate asked, "So, did you get everything straightened out?" We doubled up in laughter and have been making jokes ever since. Often we'd start humming, whistling, or singing "Twist and Shout" when he was with us in the weeks that followed. (How can something so bad feel so good?)

As Charlie Brown recovered, he asked the nurse if he would be able to have children with one testicle. Personally, I would be more concerned with being able to ever show my face again in public. But people value different things. The nurse assured him that he would have no problems.

And while we each had our own favorite theory about how and why it happened, the doctor told Charlie Brown that this sort of thing can occur willy-nilly. Scary. Who needs to be afraid of the bogeyman or the Count when you have something like this lurking in the back of your mind? So for the last 15 years, every odd ache or strange twinge in my groin always leads me down the road of panic: Is it my time? I wonder. Is one of them twisting? But it has not, not yet, been my time to sit down and cry.

(By the way, the last time I heard, Charlie Brown had three children.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tom Wright

Anyone want to come down to see an N.T. Wright lecture or two with me? He's speaking about an hour from here at Davidson College on Wednesday and Thursday nights (7:30 each night) on "Biblical Faith in the Postmodern World." Wednesday night's lecture is "It's the End of the World as We Know It: Apocalyptic Then and Now" and Thursday night's lecture is "The Lordship of Jesus and the Empires of the World." Tickets are free - we just have to show our pretty faces at the door.

Anyone game?

(Sorry for the late notice, by the way, I just found out about it myself late last night.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Exorbitant Price of Gas

My dad is a funny man - embarassingly so for his children. Public places failed to reign in his moodiness and he refused to be servant to society's proprieties. Unfortunately. Then again sometimes things just slipped out, so to speak.

One little anecdote: My dad and oldest brother were at Quality Dairy to buy some doughnuts. The lady at the counter asked my dad what he wanted and my dad bent over to get a good look. As he bent over, he farted loudly. My brother quickly, though non-chalantly, wandered to the back of the store. My dad, however, simply looked up at the lady at the counter and said, "I don't want one of those."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ten Things That Make Me Laugh (and Cry) and Why

Rating Warning: Blog-14 [LSVD]

  1. Flushable Butt Wipes: Though, admittedly, useful at times, butt wipes are a relatively new product on the market attempting to convince us that we have really smelly asses. I am reminded of the SNL skit/commercial for Ass-Don't-Smell, the aerosol butt deodorant.
  2. Teeth Whiteners: Some of you people are burning holes in my retinas. Leave the bright-white for linens, Dogg.
  3. Caffeine-free Mountain Dew: Okay, isn't the caffeine why we drink this stuff? Same goes for decaffeinated coffee.
  4. Fat-free Dairy Products: I'd rather be jiggly.
  5. ED Commercials: Four hours? Sign me up.
  6. Gerber's Graduates and Finger Foods for Toddlers: Let my (little) people go!
  7. Flying the Confederate Flag: Why do so many bedsheets in my town have holes in them? (It's not about heritage, people. It's about marginalizing, rather than loving, your neighbors.)
  8. North Carolina Winters: Did I say winters?
  9. Energy Drinks: I'd rather be sleeping.
  10. Harry Potter Censorship and Book Burnings: Prevents our children from becoming practicing witches and, simultaneously, makes unbelievers slack-jawed at believers' excellent understanding of literature and its purpose. Good job, guys.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Praise Him with Harp and Lyre. Praise Him with Acorns.

I have a new favorite sound of fall: acorns hitting a tin roof. There is violence in the collision between seed and metal. Up in my office, in my half-story, I hear them overhead: Crack. Clunk. Fall. They bounce loudly sometimes: Paink. Pink, pink. Do the squirrels sleep in the midst of this forceful manna? Or does it make them even more twitchingly nervous? I like to think it calms their tails and quiets their whiskers, soothing them with the sure knowledge of food for tomorrow and for the winter that approaches.

Oaks are beautiful trees, so liberal with their acorns and so conservative with their leave - good and true trees. They are hoary old fellows, wrinkled with age. And though they are not autumnally attractive - their leaves simply brown on their limbs - they say fall, they praise, just the same as the golden pecan trees and the dazzlingly bright maples. But they say it percussively, with acorns striking tin roofs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Life can be sublime. Last night's central-North-Carolinian sunset is an example. The blue sky richened, the clouds grew pink. I sat down on the porch with my daughter and watched the waxing moon shine brightly through ethereal pinkness, framed in the golden leaves of a pecan tree, and we sang a Night Song: We praised the beauty of the evening. We thanked its Creator.

It was a perfect evening. And I wanted to drink it in. I wanted to become intoxicated with its beauty. I wanted to reach into its expanse, embrace sublimity, and somehow draw it back into my being, let it saturate and re-create my soul. I wanted to be baptized in it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Church Lost Penguins Blankey

We skipped church today. We are frustrated and unsure of what to do at this point. Do we continue, each week, searching for a new church home or do we look sporadically while still attending our old church (40 minutes from home)?

So today we just skipped. I attended the Church of Lost, Season 1, instead.

Oh yeah, I've been catching up on Lost. I've ordered the DVDs from Netflix and I am halfway through the first season. Good stuff.

I have never been able to get into this TV show before - it didn't make much sense and now I think I know why. It's a narrative - a series of narratives - that grows. Very organic, very difficult to start in the middle of a season.

Unfortunately I've already missed the first two or three episodes of this season (I started watching at episode 3 or 4). So I'm behind. But I'm catching up. And now I'm addicted. This has got to be, imho, one of the finer television shows in recent history.

I took the girls to see The March of the Penguins at the $2.00 theater yesterday. Have you seen this documentary? Too many babies die. Sophie began crying about halfway through it because of all the baby chicks and the unfortunate mommy that just don't survive. (She's so tenderhearted.) Nevertheless, she did like the movie. I would like to see it without the wriggling and talking and crying children.

This yellow-haired child loves her Raggedy Ann and Andy blankey. I've talked about her veneration before, but it amazes me sometimes. Yesterday, when we were leaving for the movie she gave me an I-don't-want-my-blankey line. She's getting so big. So of course I grabbed it and brought it along anyway. Sure enough, within two minutes of getting in the van, she was screaming for it. It's like crack. Soft, red-and-blue, velvety crack. What will we do if this thing ever gets lost? Not that the holy shroud will ever be out of sight long enough. . . .

Saturday, November 05, 2005

More on Intentionality and Gender-Neutrality

My last post was unclear about intentionality. Let me attempt to clarify by saying that there are at least two views on the intentionality of the TNIV and NLT translators. One group believes the intentions of the translators are cultural sensitivity and political correctness. The other group believes the intention of the translators is accuracy. Therefore, in either group, I say people instead of Man, fellow believer instead of brother. I do so in the former group because it is sensitive to readers. I do so in the latter group because it more accurately corresponds to the meaning of the text (God did not just create men; "sister" is also intended by the text). And in order not to create a false distinction between the two, both intentions might accurately represent the concerns of the translators. Cultural sensitivity, of course, creates fear in some concerning what we might change next in order to be sensitive to our neighbor. Will we stop referring to God with gender? Will we change other parts of the text lest we offend – references to homosexual sin, for instance? That is the fear, though it is a poor argument against what is.

There is another, more conservative, group, that is opposed to gender-neutral language simply because it does not translate the text word-for-word. This group says that "God created Man" was the phrase spoken by God and therefore we should not touch it. In fact, to touch it would be to change the actual words of God. I understand this concern and share it to some extent, but it also strikes me as being somewhat naive since even the most literal translations are correctly referred to as only being "essentially" literal. Meaning, of course, that there is no way we can translate from the Hebrew and the Greek word-for-word without changes and have it still make perfect sense in English. (The NASB makes this clear by italicizing words not found in the most reliable manuscripts.) There is also the issue of words with multiple meanings, and translators must decide which meaning is meant by the text. Sometimes this is a simple matter, while other times it becomes extremely complex (and sometimes the "simple" cases can be some of the most complex). When we touch the text, we necessarily change it. Our goal, of course, is to represent the original language and the authorial intention as accurately as possible. That is the NASB and ESV’s translators’ goal, and I believe that is the TNIV and NLT’s translators’ goal. And if you do not trust these translators’ intentions, then teach your children to read Hebrew and Greek. Then they can compare the multiplicity of manuscripts and interpret the scriptures as seems best to them.

Fear is at the heart of this argument. Fear that we might lose the integrity of the scriptures. Fear that we might offend the holiness of God. Fear that the words we use or don't use might offend our neighbors. Fear that our copy of the scriptures will be somehow less than trustworthy, less than inerrant, less than inspired.

We are prone to error. We make mistakes. We mess up. We muddy what is clear and attempt to clarify what is necessarily muddy. God, however, is gracious, strong, and faithful. The scriptures will be as perfect and as pure and as true and as authoritative for our grandchildren as they are for us.

Friday, November 04, 2005

TNIV, the NLT, and Gender-Neutrality

I've reversed my position on this topic recently, in the past six months or so. But let me define the term at the get-go so no more people than necessary misconstrue what I'm about to say. By gender-neutral I don't mean a Bible that talks about God as our Parent. I also do not mean a Bible that removes all references to gender. I simply mean a Bible, as the TNIV or the NLT, that instead of saying God created Man, says God created human beings/people. In other words, anytime the scriptures are addressing both men and women, the translators try to make that clear.

We must realize by now that all translations are interpretations. Even wooden translations take words and add them to the scriptures so that the scriptures will make sense in modern English. Sometimes, in difficult passages, the translators will take a little more liberty in their translations (yes, even the wooden/literal translations do this).

So why do we balk at a few translators making the Bible more gender-inclusive? Isn't that the intention of the author as he (or possibly, she) writes? Isn't that the sense that you take from the text when you read it? If it is how you understand the text as you read it, why is it wrong to translate it as such?

At its core, I believe the discussion is about intentions. Trying to make a text that is more accurate and, simultaneously, less offensive is what I believe to be the goal and intention of these translators. (It is, by the way, more textually/scripturally accurate in today's English to say "God created people" than it is to say "God created man.") Some people believe the intentions of the translators are to water down the scriptures. Contrariwise, I believe that hanging on to an Anglian word that has clearly run its course, is creating another Authorized Version of the scriptures.

The fear is, of course, that in ten years the same companies will be producing Bibles that say, "Our Parent, who is in heaven." Much of the discussion arises out of that fear. So if that is your beef, let it be your beef. And remember, that is not what these translators have done.

(As a footnote, I think it's necessary to inform the reader that I have been doing some devotional writing for the NLT's not-yet-published Web site. I took the job before I realized that the NLT was a gender-neutral Bible. And when I discovered that it was, I also discovered that it was not an issue for me.)

P.S.: Currently, my favorite translations are the ESV and the NASB.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

They Call Me Steve

It's true, they do. Whenever I meet new people, invariably, someone will call me Steve. Not Sam, Sven, Stu, or Stan; not Soren, Solomon, Saul, or Socrates; not Sheldon, Sydney, or Skipper. Not Scott. Just Steve. It started in college. During my freshman and sophomore years, I roomed with Steve Glover. ("It's 'lover' with a 'G,' " he said.) Occasionally people started calling me Steve. I didn't think much of it. We were roomies; we were often together, and Steve and Scott are similar names. I left college. I got married. I moved 600 miles away, but it kept happening.

Since that time, every place I've lived, worked, or gone to church has been populated with people who call me Steve. I correct them, of course. No use in their being embarassed. Then I correct them again and again. It becomes a joke. And still I correct them.

Perhaps it's because there are famous Steve Lyonses out there. There's the hurricane doctor on the Weather Channel, Dr. Steve Lyons. And of course, there's the infamous Steve Lyons of the White Sox who dropped his britches at first base in Detroit to brush away some dirt.

So what is it that calls Steve to mind when people meet me? Is it the swath of destruction I leave in my wake, or is it my propensity to drop trou at arguably inopportune times?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I swanny, I don't know why I give food and drinks to these midgets I keep.

  • Hand out baggies of cereal, 8:45.
  • Change dirty diaper, 9:03.
  • Sweep up crushed cereal and empty baggies, 9:38.
  • Pour cup of juice, 10:02.
  • Wipe up cup of juice, 10:04.
  • Fuss at children, 10:04-noon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Taking Out the Trash

My children trust me, normally. If I'm there, in the room with them, they trust me. If I'm gone, fear sets in. For instance, I have taken out the trash some mornings only to discover when I return inside that the yellow-haired child is crying after me - screaming after me. Waking up, she's looked everywhere in the house for me and has been unable to find me. So she assumes that I have left her. She believes that she is alone.

I tell my children that they do not have to be afraid. I tell them that I will not leave them. But they don't learn to trust, to trust me even when I cannot be found, until they have had years and years of experiencing my trustworthiness.

Likewise, God asks us to trust him. But we still find it so difficult, even after years of experience, because we trust him for the wrong things.

Alumni magazines depress me. I get jealous. I get disappointed with what God is doing in my life. I expect more - fame, success, affluence, a job, fame.

A friend of mine and his family is moving. Within a short period of time, a very short period of time, he has a promising interview and several contacts - good news. I rejoice with him, but I also am jealous. I get disappointed that after a year and a half I have only had three interviews. I get disappointed with what God is doing in my life. I get disappointed that God is doing something other in my life.

I saw some old friends that I used to work with last night while we were trick-or-treating. "So what are you doing now?" I don't have a job, if that is what you mean. Not a job that I get paid for. Well, I have a couple of writing gigs that bring in money for bubblegum and shoelaces. Oh, and I make a mean box of macaroni-and-cheese and I wipe asses and powder buns with the best of them.

I shave my head. I grow a beard. I walk around in my pajamas half of every day.

Is this what God wants me to be doing? Is God doing in my life what he has always wanted to do in my life - what he has always dreamed of doing in my life? Why are my dreams for my life so different?

And while I'm becoming depressed about how my life has turned out, here's the thing that gets my goat: I love making macaroni-and-cheese and wiping asses. I love freelance writing and walking around in my pajamas half of every day. I love growing a beard. I love not sitting in a cubicle all day long. I love the spiritual path God has placed me on.

But I struggle with not being a provider, the provider. It's a struggle with my being a man, a husband, and a father; it's a struggle with my culture. And sometimes it just hurts deep in my soul. Partly because it was not my choice to stay at home. Mostly because it wounds my pride. It ruins my pride. Not enough, not yet, and that's why it is still so painful.

And yet God's dreams for me are being birthed in these runny noses and this messiness. His divine imagination is becoming the flesh on my bones and the shoes on my feet. All my education and experience and life are not converging into the job of my dreams. My life is converging onto a path altogether different from anything I ever imagined. It is a path of divine dreams. And maybe, just maybe, I'm beginning to trust in the dreams of God.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Jack of the Lantern

Call me Ishmael, but I don't like pumpkin carving. I used to, when I was a boy. But now when I hear that it's time to carve pumpkins with the children, I shudder, gird up my loins, and fetch the hardware (newspapers, knives, spoons, Sharpie). Sure it's nice seeing the little people excited, but I can get them just as excited with a piece of candy or two.

These pumpkins stink, if you hadn't noticed. We opened one up tonight and it was reminiscent of two special diapers my one and only son had whipped up for me earlier in the day. Pumpkins smell like crap. And pumpkin guts feel like crap - refrigerated crap. Orange, refrigerated crap. Stringy, orange - you get the idea.

I love pumpkins. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice, pumpkin seeds, and the rest of the world that is pumpkin. But paying homage to wily Jack by being up to my elbows in it, isn't my idea of holiday. I know - killjoy, party pooper, wet blanket - I know. Get me a couple of semi-scary movies and a bowl of popcorn, maybe a bag of peanut M&M's, and I'm happy. That's a holiday. Emasculated, sure. Empty, shallow, and void of tradition, definitely. Certain to be forgotten, yes. But it's cool. It's relaxed. It's casual. And I'm a casual kind-o'-guy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Life Lived

Instead of there, she sat here. And her choice began a change in us. She showed us that to be truly human you must work against a culture of hate, work against a society bent on subjection, work against a city bent on segregation. She showed us that to be truly human you must understand that within every person is the image of God: Shades of clay shaped together to house the divine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I haven't been much for writing lately - six-day migraine. Tonight I got some Imitrex off of eBay and voila! the headache is gone. Well, true, I didn't get it off of eBay, but boy-howdy the stuff is expensive. It's going to take a lot of Kool-Aid pouches to make up for those nine little pills. (Drink another, girls! Hey, take one to bed with you. We can wash the bedsheets.) Goodbye, sweet little NanoPod.

By the way: Congratulations, White Sox. Cheers! May your Halley's-Comet-esque Series wins become more frequent.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Acheses in the Head

I hate headaches. They ruin my days; they spend my nights. They make the sun my enemy and the light my adversary.

I hate headaches. They make me angry and short-tempered. I become a do-nothing.

I hate headaches. They suck.

"Daddy, will you shave your head bald again, so we can laugh at you?"

Days roll into days around here. The temperature is cooling - it has been in the low 60s here for the past few days. And that's just plain chilly. Sickness sometimes is the only thing that separates one day from the next. Sophie came into our bedroom the other night, stood over the bed, and then proceeded to projectile vomit, bringing latent fears of the Exorcist to life.

The boy has a boil on his upper thigh. It was lanced on Sunday and he's been put on antibiotics. We call him Baby Job now. It's our version of Baby Einstein.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Justification by Faith

What is justification by faith?

"Justification by faith" should not be dividing the church, it should be bringing it together. It is, as N.T. Wright says, the great ecumenical doctrine. For we are not justified by believing in justification by faith. We are justified by believing in Jesus.


Google Print

Google lets me blog. It lets me search and research. It allows me to send and receive mail. And the ubiquitous Google is doing it again. Have you seen or heard of Google Print? I discoverd it through Steve McCoy on his blog, Reformissionary. The implications of this project are mind-blowing, especially if it is allowed to continue. Check it out. And if you do research of any kind, you must check it out. That's right, you do not have a choice. Go now.

I think they also opened a new department called MiniTrue - though that might just be a rumor.

Friday, October 21, 2005

People, Ordinary eBay People

People, eBay people, are a funny lot. I know because I'm one of them. My wife is selling Kool-Aid pouches on eBay right now. A lot of 24 empty pouches are, currently, selling for over $8. They use these pouches for making purses, backpacks, belts, etc. Kind of a strange idea, but it does recycle them and I have actually seen some products that were kind of cute. I think it's crazy. But I also think it's great. Because I can buy more than 24 juice pouches for $8, quite a bit more.

Sometimes I feel badly about selling last month's trash at a profit. But not that badly. Could you use a winter coat made entirely from used Luvs diapers? A blanket from old newspapers? A T-shirt from holey underwear? A wallet from empty condom wrappers? Let me know, people.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This, That, and the Other

We had bolgna sandwiches and Cheesy Poofs for lunch today. I told Annie to thank Jesus for her food. Annie was in a rather silly mood, however, and I heard her in the next room being silly while she was praying.

"Be serious, Anna," I yelled to her from the other room.

"I was just joking, Jesus," she said and giggled.

A strand of spider web waves softly off the top of my iBook.

A 21st-Century eOde to my 4th-Generation iPod in Less-Than-Heroic Couplets

Carting music was a dirty deal
Till I chanced upon your sweet click wheel.
New iPods come and Jobs surely knows
That I can't play 5th-gen videos.
But that still won't chill your ever cool
'Cause you rock, you cock-a-doodle-rule.

(I clearly have too much time on my hands. Please send freelance work or more children.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blog-Slack Excuses

I've been furiously trying to finish up some freelance work in the past few days. Then, in the midst of this work, my water heater went out. I mailed out my completed work just this morning, but the water heater still needs fixing (we have two in the house, so it's more of an inconvenience than a calamity). Apparently, I need to replace a heating element.

In the rush of work (brought on, I might add, by my own procrastination), I have gotten very little sleep in the past few days. Bible study is tonight. Sophie got released early from school today, which required nearly two hours of my time to pick her up. The dishes and laundry and house are in a bad way. I haven't seen the littlest children in days, which is problematic since I change their diapers on Wednesday. The lawn is groaning for one last mowing - I may find the children when I mow.

It's 85 and sunny today - beautiful. And all I want to do is draw the curtains, curl up à la fetus, and log a few hours in the land of Nod.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Out of Hand

Life is strange and strange thoughts are loose in my woolly head. They're out of hand. First, I've been coming back again and again to the question, "What is the gospel?" I know that sounds simple, but I'm pretty sure it is much more than getting yourself saved and I'm pretty sure it isn't about having all the right information in your head or in your heart when you die. Second, I've been thinking about certainty lately and how uncertain I've become about a good number of things. And how painful it has been for me. Third, and finally (at least for tonight), I've been thinking about church lately and where my family needs to be. Where does the Lord want us? What would he have us do? What would please him?

I wish life were easier the older I got. I certainly thought my thoughts on life would clarify as I grew older. But the older I get the more I realize how little I have hold of. I realize how arrogant I am and have been. Life is so big and I am so small. And I'm so confused about so very many things.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Avery's Earrings

Avery's Earrings
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

The yellow-haired child got her ears pierced yesterday. I'm so proud of her. It was solely her decision, and she was the first of our legion of children to take the step. She didn't want earrings because her big sisters had earrings. She wanted them simply because she wanted them.

They couldn't pierce both ears at the same time because they only had one gun that was working. That sounded like trouble to me. I had to vacate the premises with Sophie and Anna who were about to explode at the thought of Avery getting her ears pierced. We mosied on down to a bench 50 feet away where we were able to watch and wait.

Avery sat in the seat as still as a statue. She looked ready to conquer the world. She had a pretty little pink jewelry box and a stuffed animal on her lap. She exuded confidence. Meanwhile, Anna, Sophie, Will, and I were making friendly wagers about whether she would scream, and how loudly.

When the first ear was pierced, the jewelry box and animal fell to the floor - shock and dismay, followed with screaming. We didn't quite reach "Defcon Banshee," but came close. Laura had to hold Avery's head to get the second ear pierced (we were committed after the first).

She cried for a few minutes afterward. Her older sisters solemnly vowed that they would never, never get their ears pierced. Then I made them run over to Avery and tell her how beautiful she looked. Avery got her blankey and the tears slowed and then stopped. The runny nose was blown and wiped clean. Pink fingernail polish was bought.

A day later, she loves her earrings. She doesn't like me coming near them to clean them and I never knew what a strong little monkey she is. But we'll try to make sure her ears don't become infected and gooey and fall off.

(The purple on her ears under the earrings is simply the marker they used to mark her ears for piercing - no need to worry.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Happy Birthday, Avery!

Birthday Booty
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

More to come, but right now I just can't believe the yellow-haired child is three.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Let's Talk about Sex

I don't remember exactly what grade it was, though I think it was third grade. We were at a museum on a field trip and the tour guide stopped the class in front of a statue of a fat, naked bald man.

"Is this a man or a woman?" She said.

A flurry of hands shot up. One, called on, said, "A man."

"That's right," she said. "How do we know that the statue is a man?"

I raised my hand high and was called on. "Because he doesn't have any hair," I said.

"No," said the tour guide. "You can tell because he has a penis." Now, everyone and his brother could see Mr. Wiggles, but most of us knew better than to be talking about it in mixed company.

Today, I took Anna, Avery, and Will to eat at Chick-fil-A. There was one lady who looked a little slow, God bless her, and was dressed in the sexless uniforms typical of fast-food joints. Her hair was short. Her face was not dinstinctively feminine. There was little that was distinctively feminine about her.

Avery, the yellow-haired child, said to me, "What's his name?"

"I don't know what her name is," I said.

"Maybe we should call him Ketchup Boy," she said.

I nodded thoughtfully - the employee was spending a lot of time around the condiment station. "How about 'Ketchup Girl'?" I said.

"Okay," said the yellow-haired child.

In Target today it struck me just how oversexed our culture is. Every woman's magazine I saw advertised tips on better sex. Diets and Sex. Diets and Sex. It's all the magazines advertised. Even Martha had a magazine: Diets and Prison Sex. Well, I didn't see the last one, but I've sent the idea to Martha. Sigh. So many dead trees, so little good sex.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sonnets, Will, and Pneumopaedobaptism

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my favorite poets, and I recently found an Italian sonnet he wrote with which I was unfamiliar. My discovery came through the Eugene Peterson book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, which was released this year. The title of the book is a line from the sonnet. (By the way, it is an excellent book on spiritual theology and I would highly recommend it.)

Will wore an orange plaid shirt and looked very handsome as he participated in his pneumopaedobaptism (child dedication ceremony) at church yesterday. I read the Hopkins poem, which contrasts how natural objects - kingfishers, dragonflies, stones, strings, bells - sing themselves while humanity ought to justice and grace. I want to show Will how to justice and grace in his world, and how to let Christ play through him.

It was one of those moments, however, as my baptism was, that was immersed in irony. Baptism is such a beautiful symbol of union with, of membership in, of identification with Christ and his body. The Sunday I was baptised came on the heels of the fellowship/denomination I was then a part of splitting over the issue of, well, baptism. In the same way, Will's air-baptism happened even as we learned of the dissolution of our baby church plant. As our mother congregation covenanted to raise Will in the fear-of-the-Lord, we understood that we would not be a part of this community much longer either - unless the Lord moves us closer than 40 minutes away.

The ironies, incidentally, don't bother me much. To me they point to something redeemed in the midst of brokenness, rather than something broken in the midst of redemption. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I wish all of you could have witnessed it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sans Teeth . . . Sans Everything

I went to the dentist yesterday to replace a filling that had fallen out. They replaced it and told me I didn't have to come back till spring. That sounded so nice. So nice.

So today I was eating a Tootsie Roll when half-way through it I realized it had ripped my lonely crown out - yeah, the one I got in June. I guess the re-crowning ceremonies will have to wait till Monday since all my dentists are at seminars today. I hope they learn how to make better cement.

Somewhere, in all her enameled splendor, the Tooth Fairy laughs uncontrollably, squirting milk out of her nose.

The Tooth Is Out There

The third tooth in four days came out last night. How Sophie loses her teeth in her sleep, I don't know. But it's hell on the Tooth Fairy. I'll try to get a picture posted soon.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fighting Tooth and Nail for Normalcy

Sacagawea Golden Dollar

That is what it has been like around here the past couple of days.

Sophie lost a tooth on Monday and again on Tuesday. So now she has a top and bottom incisor missing and her other top front tooth hanging on by a thread. She gets a Sacagawea Golden Dollar for every tooth she looses. It's treasure. And it's not so expensive as to keep us from eating for a week. (My wife had one child she taught who got $20 per tooth! I'd be ripping out my own teeth for that kind of cash.)

Then, yesterday, we were outside playing on the swingset when Anna stepped on something and began screaming. She started hopping over to me and I told her to stop. I went over to her and picked her foot up and saw an old, rusty roofing nail halfway into her foot. I quickly grabbed it and yanked it out. Thinking about it now makes me want to vomit, which I'm not prone to do. She stood there hollering at the top of her lungs as her blood pooled in an oak leaf. I carried her inside and bandaged it properly. Fortunately, she didn't need a tetanus shot, because it was part of her immunizations. I am still watching the boo-boo, but it looks good so far.

And now I've got to go put more nails and broken glass out under the swings.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Recently, I was watching a PBS show in which a primatologist was observing chimpanzees ("our closest relatives") in order to learn more about humans. The point of the study was to understand, perhaps a little better, our condition - specifically, our brokenness.

We study our world to learn more about ourselves. We also have our history, our literature, and our personal experience to teach us about ourselves. Yet even after we consider it all, we remain surprised at brokenness.

And surprise is an interesting response. It means something has taken us off guard, something is out of place, something is not as it ought to be. Unless it is late at night and we are exhaustedly shuffling to bed, we are not often surprised by the placement of our dining tables. More than likely, we placed the table where it is. We expect it everytime we see it. The surprise comes when we find that it is no longer where we put it. Being surprised by brokenness seems to me to be similar to being surprised by our dining tables.

We are surprised by brokenness because of our pride. We thought we were better than shooting at rescue workers trying to evacuate hurricane-stranded people. We thought we were better than torturing prisoners. We thought we were better than bombing innocent women and children. Some of us, content in our pride, shake our heads and say, "I am better than that." There is comfort in self-deception.

Our surprise also emerges because each of us has been stamped with our Creator's image. The scriptures tell us how we were created in and bear the image of God. This likeness identifies us as his creation, his children. That same story tells us how we broke that image, and how the cosmos broke with it. But the image, though broken, remains. It leaves us longing for wholeness. We long for things to be set right: oppression, war, poverty, disease, sin, and death. We long for the cosmos to be renewed, for the end of floods, fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis. And in the midst of this Sehnsucht, we get the surprise.

Of course, there's more to the story than brokenness.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back from the Sea

Will on North Myrtle Beach
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

The Three Furies
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

We're back from the beach. It was a nice break from the normal routine. I couldn't even get on-line, which served as a good break from the blog. (I actually did sneak a quick peak from Atlanta Bread Company one morning.) Instead I got to spend an insane amount of time with my family and read and swim in the ocean and watch a couple of DVDs. It was good.

I've talked about the ocean on this blog before and the strange pull it has on me, the strange fascination it holds for me. It never fails to impress me. I suppose it's a lot like looking out at the stars and realizing the sheer expanse of it. But the cosmos is too big a thing for me. I can't even begin to understand its bigness and therefore fail to appreciate my smallness in relation to it. The ocean is somewhat more thinkable in that I can reach out and touch it. It has a physicality that I can feel. It has distance to it that, while I cannot see across it, I know there are people who live across it. I talk to them. They are friends and cousins. So there is distance that is quantifiable - none of this 10 to the 100th power or what not. I can't get my mind around $1,000,000,000, how am I supposed to be able to get such a huge quantity? It might as well be infinite.

All that to say that the ocean is pretty sweet. And the sweetest thing about it is watching my children fall in love with it. I watch them giggle and sing and dance and play in the surf. I watch them tentatively explore the power of the tide and discover shells and small sea mollusks. I race with them to build sand castles before Will or Avery destroys them. We draw pictures in the sand. We write our names. We make friends on the beach who we see each day. We attempt to get to the pier several times, but it is too far for the smaller ones.

I had a beer with my pizza one night, which was nice. You can't buy the stuff in the county in which I live. I know that sounds pretty funny, but it's true. (Digression: Recently, as I was about to get on the highway to come home, I stopped at a gas station to get some drinks [non-adult beverages] for the kids. At the front counter of the gas station was a magazine called "High Times" - with information on how to grow your own marijuana. Interesting that they can sell such a magazine. Interesting that they can sell such a magazine in a county where I cannot buy a beer.)

Anyway, the trip was refreshing, though short. The ocean is a good place.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I'm a little unsatisfied with my blog's appearance. Now I'm not big on decoration. I mean, so it's a little spartan, big deal. But, unfortunately, much of the simplicity rises up out of my technical ignorance; I grab a ready-made template and get to work. That's not so bad, when it comes down to it, but it leaves me feeling small and ordinary.

I would like to have a nice masthead, for starters. Maybe add a booklist. I would like the site to sizzle with Cool.

I have tried to do little things, here and there, experimenting with my blog's design and function. I even put a site meter on it briefly. But I had to pull it off because I felt too much like King David taking a census. I'm still waiting for all of you to be struck down with a plague for my transgression. I apologize ahead of time for When It Happens. (That's not to condemn all of you sinners with site meters, by the way.)

This Web log is not about Pretty, Snappy, Big, or Cool. These are my stories. I want them, taken together, to be a reflection of who I am. Through them, I want to seize Life and hold it fast here, until it blesses me. To some extent, I just want to find some pleasure as I wander.

Ten years from now, today will be a non-memory for most. Blogs might have run their course. Our virtual communities might be scattered and shepherdless. That's okay. I'll remember.

I'll also remember that Will had a runny nose as he toddled between chair and couch. That Avery was wearing a Barbie nightgown and that Anna had a purple star bracelet on her right ankle. I'll remember that today is the day we left for a long weekend at Myrtle Beach. And that the toes on my right foot were driving me crazy with their itching.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

All Things New

Avery and the Mountain
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

For me, one of the most moving scenes in The Passion of the Christ is when Christ stumbles under the weight of the cross and his mother runs up to embrace him. Mary is caught out of time and remembers her baby boy stumbling and scraping his hands and knees. Now, covered in blood, Jesus looks at her and says, "See, Mother, I make all things new."

It never even happened.

And while the scene is extra-biblical, the story is true. This man, who only yesterday was a child, is being led to a cruel death on a cross. And in doing so, he is making all things new. He is establishing his kingdom.

The heart of God is reflected in his desire to make all things new. New heavens, a new earth, and new people. A new creation.

We have a tendency to believe that God re-creates because God believes the old is garbage. But that's absolutely wrong. The old is suffering under the weight of sin. So he recreates it. He makes it new. He removes the curse. He redeems the world because he loves it.

Re-creation has nothing to do with the old's worthlessness, but rather with its irreplaceable worth. We fix old things to make them like-new because of our affections for them. We invest in the old. We spend time with it. We artistically restore it like a classic car, restored beautifully to life. The old is not replaced with the next best thing. The old is made new because there is nothing better.

God loves this world. And, in his love for us, he has called us to participate in redemption, in re-creation, in making all things new.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Accelerate This

Navy Promo
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

I recently saw a U.S. Navy commercial belittling men like me (real men). Have you seen it? It shows men doing Navy stuff - manly let's-kill-people stuff. And then it shows a Napoleon Dynamite type shopping for a new minivan. The voiceover says something along the lines of, "Hey, you could be this poor schmuck."

I couldn't stop laughing, for so many reasons.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Parlor Is Empty

The spider is gone. There's another, smaller black and yellow argiope on our fence, but the big one I took the picture of is gone. It's strange: I've spent so much time watching her, fascinated by her and the beauty of her web. But now her web is empty, dirty, and broken in spots (she eats her web and re-spins it each night). I looked for the egg sac down in the hosta to see if she had left spring for the next generation. I couldn't find it. She's gone and our yard is less without her.

I think the hardest part is that she didn't even say goodbye.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Said the Spider

Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

Spiders are amazing, at a distance. I am a slight arachnophobe, or, if you like, a wuss. I know they're not going to hurt me. I know that I am 432 times bigger than they are. But, you see, they've got so many legs. And they're hairy. And, let's be frank, who needs that many eyes?

This black and yellow argiope is gorgeous, and is perched in the hosta next to our carport. And though the spider is beautiful, I don't want to find it in my house or hanging above my bed as I wake up. I certainly wouldn't want it crawling toward me as I went to the bathroom. (Speaking from experience, however, the bottom of the trash can works in a pinch.) The spider is roughly 9 cm from claw to claw (kitty-corner). That's precisely huge. Now maybe you live in a rain forest and you're chuckling at my "little" spider. Maybe so. But I come from the Great White North, nearly, and spiders don't reach this size unless they are feeding on radioactive bugs. There's something deep down that tells me they just aren't supposed to be this big. But North Carolina does things differently. They keep the temperature cranked up to 90 until October. When they say barbeque, they don't mean chicken or ribs, but chopped pork (which, by the way, is delectable). And when they say spiders, they mean monsters that pull babies from their cribs.

I've told the kids they can look at the spider, but they cannot touch it or its web. I can imagine going outside and seeing the spider wrapping up the boy in a slew of web. Worse yet, perhaps, would be to go outside and see those long, hairy legs poking out from the boy's grinning mouth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You Are Our Father (Is. 63)

The yellow-haired child awards me with smiles, but none change the shape of my face. The boy pats my back as I hold him, but I am not comforted. The drawings that normally amaze me, seem colorless. The silliness of Wisdom fails to shake me.

Though I am dutiful, I am only skin deep. Something aches inside. Something cries. I am lost because he has left me. And I do not know the way home.

So here I am. He bereaves me of speech and then asks of me songs. How do you sing without words? From whom do you seek help when God fights against you?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Ross has sent a meme my way, to better torment me . . . I mean, know me.

5 things I plan to do before I die:
(Though many may scoff, and scorn me with a great scorn.)

  • Write at least one book
  • Create greater unity within the church
  • Finish reading War and Peace
  • Fully enjoy my family
  • Hold my grandbabies

5 things I can do:
(most days)

  • Write/Read
  • Teach/Learn
  • Put off till tomorrow what needs to be done today
  • Put bows in my daughters' hair
  • Cook

5 things I cannot do:
(. . . well, ever)

  • Walk away from a perfectly good pizza
  • Fix a car
  • Watch an entire baseball game
  • Kill a bug without feeling remorse (unless they are biting or stinging, or thinking about either)
  • Say goodbye

5 things that attract me to other people:
(I just like these kinds of people.)

  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Grace
  • Humor
  • Words, words, words

5 things I say most often:

  • Where's your mother?
  • Sophie! Anna! Avery! Will! Laura!
  • I'm tired.
  • Be nice.
  • I don't know.

5 celebrity crushes:
(I do not have said crushes. But if I did, here are five that spring to mind.)

  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • Halle Berry
  • Ziyi Zhang
  • Alison Krauss

5 people I want to do this:
(Though I know some won't because they are morally opposed to memes.)

Friday, September 16, 2005


It is my birthday today. Celebrate with me! I am 35. Not young or old, 35. I'm happy being 35. 5s and 10s are good, round numbers. 35 beats 34 hands down.

Turning 35 is probably not much different than turning 30 or 68 or 22. I am still me. Though I still wonder sometimes what it is to be me, and what it means to be man-me. I thought it would be a more certain, a more sure thing, growing older. More knowing involved, I figured. But all the knowing only makes me know how little-knowing I am. And that's okay.

Life is not puzzle pieces waiting to be pieced together, but paints waiting to be painted with. It is not neat, but it is colorful. It is not precise, but it is perfect. There is a rightness about life that reveals itself in my children's smiles, my wife's love, and the change of seasons.

Let me tell you a secret: I have loved life. I have loved that even my imperfections and failures and sins have been used that I might better know and love people and better know and love God. I have loved being married to my wife. She knows me, and even in the knowing, she loves me. I have loved having children. It is difficult to express how much I have loved having children.

I love life.

Don't misread me: This world is full of tears. My world is full of tears. But right now, right now I feel as if joy (insurmountable, ineffable joy) will one day split me open, unveiling itself before an unsuspecting, tear-stained world.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


My wife and the kids have gone to bed. I've settled down with my laptop, and iTunes is pumping Switchfoot's newest into my noggin ("You are golden / You are golden, child / You are golden / Don't let go / Don't let go tonight"). I have the laundry going so that I'll have clean underwear and towels tomorrow. My purpose is to sit down and do a nice stroke of work, a good little post, for my insomniac friend when she wakes up at 4 a.m. She'd like that, I think. I haven't written two sentences before I'm reclining next to my wife on an Antiguan beach, sipping beer, and watching elephants swim by.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Kingdom Kalled Krispy Kreme

It's not often you get to wake up to small, airy doughnuts, clothed in a toothsome film of translucent yum. It's hard to start a morning badly when these golden O's wait and want to throw themselves into your rumbling maw. And this morning it happened. Blue skies, a smile on everyone's face - it makes me think that all mankind could come together as one under the glowing, hot-now banner.

The kingdom began a few minutes up the road from me, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You might think that there would be a theme park in Old Salem dedicated to the Original Glazed, but there is not. It is a quiet and humble kingdom. They needn't have castles and fairies and mice to spread the good news of the Original Glazed. They needn't have snappy songs, "Today is Tuesday, you know what that means? We have a special guest today," with doughnuts tied to the heads of adolescents. They need only a window onto which pilgrims and devotees may press their chubby faces and watch the little rings of dough be transfigured into the Original Glazed.

The kingdom presses on. And the doors of Dunkin' shall not stand against it.

My daughter Anna sat in the chair with an Original Glazed doughnut in front of her for ten minutes. She hadn't touched it. I looked down at my belly, to remind myself of her goodly heritage, and I looked at the little four-year-old stick figure demonstrating such painfully severe discipline. "Anna, you gonna eat that doughnut?"

"I am going to if you'd stop talking to me," she said. And she did. Once I stopped talking to her.