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Language barrier

April 11, 2017

I see the words but you hear the song

And I wish I could sing so that you’d understand

My paper and pen have no melody

They mumble a tune with no key

 

Once I could sing, once I could fly

Once I could leap ‘cross the blue of the sea

It seemed so easy to ride the great wind

Open my lungs, breathe it in

 

When air grows still and daylight fades

I slip off my shoes for to walk on my knees

The deep night exhales the faintest of tunes

I follow the sound and the moon

 

With twenty-six letters I’ll paint you a picture

With some colors foreign and some that you know

My broken lines may make little sense to you

Yet your heart nods in time with the view.

 

 

 

Evergreen

April 10, 2017

It’s a hunger I can’t explain

To reach beyond the finite

and grab eternity by the beard

pulling it closer for a kiss

Desperately longing to be loved best

Better than shiny stars

Better than the dripping sweets

If you loved me best you might forget

my awkward beige attempts at conversation

and perhaps instead uncover an unplumbed charm

Something irresistible and funny

Something to make you always want to stay

And never watch another over my shoulder

while you are holding me.

 

 

Of thin places

April 6, 2017

I stepped out of the storm

and found myself on an unfamiliar shore

The calm waters before me

unfazed by the violent roar gnashing at my back

the serene blue gently kissing

the sand and pebbles inches from my toes

while lightning still reached for my heels

I closed my eyes and shivered

and told myself I was safe

My head knew it was true

but my heart still pounded

as the thunder echoed in my ears

I was soaked to the bone

dripping with a fury not my own

and as I lifted my face

rivers ran down my cheeks and

I could not tell if they were made of

rain or tears.

 

Armed and dangerous

March 2, 2017

 

 

It was war

and I don’t know how I found myself in the battle

but once I saw the enemy advance

I could not turn my back on my comrades

guttural screams

metal against metal

the grinding sound of combat

close enough to feel

the breath of the adversary

And yet I seemed to be hidden

as I grabbed an arrow and swiftly aimed

and released it

watching it hit the mark while I reached for another

and another

and another

a steady rhythm of

reach

aim

release

over

and

again

so swiftly yet

so calmly

that it felt odd to consider this fighting

And yet the deadliness of my aim

made it clear that this was not play

and that sometimes we fight battles

that are ours only because

we are a we.

 

 

When Crazy turns into Amazing

February 28, 2017

Six months.

A lot can happen in six months. It can feel like forever, and it can feel like the blink of an eye. It can also feel like both at the same time. I can’t explain that; I just know it’s true.

About six months ago a Big Can of Crazy opened up in my life, one I barely survived. I’m not being dramatic when I say that. I had been a person of relatively few health issues, and out of the blue the electrical system that makes my heart work properly went on the fritz in a really bad way. You can read about it here, or a bit about the post-processing here. It’s a wild story. I’m still amazed.

A month ago I had a visit with the electrocardiologist who took over my care when I was transferred to the hospital in Pensacola. It was the first time I’d seen him since I left the hospital.

“Ok…what was THAT?” I asked him.

He just smiled ruefully and shook his head. “With as far as research and technology have come, we’re no closer to being able to predict who this will happen to than we were when I was in residency fifteen years ago.”

So strange. Apparently if it’s gonna happen, you want to be in an airport (defibrillators installed all over the place), a casino (cameras installed all over the place), or a hospital (medical personnel installed all over the place). I was, of course, in the latter.

The specialist did an EEG at the office and he also did a read on my ICD.  Both showed totally normal function, and the ICD showed no history of wackiness since it was implanted. The doctor took me off the one medication I was on to help keep the heart calm. It was never a long-term solution anyway, and we were all glad to get me off of it.

In the big picture, I had a normal heart before this happened. Then it happened, and nothing was normal and my heart kept going into lethal rhythms (which is pretty much the same as stopping, because there’s no real pulse and it can’t actually pump blood during those rhythms, and death is imminent without intervention). And now…I have a normal heart again, albeit with a few burnt spots from the ablation and a computerized watchdog sitting a few inches away in my chest.

Big picture: The visit delivered even better news than I knew to hope for. Everything is really good. I’ll have occasional follow-ups with a cardiologist and the electrocardiologist, but that’s because something happened and not because something is happening. I don’t have to take any medications for this.  The Long QT Syndrome that showed up after this happened is no longer present. I will always have an ICD in my chest as a safety net, but the battery on the one I have is currently projected to last 12 more years. There are certain medications I don’t care to ever take again because they may have played a role in setting this off (I’m looking at you, Zofran), but otherwise there are no hard and fast rules about what I can take, although I’m pretty conservative about that stuff anyway.

And hey…I still have my gallbladder! It’s not bothered me a bit since then.  Just one more thing I can’t explain, but for which I am grateful.

God has been so incredibly good and faithful to me. So many people have prayed, checked in on me, driven me places, encouraged me, reminded me of the good future before me. It is humbling to be so cared for.

This whole event, the entire six months of it, has raised many questions and also many answers. I don’t know most of the whys. I probably never will. But I know a lot more about Who, and about His heart, and the hearts of His kids.

And really, what more could I ask for?

 

 

A better mousetrap

February 26, 2017

How I shop for a vacuum cleaner:

Consult Consumer Reports magazine. Read articles and study ratings. Pull up Amazon and research the results of Consumer Reports’ most highly recommended models, and compare them with the most favorably rated models listed by Amazon.  Narrow Amazon search filters to only show vacuum cleaners listed 4 stars or better.  Thoroughly read all the information about each model, as well as every question asked by shoppers about it. Study consumer ratings for consistent positive or  negative feedback, as well as what the most recent shoppers have said about their experience with the model. Pull up website of the models consumers like most, looking for more information. Narrow contender list by adding the most promising candidates to a secret “Comparison Shopping” wish list I’ve created on Amazon so that I can find them easily later. Google said promising candidates to price-compare. Make trips to any stores to look for any sister models or great sales or rebates.

How Mr. Sparky shops for a vacuum:

“Hey, look what I got! I was in the base exchange and this was $100 off! You’d been complaining about our vacuum and this is a different kind!”

And that, Sparky Nation, is how we came to own a Dyson Multi Floor vacuum cleaner. It sucks, which is a compliment for a vacuum cleaner, and more than I can say for the old Hoover that’s about to get the heaver.

Make a circle, make it wide

January 26, 2017

“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change. ”  Michael Jackson

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  –not Ghandi, no matter what the memes say

 It sounds like good advice, doesn’t it? Actually, it is good advice.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking other people should change. In reality, what we usually mean when we say that is that we think other people should be more like us. They should think like us, behave like us, hold the same values we hold, embrace the same belief systems we embrace.

Our lips may say “diversity”, but our behavior often says “affirm me by being like me”.

It’s a slippery slope. From there you can pretty much figure a sloppy slide into judgment. It may be in the name of justice. It may even be in the name of humor, a sarcastic and snarky slap at a people group that is different from you. But it’s judgment, nevertheless, and it builds walls and shuts out the very people we believe should be like us.  As in…on the INSIDE of the wall, thinking as we think, behaving as we behave. But the truth is that you won’t have a place of influence in the lives of those you’ve judged and alienated, whose dignity you’ve assaulted, even if you believe they are behaving without dignity already. So if that’s important to you, you may find you have some positions worth reconsidering.

Think of it this way: for the sake of being right, looking smart or clever, or having a laugh, who is disposable in your sphere of influence?

Democrats?

Republicans?

Conservatives?

Liberals?

Immigrants?

Refugees?

Teenagers?

Millennials?

Hipsters?

Women?

People with a different sexual orientation than you?

People of a different race than you?

Angry people?

Depressed people?

People on welfare?

Celebrities?

People who’ve committed crimes?

Muslims?

Christians?

Protestors?

Kids who have their faces in their phones?

Pro-life people?

Pro-choice people?

People who disagree with you?

The list could go on and on, you know. We humans are very complex. There will always be someone drastically different from us, someone we vehemently disagree with and don’t understand.

But hear me clearly: you can have a relationship with people you disagree with. You can have influence in the lives of people who are deeply different from you. You can have a relationship and influence without having an agenda.

In other words, you can have a relationship without trying to convert the other person to your way of thinking or behaving. That’s manipulation. It smells bad and nobody likes it.

Love isn’t an emotion. Love is a power.  People who live lives of love, kindness, and respect are powerful people, and they are attractive safe havens for important conversations that aren’t contrived to meet an agenda.

God loves people. He loves all kinds of people, even the rascals, miscreants, and rapscallions. In fact, I think He loves them a little harder, because they need it so much. He would like them to love Him too, but He’s not interested in “love” produced by manipulation. He is willing to love them where they are, as they are. He knows that one of the things Love does best is transform hearts. It doesn’t have to manipulate to do so. It need only be the power that it is.

Make no mistake: I’m a Jesus freak and I believe the world would be happier if everyone in it knew how awesome He is and how much He loves them. But Jesus in me is willing to let people be who they are. He wants me to represent Him in the way I love, not the way I manipulate or shame those who either don’t know him or have messed up and are afraid He doesn’t like them anymore. And if they decide they don’t want to love Him, He doesn’t excuse me from a relationship with them.

You are an influencer. Wait—you read that too quickly.  Slow down and let it sink in.

You…are…an…influencer.

You have a sphere of influence. You have a world view. You have a guiding set of values. You are influencing people whether or not you believe you are. The behaviors and attitudes you model are the ones you give your sphere of influence permission to adopt and demonstrate to their own spheres of influence. This works whether you choose positive, kind, loving thoughts and behaviors, or negative, violent, dismissive ones.

Use your powers for good, not evil. Refuse to throw rocks at the bad, and instead BE the good.

It matters.