Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
This is a phenomenon that I share with my uncle Stephen. It has happened to me for as long as I can remember. Certainly as a child it seriously freaked me out. As an adolescent, I'd turn and avoid it. But as an adult... I've simply yielded to it... and I've had inexplicable encounters.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Hi Pop. Are you going to talk to me tonight? It has been a while since you've visited. I miss you and I could really use your conversation.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
"It's just me and you now, kiddo." This is our new reality and it is like I'm just now waking up. There have been too many incomprehensible events in my life over the last six months.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
I chose to lie to my local church today. It was a landmark moment... but not because of the intentional sin. I signed up for a "Life Group." I've detested the idea of small groups for over a decade. Artificial little gatherings of goody-goodies all trying to out goody-goody each other until someone pops and tells truth, and then it gets all gushy-gushy as everyone airs the dirty laundry that they should really just go and wash!
And oh, not just any "Life Group" no, that wouldn't be punitive enough for me... I signed up for a singles "Life Group." And that leads me to the lie. They asked my age category. They did it by decades at the mid-point... and so the bracket that I fall into... age 45-55. Are you kidding me? Nope, not gonna accidentally fall in love with some 55 year old granny. Shallow? Sure. For sure. I'll own it.
And so I checked that I was aged 35-45. Only a lie by two years! What a stellar way to began my path to be closer to God and closer to others... first step is a deceit! Well, I have no good theology here. But, whatever...
This is not a post meant to make anyone feel good about themselves. I've done that and done it well. This is just one of those "real" sort of things that I write from time to time. I've always written raw and authentic.
So tonight the windows are open and the temperature is dropping. Taylor Swift's last two emo, self-flagellating, depressive, COVID-19 produced albums about sadness and trees or whatever is playing in the background because I secretly love them, and a storm is rolling across the horizon. The cool wind, flashes of light, and growling thunder are absolutely amazing.
Indiana is a beautiful state. This blog has absolutely no purpose. I just wanted to write.
Storms... I've observed them all around the globe. Freaking universal. The same smell before they arrive, the same feeling on my skin, the same familiar peace and awe. It doesn't matter if I'm trying to outrun them in a crappy sailboat in the Caribbean, huddled under a concrete shelter on top of a volcano, sitting under my childhood porch with my father, or racing along the Great Wall of China... it is the same damn storm that has followed me my entire life.
And I suppose there is somehow deep truth there. Deep truth that juxtaposes the taint of my church-given lie. This constant balance of the holy with the human. Life is this immense equilibrium that represents all that I am... light and dirt.
Light spoken by God-breath.
Dirt mixed with God-spit.
Yes, that defines me. Both the sinner and the saint. The stuff of God, light, breath, and spit.
I chose to lie to my local church today. It was a landmark moment.
Sunday, September 5, 2021
The sunlight at the pool today has a monochromatic lense. The color's too intense and technicolor for my hypoxic heart. The memories of our beginning boomerang around my delirious mind. You are my zaichek, my only sunshine, my Sasha. I remember the day your infant face turned and our eyes collided in that stark fluorescent Soviet block building. I knew in that moment that you were mine.
I remember the Russian official, at her heavy wooden desk with her formal uniform as she looked me sternly in the eye and asked me a series of questions: "Do you promise to love her? Do you promise to never abandon her? Do you promise to never abuse her? Do you understand that she now will always be yours"
And yes, she has always been mine. My Goldilocks, my ballerina, my one day cheerleader, my gymnast, my Brownie, My Sunday School volunteer, my running partner, swimming partner, popcorn sharer, Halloween dress-up partner, driving student, homework buddy, and travel buddy. We've been inseparable for nearly 18 years.
Only today do I understand why I have felt so devastated and wrecked. You are no longer mine. You are now your own. I mean, I guess really you always have been your own. But now I realize that you're no longer are the little bunny safe in my arms. You are beyond the institution, beyond your childhood, and beyond my myopic gaze.
This is obvious and somehow shocking to me…
It is natural really. You've always been the most intensive, independent, fierce soul that I've ever known. Haha, I remember when you were a toddler, trying to give you half a stick of chewing gum. Your immediate response was that little hand waiving in my face as you said, "No piece! No piece!" And there was no peace as long as you did not get fully included! Into everything!
Still, you were the same little girl who wanted to be constantly at my side. I remember making you go and play alone in your room for 20 minutes by yourself. You cried. And now it is me crying as you have found your own place in a room 45 minutes away.
I've never before in my life wanted to return to a moment... and yet I'd throw away everything I have to return to that moment when I first held you in my arms, just so I could relive it all again and this time savor it more.
Aleks, I began writing these words the evening after leaving you behind in the place where my family once left me behind. I understand now, so fully, their tears. I did not share their tears, I was off to the adventure of my life. Once day, you'll also get the other side of this perspective. And I'll be beside you sobbing with you as we together leave behind your child. The one who was always... yours.
I will confess that I had to stop writing, 10 days ago. My words kept descending into despair. I knew it was ridiculous. I knew you were exactly where you're meant to be, where you've always said you be, where I always hoped you be... and of course you're only a short drive away... but still, I felt so desperately alone. I'd tell myself that cognitively I knew I was being unreasonable... and then a coworker would ask me about you and I'd openly sob in front of any and every person who was present. I was useless for days.
They say that you can run out of tears. That is a lie.
But then you facetimed me one evening and I saw your face. I've never seen that smile before. I mean, I've seen a lot of different smiles on your face... but never one quite like that. You looked confident and satisfied and well, content. I'm not sure that I've ever seen you look content. And then my Grinch heart that was so shrunken down on its own selfish ego... began to grow.
I shared a taco meal with you last Friday at La Nueva Charreada, just East of your campus. I sat across from a beaming young lady. I saw your future sparkle in your eyes. I saw the thousands of children who you are going to help, the families that you will comfort, the shitty co-workers who you'll undoubtedly and justifiably knock on their ass... and I again found my smile.
And so here again I sit at the pool. The deep emerald water, surrounding green trees, and golden sunlight on my skin all prove to me that the color has returned to my world. Yes, it is time to let you go... and I'm working on that... it is gonna take some time.
But unlike a few days ago, I wouldn't go back... and I wouldn't change a thing. You've landed perfectly where you are created to be.
So you go girl, go! I love you and my promises remain. I'll always love you, never abandon you... and while you'll always be mine, I understand now that I never really held you. You are held in a higher purpose by the One who holds us both.
And it is as it should be, because your pursuit gets all of you... and to any who would try to limit you, just hold up that sweet, fierce hand, and proclaim, "No piece! No piece!"
Take it all.
To read the how Aleks came to once become mine, the story begins here: Aleksandra Elise: (1) We Knew You Before We Found You
Saturday, July 3, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Suddenly my son, Caleb and his friend Ethan burst out with uncontrollable laughter. It was exponential, like Mentos in a 2-liter of Coca-Cola (before they white-shamed). It was the kind of laughter that prohibited breathing and I found myself joining into the fray like a ten year old that didn't understand the joke! It was like a wave of pure hilarity, Cracker Barrell seemed to stop still in it's tracks as all the diners turned to focus in on our table.
Between gasps of air, I raised my eyebrows and gasped, "What?" This is the tale that began it all, as told by my son as he relived that winter, December night that he and two friends winter camped across the mountains of Colorado and further West to the Pacific coast.
"We had a large can of beans and a small can of beans. We made a fire and we heated and shared them. At some point while we slept, Jeb thought he had to poop. He must have weighed the decision heavily as the temperature outside of the tent was a mere 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Convinced that he was about to fill his sleeping bag, he made his way into the woods. He dropped his pants and committed to the pose that is necessary to drop mud in the woods.
To his shock, there was nothing for gravity to claim. There was only the singular tone that emanated from his backside, shattering the silence of the wilderness, breaking the very ice loose from the pine needles above, scaring squirrels and bears and even eagles back into their burrows and nests... the product of those cans of beans... a massive and prolonged fart.
The retelling of this story shook our table. The laughter stopped the inhalation of eggs, sausage, French toast, pancakes, biscuits, and fried chicken. The evening had hit it's pinnacle... all the social constraints had fallen.
After the laughter abated to snickering, we found again our breath and resumed our meal. Without warning a gentleman approached our table and stood looking directly at the three of us with a scrutinizing stare. His wife walked on towards the eit.
"I want to know what was so funny a few minutes ago," he stated. I looked at Caleb and said, "You might was well tell the man, it was pretty funny." And so Caleb relayed the story of the beans and the midnight fart that shattered the countryside. The man laughed and said, "Beans, yep, that'll do it."
He then engaged us in conversation. We learned that we were all from the same hometown. He was the contracted who had built a local church and Christian school that overlooked the city in which we used to live. He'd attended the same church camp in Oregonia, Ohio.
He asked us if we were Christians, and we replied, "Yes, we are." He then snatched up the check out of my hand and said, "I hope you'll allow me the pleasure of paying your bill." He said something I can't quite recall about how he was encouraged that we were followers of Christ."
I was dumbfounded. I muttered, "Yes, of course. Thank you so very much, you have no idea what a blessing that is to me."
He walked away and I didn't even get his name.
I turned back to the table to see Caleb and Ethan looking at me. I took a breath and made a determination.
"Ok guys, I need to confess something to you." They both looked at me as though I was about to confess that I was a serial killer. I had to chuckle. "Here's the deal guys... this week I mismanaged my money. I overspent my account I don't have the money to pay for his meal. I was going to cancel, but I didn't want to go back on my word and not come.
Last evening I found myself on my knees at the bedside, as has been my custom since childhood. I poured out my heart to God and heard myself say with exasperation, "God, you know I'm a moron and I don't have any money. If there is ANY way that you could pay for tomorrow's dinner, I'd sure appreciate it, Amen."
"Guys, God reminds me every now and then that He still sees me. He still knows me. He still has a plan for me. I suppose it probably has never really changed. He just keeps revealing it to me."
It's kind of funny how God works. You may choose to see Him in the story or not. I have no idea your concept of God. All I have to offer you is my own perception.
He is the God who used a fart to cause a laugh that sparked an interest that paid for a dinner. He is the God who reassures my heart that He still loves me.
I am sure that His hand is still upon me, I am thankful to feel His presence, when God breaks wind.