Follow by Email

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm a human being...

For years you try to be unique...anything but universal. You look for a special role, search for an original contribution, seek to discover a concealed secret to life. You long to be anything but human...subhuman or superhuman, but just plain old human? To join 6.8 billion others in a universal commonality. To adhere to a standard procedure, to respond like everyone else desiring the same things and chasing the same dreams? Are you kidding me? What's the draw to something like that?

But I don't think it's so bad to relax into the God-idea of the human being...being human. Pursuing originality and novelty starts to get exhausting. Our search for significance will ultimately lead us to the same end...that God has created us with individuality and commonality. Unique, yet universal. Special, yet ordinary. As I give myself permission to be human, I'm realizing that everything I'm pursuing starts to pursue me. Influence just happens. Creativity emerges.

I'm coming to understand that the greatest gift I can give to humanity is my "humanness". I become one with those I live with, and this world becomes the natural habitat that God created it to be. Fallen though I am, I am a human being...and the quicker I live as such, the sooner I will realize/actualize my deep and distracting dreams.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cosmetic Conversation...

confrontation...

It's disturbing to my soul when I am placed in a conversation where I have no biblical choice but to be disagreeable and as such, the bane of someone's undisturbed existence. I'm such an amiable guy, such a genteel gentleman on most days. The better part of my life isn't intrusive and overbearing, I roll with the punches and allow my conversations and encounters to flow as naturally as they'd like. I try not to impose my agenda on a dialogue, I seek to understand instead of being understood, and I don't speak into something underground unless I'm invited to share in most cases.

But occassionally (and more frequently as of late for some reason) I'm thrown into situations with people where I feel moved by God to declare truth against the better judgement of my flesh. I sense God saying, "Are you going to tell them the truth or flatter them with silence?" I (the carnal me) would rather shut my mouth and let them carry on in the vicious cycle of self-deception that leads to self-destruction. But the voice of the living God pesters me with such annoying importunity, that I have more trouble living with God's conviction than the pending confrontation. Do I want my heart to be sick because I've loved God more than people, or people more than God? And if I really loved people wouldn't it smack of "grace and truth", instead of just grace? The truth hurts...yes...but the truth sets free. And I'm not sure you get freed until or unless you get hurt first...because that's what truth does.

Maybe if more friends were real friends, I wouldn't feel like I'm so alone in my confrontational care of people's souls. "A real friend stabs you in the front." Friends who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to someone's destructive behaviors aren't friends, they are quite possibly the worst of villans cloaked in sheep's clothing. The most dangerous enemy is the false friend. And though a friend won't continually point out falters and failures, they won't ignore habitual areas of glaring brokeness for the sake of social affability either.

Yet so many help people construct the gallows on which they will eventually hang themselves by simply ingoring the "purple elephant" that is in the room, in the conversation. Maybe they say things like, "Someone more qualified than I needs to address that." or "It's none of my business." or "I've got my own issues...far be it from me to be the one to point that out." But I'm not sure you can have diplomatic discipleship. There are times when subtle peace-keeping only serves to further damn the other person. All of this needs to be done in love and be motivated by endearing, enduring care for the other person's well being, of course. I'm not promoting an unfeeling approach to herding people like sheepdogs constantly nipping at their heels. That's dumb. The danger with a post like this is the demographic of people looking for a green light to go off on people. That couldn't be any further away from what I'm talking about.

I love people so much. And the thing that I hate about that love is that it forces me to speak truth that hurts before it frees. As such, that love feels like hate and then I'm confused and wonder if it would just be easier to just "hate" people in a way that makes you avoid truth and simply "share the love, man". If I don't rise up and hate the part of people that prevents them from being who they really want to be, I don't really love them. If I allow cowardice to govern my encounters with people...I will be everybody's nobody. I will be liked by more people and will, in the end, affect precious little actual soul-change. There will be a changing of the furniture, maybe a change of the scenery...but no change of the heart. And I can be that kind of coward on days when I just don't have it in me to say what needs to be said. I can retreat when I should run toward the roar. I can shrivel and buckle under the pressure to be liked with the best of 'em. I can, often I do, but sometimes I just can't. I just can't watch someone commit social, relational, emotional, or spiritual suidice without intentional intervention. I feel like it borders on inhumane if I watch this self-massacre without moving a muscle. Who wouldn't rush to someone's side if they threatened physical suicide? But when people are killing themselves in other arena's, we stand back with a mix pity and piety. It's mean. It's not nice to do that to someone. Flattering them with silence is just downright wrong.

But I'm tired from having to do this lately. I haven't gotten great results, responses. It hasn't born the most tasty fruit. I've left meetings with a knot in my gut. I've had people walk out of counseling sessions. I've had people shut down and then tell me they've got "alot to do" and they better "get going". It's funny how busy people become when you move beyond the fat down to the vitals. But cosmetics do nothing to remedy cancer. Cosmetic conversations are so much easier than Cancer conversations.

That's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

communal laughter...

Last night, the band I play with got together over at our house for some steak, potatoes, chicken, chips, dessert, and did I mention steak? I grilled twelve New York Strips, many of which caught on fire because my grill rots. It was fun to hang together. We ate like kings and queens while watching Brian Regan comedy. We laughed so hard our guts hurt....the same guts that we were filling with dense slabs of beef. The good thing is that the laughter caused regurgitation, so you had the pleasure of tasting the same bite several times. As you can imagine, this brings exponential enjoyment.

I started a raging bonfire and we sat around the fire while Ryder played favorites from the 70's, 80's and today. He even threw in some Bach for good measure. He's like a living Jukebox. We laughed, told stories, ate marshmellows, played glow-in-the-dark frisbee, talking about hunting, made up songs and jokes on the spot, got to know each other better and enjoyed an overall sweet experience.

One thing that I was thinking about is the power community has to unleash laughter. Laughter doesn't even make sense if you're alone. The one thing isolation cannot provide is robust laughter. In fact, if something makes you laugh hard when you're alone, it isn't long before you look around and feel somewhat strange that there is no one to share it with. Laughter is only fulfilling when it's shared. When something is funny, the first instinct is to look around and catch another eye who is on the same page. I love seeing people smile, but I absolutely live for seeing people laugh. As we watched the Brian Regan episode, I imagined life without laughter. I imagined a lonely, isolated life carrying on without shared joy. As we were watching this stand up comedian, I realized that 90 percent of my laughter was prompted by the laughter of others. If I was sitting there all alone, I would have sat there for 90 percent of that segment taking it in stride without so much as cracking a smile. But when one laughs, the domino effect evokes another to snicker, which stimulates another to crack a grin, which awakens the one next to him to soften and relax. Before long, 13 people become ONE. We are watching each other as much as we're watching the court jester. We find each other just as funny as the professional. Alone, we wouldn't find nearly as much to get excited about.

It happens with movies, too. You remember a movie to be good, but when watched alone, you wonder what you found redemptive about it in the first place. People make stuff better. They just do. They make normal everyday life shimmer and sparkle. They give spirit to substance. They give meaning to matter. They make a job a joy. Laughter has no utilitarian value, you don't need it to survive...an yet, you need it to be alive. Alival is so much different than survival.

It is not good for a man to be alone. It just isn't. On the surface, distancing yourself from people seems to solve alot of problems. Life gets simpler. And, oh, how I long for what is simple these days. But simple as a mission leads to simpleton as a person. And I'm not sure I feel that being a simpleton was God's dream for a human life. It is not good for a person to live in isolation...that's what God said in the beginning, even before sin had a say in the matter. It's funny, cause it's a humble thing for God to admit. He was essentially admitting his own insufficiency to meet every need of the human heart. He created humans with needs that he couldn't even fulfill. How cool is it that we have a God that did something as humble as that? He created us with an innate need for other humans. Life just ain't good when you're not sharing it with another. It may be a bit complex for a simpleton to navigate, but we weren't created complex for nothin'. We have complexions, and complexities, and complexes for a reason...we're complex creatures.

And the only thing that makes sense of complexity is community. When you try to figure out the complexity of life and yourself apart from community, you either implode or explode. People help you deal with the weight of glory...only in community does something as complex as the human being become appropriately simple again. Life gets boiled down. Why?...cause love covers over a multitude of sins. And it is only in the presence of love that compexity and simplicity aren't seen as mutually exclusive. In matter of moments, gravity meets levity. Heaviness meets heartiness. Laughter becomes the language. 'Cause laughter was meant for us. Not for you. Not for me. It's an "us" thing.

And I love that there are some things in life that can't be had until they're shared.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The undesirable life...

Joshua 24:15
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

I'm 33 years old. There are days when I feel like I'm just starting to understand what it is to be a man. For many years, I've allowed my life to be governed by doing what feels right. This, I'm learning, is quite different from doing what is right. Infatuation and adrenaline and optimism have taken me as far as they can. They are not very durable vehicles of truth. They break down easily and leave you stranded roadside. They carry you through initial seasons of life in your twenties. But infatuation can only carry a marriage for so long. Adrenaline can only transport you around in a job for so long. Optimism is impotent to weather the unfortunate realities of living in a ransacked world. Convenience won't cut it. Emotions, for what they are worth, struggle to anchor/center you to make it to the end of life as a survivor, let alone a victor. Too many years of my life have been spent serving the taskmaster of "going with my gut". Being that I'm gutted almost everyday by something I witness or someone I encounter, my guts aren't what they used to be...they are insufficient to buoy me in storms of life. Guttin' it ain't cuttin' it like it did in my twenties. I don't know how to convey these thoughts with any more pathos than that.

This verse...this Joshua verse...really means something to me now. The funny thing about truth is that it will wait around for you as long as it takes for you acknowledge it as such. It doesn't force itself upon you. Truth doesn't have to jockey for position or legitimacy. It knows what it is. It's secure about its timeless value and changeless nature. Truth is relaxed. It flexes without changing and manuevers without moving. I love that.

This particular verse has waited around a while for me to revisit it and revalue it. And I do. "If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you..." Man, I love that. This is what happens in your thirties (allow me to make a blanket statement for the purpose of a point)...things that used to be desirable and loaded with feeling and passion and youthful optimism and emotions and gut-level living...don't float so easily upon these choppy waters. You feel your boat leaking and your heart sinking in that sea. Philisophical, Theoretical, Hypothetical...these things start to fade and REALISTIC starts to force itself upon you, like it or not. The alledged life is now being called into question and the apparent life is asking you to give an account. What is desirable is fine and good, but what happens when they start to disagree with what is right? Hugh? What do you do when you don't feel it like you used to? What do you do when you're not "in love" with her or him or it and them or there or that? What do you do when you're not in the mood, when you've lost that "loving feeling"? That's what Joshua is interacting with here in his faith community. What if living for God, and the cultural norms He's inviting us to comply with, starts to become undesirable to you...what do you do then?

He talks about freeing ourselves from the things our forefathers did, believed, felt and knew to be the "code of ethics", the "modes of operation"...he talks about seperating from the things that are held in high regard in the "land in which you're living" that pressure you to conform and comply. And man do we have "role models" from our forefathers and from our current culture that are leading us down cul-de-sacs of futility as it relates to "doing life".

"But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." When feelings fade. When the rush is flushed. When the pep has lost its step. When the joy becomes coy. Joshua says this is what will happen. Not I might, not I should, not I'll try. I Will.

And it's a me thing. It's not a you thing. It's not comparing myself to what someone else is doing and measuring myself against the life of another. It's hearing God tell me what me is the best me. It's God directing me to make decisions regarding my household, my kids, my values, my boundaries, my discipline, my living room. It does little good to use other households as a benchmark to determine familial success. I will always and easily find the bottom feeders and gauge my personal take on normal using abnormal data to bring gladdening, yet deceptive relief.

Going after God has to be measured with "You and Your family" doing what's right regardless of the patterns of forefathers or the trends of "nowfathers". God will father us past the desireables to the Truth. When desire diminishes, I must set my sails to catch the wind of truth...truth that stands apart from will power and instinct and sensitivity and fads...truth that is relaxed and, as such, relaxing.

I want my house to serve God. With and without desire. With and without applause. With and without popularity. With and without government. With and without national support. With and without the amenities of America. With and without the church. With and without friendship. With and without our version of Christianity. With and without anything that you could think of. I'm not saying with "or" without. I'm saying with and without. I just don't want my commitment to lead my family to be dependent on that which is fallible, undependable. I want my commitment to be tethered to truth...to Truth Himself. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. And the older I get, the more that means to me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Parenting...

I spent some time outside in the dark tonight. It was drizzling. The cool temperatures of fall chilled to the bone as I looked up to the heavens and let them spit on me. I prayed for the women’s retreat and asked God to help my wife lead with freedom and peace and refreshment. I so desire for her to come back with stories of joy and friendship. The women of our church need this badly. I hope God is blessing them even now.

I went to Daddy Day Camp with the girls tonight…we were one of three families in the theater. We consumed a 16 dollar bag of popcorn and shared a 42 dollar cup of Coke and devoured a 12 dollar box of Jelly beans. The venue was gracious enough to give us free refills on the popcorn and pop. I can’t believe they can sleep at night gouging us so. But it was worth it to sit with my daughters pilled on top of me…we laughed and snuggled…that’s priceless.

I took them out to T.G.I. Fridays after the movie and we talked about boys, modesty, television, school, attitude, priorities, wealth, thankfulness, bragging, family, stories, vacation, soccer, friends, language, beauty, embarrassment, bullies, restaurants, movies, fall, tests, reading, memories, mommy, food, disco balls, distractions, American Girl dolls, shoes, Jimifin, church, giving, prayer, hairdos, laughter, coveting, divorce, honey mustard, etch-a-sketch, coloring, pride, listening, Dora, Spanish, Foster care, adoption, needy kids, femininity, pastors, vehicles, shopping, gratitude, simplicity and a host of other random subjects. I love hearing them interact about life and teaching them how to view those things that we come into contact with.

Kami was telling me about a girl at school the brags about how rich her family is and how she wants everyone to call her “the girl’s name” the Great. We laughed as she described how this girl tells fibs and tries to get attention by fabricating far out stories. This girl also said that she is friends with famous rock stars. So funny.

I guess we all have trouble growing out of tall tales that make us look a certain way. We get better at masking these chimeras as time goes on, but we all love the limelight. Sometimes I can’t get over how much people love to talk about themselves. There are times when I feel that I could leave my body, go elsewhere for a couple hours, and then reenter my body without the other person knowing I left. They just need a manikin who will sit there and act as a human leach field for their opinions, ideas and feelings. After they are done using you, they simply say something like, “Well, it was good talking to you. I hope we can do it again sometime.” I guess that’s the difference between talking to someone and talking with someone.

As my daughters grow, I feel like we’re bartering a little. I am helping them to discover and learn and live, and in return they are helping me to uncover, unlearn, and relive. I feel like I’m getting more than I’m giving…I sometimes don’t feel I could ever repay them for what they are pouring into my life. Parenting = watching your children teach you how to live while making them think it’s the other way around.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Theology for an 8 year old...

Kami has been memorizing a verse this week. I Cor. 10:31, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." We went out for coffee before school together and we were talking about glorifying God with our lives. I asked her what she things it means to glorify God and she said, "To make God happy." For 8 years old, I call that spot on. I told her that Satan gets ticked off when God is made happy through our lives to which she responded, "Dad, is Satan really real? Sometimes with Satan and God I wonder whether they are real." I racked my brain to come of with words to explain the reality of the invisible...hmmm.

We talked a little bit about Satan and God and how they used to be really, really good friends...like best friends. We talked about how Satan started to get jealous of God and wanted to be like Him. That jealousy started to make him so mad that he gathered together an army of angels that wanted to take God down. But there was one problem...God doesn't get taken down. Kami looked at me and said, "What were they thinking? Nobody can beat God!" I explained how they were cast out of Heaven and now they are trying to hurt God's heart by hurting those closest to God...humans. He likes to destroy humans by filling their life with selfishness, hatred, pain and bitterness. She didn't know what all this fully meant, but she was trying to track with me as best she could. All she knew is she wanted to make God happy.

We had to get going because school was starting in like 7 minutes, so we quick packed up and got in the truck to head to school. I started the truck and backed out of the driveway. Out of nowhere, Kami said, "So dad, what were we talking about in the coffee shop again?" I about fell out of my seat. She wanted to keep the conversation going about Satan and God and the invisible worlds of the great kingdom. So we kept talking about how to tick Satan off at school that day by reaching out to the left out, sharing with those who don't share back, and loving her classmates more than she loves herself. She nodded her head, gave me a crooked kiss, threw her backpack over her shoulder and ran toward the glass doors that lead into the halls of humanity that require her heart's engagement. Even at age 8.

Theology for an 8 year old can be some of the most difficult to explain, but it's the most beautiful to consider. I sometimes wonder if our lofty explanations really do anything but bore people to death anyhow.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Raking Hay...

I was on my way back to work after a relaxing lunch break. As I made a left turn on Vergennes and headed towards Lowell, I glanced off to my left and a buddy of mine was raking hay in a large 80 acre field. The sun was beating down and the countryside was a vibrant green. The long rows of freshly cut hay were laying uniform on top of the hilly landscape. It was picturesque and I felt drawn to stop and climb on the fender of his large John Deere for a few passes around the idyllic field. I yanked the steering wheel to the right and put the truck in park on the shoulder of the road. I scooted across the highway and ran to catch up to the tractor moving along at 1500 rpm’s, the equivalent of roughly 18 mph. I whistled at my friend and caught his attention. He smirked as he pressed his left foot down on the clutch and pulled down the throttle. I bounced up on the fender and we were off.

We talked about how peaceful it is to rake as opposed to cut because of the lesser of two noise levels. He shared some of the things he was thinking about that ranged from relational to spiritual as we journeyed around the edge of this massive meadow. I love grassland as much woodland. Especially if the terrain is contoured with large mounds of grassy knolls casting agrarian shadows long and thick at the dusk of evening.

He then stopped the green beast and told me to mount the master seat. He gave me a couple pointers like where to line up the tires so that the rake caught the lion share of the hay, where to set the rpm’s to ensure the power take off was spinning fast enough match the speed of the tractor, and how far to overcompensate for the corners so as to no shortcut the rows. I took the wheel for a couple laps loving every minute of being a makeshift farmer. All in all, it was about a 15 minute escape from the trivialities of the 21st century. It was a beautiful transport back into simplicity and serenity. I felt somehow beamed back to the early 20th century where families farmed 80 pieces of property and quite literally lived off the land.

The smell of fresh cut hay mixed with diesel and sweat…the sight of fluffed hay laying in well manicured strips across the rolling hills tucked every so delicately next to dark wooded plots of land…the sound of a diesel engine blending together in harmony with metal on metal noises…these are the sights, sounds and smells of heaven to me.

I dismounted the four-wheel drive monster and ran to see if my truck was stolen, impounded, or ticketed by a local sheriff. Thankfully, it was sitting where I left it safe and sound. Something about the nature of those 20 minutes changed my spirit. I sometimes feel I’ve fallen into the wrong era. My place is far more simple and remote than this epoch allows for. Thankfully, I have a couple places I can go to nurse the lost longings of my generation. The farm is one of those centering places of retreat.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mother Teresa...

I was reading Time magazine today and they have a great article on "The Saint of the Gutters"...Mother Teresa. It accents the dark side of her life...the thoughts, the doubts, the faithlessness, the lonliness, the emptiness. In a warped sort of way, it's encouraging. I find myself feeling these pangs myself even in the midst of what should, humanly speaking, satisfy.

Listen to her deepest, darkest musings..
"Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of Your love--and now become as the most hated one--the one--You have thrown away as unwanted--unloved. I call, I cling, I want--and there is no One to answer--no One on Whom I can cling--no--No One.--Alone...Where is my Faith--even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness--My God--how painful is this unknown pain--I have no Faith--I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart--and make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncovewr them--because of the blasphemy--If there be God--please forgive me--When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven--there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.--I am told God loves me--and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart? - addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated.

Unanswered questions are frustrating, indeed. But as a child of religious stock, I find myself more frustrated with Unquestioned answers. All these truths that have remained uninvestigated and untested by Time, Tradition, and Truth...not to mention the natural, sensical, and universal means of determining the merit and veracity of a proposition. We have followed for many years the mere inventions of man, we call them interpretations, but they more closely resemble inventions, fabrications of well-meaning humans genuinely seeking, in some senses, to master God. The mastery of God, Theology, has long been deemed untouchable, a truth not to meddled with by the likes of children, peasants, and unlearned fools. As such, we accept things at face value thinking to ourselves, "Men and women smarter than I have already explored the deepest recesses of God and have made judgements and value judgements that are as inspired as the original autographs themselves. I must bow to their translation and capitulate." And we do, I do.

Though the writings and understanding of Calvin, Wycliffe, Luther, Wesley, Tozer, Edwards, and Whitefield should inspire and inform our perspective on Truth-Himself and truth-commentary, we cannot underestimate the need to call into question, every now and again, the claims of any faith. If a faith can't stand the pressure of introspection and investigation, it is not worthy of allegiance. Have we not witnessed gross disfigurments of God's face in generations past that required contrite apology and humble admittance of failure to question hard, fast assertions made by culturely blinded saints? Atrocity upon atrocity has been committed in the name of God...and so many hallowed saints of the past have since been exposed to be the humans that they were, and in many senses, never were trying to hide that they were all along. It is only in our desire to embalm and enshrine these humble souls that we have in fact contributed to the great deception of Christianity. As unintentional as the deception may or may not be I cannot say, all I know is that we must acknowledge the cover-up of our humiliations, our dark doubts, our own abyss of emptiness, our own depressive musings, our own faithless fleeces, our own double-minded instabilities, our own perplexing perspecitives, our own hidden hollowness of heart...when we downplay these realities and accent the perma-grin...we, in my opinion, do a great disservice to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

I was reading Thomas 'a Kempis today and the intro caused me to hault with violent force. Here is the paragraph that caused such a drastic reaction...

"At the age of 20, after deciding to dedicate his life to serving God, Thomas entered a monastery at Zwolle in the Netherlands. As a monk, he led a serene and uneventful life until 1471 when he died at the age of ninety-one. Some described Thomas a' Kempis as a shy, genial man who liked 'books and quiet corners all his days.'"

Don't get me wrong, I love his book, Of the Imitation of Christ, but I have be bothered by this description of a man who is taking it upon himself to writing about how to live a life patterned after our Lord. For some reason living "a serene, uneventful life as a shy, genial man reading books in quiet corners" doesn't seem to be a great imitation of Christ. In fact, I would propose that Jesus lived his life just the opposite. It wasn't shy, it was bold. It wasn't serene, it was dicey. It wasn't uneventful, it was as John said so eventful that the world itself could not contain the books that could be written about Him. It wasn't spent just reading books, it was living life among the people in the culture. And it certainly wasn't characterized with isolation in some quaint corner, it was broken and poured out in the streets of society. Though the monastic lifestyle has its draws to me, and though there are many things I try to emulate in the desert fathers and their contemplative way of life, I just don't understand how you could read the Scriptures and assume this sort of existance based on the raw footage therein.

But this is why it is important to always be injesting the meat and spitting out the bones. My life included. I only have to look back over the last 11 years of my ministry and I'm already saddened by the stupidity of certain seasons of my life and the things I was teaching. I am flawed utterly and completely. Apart from God's grace, my ministry is a fine collection of dumpster diving and trash collecting. It is only God who redeems the empty can that I am. How could I do anything but lay out the truth humbly?

Unquestioned answers are in many ways more dangerous than unanswered questions. I hope that I will always give myself to the zealous pursuit of straining easy answers through humble inquiry. The preservation of truth seems to hinge on it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

school is in session...

My darlings are heading into day two of the school year. It's the first week, so homework is minimal and recess is "maximal". If school was like this year round, our children would be accomplished monkey bar gymnists and completely and utterly braindead. But as it stands, the teachers are effectively inacting the "bait and switch" technique that most kids aren't old enough to discern. I, for one, think it's a brilliant stategy. You might as well lure them in with fun while you can and then sucker punch them in week two with algebra and chemistry and circular reasoning. Horray for "bait and switch"...next week it will be "swait and..." well, you get my point.

Last night was a long night. Each of the girls came into our room and woke their mother complaining of scary dreams, insatiable thirst, and an inordinate fear that the stock market would crash in the near future. (let's just say that sometimes their excuses are less that legitimate). After Heidi could take no more, she turned to me and said, "Could you help me here? I'm getting no sleep." I leaned over and asked Taylor if she wanted her daddy to lay with her on the floor next to the bed. I was hoping she would say something like, "Oh daddy, that won't be necessary. I'm overcoming my fears just fine on my own." But alas, she nodded her head and I knew that I was in for a long night from that moment on. We set up a makeshift bed on the floor and I laid next to her and rubbed her head and her back. Her eyes were open and when I would look at her, she would smile almost as if to say, "This is what I was hoping for all along." For some reason her sinister smile didn't enrage me. I felt like we were having a special moment together. When I would stop rubbing her back or head, she would open her eyes as if to say, "do you realize that you just stopped ministering to my every need?" I would motivate myself to move my arm once again and tenderly scratch her back and brush my fingertips along her forehead and through her thin, silky hair. She would smirk and lay still so long as I waited on her like a bondslave.

My back is soar and twisted in knots this morning. My eyelids hang heavy over my bloodshot eyes. My mind is less than sharp and the clarity of my responsibilities for the day don't seem to be spurring me on much.

The girls are at school. I'm at the coffee shop. Heidi is at the YMCA. And God is giggling.