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All I Can Do

The last year and a half has been a tumultuous time for my family and I (to say the least). Soaring victory was followed by agonizing defeat. And to add insult to injury, my wife’s health took a turn.

Needless to say, we were left reeling, shaken, wondering which end is up…

“Finding my way back to sanity again”

Thankfully, Lisa’s health has turned around. Even so, after holding it together for so long, being strong, I had a breakdown of sorts a few weeks ago.

“I don’t really know what I’m gonna do when I get there”

Have you been there? So whipped, and wiped, you just didn’t care? It took me by surprise to find that, yes, I’m just a man afterall–incredibly weak, frail, and small.

“Gracefully fall back to the arms of grace”

Yet, even so, somehow God’s strength is perfected in my weakness. I don’t presume to understand it, but I will gladly fall upon it…

Time after time: until the faith shall be made sight, and all is set right.

It’s all I can do.

How about you?

Moving Through Molasses

Mornings are, for me, a slog through lethargy:

A hungover fog of lassitude converges on, and covers, me.

The night, supposed to wash fatigue away, brings me full circle, right where I was before:

Wanting more of that fleeting thing called “sleep.” Yet slowly I creep through the morning’s activities, all while shimmering light harasses

My sleep-starved eyes.

Mornings are, for me, like moving through molasses.

For Every Action… A Post About #BreakingBad

There’s an equal and opposite reaction. So science tells us. And science is at the heart of the pop cultural phenomenon that is Breaking Bad. On the surface, it’s a show about a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who does just that–he “breaks bad,” i. e., turns away from a life of honest, if not entirely fruitful, work to embrace a life of crime.

But because this man, this Walter White, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, his choices have consequences, his actions have repercussions. Just as equal and opposing reactions are at the heart of science, so too are they at the moral core of what is arguably one of the best acted dramas on television.

A man can’t make meth, or keep secrets, and not have it impact his family, those closest to him. There are always unintended consequences. The fact is, we–like this Mr. White–are finite creatures, limited in perspective, unable to consider every possible permutation of our own actions. The more we try to control the world, and the people around us, the more it slips through our fingers.

Oh, we may get away with it for a time, but the truth has a way of coming out. If there’s a lesson at the heart of Breaking Bad, its this: dog will have his day, but that long-earned reckoning is coming. Biblically speaking, we’re told that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” that “pride comes before a fall,” and that “the wages of sin is death.”

It is the love of money, fear for his family’s future, and pride that lead Walter White to a life of crime. And is greed that, every time life gives him an opportunity to get out, keeps him coming back. Who among hasn’t faced that temptation? We who are charged with providing for our families, when w survey our bills, look ahead to the future, and wonder what what we’ll have to show for it in the end?

Who hasn’t been there?

That is the genius of a show like Breaking Bad. Besides being, as the British say, “a corking good yarn,” it’s unflinching in its portrayal of a life lived on a man’s terms. How a life lived solely for the self will unravel the lives of those around us. Sin births all kinds of deaths: the death of relationships, loss of work, respect, and actual death itself…

Listen, there’s a lesson here about what a man allows to touch his family. In Walt’s case in particular, as he goes, so does his wife, Skyler. His sin begets hers. Sin begets sin, and eventually brings forth death. It’s axiomatic…

For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

And yet into this equation comes grace. Science doesn’t know what to do with it, can’t understand it. Because grace doesn’t obey the laws we understand; in fact, it often very much violates our sense of justice. Grace says that a man like Walter White is never beyond forgiveness, never beyond redemption. Grace says the Son of Sam can be saved, that Jeffrey Dahmer can find Christ…

So we keep watching to see if Walter White either receives his long-overdue comeuppance (will justice finally be served?), or will he find redemption? Will he find grace?

Because the truth is: Walter White is us. Oh, our sin may have nothing at all to do with the drug trade, but may in fact have everything to do with secrets, lies, greed, ambition, sacrificing relationships, etc. to get what we want. Point is: we are all sinners in need of grace.

What do you think?

Staggering Sameness

There’s a familiar quality
To all the world I see around me

I’ve been her before

It’s a staggering sameness, a routine:

Lather, rinse, repeat

I get up, I lay down, up, down, left, right, work, eat, sleep…

Ad infinitum

Isn’t there more?

What am I here for?

I am not better than this (this is life)

God help me survey all that I see
Through the lens of eternity

I give You the helm of quotidian realms… Help me see the holy in mundanity

Take my deja vus and make them new:

Elevate my reality.

I give my staggering sameness to You

Death, Life, Dreams, & Pressing On

It has been said that age is but a number. That we are only as old as we feel. “As a man thinketh,” etc.

There is a certain truth to this. And having a positive outlook certainly has benefits. In this sense, age is just a number.

But aging is cold, hard fact. I first became cognizant of this in my late twenties: a few of the whiskers in my beard took the inexorable spin on the color wheel to gray.

But I didn’t feel any older. (The gray has since spread like a disease, slowly making its way from the center of my chin up the sides of my face).

A little later, the early thirties, my metabolism showed signs of decline: I could no longer eat what I wanted without consequence.

And then one morning I awoke to find that, while they never had before, consuming too many sweets precipitated nausea. It was around this same time I discovered that any amusement park rides which involved spinning introduced a rather greenish cast in my otherwise lily white skin.

The late thirties brought with them: bladder problems, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism. All treatable, but all nevertheless leaving me (subjectively) feeling much older than I ever had.

The last several years have been a time of transition, evolution, and entropy:

I’m objectively, quantifibly becoming something: older.

My body is evolving (or devolving) as time goes on (evolution=change over time).

And I’m slowing down. Entropy–the second law of thermodynamics. “Things wear out, the center cannot hold…”

Just at the time when things are heating up professionally, and personally, my get up and go has got up and went. I have ideas, but no stamina to execute on them. Such cruel irony.

My son recently asked if I wanted to live forever. My reply? In this body? God, I hope not. I want an upgrade! I want one that doesn’t get weary, one that doesn’t have sleep apnea, one that doesn’t have upper eyelids that are puffy and drooping.

I want an upgrade.

Thankfully, one is coming. It’s only requirement is that I die. That’s the deal: birth requires some kind of death. Sperm cells and ovum, once united, are no longer what they were–have in fact died to their old natures to bring forth be life. So it is with the Christian: “though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day.”

So in the meantime, between now and when God calls me home, I will practice the only death afforded me:

Death to self. Pressing on in spite of life’s hardship and frailties. Trusting that what He says is true. And I’d like to think that, because I need it so much more, I understand grace just a little bit better. His grace suffices, and I fall upon it everyday. I fall, and He makes me to stand.

I can–because He did, and does.

I’m not too old, too busy, or too tired to dream. Sure, I’m older, and my body is (as is yours) marching towards decay, I’m not dead yet.

And neither are you.

Let’s choose to die daily to the desire to give up, to throw in the towel.

A story is written one word at a time–line upon line. Likewise, a painting is made one brush stroke at a time. Weight is lost one pound at a time, walking happens one step at a time…

Dreams are achieved when all the small steps we take are added together into a new whole. We can do hard things.

So take the next step, my friends. There is always grace sufficient for that. We can do it.

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