Taking the challenge out of life also largely takes the fun out of it as well. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m most thankful for an indoor job, and the ability to provide for my family it affords me. I’m saying that if we aren’t on guard against it that it’s altogether too easy to wake up one day as Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations), wondering why life seems to be something that happens to someone else (just not, you know, us).

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Creed II is coming this fall; as with all Rocky stories, it’s about overcoming obstacles, going the distance. Fundamentally, that is the element of story itself: a character who wants something, endures hardships, and overcomes obstacles to achieve that thing. The fact of the matter is that life is story. We are all of us living a story–living stories. Where we get tripped up is that we often delude ourselves into the belief that life is a movie about moi.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t want to speak for you, but in my life those times when I think I’m entitled to this, that, or the other thing–that life owes me–are generally the darkest, bleakest days. Not to say that there’s not such a thing a healthy belief in one’s self, one’s abilities, but rather that this requires an honest, humble assessment.

And it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I, we, need others around to: encourage, rebuke, guide, cheer. Often we have to get out our own way to hear just what others have to say. I mean it’s true in life, and it’s true in the Rocky films. Rocky wouldn’t be the Rocky we’ve all come to know and love without: Mickey, Apollo, Adrian, Paulie, and now Creed. And Creed wouldn’t be who he is without Rocky by his side.

That’s really the crux of it: we, like Rocky, have to be willing to put in the hard work, believe we can even when it feels like we can’t, listen to the wisdom of others, get out of our own way, then invest in others, and pass the hard won lessons on.

Not to put too personal a spin on it, but my wife and I are in a season now where we are facing difficult health challenges, are in a season of transition as our oldest child is preparing to leave home, and our younger one approaches the teen years. All in the midst of financial concerns, helping our aging parents, looking towards our own retirement years (not really all that far off). And honestly some days it doesn’t feel as if we’re overcoming at all.

It’s rough. But it’s life. And if there’s one things that’s true it’s that if there’s any blessing to pain, any comfort in it, it’s that it means we’re still alive and kicking. Still in the arena. To feel pain one has to be alive. Let’s be honest: the dead don’t feel it. And truthfully, more than the good times–the easy times–it’s the hard times that shape us. If my faith in God has taught me anything it’s that. In a sense, Rocky (and Creed after him) is like Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endure the cross (the training, the blows, the scorn), despising the shame.”

So, yes, the hard times shape us–If we allow them to.

I’m still walking through it. My wife is walking through it. And chances are so are you.

How do you go the distance in your life?

For those that pray, please pray for my wife, Lisa; her body reacted so strongly to a recent allergy test that it had to be stopped because the risk of inducing anaphylaxis was too strong.

Not living in her skin, I can only imagine how she feels, how hard this is on her. To me, it feels like the world, and her body, are trying to kill her.

I feel so sad and overwhelmed.

I mean I know God is good… It’s just when is something going to go her way in life? When are things going to break good, and not bad?

There’s a whole other host of health issues she’s been dealing with that I’m not going to get into…

I guess we just want some mercy and grace.

–Chad

Life and Loss

randomlychad  —  March 23, 2018 — Leave a comment

It has been a tumultuous couple of years. I suppose, as much at is rather not admit it, I’m aging. Which means people close to me are aging as well.

It means change.

Learning to adapt to changing bodies, energy levels, interests…

Loss.

It’s axiomatic. The older get, the more people we lose. Like in this last year, we lost my wife’s beloved grandma, a close family friend…

Grief has become a constant companion. If not so much overtly anymore, it’s still there just beneath the surface. And it doesn’t have a timetable. It just is. Time itself heals nothing, and closure seems to be just an abstract concept, an illusion. I don’t think we’re ever really over the loss of those close to us.

There’ll be a memory, a familiar place, a previously shared experience which brings those piercing pangs of grief right back…

Life is hard. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. More is required of me, expected of me, as I’m closing in on 50 than ever before. The only answer I know is Jesus. And that his grace is for the cracks.

And the crackpots like me.

–Chad

The latest adaptation of L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time releases this Friday in the states. Thing is, I’ve never read it. In fact, thinking back on my childhood, I can’t remember reading a single children’s book. Not one.

I’m hard pressed to think of an example. The fact that I’m slinging words across this screen now certainly implies that, at some point along the way, I did learn to read. At least I’d like to think so. It’s probably up for debate.

The earliest memory I have of reading something I wanted desperately to read was Stephen King’s The Shining.

I was eleven.

I suppose that explains quite a lot (you over there in the peanut gallery? Yeah, you! Shut up).

I read a lot of King over the ensuing years. No one quite has the mastery of character, setting, local color that he does… In any case this is supposed to be about children’s books, right? Right. And other than The Hobbit I didn’t read really read any books explicitly for children until I was well into adulthood.

I devoured, and loved, Lewis’s Narnia books, the Harry Potter books (but those certainly grew increasingly adult in tone as the characters matured), and not much else. I believe I may have read some of the Lemony Snicket books, but lost interest after the third, or so.

I think I tried reading Winnie The Pooh to my daughter when she was younger, but she lost interest.

So not a lot of children’s books have been read, okay? More’s the pity.

Then I read Shawn Smucker’s The Day the Angels Fell. It was a children’s book about a very deep subject: death. And how sometimes death could be a good thing. But more than that the book contains a rollicking good yarn about a quest for the tree of life. Why am I telling you this? It’s simply this: it’s great that L’Engle’s book is getting another adaptation, but more than anything I wish I could see Smucker’s book up there on the big screen.

I would be the first in line.

What children’s book would you like to see made into a movie?

A Wrinkle in Time releases this Friday, March 8th.

Synopsis:  From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic that takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light, good versus evil and, ultimately, the triumph of love.  The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and Storm Reid as “Meg Murry.” A Wrinkle In Time is in theaters March 9, 2018

Watch the trailer here: A Wrinkle in Time trailer