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So.

It’s been quiet around here.

Well, it’s been a year. Heck, it’s been a couple of years. Life has a way of taking the wind out of your sails when you’re not looking.

Lots of things have happened; I turned 50. I’m parent to both a legal adult and a teenager. One whom I’m obliged to interact with in strictly an advisory capacity. And the other of whom wishes that were so.

I’ll leave you to figure out which is which (though the teen is oftentimes the more mature of the two).

In all seriousness, it’s been a journey of endeavoring to find a path forwards when my waistline isn’t the only thing in my life to go all pear-shaped.

Things have happened. Heavy things. Things I’m not sure I’m even ready to process yet. I mean how can I when my health is not great, my wife’s health is even worse than mine, and work is demanding more and more everyday…

Infirmity has a way of contracting one’s world till it seems as small as Hamlet’s nutshell. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the bandwidth (or the energy) to even begin to muster any outrage over the political climate in the U.S. (for instance). Life is more an unremitting treadmill of exhaustion and obligation.

It’s not that it’s a bad life, per se; I live in the wealthiest county in the world. I have a good family, a nice house… It’s just the weariness. The bone weariness. Nobody told me that one of life’s cruel jokes is that it demands more and more while taking health, energy, vitality at an ever-increasing rate as the years roll by.

Life seemingly takes more and more without truly giving anything back. It’s oftentime dry as sawdust, tedious… Repetitious. And I can’t fall apart; I’m the (as the saying goes) sole breadwinner for my family. It’s on my shoulders. It’s not that fun robbing Peter to pay Paul, keeping the bills paid, keeping a roof over our heads when more and more seems to be going out the door every day. Again, I’m not so much complaining as stating a fact (I know I live the most prosperous nation in the world, that I live what many would term a comfortable, middle class life; I get it). I guess it’s just getting harder and harder to get by on one income these days. Listen; I want to hustle, to bring home more green. I just don’t know how with: sleep apnea, thyroid disease, and my wife’s health challenges that take so much time and energy to address. I’m doing good to get up and go to the job I have… Seriously, I don’t measure my coffee in cups anymore; it’s pints. It’s either amazing, or distressing, how much caffeine I can imbibe in a given day and still be absolutely dragging myself in the door when I get home…

One day bleeds into the next, into the next, into the next. It’s hard to muster the energy to be excited about much of anything when I’m wondering what I’ll need to do to get some sleep. How much Melatonin will work for me? How about Valerian Root? Chamomille tea? I’m bone weary just sitting here typing this out.

Have you been there?

How did you break out of your rut?

Have you ever felt like the walking dead?

My ecclesial history began with Protestantism; to wit, as a lad I having Jewish friends, Catholic friends, having Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on the door, asked my mom what religion are we?

Her reply? “We’re Protestants.” That apparently was to be the end of the matter, as no further explanation was forthcoming. I had no idea at all (at that age) what a Protestant was, or what were in fact protesting.

I guess we were protesting the whole thing, because the only church we ever darkened the doors of as a family was my grandma’s. And that only when we annually traveled to visit her. That, aside from maybe a VBS (“Vacation Bible School”) or two was the sum total of my church experience growing up.

Quite frankly what piqued my interest in church was the cute girl at the drugstore who invited me. We spent countless hours together talking about life, the universe, and everything. We visited:

Assemblies of God

Charismatic

Vineyard

& Nazarene

Churches

As I had no prior experience, or theological instruction, upon which to draw I had no preconceived notions about what church was. And darn if some of it didn’t stick! I prayed the sinner’s prayer, and promptly went to a party to get drunk.

I didn’t have a fat clue of what a Christian was, or how they comported themselves. I don’t know how much praying I did, but I did carry around a Bible given to me by my grandma; it was a large, white KJV (King James Version) affair. At the time, I didn’t know it was a family Bible, and was meant more for a coffee table than for constant, conspicuous carrying around.

As I awakened to the the message of the Gospel, it seemed the next step was to get baptized. I mean that’s what believers do, right? Get dunked/sprinkled/submersed/wet…

So I did on a warm September evening some four months after “accepting Christ.” I really didn’t grok at the time that it was some kind of big deal to be baptized, as my then-girlfriend’s family indicated that they wished they’d been there.

I didn’t know it was some kind of symbolic affair significant of anything other than basic obedience to one of Jesus’s commands. Afterwards, I didn’t feel anything other than wet.

Somehow, after being baptized at an Assemblies of God church, we ended up attending a Charismatic fellowship. It wasn’t until much later that I knew it was weird. And by weird I mean I had a fun experience being prayed over by a group white shirt wearing, yellow pit stained elders who wanted me to “recieve the initial evidence of the indwelling.”

Translation: they we’re praying for me to receive the gift of tongues, or in more formal parlance, glossolalia. They, being Charismatic, made it a doctrinal certainty that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; in other words, the practice tongues were to make me a living proof text of God’s work in my life…

The result? I mean I was willing, wanting whatever God has for me. So, sure. I was young, naive, and having no religious background thought why not?

When it didn’t happen, as these four grown men, sweaty-faced, their voices rising in ecstatic fervor, lapsing in and out of their Heavenly Languages, as they circled my seated form, finally (and flatly) stated: “Don’t worry, brother; it’ll happen. Just start muttering.”

Just. Start. Muttering.

I’m not sure that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote of the gift of tongues. Although I suppose I have been muttering to God ever since…

Through

Highs and lows

Successes and failures

Jobs lost and found

Health issues

Death, and new life.

And I’m thankful He’s never yet despised the bleating of this wayward sheep.

Community

randomlychad  —  February 21, 2019 — Leave a comment

Blogging is dead, right? Podcasts have supplanted the good, old-fashioned blog…

Yet I miss the community of bloggers I used know back in the day before watching and listening supplanted reading a well-crafted post. It was about the words, and those who cared about words, what they meant, how words could paint a picture in the minds of readers.

I missed crafting posts, telling tales, worth reading.

I miss the community that was coalescing here on my little corner of the web. The work was hard, and the words didn’t always come easy, but there was joy in sharing the journey together.

Let me know if you’re still here and still interested in joining me in sharing the vicissitudes of a life on the Way.

–Chad

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?

Paddington 2

randomlychad  —  January 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

Make your life a little bearish

Two years ago around this time, I gave the first Paddington two unreserved thumbs up. You may read that review here: Paddington Movie Review.

Time has moved as it it wont to do, and it’s time for another Paddington film. While I’ve not seen it yet, I’ve no doubt I shall; why? Chiefly for two reasons:

  1. I loved the first one.
  2. I have an 11 year old daughter who adores teddy bears.

So as you can see this is a no-brainer for me. And that it again features Peter Capaldi (my favorite Doctor) is just icing on the (bear-shaped) cake.

 

Synopsis: Following the worldwide hit “Paddington,” one of the most successful family films of all time, this much-anticipated sequel finds Paddington (Ben Whishaw) happily settled with the Brown family in London, where he has become a popular member of the local community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes.

While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday, Paddington sees a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it.  But when the book is stolen, it’s up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief.

Paddington 2 stars: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Sally Hawkins (Jayne Eyre), Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm), Julie Walters (Mamma Mia) and Ben Whishaw (The Hollow Crown) as the voice of Paddington.