Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bitter End

Well, my good friend Tony Cloyd sold his house. He and his wife Julie and their kids Cameron, Chelsea, and Madison are moving to the land of The Jayhawks, Paul Westerberg, Bob Dylan, Prince, and Walter Mondale. Oh, yea, and Spam.

I've known the Cloyds for ten years and it would be impossible to put into words what their friendship means to me. It would be close to impossible to list everything we've done together during this decade-long friendship.

This talk of moving to Minnesota has been ongoing. So much so that, to be honest, I didn't think it would ever happen. It was more like a running gag and not something I thought I would have to face. Maybe I seem childish here, but it's starting to hit me now and I feel like some grade school kid who's forced to move because dad got a new job. You know, the kid who says he's mad at his parents because they're moving, but really "mad" is just easier to show than "sad."

So, no I'm not mad. I'm actually happy for my friends because their dreams are coming true. Tony got a great new job and they've got a new house being built. It's the stuff I've been praying about with them. But, now like the person who prayed for patience and then had to face the growth opportunities in order to have the prayer granted, I'm sitting here, mouth open, and dazed. The truth is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to release people. When it's because of a "blessing" people often describe it as "bitter sweet," but the "sweet" is only for the people that are leaving, not the people releasing. With that in mind, I've been listening to the new Dixie Chicks album and this one song has really been hitting me and, frankly, making it more difficult to think about the Cloyds leaving.

Fittingly, this song called "Bitter End" was co-written with The Jayhakws lead singer, Gary Louris, who is, of course, from Minnesota. Here's a taste of the lyrics and I dedicate them to Tony, Julie, Cameron, Chelsea, and Madison.

"Farewell to old friends - Let's raise a glass to the bitter end - Farewell to old friends - Will you be the same when we see you again - Remember the days - When we'd laugh as you played - Who would have known - The water would come and just take you away"

So in just under three weeks I will be saying farewell to old friends. Cloyds, I'm going to miss you and, at times it's going to feel like I've had an arm hacked off. But, like the Black Knight, I'll be smiling and saying, "It's only a flesh wound." Seriously, even as I write this, I know that it's not really goodbye and my "sweet" part will come when our families are reunited and I'm laughing with you under your new roof. Thanks for being such an indispensable part of my life.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Farther On

I love music. I really love music. There's so much of it. Yet, when I sift through all of it, if I had to narrow it down to the one song that resonates most for me it's Jackson Browne's "Farther On" off LATE FOR THE SKY (Elektra, 1974). I've often told people that, of all the songs in the world, the one song I wish I wrote is the title track that opens the album. That's still true, but it has always been "Farther On" that makes me think, "That's me." Here are some of the lyrics:

"In my early years I hid my tears
And passed my days alone
Adrift on an ocean of loneliness
My dreams like nets were thrown
To catch the love that I'd heard of
In books and films and songs
Now there's a world of illusion and fantasy
In the place where the real world belongs
Still I look for the beauty in songs
To fill my head and lead me on . . . . "

One of the times I met Jackson Browne, as he was autographing the cover to LATE FOR THE SKY, I told him, "This album got me though adolescence." The way it acomplished that was just giving me this sense, as I lay there in my room with the headphones on, that I was not alone in the world, that someone out there had felt the same things as me. Despite the album's melancholic vibe, it filled me with joy just by offering me a sense of companionship.

As I read those lyrics to "Farther On" today, they serve as a mirror, I come to grips with some of my own disfunction and brokenness. It's really sad that getting lost in books, films, and songs have created illusions and unrealistic expectations within me, but it's true. Music is like therapy for me.

What songs resonates deep within your soul?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goodbye, Uncle Harold

This morning my phone rang before I was leaving for work. That's six-something. My phone never rings that early. It was my mom. She was calling to tell me that my Uncle Harold died during the night. Actually he was her uncle, my great uncle. Uncle Harold was 97. Few people in my life hold such a special place in my heart as Harold. 97 years! What a great life! To the right is a very old photo that Harold gave to me.

Harold was simply one of the nicest men I have ever known. Likewise, his wife Genevieve was one of the kindest women I have ever known. Harold and Genevieve Allen were an inspiration as a couple and two of the most remarkable, lovely folks you could have ever met. Few people in my life have given me the kind of special memories that Uncle Harold and Aunt Genevieve have.

From left to right:
Uncle Harold; Aunt Genevieve; my mom, Effie; my brother, Mark; me (age 11)
Oregon in 1980

My great-grandparents, Effie Mary Neeley and Winfield Scott Murray, had many children. Two of them were Herbert and Genevieve. Herbert was my mom's father and his sister, Genevieve, went on to marry Harold Allen. Genevieve died in 1999. Thankfully, Harold was not one of the statistics that gave up after the loss of a spouse. He outlived Genevieve by 7 years. He was determined to live to 100 actually. He just very recently had a hip surgery and never made it out of the hospital due to some infections.

Harold, Genevieve, and me (age 20)

Harold and Genevieve lived in Oregon my whole life (when they weren't traveling). I had many opportunties to visit them there. As a kid I visited them with my Aunt Linda, my grandmother Ann Marie, by myself, and several times with my mom. After high school I made a trip with my buddy Matt. They were always the definition of hospitality, the ultimate tour guides. Two more generous people would be hard to find. I can't even count the number of times Harold would argue over the dinner bill with my father. There was always laughter around them. Harold loved to crack senior citizen jokes. Both of them were very witty. They were both strong New Deal Democrats and staunch FDR supporters. Oh how I loved the talk of history when in their home. Wonderful folk, the kind that made America strong.

From left to right:
Harold; my sister, Lori Ann; Genevieve; my brother, Mark; and, me (age 22)
This is at the Columbia Gorge Hotel on the Hood River.
We're on the Oregon side, but across the water that is Washington.

Another thing I'll never forget about Genevieve is her cooking. She would grow fruit and vegetables and then can things. She made the best bread-and-butter-pickles I've ever had in my life. It pains me to think that I'll never experience those again. I could eat a jar a day when I stayed with them. I remember picking blackberries near their property and eating her homemade jams on warm biscuits. Also, she made the most impeccable zucchini bread. I vividly remember how much Genevieve enjoyed the fact that I genuinely loved her food. Moreover, I remember how much joy Harold got from having a young kid around. They never had children, but they did have a beautiful Sheltie dog for many many years.

Harold and Genevieve from the same visit in 1991.

The thing I admire most about Harold is how well he loved his wife. He really got that right. 97 is nothing to be sad about, but Harold will be missed.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Pill

When I was young we had one,
a convenient little capsule to cure
the blues.
Pop the tablet and enjoy the bliss.
Dad washed his down with a
chug of beer.
And the other with a glass of wine.
Junior could have a swig every now
and then. It was funny and mom
didn't mind.
Mrs. Wingo warned, "Don't speak of
that secret. It's not the southern way."
We were like that too.
It never happened
if we didn't talk about it.
Was it bubbling to the surface? Promptly
swallow the pellet.
Is that him passed out on the driveway?
"He's just resting." Quick, open wide!
Is that anger I detect or did someone
just hurt me? I can't tell the difference.
Then the pilule is working.
Boys don't cry, but they do need
their medicine.
A pill called denial.

--Shenandoah Lynd


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Leave me alone.
I don't know why.
Why you so quiet?
I'm not. Inside my head.
Can't see the forest through the trees.
Lots of blessings in my life, but
I'm using the self-checkout lane.
No people there.
Void of human interaction.
I'm starved.
I just ate a dozen cookies in the dark though.
Community's great; yet,
lonely when you're around people is
much worse than lonely by yourself.
What's it going to take?
I don't care.
Just leave me be.
I'm in a "bad" mood.
Actually, my mood's not bad, it just got mixed-up
with the wrong crowd.
Pretty flowers.
Who cares.
Leave me alone.

--Shenandoah Lynd


Friday, May 19, 2006


Kasey Delaney Lynd. The first name was my choice. I had that name in mind for 10 years. Strangely enough, it was based on the sound of the name. I have always loved names with a hard beginning sound the most. For example, Chrisy, Katherine, or Kate. In contrast, my least favorite names begin with vowels, no power behind the beginning sound. Delaney is a name that both Chrisy and I loved. Chrisy liked it for a girl's first name, but I was set on Kasey. Delaney comes from a Jimmy Buffett song, "Delaney Talks To Statues" which is about Buffett's daughter. It's a sweet song and actually describes our little Kasey quite well: "She speaks a language all her own that I cannot descover, but she knows I love her so when I tuck her 'neath the covers." Buffett may not seem too romantic, but giving her this name really is special as it represents a significant bond, romantic history, and a shared interest between her mother and I. One of our first dates was at a Buffett concert. I told Chrisy she was my brown-eyed girl and, if he played that Van Morrison song, it was a sign that I was madly in love with her (of course, I had checked his website for setlists and knew he had played it every night of the tour). He played it, Chrisy bought it, and she gave birth to Kasey Delaney, my third brown-eyed girl, some eleven years later. All that's wrapped-up in this daughter's name. Pretty distinctive, huh?

Kasey turns two years old this June. Knowing that she's my last child has made every moment I've shared with her seem like it's in slow-motion and quite marvelous. I've savored every little moment these 704 days that I've had her in my life. Taking her to CostCo, waking up in the middle of the night for a drink of water, changing every diaper, they've all been treated like the gifts that they are: moments with my beautiful fourth baby. Her demeanor has been extraordinarily pleasant from the moment we brought her home. She truly has a winning personality, very low-key, incredibly happy. Kasey is also extremely loving and affectionate. She loves to hug, kiss, and pat her little hand on your back as a kind of affirmation, just letting you know she values you. She's able to communicate all that despite the fact that she's our slowest child to actually talk. The reason for this is likely that she has three older siblings to talk for her and she doesn't ever fail to get her needs met. And, lately she is talking more, but "poo" means water, diaper's full, crayon, and a few other things. True to her personality though, her "I love you" is actually pretty clear.

My favorite thing about Kasey is how she greets me when I walk in the door from work. She'll run from any room she happens to be in, saying, "da da" over and over again and she leaps, totally ready to embrace me with a big bear hug! It's completely rewarding! I love it when I put her into bed and I cover her with her favorite blanket and put her favorite little bear in her arms and I say, "Good night," and she says, "Ni, ni," and closes her eyes really tight, exaggeratedly tight, and a big smile always come to her face. I dig how positive she is. Just today she walks into our room at 6:30 a.m. and Chrisy says, "Good morning Kasey. How are you?" Kasey responds, "Goooo." Which of course, means good. She's always good!

The most bizarre thing I can write about here is this sense I often have that I have always known Kasey. I alluded to this in yesterday's post, Prelude to Kasey, the notion that God gave me a heads-up about this daughter. It really does feel like we've been pals since the beginning of time. Kasey has an exceptional quality to her and I look forward to seeing her blossom. One thing is certain, her little laugh alone has brought ineffable joy to all members of our family.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prelude to Kasey

I previously dedicated an entire post to each Max, Wes, and Zoey. I was going to wait to post Kasey's on her birthday, but it's bugging me that she's the only one without an individual post dedicated to her. Plus, grandma just asked me where it was.

It actually dawned on me last night as I made the rounds, praying for each of my children, tucking them in, and having that last conversation of the day, I was in Wes's room and I was looking at him thinking, "I have four children." I was like, "Wow, this is a full house. What a blessing. What a journey." That's when I realized that I needed a prelude post before I could write Kasey's post. I had not been procrastinating because I had nothing to say about Kasey. Quite the opposite! So, I'll be writing this prelude first. After that, I'll be ready to write the "Kasey" post.

Before Chrisy and I got married, I actually told her I only wanted one child. She thought that was crazy and told me that being an "only child" isn't the best thing in her book and she strongly desired at least two. My response? "You'd better pray the first one isn't a girl then, because, if it is, I will probably want to be done," I said.

I didn't know this at the time, but it wasn't that I didn't want a boy. Indeed, Max and Wes have been HUGE blessings in my life. It turns out that I was actually scared to parent a male. Again, I didn't know this at the time, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about, praying about, journaling about, and talking about this topic and I now know that I actually had an "issue" with having a boy. There's a word for it: Fear.

It turns out that the relationships with both my birth-father and my step-father were strained and didn't come easy. Whereas my mom and I, as well as my dad's second wife, Cory, got along without any effort. My grandfather, John, was an Ogre and I never knew his wife. I got along splendedly with my grandmother, Ann, but her husband died before I could know him. I did have my Uncle John, but things got difficult between us when he started taking a strong stand against my self-destructive habits. His concern and unwillingness to slip into denial were not something I appreciated until I really grew-up.

As far as siblings go, I fought constantly with my brother Mark, but my relationship with my new step-sisters, Cami and Renay were great from the getgo. My sister Lori and I literally never had an arguement from the day she was born until the day I moved out of the house. In high school, I had "best friends" that were female and it caused problems between my girlfriends and I; however, the arguments were worth it because I got along so well with those other females too. In short, I thought girls would be no effort, but boys intimated me. Mostly, it was because I had not actually seen a real life model of how I perceived a father should relate to his son. I knew I could love a male, but could I do the impossible: Could I express my love?

So, how did the guy who was adamant about having only one child end up being the guy that was pushing his wife to have the fourth? It has a lot to do with how God used my boys to transform me. Long story short, it was kinda like God said, "Instead of whining about what you needed from a father, how about I give you some boys, you step-up and be THAT father you thought you needed. You're done being the boy. Be the man now!"

Oddly enough, I came up with the name Kasey back in 1996 before Max was born. I revisited it in 1998 when Chrisy was pregnant with Wes too. For me it was always Kasey, but for a girl. So, when our first two were boys, "Kasey" got shelved. Of course, I revisited the name when we found out that our third child was a girl. For some reason, Chrisy didn't want the name Kasey in 2002 so we went with Zoey and it's a good thing because Zoey is the Zoeiest person I've ever known! Nevertheless, Kasey was unfinished business for me.

I remember when Chrisy was pregnant with Zoey and I was praying, you could call it that, but it was more like screaming, "Okay, I get it God! I understand it now! My dads did the best they could with what they were handed. My boys mean the world to me. I'm ready for the girl now! I really understand now!" I couldn't imagine life without Max and Wes. It's little things, like I've had the good fortune of saying those three words I craved to my boys every single day of their life: "I love you." It's hard to explain how that's helped me. I fixed a lot of things within me simply by just doing something I thought was lacking or by not doing something that I felt hurt.

In 2002 God and Chrisy's Valentine gift to me was my girl. Right from the start, Zoey has been a tremendous gift; yet, I found myself, even before her first birthday, really wanting a fourth baby. Indeed, it was in part due to the fact that the first three were so joyous and part of it was because I was smitten with the radiance of my pregnant wife, but there was something more than all that. It was something mysterious and I took it to God many times. He kept saying, "Yes." I couldn't shake it. In fact, in a strange turn of events, I spent the greater part of 2003 pretty much badgering my poor wife into having just one more. One of the final conversations went like this:

Doah: "Come on, it'll be perfect, two boys and two girls."

Chrisy: "But, you don't know if this one will turn out to be a girl."

Doah: "Actually, I can guarantee it."

Chrisy: "That's pretty arrogant! How could you know?"

Doah: "God told me so."

Okay, so that might sound crazy to you now, but it was true. Not only do I really believe that I heard from God that he would give me another girl, I felt like I knew it would be Kasey, this particular human, even before conception. And, I really wanted her.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


This one's for you. You know who you are.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Back on March 19, 2006, my pastor printed this prayer in the Sunday morning outline:

"God my Father, who does not waver or change, I want to be filled today with an awareness that I am loved by you, created by you, called by you to significance. I do not depend on anyone for my love or significance or happiness today, because you are giving me that already, right now."

That prayer is key. It is fundamental to emotional health. It's one of the most important tools given to me this year. If I can really get this I can truly be free.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Journey of the Soul

Oh, this is good. You've got to go to Fraserworld and read Sean Fraser's summary of the entire Road Trip experience. Two Week Journey of the Soul can be found on their "whatznew?" page. Be sure not to miss the wonderful collage of photos.

For those of you that won't click, two things strike me about the Journey of the Soul update. First, there is the issue of our calling. Sean writes: "Such a call is not to remove the struggles of life which form us as God intends, but instead to distance ourselves from the hectic life that gives us excuses we create for NOT living according to God's call." Not having read this comment, this very issue is something we spoke about in Epicenter just yesterday with the junior highers at Canyon Hills Church. In short, Jesus spoke of only one priority. "Priority" was not a puralized word when he spoke of it. For Christ it was the "Kingdom of God" that seemed to be the focus. We may not know what we are "called" to career wise, or where God is "calling" us to live, but, as Christians, the Kingdom of God is our call. Ironically, it's something I have been thinking about and then I just read a new post Road Trip -Part 2 on the Taylor Family's blog and this is something Mike Taylor mentions in that excellent update. It's very intriguing.

Back to the Fraser's update. The second thing that stood out for me is the question: "Will they have the faith and conviction to allow such change to infect the lives they're systemically used to in Southern California?" That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question isn't it? Chrisy already briefly broached this subject with me via a very brief e-mail. She said there were things she really wants to do differently. She said she was scared that she may fail, but she wants to try. Then she told me they spoke of this certainty while they were in South Africa. She said that the group told her, you do it, you mess-up, and you do over again. And again. And again. I don't know what these "changes" are. I haven't heard yet. I'm excited.

The word "call" was used in the Fraser's post, Chrisy spoke of "changes" whereas in my junior high group we talked of a "priority" in life. Jesus talked about God's Kingdom being the goal, the focus. I don't know if this is at all on target for what has happened in the hearts of those who spent two weeks in South Africa, but the questions I have been asking myself are such as these: "How do I make God THE priority when I'm setting the dinner table with my kids? How do I make God THE priority in a staff meeting at work? How do I make God THE priority when a neighbor's dog takes a dump on my lawn? How do I make God THE priority when my daughter asks for cereal, I serve it, and she says she doesn't want it? How do I make God THE priority when anything difficult happens?" I'm anxious to talk with Chrisy about what is going on in her heart.

Listening to Chrisy "talk" in her e-mails, reading the Fraser's update, reading the Taylor's post, thinking about my own mistakes, what came to mind was Paul's writing in Philippians. Here is what he said . . . .

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 3:12-14

That is essentially saying you make this choice to live according to God's call, you mess-up, you ask for forgiveness, you forget it, you do it again. And again. And again. You just don't forget the original goal, that thing God said to you there in your soul. God's expressed calling, that primary priority for our lives never changes, regardless of external circumstances.

I hope you will read both the Taylor Family Adventure update as well as the Fraserworld update. They'll give you a better understanding of what it was like for Chrisy these past two weeks. That will help hold you over until you get a chance to talk to her.

Well, as I type this my wife is in route from Switzerland and about to land in New York. I will be seeing her at LAX in about 9 hours. I'm looking forward to the ride home from the airport. That will be our own little one-hour journey of the souls.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Out of original ideas today, but wanted to honor all the moms in my life, especially my wife, a mom of four! Here's a poem I wrote in 1985. It seems kind of lame to me now, but I was only fifteen when I wrote it and my mom liked it then.


I guess I don't always show it
and I take for granted that you know it
so today I'm giving you something
saying sorry for the times I've blown it

You know I always feel it
You know I really care
but I guess my kind can really be a bare

I don't always take the the time
the time to show my love
but we set aside this day mom
and today I give you love

--Shenandoah Lynd

Thanks to all you moms!


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Coming Home

Tired tonight. Just a quick post. Before I get home from church tomorrow morning, Mother's Day Sunday, Chrisy will be back in the air and on her way home. Her flight leaves Johannesburg at 7:30 p.m. their time, which is 10:30 a.m. our time. She has a layover in Zurich Monday morning, another in New York Monday afternoon, and then I pick her up Monday night just after 9:00 p.m. at LAX.

It's been slow, it's been fast.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Got My Vote

The other day I was talking with this buddy of mine. We both used to be really political, you know, reading everything, watching debates and pundits on television. I was telling him that I noticed we haven't talked about politics in awhile. I confessed that, other than voting, I've given up. My problem I told him was that there isn't but a dime's-width of difference between the so-called two parties. I'm watching in amazement as the Republicans spend us into oblivion. Who knew that John Kerry turned out to be the fiscal conservative in the last election? A different friend called me during the last State of the Union and was surprised that I wasn't watching--the first in a decade. I told him I couldn't stomach the balderdash.

I recently heard that, in California, both the Democrats and the Republicans are losing registered voters. This news report stated that registration documents show the biggest gainer is a "decline to state" registration. That's funny because I switched to that classification myself just last year.

My pal George then e-mails me and says, The only politics I'm concerned about lately is summed up in this campaign ad:


I can't add anything to that. Got my vote!

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Kinda Done

You gotta go to Jon Hall's newest update from South Africa. It's called South Africa: Reality and it is brief, but gives a good update on what it has been like for Chrisy and the others on the Road Trip. It also has a link to his photos.

I've heard from Chrisy via e-mail a few more times and we received two post cards from her as well. One was of London and the other South Africa. All is well on her end. I know that tonight they are on a camp out at a game reserve. How cool is that!

Things have been going pretty good for the kids and I, but to be honest, we're kinda done. Just tonight, Zoey asks, "When is mom getting home?" I said, "Five days from now. Why?" She responded, "I want my momma." Nothing bad was going on, she's just had enough.

Before she left, I videotaped Chrisy reading a book and she talks directly to the kids on this video. I played it again for Zoey tonight. She never gets sick of it. At the end when Chrisy's waving, Zoey always shouts, "Bye mom, bye! I miss you. I love you." She's so loud, like maybe Chrisy can hear her! Tonight she said, "I love you mom. I REALLY love you!"

And, to think, I applied for Survivor. 39 days away from my family would be really difficult, for me and for them.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Two Faces: Bible/Song Meld, part 2

This is a sequel. That means there was another Bible/Song Meld. What can I say. I listen to a lot of secular music. I read the Bible. They both move me. It struck me how this song and this Bible passage both work together. The Bible is in bold and the Springsteen is in italics.

I met a girl and we ran away
I swore I'd make her happy every day
And how I made her cry
Two faces have I

I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within my keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

Sometimes mister I feel sunny and wild
Lord I love to see my baby smile
Then dark clouds come rolling by
Two faces have I

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

One that laughs one that crys
One says hello one says goodbye
One does things I don't understand
Makes me feel like half a man

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

At night I get down on my knees and pray
Our love will make that other man go away
Be he'll never say goodbye
Two faces have I

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Last night as I kissed you 'neath the willow tree
He swore he'd take your love away from me
He said our life was just a lie
And two faces have I

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

Well go ahead and let him try.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.

The Bible passage is Paul's letter to the Romans, 7:14 to 8:3, taken from "The Message" by Eugene H. Peterson. The song is Bruce Springsteen's "Two Faces" from the under-appreciated album TUNNEL OF LOVE (Columbia, 1987).

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trust. Hope. Love.

The Taylors put up a new post. Titled Road Trip! it includes some good pictures of the folks from my church including my wife. Lorie also includes some nice details about the Road Trip to South Africa. For example, she points out that they are focusing on the postures of submerging and listening. Click on this link for more information about the six postures of a leader at NieuCommunities. It was good to read that Chrisy and the group are focused on listening because listening to God has been my main goal since Chrisy left 11 days ago.

It's not always easy to be really seeking to hear God. It requires work. If I have heard God say anything to me it has been one word: Love. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's been clearer than usual. It's been consistant too. Last Friday, it was John 13:34-35 that was talking to me. I wrote about that when I posted 26 Photos. Last night I was talking with my neighbor across the street and we were discussing this same topic.

More than anything, for the last two weeks really, I have been focused on 1 Corinthians 13. In particular, I've been reading what it says in The Message under the heading THE WAY OF LOVE. Even though it is common to hear this passage read at weddings and we've all heard it many times, I am blown away by Eugene H. Peterson's translation. Here's what it says:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

That's amazing. That's hard.

My favorite line from this translation ends the chapter. It says that we have three things that will carry us through this phase of our existence: "Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of these three is love."

All this certainly applies when one is trying to raise four kids and mom is in South Africa. For example, just for arguments sake, of course, say someone was thinking, "Good all the kids are in bed and now it's time for me to read or watch television," and, just then, one of the kids is back out of bed, and you start feeling really frustrated . . . . this just might apply and you just might hear the voice saying, "Love isn't always me first." Or maybe you just got a new box of cereal and you say to your son, "Let dad open that because I don't want the box destroyed," then you leave for 4 seconds to go get the milk and, when you return, you see that he's opened the box himself and the internal bag is ripped all the way down the side and cereal's falling out. Maybe just then you hear the voice say, "Love doesn't fly off the handle." Maybe you don't actually fly off the handle, but you want to love so well that you feel bad when you serve up an "I told you so" and you think, "Love always looks for the best."

I guess that's what God is really telling me: "Love is a choice, not a feeling." Then he asks me, "How are your choices today?"

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Death Row Meal

There's a picture of Chrisy and I on my 37th birthday, Friday, March 31, 2006. We went to Julian with our good friends, Tony and Julie Cloyd. That night we went to my favorite place to eat, Ramano's Dodge House. I only go there once a year and I always order the same thing. It's fettucini alfrado. I joke that it's my "death row meal" a.k.a. heart-attack-on-a-plate. You know how they offer people who are about to be executed a final meal? Well, my even though Mexican food is my favorite genre of food, I would defininately choose Fettucini Romano as my last meal if faced with that sad proposition. It's just this really big bowl of pasta covered in this rich, creamy, cheesy, thick, white sauce. It's the kind of thing that makes me moan with each bite. Romano's also makes this superb garlic bread, the kind where you can see the large chunks of garlic, you can use it to sop-up the alfrado sauce! So, what about you? What would be your death row meal? Maybe if you leave a comment and we're ever in that neck of the woods, we'll check it out.

For those of you wanting an update on Chrisy, she's doing well. The kids and I got a much desired phone call from her last Saturday morning. Everybody got a chance to talk to her. It was great. She's doing well. I've also recently received a few e-mails. She said they had a surprise going-away party for Sean and Debbie Fraser. Additionally, she told me that they went shopping. Buying souvenirs for the kids and I made her really miss us and that ended up being her hardest day emotionally. Also on the update front, Jon Hall posted a bunch more new photos of the gang in South Africa. There are 16 new ones.

Today is like a milestone for me. I've been very focused on Monday, May 8th. I am very excited because it is now exactly one week until Chrisy returns. I've obviously been reminiscing and thinking about the fun we had at Ramano's brings a smile to my face.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tampa To Tulsa

Last night I went to my sister's graduation from college. I couldn't have been prouder. It was at Azusa Pacific so it was a pretty long drive. The good thing about that is the kids were sleeping on the way home and I had time to listen to music, really listen. In the player is what I think is one of the all-time great albums, RAINY DAY MUSIC by The Jayhawks from 2003. I just can't get sick of that album. The first time I played it, when it came to the track "Tampa To Tulsa," I pulled my car over about a block from my house and just sat there listening. Granted, music probably affects me more than the average person, it must be my brokenness, but I literally wept. It is such a beautiful song of longing.

When "Tampa To Tulsa" came on last night, during that drive down the 57 freeway, it took on new meaning for me. It's a song that stands out from the rest of the album because it's not sung by their main vocalist. As I listened to Tim O'Reagan singing his beautiful lyrics last night, I thought of saying goodbye to Chrisy at the terminal 10 days ago. Here's a snapshot of that moment as well as just a bit of the lyrics that I love:

Lisa, Maya, and Chrisy at LAX, April 28, 2006


Tampa to Tulsa, just one layover
Thinking it over
There's a card game in the back seat
They're throwing dice in the aisle
And the driver just smiles
With every mile he's closer to the arms
Of the woman who loves him
Tampa to Tulsa, just one layover

Please don't ask, take my love and make it last
Please don't ask, ease my worried mind
and take my hand

--Tim O'Reagan

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

I do.

May 6, 1993 was the day I decided to spend the rest of my life with Chrisy Ann Pena. I had been thinking about it for a while and I had read "Finding the Love of Your Life" by Neil Clark Warren. I had even completed a worksheet, ranking out the things that were important to me. She was the one.

Having checked the papers, found out what time the sun was setting. I told Chrisy to meet me just south of the Huntington Beach pier at the appointed time between lifeguard stations 3 and 5. I even told her what to wear. It was a flower-patterned long flowing dress and a hat. That's my favorite style and it gave me the extra-boost to not get cold feat. Ha!

I placed four dozen red roses in a circle to make a "dance floor" in the sand. Answering the "Sinatra, Mathis, or Presley?" question from DINER, I had "When I Am With You" by Johnny Mathis playing on a boombox. As the love of my life approached I inquired, "May I have this dance?"

After the song finished I reached to the special rose that had the ring hidden in the bud. I got on my knees and asked Chrisy, "Will you marry me?"

She said, "Yes!"

That was 13 years ago today.

Looking at this photo that a perfect stranger took, I see two of the most powerful forces in the world: the ocean and love. I see two things that capivate my soul: Chrisy and the sea.

To my bride in South Africa, I'd ask you again today if I hadn't back then. This love was meant to be.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

26 Photos

Now we're talking! This is what I was waiting for. Jon Hall posted a BUNCH of photos of the Canyon Hills Road Trip to South Africa. Click here if you want to see 26 Photos. There are some really great pictures of Pangani where they are staying. It looks lovely there.

Last night was a banner night for the five of us. I had decided that I was too stressed, feeling like 5:00 to 8:00 in the evening was always crunch time. Therefore, I made us all these little checklists before I got home. The first thing on my list was "couch time with kids." It's amazing what 7 minutes just sitting there with my four kids did. Taken from "The Story of Us," a movie I've never seen, we played the game "high/low" which is just going around saying what the best part (high) and worst part (low) of our days were. I affirmed all my kids and just loved them. Then I passed out checklists to the kids. Max and Wes had things like "Make Your Lunch" and "Practice Guitar" or "Practice Piano" and I even included "Give Dad A Really Big Hug" on there. There were little boxes where they could check them off. Zoey had one too. I put vacuum the floor on hers because she loves to do it. She stocked the bathrooms with rolls of toliet paper and kepting saying, "Can I help some more?" It was really cute and and they all loved it. The boys even asked if we could have checklists tomorrow. Bottom line, we all worked in harmony and had a really nice dinner of barbequed chicken from the Crock-Pot, rice, and green beans. Kasey ate so many green beans! Post-dinner was really smooth, checking homework, showers, and reading books. We sang happy brithday to Chrisy minus the cake and watched her reading a book to the kids on video. The boys even had time to watch a few minutes of "Yellow Submarine" on DVD. When I heard the boys singing "All Together Now" I new I was a good parent: they like the Beatles! It felt really good to have three hours like that.

Tonight will be a challenge. I get off my after school tutoring program at 4:15. From there, I have to pick-up the boys from our neighbors and go get the girls from our friend Mo's house and then make it to the boys piano and guitar lessons by 5:15. Hanging out on the lawn at the conservatory for 30 minutes with Zoey and Kasey will be the highlight of this day. Good thing for that time too. From music, I have to take the girls to another couple's house for sitting tonight, probably get there around 6:00. I'll take the boys back to my house so a friend can watch them and I shoot over to the Hub (our church office) to work with Epicenter (our junior highers) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, pick-up the girls and then get everyone in their own beds by 10:00 pm. I hope. I notice that dinner's not mentioned in there anywhere. How do single parents do it? Hey, at least I won a Starbucks Card at work today though. Great timing! Now, if I just had the 5 minutes to stop at one.

Despite the hectic nature of it all, I am filled with much joy right now. Looking at Jon Hall's photos from South Africa just made me feel so good inside. Last night from about 8:30-11:00 I had three guys come over my house just to talk about spiritual issues and check-in with each other. It was the first real long, sit-down, adult interaction I've had since Chrisy left 8 days ago. Thinking about my wife, looking at my friends in Jon's photos with the smiling children in those photos, thinking about my children, the third-graders I taught today, the junior highers I'll hang with tonight, the leaders who serve beside me, the men who came over last night, my friend at work who gave me the idea of the "high/low" & the checklists, as well as all the people who are loving my children while Chrisy is gone makes me realize more than ever that people and investments in people are the only things that really matter here on earth. It makes me think about two of the verses we'll be discussing in Epicenter tonight, John 13:34-35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." I really want to do that better. I want to get that down pat.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday

My wife turns 36 today. She's 10,000 miles away from me though.

Happy Birthday Chrisy! I hope it's a great one.

Max, Wes, Zoey, Kasey, and I love and miss you.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What's for Dinner?

I couldn't be happier. My pal, Mike Taylor, just put up another post on his blog and it includes several pictures with Chrisy! I'm not going to repost them here. If you want to see them, they're on his post titled Boring? of all things! You have to scroll down to the last three pictures. (Not that you shouldn't look at the others!) I think two are from their tour of Pretoria on Monday. The last one is my favorite; it shows Chrisy and Lorie Taylor standing outside Pangani.

Lots of folks are asking how I'm doing. I'm good. If I had to sum it up in one word at this point it would be: tired. I certainly appreciate how much Chrisy does to make our house run smoothly. The kids and I are good though. I've been trying to do things to be prepared. Taking a page out of my wife's playbook, instead of waiting to iron tomorrow's work clothes or even waiting until the day of, I went ahead and ironed an entire week's worth on the weekend. It's the little things in the morning, like having the coffee brewer ready the night before, that help.

Some folks asked about dinners too. On work days, I'm thinking ahead. On Monday night, I prepared Tuesday's dinner in the Crock-Pot. Our beef ribs slow cooked in barbeque sauce all day and were ready when we walked in the door at 5 pm, two minutes to microwave some canned corn and we had a meal. If you're working and pick-up kids after work, the Crock-Pot is a gift from God. Seriously, why do we have the saying, It's the best thing since sliced bread? It should be, It's the best thing since the Crock-Pot!

I noticed we were almost totally out of cereal so I came up with an idea to make shopping seem like a fun adventure. Last night I gave the kids a choice: (1) I could prepare a bunch of chicken drumsticks in the Crock-Pot for Wednesday's dinner; or, (2) We could all go to the grocery store at 5:00, each select one box of cereal, and have a cereal night! They were in the car saying, "Cereal! Cereal!" Go figure, I always felt cheated if I had to eat cereal for dinner. Cereal? Cereal is boring. But, as Mike Taylor proved, it's okay to be boring sometimes. Besides, I guess it's all in the pitch.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Strip Me Away

Chrisy e-mailed me again, late last night for me, early Tuesday morning for her. She said they were off to the Sterkfontein Caves. Known as the "cradle of humankind," Sterkfontein is an important palaeoanthropological site. (I so felt like Phil Keoghan when I wrote that.) She said she would be unable to e-mail me again for the next couple nights, three days. That's because they are heading over to the Soshonguve Township for a couple days of service, also known as "labor" to those not in the church. A township is a place where black people were forced to live during apartheid. While they are in Soshonguve, they will be working at a place called the House of Joy. Actually, I don't know if they'll be working as in repairing or painting or if they'll be doing something more suited to my tastes like playing with the kids. Rather than me going on about this, I implore you to read this post that my friend Lorie Taylor wrote. Titled A Place of Safety it is one remarkable piece of writing and my favorite post by the Taylors since they've been in South Africa. It literally brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I am so excited that Chrisy is going to the House of Joy and I cannot wait to hear what they do there.

As I mentioned in my previous post, some people have e-mailed and asked, "What will she be doing there in South Africa?" I think it would be helpful to read this description of a NieuCommunities Road Trip. I've talked to some people who don't like the way the Road Trip is contrasted with a mission on that page; or, to put it another way, the wording doesn't sit well with some. In fact, this is a short-term mission. Personally, I really "get it" when I read that description. For me the line, "you come to be transformed" is the key line. I could be wrong, but I think it's all about what goes on inside the partisipant. I think that's why they take these little sojourns to the caves or to a game reserve. I whole-heartedly agree with the values of this organization. I think the currents of communion, community, and mission, which are be stressed during the two weeks are important and wise. Really, this trip strikes me as a very condensed version of NieuCommunities 42-week experience. When I read about that, I get excited about what that could do to a person.

There's a connection here to my experience on Sunday at church. I had the most remarkable worship experience. I don't mean "worship" in the sense of just music either because worship is not just music. I mean that I felt connected to God through the Bible, my pastor's message, my own prayers, and, yes the music too. Indeed, one song really hit it me so hard. Written by our worship leader, Christian Steffen, the song is called "Strip Me Away." More than just singing it and recalling it, it's been "in" me since Sunday. I want it so badly. I thought I would share it with you. By the way, you can actually listen to the song here on Christian's website, Real World Worship.


Hide me in your mercy
Clothe me in your grace
Captivate my eyes
Until I see Your face
Would you disillusion
Until all my illusions are gone
Hide me in Your mercy
Fill me with your song

Stip me away
Til all that's left is You
Hide me away
Until I'm found in You
Fan into flame
Until I burn for You
Strip me away
Til all that's left is You

Would You draw me closer
Closer than before
Til there's no space between us
No distance anymore

--Christian Steffen

I think what I am feeling deep inside me as I read those lyrics is connected to what Chrisy and the Canyon Hills gang are doing in South Africa. People have asked me, "What exactly will she be doing there?" I think the answer just might be: "She's being stripped away."

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Monday, May 01, 2006

First Full Day in South Africa

It felt really good to turn the calendar over to a new month today. It's nice to see a "1" there in the box so now I can clearly see it's only 15 days until Chrisy comes home.

I got an e-mail from Chrisy today. She said she was very excited because they were off on their first outing today. Afterall, this is their first full day in South Africa. She also told me that she had slept really well on Sunday night and felt much better.

On their agenda today was the commissioning of the Road Trip. I also believe their first outing today was city tour of Pretoria (also known as Tshwane) which sould be very interesting and informative. The photo I've included is a random shot of Pretoria that I found. I am very anxious to hear what exactly the commissioning involved.

Some of you have asked me, "What exactly will Chrisy be doing there?" Here's a quick rundown of their proposed schedule while they are there:

Monday, May 1--Road Trip Commissing and Pretoria City Tour
Tuesday, May 2--Cradle of Humankind Sterkfontein Caves and Timelines
Wednesday, May 3--Soshonguve Township Tour and Home of Joy
Thursday, May 4--Home of Joy Service Project
Friday, May 5--Home of Joy Service Project
Saturday, May 6--Hartebeespoort Dam and Souvenior Shopping
Sunday, May 7--Beulah Township Church and Community Braai

Monday, May 8--Pangani Service/Work Project and Tutela Service Project
Tuesday, May 9--Pangani Service/Work Project and Tutela Service Project
Wednesday, May 10--Apartheid Museum and Soweto Township Tour
Thursday, May 11--Pilanesburg Game Reserve and Camp Out
Friday, May 12--Pilanesburg Game Reserve and Community Game Night at Pangani
Saturday, May 13--Championship Soccer Game and Celebration Dinner
Sunday, May 14--Commissioning and Leave for U.S.A. (Chrisy's plane takes off at 7:30 p.m.)

Of course, I don't know what all of these things mean. I just took them off the Fraserworld website. I look forward to hearing more about all this just like you.

Finally, if you're reading this I ask that you would please lift my wife up in prayer. Please pray that she really meets God on this trip and that he will reveal his will to her and that she can see herself as he sees her. Pray for me and my family. You can pray that I have a tireless energy please.

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