Struggles Within

-In his struggle, a man’s silence will be his downfall- Unknown

A story that was relayed to me:

Is this what it felt it like? Is this the hurt you had when you were told to leave? What about before when you were waist deep in your foolishness? Or what about before? Despair? Pain? Anger? Hate? Resentment?

What happened? Did you ever get the help you needed or did you run, hide, because you didn’t want to deal with the pain?

I ask because, while our battles aren’t from the same branch, they’re still from the same root. There are days when I want to run because I feel rejected, undesirable, and a walking mistake incapable of healing. Then there are days when I hear the voice of God whispering, “but you’re not alone. Not only are you not alone, but I am seeking you.” (Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”)

Did you get that? The Lord…THE GREAT I AM sought us out! Chew on that for a little bit.

But I get it; the hurt, the pain, the heartache is hard to deal with. Looking at the one you love and cherish, hurting… Because of you! I hate myself for it. I despise myself for it. I want to run from it, feeling like it would be easier to walk away in my foolishness than it would be to work through my pain while trying to watch her work through her’s. However, as someone told me, it’s not myself that I hate but the sin inside of me.

Which, it is…. It has to be… We are made in the image of God, originally walking with God in the garden in perfection… Until brokenness entered our world and separated us from that perfect relationship with God.

It’s hard because you and I don’t understand the Holiness that is God and that’s why we were separated… divorced from God… Not by His choice but from OUR sin… And yet… HE still pursues us and through the atoning BLOOD of Christ, we can enter into HIS presence.

But we ran… What were you running from? Your family? Your mistakes? Or God?

Me? I ran from God and because I ran from God, I wanted to run from my family… I wanted to ignore my addiction… self-medicate with more despair… You know, add fuel to the fire of my foolishness… Act out when things don’t go my way… The way I always have…

But I can’t anymore… I’m broken. I look at her and I weep for her, I weep for my family, I weep for what I was… See that’s the key- was- if nothing else, God used this experience to bring me to my knees… Daily. Again and again and again and again…I don’t want to return to what I was, I want to run to where Christ is!

Your story ended but I don’t know how it ended. Was there forgiveness? Was there salvation? Did the people you hurt ever find healing or is there still resentment and hate wafting through the roots of your family? I don’t know but I will tell you, I’m sorry.

When I first heard of your story, I refused to believe it. You were like a mentor to me… We even had the fist bumpin’, secret handshaking thing goin’ on.. You gave me words of wisdom from scripture… You told me who my friends are, is who I’ll become… which I did , unfortunately… but that is for another time, and another day. You went to my ball games and cheered me on… congratulated when I graduated… I never knew your story… Maybe it’s because I didn’t ask, and for that I’m sorry. Maybe I should have… Maybe it would have been easier for you to release your pain if I had taken interest….Either way, I didn’t want to believe it.

Then your story kept being repeated, and repeated, and repeated… I began to resent you… I began to despise you… Who are you? I have no idea because what was told to me is different from the person I knew. Why didn’t you tell me? Maybe I could have helped you.. maybe you could have helped me… You could have been an example for me to follow of repentance, salvation and healing. You could have been my hope… But then my hope is found in the blood of Christ, not in the foolishness of a man.

What’s done is done and your story can’t change but mine can. As I learned in a sermon today, to be forgiven, I need to forgive… forgive someone that I have resented…which is you. I resented you because of what you did and for all intents and purposes, you never sought the help you needed, even refused the help people offered. But then who am I to cast a stone? We’re not of the same branch but still have the same root.

I’m sorry I have resented you. I am. I remember the last conversation I had with you. It was quick and I was short- annoyed with you even, because again you played along like nothing was wrong. I’m sorry. I pray your story ended better than where it started.

But my story hasn’t ended and mine can change. I am getting the help I need. Christ is my cornerstone and everything else will fall: into place or fall away as that is not the man I want to be anymore.

Advertisements

Atypical Story

Sorry, this isn’t a normal story. This season of Lent has been especially challenging, refreshing and life-changing. As such I found myself writing this little story. This story starts in the middle of a boy struggling with his pain.

“Dad, Dad,.. No, please don’t take the bandage off! It will hurt!” The little boy cried out to his dad, his face grimaced at the thought of the pain, his thoughts swirling with emotions; will the pain last long? Will it go away?

“I need to my child. Your way hasn’t worked. Your wound is still there, your bandage hasn’t healed you.”

“But it’s going to hurt!!” The boy said as tears began rolling down his eyes.

“It will hurt but you will be healed. Take comfort; it’s only for a moment.”

The Dad ripped the bandaged off, the boy sobbed uncontrollably, dropping his face into his hands. The pain still raw, the boy looked at where his bandage had once been expecting to see red dripping from a wound struggling to heal but there was nothing to be found. No blood, no wound, not even a scar.

The boy’s wound was real. His pain was real. He had ran for so long until something happened. His world collapsed and it was time to take the bandage off. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be but it happened and through his brokenness, he can see the One wanting to take away his wound and restore what was once lost.

Up on a hill there was a man hanging from a tree, His body beaten and bruised, rejected by the world, mocked with a crown of thorns, blood pouring down his face. His arms were stretched wide, His hands and feet nailed to the tree. But why? Why did it have to be this way?

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Wisdom From A Child

While making homemade pizza, my daughters grabbed some dough too make their own little cinnamon bread treat… While putting it in the oven I touched the oven rack and burned my finger a little bit. No big deal… Just a little burn.

Fast forward: our delicious smelling home-made pizza is done baking.. Eager to pull the pan out I grabbed the closest thing I could (a kitchen towel) so as NOT to burn my hand… It just happened to be unsuitable for grabbing a hot pan as one of my fingers grabbed the hot pan instead….

I yelped…

In her short life, my daughter has learned so much

My 8-year-old: Daddy… Are you okay?

Me: yeah I’ll be okay.

My 8-year-old: We should buy gloves for you to wear so you don’t burn your fingers.

Me: We do have a pair.

My 8-year-old: Then why don’t you use it?

Me:…. Um… …. ….uh…. Dinner’s ready.

Nope! Not Doing It!

 There are certain times in a dad’s life where his jeans will need to be pulled up and his belt tightened… For me, a day at the fair was one of those times:

Back when the sands of time were warm, the sun shined bright, and the days were long:

 This isn’t happening. There is no way this is happening. My feet belong on the ground.

“Creek!”

“KAPLUNK!”

“BANG!”

Nope. This is definitely not happening. If God wanted us to go around in circles or be carried up into the sky he would have given us the ability to fly like a bird. Gravity  has laws for a reason. People are not meant to be suspended in the air for any length of time, let alone the… 6, 7…8 hours it takes for everyone to find a seat.

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Can we go on the ferris wheel?”

 I will sheepishly admit that I do not like carnival rides. I don’t mind water park rides as there is something different about them. Maybe there is comfort in the water, like the serenity of the lazy river or maybe there is comfort in the fact that the drops are more of a gentle descent instead of a stomach-churning drop into oblivion…

 Or maybe it’s just the sheer fear of knowing that what comes up has to come down. Whatever the reason, carnival rides are just…No… just no.

My feet are planted on the ground. Roller coasters, wheerlie-thingy-mabobbers, loopdie-loo’s, and vomit-inducers; no thank you. Upside down, inside out, up and down roud-a-bouts: I’m screaming like a baby!

The only problem is I have 3 girls that love rides (thank the LORD to a certain extent). My wife wasn’t feeling well that day and daddy isn’t afraid of anything (as I overheard from previous conversations) so the ride-sharing fell to me.

First up: Up and Down Round-A-Bout

My two older daughters full of giggles and glee are sitting near the back while my youngest daughter and I are near the front. I reassure her that this will be fun and exciting, although I think that was more for my own comfort. The roller coaster starts up slowly, creaking around a bend, I’m wondering how old is this thing and is it safe?

My thoughts are interrupted by an up-coming vomit-inducing drop….Uh-OH…. whew that wasn’t so bad… We’re slowly going up, and around…OH-NO! This is a biggun… 

For my daughter’s sake I grit my teeth, throw my hands in the air and shout “WEE (I wanna go HOME!!)!” My stomach was left behind as the ride went down. Just…keep…smiling…. 

 The drop is done within 2 seconds. It wasn’t even a drop really…more of a slope… a slope that would have no momentum unless powered by generators and electricity. My stomach returns to normal.  

I look over at my daughter who doesn’t appear phased by this ride at all, she’s even smiling… A real smile.

My amazement is shaken back to reality as I turn into a human bobble head when the ride rounds a curve at race car speeds…

Finally, we get to the starting point. Thank the LORD, the ride is over…wait… Dude… What are you doing? We’re here…Stop the ride, my daughter doesn’t like it. We’re done… We’re going again? NNNOOOO!!-  Ah man here comes the first drop…. Ahhh!! And then  we go again and again. 5 minutes later when the ride is finally over my daughter says, “Daddy, that was fun!”

Oh take me home, take me home! Good thing these rides are limited to the amount of tickets you have…Wait… What?? This is a company sponsored event featuring unlimited rides?…….

 

Circle Doo-Hickey

“Daddy! Daddy! Let’s do this one!”

This one? Really? It’s a clown car… It’s smaller than a clown car. I don’t even think you could fit clowns in it. If a clown can’t climb into it…Then how am I supposed to?… Wait… Hold on. There is a sign that says: If You Are This Tall Then You Can Ride Alone (or something like that).

“Good news girly, you don’t NEED daddy to ride this one. You’re tall enough to do it all by yourself.”

“Ok daddy! Meet you when it’s over!” With a face full of smiles, my daughter eagerly climbs in to a car. Though it’s slower than the giant Merry-Go-Round, my daughter appeared to enjoy every minute of it. Smiling and waving like a princess one minute, then fiercely turning the steering wheel like a race car driver the next minute.  The ride is nearing the end, when all of a sudden,

“Creek!”

“KAPLUNK!”

“BANG!”

Thoughts swirled in my:

-Oh goodness… Is my daughter okay? What happened? Oh no, oh no!

-Um… dude… this ride went in circles and turtles moved faster than this ride…

-We’re going home, now… this ride isn’t safe… If this ride isn’t safe then, nothing is…

-Really? Seriously?

Jarring my thoughts was the excitement of my daughter;

“Daddy! That was fun! Can I do it again?”

“Sorry girly, the ride broke and they have to fix it.”

“Okay, let’s go do something else!”

 

A bouncy slide,  an obstacle course, and a motorcycle ride later, we met up with my wife and our 2 oldest daughters and their friend.

“What should we do next?” They ask.

I should have said: I think we should leave… these rides  aren’t safe,.

Instead, I said “It’s up to you girls.”

Then, the inevitable happens. My daughters and I’m pretty sure my wife too, had been eyeing this ride since we arrived. It’s wondrous size… It’s mesmerizing movement… The panoramic views. Everything about it drew my daughters in.

Loop–de-Loop

The Ferris Wheel had been calling them for a while now. I tried to avoid it at all costs. Suggesting other rides or trying to walk through the animal stables again… Anything to keep our feet on the ground.

Eventually, all things circled back to the Ferris Wheel. 

“Daddy! Can we Puullleeeeaasee do the Ferris Wheel?”

 One puppy eyed look from a daughter is hard enough to resist but when three daughters and their friend give me the look…

“Sure…If that’s what you really want to do…”

“HOORAY!!”

Wait…doesn’t anyone remember the ride that just broke… the ride that…appears… to be working again? Anyone?

Nope.

The wait was excruciating…. I’m pretty sure at one point, one of my daughter’s complained that I squeezed her hand too tightly. 

My stomach disappeared as I watched the ginormous wheel go around in circles…I saw heads peering over the side, feet dangling… risk-taking rule benders slightly rocking the chair…

Ugh… I feel last night’s dinner trying to make its way up… There’s no way I can do this… Birds belong in the sky, not people… My feet are planted. I’m not moving, you can’t make me.

 Then, the point of no return arrived as I heard the attendant say,”Okay girls step on on. Watch your step sir…” 

Sir? Dude, if you’re calling me ‘sir’ surely I’m too old for this.

“Keep your hands inside the chair at all times. Remain seated until the ride is over.”… 

My heart thumped so loud I didn’t hear the rest of what he said. My hands were sweaty. My pulse pounded as my eyes got lost on the sights  around me…

Rusted nuts. Warped bolts. Creaking, clanking noises as the Ferris Wheel began its never ending journey into the sky… 

The last ride that creaked and clanked broke down… Um is this ride safe?.. Maybe I should just take my girls off the ride… Nope… Can’t do it…. Because we’re hundreds… Thousands of feet in the air…. Stopping… Then starting again… Then stopping… Then the wheel keeps going, reaching the sky… 

just don’t look over the edge and I’ll be okay… Whoops! Too late for that.

Yep. Last night’s dinner is definitely coming back up.

 “Daddy, what’s wrong?” I heard one of my girls ask. The concern in her eyes gives way to a nervous look… If daddy’s nervous then maybe there’s reason to be nervous…

I released my white-knuckled grip… 

Be brave… Be very brave… And pray… Since that’s what I always tell my daughters to do…Dear LORD…HELP ME!

“Nothing girly… I’m just…” 

Breathe in. Now breathe out… relax a little… This is a slow ride, no drops… No upside down loopdie-loos… Just a slow ride that goes in circle… 

“I’m just enjoying the view. Isn’t it amazing!” She relaxes and smiles looking at everything.

The puffy clouds, the wide expanse of the bright blue sky… The families far below…

It is amazing isn’t it. I could get used to this…  Maybe… I mean we are pretty high up… And it’s a looooonnggg way down… And we’ve been up here for an eternity… Nope…  I’m shutting my eyes and I’m not letting go until we’re on the ground…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Biscuits Ever!

There aren’t a lot of foods that can beat freshly baked bread. The incredible smell that wafts through the entire house followed by biting into a slightly crispy crust with a soft, chewy center is fantastically delicious!

While working at a bakery a few years ago, I developed a love for baking bread.  From the mixing and kneading to the final rise during baking, I just love it. Sometimes I feel a meal is incomplete without some type of bread and I pride myself on being able to roll out some dough and make something that fits the meal.

Tonight however, was one of those night’s where the food was ready by the time we walked in the door. Forget having to rise, there wasn’t even time to mix and knead. Making bread became an afterthought  after everyone was settled…

Seriously though, dinner is incomplete without some type of bread.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. This meal screams of needing bread. Since there was no time to make bread, my wife suggested throwing in some biscuits… canned biscuits… from the store. The kind that are there in a pinch. The kind that you smother in butter and jelly or gravy, never really bothering to enjoy the goodness of it…

…Those canned biscuits…from the store… soured my pride like a batch of neglected sourdough.

“Daddy, these are your best biscuits yet! Daddy wins the award! These are the best, tasting biscuits EVER!!”

My other daughter chimes in with, “Great job Daddy! You could go on the cooking show to show the chefs your famous biscuits!”

My soured pride never had a chance to rise.

There’s usually a second chance to rise….right?

Wait… hold on…There’s more… Those canned biscuits…from the store… came from the back of the refrigerator (they’ve been there for at least two months), from an off-brand company with biscuits that were oddly shaped, and came out flat and clumpy…

 

Well, at least my girls ate their dinner.

 

Just Plain Funny

Call it the writer in me but I like to add my own lyrics to songs (or maybe I Just can’t remember the words and just ad lib to keep it going) and my youngest daughter seems to have the same… creativeness ( or problem) that I have…My wife and I were on our way home in separate vehicles. I had our two older girls with me and my wife had our youngest  in her car. They “beat” me home and our youngest daughter said, “Daddy, we beat you! You’re a rotten head (rotten egg)!!”

 

 

My 3-year-old and her older sisters were playing a racing game. Her oldest sister had started when my 3-year-old wasn’t ready… My 3-year-old chased after her sister, saying” Hey! I’m not ready!! Cheater, Cheater, lemon squeezer!!”

 

This wasn’t my kid but it was still funny!! We were at a local city festival enjoying an impromptu kids’ spelling contest. One 6-year-old boy was asked to spell KITTY, without missing a beat he spelled…T-I-T-T-Y… Whoops!

Random Thoughts From A Focus-Challenged Life

Not Today: I  was feeling a little tired from an early wake up and a busy day. Around mid afternoon I yawned the biggest yawn I could muster and told my 3-year-old I  felt like I could take a nap. She replied, “Daddy, you can sleep at dark time.”

This Isn’t Your Bed– When putting my 3-year-old down to bed and after saying our prayers, I pretended to be sleeping. My 3-year-old bluntly says, “Daddy, this isn’t your bed.”… Can I use that line the next time you waddle into our room?

At Least She’s Listening-  My wife and I spend a great deal of time trying to teach our daughters to be responsible for their own things; you know, an effort to avoid the tireless battle of, “Daddy! Mama! I can’t find my…socks, shoes, backpack, homework, lunch bag…toys…”…

My 3 daughters and I had just gotten home from a trip to the grocery store. I had bought some ingredients for that night’s dinner. Somehow, those ingredients went missing. After about 10 minutes of looking, I thought to myself…out loud… “Where did that bag go?… Dog gone it…where did they go? I can’t find it….” My oldest replies, “I don’t know daddy. I’m not in charge of your bag.  It’s probably in the last place you put it. Where did you put?”…Thanks kiddo…

Too Early For This Kind of Drama: My oldest daughter who just turned 8, is at that age where life should still be simple but is on the precipice of finding out otherwise-

My oldest daughter: I don’t think we’re friends anymore…(speaking of her best friend.. she’s had for ages…since like…kindergarten)…

Me: Why is that?

Her: Because What’s-her-face-who-likes-to-make-trouble said she gets to play with my best friend for 3 days out of the week…Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, while I only get to play with her Monday and Friday…and then she was saying this boy  likes me as a girlfriend but I don’t like him like that. I just like him as a friend. I’m too young for that (oh thank you LORD…and yes you are)..and it’s not fair!

Me (nodding in confusion and understanding all at the same time):…um…hmmm…. Well..I’ll tell you what…

Her: What?

Here are my thoughts…

(Mrs. Wifey!!??!!…Our daughter wants to talk to you.)

 

Challenges Await

One of my daughter’s isn’t afraid to express herself… For better or worse….After waking up earlier than normal, my daughters were playing with their toys before it was time to get ready for school…

My expressive daughter: Daddy, do we have any waffles left?

Me: I’m not sure…

Her: Why don’t you look?

…Excuse me…What did you say? My defiant personality wanted to kick in the door fully armed with a storm of wrath… Breathing deeply, I politely opened the freezer and prepared the last waffle remaining…

Me: Here you go…(as politely as I could muster) That is not how you talk to people…that is not how you talk to me…Next time, please and thank you are all you need to say.

That polite talk might have to turn into a stern talk…

My expressive daughter: Mama… do we have any milk?

My wife: I’m not sure.

My expressive daughter: Why don’t you look?

….Excuse me??? Might be time to turn that dependence into independence… That or she just wakes up hangry (when anger and hungry join together).

Hot Chocolate Will Never Be The Same

One day my youngest daughter randomly broke the silence with, “Daddy, I went poopy and it was runny and I peaked at it and it looked like hot chocolate except no marshmallows.”…. I think I’ll stick with my coffee.

???

Signs of aging begin to show when you lose track of what’s popular in kid lingo…Apparently there is this thing called a…dap?? (Can’t be a dab because that’s a fist bump…right? Is it still called a dab/fist bump? Do fist bumps even happen anymore?) I don’t get it but it’s hilarious to watch… If you don’t know what it is…The left arm raises straight at an angle above the head while the right arm bends with the hand covering the eyes…. I saw my daughters doing it one day.

Me: What are you doing?

Them: It’s called the Dap..

Me: The what?

Them: The Dap.

Me: What’s the Dap? Where’d it come from?

Their explanation is even more hilarious!

Them: Um…. it came from somebody that had a really huge sneeze…

 

Helping Hand: My oldest daughter had somehow managed to get herself stuck in a treasure chest full of stuffed animals. Gut bursting with giggles, she yelled out, “Can someone help me?” I asked my 3-year-old who was busy twirling in circles if she could lend a hand. She ran over, yanked off her sister’s sandals and ran away laughing.