Friday, July 22, 2016

Beach Trip

I don’t remember when we started going to the beach each summer. When I was a kid I went every summer, even many weekends of the summer. It was often just my mom and I and we had a trailer at a section called Salter Path down by Morehead and Atlantic Beach. This was before 40 was complete and always took 4 hours to get there. Forever when you are a child and I had every mile memorized.
But life moved on, the people who owned the land kept raising the rent till it was beyond our means and sometime during my college years we had to let it go.
I didn’t really notice at the time as I was caught up in starting this new family and always it seemed just struggling to survive.
It was my mother who really brought the beach trips back.
I was I guess in my late twenties and I don’t think Cayla was even born yet when we started. Over the years we had family friends who we had always let use our trailer at the beach. Now they had beach houses or condominium on the beach.
The favorite became a place on Emerald Isle. I loved that place. With all of us it was a bit tight but I have many precious memories. Of my family, my kids playing on the beach, Carli.
Before true lose.
The Emerald Isle trips ended about the time I moved to Florida to work on a Masters. 
It is sad yet I couldn’t do Emerald Isle now anyway. There is still a sense that we are not complete but there the absence of her presence would be too much. I would see her, Christian and Cassandra playing in the sand, yelling, bouncing in the pool.
When I close my eyes I still do.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Hope: “To want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true”

“love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
                                                1 Corinthians 13:7 English Standard Version

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
                                                Hebrews 11:1 New King James Version

“And not these three remain: faith, hope and love…”
                                                1 Corinthians 13:13a New International Version

You may hear a message or two on faith and love…
Exactly. Not a message or two but literally countless messages on any given Sunday.
But how many messages have you heard on “Hope?”
If any, you can probably how many on one hand.
Yet the Word says “now these three remain.” And right there between Faith and Love is that often forgotten word. Hope.

It is perfectly placed for hope is the bridge that binds Faith and Love to one another.
 It is possible to have Love without faith.
And it is possible to have Faith without love.
But is it possible to have either love or faith without hope?

I challenge you to find true love, enduring love without hope.
When Jesus challenges the Pharisees regarding why Moses even permitted divorce he tells them it because hearts are hard.

Love without hope becomes hard, dry and brittle.
Yet love with hope…can “cover a multitude of sins.” 
Or dare I say wounds. Hurts.

And then there is Faith.
Can you even have faith without hope?
Faith is built on the foundation of hope.
Without hope faith is directionless.
It has no reason.
Without it faith is left in darkness.

Without hope
Loves back is often broken
faith is stillborn.

Hope is the light and breath of faith.
Endurance in uncertainty
Gives courage even in oceans of fear.

Hope is the breathe of life to dreams
Answers the questions of why

When there is hope,
Love can endure lose and pain.
Faith can catch its second wind.

Do not discount the value of hope
For wherever you find hope…love and faith are ever close by.


“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
                        Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Thursday, April 16, 2015

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed...

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7 

And breathed…
There is something about that word for me.
Something intimate.
Not like the word "to blow." If that word had been used I would have had an image of someone like Louie Armstrong distending his checks to demand the chords and tunes he brought from that mighty horn.
It would imply force. Violence even.
But that is not the word.
The word is “breathed.”
You have to be close to breathe on someone.
Closer to breathe into them.
It is not cooled quick air from your checks.  Oh no. It is the warm, moist breath from deep in your lung gently moving up from the back of the throat out a gently opened mouth.
Incredibly intimate.
Not sexually. A different maybe more powerful intimacy.
Like when you were just a child and your father picked you up. You rest your head on his shoulder, burring your nose into his neck, the collar of his shirt and are overwhelmed by the smell of his cologne, his morning cup of coffee… the “smells” of “him," lost in the strength of his presence.
Or the smell of your mothers hair as she stepped out of the bathroom still drying it. The fragrance of her soap and shampoo.
The intimacy of family. Safety. Peace.

This is not the only time we read of the breath of God. 
In the end of the book of John we read again of God's breath upon us. We are told of Jesus doing something strangely similar. And in fact it is one of the last things we are told of him doing.
I wonder if that means something?

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
                                                                                                                John 20:22 

Can you see this?
If you read it too fast you might not.
Something uncomfortably intimate just happened.
The verse says Jesus breathed on his disciples.

It is strange I’ve never heard this passage preached on. People don’t seem to know what to make of it. So we only preach about the power. We understand power (or think we do).
And sadly miss the obvious.
Yes there is power. Of course there is power. God is present, how can there not be power?
When a child rest their parents arms there is never a question of power.
But if you get lost focused on the power you may miss the deeper real purpose of the Holy Spirit.
I am convinced the Holy Spirit was never about the power. Power is the after effect, the consequence of God being present.
No. This gift of the Holy Spirit is about so much more.
It is the gift of intimacy...
Intimacy with God.
And dare I say,

God’s desire for intimacy with us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Four Years Feb. 9, 2014

Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of teh Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, 
      "This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:
     "'Among those who approach me
         I will be proved holy;
         in the sight of all the people
         I will be honored.'"
Aaron remained silent.
                                   Leviticus 10:1-3

This was the question when I first read about Aaron’s sons.
How did he not lose himself in grief? How did he continue on?
How did he not hate God?

I took the day off, my intent for the most part to sleep the day away. But I woke around 6am and from that point whenever I closed my eyes the movie began to play.
The side characters doctors, nurses, social workers even the person who drove me from the airport to the hospital that morning are now in shadow. I would not recognize them if we bumped in the street.
Other details are in eternal sharp focus.
The morning flight. The back of the chair in front of me. The snow on the drive over. The entrance to the Nebraska hospital. The nauseous feeling in my gut that something is horrible wrong. Edith’s face. Carli…

I get up wondering if I shouldn’t have just gone to work. There is plenty to do around the house though. Moved in about a week ago and there is plenty settling to do.
Edith starts texting me looking for a certain picture of Carli she wants to post on Facebook. Out comes the pictures and I go through all of them. Just can’t find it.

I pick up Cayla from school for lunch. A true pleasure.
We go to Raleigh to meet Edith at Carli’s grave site. This is the first time I have been here on the anniversary.
Edith set’s up a beautiful flower arrangement bright with color. Carli’s colors.
Then it begins to rain.

Later at my place Edith an I go through pictures of our children. Eventually we will need to figure out who gets what but right now Edith is in transition between places so I will keep them for now.
But she has laundry to do, so she leaves.

I don’t hate God though I'm not sure I could say how deeply I love him. Disappointment and hurt does not begin to describe what I feel. But I don’t hate him.
There are times I know he is with me. I know that I know he has orchestrated my return home. From the job, the car repairs, the extra training jobs to pay for it all, to the new job and my new home.
I know I am in the right place. That I am home. And I am grateful.
But this relationship we now have is different. It is very quiet.

My mother made this observation. “Now that you are not so angry maybe you will be able to hear him.”
It is a fair statement.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Yet another dream.
This time I am walking into a hospital, and when I enter the double doors I am immediately in a large room lined with hospital beds and children are everywhere. I know that they all have various forms and stages of cancer, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they are acting.
They are talking, laughing, playing.
In the first bed there is an adult, and he is a bit sicker than everyone else. He is talking to a doctor who somehow I know though I never see his face. He is gentle. Compassionate.
As the doctor walks away from this bedside to go to the next, the man in the bed looks to me. He knows he is at the end but there is no fear. He is ok. Even content. I see this as we talk for a moment.
I am there to find Carli. I have a bouquet of yellow flowers to give her but I know she is not on this floor. She is somewhere above, I believe on the top floor. I would go up yet I have never been here and I am not exactly sure where she is located.
The nurses are all busy going from child to child so I stand there waiting for one to give me a moment. Waiting for directions and permission to go on up.

This Sunday was my last at this small church Templo Betel. I can’t really find the right words to tell what this place has meant to me. What pastor Montero (my second spiritual father), his wife and the people here mean to me. How grateful I am to have been allowed to be a part of music and worship team.
How I fell in love with Sunday mornings.
My favorite day of the week.
Their love has been a balm of medicine for my soul.

Friday, January 16, 2015


I called to check up on her. 

Today’s Carli’s birthday and I knew it wasn’t going to be any easier on her than it is for me. One of two worse days of every year.
Sadly we will always share this. Not the way to share a child's birthday.
Edith had taken today off but still had some work to do. I didn’t take the day off. With my upcoming move there is just too much to do. Anyway, today is a good day to stay busy. Better not to think.

I get the questions, with my move to NC do I think we’ll get back together. I don’t see it happening. People are surprised when I tell them we’ve been separated almost three and half years now.  She is going on. Trying to. We both are.
It was good to hear her voice. I will always love her.  

Didn’t tell her about the dreams. Two nights, two dreams.
The first was of Carli in her hospital bed. This was the rougher dream.  Surprisingly. Thankfully. I don’t often dream of her like this. A heart aching dream to wake up from.
The second dream on the second night was of all my kids, but they were all very young. Carli was maybe 5 in this dream. With that sweet smile. And that mischievous sparkle that always in her eyes.

She would be 23 today.


Monday, December 29, 2014

The Letter

It did not seem real until now.

Not the new job. Not the search and then the deposit on the new rental. Not even telling my family the decision made.

Like tonight’s fog. Everything is there but still appears very distant.
When handing in my resignation letter, letting go of this anchor, it now becomes real.
I’m heading home. Returning to the deep rich greens of North Carolina.

I had started to doubt. Certainly my family did. Every door that appeared seemed to close as fast. I stopped even mentioning the possibilities.  
Suddenly here I am. Handing in this letter.

Well not so suddenly. Not really.