Two. What are two years worth? Can days be discarded, undesirable and unwanted ones?

In a telling shortness, the two years behind me are worth all that’s ahead.  I’ve cursed plenty of those days playing the victim drunk stumbling on circumstance violating what I measured fair in my life.  Death never seems fair or fitting in its happening and the lonelier days following.

Tomorrow marks 2 years completed since my wife unexpectedly died.  On a Wednesday like countless other ordinary Wednesdays before it, she was rushed from home to hospital.  And I think it was then, not on the following Monday when she breathed her last, that our paths began to pull apart.  I say this because for five days while she lay in an ICU bed, machines pushed air into her and fluids through her.  She was gone.  All that she was was no more.

Time stopped even as I watched it continue all around me and my life, the one lovingly built with her, ended.  A new one started where I was a minor character in a major lead role, often overwhelmed with wordless emotion swirling in the context of grief resting heavy and constant.

I hated the new life that I had no choosing in.  I resented God and if I’m honest in confession, parts of me still do.  Those are the real hurt parts of me pierced by inexplicable, but not out of the question circumstance of a loved one dying.

Killing those hurting and accusing parts of me by allowing time, love and hope to heal is a daily exercise in trusting God and his goodness both universally for all people, but more intimately, for me.

We all die someday, I suppose.

We certainly do die, everyone of us.  Saying, ‘I suppose,’ comes from one of those hurt parts of me that finds a slighting satisfaction in reminding God that I don’t agree nor expected such tragedy to find me then.  But death and tragedy in its wake did find us.  That’s right where our new life started, the one that we are two years into now.


Like morning fogged with sky fallen as low as our feet, Ahead ambiguously hangs on the fading tail of days bled through, lost in and even the smallest celebratory moments in clouds knifed through by sun.  The promise of life in the closing distance warming more with each step away from life tearing apart glows on the horizon.  We are not yet there at the glowing destination where all seems as though it rests only calm and giving.  Maybe we never will be fully there.  And maybe not being there is a good thing; a sort of guiding beauty always prompting us onward to a land and place of promise and peace.

We’re drifting, sliding sideways some days, but mostly moving forward in tossing waves frothing and foaming of grief and grace ...a heart-healing, God-stirred elixir.

Days old and aged in effort given and attempts overcome are also effective little liars.  Creepers finding cracks to grow in; the unwanted searching for higher position than truth just standing stoic.  Those days must be let go of as our hands grasp and hold to a new day.  Faith. Grief. Healing.

Rocks hold well in the sea stirring and are a sure welcomed sight for one drowning, but waves don’t relent in crashing.  Unconcerned of their breaking, they keep coming and breaking, again and again.  Life and waves can feel much of the same in this way.

Rock holds and waves break.


So what of the two years behind?

I’m braver. I’m bolder. I’m stronger.

I’m more lost. I’m lonelier. I’m smaller.

I’m more convinced of good. I’m wrapped in dawning grace. I’m rescued.

I’m a better father. I’m a contradicting son. I’m an honest man lying in moments precarious.

...a loser won.


And what of them, the girls, my daughters? Well, they’re still watching, always waiting and regularly wondering and dreaming of tomorrow.  They simply are the best thing for me, and I would surely be someone different without them.  My daughters hurt and are still found in tears.  In moments where moms fit appropriately, they have no one of exact measurement.  That is the deepest bruise.  Their little hearts have journeyed further and lived more than mine at that age.  And smiles defy all wrong in their day with an honesty inspiring each of my steps.


These two years have beat the hell out of me, honestly.  But I’m here everyday gazing upon a glowing distance still blurry in my eyes.

You are where you are, precisely.  Circumstance, both good and not, will always loom and exist.  Your choosing just as mine is simple: onward and through; no matter the depth nor height.


And now three.

in homage and honor.

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“Tomorrow found in today; what’s ahead discovered in days behind.”

This has become somewhat of an echoing mantra and anchoring core value in my life.  Often what we need for today and beyond lies in the path behind us.  A risk that taught us to trust more.  A failure that taught us bravery.  A mistake that taught us humility.  A hurt that taught us to bleed.  A loneliness that taught us to find.  A darkness that taught us courage.  A victory that taught us to win.

Whatever those steps pressed into the ground of yesterday hold, above all, they hold life and answers and path.

The writing of my book gave perfect opportunity to look back, gaze upon the burning heap of dreams behind ...look ...want ...hurt ...break, and mostly ...find.  Recounting pieces of my past floating, stretching further apart on life pulling like the tide and swelling waves, has, in a way, been the greatest happening.  Many days I felt like a scavenger walking through barren lands once rich and fertile, now hollow and uninhabited.  And then, I would stumble upon deep wells of remembrance whispering words I couldn’t understand but laced with promise and passage finding penetrating way into the chambers of my heart.

Losing my wife, a woman whom I loved indescribably, did nothing less than change me completely.

Life turned unexpectedly and unforgivably.  I stopped lost in tracks.  The steps behind me began to guide me with each faith-filled, God following, narrowly trusting, grace infusing step into the unknown.

Future bowing to past in homage and honor.  My eyes learned new, the value of unknown and how to choose.

Here’s an excerpt central to my story from a chapter currently entitled, “Surely Goodness and Mercy.”:

I saw a man alone, subdued by pain, frightened by the fear of all that may be some day, and I quietly asked to never be that man.  I can't.  I won't.  The man fumbling through fading memories like a thief holding a leaking bag, the man stumbling drunk on why things settled they way they did, talking to himself, mumbling angrily and hurt.  That will not be me.

My daughters will not know him.  They might see me wince and wrestle to the ground... But they will never know a hollowed heart comfortable only in shadows.  I may not have much greater to give them than that but it will be an echo that resounds like bells of freedom in their warm little hearts.  Always.  I pray.

I will not allow myself to be the man hollowed by pain, afraid of shadows and those things which lie in waiting. Life may indeed only seem to take from us, days, memories, happiness, but courage is mine to give. And the source, it is immeasurably and unfathomably deep. It is unending. Through darkened spots and failing strength, the reason for courage remains.

For months following her death, I only prayed for God to piece back together the life I was forced from.  So little did I know and perceive the beauty of his bridge building redemptive ability lies within the thinnest, most inescapable steps when I am invited to only follow and not need bearing or direction or understanding.

Each day, a decision. Choose wisely.  Trust ridiculously.  Step faithfully.

... A day forsaken is a day forgotten. So many want only to escape.


a splinter finds its way inruptured sky, once barren womb unknown man words land without home a seed in dry soil blood and water will give birth to the greatest mystery ever known and they will know

in the dust settled a bending water cleansing dirtied hands hearts stained, color of pride all run lost every hand helped push deep nails in wood through blood and bone you. me. them.

a bead runs slowly, blood and sweat, man and not racing the speed of love down the earthen beam to kiss the ground swallowing

the darkest dusk, eve of hopeless night they will all know their hearts cover their eyes for tonight death stands over all

et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto

Mark 15:22-25 Matt. 27:51-56 Rom. 5:6-8

God in context.

I went away alone for a four day writing weekend to make progress on finishing my book, the first one that I’m writing.  60,000 words or so all dripping with life, mine.  A view fixed from my eyes at life all around and life all within.  Memories resurface bringing great comfort and pain and irreplaceable joy and sadness still.  These words piece together only fragments of my life still unfolding like tiny picture scenes positioned carefully to make a bigger picture standing at a distance.  And what you begin to notice more than anything else is God.  In everything.

My brother died at age eight.  Me being five, I didn’t really get it.  God.  Finding God through fear in high school.  My hero dad leaving my mom in the slowest, clumsiest way, God.  Off to college lost and drifting, God.  Meeting the one who would become the one and the joy and finding involved, God.  Defying my odds and yet somehow landing where I always thought I would in ministry as a pastor.  God.  Family.  God.  The birth and acceptance of the three greatest treasures in my life.  God.  Learning to be a father.  God.  Leaving all to pursue the thinnest of dreams together as a family.  God.  The death of my wife.  God.  Life collapsing.  God.  Holding my daughters breaking in the dust settling.  God.  Awakening to a new day.  God.  Finding new life.  God.  Writing.  God.  Epilogue to Prologue, ending to (re)beginning, in the most precise redemptive strokes and causing all to meaningfully making sense.  God.

Below is an excerpt from a chapter that I am writing.  It is not finished.  Maybe it never truly will be.  As of now, the chapter is tentatively entitled, “A Crumbling Wall”.  In writing this chapter, I have a specific vision and imagery guiding the words and their piece together.  A wall battered down, eroded by life and circumstance, especially loss and grief, and how these served to rebuild and reform faith and trust stronger and more solid than before.

There was a street performer that I would see most times I visited the French Quarter as a kid.  For some reason, he made me think about God.  He was a mime in the character of a robot.  His movements were odd, mechanical, precise and a bit predictable.  Even in the sweltering heat and heavy summer air, he dressed in a full suit painted silver from head to toe.  As both natives and tourists passed him by, he never broke character.  It may have been his commitment to character or his quirky, precise gestures that caused me to think of God.  Then again, it could have been his silence and distance from people moving closely all about him and the way in which his actions and movements were cause for attention, but not direct interaction.  And of course, maybe it was the brilliance of his silver skin, suit and hat, that glowed and stood out in the unbelievable heat and humidity of the New Orleans day and how it never affected him that reminded me of God and what I perceived him to be.

Many people are enchanted by God and the thought that He is out there somewhere, somehow holding it all together and keeping the world from tilting too far out of control.  Comfortable with the distance yet calling to somewhere in the sky when in need.  Some are disillusioned by him and his perceived and felt inactivity in broken and horrific parts of their lives.  God exists exactly within the context of your life.  It is in the awakening to God as you are, just where you are, that you find him.  Or more precisely put, God finds you.


The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own,t and his own peoplet did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  (John 1:9-13)



a shadow.

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He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

"The nights are loneliest."

Standing there in a room of his most loved, he was all alone.  So was I.  I found myself connected to more than words, to the disconnect and fear floating in his eyes.  The years stacked neatly for them.  They were happy.  I could tell by the way he spoke.  The papers that I had for him to sign seemed so insignificant.  His words rang familiar.  She was not yet gone, but close.  Death ready to come and it needed to happen.  She had suffered and battled with disease long enough.  He was waiting as she was letting go.  I had to reel him in out of the sacredness waiting with her, his love, to leave to discuss her end of life care.  He signed the hospice papers, looked long into my eyes and thanked me genuinely.  I heal a bit more every time.  Much like a victim, a survivor, the one remaining shell shocked and moving slower than life surrounding, I watched as he stood tall by her side.  He knew that the path ahead would be trying.  So did I.  It’s the one I’ve been walking.

They all forget.  The next day just happens as the ones before and the ones following.  What's worse is the thought of them remembering at the sight of you.  A walking tragedy, polarized.  The one left to tell of perseverance and the found silver lining.  Most days, especially close to the interruption, you fake it hiding in a facade of strength and learned living.  You get lost in the day. I still forget even now.  Lapses of time, circumstance and reality erase death in fast fleeting moments.  I forget I'm a widower.  I forget I'm alone.  Until night comes and busyness fades with the day.  Then I remember again very well the cause for all this commotion, this upheaval of life.  Disruption.  No one likes to be stopped mid-conversation with words still left to say.  Interrupted and the words left just hanging with no place to land.

There you go.  That's the prickly heart of the matter.  Life interrupted.  Left hanging, suspended and final.

Loneliness is lost.  Deeper than companionship so sweet and identifying is the wandering afterward.  I wander as I wonder.  What of life now?  This dark interlude.  Does it give way to something better?  Some place happier?  Will life again ever resemble the day lost?  Should it?

I am convinced ever so deeply that it will, but when, where, what and how, require trust and faith that is, in spots, thin.

This is nothing new.  I've been lonely since the moment she left.  Many steps through treacherous impasses have made me more honest and bare.  Being honest about being lonely feels good to me signaling stability and security.  Admitting to loneliness for me is saying that I do not know the way, I am searching for place to rest, I need people close to me more now.  I am more vulnerable.  I am weaker.  All signs of greater strength of lasting, guiding value.

Being lonely has never meant being desperate for companionship.  That will come just as soon as it again makes sense, and it will, but that is eternally secondary to finding my way now and discovering purpose in loneliness.  In loneliness, I find great strength.  In solitude, I find solidarity that I've not known before.  Because I need it, it is there.  Companionship with God.  The Author of life littering my path with his graces leading to shelter.  Covering me in storms. Finding me in fog.  Stabilizing me in turbulence.  Allowing me to hide when I need and breathe when I cannot.

A real God finding me amidst real wrong in real life.  This is good and unique.  Dare I even think it, a blessing.

My prayer is that I always remember the bountifulness of these lonely nights leading me to stronger shelter.  One day, probably sooner than later, life will be settled wondrously and clean.  Fuller.  In that goodness, apart from this loneliness, may I always remember this couch, the silence, the distance and the ringing of questions.  For these are the beams of his shelter in which I dwell.