Body Image, Books, Death, faith, relationship, Women

True Peace

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I was at Mission Barbeque at Opry Mills last Friday, and when I went into the lavatory there was a picture of Marilyn Monroe over the urinal. I read this book about Marilyn Monroe, and as I wrote this post she came to mind. With all due respect to those who knew her I have to pity her because she never knew true peace. Her worth was found in men, and Hollywood used her the way I use a vacuum cleaner to clean Nashville homes. She allowed it however, and I think our Father’s mercies are upon her now even these plethora of years later as she is not subject to the discarding of Hollywood’s definition of worth. Never let a human being define your worth. Let my Father see you as a unique creation on which He does not fail. Period. 

A sense of humor is important, but there are some subjects within the context of community and more personal relationships when it’s too early to laugh.

I do not need to take myself so seriously that I can’t laugh at myself, but there is a time to take myself seriously as it pertains to overcoming a particular shortcoming or sin.

Coming to grips with the damage done is a very serious matter that I meditate on, but to gravel in guilt and shame is of course straight from the agenda of Satan himself. Satan may not be directly involved, but he doesn’t have to be for it to be grafted into the thinking of a human being.

We’ve always lived in dark times, but the statements created that become beliefs can be overcome.

We are not left alone to our brokenness even when the end is suicide. If someone drags you and a loved one through shit because they took their own life just walk away because you’ll get it on you.

Boundaries are powerful, and God created them for our protection.

That’s why the word propitiation is so powerful in the text. In my paraphrase I take “hilasterion” and phrase it “boundary.” Boundaries cover and protect, and my LORD’s “atoning sacrifice” and “propitiation” is a boundary from destruction, perishing or annihilation. I am forever secure in the presence of my Father even in death.

That is the reason fear is done away with literally. Oh, I have to choose to believe it because He does not force it upon me.

And I believe it, hence all things can become new.

I pray your faith dive to that kind of depth because you can take all the Prozac in the world, and you’ll never have that kind of peace.

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Arts, Church, Death, faith, Women

Bonnie Rose

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I taught 5th and 6th graders at Madison under Bonnie Rose. I got to know Malcolm and Bonnie and Malcolm III there, and now Carey and I are good friends with the Roses. 

This amazing woman is no longer with us, and it saddens me beyond words. Her Malcolm and Malcolm III are hurting deeply because now they have to go to Wilson Boulevard without her.

I think what I loved most about her was her tireless desire to make the gospel attractive. Her talent for art at Wilson Boulevard, Gallatin Road, Franklin Road and Charlotte Avenue displayed the greatest Artist with poise, dignity and beauty. Her hand of artistic expression honed at Lipscomb Academy and Harding University will live on in her absence, but I would not be surprised if our Father is gazing upon her beauty now.

Bonnie Rose was first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. She was Mac’s wife, and Malcolm’s mom, and my tears are heavy as I bear some of their grief.

Their generosity and love I will carry with me to my grave, and when I stop by Wilson Boulevard to visit my dear Mac I will forever remember the lady who was with me in my darkest night of the soul. She was not only there in the pit of my depression, but she was present as I “rose” above it in my groaning. I groan now because there are two men in my amazing city who have a void that will never be filled this side of eternity with our Father.

She took conflict as beautifully as she accepted her arthritis, and when I’d sit with her and Malcolm I could never tell she was in constant pain. She’s not in pain anymore, and the only thing the consoles me in this loss is that the smiles I see on Facebook, and the memory of her in my head are real and enduring. She will be one of the ones I will search for when the new Earth is created. Her place now at the right hand of an all loving Father wherever that is is assuredly a place of warmth and not pain that we can only imagine.

She had a plethora of voids in this life I know because we spent hours sharing our hurts with each other, and as the Holy Spirit worked through both Mac and Bonnie I can look upon our relationship with unadulterated love for the hope I express. Her hope is complete now, and her physical pain is no more, and though I have no idea what happens after death I suspect it’s better than here. I’m not ready to leave because I don’t think my time on Earth is through, but I long for the day to be where Bonnie is.

Bonnie was obviously a beautiful lady, but her heart and devotion to God, Malcolm and Malcolm made her beautiful on an entirely different level. She wasn’t out to compete with anyone, and she did not flash her money to shame anyone. Her heart was open because Jesus transformed her life to love the unlovable unconditionally.

We love you Bonnie, and we’ll miss you terribly as it’s already begun, but we know that when we join you “quietly, quickly and gently” that we’ll see your art, share your heart and hum songs of praise that will raise goosebumps on our arms in the presence of the One who conquered death.

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Body Image, Eating, Story

Real Struggles

imagesI feel miserable when I overeat. Why do I do it? I’m trying to fill a void when I do it. It doesn’t help me fit into the large t-shirts I’m buying now. I’ve been buying XL for many years. I can’t get down to the 180 I want to if I continue to overeat, but I am also overanalyzing this as I frequently do.

An even keel approach to life is important, and my bi-polar episodes would be less dramatic if the even keels were more frequent then the binge eatings at dinner time. My semantic has been to push the plate back, but frequently when I’m clearing the table I reason that my “movement” doing the dishes burns calories. Oh it burns calories, but not the 500 I consumed in that fourth piece of oh so delicious homemade pizza. It’s a wonder I’m not 300. My girls joke about the 400 pound man they live with, but let me go on record as blogging that I am right at 220. Needless to say I need to drop 40 so I look good in those large shirts. Now I’m not vain enough to think I have to look good. Wanting to feel good trumps that, but I don’t like looking like some middle aged fat man who drinks multiple beers on the sofa every night in front of the game. I do drink butter beer in Diagon Alley with Hermione (my daughter) and Mrs. Weasley (my wife), and I must say that when you go to Universal Studios Orlando you must try it, but keep a look out for he-who-must-not-be-named. He’ll steal it from you!

Taking oneself seriously means I don’t take myself too seriously. Once again I cross a paradox. Emotional health calls us to such an attitude, and I suppose the rub comes when I “fall” off the eating wagon. There are people who have serious psychological issues as it’s connected with food, and I do not tread lightly on that subject. My prayers are continually with you because I would take great offense at someone who glibly looks or comments about depression. I walk softly around the very real struggles my friends have, and my heart is heavy for you as you take one day at a time like me.

That’s all we can ask of ourselves as we lay ourselves before a God who loves us unconditionally no strings attached.

I close with verse I’ve been meditating on all day. It’s from 1 John 4:18.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

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faith

What Is Strength?

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This picture was taken a year ago in Orlando. This is my youngest brother Jeremy, his wife Crystal, and their 3 little munchins. Jeremy is an inspiration to me because I believe with my whole heart that he embodies all the things I write about in this post. Is he perfect? You know the answer to that. Satan loves it when we are defeated by fear, shame and guilt. He uses all those things in my battle with depression, but people like Jeremy and Crystal give me hope that Revelation is right on track when it teaches us that God wins. 

This morning I came here only I couldn’t because I didn’t have an internet connection. Obviously I do now. That was about 6am. It’s now almost noon. I say that because I’m always proud of sticking to something even if there is a waiting period to accomplish it.

I take for granted the small victories that are really not small at all because small victories lead to big ones.

That was a side note. Here’s what I was really coming to post at 6am.

Fatherhood and Marriage is a mantle. If you choose to shoulder it and do the work, it will bring you to places of joy and satisfaction and love…

But if you falter… if you double guess your choice… if you decide half-way in to shirk the mantle, or grumble at its weight… you are lost. It will punish you without mercy, brutally and endlessly. (LIT: How To Get Your Soul Back; Bryan Ward, ©2016, http://thirdwayman.com. All Rights Reserved.

I’m living this reality. I’m coming out of the unmerciful and brutal side of this equation, so obviously I disagree with with the endless part. It’s similar to my theology. God is never ending, but to say He’s unmerciful is ignorant. Pain is very much a part of life, but it does not last forever. All things pass except the eternal bond we share with God. I place too much emphasis on the things that do not last to the exclusion of focusing on the things that do.

Mr. Ward places fatherhood ahead of marriage, and I don’t assume anything about that between his two ears, but I lived for 6 years being married to Carey before fatherhood came to my experience. Marriage will be with me long after my daughter has left home too. There are too many people who place all their eggs in the fatherhood basket, and they wonder why their marriage ends when the kids leave. Neglected relationships die. There is no more single important relationship than the one with your wife.

Mr. Ward from Third Way Man convinces me of this. My responsibility as a father is a very serious matter, and one I do not, nor have I ever taken lightly, but I am changing my thinking as it pertains to the woman who I share life with till death do we part. This is not because my parents have been married for almost 50 years, nor is it because I’ve been given some special knowledge that I should. It’s not even because the Bible tells me so. It’s because God created from the beginning marriage to be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman. We’ve polluted, perverted and removed all mystery from this holy union because we have failed to acknowledge the supreme power God has over making it pure.

When we take a high view of relationship we know that we must die daily to our selfishness in order to make any relationship work, but too few of us know what that looks like, much less how it looks in our relationship with our wives. We weren’t shown what it looks like, and in fact 50% of us saw it end in a blaze of glory, so how the hell are we to know what to do when a boy learns what he experiences?

It’s high time we get serious about relationship, not because we have a corner on the market, no one does, but because we’ve been given a power and connection with the one true God who never sleeps, eats or wrings His hands in frustration at our refusal to rise to the occasion.

I have failed with epic proportions. That’s not a secret. I am just once voice out of many crying to a Father who is closer than the blood in my veins, and His breath breathes life into my lungs when I can’t take another step. The futility of my plans, my selfish ambition, and my anger at my enemies together can be squelched with His pinky finger, yet somehow time and again I demand fairness from those who reject God. Don’t expect the world to give you what it cannot. Our consumeristic culture can’t even pause on Memorial Day to remember that our fallen men and women made Memorial Day possible. The culture is inundated with ad after ad of new cars and furniture. No wonder we self-implode against our families who we seek “satisfaction” from.

Demanding another person make you happy is not only ludicrous, but it places a demand they cannot fulfill. We have to stop.

Do we empower another human being in their weakness, ignorance and narcissism? No, but when another human being is not able to bring what they cannot bring we need to not only accept it, but we need to embrace it because there is a God who is filling that void.

Marriage exacerbates this because you are now connected to a person 24/7. It’s the way God created it. When we seek to destroy things God created we only destroy ourselves, and I don’t have to tell you we’re doing a good job of destroying each other.

Adam and Eve had the same problem. They blamed another for their sin. It’s time to stop blaming others and other things, and own up to our own sin.

God created us and the planet we’re on. Don’t you think He can sustain and make all 7 billion of us strong upon it?

 

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Arts, Church, Depression, faith, relationship, Story

Improv

 

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This is the room I write about in this post, but it looks silently different. The piano is in the same location. 

Crafting something from nothing has always intrigued me. The book Free Play was introduced to me a few years ago, and even though it’s premise is improv the principles can be applied outside of acting.

I’ve found a new place in the house to read and write. It’s our music room. It’s where my guitar and our piano reside. I’ve read many writing books where they tell you to write in the same place every time. This is is my second day in a row coming here, but I’ve been here several times before. I just haven’t consistently come here consecutive days. Habit and routine are important in creating. I think that’s the trouble with my muse in the context of learning to play the guitar. Kevin is divinely patient with me as I work through the blocks that prohibit me from learning, but as that fire burns within me I will not give up unless death stops me. The artist life is not for the faint, and stage fright is really only a symptom of something much deeper, in my case a life-long struggle with depression.

My dad was pastoring a church in north west Kansas in the middle of nowhere really. It was a typical mid-western Church of Christ, and though I don’t want to demonize them because they are still in existence I will write that all of us have demons to deal with. My brother Jeremy had just been born in Arkansas. It was the very early 80’s, and the church convinced my dad to move his family to Kansas. They only had enough money to pay him for a year. They did not volunteer that information. A year in he’s looking for another job. My nightmares and struggle with depression began. Somehow in the course of that experience I also became a Christian, and I remember vividly thinking that if I wasn’t baptized I’d go to Hell. I also remember growing spiritually in that same day as I stood in the shower after my baptism thinking I get to spend eternity with my Father.

The nightmare was very specific, and I remember it to this day. I was part of a concentration camp on Ellis Island constructing the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty was complete from the waist up, but we had to lift her so another work detail could finish from the waist down. We never completed her construction. There was no resolve or closure, and when I’d wake up I’d either have wet the bed, or I’d be in a cold sweat that I’ll never forget so long I don’t battle some sort of dementia. Those dreams were especially intense and repetitious when dad was gone interviewing with different churches.

My family of origin loves the arts. We always have, and my family now loves the arts even more that we shake our heads in disbelief at those who boycott Twilight and Harry Potter. Spoiler alert: Good wins over evil. Moving on.

Family is very important to me, and even though some of us argue over what a family looks like if love is shared is the main question in any relationship. God created Adam and Eve, and He created us for monogamous relationships that last a lifetime.

I shared the following with a group of people at a round table during a parenting seminar we attended led by my friend Frank Scott.

I grew up on average about 500 miles away from my grandparents. That wasn’t by design. It just was. While in Kansas mom and dad decided to record a cassette tape of a dramatic presentation similar to Lake Wobegon Days and Prairie Home Companion. We sent a copy to my dad’s parents we called ma and pa, aunt Sue and my mom’s mom grandma. Grandpa died in 1977. Grandpa was in his 30’s when he married grandma at age 15. In any case dad wrote an entire script like Garrison Keillor does for his radio broadcast that sometimes is broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium. All 6 of us had speaking parts amidst the variety show my parents concocted. I’ll never forget it. It still amazes me that they were able to do that in a very tumultuous time of their lives. It was probably like a glass of wine or a good novel that gave them escape.

Even in the midst of darkness if those who believe in light turn the light on it’s amazing how God sends hope to those who don’t have it.

It’s what keeps me going.

 

 

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Death, Depression, faith, Prayer

A New Earth

img_0045Beyond sad really does describe a large part of my story. I was always saying goodbye. That’s bound to make anyone sad. I was beyond sad because clinical depression is just that. I have a disclaimer though.

You’re familiar with being happy because it happened, rather then being sad because it’s over. Parents who lose children can only be described as the worst of all possible scenarios, but suffering is suffering, and to classify suffering is not fair to those of us who suffer, and that is all of us.

We hurt. We grieve. We deny, but when we face reality we come to know that the loss is very real. Those like me who are devout believers in Jesus Christ know that He is not only familiar with our suffering, but He intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. No one can hurt for you, but when I practice empathy for a friend who is well into his 80’s who lost a brother 3 years ago I bear his burden.

When we bear the burdens of each other, and rejoice with each other when we achieve success we cross a threshold that the unbelieving world never crosses. Oh, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to see everybody else fail. There’s nothing new under the sun, and I realize this, but most people worship comfort, and when something stretches their thinking beyond that comfort then they retreat into jealousy, anger and a mindset that refuses to participate.

God works through rich, middle class and poor. God is at work from sunrise to sunset, and when we grow paralyzed with fear God continues to work with or without us. He is not wringing His hands on a celestial throne worried sick about what Donald Trump is thinking, much less saying.

We go about our daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routines as our Father partners with us in advancing His message of love. We think we know what that looks like, but we don’t. We can, and we strive to, but we still fall short, yet He continues to press forward with us.

It’s a tension that will always be a part of this old Earth, but when the new heavens and the new Earth are created sickness and death will be done away with, and I suspect blog posts will not need to end because the author has to go to bed.

The lion will lie down with the lamb, and human beings will be perfect with a perfect Father.

Come soon LORD we pray, and our gratitude for your presence makes all the pain pale in comparison.

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Depression

#PersonifyME, Depression

tig_1068I cannot ignore this man. I do at times because I have to get sleep, and the laundry doesn’t do itself because my wand is at Olivanders. If I had to throw a football over a mountain it’d be a cold day in Hell if I did, and his annoying ability to to side-track me from productivity leaves me frustrated beyond belief. I was once selling some food storage containers, and I wanted to illustrate their toughness. I drove my van over one, but it shattered. I drove away. Driving away from him is not possible. He is constantly there smacking me in the face with someone else’s steak. I come to think I can take him with my nun chuck skills, but his tenacity keeps his losing ways tethered to my karma. I do somehow find the strength to put one foot in front of the other, and until I get my wand from Olivander the laundry is actually improving as I muggle it for the other two Gryffindors in this common area. He is my Uncle Rico and my Voldemort. Tots make it better, but chocolate frogs at Universal are better than a Patronus Charm. He is dark and black, and he lives in the past, but he can be destroyed. And he will not stop my dance in front of the whole school.

 

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