“Crack A Smile, Cut Your Mouth, and Drown In Alcohol”

Jesus was in my stereo
I had a sharp suit on
I practiced my handshake with the congregation
My posture was straight as I led them in prayer

The desire to be embraced by the out
Was too much to resist
The seal broke and I bled
My dehydrated soul shriveled as I stubbornly shivered

Though there was a knock
I had my back was turned to the door
Living out my sickness at top speed
Only finding relief in short spells followed by hangovers

Then my impostor world ruptured
Revealing the chasm that used to be a soul
Yearning to be filled
Finally satisfied by a flood of Grace

“In his brokenness, the repentant prodigal knew an intimacy with his father that his sinless, self-righteous brother would never know.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Pp.181)

Interstate Ballet

From my personal journal:

Sunday, October 22, 2006
Today I sat in the back-seat with my arms around my daughter who was seated next to me in her car seat, helpless to have any influence over our pirouetting car as it traversed from one guardrail to the other amidst the flow of interstate traffic. It was during those few short seconds that my life whirled too quickly for me to feel, or to fear. It is since then that I have taken inventory of all that could have been so quickly lost. It is now that I appreciate all that I presently have. In a few minutes I will glance at my daughter as she sleeps in her bedroom and then lay down next my wife who is already asleep in mine. Finally, I will whisper thanks to a gracious God who faithfully acknowledged the prayer that we sent to him before we backed out of the driveway this morning.

Wedding Plans

The following is a personal journal entry from 10/12/06 of mine that I came across while reading past entries. When I read it a few minutes ago it gave me a jolt of joy:

Thursday, October 12, 2006
It was last night as we were putting Julia to bed when she asked me to tell her a story about a wedding. I went on to make up a story about a little girl who dreamed of having a wedding in which she would be getting married to a doctor while wearing a beautiful, flowing white gown, surrounded by all of her family, friends, and a large bridal party. When I got to the part where I said she would dance with mommy and she would dance with daddy, she said that she, “don’t want to marry a doctor. I want to marry a daddy.”

Your Cell

aIn a recurrent moment of knee-jerk reactions
I recline paralyzed in a mixture of fear and hope

Not knowing how to respond
I don’t respond at all

Worried about coming across too abrasive
I send only my silence

You are swallowed by your problems
You are cocooned by your candy shell veneer

Your sight is diverted
Your insight is lost

Instead of fortifying windowless walls
Please open your cell

While you can still hear the knock
We were born to love

It Is Well With My Soul

I was vaguely familiar with this hymn when I was younger. The weight of it hit me full force, however, when, as a 30 year old prodigal, I finally found peace with Jesus through discovery of His grace. The version of the song that woke me up was from the Jars of Clay album “Redemption Songs.” I’ve heard it done by a few others since then (e.g. Rebecca St. James, Jeremy Camp), but, not done nearly as effectively in my opinion.

To me the significance of this hymn is the realization of the reality of complete forgiveness that is available to us if we simply ask. I now am able recognize the joy that our Abba experiences when we finally return home. While the weather of life on Earth will continue for a time, I can hold fast for the time when, “The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend.”

It is well with my soul.

It is Well With My Soul

(1) When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll-Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul.

CHORUS: It is well with my soul,it is well, it is well with my soul.

(2) My sin- O the joy of this glorious thought-My sin, not in part, but the whole,Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more:Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

(3) And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll:The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,”Even so”- it is well with my soul.

The Importance of Being Properly Hydrated

Just the other day I experienced another gratifyingly crystal-clear moment of grace. It was a gloomy, overcast morning. It was one of those days that I had grown to expect, after 31 years of living, not to be remembered as a great day. Sunshine does so much to brighten my soul and when it is not their, its sometimes easy to forget that it ever was. I was driving home from the coffee shop when my predictable expectations for cloudy days were beginning to come to fruition.

At some point during my drive (it may have been the lyrics to a song I was listining to while driving – though, I can’t recall the lyrics or the song now), I remembered that growth comes from rain. Rain is a critical component of the rebirth of nature each spring. As I’ve found out in concrete terms through the experience of trying to keep a plant in my classroom alive, when a plant is not watered, it ceases to be a living organism.

It was only after I parked the car in the driveway, pulled my keys out of the ignition, opened the door, and stepped out, that I heard Him. Stepping from the stale air inside my car I inhaled the fresh air outside and immediately felt, smelt, and tasted the positively distinct character of spring and rebirth. I remember it all coming together in my head and in my heart during the few seconds that expired as I walked from the driveway to the front door of my house. An involuntary plea from my soul lead to acknowledgement from God, a smile on my face, and a thank you from my lips. A couple thousand years past Christ’s resurrection and a few days past our celebration of Easter Sunday, Jesus is still resurrecting love, peace, and hope, through grace, making all things new.

Go Cheap

Poor Old Lu is one of my favorite bands of all time. Within the context of music, their run through the nineties was a rare blend of legitimately skilled, creative musicianship and a Christian lyrical perspective. The band released their last titled The Waiting Room a few years ago and since, disbanded in favor of other creative opportunities (e.g., the band Fair).

By far, the Poor Old Lu song that left the biggest impression on me was, “Speak Soft,” which was a cover of The Swoon’s original version. It hit me hard because it so articulately describes the struggle I was going through in the mid ’90’s. It continues to resonate with me today because, while I’ve sought and found peace, so many (including friends and family that I love dearly) have not.

Its difficult to effectively convey peace-laden satisfaction to someone who prefers to quarantine themself from the possibility of such a concept. Instead, they rely on a long list of well-recited defense mechanisms that prevent them from getting their feet wet, getting their hands dirty, and living abundantly.

Jerry had some beers and started to sing
he knows just what he means he don’t mean a thing
he waited for the wisdom years would bring, to him
on the refrigerator door
are the words he had written moments before
it says ‘i hope i never have to go to war’
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
he goes to the dance and falls in love
years later it’s still her he’s thinking of
she never spoke once or even looked up, enough
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
Houdini closed himself inside of a box
he didn’t have a trick to spring the lock
off the stage the people watched, the clock
prison could be a nice place to live
the bars on the window like bars on a crib
freedom is the least desired gift, to give
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
Jerry had some beers and started to weep
it’s time to turn away, it’s his time to sleep
don’t trouble yourself with seeking peace, go cheap

“Speak Soft” from the EP Straight Six by Poor Old Lu