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Endships

I’m weary.

Are you weary?

I regret

Do you regret?

Fin | Hollywood aesthetic, Old hollywood movies, Old hollywood aesthetic

This is not a poem. Sorry, I just have little to give, to write. It’s hard to see light. It’s hard to see how all things are working together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes. It’s hard to know if I love Him, and it’s hard to know if I was called.

Maybe called and hung up on.

I fear this is becoming my identity. A man in the center of the end of things. A man that keeps trying to make things work that aren’t meant to work.

It’s funny for someone who has switched jobs as much as I have, how often I have tried to make some relationships work that just aren’t working, how often how I’ve stayed in and served churches that have taken more of my life than have given back.

I need to get better at endings. Letting go, saying goodbye and not carrying the weight of the ending.

Maybe when people and places say no, that is an invitation to wipe your feet and leave rather than keep knocking in order to try to prove you are worthy of their time and energy.

I was driving to work today listening to “Strings” by Misty Edwards on an album I frequently return to entitled Relentless and I said to God, “This just does not seem like kind of life that is bringing joy to the full, this does not seem like life with the Jesus I once knew. What do I do?”

The lyrics of that song:

Lord You have my heart (repeat)

And I’m searching for yours

Lord You have my thoughts (repeat

And I’m searching for yours

Lord You have my song (Repeat)

And I’m searching for yours

I’m so in love with You

I’m so in love with You

I’m so in love with You Jesus

I’m honestly not self aware enough to know if I am doing or being any of those things in the song. I just know I’m trying not to stop

Celebrating 250!

My last blog post was my 250th blog post! That’s kind of exciting. This blog since its inception in 2012 has averaged about 25 posts a year. That does not seem like very many to be honest. Some years I had more to say than others. This post will be kind of like a greatest hits of this blog so if that bores you, I’m sorry.

As of now my most read post is one titled Lord of the Bowel Movement with 187 views. It seems to be a popular search term internationally. Close behind (pun intended) is my post about taking an extended break (perhaps permanently) from pro wrestling. And coming up the rear (pun still intended) with a post that still seems to gain some steam is one titled Don’t Bury Your Underwear about the prophet Jeremiah.

A little more than 1/5 of the content of this blog was written from September of 2019-September of 2020. Most of which is now private, half of which is poetry. I returned to poetry likely as a way to couch the rawness of emotion and pain I was processing so as to make it less palpable or angry sounding. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not.

This blog contains 3 expositional devotional type series moving through the books of Jude, Ezekiel and the gospel of John. The posts through Jude are all private largely because they discuss a biblical sexual ethic and positions that are largely not politically correct. The posts on Ezekiel are pretty whimsical and pastoral and exploratory. Whereas the posts on John are all pretty tender and telling. They are all like mini sermons and perhaps my best work, but pretty sure not often read because of an algorithm that isn’t friendly towards posts that contain Scripture (that’s conjecture).

One of my favorite stand alone posts Wealthy Mercy, I usually share if people want to get a feel for my blog or writing. If you go all the way to the beginning, you will find a few posts written by Jeff my old boss and posts that largely were working through working long hours away from home and navigating the end of a relationship.

In 2015/2016, there was almost 2 years where I didn’t blog. That seems strange and I’m not sure I can account for why other than I was writing songs, maybe fiction and I was pretty immersed in church work, farm work, identity work and trying to find some stability. It’s interesting that I started writing again after reentering into full time employment in an office. The post I wrote to reengage was not necessarily good but interesting in that I chose to reflect on my journey with writing.

2018 was my most read year into the middle of 2019, which is fitting because that was when my writing was the most pointed and refined. It also came from a more honest and I believe, selfless place. It’s interesting perhaps mostly for me how much my writing changed over 3 years. What I’m most excited about is how my writing will change and develop over the next year.

I don’t know how much time I will have to write with teaching, but I feel good about the prospects when I do write. I don’t know if I have a lot left to say in relation to sad things, loss, mental illness. I still have a lot to say in regards to love, faithfulness, joy and humor. I think there is still a lot for me to say to the Church and in the realm of reflecting on Scripture.

So here is what I’m goal setting out do in the next year.

October to mid November- I will be re-sharing and reflecting on things previously written over the last 10 years, kind of like reflecting on a journal entry.

December- I will write through Colossians

January through February- I will write posts featuring friends and family who have shaped my life, leading up to my 34th birthday.

March- I will return to writing poetry maybe exclusively Haikus

April and May- I will leave open for reflection and updates

The summer I will return to writing exclusively fiction and where I travel.

Thank you to everyone who has ever ready my blog over the last almost 10 years.

Good Teacher

I wonder how often Jesus felt like there was something he wanted to say to his disciples but knew they were not ready to hear it. There are many instances in the gospels where Jesus says things, and there is not an immediate understanding of what He means or is getting at. And I think that is why the Word is a seed and once planted it needs time to develop (It also needs time to die, but perhaps that is a lesson for another time).

Hearing something once or many times might be just what we need in order to one day find that something has taken root and grown into something beautiful. Maybe in order to believe, we must hear or see with some measure of consistency in order for our heart to take hold of what we have heard.

Thus, trust when established is not blind but rather tested and perhaps I test God in his goodness more often than I think.

There is a story in the gospels (Luke 18:18-30) where somebody approaches Jesus and calls Him “Good Teacher,” to which Jesus replies, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” It’s a weird statement to make no… because He is God alone or rather God united 3 in 1.

But Jesus does not ask that why question to cast doubt in the mind of a wealthy ruler in regards to His identity as God incarnate. Instead, he asks the why to engender faith inside of a man who has been relying heavily on his performance.

Oh the things we want to earn. Yet I could just as easily say: “Oh the things we want to be given.”

It’s interesting how the whole story of this wealthy ruler starts with an interesting question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is the great conundrum. He chooses to emphasize inheritance, something you usually receive based on position or identity at birth and precedes it with “what do I have to do?”

I could be wrong but I don’t think you can do, to inherit. I think you have to be someone to inherit.

A few moments later, Jesus quietly and subtly indicates that it’s hard for the rich, who are usually preoccupied with how hard they work to become wealthy, to enter the Kingdom of God. Then he addresses the concern of the disciples about how it is that anyone can be saved. And He reveals the secret, “It’s impossible for everyone except with God” (who alone is good and also happens to be Jesus).

To which Peter then basically says, “But look at all we have done (given up) to follow you.” This in some ways could also be read as look at all we have not done in order to follow you.

We Don't Get It, Part I: Good Teacher, Fix My Student | Circe Institute

And then Jesus points them back again subtly but using a big concept that what is preeminent is the why you do what you do.

Why do I (we) follow Jesus?

Why do I or don’t I believe?

He is God. He is Good. I am here, underperforming, always asking, wondering if I am capable of hanging my head and walking away or finding the courage to stay. I don’t know if I can say I have left all to follow, but I think I know that if I was relying on whatever good there was in me alone, I wasn’t getting very far.

The Prodigal Year

I’ve been reading and rereading this book for the past few months called The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, and it might be the best book I’ve ever read. It’s short, sincere and reflects on Scripture and a piece of art that moved Nouwen during a season in which he moved into a community that worked with individuals with learning disabilities.

In some ways I began reading this book at the perfect time. In other ways, I feel as if I had read this book sooner I would have understood the story known as the prodigal son and my own life better. After reading it, I am convinced that prodigal is not a good name for either son in the story. While I believe prodigal is a good description of the younger sons actions of spending his money wastefully, I don’t believe it is an accurate description of the son. A better description is simply: lost.

A better description of this year for me is: lost. Not loss as much as lost. I still have much.

I think we can spend a lot of our resources and spend ourselves just to find we have not been moving towards home. Wastefulness is a perception.

A woman with an issue with blood had spent all she had in hopes to be made well, over the course of 12 years. It felt like a waste because she was not healed, until Jesus healed her and asked for nothing in return. A woman breaks an expensive jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus and Judas called it wasteful.

Eternity determines what is wasteful.

Jesus seeks the lost.

Do I?

This has been a very unpastoral year for me. I waited until the last 2 hours of my credentials lapsing to decide to renew them on December 31st at 10 PM to maintain the title of “Minister.” I don’t know if I panicked or if I felt that it was somehow important.

2 weeks prior to that, I withdrew my name from a ministry position at a church in downtown Charleston, and for the first time really said no to a position in ministry when I had no other immediate options for work. Going into the new year I also stopped reporting to my job at the US Postal Service (though I might technically still be employed) and withdrew my name for candidacy in joining the Secret Service (I’m starting to sound crazy).

I felt powerfully weak and wasteful…

and quite frankly disempowered.

Then I went to Hawaii with Rich (checking my privelege), only to find it very difficult to reconcile with community, myself, and the various brands of Western Christianity that we try to wear.

I have never felt less connected to a local church. I get anxiety going there sometimes not knowing if I will be reminded of my wounds or the feeling that I am only useful for my labor. I am unsure whether it is worse to feel used, unseen, unknown or ignored when all one wants is to be healed so they can have the energy to labor in the certainty of their identity as the Beloved.

To be lost is to forget the love of the Father and to a certain extent it does not matter how we got there or who or what circumstance we blame. What matters is: there is only one way back.

I would catch you up on the other jobs I worked, the other wounds I internalized, and what else I did this summer but you haven’t asked for them. But if you read this far, you are probably wondering: when do you come home? When do you rest in the somewhat certainty of beloved Sonship?

When do we choose a course that would say: “I will change my perspective to see this as blessing rather than hardship?”

The when… or rather how, I think happens as I accept the next step with humble trust, that my steps are being guided, my heart is being held, and the Spirit inside me will continue to bend my heart in affection towards King Jesus.

If this does not happen, it would all be waste.

P.S. I started my first year as an educator teaching 6th to 8th grade Exceptional Children Social Studies, Science, and Math. That’s what I’m “doing.”

On Writing Our Stories: Long Scrolls and Lonely Journeys

Before books and their bindings and blogs, humans told their stories on scrolls. They rolled them out and wrapped them up fairly quickly. Unless we were writing poetry, I think we wrote to be succinct and if we were trying to veil some meaning from the masses, we used metaphor.

I am also convinced that humans wrote to communicate something immediately or widely not necessarily for posterity nor prosperity. Writing as information and instruction and even inspiration must have preceded writing as art or entertainment or industry.

While I believe it’s too late for writing to return to being only one of those things, I find it peculiar how quickly marketing and media has shaped valuing stories in relation to entertainment or personal economy. Many have usurped storytelling and their own adventures and used them as a means to make money, entertain and gain social equity. Hobby has been replaced by hustle.

I won’t stand and judge, but I will question my own perception of whether or not this stolen storytelling and lesuire is enviable. The value society has placed on storytelling seems to have diluted the depth of personal experience for the sake of creating a visible brand whether it be personal or commercial.

This is in turn, I believe has made certain lived experiences that have massive potential to shape individuals character overlooked or forgotten in favor of what has given someone a more instantaneous yield of sociel equity.

In other words, we’ve created shallow people who are good actors when it comes to depth. We can manufacture media in any form that looks even feels deep.

But why does that even matter?

Maybe depth is overrated, and it is better to manufacture it rather than live it. Depth has a connotation of heaviness that does not sell, nor is really desirable to experience. My hope in depth is that hopefully it endures.

Endurance: a term we have mostly relegated to athletes because we only want to hear about individuals who have endured hardship who have also made something out of it. Which is mostly another way of saying we only want to hear about it if it has become a marketable success story.

Never waste a good trial.

Humans have become more peculiar, myself included with the things we share through social media. I think the peculiar part of sharing is the “why” we are sharing it.

Do I hope my sad or happy experience will inform, inspire, instruct, entertain, earn some type of reward or do I put it out there to arrive at a sense of feeling less alone either through mutual understanding unmitigaged approval in the form of a tap or click on a screen?

People can have multiple reasons for doing things.

Truth be told, I have at some point written or shared portions of my story for all of the above reasons. I think at the core of all of them is the awareness that life feels long and lonely at times, sometimes without any real clear reason for feeling lonely. It can feel lonely when you are surrounded by people or not, married or unmarried, have no children or a dozen. There is a part of the psyche of suffering that has to endure certain parts of the journey or lived experience alone or more accurately, under a seemingly distant gaze of an imminent God.

Sometimes it feels like God is just watching us flounder about failing and flailing with hope under another weighty disappointment, amidst another broken relationship, in the fog of an impossible to renew mind waiting to see what we will do.

In living, I wonder how much of this scroll I have to read before I get to a point where we get to a happy middle, where there is enough of a break in the conflict to catch my breath and not waste an opportuntiy to rest. It is also clear that the weight is not on my shoulders. People are not thinking about me or you all that often. People have already forgotten most of our sins and mistakes and if they are thinking about your mistakes, it’s probably just one very particular one that they refuse to let go. Maybe it was traumatic, maybe it was repetitive and has colored the entire journey. Maybe the world needs to know or maybe no one does other than God.

I don’t know and maybe when we tell our stories, no one needs to know entirely why.

A Brief Treatise on Why I like Cats

I often get asked by people who don’t like cats, why I like cats. And I’ve come to conclude that much of why I like them has to do with associations. I think it stated on the basis of not liking dogs growing up. I didn’t like dogs for their barking. Loud barking scared me. Anything loud scared me to be honest. The wrestlers on TV when they cut loud promos (interviews) usually scared me and loud dogs caused me to keep a distance from dogs.

But I also didn’t particularly love cats either. But I had some fond associations with cats. These assocations will give you some insight into how my mind works:

I watched a lot of ALF the alien who crash landed in a families house and they had to hide him from the Alien Task Force. I watched them on VHS because I was too young when it first aired. I think the comedy in that show really influenced my disposition and facial expressions. I think the themes of feeling never really at home in one place might feel like a point of intersection with ALF as a character. It was also common on his planet to “eat” cats. And there is a theme throughout the show where he is trying to eat the cat of the family (The Tanner’s) he is living with. He is unable to. He tries at one point to adopt kittens so he can eat them only to find that he finds them adorable and might be a cat lover. And perhaps around that time, I figured out I was one as well *spits*.

I also watched a ton of Wizard of Oz and relate to the Cowardly Lion. His apprehension with life decisions make me relate somewhat to Cowardly Lion, and I’m often unaware when I make courageous decisions. Lion’s are cats. And the more I see cats the more I am curious about what makes them apprehensive and what inspires their curiosity.

Lastly, in 8th going into 9th grade I became strangely interested in the music of Cat Stevens. I liked his soft melodic folksy sound and feel he was before his time. Or maybe he was exactly right for his time. He chose the stage name Cat Stevens because apparently his girlfriend told him he had eyes like a cat. That is not as interesting a fact as I hoped. But around the time I started listening to Cat Stevens, 3 stray cats appeared outside of our condo that we began to feed. The runt of the litter was the onle one of the 3 that wasn’t afraid of people. Naturally I named him Cat Stevens. He would do this thin that if you pet him and grabbed his tail he would continue to turn around to be pet again everytime you grabbed his tail. His siblings were never as friendly.

After this my adolescence seemed to be more frequently met by the presence of cats. My mom got a cat that ran away then a replacement cat named Tabitha who lived until 19. My dad got a cat who I named Poggles because I liked Pogs and had really enjoyed Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers so I named her Mrs. Pogglesworth. I can’t remember what the name we originally tried to give her was. Shortly after Poggles we got Dwarf as a kitten. I think we tried to stick Dwarf with the name Boots and perhaps if we had stuck with Boots, he would have been less of a mean cat. He wasn’t that mean to me or my dad but to just about everyone else, he was not exactly a ray of sunshine. Dwarf also had a broken paw from when he got declawed and he eventually had to adapt and could use it to catch small objects. Legend has it that he was eaten by coyotes, a fitting yet horrifying way to go.

In between then and now I have become more fond of lots of animals. I like dogs honestly. I’d keep a dog as a pet. I just feel as far as animals go, they are pretty one dimensional. They don’t really surprise you the way cats can. And usually when they surprise you they are bad surprises, like with a turd or an act of aggression.

When a cat poops on the floor or attacks you, they make you think you did something to deserve it. Like they were settling a score for something else. Most cats don’t greet you at the door or look happy to see you unless they need something. My cat Fable, does greet you at the door or waits for you in the window and constantly brings toys to you because she wants to play. She also attacks you if you don’t pay her enough attention and will stare at you in the shower if you don’t close the door. She’s weird. But also funny.

There are way more silly cat videos on the internet than silly dog videos. Or at least that’s what my alogrithm shows me.

The last thing I will say about cats is I am not obsessed with cats. Like if I didn’t have a cat, I’d be fine. Despite this treatise, I don’t necessarily feel the need to talk about cats unless I’m defending them to dog people or people who don’t like cats. Most people who don’t like cats claim allergies (I was allergic too. In college, I just would rub farm kittens on my face every chance I got and somewhere along the way I became less allergic) or have a bad experience similar to mine with dogs.

Fable waiting for me every night I got home from work.

Excerpts from Firsts

Bubble tea in Princeton

on the verge of tears between telling me about biology and eating vegetarian patties

Science and research,

where are your glasses?

You look different with glasses

you love your tiny dog

spinnakopita and a walk

saw you 7 months later

wearing glasses and maybe with your tiny dog at a small town coffee shop from afar.

Indian food because you were craving it

in a mini mall you didn’t love

you said you were too loud for this place

and that you’d only had it once

and didn’t know what to order

was in Scranton for 5 years

and couldn’t tell me the name of a single bar or what you did for fun

took 2 phone calls from your mom

and didn’t try to leave

fell asleep in my car driving back from also bubble tea

I said goodbye with a backwards hug

because it felt appropriate

Mini golf got rained out

so I took you to my favorite restaurant a few towns away

got pulled over because I didn’t know how to properly install a single license plate.

did a scavenger hunt from the car

my creativity was on point then.

you were as kind as you could be.

The first second and third restaurant were closed for lunch

We found Thai downtown

the waiter wanted us to share a straw

the first time I had bubble tea.

We did not

went to some stacks in a park after a walk

took pictures of you on your camera

an awkward goodbye in the car

awkward two months later when you said you’d go out again.

Best if Used By

If my heart was a fruit, I wonder how sweet it would be

if it was ripe or had spoiled or is not quite ready.

I wonder if in it there are seeds that would come out

and plant just to die and multiply

And I wonder if my heart is acually the seat of love

or if that lodestar, the love verb or love noun

is actually found somewhere else.

Maybe in the bowels

working itself up into the loins

turning and twisting and begging to express its guts

waiting for the courage just in case its met with rejection

Is it work or winning over or being with or is it washed away

like a cast away, like a coconut that just the halves are covering

our chests like armor or for modesty because to be naked is too vulnerable,

too much like love in dealing with flaws

that I might actually see in another being perfected

with generous eyes, with acceptance, with something dangerous

Hope _-__—-_—- the lingering kind

I hardly know when to give up or if I ever should have.

I am from….

Template Adapted by Levi Romero 

Inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from expensive pens on borrowed time

From cat graphic tees and clown figurines 

I am from the farmacy

a honey hive of hospitality

I am from the barely living banzai tree

The Palmettos a little more alive 

whose long gone limbs I remember

As if they were my own.

I’m from Christmas Eve and Italian Pride

From Janice and Anthony and the 2 Catholic Mary’s

I’m from dunking bread in red sauce and fighting

And from telling the same stories. 

I’m from Jesus’s heart and the never satsified

And somewhere over the rainbow 

I’m from sotftball games

I’m from Trenton, New Jersey and Italy, Pietregala

chicken parmagiana and ego waffles 

From my grandmothers resolve to live like she’d never die

her calm

her seated smile, family costumes, and inquisitive expressions

on the shelf, in boxes in the garage, in the pages of my journal

from homes that hardly felt like homes but yearned for the ones who lived in them

I am still from a place I’ve never been.

Love Note

It may appear like the last year we’ve hardly been near.

It is entirely on me, and I fear moving might not make room for the intimacy you desire without radically restructuring, which is what I am certainly inviting.

If anything of my personality has captivated you, I too, will give you the best of me.

Finding a Box of Old Letters – A Box of Old Letters