My Angel of Mercy

It's been a busy week. We are at the National Correctional Education Association (CEA) conference. I have come along to support my wife Susan, who is President. While she attends to many various and sundry presidential matters, I am staffing her display table, selling her book Kicked to the Curb, encouraging people to subscribe to her blog, and sharing information about her business Nexus Point Consulting. Often, a week of being around people would do me in. While I flock to the spotlight, I can be consumed by the energy of crowds. When I took the Myers-Briggs I scored off-the-scale Introvert. I have learned to endure public duties, but they clearly drain me. As I write this alone in our room, listening to the white soul sounds of Slaid Cleves, Susan is still going strong at a reception honoring teachers of the year. It may take me a week or [...]

My Angel of Mercy2019-07-29T20:22:58-04:00

A Happy Father’s Day?

On special occasions, my Dad proudly wears a t-shirt that reads, "Jabez Elementary, Class of 1951." The truth is my Dad is quite intelligent. When he was 16, his father set him down and said, “You can quit school now and become a real man. Earn money for the family." Dad became the family's wage earner working third shifts at a nursing home. And he stayed in school to earn his diploma. Dad went in the military and was stationed in Germany. He has fond memories of seeing the European countryside and meeting new people. He’ll even tell you he learned to speak German and then share his vocabulary – “Eins bier. Zwei bier. Drei bier.” Dad got out of the service on a Saturday and went to work on a Monday at Cummins where he worked for 32 years, starting out on the burr bench and working his way [...]

A Happy Father’s Day?2019-06-16T21:26:50-04:00

God’s Crazy Love

In "Facing Mental Illness with Faith," (Huffington Post, 4/21/2016), Rob Lee writes this: How odd of God to call a mentally ill person to Christian ministry, but maybe God is a little crazy. Actually, God must be crazy, how odd of God to call humanity to be better and more in tune with God’s self. But God being crazy is precisely what makes God identifiable to some. God is just crazy enough to be real, and frankly some of us need a crazy God to keep us sane. Some of us facing mental health issues need to roll away the stone of mental illness and claim the resurrecting power of vulnerability and authenticity. How crazy is that? Some would say scandalous, maybe even heretical or blasphemous. God? Crazy? Perish the thought! But wait. Let's look deeper. God created ordinary people through whom He could do extraordinary things. Unlike human [...]

God’s Crazy Love2018-12-20T15:05:32-04:00

The End of the World (as they knew it)

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the lights went out. “It’s the end of the world!” said Maura, devotee of Jeanne Dixon. “We need to pray.” said Peter. At 16, Peter had found his way into a youth group. “First we need to confess,” said Father, a lapsed Catholic. “I’ll go get my cell phone." said Thomas,  I just downloaded  “The Virtual Vatican." Thomas had doubts, but he wasn't taking any chances. “Let’s just answer the damn door and check the breakers!”  said Sonya. Last year Sonya had come out as an atheist.  Two years ago, she came out as a lesbian.  The year before that, as Bipolar. Sonya answered the door.  Nobody was there.  She checked the breakers.  None of the fuses were blown. “I tell you, it’s the end the world!" “Let us pray.” “Father, forgive us, for we have sinned.” “Where’s my damn cell [...]

The End of the World (as they knew it)2018-10-07T20:23:09-04:00

Godly Sorrow Over Deadly Grief: Reflecting on my Suicide Attempt

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;     my eyes grow weak with sorrow,     my soul and body with grief.  My life is consumed by anguish     and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction,     and my bones grow weak.  (Psalm 31.8-10) This week I shared my story with a youth group at Eminence Christian Church (IN). I started by having the youth turn to each other and say, "God loves you more than you can imagine," then, "God brought you here to be blessed." I then went through how God had orchestrated events in my life over the past decade to bring me there tonight. The event that almost prevented me from being there.  My despair over it. My book. The support of my family and friends moving back to Indiana. My blog post about suicide. The youth leader reading it and inviting me to come. The [...]

Godly Sorrow Over Deadly Grief: Reflecting on my Suicide Attempt2018-09-21T17:20:25-04:00

even more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks (part 3 of 3)

While your spouse may well be your most intimate friend, s/he should never be your only friend. If you try to let off all your steam in the marriage relationship, there is bound to be an explosion.  ~ Tony Roberts.   I am mad, I am going under, I must follow the advice of a friend, and pay no heed to myself. ― Stendhal, The Red and the Black.   Someone you were meant to spend your life with. Those you realize God orchestrated into your life from the beginning.  ~ Paula Mellencamp Hauch.   “We were two throats and one eye and we had no price.” ― Toni Morrison.   Friendship....unconditional love...it continues beyond time and space.....feels like your favorite old comfortable clothes. A friend doesn't judge, critize, only gives advice when asked...they listen.  ~ Deva Richey.   It is proper for people to have friends, friendships without self-interest. Without friends, life is [...]

even more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks (part 3 of 3)2018-05-27T20:25:49-04:00

more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.

I like my friends like I like my coffee -- strong enough to wake me up in the morning, yet smooth enough to ease me into the day.  ~ Tony Roberts.   I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds.― Stephen King,   A good friend is not overly sensitive and makes a better effort at communication and contact.  ~ Rachel Yahne-Oakes   A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. ― Emily Dickinson   9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, [...]

more friends: to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.2018-05-26T16:34:47-04:00

a friend… to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.

A friend is... ... the boy who plays you in 1-on-1 until the score reaches 1 million to 1 million. ... the girl who teaches you to do cartwheels with no hands. ... the guy who takes you cruising while you listen to "Running with the Devil," on volume 11. ... the '67 Belvedere that gets you where you need to go even when it won't shift into reverse. ... the roommate who stays up all night with you every time a girl turns you down. ... the guitar player who sings John Prine songs with you every night after dinner. ... the one who goes with you to Waffle House at 3 in the morning to finish your term paper. ... the man who visits you on the psych unit and makes it seem like you are sitting at your kitchen table. ... the woman who messages you about everything [...]

a friend… to me, to my friends, and to famous folks.2018-05-25T09:38:34-04:00

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don't love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I keep a daily journal of happenings in my life. Some of these things emerge in my public writing. Literary quotes. Character sketches. Story outlines. You will also find less assuming material in my journals. Financial profiles. Schedules. Contact information. To call these daily journals is generous at best. Sometimes weeks go by without a single entry. Then I'll go on a binge and nearly fill a book in a week. If my journal could speak in those gaps, it would cry out in anguish, wail in sorrow, moan in despair. But the pages are blank. Like my mind. Unborn words. Aborted sentences. Silent stories. Flannery O'Connor [...]

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke2018-04-21T04:29:48-04:00

Grandma’s Soft Hands

She had the softest hands of any woman I ever touched, of any woman who ever touched me. I asked her one time, “Grandma, how do you keep your hands so soft?”  “Dishes. Wash plenty of dishes.” Maybe she thought this would motivate me to do more work around the house instead of constantly burying my nose in a book.  No, dishwashing alone wasn’t the secret of Grandma's soft hands. It was lotion. Tons and tons of lotion. My sister revealed this to me after nearly half a century of going on the washing-dishes-alone-theory. Every baby born to the family for almost five decades felt the gentle touch of Grandma's loving hands as she played with us and prayed with us, as she read to us, as she taught some to work and shook her head at why others wouldn't.  My Uncle Geoff is the one who carries on [...]

Grandma’s Soft Hands2017-07-19T19:55:30-04:00