Sunday, July 30, 2006

I've spent the past few hours packing and throwing junk away.

The house is quiet now with only the sound of a washer and dryer and the echoes of three and a half years of my life. Tomorrow is one of those calendar days. There's a move and a going away party and a baptism that has been nine months and many tears in the making.

In many ways I feel the past nine months has been a continuous baptism for me and my friends. The Christian practice of baptism is beautiful and sacred but filled with images and metaphors of pain, of death. I believe it to be more than just symbolic (although I'm not quite sure how much more,) but that doesn't take away from the fact that it IS symbolic. One second you are out of the water and that represents the old life, the next moment you are in the water and that represents death, then you are back out of the water and all your surroundings are the same yet you are somehow different on this side of the immersion than you were on the other.

Sometime tomorrow this computer will be disconnected from it's power source of several years and will be transported to another place. I will be transported as well.

Somehow I feel we are all preparing to come out of the water and be new; alive. But I don't know what that means and I'm not quite sure I want it as much as I should. Yet it will happen and I pray for the grace to bathe myself in it when it comes.

Not knowing the internet situation at the new place, it may be a while before I speak to you via this medium. I pray you find yourself on the other side of the water where there is life and hope and the knowledge that death has lost it's sting-- making it possible for us to go through our days without fearing it.

May Peace rain down from heaven...

Friday, July 28, 2006

That Was Fast...

Those people at Relevant don't mess around. Encouraged by my previous post being put up so quickly I decided to send another one in yesterday, and it is already up and running.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I've moved a lot since leaving the house I grew up in and every time I switch addresses I rediscover the same thing about how I am. When it's time to move I am a master at finding things to do that involve everything EXCEPT moving. It's a weakness, I tell you.

I sure am going to miss this place. I moved here three and a half years ago after a couple of years of volatile roommate situations. I was also living a very unhealthy lifestyle. This house has become a refuge for me, the place where I feel most at peace. I've laughed and cried harder, and more, here than in any other place other than, perhaps, the house I grew up in.

And this room is my favorite. This is where I learned the healing power of writing. This is where I've sat with friends and shared beer and coffee and more stories than I could possibly count. This is where some of the people I love the most gathered around me and let me be fully in the moment during the darkest moments of my life.

My article on the UBC building elicited a couple of critical responses, implying that I was wrong, that place doesn't matter. For the first time in my life I read the criticism and it did not elicit anger. I actually grieved for the people that they can't (or won't) understand. I wish they could have spent some time with my people in this room, sharing stories and living life. But they'll never have that opportunity and I sincerely feel it is their loss.

I'll move to a different place and before you know it I'll be moving to another. I can only pray the walls are ready.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

This Must Be Shared...

So what if I said my posts would be spare for the next few days. I've got stories to tell so stories will be told...

-- A customer, early twenties, female, walks toward the information desk. Pat asks if she can help her find something. The customer says (I kid you not) "Yeah, I'm looking for a book that has, like, thoughts in it." Pat stands there and stares at her in shocked silence.

-- I get called to the front of the store to authorize a return. A gentleman in his early forties is wanting to receive money back for a dictionary he has purchased. The dictionary has obviously been ruined by sun damage and is sticky because a soft drink has been spilled on it. I tell the man I can't accept it back since it has been damaged. He asks me if I would accept it back after he takes it home to wipe the Dr. Pepper stain off if it, and I tell him no, the pages are wrinkled from the sun and stained beyond repair. The man angrily grabs the book, shoves it back in his bag and storms out of the store, wearing a polo shirt that is inscribed with the words "Promise Keepers: Men of Integrity."

Check It Out...

I just got back from a grueling day of work and discovered Relevant published my article on their online magazine. They did some edits I wouldn't necessarily have made(like taking out the part about the gospel being inefficient, which probably would have elicited all kinds of hate mail,) but I'm still excited about it.

If you've made it to my blog from the site, welcome. You should know that after I initially posted the article back in March I received some comments from people who were uneasy with things I was insinuating. I addressed some of those concerns in this post.

The next week or so is going to be busy with the move, so the posts may be spare at best. I've had a lot of people call and email me to let me know they are praying or have been thinking about me lately, and I truly appreciate that. The past few weeks have been the hardest for me since the week or so after Kyle's death. It's comforting to know how many people love and care for me. Thanks.

One more thing. You can see the pre-Relevant edit copy of the article here.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eyes on Me...

Not about me,
but eyes on me.
What will he do, what will he say?
Eyes on me.
Is he red from surprise?
Is he angry?
Eyes on me.
Can he breathe?
Can he see?
Eyes on me.
Tell me, don't tell me
do what you need.
What I would give if there weren't
eyes on me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So I guess my blog has been kind of a drag lately. I guess I should work my way out of this funk with something I haven't done in a while... A FREE THOUGHT-FLOW BULLETED POST!

-- It's hot here in Waco. 106 Degrees yesterday and supposed to be the same today. But then again, it is Central Texas in July, so I guess I'm really just stating the obvious. It's supposed to be hot here. That's normal.

-- Speaking of normal... I've coined a new phrase for how things are going at work. "Weird is the new normal." And this is true. Find the easiest way to do things, the thing that makes the absolute best sense, and then avoid that way at all costs, opting instead for the thing that makes the least amount of sense. That's how things are at good ol' Barnes and Noble these days.

-- Speaking of ol' Barnes and Noble. I've decided I'm going to start speaking a new language. It's about time I began the practice of what I have avoided for years which is speaking Corporate Bullshit. Instead of saying "Can I talk to you about something?," I will now be saying "Can we partner together and try to establish some synergy to complete this task?" Instead of saying "This is a problem we need to address," I will now be saying "We have some opportunities ahead of us in fulfilling company initiatives." I'll be the Regional Manager before you know it.

-- Speaking of Manager. Some of you know I was up for a promotion and I didn't get it. It sucks for me but the disappointment is made a little better by the fact that the person who beat me out for the job is someone I like and respect tons.

-- I've been way to busy to do anything lately, but I need to start packing to get ready to make the move. I'm going to miss this place. Look for a future post about how much I will miss this place.

-- There are tons of parties being planned for the next couple of weeks. Carney has a birthday coming up and next week appears to be a big weeklong sendoff for Harris. Tomorrow after naptime (the twin's, not mine) I'll be picking the boys up and we are going out for boys night at Ninfa's with some of the guys from UBC. This makes it imperative that I stay on top of my running. I ran four miles Monday and planned to do the same yesterday, but after the second mile I started seeing spots because of the heat so I headed home. Today I'll rest and try to do four again tomorrow.

-- Speaking of which, I made the decision last week that I will be running in the White Rock marathon in December. After training for the Bearathon I decided NOT to try for a marathon because it took up too much time, but at this point I feel it's something I need to do. So I'll see you on the road!

-- I finally did what many of you have encouraged me to do, I submitted something to Relevant. I just submitted it to their online publication to try to get something out there. I edited the This is Our Story post and sent it in, so we'll see what happens.

-- That's all I've got for now. I'm about to be late for work.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The thing that always surprises me the most about all the funerals I have attended is the amount of laughter that occurs. Sometimes the laughter is forced, but it is laughter nonetheless. You grieve and you wail, but in the intermittent periods you remember and sometimes the memory forces you to laugh. Sometimes it hurts so much to laugh at such tragic times, but it hurts worse not to laugh.

Tori, Candace, Adam, and Singleton have all written beautiful and true words about our first Sunday back in our building since the accident. Terri Jo Ryan over at the Trib also wrote a good article about our return.

For me, everything that was written by these fine folks resonated in my heart, but I also had this feeling throughout the entire service that I was experiencing Kyle's funeral all over again. We had an emotion filled service then we ate and caught up with each other. I went back to the checkered room because Avery didn't have anyone to sit with her, but once her friend Annie came in I was forgotten and left sitting on the floor, back against the wall, and I felt the glazed look that comes over my eyes when I realize how good things are in the world but don't feel right celebrating it.

The only word I can find to describe Don's sermon to us is perfect. Not perfect in the sense that it was flawless or even that it was eloquent or enjoyable. It was anything but enjoyable, but it was perfect. It perfectly described our situation, or dilemma, or hope, and our ache. In fact, his use of the word ache made me realize how perfect the sound of the word describes what the word means. When he would say the word ache my whole body would, ache.

And this is the feeling I've felt for the past few days. Sometimes I ache too much to laugh, but I ache too much not to laugh as well. I thought I had said my goodbyes and made peace and was ready to move forward but I realized yesterday this lasts a bit longer than I suspected. There have been times lately when I have smiled those hard, rugged smiles that hurts your cheeks but I still feel like they are the smiles of someone at a funeral. The joy is fleeting, but it is there. In the midst of my laughter I know I'll soon turn my head, look down and remember.

But forced, fleeting laugher is better than no laughter at all and for this we can rejoice. We have not been abandoned.

Tonight Sutton asked what his daddy looks like in heaven. Jen told him she doesn't know, but she does know we'll recognize him when we get there.

I, for one, can't wait. Then the laughter will not be intermittent but will be ever swelling, building to a crescendo of epic proportions, and the only ache that will be felt is the ache of joy.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Morning After...

Last night was a rough night for me, as you could probably tell from my previous post. Being a morning person, I typically wake up from nights like that feeling much better, but this morning that doesn't seem to be the case.

After I blogged last night I sat down and watched Garden State. There's a line in the last song of the movie that says "There's beauty in the breakdown." If that's true then there must be some major beauty going on in me right now.

This morning we will return to the church building and I don't really know what to expect. It may help me and it may hurt me. Probably both at the same time which I've come to experience over the past 8 1/2 months as a common but strange experience.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


For the most part my summer has been a happy experience, much as Harris has described it. But for the past few days my emotions have been the B sides of those verses in Ecclesiastes that say there's a time for the good stuff and a time for the bad stuff.

With every disappointment at work at every fear of change and every frustration I have with people, I feel I'm back in the backside at church, watching Kyle slip around that corner after peaking in to smile and giggle at me. But this time I know he's not coming back and I've lost my main confidante, the one who listened the most and cared about my everyday life more genuinely than anyone else in the entire world.

Adding to my tears as the sun sets tonight over Waco are some lyrics from Emmylou Harris' Bang the Drum Slowly-- "Gone now is the day, and gone the sun/ There is peace tonight all over Arlington/ But the song of my life will still be sung/ By the light of the moon you hung." The song tears my insides out.

I know we win in the end. And I'm not just saying that. I really believe all that good stuff about the future hope we have been given because Christ defeated death and that we will also be victors. I grew up singing Victory in Jesus and That Uncloudy Day and am no longer cynical about that eschatological DNA that flows through my blood.

But that doesn't make me less tired of all the bullshit that I have to put up with without having Kyle here. It's hard for me to remember what life was like before him and I am baffled at the fact I've made it this long without him.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Welcome Home Wavey...

Just the other day I realized it's been over a year since I've seen who once seemed to be a permanent fixture roaming the streets of Waco, TX. There is a gentleman who roamed around town who obviously has some mental problems, as he waves at everyone. But it's not an ordinary "Hey, how are you doing?" wave. It's a wave that suggests this guy is a person of importance and he has been chosen as the Grand Marshall of an eternal parade winding through the streets of our great city. Rumor has it he thinks he is the President. I feel bad for his condition but at the same time everytime I saw him it brought a smile to my face. We call him "Wavey."

Today as I was running home from downtown I noticed a couple of blocks up an elderly African-American gentleman with the non-ironic mesh cap and neatly pressed button down short sleeve shirt and wondered to myself, "Is Wavey back?" Sure enough, as I got closer I noticed him pivot from his walking position to the cars passing down Austin Avenue, assumed the stance and raised both hands in greeting to the world, and I smiled. When he turned back around I was about a block from him and instinctively yelled, "Hey Wavey!," at which point he gave me a two-hand in the air wave until I passed.

What a good feeling. What a good city, full of people you can rely on to be just quirky enough to keep you on your toes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thought for the Day...

Just a thought:

Do you think a bumper sticker that read "God is not a Democrat... (or a Republican)" would generate as many "amens" from people as the one floating around that is the inverse of that?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why I'm Not Blogging as Much: A Summer Update

Work Stress

I think it was Anne Lamott who first posited the question: Is life too short to be minding shit, or is life too short to be taking shit? My mental and emotional tides have vacillated from one side to the other in trying to answer this question about stuff going on at good old Barnes and Noble. To briefly fill you in...Within the course of six weeks my job has switched from being the best ever to being just another corporation that seeks to bleed the life out of the souls of individuals and communities by elevating numbers and corporate speak (read: bullshit) over the values of trust and common decency. Was that kind enough?

So when I get home from work, I'm usually trying to find something that would keep my mind off of it. There are things aplenty to help me out...

Tom's New House

My roommate has just purchased a new house and has been kind enough to let me live with him until he gets married sometime next year. It's got a lot of work to be done, so I've been, and will be, spending a lot of time doing yard work and painting and sanding floors... You know, the typical handyman type work you think of when you hear the name Craig Nash. It'll be fun stuff, though, and I'm looking forward to learning things that may be helpful if I decide to purchase a home anytime soon.

I'm sure going to miss this place on Austin Avenue, though. I've lived here 3 1/2 years and it has been a very pivotal time in my life. I think I've become a real adult in this house moreso than in any other place I've lived.

Church Stuff

As you all know we've been out of the building on Dutton since the end of October. It's been a good time to create some space from the accident and get our bearings, but it's finally about time to return. Although I haven't helped a lot, some of my time has been spent doing a little cleanup work. We will move back into the building July 16.

Creative Liturgy Project

The David Crowder Band isn't the only segment of our church that oozes talent. There's been a group of UBC'ers meeting on Wednesday nights for what we are calling the Creative Liturgy Project. The CLP is an opportunity to create a body of work that includes art, prayers, reflections, devotional writings, and songs that are written for, and are a reflection of, our corporate life of a community of faith. And my word, some of the things being shared in that group are things for the ages. I've so glad to be a part of something so meaningful.

Sno Cones on Monday Nights

Enough said

The Kids

My Monday afternoon and evenings are spent with the Lake kids and this is the anchor to my week, my greatest joy.

Me and My Gang
(Love the Rascal Flatts reference?)

I have been so fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with a group of people from church who have been my communal salvation. You know who you are, and if you don't, you should. You all make me smile and laugh and remember everything that makes the life of faith worth living. I love how one member of the group is never afraid to state the obvious: That it doesn't get any better than this.

And you don't look down on me when I can only make it a lap and a half.

Since it may be a while before I update, let me tell you what is going in my ears and through my brain.

Listening to:
Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted. (Paisley has become my favorite artist.)
David Crowder's B Collision. (The only album that has ever reflected on an event that happened in my personal life. Extremely moving, but difficult at times to listen to.)

The Sex Lives of Cannibals
The Waco Tribune Herald


Reruns of Texas Country Reporter
The Today Show


Uncle Dan's
La Fiesta (Home of the Ultimate Margarita)
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches