Friday, April 15, 2016

my strange April

Life is so weird. While I've been up & down, lately. [pretty "standard fair" for April] I've been able to go to the Infused Arts stuff at LWCC. Pretty much all month. I actually wrote about 5 haiku poems tonight. I went through my usual: "Wow, I really don't do this well at all." first.
As we were sharing our poems with each other. I heard something from one of the gals there I never thought I'd hear. A woman named Beth said: "Hup, nickel in the 'jar'. [puts her finger on the center of the table] We don't say we're stupid here." 
In a way you feel like your back in grade school. Yet, why DO we tolerate calling ourselves stupid, anyway? I mean, like that'll make you do better..... at anything. Wrong, thank you for playing. What's actually worse is, I wouldn't tolerate anyone I know saying that about themselves. So why do I give myself permission? Yeah, guess what needs "voted off the island"? Ah huh. I thought you'd see it my way.

So I'm working on writing a post for another blog. Welcome to the latest edition of: "sentences I never thought I'd type, with your host..." I've been invited to write one. It doesn't mean I'll actually get posted there. So I'll link to it if it actually happens. Which will be the latest "wow, this is weird/ surreal".
What's more, I'm going to try to squeak out some money to have 1 or 2 of my pictures framed so they can hang in a gallery. Me. Artist. ....who knew? [not me, THAT'S for sure] So welcome to my "it doesn't feel real" life.
Welcome to the strangest April I think I've ever had.
Maybe it WILL snow on my birthday....
[yeah... don't hold your breathe]


[the rules as a haiku]
five, is it's beginning
seven, is what comes after
concluding with five

as he drew his sword
like he did, in days of old
his nemesis, bold

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ode to a Thorn

ok, so I posted this poem on facebook first. I'll say some similar things here that I said there.
First, I wrote this last night. During the 10 year celebration of TWLOHA. You can watch it on live stream here. It's about 2 hours long. My poem is inspired by Sierra DeMulder & Tonya Ingram & their spoken word poems [probably why I think mine would sound better spoken, than read]. I began to write a poem, didn't like it. I started over. The following is what came next. After I wrote it, the title became obvious. Though as I got more than half way done, I realized it has a bit of a similarity to the Apostle Paul. Who wrote of having a "thorn". While never naming what the "thorn" was. I'm glad he never named it. That way, we can each put our struggle in there as the word or words that replace the word "thorn". So this is a poem about thorns. I hope you get the point. Without getting stuck by it. [couldn't help it] So, here is my "ode to a thorn"....

when your tired
of "this"
whatever your
that part
of you
of your story
that you want to
just hit "delete"
-or maybe "undo"
yet you know
you can't
it's there
staring at you
you look at
you think
you just say to yourself:
I am "this"
nothing but "this"
"this" is all there is
to who I am
is all I am
just wait
it's not true
are more
than "this"
your story
is way more
than just
"this" is a chapter
in your story
not the story
not the plot
certainly not
the theme
isn't you
or who you are
so please
don't live &
die like
is all you are
ever will be
we don't believe
should you?
not for one second
are way more
than "this"
it does not
need to be
part of the present
or the future
not YOUR future
not my future
not anyone's
so grab
a shovel
IT'S journey
ends here
the ONLY thing
is good for
is to share
was in your life
you ask
so everyone knows
are not alone
in "this"
are not the only one
dealing with
to tell
or remind
each of us
that we all
a "this"

by b.e. noll

p.s. I reserve the right to add to or subtract from this version of this [or I may not be finished with it yet]
p.p.s. TWLOHA, thanks for all you do. So glad & honered I got to meet Jamie, Renee, Chad, & Jessica.
Thankful for Jessica giving us a tour. When I flipped the calendar to April I heard her asking to see the calendar making sure the birthday sticker was in there.

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hello out here in cyberspace. I have really "gone silent" online as of late. No emails.... no facebook posts... no tweets..... nothing. [cue crickets here]
There are two parts to this.
The first part is that the business I work for is changing.
I think for the better. Not that I feel that way every moment of the day, mind you. However, in the long run, I think it will be an improvement. I like everyone I've met from "corporate". [Which I call them because I'm not quite sure what else to call them. People from the company that basically bought us out.] Change can be a lot of things. It can cause a lot of emotions. Not all of them desirable. I have been given the chance to drive commercially. Which I've done for a while now. I've learned quite a bit about myself through this. One thing I've learned is that while I am an introvert. This does not mean I want solitary confinement. To be alone every second of the day. I like being around people, I just don't recharge around them. [I get Donald Miller's "when I'm alone for too long, I get a little strange" statement] So I'm no longer sure I will end up driving "for a living". Which is sad of course. One can make a lot of money doing that sort of thing. So the thought, now, is that I will be a back up driver. [vacations, sick days, etc.] Though, I'm not sure that's settled yet or not. I'm still glad I went through it. Glad I tried it. I'm really good with GPS now. I'm liking traveling a lot more now. It made the Disney trip a "cake walk". [though why you'd need to walk a cake, I'm still not sure] With the work hours I'm getting & other things in life I haven't been very chatty. [in person, either]
...which leads to the second reason.
I'm really bummed. I sleep more. I sit in front of the TV more lately. These two things seem to blur into each other. I watch the first part of something, wake up an hour later. Which I'm not a fan of, really. I don't feel like doing.... well, anything, really. This feeling has got to go. I am voting it off the island. So I'm slowly can I say? "pushing back" as it were. Trying to push myself to things. I've been depressed before. So I'm pulling out those things that I use for meditation. Trying to push myself to write & take photos more. Pushing myself to write this. I really don't like being honest... when being honest entails telling you that I'm not ok. I don't want people to worry. [which not saying anything doesn't really fix, or avoid] I don't want to "be a bother" to anyone. Sadly, what no one tells you... is that when you try too hard to "not be any trouble" ...that, itself, can be the problem. If I really want to help others.... I need to let myself be helped. It was never really a one way street. It wasn't meant to be, either. What's worse, to me anyway, is I really like & support twloha. Who, as a general rule, are trying to shout the very sentences I've just said. Who really want this last paragraph I struggle to write [let alone post] to be more easily shared with people. To be shared among people. For us to quit hiding the "not so fun" posts [words, parts of our lives] from each other. Largely because it helps no one. Yet I still do it. And I know some of you still do, too. We have to allow people to see the down with the up. Because when we do, we realize that struggling... is a common experience to all. Your struggles & how you handle them can help me. Mine can, maybe, help you.
Only if we share them.
So this is me, sharing my bummed out feelings with you. Wherever you happen to be on your journey.
Stumbling... falling on the journey isn't our problem. Refusing to let others help us back up is.

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I know I'm silent right now... [a poem] by b.e. noll

[this is a "stream of consciousness" poem. spawned by an email...
& a video by Sierra DeMulder + Tonya Ingram for TWLOHA]

I know I'm silent right now
the inbox
shows only old conversations
said in a million yesterdays
know this
I am still here
even though my facebook feed
dries up
I check my inbox
and it reads you have
with some strange number next to it
from facebook
a plea
from somewhere in cyberspace
saying please reach for me
when my twitter feed
seems all tweeted out
when my pinterest
holds no new interest
when the pins are dusty
and my keyboard seems rusty
you may want me to speak
and I'm silent
and you think
"must he?"
keeping you in suspense
please don't be too tense
really am
a "work in progress"
it is that I just
'wall myself off"
from people
afraid my junk
is far too much for them
that I am not worthy
of your worry
even though
we both know that is a lie
we both know
that that is a lie
thank you
for living out
the fact
that I am worth knowing
worth sharing the darkness
it's strange
to think my hell
could be the path
to your heaven
that somehow
what I lived through
could help you
live through
your own
it's scary
a good kind of scary
perhaps a necessary kind
yet still not the easy kind
it's hard to let go
of the bad habit
of keeping your hell to yourself
I must try
I must push through
the only thing better than surviving my hell
better than breaking out of my own hell
is seeing you
break free too
so I know I'm silent right now
all it is
is silence
not death
not the end
not the end of me
not even close
I'm still here
still breathing
still living
still fighting
for a better tomorrow
one day
a better day
May His grace drip from your fingers,

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Movies...[another piece of my story... a fun piece]

I'm not Adele.
I like her music, her voice. However, every time I hear or see that word I think of that song now.
This cracked me up. A mash up of Adele & Lionel Richie beginning of Hello -by each of them.

So I titled this: movies. As most of you know [whether you like it or not] Star Wars is back.
Star Wars... or as it is known now: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was the very first film I ever saw in the theater. I saw it years after I played with the action figures. I heard everyone in my neighborhood trying to sound like the characters from the film. As we played with the action figures.
They re-released the film in theaters before each sequel came out. I saw it in the eighties. The last trailer they played before Star Wars was for Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi. Which was later changed to Return of the Jedi. This would be when I found out that when I tried to sound like the characters..... Everyone actually thought I sounded like the characters. This movie was an experience unlike any I'd had for a while. I don't think I blinked for 2 whole hours. I could sound like any audible sound that film made. Characters, light sabers, Tie fighters, X-wings, The Millennium Falcon, you name it.
It was fun. To be able to do something others couldn't.
Later, when the prequels came out. I had a friend, who is WAY more patient than me, stand in line to get us midnight showing tickets for the new movies. When we went & saw Episode I, for the first time, I can still hear another friend who went with us, saying. "I know you just saw it, but.... can you do Watto?"
So, being the shy, "please don't notice me" guy that I am. I looked around, cleared my throat & did it. They loved it. It felt, in that moment, like coming full circle. Back to the beginning.
I've never really understood why or how I can do this. I only know that I can. ...& that it's weird.
Mostly because not everyone can do it.
 I have enjoyed seeing Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I want to say more.... I might someday. Maybe after the DVD comes out. However, suffice it to say I liked it. It seems a "worthy successor" to the film series. To the story line. I'll be interested to see if any of my thoughts on where they go with it are as true as the ones I had for this episode. I was right on several things. Which is nice, however unimportant it really is.
I like Rey, BB-8, Finn, Kylo Ren, & the other new characters. I like seeing the older characters as well.
I like that there is no back story first. You are dropped into the film, with only the scrolling words at the beginning as any back story before you watch the film. While I like the prequel trilogy... this film seems like it will "age better" than those films seemed to. It feels more "timeless". Which is kind of what you want for a Star Wars film. When I saw the reboot of Star Trek, I have to be honest, I immediately thought Abrams should do a Star Wars film if they ever continue the saga. Not that the new Star Trek films were bad. I really liked them. It's just.... I could see a real love/ influence of Star Wars in it. So when I heard that Disney was going to continue Star Wars, I was hoping J.J. Abrams was going to get to "put his fingers into it". I'm really glad he was involved.

Well... this isn't an overly long post. Yet I thought I'd post about this. Since Star Wars was such a huge part of my childhood. A good, fun part. I would use the fire in the fireplace as a ruined starship or base from the Star Wars Universe. Having characters stranded in the world that was, in reality, my basement. I had a thousand adventures around the house. There are probably some weapons, accessories, & lightsabers still lost somewhere on the premises. I had to glue some figures back together. War is terrible on the joints.
Anyway... that's all for now...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A beautiful kind of scary [thankful for the gift of people]

I want to write. I have so much I want to put on here. I got to go to Florida. Such fun. I went so my wife could have a photo of Mickey Mouse, her, & myself.
...though, my personal favorite moment..... at least from the going to special places standpoint... was going to TWLOHA headquarters. They were great. I have a lot I want to write that I've "unpacked" from the experience. They were so great to me. Jessica was very kind. ...yet I'll save that for another day. Another post.

Tonight I'm going to talk about....tonight.
I really can't miss the Christmas Eve service at LW.
Largely because LW is like a family that chose me.
I got out of work late. A story unto itself. So I scrambled home, washed up, threw on something..... "moderately dressy" "in the neighborhood of dressing nice for Christmas". Ran out the door....& then it hits me. I haven't shaved in days. I haven't eaten supper. I have time for neither. I lost [well, the love seat "hid"] my glasses. So I'm wearing my old pair. And they look old. Like... painfully old. So this translates into my feeling horrible. I felt like garbage. Which usually translates into me being very: "Don't see me. Don't notice me. Do not look in my general direction. Don't speak to me. Basically, I do not exist."
The problem? The people... my LW family.... yeah, they don't know how to do that. It's against their collective DNA. You think I'm exaggerating don't you? In most crowds [large gatherings of people] I can walk in & out of them without a trace. No one notices that I was there. I, honestly, cannot find a way to do that with these people. I've tried, really I have.  The crazy thing is, the more I don't want to be noticed... the more of them that see me. Say "Hi" to me. Wonder how I'm doing. Tonight... was "business as usual" for them. Now, after years of this, I've given up. I mean... why fight it? What's worse, I wouldn't want YOU to feel that way. I'd want to be one of those who said "Hi". Who wondered how you were doing. Hoping you're ok. So why do I act like it's illegal to be that way to me? I don't know. I mean I can come up with some strange answer, given time. ...I just don't want to waste the time anymore. It took some time, it often does for me. To just be there tonight. To let go & just be glad for all the Hi's, for all the Merry Christmases. These people are family to me. As hard as it is to say, I need them. I just do. Part of me, secretly, loves that they're like this. They are being used to gently change me. Into who I was always supposed to be. Scary.....a beautiful kind of scary.  So over the course of the service I just kind of told myself to just give in. Just enjoy them. They don't care what glasses I have on, or why. They don't care whether I have facial hair or not.
Truth is... when you get down to it..... they don't care where I've been. They care where I'm going.... & who's taking me there. I hope you have at least one person like that in your life.
I really hope you have a community like that.
LW is a community like this for me. Not the first. Not the only. Not the last. I think that's part of what attracts me to TWLOHA. This idea of loving a person. In spite of the junk that their story may contain. Whether or not you even know what darkness might be in their story.
I started out in the "old way of doing things" when I got to LWCC tonight. It didn't take them long to gently take my hand & lead me out of it. Now...I still felt like I "wasn't dressed right for the occasion"...I just new that they didn't care. Not about how I was dressed. Not about how I felt about myself. They just care about me. And we ALL need that. ...and it felt good. So I stayed. I got to be helpful. I got to use my enjoyment of photography. For myself...even more fun, for others. I got to be cared for & to care for others. All in the same night. All in the same place.
It's not even Christmas yet.... however, that... is a gift. [at least to me]
Don't just buy something for someone. Make memories. Spend time with people. Why?
Because THAT'S the gift... they will remember. That's the gift that, years later, will be talked about fondly. Stories are better than stuff.
Merry Christmas.

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

a story with light about a friend/"sister"

I've shared some darker parts of my story. While I believe it's important to share them, I also think it's important to share some of the better moments. The "healing moments" form my story as well. I wrote this to a friend, then decided to post it here. Lori is one of many friends who don't really know how much they have been a part of my healing process. I'm not sure this even captures it.
Think of it as a chapter in my story....
The Story of Lori
[the making of a sister]
You know a lot of my story. Because of the deep betrayal of my [abuser], I don't trust people very well or easily. I moved to York, against my will & fervent prayers.
"God, what can you do in York that you can't do in Lititz?"
Many years later he told me his answer: "Nothing. I didn't want to do it in Lititz. I wanted to do it in York..... trust me, child. I've been writing stories longer than you."
Mom prayed for a "good Christian friend". I met Doug. He told me about a local youth group called YAF Fishnet. [despite the various jokes, YAF = Young Adult Fellowship] I moved to York on the very last day of school my 7th grade year. I had already had my final showdown with my abuser. I was 13 by this time. So we had to wait till high school to go to Fishnet. When we did, I had no idea what I was in for. [on so many levels] I began to hear stories. Horror stories from other teens. The one I remember most vividly, I heard at summer camp. I, a friend/ Fishnet leader, & a young, beautiful girl talked. It was late at night, almost "lights out" when the conversation got deeper. She looked me strait in the eye & simply said: "My Mom died 4 days before I turned 16.... it was the best present she ever gave me." ouch. She was one of several kids who began to ask me: "How come our horror stories don't 'undo' you like they do others? How come you can so calmly hear them? ...what are you hiding?"
enter Lori.....
I came to Fishnet one Thursday evening. [probably one of my first times] A young, short, blonde girl came up to me & she said: "Hi. I'm Lori. I'm a hugger."
me: "My condolences. Don't they have a pill for that?"
She hugged me, & laughed. She. hugged. me. I, did not reciprocate.  She would do this every week.  Every week, I would just stand there. At first I asked her: "how long do these things last?" She laughed, "I don't know. I've never timed one." Me: "Things to consider." after a while I said: "People are staring at us." To which she replied: "Try hugging me back & they won't stare as much. ...see that doesn't hurt now, does it?" "A little." I joked. I got used to it. Yet there would come times when I'd quietly try to sneak in to Fishnet. She'd come toward me & I'd back away & say "Please don't. Not tonight, ok?" She would have a painful look on her face as she complied. Standing close to me. "What did I do wrong?" She'd ask. "Nothing, Lori. It's not you... I just... I can't do that tonight. I need to not be touched tonight, ok?" Usually after a visit from Grandpa. [Mom's Dad.] One time she said to me: "If I EVER get my hands on who hurt you... they WILL pay."
Eventually Lori, the twins [Jenny & Linda], the twins older sister & a Fishnet leader named Cindy, came to me. Only Cindy spoke: "You need to tell us who's hurting you."
Me: "Why? What would you be able to do?"
Cindy: "If someone is hurting you I have a legal responsibility to report it. I have to protect you."
I couldn't wrap my mind around the last sentence. "You're too late to 'protect' me. I'm damaged & that's all there is to it. Where were you years ago? I protect myself. I don't need you."
Cindy: "We have ways of making you talk."
Me: "No. You don't. If you want this info from me you'll have to crack my skull open & get it yourself. That doesn't work on me. Threats are useless to me. You know how most people are afraid to die? I don't have that. There's nothing you can do to me that hasn't already been done. Don't threaten me again... I don't want to hurt anyone... but I will if I have to."
After this Lori began to watch over me. She would stay by my side on the nights I didn't want to be touched. She wouldn't touch me, physically. She'd just be there. Kind of follow me around. If I pulled away from other friends at Fishnet she would talk to them for me. "It's not you, Linda. You didn't do anything wrong. He's not mad. He just needs more space than usual, ok? Give him some time." This was REALLY helpful to me. I had someone to buffer my darker times. I've had them at growth group. Brad can tell you. I'll just say to him: "Not tonight." or "I can't tonight." & Brad or Gabe will say "ok. If you want to talk about it, I'll listen." Yet I eventually... both with Lori, & with Brad & Gabe I would seek them out & give them a hug. Which, at first was weird. They really noticed. They would say something. Which, of course made me back away at first. "No. No. It's not wrong of you. It's just not normally you to come & give one." [a hug]
Touch has always been "louder" for me than most people. Which is why I sometimes pull away from it. It feels too loud. If my fight response is too hyper, I fear I'll hit someone without thinking. I almost hit Pastor Aaron once. He put his hand on my back &, without thinking, I spun around knocked his hand away & drew my fist. Then I came back to the present.  He, of course, backed away & said: "woah. I'm sorry." Holding his hands up in surrender. "No. It's not you Pastor Aaron. It has nothing to do with you. I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" "No." he replied, thankfully. I told him: "I can be that way when people come up behind me & touch me. It isn't something you, specifically, did. I'm not even reacting to you."
Anyway. As I kept hearing stories from other kids about abuse & what not. As they kept asking me why it didn't seem to "phase" me. I began to ask God why that was. Suddenly it all came rushing back. All the years of abuse. I didn't know what to do with it or how to handle it. I didn't want people to know how damaged, broken, worthless I was. I thought they'd hate me. Kick me out for fear I'd ruin them. I thought I was a disease. I was afraid I'd hurt them. I still hadn't... I still, even now, struggle with the fact that I could & wanted to kill him. It's really hard to forgive yourself. I'd have times when I'd have flashbacks. Or when I'd suddenly drift back to memories of the abuse. Once at McDonald's after fishnet, I had that. Lori reached over & put her hand on my wrist. Which, unbeknown to her, he'd often turn to begin abusing me by reaching for & wrapping his hand around my wrist. So, instinctively, I twisted my hand around, grabbed her wrist, yanked her into the table & said: "Don't you EVER do that to me again. You understand?!"  Lori: "Sorry. Where did you go?" Me: "What? No where. I've been right here the whole time." Lori: " weren't. A second ago. Where did you go? What did someone DO to you? Please tell me." Me: "No." Her: "why not?" Me: "Because I don't hate you that much."
One night at fishnet, at one of our usual host houses, Lori came up to me & said: "I'm not going to let you out of my sight."
Me: "What brought this on?"
Lori: "I think you have a fear of abandonment.... I won't abandon you."
Me: "......ooooo k? Look. This really won't be necessary. I'm not worried about being alone. I'm an only child. I've ALWAYS been alone."
Lori: "Well, now you have me."
Me: [sarcastically] "Lucky me. What did I do to deserve this? Can I take whatever it was back?"
She laughed. And said no. This didn't bug me too much.....
until I headed to the bathroom. I stopped. A few steps from the door to it. "You know, Lori, I'm sure you're used to guys being willing to 'whip it out' for you 'n all... I'm not like that. This was cute. HOWEVER, no matter how many people go into that bathroom with me.... only I will be coming back out. Got it?"
Lori: [laughed, then with an uncontrollable grin] "I'm pretty sure you can hold it yourself. So, no, I will not be going in there with you. You're a 'big boy'.....Just know this. I WILL be the first face you see when you come back out."
Me: "Whatever, Lori."
Sure enough. As soon as I opened the door she stood across the hall, smiling at me, as she listened to another girl. Mouthing the words "told ya", as she listened. I quickly took the chance to "loose her" & after passing her in the hall calmly. I bolted to the living room. To take a seat ready for Fishnet to begin. She wasn't far behind me. Sat down right next to me. "Is this seat taken?" [Smiling. Faking innocence loudly.]
Me: "Sadly, no."
Her: "Am I sitting too close for you?"
Me: "Yeah, kinda."
She ruched over about a "cheek's worth". "Better?"
Me: "Better." [not completely convincingly]
She moved a little further. "How 'bout now?"
Me: "Better."
Her: "I'm not moving outside!" [smiling at my veiled joke]
Me: "A boy can dream, can't he?"
[These are the jokes. We could really joke cruel with each other. Yet we both knew just how far we could take these jokes.] Lori was such a great sister & friend.

For those of you who pray. I am going to do something for the first time on Wed night. [ok, I'm going to try to have enough nerve to do it, anyway]
I'm going to share a kind of "cliff notes" version of my story with my group. I'll have roughly 7 minutes. So I have never done either of these. Told a group of people at once or done it with a time limit. I am VERY nervous. 
So pray & think of me Wed night, if you would....
May His grace drip from your fingers,