Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving ...[Thanksgiving part 3]

Happy Thanksgiving.
Hope you had enough to eat. That it wasn't too eventful. That you could enjoy who you ate with...
What I’m thankful for.
Folks on facebook have been posting of what they are thankful for over the course of the month. A “30 days of thanks.” [so this is your fault Bev. Fry Beckett & Lauren Reike, just so you know…] I thought this was great, however, I didn’t want to compete with them.

There is so much to say…
Thankful for the fact that God not only created most of what I’m thankful for, He actually wants to be with me. To have a relationship with me.
Thankful that His spirit wants to live inside of me. [when I’ve tried to get out]
Thankful that Jesus lived out: “love talked about is easily cast aside, love demonstrated cannot be denied.”
Thankful that he said “no” to so many things I asked him for. [from “please don’t move me to York, wherever that is.” To “please ‘unmake’ me.”]

Thankful for Mickey. My wife. Which translates into: the girl who puts up with my junk…ALL of my junk [writing at all hours. Liking a lot of sci-fi, strange bands that most have never heard of. Like & recharge by being alone – which is SO conductive to being married] Still puts a smile on my face. Is willing to put up with the recreating process of my life. Still laughs with me [yeah, at me too]. Deals with us getting lost sometimes because we were talking too much.

Thankful for my Mother & Dad. Who have no idea what a gift they are to so many people. [I’m glad to hear from those people. I’m so totally one of them, probably #1] Thankful that I still have them. That they are still in love with each other. That they love me, that we are friends. That they lived out following Jesus more than they talked about what it looked like to follow him.

Thankful for my friends. I know it wasn’t always easy for some of you to deal with me, but you rock. [you know who you are] Thankful for our stories. “no mate, I’m as lost as you are.” Our jokes & “special language”
“They said you weren’t fit to sleep with the pigs. But I stuck up for you, I said you were.”

Thankful for the Noll family [aka “The Noll Clan”] What we have is rare, & beautiful. Glad to be a part of it.

Thankful for Living Word Community Church [LWCC]. Reasons? [a blog post unto itself] Christmas, it’s not about us. A thanksgiving meal, on Thanksgiving, for those in York who don’t have family to get together with. Shoeboxes [thanks Franklin Graham for letting us help]. Sendafa, Ethiopia. Guatemala. Cardboard testimonies. Christmas Eve Offering [that goes to… down the street & across the globe]
“You can’t out give God.” – Pastor Steve
… thanks for trying anyway, gang.

Thankful for my Growth Group. It is nice to have Brothers. Prayer for you, with you, beside you in all things. You guys are the best! Thanks for enjoying & accepting my Uncle & my Brother-in-law. The moving ministry. Thanks for being people who help other people.

Thankful for TWLOHA. Such a wonderful story. Thankful for Jamie Tworkowski, Renee Yohe, Ryan [from Between the Trees, & the band for the video so I’d hear about this], John Foreman [of Switchfoot] thanks for asking the 4th person at a show in Orlando: “what does your shirt mean? To write love on her arms?”. And for buying & designing a shirt. David McKenna, for understanding & helping Jamie & Renee. For being willing to be a part of this story of redemption. You were awesome. [we never met… but we will spend a lot of “time” together eventually. Hug my nephews will ya?] [Thanks God, for thinking this up. Only you…only you]
Stop the bleeding
Rescue is possible
To Write Love On Her Arms

Thankful for Hearts & Minds bookstore [& Staff] You are amazing. Byron you have been a true friend. Thanks for stomaching the emails & loving me anyway. I’m sort of turning it into a story. Maybe I’ll get some “creative input” someday?

I’m thankful that I can:
walk, hike, type, breathe on my own, see, hear, play musical instruments, learn, read, write, take photographs, drive, help others learn, …

Thankful that I have a job.

Thankful that I have Mom’s “Ear for music” [& love of it].

Thankful that both of my parents are good cooks [& the gene passed to me! At least that’s what I’m told]

Thankful that I can make people laugh.

Thankful that I’m still alive. There are people on my side. That my story isn’t over. That it’s moving toward making sense.
Thankful for food, & wonderful people to eat it with.
Thankful for good stories.
Thankful for late nights.
Thankful for early nights.
For rest, & play, & good conversations…
[& the list goes on…]

Thank you God,
that there's always
enough space at your table,
and while no two stories
are the same,
they all have one thing
in common:
saved by grace

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Thanksgiving [part 2] Thanks Don Miller, for the questions...

I didn't get to post last night. I'm kind of glad. Don Miller tweeted this:
"How can the suffering you've experienced become an unintended blessing? What's good about the pain you've known? Steal your life back."
my post kind of is my "long winded" answer...

Perhaps the strangest angle on Thanksgiving…

…is to be thankful for those dark times you lived through.
Even though it seems so very outside of normal. When I told someone [or was it two different close friends?] about the abuse, not surprisingly, they responded with “I wish it never happened to you.” What was different was my response. “Are you sure? Would I be the person you like/ enjoy …if I hadn’t been through this?”
This can lead to a place where the idea of “it’s not fair” comes into play. As I’ve become fond of saying: “life wasn’t fair to it’s author…what do you think your odds are?” …I like the phrase, don’t get me wrong, I just think we should say it with a happier Vocal Inflection. I’ve followed that with: “If life were truly fair. We should all pack up & go to hell, right now, all at the same time…each by ourselves. THAT would be fair”. [thankfully God “isn’t fair”]
Getting back to my questions.
Are you sure? Would I be the person you like/know now/ enjoy …if I hadn’t been through this?
This may be the toughest post to read of them all. See, all of my experiences helped to shape me into who you now know. Helped to shape –not DEFINE. What I’ve lived through isn’t my definition. However it does help you to understand why I care about people. Why I try to be careful with them.
Anyway, before I stray too far off the topic of thankfulness. It is possible to be thankful for the dark times [pages/chapters] of your story. It is in these dark times that we learn about ourselves. In these times of desperation that God stops being a “fuzzy notion”, & becomes some ONE. Someone who will be there, in the middle of the mess. God becomes a bomb disposal person. A clean up/ restoration specialist. THE greatest triage doctor EVER. The Bible becomes a great deal more than just “the book I own with the thinnest pages”. The Bible becomes… somehow… a blanket… & a castle. A sword…& a shield. I think one of my favorite Lord of the Rings quotes fits here the best. For me, this quote is always about the Bible. Galadriel: “May it be a light unto you in dark places, when all other lights…go out.” It has been. It’s been all that & so very much more. I’ve probably said this before, I’ll say it again, I gave up telling God that I’ll only listen to him when he speaks to me in “Christian” music/books/radio/tv shows. The reason? Lets face it. I don’t listen very well. So I now beg God to help me listen to him when he wants to tell me something. I let him pick where, & when, & what he wants to speak to me through. Listening, though, is only the beginning. Usually there follows an action. Which becomes the follow up prayer. “Please help me to act on what you are telling me.”
Having been treated so cruelly & violently, I care about people. I value them. You matter. No, really, I’m serious. If I matter…so do you.
"How can the suffering you've experienced become an unintended blessing? What's good about the pain you've known? Steal your life back." 
The short answer is: God.
As unfathomable as it has been for so long, sharing the fact that I was abused allows for 2 things. Sympathy to other who have been abused. Hopefully hope to others. I lived through this, maybe you can live through your darkness too. Maybe, just maybe, us sharing our stories with each other will help each of us to grow towards healing in a better, stronger way. Though I still scratch my head about the oddness of my life story. The “Heaven & Hell” of it. I’m glad for both parts. How both parts played out in my growing up. I’ve felt like my story was boring [when I had suppressed the abuse so much I forgot it happened]. Then the awfulness of realizing just how broken & messed up I was. That was part of my story, not the end of it.
So I’m thankful that I lived through all of the dark parts of my story. I wasn’t always. I am now, though. I’ve learned about God. Not maybe the most fun way to learn about God, but I’ll take what I can get.
I’ve learned about myself. It is through all these dark stories that I’ve come to the place where I write. I write poems. My enjoyment of photographs, how that is such a healing thing for me. Hiking, being alone walking through the woods. I never would have done that, if I hadn’t become so desperate. Which is so strange. Because it’s so healing, energizing, calming for me. It helps me “untie the knots” inside. So my pain has helped me. I still don’t know that I’d volunteer for it. Yet, I’m very thankful for all that I have learned & gained from it.
And I do like the quote from the forthcoming movie TheBook Thief.
“when life robs you… sometimes, you have to rob it back.”

Happy Thanksgiving,
May His grace drip from your fingers,

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving from 3 angles, only one is "normal" [part 1 of 3]

For me... this will be a bit "uncensored", ok? So... for some of you, be careful.
I'm just being honest...

Blessings come in many forms. As I just couldn’t come up with anything to post the other night. I realized later that, sometimes, it almost seems like I need to type that to get to the point where I can be relaxed enough to let a post come. 
I’ve read online, enjoyed testimonies of thanksgiving yesterday @ LW, & thought about it. Howsoever, I realize that there may be a lot more to this than we usually think about. Yes, I am thankful for the normal things we all list. [this will be "part 3". A "normal" thinking list of thankfulness]

Can I go a little off the usual path?

I’m thankful for what hasn’t happened to me. 

My parents are still alive. [didn’t die very young] They didn’t up & leave. They are still in love with each other. [you'd think they got married last Sat.] They are both, happily, a part of my life. By choice, theirs & mine. [The best time to be your child’s friend… is when they no longer live at home]

Unlike some, I never got addicted to drugs or alcohol. 

While I never had siblings, in the normal sense, I also never lost any.  However… I’ve been “selected” to be a brother to many wonderful people. [a few of them even refused to allow the “in-law” part to be spoken]

I was never abducted. 

No one I love has been murdered. [in front of me or otherwise]

Not only was I not aborted… it was never “tried” [attempted] on me, either.

I’ve never had to watch someone get tortured. 
One of the hardest things I’ve ever said to someone close to me about my abuse… “Jesus & I are similar…& not really. How we are similar: we were both abused. It wasn’t our fault. How we are different… at least my Dad…didn’t have to watch.” [I think this is the first time that this came to mind...& I didn't cry. When I told them this I could barely say it.]
Strange the things that can come out of "twisted darkness". 

I'm not sure how to end this, really. [how do you follow that?] So I guess this is a "cliff hanger" post. I hope it's ok to share such things with you. The next post will pick up from here. And go a bit "further down the rabbit hole" as it were. So, as is typical for me, I guess the only thing I can end with from here is a song. Thank you Neal Morse [, Mike Portnoy & friends] for this tune.
Flying Colors - The Storm ["...don't cry, or be afraid, some things only, can be made, in the storm..."]

May His grace drip from your fingers,

traveling onward

Can I be honest? Some days I think of hanging this up. Wondering if I can really speak to anyone. Help anyone...through anything. It just happens. I loved the Thanksgiving service today. I want to write. I just am either too much of something...or not enough of something tonight. I'm only a human...saved by grace. Loved by someone who really shouldn't. I don't give him any good reason to love me. Thankfully he's never asked for a reason. Talk about an awkward silence, that would be one.
so... for tonight, songs... of love...of my desperate need for God. I've said it before, it'll be true forever...
God, I need you so bad, I can taste it.
Merciful Eyes - The choir
Restore My Soul - The choir
You were there - The Call
With the tired eyes of faith - The Swirling Eddies
The Finish Line - Steve Taylor
Follow Me - Paul McCartney
U2 - Hawkmoon 269
Uncovered - The Call

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Another train of thought involving being ok...

When you have felt like you weren't worth being on the planet, or taking up space...
When you feel like all you see... all you have seen... for an extremely long time.. is utter black darkness, yeah, you begin to just shoot for feeling ok. A long illness can bring this same feeling. You start to think, "You know what? I'll settle for  being ok. I don't have to feel the greatest feeling in the world. Forget 'Mildly Fantastic' I'd settle for not hating my existence. Thanks." When I first heard "Be OK" by Ingrid Michaelson, I saw it that way. I can understand feeling like you just want all of yourself together in one place. All your parts, broken or not, in the same room. A "nice overview", thank you very much. As I went through therapy, I felt that way. Being ok with myself seemed like a dream. No... actually being ok with myself felt less real than Lord of the Rings. Less possible than taking an afternoon to climb Everest & coming home for dinner in a "couple of hours".
As impossible as it seemed, I actually got there. And I loved it, roll credits... well... maybe not just yet. Once I got there, & maintained being there, I didn't want to "just be ok" with being alive. It was a nice "first goal" or first step. Yet the longer I seemed to be there. I wanted to sustain that & use it as a ..."bad day". When I'm not feeling good to be "down to" being ok with my existence. To go far enough that "falling down" meant going back to being ok. [I think I said that right, hope so]
When I got to this point, I remembered. That once before, during my dark summer, I headed out into the woods. Which helped me immensely. So I stepped back into this practice. This voluntary solitary exercise for my soul. Once again, I felt closer to God. More ok with being alive. I took my mp3 player... yet, increasingly, I left it turned off. Just "enjoying the unplug". I've written, photographed nature, prayed, laughed, & hiked. My soul came to feel at ease. I came to feel "at rest". Not always, yet a greater portion of the time, this was the experience. Over the past few years, I've realized that when I'm in those moments, I'm in the present. All there is, is now. It has moved me along. Taking the necessary journey. The necessary steps forward. To feeling really whole. Well, maybe "as whole as we can, being fallen creatures, in a fallen world". As I've mentioned, I'm taking steps to move out of my little comfort zone. This will mean that sometimes [on here or in person] I'm going to be ..."less than desirable", or perhaps it will take "some extra grace required" to deal with me. A goal is to make these moments as Few & far between as possible. However, a goal is something to be reaching for, not a thing of certainty. Mick & I went out to the Chiropractor tonight. We got to talking. Something I don't always do as well or as often as I think is healthy. Yet, somehow in the middle, I said something that I cannot let go of. "I feel like somewhere along the line I let every single plate that was spinning drop. I'm now at a place where I think I'm beginning to pick them up & get them going again... at least the ones that deserve to be spinning, anyway."
Having posted this, you have a reason why things may seem to "go the way they go" online [& off]. Thanks for being on this journey with me. My main hope is that this will be a story worth reading.
I'll leave you with a commercial that I really dig. As you watch it you'll get why.
And a song that seems to be, increasingly, a song for this moment/ chapter of my life.

"The Mountains are Calling" commercial
Create in me by JJ Heller

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OK "vs" understandable

I said I was going to write next about: OK "vs" understandable. So here we go...

[I never start with a song, so lets change that. Shall we?] This song is an impetus for this post [posts?] Be OK by Ingrid Michaelson
For me this begins with me telling my wife those dark pages. See, before we got married, I told her a "headline". I kind of gave her some of the sentences I gave you a few posts ago. With a demand to go with it. "Do NOT tell ANYONE about this." And, of course the follow up: "WE will not talk about this again." To her credit, that's what followed. Then I saw a therapist.
Bring on the funny. I can't tell you I saw a therapist without telling the story that, I think, every therapist I've had got to hear. Oh...& the poor souls who tried to help me go to see one. Cause, lets face it, "therapy is a great idea... for someone other than me." Is this, or is it not, how everyone feels? I don't need it, but it's ok if you do. Which is, of course, how I felt myself. Followed by this:
"why would I go to a therapist? I'm going to sit on a 'couch' -by the way- in what universe is that a couch? That doesn't even look right on an episode of Star Trek. What do you have to smoke [never mind how much] to think that is a couch, anyway? Some old 'dude' with coke bottle glasses will sit there, smoking a Sherlock Holms pipe, & in the thickest British accent imaginable say: 'Tell me about your Mutha'. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? My Mother is the sanest person I know. SHE is the least of my problems. ..." The tirade did go on, in some cases, you get the point though.
Are you really ready to laugh? first therapist was a woman. And they say God doesn't have a sense of humor. They, obviously, haven't spent time with me. Oh, & a quite young & attractive woman, at that. Yes, I told her & she laughed.
I feel better now.
Back to the story. So I borrowed the keys to my Uncle's cabin. Took Mick up there & after a day of normal "us time" I began to really tell her. Sharing details of it, that I was seeing a therapist now, etc. It was painful for both of us. A "hate doing it, glad we did do it, glad we suffered through doing it" kind of moment. First awkward moment was her asking: "Is that everything?" "...what? that wasn't gruesome enough for you?" "no, just... you've told me everything, right?" "the best I can remember, yes."
I then began to talk about ways I saw my trauma was affecting us. Affecting our relationship. She began to say, to anything I brought up: "it's ok because of what you've been through." ...I told her: "No. It's not ok, it's understandable. I don't want it to be ok. Because if it's ok, then you have to 'deal with it'. Deal with me being like this. 'To bad, so sad/ sucks to be you'. It's like, you have to be abused because I was, sort of thing. And no, you don't. I don't want that for you. I don't want to stay the same. So we're not going to just 'let it be'." I don't know what else I said. What I do know is what I conveyed.
It is understandable. I have trust issues [wait... I don't have issues, I have a subscription]. Which is understandable [but still not ok]. I am what they call: Hyper-vigilant. I am so very much more aware of my surroundings than you would be comfortable knowing. Example? Mick changed her makeup [face "stuff", any girl reading this is now substituting the right word for it], I hugged her..."honey, what did you change?" [long uncomfortable pause] "why?" "You smell different." "I used deodorant." "No... I mean ...your face smells different." Guys...little tip. NEVER tell your girl her face smells "different" it will NOT go well for you. TRUST ME. "what do you mean my face smells different? ...I did use a different [whatever that's called] can smell that?!?" "um...yeah." "does it stink?" "No, no, it just smells different. I have this ...collage of smells that are... 'you' & that isn't in it." She began to ask me all sorts of questions after that. Anyway, I don't remember what all else we would have talked about. The only other example of a "character flaw" that I have would be that I don't share very well. This might seem strange after all I've been sharing on here. The sharing I am doing is not "standard operating procedure" for me. I'm not a "get to know you" kind of guy. I'm a "keep you at arms length" kind of guy. Which I'm trying to dismantle, even as I type this. I especially don't share well when I don't feel well. Physically or emotionally. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "I'm fine." So [for some of you from my growth group & from LW], if you can, try not to be too surprised if you ask me how I am doing & get 2 answers. The usual: "I'm fine" followed by a pause & then the actual 411. Old habits die hard. Which in no way says they don't deserve to. The harder something is to do, often indicates the worthwhile-ness of doing it. Much of what's good for us is difficult. So I am stretching myself, here. Sorry if this post seems "muddy". However, I just wanted to post of this for some time now. So Mick caught on to what I was trying to say to her. I'm still fixing things. And it's going to take time. More time than I'd like... sometimes we have to appreciate the movement, however small, & not just push for the journey to go faster.

I have another post that involves the word: OK. And may pick back up on the theme here... however, I DO have work tomorrow...

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Monday, November 18, 2013


I just can't talk tonight.
The words just run away tonight.
How can this be?
To have so much to say
And have
All the words
Stolen away
To stretch fingers
Across keyboard
They fall
Stumbling to press
The right keys
Fumbling for
Words that aren’t there
Then what?

The words won’t come
Doesn’t mean
That they won’t come
I guess
I just
Need to keep trying
To put the words to paper
To keyboard
Till the right words
Find their way
It can be written
Maybe spoken
Maybe shared
So that wings
Can fly me away

By b.e. noll

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not a fun start [carried on ...anyway]

Today did not have a stellar start. I woke with the feeling that someone had hit me in the face with a cinder block. This is how the whole right side of my face felt. So I’m struggling to get going, thinking I’ll never make it anywhere today. Slowly thinking I shouldn’t try to go anywhere. As I got on the road I’m not even sure I want to be alive. Where did this come from? Old voices, from time past. Perhaps not long enough ago. I went anyway. I said I’d help with the shoeboxes today. So I went to church anyway. Feeling very sorry to exist. Which isn’t a feeling I want to share. [even here, now] Going in I wanted to be invisible. Which I simply cannot do at LW. I’m not sure when I first realized this truth. It simply is. When I feel like being invisible I always run into a wide variety of people I know at LW. Today it was Pastor Brian, Leigh, my growth group guys, several other guys I know, George. …I’m learning though, & growing. To some I said what I always say. That good old “knee-jerk” reaction. “How are you B?” without thinking I reply: “I’m fine”. Which I then thought “Why did I say that? It isn’t true. It isn’t real.” Thankfully to others I began a new chapter, “I’m…here.” Or “How’s it going B?” “it’s going…it’s not taking me with it, but it’s going.” When it’s really bad [& I’m with close friends] it’s “it went.” [notice I’m still here] I guess my thought, sometimes, is if I can’t laugh maybe you can laugh for me. Sometimes it helps. I got a long hug from Dad & Gabe. Which I needed, didn’t know it till I got it. So I’m learning to share these things with some people. I held onto Gabe, which made him ask “everything ok, brother?” “no. I’m just ‘not right today”. I then got to help with skidding shoeboxes. Talked a little with Leigh, which was nice, even though my whole self wasn’t zeroed in on our dialogue like I’d like it to be. All of which seemed to really help me out. Mood as well as physically. Spent time eating lunch with my brother-in-law, hanging out & talking for a while. All of this “rebounded” me quite nicely. Took a walk afterward. Which I needed. I didn’t intend to post any of this. Of course, I didn’t intend to feel like I did this morning, either. All of this brings me to a line I keep thinking of from a Plumb song “…I don’t wanna push you away, I don’t wanna hold you at arm’s length, I don’t wanna push you away, it’s just a knee-jerk reaction…” [“At Arm’s Length” by Plumb, from the disc “Need You Now”]
And… now I have no real way of ending this. I guess I’m just saying that, slowly, I’m finding my footing on this idea of sharing when I don’t feel the best. Giving people the chance to “minister” to me simply by knowing that: “I’m not at my best, I think it sucks, hope it goes away soon. Thanks for listening.”
Guess I’m also saying I’m thankful for my church. For their ability to deal with people who aren’t easy to deal with. [or figure out] People, like me. Thankful that LW cares about all kinds of people from all kinds of places.
Like I said on facebook tonight, Thankful for my Dad, my Brother-in-law, growth group guys, Pastor Brian, & others from LW. I needed you today. You helped me salvage my day. You… picked my mood up off the floor.

hope it's ok to post some songs. some audio keep going/ keep living songs...
Nickleback - Savin Me [I like that the video seems to answer the question. At least for 2 people in it. Wonder if it inspired the movie "In Time" or the other way around.]
FUN. - Carry On
Plumb - Drifting
Jars of Clay - Inland [no man is an island... every man tries it at least once.]
Mumford & Sons - Timshel " are not alone in this, you are not alone in this, as brothers we will stand, & we'll hold you hand..."
Nickleback - If Today Was Your Last Day

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Friday, November 15, 2013

a facebook question [thx 4 asking, Aaron Kunce]

A friend from Living Word asked for this on facebook. Comments/ thoughts on a quote...

"You may have heard this great quote (below) before... but whether you have - or not - please reflect on it and when you get a moment... share those reflections with me. I would love to read them. Thx! Here's the quote: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." -Frederick Buechner"

It’s hard to believe that my deep gladness would intersect with the world’s deep hunger. It’s taken an exponentially long time to figure out what my deep gladness even is. Turns out Art… is where I come alive. I feel a relaxation, a relief when I write. Like I’ve been holding my breathe for so long I forgot I was doing it. My mind becomes lighter.
Then there is music. Which I can use to change my mood… or enhance it. It is so freeing to sing […@ least when no one is within earshot.]
And there is photography. I don’t even know how this got started. I just know that sometime last year or this year I started having this weird …”event” with it. I was running along a path, in the woods. When I stopped, ran backwards to a shot that my mind had realized would be a good photo, & snapped it. Suddenly [kind of to my shock & horror] I started laughing. I just could not stop. I was so very glad no one was around. Shear lunacy. I stopped running & laughed, walking down this path. Not every time after that [or every time since] has this happened. Yet it happened several times afterward. All when I was alone. All in the woods at different parks here. It was starting to really scare me. Am I crazy? [ok, obviously yes. Has it gotten worse?] Finally it was bugging me enough that one time I stood there & said, out loud: “God. This is SO STUPID!” I was unprepared for what was next. I felt him “walk up beside me, put his arm around me” & say: “yeah, isn’t it great?”. After that I never “tried” to make this happen… & it doesn’t feel strange anymore. I get it. I am just feeling completely alive in the moment. I’m ok being me, being alive, taking up space on the planet. I am doing what I like. Being one with my creator.
People seem to really like my photos. I’ve had a few people say every once in a while how they like my poems/ writings. I don’t really know if what brings me deep gladness will meet the world’s hunger. …I guess I hope that it does. 

next thing rumbling inside me to write about is the difference between ok & understandable. [I think it'll have to be in sections. wish me luck. prayer would be better...]
May His grace drip from your fingers,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wearing Hope

[photo courtesy of Plumb]

Wearing Hope
Don’t know
What you need
Where you are
In your journey
What all you’ve seen
I don’t know
If your glad
To have gone
You went
Thus far
Or terrified
That someone will
Find out
You came from there
But you should
No matter
What you’ve seen
Where you’ve been
What’s been done
Or the scars
It’s left behind
I’m still here
I needed help too
Why else would
I wear
Among other things
On my arm
So you can see
That it works
A bit like this
I get help
I begin to heal
So I can be a catalyst
For healing
So you get healing
So you can be
A catalyst
For healing
Someone else
A few people
Touching a few people
Changing the world
One person
At a time

by b.e. noll

It can be amazing where inspiration can come from. A conversation, song, interview, movie trailer, tv show, twitter, facebook… This comes from a photo & a comment on facebook. [I honestly didn’t think Plumb would message me back. She doesn’t know me from Adam & Eve’s house cat. Anyway…]
Plumb posted this & mentioned that she might wear this for the whole of her current tour [winterjam 2013]. A bracelet with the word hope on it. Something in this stuck with me. So I began to think on this. This idea of “wearing hope”. Maybe it makes me think of To Write Love On Her Arms. I'm not sure. Wearing hope just has a ...logic to it. A sanity in the midst of chaos. A safe harbor, in the midst of pain we haven't yet healed from. A chance to gain something we can somehow both hold onto...& give away. Maybe it's that somehow wearing hope, love, mercy, kindness, grace could become a way to spread these things everywhere we go. Showing people these things are more than concepts we talk about. Subjects we speak of in church. That maybe by wearing hope we can carry it... like a first aide kit. A salve. To help wounds to at least become scars. Scars are wounds that have healed somewhat. The scars don't always go away. At least they don't bleed anymore. I've been blessed. So many of my wounds healed without permanent scars. At least without physical ones. Though I do have some. As I type I think of one of my fingers. I shattered the tip of it. The scar is still there. While I couldn't feel it for many years, feeling has been restored over time. 
It's been nice, for me, to share here some of my wounds, my scars. I hope that I share more hope than darkness. I guess I also feel that hope is contagious. So I'd like hope to "run a muck", to run free in the streets. Perhaps to end up, being worn... on more than one arm. Kind of like the To Write Love On Her Arms shirts. Starting in Florida... & stretching across the planet...
[Plumb, thanks again for the use of the photo. And for your songs. Enjoy the tour!]
May His grace drip from your fingers,

Well, I won't be posting for the next few days. I have a long day tomorrow. Leave my Sister-in-law's house @ 4:30am. To drop 2 of them off @ BWI. Then I'm straight back here & to work, till 12 hours later. Don't think I'll have anything inspiring to say after that. So maybe Thurs. I'll post again. Not quite sure what's next here...


Sunday, November 10, 2013

another "chapter" of me

I want to keep somewhat to this idea of posting “heavy & light”, a heavy one then a light one. So the next post will be from the quote by Plumb. [think it might dovetail to this quite nicely]

I’ve heard recently from several places on depression. People speaking of being depressed &/or suicidal. This is another post that’s been “marinating” for a while. I guess I should start by saying that off & on for much of my life [most of it to this point] I haven’t really been glad to be here. You know, alive, on the planet. I’ve hidden this… though mostly from myself. I never wanted to be alone. Seems so funny to type that now. Since I recharge alone, walking/ hiking in the woods. Standing in the “Art of God”, just me & Him. I wanted to die, I even planned at times how. Yet nothing could touch “the black summer”. It seemed everything crumbled.
My best friend & I had it out. The “stay as far from me as you possibly can” kind. A few other friends made some bad choices. So I didn’t see them much, either. I left the ministry I thought would be my “path god had chosen for me”. Left the church I was going to. Didn’t bother looking for a new one. [I would be gone for 5 years… before finding the awesome & much needed community I call my church home: LWCC] I sank to my absolute lowest. I spent the whole summer wanting, fantasizing, daydreaming, praying for, & even a little planning of my death. To borrow from Gandalf: “[it] seems like a life age ago.”
I hardly recognize this part of myself. Forgive my swearing here, I’m just trying to let you see it for what it was. I literally went to bed. The last thing I prayed before trying to sleep was: “God, I’m going to close my eyes now. Please don’t let me ever open them again.” I’d wake up the next morning & the first thing out of my mouth was: “damn, I’m still here.” All summer long. I don’t know which is sadder, my feeling alone or the fact that I still had people who loved me. I just didn’t “see” them. As the summer wore on, I began to really talk to God. Not the kind of talk you really want to admit to, either. At one point I said to Him: “I think I get it now. Why you won’t kill me. You don’t want to be any closer to me than you already are. Is that it? Do I repulse you? Am I a joke to you? Do you hate me? There’s no reason for me to BE here! So why am I taking up space?”
Nothing. [cue crickets]
So one day, about Sept. or Oct. of that year, I gave God an ultimatum. This is not a grand idea. You really never know what God is gonna do. This is true when everything is going well. To borrow from the talk Pastor Aaron gave this morning, See, I blamed my best friend for everything between us. It was 100% his fault. This, of course, is great for me because then all I can do is pray about it, the REAL work is on him. I think this is why we blame others. So we can tell ourselves that we are waiting for others to change so we can be doing better. He, of course had the same thought. “It’s 100% B’s fault.” So we DID agree on something, not that it was helpful.
Anyway, I sat down, one Sat. morning. I had the whole day. Nothing on “the books”. And I told God off.
[pick your fav. “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer” “Not the brightest bulb on the tree” “a few fries short of a happy meal”, huh?]
“I’m going to sit here. Not eat anything or drink anything, or speak… just sit here till you do something, God. Come down here & say something! Kick me in the face! Something…anything.” Little tip, don’t give God a completely open invite. Something... anything. …really? ANYTHING?
I sat there for about an hour. Nothing, nadda. I don’t know if God “gets smart with you”… he kinda has to, at times, with me. This, as you no doubt have guessed, is one of them. Now, I should preface this with the fact that I did not truly “see God”. My physical/biological ears did not “hear him”. Maybe I should tell you that I have an amazing imagination. So to my mind this is how it played out:
Jesus “walked” out from behind a tree & sat down next to me. And he said: “So… your gonna shut up & let me talk? This IS new.” He had love in his eyes & body language. “Brian, you are right. You are a victim, here. …however, what you fail to see is… you… are also… a perpetrator. Your friend has taken the place in your heart… where only I can handle being. He cannot do what you need. Only I can. So… now that it’s all gone. Now that HE’S gone. …Where… would you like me… to be?” It took a while for me to say anything. The problem with God is that you cannot play the “your not perfect, either” card. This sucks. With every other relationship you or I have, if something goes wrong it’s probably both sides’ fault. To at least some degree. Not true with God. If there is a problem, it’s 100% your [my] fault. Since God is perfect. The nice thing is God doesn’t rub this in your face. I don’t know if I can say I felt worse. [I already felt so low I needed a step ladder to climb up to the bottom.] I felt convicted. You know the little kid response,” I know… your right.” Which isn’t really what God was after. Repentance & how do we fix this? Was more the “order of the day.” So we went there. As much as I could. I wanted to heal. Which is the only way we really begin the process. We have to want it, bad enough to move. [guess that’s why I really like Switchfoot’s song: Dare You to Move] I had another lesson to learn, though. It began to feel so magical. As I “hung out” with God. So much so that a week later I did everything as “carbon copy” as I humanly could. To “recreate” the magic I had with God the previous week. To “get back there”. It didn’t work. Felt alone again. Depressed again… “so that was a one time gig, huh? You can stand me for a few hours on one Sat. only. And then you have to recuperate from being with horrible old me.” I got up from that spot, & I began to walk to my car, head held low. When I got a whisper inside. “go over this way” So I did. I took a slight deviation from my path & I suddenly began to get back to “that place” I had been the week before. Yet it didn’t feel the same. Similar, yet different somehow. So the next instruction was: “I don’t do repeats. I don’t want copies, or reruns. I don’t want to have the same relationship with you that I have with anyone else. I’m unique, & I made you the same. Unique. So we will not do the same thing, ever.”
After this I began my Saturday solitudes. My own “church”. It’s still not the same thing as [or an adequate substitute for] going to church. It did begin my great rebuild. I thought depression was over… it wasn’t. However, this has been the darkest depression I have suffered through. It was during this “rebuild” that my earliest poems began to take form. That my relationship with God began it’s journey to the next level. Where I began to be prepared to be given the strength to look at my whole life. To face the dark pages of my story…. & live to tell the tale. [which would come dangerously close to being my undoing]

A little footnote. My friend & I are friends again. Most of the friends I thought I’d lost are on good terms with me again. My friend that I had it out with was my best high school friend. A spiritual friend. We got together. We talked. He looked at me at one point & said: “how can you forgive me?” All I could say was: “why don’t you ask God how He can forgive me. When you get my answer…I think you’ll have yours.” My friend also played the “it’s not fair” card. [sigh]…”you believe the Bible, right? You believe Jesus died for us right? [an affirmative nod, both times] …if life wasn’t fair to it’s author, honey, …what do you think your odds really are?…not good.”
He told me he was sorry that all of it happened. I looked at him & said: “you not going to believe this, but I’m not sorry. I’m glad. I wouldn’t volunteer for it. Yet my relationship with God would not be what it is, if you & I hadn’t ‘had it out’. I needed you to get out of God’s way.” We had gotten back together & talked & had come 180 degrees around. Now we were saying to each other “it’s 100% my fault.” The truth? We were right…both times. It was OUR fault. Problems between humans usually are 100% both parties fault. I can only fix me [& I’m not all that good at it]. Telling myself it’s your fault is just a way to be lazy, blind, or hide from what is wrong with me. The only way to change you…the only way to change the world… is for me…to change me.
[To, again, borrow from Mr. Finch: “Told you I’d tell you the truth…didn’t say you’d like it.”]
Yes, I’m still writing my story. Still working on the first draft. Still have a young friend who hopes that I will write a version I feel comfortable sharing with the world one day. So she can read it.

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Saturday, November 9, 2013

One of "Beardy's Kids"

There are several ideas I've had for blog posts. Some are written as drafts, saved in here. Yet not seeing the light of day. To quote a Rush song: " many decisions, a million revisions...". I'm going to continue to write & rewrite them till they can be posted. Some are just... inside me. Marinating, waiting for the correct moment to be spilled onto here or paper & then typed into this. This "lighter post" is a good memory.
There are many who have become ..."honorary members" of my family. In human terms, I am an "only child". It seems to me, as I look over my life, as it continues to unfold that God has whispered [in regard to this] "wanna bet? this". I imagine him with a wry smile on his face as he says this. [oh... & to Randy T. An old saying from high school: "I'll remember you in my will. I won't leave you anything, but I'll remember you." lol] I took a few friends to Noll reunions when I was a teen. When I'd introduce them to my Grandparents they'd always say "call us Grandma & Pappy, all our grandkids do". So even they were inclusive.
Ok, here's a post that's been with me for a while...

One of beardy’s kids

It’s amazing what you can learn after someone dies. I knew that, during his lifetime, my Dad’s father was nicknamed “Beardy” by his friends. Us grandkids called him “Pappy”. I don’t remember hearing why they called him Beardy until after he passed. Turns out, when he crossed the line of faith he grew a beard. As a reminder that God had changed him. Kind of like the passage [& a song written out of it] “…& I will never be the same again…”. At Pappy’s funeral. I walked in & a kind gentleman took one look at me & said: “oh my, you must be one of Beardy’s kids.” I smiled. This stuck with me. After a while I realized why it stuck. Every drawing of God The Father is a drawing of an old man with gray hair & a gray beard. Every drawing of Jesus is of a man with a beard. So… no matter how you look at it, all the way around. Yes, I am one of Beardy’s kids. I miss hugging Pappy. I miss feeling his beard on my face. 
God has blessed me with a friend from my growth group who has a beard. And he, loves to hug people. Every time I see him he opens his arms & says to me: “I need a hug, brother.” or “Where’s my hug?” and I remember Pappy. 
Shortly after Pappy’s passing I sat, alone with God… & I told him: “you can keep your streets of gold. I don’t want a mansion. I have no need of robes & crowns. No real need of a glassy sea. No… when I stand in your presence … I just want to run into your arms, hug you… & feel your beard on my face. All I really want… is you.”

U2 - All I Want is You
Plumb - Don't Deserve You 
[thinking, mulling over ideas, of a post from something Plumb said on facebook]

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Friday, November 8, 2013

a prelude to moving forward

Have I mentioned that I'm really socially inept when it comes to compliments? I really don't know how to take them. I bring this up because I've had three people from LW give me some over the past week or so. One in an email, one on Sunday, & yesterday morning I got a text from a friend. I'm keeping the email & the text. I think I might need them sometimes. Sometimes I can really be mean to me. So, where possible, I’m keeping some of these positive words. [for a "rainy day"?]

As I’ve been sharing things on here, I suddenly realize I can use this to try or test something out. Much of my life, after moving to York, I would share parts of me… yet not all of me. [or maybe I should say, my story] I’d let people believe that I had a simple, strait forward childhood. [which I, myself, believed for a few years] After hearing stories from friends at a youth ministry I was in, I began to remember things I had pushed down in my life. The ugly stuff I have come to call “the dark pages” of my life. When I began to remember, it took over. I even forgot all the good stuff of childhood. Then, as things moved along, I began to have these… “dual stories”. You’ve heard of “good cop, bad cop”… this was “good childhood bad childhood”. Problem is… they are both my story. [or part of it, anyway] To make matters worse, they are intermingled. Neither one was to the exclusion of the other. As I write on here. As I wrestle with me. Attempt to become comfortable within my own self, I’m thinking that I may try to post good then bad. Sharing struggles & problems, then sharing warm memories. My blog won’t seem like it’s going dark or pessimistic, yet I can still share things that don’t get talked about much. I can also attempt to make it clear that my childhood was not all heaven or hell. Rather slices of each. Which, I suspect, is true of us all. As I think I've mentioned before [on here? well, somewhere] 

"We are all broken. The depth of the cracks is the same, though the pattern may look different."

I wrote that thinking of a vessel. like a pitcher for water. The water leaks out through the cracks... no matter where or how many cracks there are.  We so often compare our cracks to others. These are "bigger" or "deeper" than those. No, they're not, all of our cracks are the same depth. The pattern is different. It's different for each of us.

working on a post about my Grandfather...
May His grace drip from your fingers,