Morning by Morning (8/11/18)

My daily gratitude for:

Well, I can’t even begin the words for the gratitude I feel tonight. I could mention specific things like being tired because I have been around good friends for a couple days or because I got to play or disc golf or even because I went skydiving today! I could share that I am grateful for the Lucas family, who I got to share lunch with, or guy time with Stephen and Ben tonight.

I could say that I am grateful for talking to my brother and his kids and how we are planning to meet up sometime in the next two weeks. I’m so grateful for it. Or how I got to be encouraged by my parents for the skydiving and congratulated after, and how that was meaningful. Or even that I got to honor my late grandfather who had always wanted to skydive. Those are so meaningful to me.

I feel grateful for the hot weather, the comforting words of friends, the bizarre amount of support, getting to talk to a lady I like every day, and more. But I feel more than grateful for it all.

In spite of the most awful year of my life, I am having one of my best years of my life. And its amazing to be a part of.

You see, when I boarded the plane I got 15 minutes to think and wonder and reflect before I jumped. What a great metaphor for my life!?! It was a window out into what my gratitude really reflects and how gratitude creates courage. Sometimes, life is very hard, very scary, and very much about jumping off and out into the unknown that requires trust and commitment to yourself in no other way. Sometimes, grief and hurt can lock us up, or rather, lock me up. But in jumping out, causing deep pangs in my heart and stomach, and opening my eyes, I adjust then to the large world I can only fully see when you jump out. All of my grief wanted to take the easy way out, and just say no to jumping out. But this is the gift of that experience: knowing I am that kind of guy, with that kind of resilience, who says yes, who jumps because for no other reason than I trust that there is something good, something perhaps even better, if I face the fear of jumping out and falling. Trust, experience, jump.

Yes, I am very grateful. Grateful because I have great friends and finding more along the journey. Grateful because my family loves me to the heights and depths and their love is sustaining. Grateful because I get to explore myself in so many ways. Grateful to face hard and scary, and jump into it. Grateful because I am not alone, because God is with me, my son Ryan is with me, and others are with me. Grateful because no matter how much bad has been experienced, there has been so much good. And if I am willing to jump out, I am grateful because of the incredible good there will be.

The Pain of Memory

I remember the last time we really held hands. And it wasn’t that long ago. A memory, washed deeply in a past I can’t quite wrap my head around.

I remember the last time we kissed, even made love, and it’s not as long ago as I wish it would now. It is just a memory, washed deeply in the hurt of a friendship scorned.

I remember the last time we celebrated our anniversary together, a dinner at Killens Steakhouse. It was a great meal, a great waiter, and yet it feels now as empty as the love she shared for me.

I remember, more brutally, the conversations over the fall. Conversations that followed another year of marriage celebrated in July, that suggested a commitment that wasn’t there. I remember the gifts of a disc golf bag, support of attending a World Series game with a best friend, support of going out every Sunday afternoon when before it was treated as selfish. I remember the distance that grew that fall, and the secrecy that took greater place when silence and secrecy shouldn’t have been acceptable.

I remember, I remember, I remember. Yes I remember it all.

As July 27 is the anniversary of my marriage to Elana, it now stands as one of the most painful days in my life so far. Maybe not next years July 27. But this years will stand as one of the most painful. Because each memory I have of her is helping me to remember our life together as what it is and not what I wanted it to be. Indeed, it was a bad marriage to someone who could not get past her issues and who could not see herself for the person she deserved to be. Even then, every memory of her around this anniversary remind me of how my failings contributed to a marriage that could have been better and still had the potential to age well.

Regardless, there is now way to stop remembering. If I could not remember and compartmentalize, I would be no better than the stupid behaviors of last fall from others. The remembering brings pain, and the remembering is pain.

And it sucks. And it hurts, very deeply.

From where I stand, memory brings the ultimate hurt that my character fears so greatly: separation, disconnection, distance. I fear separation from those I care a lot about, since I find great fulfillment knowing that I am connected to others (not needed, just connected). But to have my own wife decide that she wants no part of me or our family life, and speaks those words that she feels nothing around me. That sucks. And I remember it.

But even as I write this, as much as I’d love to completely forget that this anniversary even exists, I am not one that runs from the pain. Though I don’t run from it, it does not mean I am not lonely or grieving. In fact, I feel lonely and hurt. Lonely in particular, because no one can remember for me. no one can feel it for me. No one can shield me from it. No one can look back at those events, that last kiss, that last touch, that last time we laid next to each other, that laughter together, that moment sharing a child together…no one can feel that for me. I must feel it.

Memory is painful because we remember that which we love and appreciate. Memory, even painful, still does something. It clarifies what was, or at least it gains a different perspective. And yet, no matter what sense or clarity it may give, memories never answer the question why.

All this being said, I remember the 4.5 years of marriage, I remember the hurt of this last fall, and I remember this day not for the smiles it held on July 27 of 2013, but for the pain in the memories it holds in 2018.

Tonight I hurt, and I wish it weren’t so.

Morning by Morning (9/12/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. My brother Josh, who celebrates his birthday today and I who I cherish as he continues growing into a young adult, father, and a husband. He has an oddly full moustache and a servant heart.  Love you bro! See his pic below!
  2. A chill morning.
  3. Another beautiful day!
  4. The old show Reading Rainbow that I heard randomly today.  That show was cool!

Morning by Morning (9/11/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Joshua Stewart, a friend from ACU and friend from Southwest Central whom I appreciate and love watching grow into his marriage and fatherhood.  He’s a very good man.
  2. The compassion of my mother in law Belinda who will always jump to action to love on Ryan and Aiden (and Elana and I) when they are sick.  She is great and so sweet to them both.  We are blessed to have someone so close who will take good care of our sick boys.
  3. Barbara Brown Taylors book, An Altar in the World, which has been a very moving read in challenging me to see the life I experience with different eyes.  What a fantastic book!
  4. Balloons. They’re fun. Ryan loves them.  I love them!

Morning by Morning (9/5/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Seeing all the TCH chaplains again this morning- it’s been two and a half weeks since we all have been in the same city!
  2. The great food I had yesterday at two different gatherings, including grilled sausage, cheeseburgers, potato salad, apple pie, and funfetti cake with simple icing! Yum! What a good day of good eats!
  3. Elana’s care for me this morning as I had a couple hours of feeling terrible and awful.  
  4. Ryan’s developing imagination through role plays!​ he’s so cute!

Morning by Morning (8/30/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Being home around family after a long week.
  2. Hearing Ryan’s invitation to play with him over and over, “Come on, daddy” 
  3. Seeing the glorious sun rising over Houston this morning!
  4. The relief brought by colleague chaplains at TCH yesterday that allowed me to go home.  Their navigation of waterlogged streets and leaving their families to help me is so appreciated. Thank you Pam and Naguib!
  5. The PICU nurses I served with who serve with humor and perspective in crisis.  I love getting to be a part of them.
  6. My father in law and his wife Ibi and the love and welcome they provide my family, especially as they rode out Harvey and needed a place real close for play.
  7. Living in Houston. It’s a great place that I call home, even with all this flooding chaos!

Surrounded by Family!

Today was my birthday, and of course, Hurricane Harvey had to join the party.  So I got called in to work for the day and stay through the storm, however long it will be. It’s not exactly my dream birthday.  I mean, work anxiety on Friday and staff worry and leaving the family behind.  Not exactly dreamy.

But two things happened that made the day great.

First, I didn’t get called in on Friday night so I got to hang out with Elana and Ryan and spend quality time with Ryan this morning. Elana was sweet. Ryan was active and playful and imaginative.  We played in the pooled water in the park.  I got to be surrounded by my family, even in the face of rain and thunder and cloudy skies.  I love my family.

Second, I got to work and walked into the PICU and got to be treated to 40 people wishing me happy birthday, one well wish and smile at a time.  Someone bought me pizza (thanks Jill!). Someone brought me a soda. The nurses were wonderful and appreciative and I was humbled by them.  I got to spend quality time with night shift staff and be treated to a cup of coffee, laughter, and collegiality and friendship. Even some families I know got into the act and made me feel wonderful. It felt like family, and I was surrounded by them. 

The joy of my immediate family and welcome and care of my PICU family made for a great birthday, full of encouragement and love.  

I might be at the hospital, sleeping on a cot, with the heavens pouring down rain, but it’s been a good birthday because I have been surrounded by my family. Love it!

Morning by Morning (8/24/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Jae Kim, a friend from Pepperdine who I always looked up to and admired for his vision, his wisdom, and his loyalty to his friends.  He moved up to Seattle and became quite the adventurer and I continue to marvel at his life continues to be shaped by his passions.
  2. My colleagues at the hospital who provided me with birthday pound cake and berries to go on top! I appreciate their support and joy!
  3. Elana’s flexibility, since I might be pulled to the hospital this weekend for the tropical storm and she’s willing to adjust and watch Ryan during the weekend if need be.
  4. The many kids who are ventilator or teach dependent and regardless of developmental levels, live courageously and reflect Gods beauty. I believe God speaks through them as much as anyone, and I am humbled to meet some of them.

Morning by Morning (8/12/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. A wonderful day with Ryan, including good toilet training, shopping and him pushing the cart, playing in the backyard, the pool, and building a cardboard airplane.  I love my time with him!
  2. Getting to hang out with DeAndre, Keyshon, and Taylor at the pool today. I marvel at their fun and resilience, but I am also very impressed and grateful with their gentle encouraging interaction with Ryan.
  3. Dinner with Elana and Carleigh and Levi! I can’t wait to officiate their wedding and I am so blessed to have gotten to know them outside of TCH!
  4. Japanese Sea Perch sushi.  Really really good!

Morning by Morning (8/8/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. My internship in 2005 at Lifeline Chaplaincy that has shaped much of my life since that time.  Virgil, Paul, Ann, Sarah, Rosa, Maya, Josh, and all the others made an impact that I cherish almost daily.
  2. The prayer warriors at our church that I love so much- Robert and Bernardine Barboza, Novie Booker, Ruth Noel, and Betty Grant to name a few. These are the people that I admire and who challenge me in my walk with Christ.
  3. Observing my parents be grandparents.  That’s an amazing gift that I just can’t ever put to words but is so beautiful and joyful to me.