The Coming Storm…

*I’m not really trying to turn this into a poetry blog… (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I obviously love poetry) I’ve just been feeling more poetic that prosaic…

crows-in-the-clouds

 

Watching dark clouds the midnight crows

Black spots line up in their expectant rows

Spectating specters to the coming storm

Dividing the depth of billowing forms

Carefully they preen inky feathers

Obsessive attention

though this is not vanity

Rather work to withstand the weather’s

Insanity

 

Storms will always come folks (like the storm I may face from my Zoology friends for writing about crows under a picture of Texas Grackles… it’s called poetic license!) Yes there will always be another storm and they may look dark and foreboding, but if our houses are built on rock we will survive, if we study His word and preen the feathers of our souls we will survive.

Whether a storm of conflict, temptation, sin, or even getting caught in sin (right?)  I remember that I can’t rely on my own strength, I remember that I have a Higher Power to call on, and that if He is before me, then His power is between me and the storm.

Psalm 16: 8  “I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Rays of Inspiration

sunrise

Cloud’s promise of rain

Sunrise struggles, strains, to break

Freedom shines in Rays

 

*Every time I see the rays of light breaking through the clouds I am taken back to my childhood when I honestly thought that these rays were God granting a blessing to someone or some place. These rays I captured this morning are going out all over the world, may we all receive His blessing.

At the end of the hall….

shadow

My eyes pop open in the middle of the night, I’m yanked from sleep by the feeling of being watched. There is something in us that awakens us when a malevolent presence is watching and waiting. Whatever that something is, it triggered me from deep slumber to high alert.

 

            “…no, this is our secret, just for us, you can’t tell anyone….”

Only my eyes search the darkness as my body was frozen, I could feel waves of malice flowing over me. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I saw the shape in the corner. A flickering streetlamp outside was struggling to provide a light in the darkness, and just enough of that light broke through the shades to provide an outline to the huge and angry shape so still in the corner.

            “…hey, don’t look at the magazines in this drawer, they’re just for adults…”

Fear dried my throat and thumped in my heart, but a new emotion was fighting for control. Anger swelled from my belly and filled my heart and mind, anger that fed a hate that was already there. My mind raced to my defenses, gun in safe in bottom drawer of nightstand (take too long and too noisy), knife in top drawer (still too noisy to slide open the drawer, mag-light under bed…perfect! no noise and a smooth grab.)

            “…it’s just a game, a little wrestling game….”

Fear and caution temper my anger so I slowly and carefully slide my hand down to the large and heavy flashlight under my bed. Sweat beads on my forehead despite the cold air of the November night. Colder still is the aluminum of the flashlight as I wrap my fist around it, the weight of the four D cell batteries inside felt like power. I form a plan to hit the ground in a roll and come up right in front of my watcher to drive the heavy flashlight right into the throat…

            “…ssshh, it’s just a special wrestling move…”

Silently I roll out of bed and drop to the floor, I stay in a crouch so that my silhouette won’t show against the white wall… white wall…something about a white wall screams in my head, I feel nauseous and have to breath deep to keep from vomiting. In a panic I look at the figure in the corner. The dim light shows it hasn’t moved… a calm voice speaks in my head, “Bob…”

            “…well if you really want to see the pictures, I guess you can, but don’t tell anyone, it’s our secret…”

“Bob,” my inner voice calm but pleading, “Bob, there’s no one there, it’s the fan…. there’s no one there.” It’s very strange to have your own voice in your head, trying to convince you that there’s no danger, especially when your eyes are telling you there is an eminent threat right in front of you. “Breath… Bob, get it together… breath, it’s just the fan.” I squeeze my eyes shut and whisper an “Our Father” and open them and stare with fierce focus at the evil force in the corner, my brain clears itself of the dream and the shape in the corner that wanted to do me great harm dissolves into my floor fan.

            “…this is just between you and me, don’t TELL!”

I collapse as flashlight slips from my sweaty palm and hits the floor just before I do. Closing my eyes causes tears to stream down my cheeks and onto the carpet. I’m in a hallway, bright white with a powerful light that brings the white walls into sharp relief against the dirty corners. Dirty corners of my mind. I hate the door at the end of that hall, I hate myself for opening it….. My voice speaks inside my head again. “Bob, you’re not there, it’s over, you’re not there.” I open my eyes and see my ceiling fan spinning, a cold sweat indicating that I’m back in the present. A couple of deep breaths and I get up and splash water on my face. I shuffle back to bed, exhausted but knowing sleep may not come.

 

This little story has played out in my life several times, the scariest was when I thought someone had my first wife and was trying to take her from the house. She was, of course, alone and didn’t understand why I was moving so menacingly with such aggression toward her. I saw an assailant clutching her from behind and kept screaming at him. I was trying to maneuver into the kitchen to get our big butcher knife when I came out of it.

As scary as these times are I’m even more terrified to hit “submit” on this story. I feel so ashamed to be a victim…. Words dry up for me to describe the fear of admission. If you’ve ever wondered why people wait to come forward about abuse wonder away, but don’t judge. It’s scary, when survivors talk about the abuse it brings them back to the moment and it becomes real all over again.

I pray that all who hurt can find healing in their heart and I remember Psalm 9: 9,10 when my fear is too much to bear.

           

Psalm 9: 9,10  “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

*o.k. I know you all want some comedy in my stories so I’ll also admit that sometimes during these episodes I can’t remember the “Our Father” and have to rely on the Catholic dinner prayer to ask God for help. I’ll list it here as it has brought me out of several tight spots and terrors.

Bless us oh Lord and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive. From Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

A response to “Teen Rebellion”

youcantThe very week I posted a story of my own folly for not listening to my mother (pretty much my entire blog is dedicated to what happens when I don’t listen to Our Father) my daughter (15 going on 35) was explaining why she should have more freedoms in the household and why we should trust her more.

I’m stepping away from my list of 25 bible verses that helped to pull me out of my personal pit and using this as an add on to last week, I hope you don’t mind.

Why I get to tell you what to do….

The age old question again, “Why do you get to tell me what to do!” usually delivered in a moderately high pitched yell, with fists clenched and probably a stomped foot.

At some point in child development, “Because I said so!” (also delivered in a moderately high pitched yell, with fists clenched and probably a stomped foot) no longer satisfies the child and you need a real answer. This is what I thought of when my daughter asked me, and the response is not only to her but also to my son, my nieces and nephews, and to the thousands of kids I’ve taught and coached over the years…..

I get to tell you what to do because I was there when you were born, I drove at speeds that pushed the limits not only of safety but of sanity in order to see you come into this world. Because I looked into your face and saw what love truly is.

I get to tell you what to do because I have stayed up all night while you cried, because I’ve rocked you to sleep countless times, because I’ve checked your closet, under your bed and then the closet again. I’ve listened to your descriptions that were so detailed and terrifying that I began to imagine I’d find the monster there… and with a lump in my throat, and goose bumps on my arms, I checked anyway and found nothing more than a child’s imagination running so wild that it ran right into my head. Because the first night you slept through I spent in a cold sweat staring at the ceiling because I was worried something was wrong.

I get to tell you what to do because I walked for hours in the rain in search of a dropped teddy bear, only to return empty handed to the sight of you playing with the exact bear  in question, giggling and warm in the living room while I dripped icy rain onto the floor. And because I felt relief rather than anger at this sight because you were so happy and content.

I get to tell you what to do because I’ve changed a mountain of diapers, the contents of which made me question whether to call a doctor or a priest… Because I’ve cleaned up your puke (usually after you said, “No dad, I’m not gonna puke…. blaoouerehggg…splatter.”) I’ve cleaned your puke off the floor, the wall, the dog, out of my car, off your sister or yourself and I’ve cleaned your puke off the toilet seat (almost made it that time!) I’ve cleaned your puke off a blanket at the park in front of a crowd of people staring at me and whispering, “Poor dad…” I’ve cleaned your puke off a restaurant table in front of a crowd of people trying to look away (still the whispers though.) I hate puke, puke makes me want to puke, warm and smelly, chunky and slimy. I hate puke, but I love you, so I clean up your puke.

I get to tell you what to do because while you were crying with your tiny body shaking in fear…

I got down on my knees and prayed in great sobs, “Please God, don’t let ever me yell at my boy like that again…”

 

I get to tell you what to do because I answered questions ranging from “Why is the sky blue?” to “Why do dogs have to die?” and “Why is this the way to the store?” I admit that one stumped me until you accepted “Because these are the points in space/time that exist between home and the store.” I was honestly pretty impressed that you could grasp such a deep concept of simple relativity at only 3 years old.

I get to tell you what to do because I’ve kissed boo boos, bandaged cuts, gone to or helped get you to emergency rooms, cooled fevers, soothed sunburns, and plugged bloody noses.

I get to tell you what to do because I’ve pushed a thousand swings, and slid countless slides. Because I’ve stood in ice cold water for 45 minutes so you could jump in “One more time Daddy,” about 100 more times.

I get to tell you what to do because I’ve held your little angel face against my cheek while you slept, Your warm contented sighs breathing new life into my lungs and inspiring me to be the dad you need.

I get to tell you what to do because one day, I’ll be brave enough to let you go and make mistakes, to get hurt, lost, bruised, and broken hearted. Because my hand will always be there after, to lift you up, my shoulder will always be there to soak up your tears.

I get to tell you what to do because I won’t always be here for you, and when you ask for advice you’ll hear only the stark silence of my passing, but hopefully you’ll hear my advice inside your heart and have some ideas and a plan. Because about the same time that you finally understand why I always got to tell you what to do, you will have your own kids, stomping their feet and asking, “Why do you get to tell me what to do!”

 

Proverbs 1:8

My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.