The walk and the wake of it,

The talk and the take of it,

This life is mine,

And filled with mines,


Yet Yours it is,


In the breathe and the breath of it,

In the deep and the death of it.

The grace and the grease of it,

The trace and the truth of it.


I lie down in it,


To rise and raise in it,

To prize the praise of it.

In the meek and the milk of it,

In the speak and the spilt of it,


On my knees in it,


To pray and plead in it,

To stay and lead in it.

The thank You and the Your of it,

On the dew and the shore of it.


Oh the gift of it.


Puzzled into Coherence.

Pieces Of The Puzzle, Puzzle, Play

Where were we going to eat the Christmas quiche? I’m was toned down enough to think about such dilemmas of practical magnitude. You see, the 2000 piece sea-turtle puzzle occupied a half-acre of our dinner table. It was sixty percent done and wouldn’t be finished by Christmas.

I’m not sure who invested the most time, but each night after helping Santa deliver the goods, I sat, stood, hovered, and puzzled over the sea-turtle shell game. The therapy provided was thoroughly unexpected. As our common area kept on with dishes clanking, conversation humming, and dogs yipping, I puzzled. Sometimes others joined in the puzzling and connection ensued between souls like the coupling of pieces. I found out I can puzzle and engage with the family at the same time, unlike chewing gum while jump roping.

My mom was a professional puzzler and I told the kids about how she had puzzle trays. The trays wrapped around the project and each held similarly colored pieces. It seemed like cheating to me, but hey, when you’ve done your time trying to fit the pieces of real life together for decades, well, there you go. Mom rarely looked at the box top either, so it kind of offset the tray trickery. It took extra time for her to figure out the difference between a giraffe nose and a giraffe hoof. I mean, a slice of nose and a portion of hoof in the same tray would delay things a bit, don’t you think?

Anyway, as I puzzled, my mind wandered, like when my dad listened to Ravel’s Bolero. Funny, a classic picture of my dad napping is in plain view of the puzzle. I don’t want to nod off on my family, so the sea-turtles are keeping me in the room at least. Yet this activity is a balm which doesn’t make logical sense. It’s a puzzle, for crying out loud. Why does the search for pieces meld peace into the harried pace of the holiday season?

I feel a sermon a comin’, as Supertramp’s Logical song comes to mind. Lord, have mercy…really. Puzzle pieces preach. When you’re trying to put together all the sky so blue and infinite. When the ocean waves crash together, but fail to fit together. When turtle shells and sea shells meet, or not, you start searching for the edges. Begin with the frame, the context in which all the finite presuppositions seem mysterious and aloof. Look for the straight lines of containment, they’ve got to be there.

This year I’ve been repeating a phrase in an attempt to diffuse the tension I feel constantly. “I believe there is absolute truth, but I can’t know it absolutely.” So many floating thoughts in our post-modern, pluralistic, touchy-feely, sound bitten culture. Is there an overarching frame of truth? Is the truth out there as The X-Files so ardently claims? Is there a piece to the puzzle, without which the whole scene loses its coherence? Is this even the best question to ask?

Then I read this. Bear with me, it’s kind of long, but these words laser in on the concept.

“One of the most soul-damaging effects of modern life is the obfuscation of story: the fragmentation of story into disconnected anecdotes, the reduction of story to gossip, the dismemberment of story into lists of formulae or rules. In most of the words that come before us each day – delivered via television, internet, newspaper, billboard, and gossip – there is rarely any story beyond the immediate event. There is very little that connects to the past, reaches into the future, or soars to the heights. Instead of connecting us with a deeper reality, such words disconnect us, leaving us in a boneyard of incident and comment.

On the other hand, every time someone tells a story and tells it well and truly, the gospel is served. Out of the chaos of incident and accident, story-making words bring light, coherence, meaning, and value. If there is a story, then maybe, just maybe, there is (must be!) a Storyteller.” Eugene Peterson on Homage to a Broken Man by Peter Mommsen

The effort to bring all the pieces together is story-telling on a miniature scale. Getting back to the puzzle, a turtle’s eye, and a portion of sea coral won’t necessarily bring context and coherence. The effort matters. If we are content with 2000 unconnected pieces, well, each piece will represent a sound bite, a turn of phrase, a juicy morsel of gossip, and the story will not be birthed in total. This idea probably breaks down at some point, like deconstructing the puzzle and sweeping the pieces back into the box, but it got me thinking.

Life lived piece-meal is seems more appetizing; easier to swallow, but lacks coherence and context. The real work of my relational coherence depends on me staying in the room. Gaining a wholeness means coming to the table and embracing the mystery through prayer, insight, and perseverance.

The puzzle was finished in the evening of New Year’s Day, an apt metaphor for a good 2018. God is good.


Our Father in Heaven,

Grant us the grace to live our stories within the context of Your Story this year. May we find the edges of Your reality to give coherence to our existence under the sun. Help us to be okay with the mystery, yet faithful, trustful, and hopeful in You.

                                                                        In the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord



The Most Interesting Man in the World

Yeah, you might have seen the commercials. I think they’re advertising a beer, anyway, I got to thinking… Would I really like to be the “most” in anything?

Even the most interesting man has to accomplish the most uninteresting of duties. Take a leak. Brush his teeth. Eat some eggs.

I caught myself thinking “I want to be the most humble man in the world.” I don’t know if that is a paradox or an oxymoron. Maybe it’s simply moronic.

Maybe I want to be the most “telling-it-slant-poet” in the world. I would lay down lines which echo for a hundred or so years.

Being the most… Most. Most. Most. What a funny word. The more I ponder it, the sillier it sounds. Say ‘most’ out loud enough times and well, what do you think?

Honestly, have you ever met anyone aspiring to be the most UNinteresting person in the world? Maybe you have, and just didn’t notice. Did you see what I did there?

I think God-math comes into play as far as being the ‘most’ in any endeavor. You know, it is in dying we live. It is in denying we receive. Like walking backwards to settle into the starting blocks… I think.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp started all this mental wondering. She got all up in my stuff by reminding me of Jesus’ words…”Unless a grain of wheat dies, it abides alone.”

That is all.

Runaway Psalm

Oh God, how my heart beats me up.

Its own rod and staff comfort me not.

My face runs flat with self-control.

My figuring has no end.

My passions, frail, off balance

Lead me beside myself

Where no water is.


Then a mockingbird flew silently by,

And I heard a hummingbird remember the lyrics.

A cardinal blushed.

A raven was its own shadow.

The fog lifted my countenance

Enough to see the mystery of You.

The Thou of this I.


You suggested I lighten up

As the sun crested a weary scape.

Ah, the light by which I see



Then we laughed.

The Skylight is Falling, The Skylight is Falling.

There’s a hole in our roof. More like an aperture. In the middle of our kitchen is a skylight…an upside down crater in the ceiling. The window has fallen into disrepair, and every time I look up I see not only natural light, but mold, bubbled paint, and another opportunity to procrastinate.

So, last night, after a long and arduous day helping the heavy-set, white haired, red dressed icon from the north, I went “up on the roof” (Do you hear the song in your head? Youtube the Drifters.)

There is a big difference between channeled light and being out in the light. I was no longer simply looking through the skylight, but under the great big sky. The sun had run off to illumine another side of the earth, and I stood above the skylight and cricked my neck. I heard the melancholy moan of a train, and a drone of a plane. Clouds sporadically tip-toed by. Stars twinked at me in the gaps.

I sat for a moment.

“When this old world starts a getting you down…” (Cue the Drifters)

Well, yes and no. If the newsfeed spoon-feeds my anxious thoughts, rather than summons compassion and prayers, I get more “down.”  Just what are we to do with all this inflowmation? Then I thought of the skylight.

God is in charge of the satellite-skies as Mark Heard describes them. The square of sunshine graced to us is our piece of presence. Our little light, you know, the one that we’re gonna shine, is like the holey roof, the aperture which God’s great light can focus on a dark portion of this world.

Is there a possibility we all might be skylights? Sure, many, like mine, are in need of some repair, but hey, light still shines through. It shines in place, my place in the world.

“I am the light of the world.” Jesus

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me today to be a little light in the dark places. Shine through me. Amen

By the way, the skylight is not falling, it is filling. Filling you to spill light on your place in the world.

Pre-Dawn. A morning prayer.

I splashed through

a psalm or two,

looking for You;

expressing me.


Come as a seed,

fall and die in here,

so a single shoot

may rise with the sun.


So a single root

may drive in the soil,

deep, splayed toward

ground water wants.


Come water me

in the silent hours,

as I incline my heart.

Garden my soul.



Two for the Road

There are times I wander into the road.

Like when I fetch the mail at night

and the pitch is so black I don’t know

if my eyes will ever adjust, or if I want them to.


Sometimes it’s better not to know, not to see

in the dark, to have to depend on other senses

to make sense of place and what it might contain.

I imagine the void before God said “Let there be…”


When someone says “You don’t know what you don’t know”

there comes a slice of comfort, a bit of joy,

of not having the responsibility to carry mystery.

Instead there comes a knowing I’m not alone.


When Christ said He would never leave me

what I envision is not my hand in His

while we cross the street, but His arm

draped over my shoulder as we walk

down the road, darkness notwithstanding.

Sunday Psalm

Could this be the end of reason?

Is the gun mightier than the sword?

Are discussions usurped by

polarized rigidity?

Shoot now, talk later.

Oh reason, have you aged out

of the system?

Why are we now reverting to loop-wholes

and holes through the body?

Where are the talking heads taking us?

Why do we know so much so quickly

that we don’t chew, but swallow

as fast as we can with lukewarm milk.

Come, let us reason together

when we can

where we can.

No one can fashion swords into

ploughshares in a day.

Let us exercise, pure and undefiled,

and exorcise our rights against humanity.

Lord God Almighty, revive hope.

When a Headache Alarms Me

I picked the wrong pillow. Yeah, that’s why a pounding headache pulled me out of sleep. I tossed the pillow and fluffed up the one flattened underneath and settled back in. But the pounding like a tom-tom wouldn’t relinquish its rhythm. I laid on one side then the other, and for a minute on my back waiting for release. Nothing. Monday, 5:30am, and I guess waking and walking with headache was as good as tossing and turning with one.

I put some water to boil for a pour-over and drank a glass of water. Lack of hydration was probably the culprit as much as the pillow. In any case, I knew my usual sit-down with God was going to be distracted by the back of my head acting like a clanging cymbal.

My office was more disheveled than usual and served as an apropos metaphor for the ache in my head. I couldn’t find my glasses, and for a minute couldn’t find God. The pain seemed like a fire-wall stunting my ability to give or receive. I sat. I waited for the thrumming to ease up. I waited for God to do something about it.

Then they came. Words. Words in the back of my mind, right above the pounding. Jerry, your family is your family. What? No kidding. Of course. Thanks for the obvious. Be still now. Your family is your family.

So I sat. Here I sit now, fingers on the keys while the Great Muse above waits. It saddens me to think I need to be told. I’d rather be reading some intellectual gruel. I’d rather be forming a poem out of the pickup sticks of my life. To home in on my family is tough. “How’s the family?” Ah, that loaded question that brings pause. I think of Beirut. I think of “Whack a Mole” at Chuckie Cheese’s. I think of all the brokenness we brought into our lives. I think of why I don’t write about the issues that slurry around this compound we call Casa. Maybe it’s time to let it out and let people in on what goes on in this house of adoption. At least to journal more about my family who is my family.

For now, the headache has subsided. I think the ache migrated to my heart. To feel it, like my “boots on the ground hero-wife”. It’s what she needs and what my family, who is my family, needs.

What do you think? Are you an adoptive parent? Should I air some laundry, clothes pin it with candor and realistic, cathartic, therapeutic, and thinly sliced hope? Should I let it dry out in the wind of bloggery?

Barbara and I have been discussing writing about our journey. Shall I begin here?