I wrote an end of the year reflection for 2016 and only now in April do I feel the courage and peace to post it. Here is it with twitter list and some reflection from my notepad.

A book is meant to be read from beginning to end but best understood from end to beginning. ~Mr. Church

Big things 2016

after several months of constant body pain, an adjustment to medication causing relief, I build a wood awning for the back stairway

Amazing to have something back even for a short time so to remember the gift of labor.

2017: coaching daughter to make a cigar box guitar by herself

converting life insurance from term to accrued plan so that I would still be covered if I live past 70

Never thought 70 was possible. Still think it is a long shot but I am making plans for it.

2017: set long term goals and forgetting about “what if’s”

old and new cohort (esp. the pastor’s group) God Take Me Deeper groups

Legacy for the kingdom and the honor of leading, guiding and walking with those through dark caverns into light.

2017: engage with cohorts, write, empower Jared and Michelle and Sheena

watching daughter apply moves in game time that she practiced for years

This is just for the joy of it. Watching her is my happiness and my heartache.

2017: take her to gym 2x/week with her

the end of my gym membership

No longer able to be comfortable. It is a big loss.

2017: walk and simple home exercise

meeting poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera who raved over my daughter’s writings

God reminding me again that He has, is, and will always be watching over those important to me.

2017: trust more and live by the truth He has a plan for me and my family

finishing a collection of guitar instrumental video

As my finger crack, tremble and struggle, my mind unable to remember, I wanted something to pass on.

2017: Work on bass ukulele

purging my library

Accepting my limits. An idol let go of but like the gym, it is missed.

2017: listen more to books on tape and music. Be selectively reading.

getting a Japanese cherry blossom tree for MJ’s birthday

She wanted one. It will be wonderful to watch it grow. It reminds me of her.

2017: do more to show her I love her

Joelle telling a group of my close friends she wants to be like me

Those words left me in wonder, swelled with humility and tenderness.

2017: live worthy of that wish and to talk more with her as a budding adult

Philippians 1:20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

 Write on me Oh Author of life. As you have scribed so many chapters before, this year continue your story in me. May these pages continually reflect your mystery, your adventure, your joy, your strength, your grace.

“God never uses a person greatly until He has wounded him deeply. The privilege He offers you is greater than the price you have to pay. The privilege is greater than the price.” —Helen Roseveare

These are my twitter account tweaks as I continue my 2016 reflections.

  • 12/01/16 My spirit, I realize, has been whispering, “Do what You will to me but leave her alone.” I repent of such a false view of my God and glory, life and meaning.
  • 10/17/06 I wish my hands didn’t shake and my knuckles didn’t lock up on me when I played guitar. I wish my eyes didn’t have blind spots and not be able to see the fine details when I work on making something in the garage. I wish I didn’t lose my breath and hear my knees crack and feel my calves cramp each time I get out of bed. I wish I didn’t lose my thought the moment after I feel inspired and want to write it down or forget what the conversation was yesterday and try desperately to remember what I am to do today.
    But don’t you dare feel sorry for me. For I do play my guitar. I do work in my garage. I do get out of bed. I do write. I take care of what I have to do today. And that is the gift. I just do it slower. I take more time. I rest more. I use more post-its. And somehow it means more to me than those many years I took for granted the gift. It means more because I am so much more aware.
    If I can’t today, I wait for tomorrow.
    Eventually tomorrow comes.

Grief and Gratitude
I stand between two worlds
One so deeply broken
Pain and sadness surrounds
It’s very fibers erode
Disintegrating before my eyes
The other so glorious
Joy and laughter reigns
With incorruptible fields
Everlasting and indestructible
I live in one
I taste the other
Sometimes overwhelmed
By one or both
Too many ways to pursue
Temporary relief of the pain
Avoiding the true work
Of grief and repentance
A forgetful mind
A distracted heart
Without a will to stay
Focus on the land ahead
The mystery is this
Belonging to both
One foot on each land
Brokenness and glory
He’s stood in-between
From glory to broken
So to bring us
From broken to glory
In his brokenness
There is grief and gratitude
In his glory
There is lament and praise
So I walk in grief and gratitude
One dependent on the other
And in this in-between
I am transformed
This is the movement of the walk
Between the cross and the resurrection
And the walk changes me

As this next stage of life begins how then should I live?
I start counting the years, months even days when J will be off to college. I am that way. I think, “What do I have left in my service to her as her dad?” It is ever changing as she grows in independence and in the many stages she will go through. September I turn 60. When she finishes high school I will be 65. More crucial to this perspective is that I would have walked in life with this chronic illness over 25 years at that time. Something that reduces me continually but has not yet destroyed me.
In my spirit I have cried out for years, “Don’t take me yet. She needs me.” And for whatever lies in the grace of God’s heart, I am still here. When the prognosis was 5 years, I have 4xs surpassed it.
With 60 around the corner I am starting to be tired of the race. I have set my resolve for a few more tasks, leaving a mark for the Kingdom of God and a legacy for my daughter. For the first time a few days ago I have let myself entertain the idea that I can go if the Lord so tarried. So much of my strength is reduced, so few things I do satisfies and in a few years J will be off to college and a full fledge adult. Yet this morning my wife tells me, “I am afraid of living without you.” And I realize staying is important for it just J but for MJ as well. It is it time for me to entertain the end but to fight on tithe very last breath.
I am overwhelmed. Some with burden and some with grief. I want back what I lost and then some. I want the comfort and company complete of my Savior.
I thought in 6 years I could let go but I think I still need to passionately fight to stay. For both of them.
Trust you with the challenges you give to me. Trust you with the challenges you give both to my wife and my daughter.
I am presenting again to you myself as a living sacrifice as I have once again crawled off the altar.
Grant me the grace dear God.

Dad’s role plays out in so many forms throughout the year. Sometimes multiple forms simultaneously. Having the savvy to move throughout the forms requires the grace of God and models of others in our lives.

“Love is a roof.” Love bears all things.


Baka: A Life Remade



today I’ve been feeling anxious, 
actually for a few weeks. 
the here and now is I am about to push the button and publish my second book. I also am coming to a cross-road of what is next for me regarding ministry and life. my daughter has entered junior high. enough said.

the core of where this comes from is, I believe, my fear of rejection and my need for approval – as an author, minister/mentor and as a dad.

the woundedness in me that inflames this relates to my father’s absence when I was a kid (he died when I was 10) and my mom’s detachment. I sought belonging through recognition.

 I needed to be wanted.

the healing work in my journey has always been in Jesus receiving me and accepting me and giving me a place and identity. so I can be creative and not worry about getting an “a” or even to be notice but to do what I am led to do and leave the results, if any, to Him.

this week I push the button simultaneously with my daughter as she publishes her fourth book.

thanks be to God.

on a different note, I will be in the process of starting an author’s site and will be integrating my present sites into it.

near the finish line



playing around with idea for cover of next book
I thought I would share briefly how the journey of writing books happened in my daughter’s life as some have been interested in seeing their kids do likewise. I don’t think this is the only way or right way. I was winging it as I responded to her interest. But I hope this short reflection may help.

The summer after Joelle’s 2nd grade started this wonderful journey of guiding her into the art of writing fiction. It started out simply as a daily exercise of her going through “Learning to Write Fictions Through Photos”. We set aside time in the morning to do the exercises from the book each weekday. It was a good book teaching about point of view, dialog, plot, etc. She liked it a lot and so I told her if she write a story I will get it published for her. We did story boards and plot outlines and she wrote and wrote each day and drew accompanying pictures. I typed and corrected spelling and grammar. Then came “An Island and a Chance”, a fantasy book about a runaway girl in a land of Pixies.

To my surprise she wanted to write again the following summer. We went through “Spilling Ink: A young writer’s handbook” by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer. This was a good follow up to last year’s reading as it gave different perspectives on how to approach writing. This summer Joelle start to do research for her writing as she explored realistic fiction. We also had one of our friends who is a high school English teacher meet with her a few times to help her edit her book. So was birth “Letter’s From Brooklyn”, an immigrant girl adjusting to life in a new country and new school.

This past summer, after Joelle graduated from 4th grade, she did her work on her third book. Again to my surprise she put a lot of daily effort into it. In comparison to her 45 page 2nd grade book with a lot of big pictures, and her 3rd grade book of some 58 pages, this book toppled over 100 pages! She became more descriptive and thoughtful in her writings. We also invited her regular English teacher to look over the book and make some suggestions. So came “Silent Music” into the world. It is about a mute 12 year old who wants to find her voice.

Lot of lessons comes out of the practice of writing. One of the big ones is that it takes discipline, consistent times of doing it to come up with the results. Hard work is more than an isolated activity but a chain of labor produces good work. She understands this not only as a writer but as a musician, sports person and artist.

Through it she has been with me at book signings, tickled by people’s review and has been able to give it as gifts. She learned about how to get it on Amazon and has made decisions on how to be wise and charitable with her modest royalties.

I can foresee we will continue this journey of writing and I hope she enjoys it as much as I get to see her in the process of growing in it.

(I wrote this in the days following my 92 year old mom admission to a nursing home. It was my soul processing)

There is a saying from the Good Book: You reap what you sow. (Gal. 6:7) Some sow trouble… The Book says, Those who sow with trouble reap it. (Job 4:8) Some sow with generosity… The Book says, Those who sow with generousity will reap also generously. (2 Cor. 9:6) Some sow with tears… The Book says, Those who goes out weeping carry seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with her. (Psalm 126:6)

My mom loved her garden and planted many seeds. She planted for beauty. She planted for love. She planted for joy. And that’s what grew in her garden- beauty, love and joy.

There were times when strangling weeds came up in the soil of the garden. Weeds that devourer the nutrients of all the soil. So other plants were in danger of destruction. The weeds looked deceptively attractive at times. So it can be confused with the flowers. But left to themselves they would go out of control and take over all the garden. Fortunately mom realized this and worked hard at getting rid of these weeds, painfully pulling them out one by one. Thus she saved her garden.

One day, mom was offered a very special seed as a gift. It came with a promise that it would increase the beauty, love and joy of the garden. It would be a magnificent tree, the centerpiece of her garden. It would endure when all other plants and flowers withered.

Mom grew to love this tree. It provided shade for her to rest under and fruit for her to enjoy. She shared her garden freely to many people, often making baskets of fruit and flowers for visitors to take home.

Gardening got more and more difficult as she grew older. It became much more painful for her to get on her knees and weed. Many of the flowers and plants withered. Mom was so sad.

But the tree remained strong. And under its shade she found beauty, love and joy. The Book says, He is the Vine and we are the branches. The branches bears fruit as it abides in the Vine. (John 15:5) The Book also says, The world and its desires pass away but those one who does the will of God lives forever. And, This is the will of my Father, to believe in Me. (John 6:29)

The tree sustained her life here. Her faith in that Tree gives her life beyond this one.

I imagine one day, when my mom is in heaven, she will have a garden where there is beauty, love and joy.