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Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Door To Hope (Five Minute Friday)

Time for Five Minute Friday, hosted by the inimitable Kate Motaung (www.katemotaung.com).

Today's keyword for five minutes of writing is DOOR.

Losing hope is getting too easy. Too many nights awake with pain as a companion, too many mornings when the operative phrase for the day's duties is "this is gonna hurt".

And it all starts afresh tomorrow. Sometimes I confess...I don't WANT to.

But my days are duty days; duty to support my wife in her new career, duty to the rescued dogs the Almighty has brought to our door, duty to the people who have found a helping hand in my writing.

Duty to hold dear and valued the riches that permeate my dwelling-place.

Nowhere is "feelin' good" mentioned, because feelings - and health - are transitory.

You do your  job, the one God apportioned.

Hope comes through Him, and Him alone. And He touches our lives through our being His hands.

His work. Our duty. My honour.

Honour is forever.

And my duties, carried out with a full heart, are the Doorway to Hope.

Still having a hard time getting back to reply to comments, but please, please do leave them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Quality Time? (Wedded Wednesday)

They say that no one, on his deathbed, wishes he had spent more time at the office.

It's maybe true, but it's not as self-evident as it seems.

When we're courting, hormones and emotion pull us to spend as much time together as we can...
and when we're not together, we're thinking about each other.

And we think it shall always be thus.

But courtship is not a 'natural' state. We're still pretty much who we  were before we met that special someone.

Marriage changes our lives, but it doesn't immediately change US. That happens, if it's going to happen, over time, and with conscious intent.

I am a case in point. One of the failings in my marriage is that I convinced my wife, and tried to convince myself, that I could change, through Love, from a maniac who exercised for three hours after work, and then worked on airplanes until three a.m.

I did change my lifestyle, yes, but I hadn't changed, and like ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, unhappiness spread.

You can't go from an addiction to work to an appreciation of leisure by wishing it.

In the end, I was a happier person, and a better husband, at the distance engendered by my frenetic nature.

Illness has not changed that. While I appreciate the beauty and poignancy of my limited moments, sitting on the sofa and holding hands just isn't on.

Do I wish it were different, that I were different? Sure. But you do your best with what you have, and hindsight is not 20-20.

It's legally blind.

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday at www.messymarriage.com.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On Fear

This will be a short post. It was a hell of a weekend, and I am using that term deliberately.

I am scared. Pain is really not controllable any more, even with the best will and hardest attitude, and I'm spending a lot of time in a savage twilight, conscious but reeling, like a boxer who's taken too many straights to the head.

The Bible says fear not, for I am with thee.

Franklin Roosevelt said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

A few years ago there was a line of products with the logo "No Fear".

Nice words, and no disrespect intended to Scripture (or FDR, for that matter), but some things are flat out scary.

Jesus was scared, too, at Gethsemane, so I don't feel so bad.

And no combat veteran will ever claim fearlessness. Combat is the ultimate terror, and you're either scared, dead, or lying.

I used to think it wasn't being fearless, but how you handled fear.

That's too simple, because it implies that at some level there's a measure of control for every situation.

But some things go beyond the boundaries of control. Everyone's got limits, and hitting them is just unimaginably bad.

That's maybe why civilians condemn cowardice, while the combat veteran knows how close he or she came..
or may yet come.

So if it's not being unafraid, and if it's not how you act, what's the deal? How can we somehow elevate the experience, place it in a transcendental context?

Through mercy. Mercy shown to those who broke under the lash, and mercy reserved for the knowledge of our own limits.

After all, Jesus was merciful to his proud, violent, and terrified rock, Peter.

Thank you all for being here, and continuing to comment. I do read your kind remarks, but replying on this smartphone takes more energy than I have available right now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sniper's Hide (Five Minute Friday)

The overwatch position from which a scout-sniper practices his trade is called a 'hide', and that's the keyword for today's Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung (www.katemotaung.com).


The job is not glamorous, not when your hide's in a ditch that, like most ditches in this part of the world, is partially filled with stuff you'd rather not think about. But if your cover - local vegetation stuck into a hessian smock, and liberally dosed with dirt - is good, you're likely to be left alone. The locals don't like ditches either.

Hard to avoid thinking about what's there, though, because you're lying in it. But eventually you learn to switch off your nose. Yes, really, but you hope your inoculation record's complete.

And you watch, and record, and wait, because the biggest part of the job is reconnaissance.

I learned a lot in places like that. It's helping me now.

Sometimes you have to wait in places you'd rather not be, with an alert and receptive spirit.

You have to be in the discomfort of the moment, and you have to be there without resentment. Not because there's a big payoff coming, but because that I where you're placed.

Mental escape is tempting, but wrong. It's a form of disloyalty.

You wait, and in that waiting you give honour to your place, and to He who placed you there.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Are Not Who I Married (Wedded Wednesday)

Sometimes the person we married changes...and the changes seem to be permanent.

Of course, some changes are easy to live with. My wife would be delighted if, on hitting my thumb with a hammer, my language would not blister paint.

But some changes make a person wonder why she's there, and is it worth staying?

What do you do?

First, don't rush to judgement. It may be that your spouse has nothing had an ugly transplant. Serious illness, from depression to cancer to stroke, can cause drastic changes in someone we thought we knew.

It may not be about character, or about you, or about the marriage. It may be a fight for survival.

One positive step you can take is to document the changes. Write down what you see; if there's an underlying illness, that witness can be invaluable to a doctor.

It's also a good idea to exercise self-care by reaching out to a counselor or minister. You can feel awfully alone through this morning sort of experience, and sharing the burden with someone who's been trained to help carry it can make a world of difference.

Also, pay attention to the parts of life that are 'yours'; make sure you have something significant, outside the marriage relationship, that gives you a sense of self-worth. This is not carte blanche to walk away; it's a form of triage. You can't help someone if you're hurting too.

Emphasize the things that haven't changed. Speak to those, when you can.

And pray. For you spouse, and for your own strength and patience.

You may never know what causes a change; you may simply have to adjust to a new normal, if you can.

We're linked to Wedded Wednesday at www.messymarriage.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


It's been a horrible few days; I will return to marriage topics on Wednesday, but I found a truth in dealing with terminal illness that I thought I might share.

This is like a prison. My physical profile has limited so much of life.
It's cost me career and mobility and hobbies and dreams and many of the simplest facets of life.

It's cut a swath of heartache and frustration through my days.

But it can only change me, let it dilute who and what I am, if I let it.

Only I can choose to allow this fell sergeant, death, to break my soul.

And that may happen. Everyone breaks, it's just a matter of threshold.

Bring hard, then, isn't the answer. So, what is?

I think it's love, both giving, and most crucially accepting the open hands and open hearts of those around me, both in the physical and virtual worlds.

It goes back to "Footsteps", that ubiquitous icon of being carried by God.

But we, here, are called to be His hands and feet, and by implication His heart.

And so it has proven. I have been, and am being carried, and my soul protected.

By you.

Still doing this by Smart Phone, but did get a window of energy to reply to some comments on the previous post.

It's kind of tough to do. Please continue being patient!

And please, if you have a moment, do comment.

I need them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tomorrow Will Be Worse (Five Minute Friday)

Back again for FMF, still trying to blog by Smart Phone...with no other internet access, including email. Sheesh.

Anyway, we're here, and the word is TOMORROW.

I was just thinking about it, actually. Today was ghastly. Lots of blood uncontained when it really should stay, like, INSIDE.

And it hurts. I'm past trying to draw analogies. It is just a presence of pain, no words fitting.

But duties still have their claim, and if each step is hard, it still has to be made.

And tomorrow it all begins again. All I can say is that it's gonna hurt worse, and it's gonna be more tiring.

And that at this time tomorrow, I'll still be here.

It's partly pride,  sure, but there's more. Each step, and I'll call it like it is, each step in something like agony clarifies and refines the soul. It doesn't glorify God...He'd be mighty cruel if He were using it that way...but it gives me a bit more compassion, and perhaps honour in the perseverance.

I'll take that.  And I would not trade these savage tomorrows, because somehow, they're bringing a gift beyond price in their mailed and bloody hands.

I still haven't figured out how to keep access to the phone long enough to answer comments, but please, please do leave them. You guys are my lifeline.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sacrifice For Treasure

In the final installment of the Hobbit films, "The Battle of the Five Armies", the heir to the throne of the dwarf kingdom of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield, becomes obsessed with the treasure of gold within the city's halls, and is willing to sacrifice everything - his kin and his honour, for treasure's sake.

We sometimes do that in our marriages, with the greatest treasure we have - our relationship with the Almighty.

We are supposed to love God first, yes...but part and parcel of loving Him is doing what He says to do, and He's pretty clear in saying that we're to hold to our marriage vows as a simulacrum of our relationship with Him...we are to be cleaved together in His name, and never to use Him as an excuse for negligence of our spousal duties.

Paul made this morning plain in saying that while a Christian should not marry a non-Christian, BEING married to an unbeliever is not grounds for divorce.

In other words...your marriage is the field you plow for the Lord.

I'm still on very intermittent Internet access (and cannot get at my email at all), so I again ask your patience with slow response to comments...but please do leave them!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hold Until Relieved (Five Minute Friday)

And once again, Five Minute Friday written on a borrowed Smart Phone...please excuse the lack of a link back..just getting the post up, yeah, I'm happy.

The word is RELIEF.


Things have narrowed a bit for me...the artifacts of terminal illness have made some of the most mundane parts of life frankly unattainable.

Well, such is life (as the Australian highwayman Ned Kelly said just before he was hanged).

The meaning of it all is that a threatened life is still a life, we are still gifted with values and duties and dreams.

We are meant to hold to these, I think, and to stay in the fight without looking for relief.

This life. The way we live it, day on day, is our legacy.

We can choose to turn inward, bemoan our lot, declare ourselves broken and lost.

Or we can fight to the last bullet, the last rock, the last bloodied fingernail.

And this we shall maintain, in the Spartan strength given us by the Almighty.

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws we lie.

We choose to hold until relieved.


Please be patient with my slow response to comments of late; the combination of illness and a really baroque way of getting online is quite the challenge.

But I will get to them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Marriage Book

Books about marriage...it seems like everyone and his personal trainer has written one.

I'm waiting for Mick Jagger's contribution.

But seriously, while recognizing that content is obviously important, what may be even more vital is what I call "demonstrated willingness".

Taking the time to read a book that can benefit your marriage (and can make you uncomfortable in the bargain) is both a statement of faith, and a statement of commitment.

It says "we are important to ME".

There are few more heartfelt statements one can make.

I'm linking to Messy Marriage, but as I am trying to write this on my wife's smart phone, adding the link back is beyond me. I figure I'm doing good to get this far.

I'll try to respond to comments when it's possible to borrow the phone...please do comment for the benefit of other visitors, and please be patient for my response...I'm still here, though the past couple of weeks have been rather an ordeal.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Good To Know (Five Minute Friday)

Back again for Five Minute Friday...using my wife's phone as our ISP seems to have been taken over by chimps.

Today's word is GOOD.

No internet, no phone for the past week. The good old days?

Well, yes. Being disconnected from the modern world has given me a different perspective, one that has made me realize how evanescent my presence in the world really is.

These words ARE me; they are nearly the totality of my impact.

It's Good to know.  But not entirely comfortable