Sonnets for My Savior 42

Sonnets for My Savior 42


He is the light,
And he shines for the salvation of those who believe.
No other shines as bright.
Joy and comfort fill the hearts of those who see.
His light is the way.

Those in the darkness can follow him to safety.
Those filled with remorse can wake to a new day.
Blessed are all those who trust in His sovereignty.
His light burns the wicked.

Those who refuse to see will fall to dust.
They’ll have no advocate when they are convicted.
They’ll face only judgement from the Lord, who is ever just.
Follow the path, turning neither to the left nor the right. 

For the only way to the Father is through Christ, the light.



Where I’ll Stay

You are my foundation,
They way I live is based on your will.
I shall not seek any other location,
for only Your crops and water can give me my fill.

You are my sanctuary.
In you I will live and feel secure.
Your walls protect me against any adversary.
Your strength is mighty, your defenses are sure.

You are my place of rest.
You provide me strength and endurance.
From You I have peace; I am not stressed.
From You I have perseverance.

I have built my home in You, LORD, and I shall not stray.
I’ve found peace and joy in You, LORD, and in you I shall stay.



My Comfort and My Relief

When my bones ache, and I can’t move.
I seek You and find comfort and relief.
The life I have and the joy in my heart prove
the peace you bring even amid such grief.

Hear me now, and have mercy on me,
for my body screams amid the rage of time and use.
Please take this pain and set me free.
Strengthen my bones, help the knots in my muscles come loose.

You comfort us in all our troubles,
and we remember that we glorify You if we endure.
If we trust in You, we will not struggle.
For Your power is great, and Your love is pure.

In any time, whether it full of joy or pain,
we find our comfort and relief in you, LORD, always praising your name.




My Treasure

It is not silver or gold.
It is not pride or respect.
It is not living or growing old.
It is not what a man of the world would expect.

What is money but something that comes and goes?
What is pride or respect but something given by man?
But the love of Christ is greater than any man knows.
His love will do more than the love any mortal ever can.

The love of Christ is everlasting.
His mercy and peace endure forever.
Against His light, there is no comparing or contrasting.
His grace remains come whatever.

Whatever comes to me in this world regardless of the amount,
let me seek the treasure of Christ’s love, for that is worth more than any man can count.




Do you claim to see?
If so, your guilt remains.
Those who reject wisdom may disagree,
but the irony is they don’t see their chains.

No one in the flesh is without guilt.
This is why we need a savior.
No matter what reputation one has built.
There is no mortal deed that will earn God’s favor.

Open your eyes and see your need.
Turn to Him and be free.
Follow the only one who can lead
the blind to the God who brought all things to be.

The blind can only lead the blind to a pit.
But Christ sees the sin in your heart, and only He can free you from it.




The Right Way to be Different

Anyone loves those who love them.
Anyone lends with the expectation of being paid back.
Who does the same and expects to be treated differently than them?
Who selfishly holds his property and expects others to be generous when they lack?

What better way to be unique
than to love even those who hate you?
What better way to stand apart than to give to the meek
rather than loan and demand your due?

Rather than stand over others,
why not demand more of yourself?
Why not see all men as brothers,
and treat them as you would be treated yourself?

For the LORD is kind to the evil and ungrateful.
Therefore be merciful, even as God is merciful.



He Came To Serve; He’ll Come To Rule

He came to offer himself as a sacrifice.
He came to take our illnesses.
Those who believe will find paradise.
Blessed are all who bare witness.

He’ll come to repay all for what they’ve done.
He’ll come to rule with a rod of iron.
He’s already won the battle with the evil one,
and those who forsook him will also be thrown into the fire.

Repent now and enjoy the gifts he’s already come to give.
Repent now and be adopted as God’s son.
Repent now and through Him you shall live.
Repent now, for when He returns not even the dead will have found a place to run.

He came to offer freedom for all who would receive Him,
but when he returns, all will kneel and be judged by Him.

Sonnets For My Savior 30

Sonnets For My Savior 30

The Body

Where is the body you worked so hard to bury?

What happened to the guards you set to watch the grave?

Rejoice believers and be merry,

Look, there is no body in the cave!

Man has found the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Indeed the body John the Baptist lay in Syria.

But where is the body of the Son of Man?

The truth is those who would deny him lack the most basic criteria.

Some have claimed he was stolen in the night.

Doubters say the body was concealed.

Couldn’t Rome and the Pharisees find a body with all their power and might?

Instead the Faith grew with no body revealed.

If emperors and armies sought the body and could not see,

the only logical reason is that He is risen! He is risen indeed!



Lazarus sleeps while his sisters cry.

They send word, but the time has not come.

They fear Lazarus is doomed to die,

but this trail is for the will of God to be done.

Four days, Lazarus slept.

Jesus arrived, already knowing what had occurred.

He looked upon the sisters and wept,

but what happened next, would change all who saw and heard.

“Come out!” the Lord had said after they’d rolled the stone away,

and out Lazarus came, strips of linen around his hands and feet.

Many saw and believed that day,

From then on, the hypocrites plotted, blind in their conceit.

They never thought to ask themselves the meaning of the event,

that the world could look and see that Jesus was truly, truly God sent.


Reason For Suffering

True, some people suffer for the sins they commit.

The wickedness of the wicked is upon himself.

Relief is there for those who turn to Christ and submit,

but only death waits for those who relies on themself.

There are also those who suffer so that God may be glorified.

Observe Job and see how he endured.

Be patient and trust God will provide,

Do not turn to sin for comfort, but hear these words and be reassured.

Still those who are truly blessed are those who suffer simply for his sake.

Blessed are those who are persecuted and reviled!

For the Kingdom of Heaven awaits!

Rejoice, for your rewards have been gathered and piled!

For whatever reason one thinks he may suffer,

Seek Christ; trust in him and no other.


To Control Ourselves

Some seek to use the Word to lift themselves up.

They use scripture to justify their own goals.

They have no interest in drinking from their own cup.

In seeking to condemn others, they only risk their own souls.

Some seek to use the Word to do as they wish.

They only seek the words that validate their own desire.

They treat the word like some sort of buffet dish,

but this path only leads to fire.

The saints are called to judge each other.

God judges those outside.

But consider also before you call out your brother,

what sins of your own are you trying to hide?

When we pull our Bibles from the shelves,

we should use it first to control ourselves.


The Greatest

He who would be first should be last.

Those who would be greatest should serve.

Let man’s pride be left in the past.

For we’ve already received more than we deserve.

Seek to be the servant of all.

Welcome the little children in his name.

Listen to hear His glorious call,

rather than seek your own fame.

A servant is not greater than his master.

A messenger is not greater than the one who sent it.

To serve the self is the path to disaster.

But blessed are those who serve and submit.

Care for the children and welcome them;

those who do receive Christ and the Father who sent him.


The Greatest Power

There is only the one creator.

He who made all.

There are none who can do more,

And all power is His to call.

No burning star,

Can shine as bright.

No crashing wave

Can match His might.

Other powers desire

What tiny spark he gives

But none can match the fire

Of the eternal God for which we live.

No other power can compare

Against the Lord, our God, who made the sea, land, and air.


Hold Me

Hold me tightly, Lord, in your mighty hands.

I know none can take me from you.

Your might is greater than anyone understands.

Whatever comes, You can carry me through.

Grip me more tightly, Lord, that I might be nearer

Nearer to you every day.

As You carry me, my eyes become clearer.

As I am with You, I see a better way.

Hold me, Lord, and let me take my rest in Your grace

Because I have none of my own.

I have no hope if I plead my own case;

I am forgiven through Christ alone.

Hold me tightly, Lord, that I might feel you with me.

Your embrace is comfort; Your love sets me free.

Book Review: 12 Ordinary Men by John MacArthur

Book Review: 12 Ordinary Men by John MacArthur
Image taken from Amazon for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

12 Ordinary Men by John MacArthur is a book that looks at the original 12 Apostles. I’ve already read this book twice, and I intend to read it again at some point.

What this book does is help the reader see just how human the Apostles were. They were chosen by God, and developed into the foundations of the Christian church, but they were just men. Not only that, they weren’t from a high station.

I appreciated the person-by-person structure of the book. I was honestly most impressed with Andrew, Peter’s younger brother. Why? Because all Andrew did was introduce people to Jesus.  While I wish I had more in common with Andrew, I see more of myself in Peter and John.

Like them, I’m aggressive. I’m task oriented. I’m driven. I have ambition. I value truth over most things. These aren’t inherently sinful traits, but they can lead one to stumble if no one is there to temper those traits into positive leadership.

I’m comforted in that while I see that I need to develop certain skills and bring back others, they are traits that could be useful to my Savior if I seek to serve Him more.

If any are wondering, this book even takes a look at Judas. It’s as comprehensive as it can be. It uses some church history writings to fill in some gaps, but the primary source of reference for the information is, of course, the Bible.

This image taken from MacArthur’s web site for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

I’d recommend this book to any people in leadership. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to see personal growth. Seeing a detailed character study allowed me to see parts of myself and truly contemplate how I’m acting. This is probably my favorite book by MacArthur to date.

By looking at how Jesus developed his Apostles, we also get a unique view of Him, and that’s always a plus.

I’m honestly a big fan of this particular book. Any Christian looking to evaluate their walk with Christ would do well to read this.

Thanks for reading,


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 29

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 29

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

See Part 20 here.

See Part 21 here.

See Part 22 here.

See Part 23 here.

See Part 24 here.

See Part 25 here.

See part 26 here.

See part 27 here.

See Part 28 here.

The Ceremony

Mom was never one for big deals. I got that trait from her. This mean her gathering was a small open house. The flaw in Mom’s plan was that she didn’t take into account just how many people loved her. The fact that my dad is well loved in the area as well meant that a few hours of an open house turned into a house packed with people, all sharing stories and talking.

I saw old coworkers of my mother. I saw family I hadn’t seen in years. I saw childhood friends of my sisters. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of people talking and eating. I think at that point I was more overwhelmed than anything else.

I spoke with an old coworker. We got caught up in talking about the Bible and faith. I talked to family when I saw someone was alone. Eventually, I had a chance to talk with my dad.

The constant opinions that, “her pain is, at least, over” weren’t as much of a comfort as some might have thought. We all wanted Mom to get better.  After a week, I still don’t think he was in their bedroom for more than a few minutes. He certainly wouldn’t sleep in there.  When he talked to me about his frustration with the “end of pain” theory, I offered a different perspective.

“Of course we all wanted her to get better,” I said. “But if I had to choose between letting her suffering end and letting her existence to continue in pain, I’m glad her pain ended.” The fact is, we’re all mad about Mom’s death.

I think Dad had it pretty tough that day. I heard him explain the circumstances no fewer than four times.

“It wasn’t even the cancer that killed her,” he’d explain. “Her body just gave out.”

That’s true. The cancer hadn’t been what ultimately killed her.  Her body was fighting on too many fronts.

He maintained his strength and kept talking to people. I’ve always believed he was a very strong man. I think that day was the strongest I’ve ever seen him.

In reflection, the saddest thing was that it took something like this for this many people to come together.  When I was very young, the house looked pretty much like that around the holidays. Family would come from all over to hang out and share stories. Neither my dad nor I are fans of large gatherings, but I’d like to see our family come together more often without the tragic loss that caused this particular reunion.

The best thing was that love was everywhere I looked. People who needed comfort received it. People who needed fellowship received it. People who needed quite solace received it.

The hours went by, and the family cleaned up. Most of us had to head back to our lives after that, but they wouldn’t be normal. When we lose someone central to our life, normal doesn’t seem possible. My little sister still stops when she realizes she was about to say goodbye to my mom before work.  I caught myself picking up the phone the next Friday because I call her every Friday. She was such a central figure, our muscle memory was activating, and we had to remind ourselves that she was gone.

Several members of the family talked to me during the event. There’s a real fear that things will simply unravel now that Mom’s not here to hold it all together. I’m still not actually sure how to prevent that. On my end, I have to do a better job of reaching out.

There weren’t waves of tears and lamentations (which would have frustrated my mother).  Sure, some of us shed tears of sadness, but for the most part, we all just talked and caught up. This is exactly what my mom would have wanted.

Looking back, I’m happy at the number of Christ-like attributes my mother demonstrated.

First, she was forgiving and always willing to welcome us back. (Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the Prodigal son). No matter what I or any of my siblings did, we knew where home was. We knew if we were willing to make it right, she’d welcome us back.

My mom was loving, and she respected her own mother (Leviticus 19:3). When our grandma got sick, mom cared for her for so long I can’t remember.  I imagine grandma moved in somewhere around 2008. Mom denied herself trips, vacations, and even simple dates with my dad so that she could care for her mother. She did this all the way until Grandma’s death.

She was driven to make her home a home (Titus 2:3-5). She always worked around the house. She always had a project in mind. She cleaned almost nonstop.  Before her retirement, she did all of this after working to provide for us financially.

She was a selfless servant (John 13:1-17). If I’m shamed by anything, it’s how I never learned from her example. She never flaunted or abused her rightful power over us. She simply did what needed to be done. She never let something go undone because it was beneath her. Heck, she never let something go undone because she felt it was her duty to do so.

Reading The Bible as I do now, and looking back on how she acted, I can’t believe how blind I was. My lack of scriptural training made that impossible, and my hardened heart convinced me that being served was my right. As I grew older, I resented others for not doing more, but even my acts of service weren’t done out of love, but to elevate myself above my siblings.

Now, as I prepare to become a father, I can be glad that I had her example to learn from. She wasn’t perfect. I’m not trying to portray her as such, but she was the perfect mother for me. Now that I have a scriptural context with which to reflect on her behavior, I’m more equipped to be a better father.

The only thing left to do, was start my life without her.



Questions and Revelations

How can I apply what I saw my mom do to my life?

For starters, I can show the same sort of investment and love for my boys as my mother showed me. She took an interest in my life. She read the books I read (and my siblings) just because I read them. She watched whatever I wanted to watch.  I think the first year we truly started becoming close was 1997. Mom watched an entire football season with me. She even participated in a fantasy football league (and won I might add. Look, she picked mostly Broncos, her favorite team, and they won the Super Bowl that year.)

I have thoughts and scripture to guide me on a lot, but my mother’s example mostly helped me realize how to love and support my children. I want to make sure my boys feel that same level of support from me.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 18

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 18

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

The Birthday


In my rush to get home and see what I could do to help, I neglected to look at the calendar.  Even if I had, I must admit I’m horrible with birthdays.  I remember Saleah’s birthday and my little sister’s birthday. Outside of those individuals, I can’t keep those dates straight.  It’s just not a strength of mine.  I usually remember the month of the birthday.  I’d reach a new month, and awkwardly try and recall which relative (or relatives) of mine was born in that month.  Social media has been a huge help in that regard.

Turns out, my best friend and sister took me to visit my mom, and that stay would mean my brother-in-law wouldn’t be able to spend his son’s birthday with The Boy (my nickname for my nephew).

I felt a bit guilty, but they didn’t seem to mind so much.  However, this birthday created opportunities for our family to live and work together.

My first night staying with my parents, I was playing solitaire. Cards have always been the thing my family does together.  My mother taught me, and her mother, whom we lost not too long ago, taught her. It’s a family tradition I intend to continue (also, I’m crazy good at cards). Mom’s illness shook that. Her ability to read and understand information is different at best. So while I played solitaire she remarked that she was sad she couldn’t play.

I don’t do well with words like “can’t.”

So I offered to play a game of cards with her.  She said she was worried she wouldn’t be able to, so I suggested we play War.  It’s a simple enough game that I thought shouldn’t have been overwhelming to her.

We sat down, shuffled the cards, and got to playing.  It was hard.  But I wasn’t sad because she struggled with playing a simple kids game.  I was happy.  Why? The answer is the reason she was struggling.

Years ago, the game of choice went from Rummy, to a game called Hand and Foot. I’m not honestly sure how obscure or not that game is. I don’t know a lot of people who play it, and I won’t explain the rules.

While I kept trying to play War with my mom, she kept trying to play Hand and Foot. Matching cards instead of finding cards of higher value. As soon as I noticed it, I decided to switch things up.  We played a game of Hand and Foot.

It felt a bit like back when my family taught me how to play. Here I was teaching the woman who taught me how to play the exact same game.  Only, it was more of a refresher course. Gentle reminders and some leading questions helped her get through the game, which she won for the record.  I didn’t willingly let her win, but neither was I making an effort to win myself.  Like always, I tend to play the game simply to get time with her, and this time was no different.

From then on, Mom would watch me play Solitaire. I’d let her help and ask her questions, taking comfort in how well she was retaining the information. We did this while watching some of her favorite shows (Cancer, age, and illness will do no injury to my mother’s love for Murder She Wrote).

That simple activity really soothed my heart and gave me confidence. No, it wasn’t the same, but it was close.

During one game of solitaire, my mother expressed her desire to make sure The Boy had presents for his birthday. My mom’s always shown her love through gifts.  She even tried to talk to me about what to get me for my birthday, an event I try very hard not to live with any ceremony.

No amount of reminders that she’d already sent gifts to Phoenix could dissuade my mom from buying more presents.  I think some members of my family thought she’d forgotten she’d sent the gifts, and that might be true.  However, my mom was fully aware that the presents she did buy were on the way to Phoenix, and The Boy was here in Yuma.  This was unacceptable.

So me and my two most immediate siblings headed out to set up a party.  The party was an event that made me immensely proud of the family. All the siblings in the area stopped by. My cousin and her kids were there. My aunts stopped by. Through the whole day was Mom, talking to everyone, and making sure The Boy had a good birthday. The most dramatic moment was the candles.

My friends will tell you that I have the strangest sort of bad luck with birthday candles, one of many reasons I’m just not fond of my birthday. So I lit The Boy’s candles and started singing Happy Birthday.  However, the super-powered ceiling fan made putting the candles in front of the boy a bit of a challenge.

Mom wanted to help blow the candles out. Some of us weren’t sure what was going on.  Mom was trying to get up. They were trying to stop her and ask what she wanted. She kept trying to handle the emergency of blown out candles without a wish.

Things cooled off as soon as I rotated the cake to her and got the candles blown out by human breath rather than a fan.

The sadness was in the reason for the conflict. Mom has trouble explaining things.  It’s at its worst when she’s trying to take action she feels is urgent. We try to understand what she’s up to, but she’s driven to handle it. She gets mad. Her emotions are on edge. She used to be the shot-caller in the family.  She never had to explain what she was doing or justify her efforts. In our desire to make sure she’s safe, she’s frustrated at how little she’s allowed to do.

Candle-related drama aside, the party was a huge success.  The Boy got a call from his dad. The kids had a great time. And my siblings and I put our energy into being happy aunts and uncles. I was proud. It was a good day absent of bickering or grumbling.

I don’t want to present this picture of a bunch of us constantly yelling like some bad early ’90s comedy about a dead billionaire and his greedy relatives. We’re not nearly like that. The thing is, there are very clear hot buttons and hot issues with each of us, and when one family member hits one of those buttons, we bicker. I’m not certain these arguments are unique to our family or even uncommon.  Those little spats combined with some of the underlining tension our family history has gone through cause greater tension than necessary.  On that day, there wasn’t any of that.  At least I didn’t feel any.

The family headed out, and I bought a plane ticket thinking Mom’s treatment wasn’t going to be for another week.

What I thought was that I’d go to Phoenix to relax for a day before flying back to Maryland, but I still had a little bit more to do.

Questions and Revelations

What are the hot-buttons? 

It’s depends on which one of us we’re talking about. The identification of those hot-button issues are less significant than the focus on what we should do as family members.  This friction seems perpetual. It simply shifts. My sisters take the brunt of it. I’m not without fault or blame. Our fear of those hot-buttons can make any of us feel like we’re walking on egg shells to keep someone else from getting angry, but that only causes resentment. I don’t feel any of that was present that day.

I’m trying to worry less about the cause and focus more on the solution. Listen. Be respectful. I’m horribly inconsistent on this.  I’m currently studying the apostles. I find myself affiliating far more with the traits of Peter and John than I do of Andrew, whom I aspire to be more like. They weren’t bad. They simply had admirable traits that weren’t honed or tempered.  I am absolutely a man without temperament.

I’m absolute in my thinking, resolute in my actions, reliant on truth (as I see it), uncompromising in my beliefs, and passionate in my defense.

If you’re asking, “Why is that a bad thing,” it’s because you’ve never been on the opposite side of an issue from me. This passion without temperance is an issue I find myself trying to resolve. I have friends who said they’ve seen a change, but that change is how I don’t always react with that passion.  I’d like my passion to come through in my effort and ethic, not in how I respond to others.  I want to respond to issues with more love and understanding. I won’t ever compromise the truth. (Oh how like John I am in that regard.  For the record, that’s not a good thing.) However, I’d like to make sure that what I do and how I handle conflict is more with love than righteous indignation. I’ve already provided at least one example in an earlier segment of this story.

Perhaps I’ve grown and improved, but I have a long way to go. Until then, I’ll be less effective in being a peacemaker if I can’t get my own opinion or desires out of the way.

Why don’t you celebrate your birthday? 

I really try not to, but some who love me make that difficult.  I don’t get angry about it. The fact is, my birthday has had an awkward trend of drama and issues.  This has made me afraid that every time I try to celebrate my birthday, some sort of drama erupts.  This is less likely when we just let the day go by.

The other reason is that I noticed a lot of people acting like their birthday is something the world should celebrate.  I have no issue celebrating birthdays in general. But I’d noticed some were pretty self-entitled about it. “It’s my birthday, gimme something.”

I was like that too. I was also very spoiled. Birthdays and Christmases  were guarantees. I expected the newest video game system and coolest new toy.  After a while, I sort of figured it was pretty selfish. I don’t think it’s selfish to celebrate a birthday or have a party.  What I think was selfish was the expectation that everyone who even heard of it being my birthday must respond with the most lavish present one could afford.

So I decided to make my birthday insignificant.  I don’t share it willingly. I try to keep the date itself secret.

The final reason is connected to those above.  If the only time I see you or talk to you is on my birthday, why are we talking? Does that one day and one present somehow make up for the other 364 days you were nowhere? We can’t reasonably be in everyone’s lives every day, but if people don’t care enough to send a message or say hello on occasion, the celebration of the birthday feels, to me, like pretense. It feels like a small token demonstration, when what we should do is love and support the people we claim to love as often as we can.  Again, you can’t do it every day, but on occasion.

I’d rather be loved and supported by three people my whole life than have 100 people attend one birthday and then never so much as say, “Hey, saw you’re photos on social media, happy for you.”

I don’t expect anyone to follow this same belief. I simply thought you’d wonder why I don’t celebrate it.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

The Visit

I got on a plane at around 7 p.m.  I landed in Phoenix at about 9 p.m., but with time difference, that means I was in the air for about five hours. When I landed, I linked up with my sister and her children. We jumped straight in the car and took the three-hour drive into Yuma.

By the time we got to another relative’s house, it was one in the morning, and I was exhausted. I went straight into a room, said my prayers, read my Bible and passed out.

We drove to my parents house the next day.  Mom answered the door. I tend to seem unsympathetic.  I might actually be unsympathetic. I’ve always confessed I’ve never been the most sympathetic person. I am, however, empathetic, not like one of the characters in one of my books, but still fairly able to understand the emotional temperature of the room.

I say all of this because my arrival wasn’t some made-for-tv sort of moment where we hugged and cried. That’s just not how our family works. I hugged her. It was startling to see how much weight she’d lost. To be clear, she didn’t look frail, except she’d lost a lot of muscle weight in her legs, which causes her to have trouble standing after sitting down.

She still looked like mom. I honestly had this mental picture of her having been shaved bald.  That wasn’t the case. The sides of her head had clearly been shaved, but it had grown back in the time since her surgery. Honestly, she looked much better than the mental picture I had in my mind.

We all sat down.  My first concern was talking to my mom. I asked her how she was. I asked her about the new procedure she was about to start. Then, I asked her if she was ready for it.


Talking to my mom is a bit tricky.  What I knew right away was that my mom is still in there. She’s still mom.  She’s restless and relentless. She wants a clean house. She wants to talk to and play with her grandkids. I think her lack of ability to communicate, and the physical toll this illness has taken, caused her to feel like she’s a burden.  The woman who was obviously the back-bone to my entire family wasn’t happy needing help.

While mom is still mom, it seems like someone took her entire lexicon and scrambled it. She knows what she means, but she’s using words that don’t match her intended meaning.  She’ll use one familial term when she means the other.  She’ll use one adjective and mean something else. Then she has a few words that sort of sound like placeholders for a lot of other words. “Flaming (or flame)” is the one I remember most. She might be talking about her carpets or a bedroom or even the walls.  This means that talking to her requires a lot of patience and a great deal of translation. However, she’s very good at answering questions, so I quickly realized asking her yes/no questions was a good approach.

That day was a lot of conversation, but it was also incredibly mundane. Were it not for my mom’s struggle with word choice, it would have been like any other visit. She sat there while my dad and I watched the game. My nephew played around the house while my niece reclined on a chair, working on her phone.

In the last segment, I talked about my mantra. Listen, and be supportive. So once Mom said she was ready to take on this new challenge, I looked at my dad, sister, and mom, and said, “So we’re all on the same page. We’re going to do this treatment and see how it goes.”

Seeing my mom walk around and talk and play with her grandchildren really boosted my mood. I think it helped my sister too. I have it easy. I saw mom up and about, complaining that her house wasn’t clean “enough.” I’ve never had to take her to a hospital. I’ve never had to see her lie in a bed, unable to move a limb or even most of her body. For those in my family who had to sit through that, I can’t even imagine the worry that would bring.

Once we started talking about how we got to this point, the reason the problem existed served to become the source of friction in the family. There are actually other sources of friction, but the one causing the most pressure was the manner in which one describes what’s happening.

The surgeon said the tumor had grown and that it was inoperable. This is the individual my sister trusts.  Why not? He’s the doctor who performed that first surgery on my mother.

The oncologist said that the MRI was inconclusive. The swelling and fluid in my mother’s brain was simply too bad for us to really know what was going on. This is the individual my father would quote.

Early on in this testimony, I mentioned my mom qualified for a new, experimental treatment. I’m not speaking on the overall effectiveness of this treatment, but it didn’t work for my mother. She consistently needed to be checked in to the hospital for various side effects. The worst issue wasn’t caused by that as I understand it.  The biggest issue always happened when they tried to ween my mom off the steroids. Please do not take this as a statement of my opinion of the experimental treatment. I don’t have nearly enough data.  All I know is what happened this time with my mom.

As true as that statement is, my sister worried that this approach might be just another excuse to try another experimental treatment. If anyone suspected that, I can only imagine how much distrust and anger that would generate.  I don’t know. I literally have no idea. I’ve never met the oncologist, but while listening, I realized that was my sister’s opinion. I don’t have time to investigate the motives of this oncologist, so again, please don’t take this as a statement of truth.  The only verified truth of what you’re reading here is what my sister felt.

So when facing a new round of treatment, how natural would it be to feel that it might just be a new thing to try? If one believes a doctor is just looking to push the boundaries of science, who would volunteer their mother to be the lead subject?

My dad offered the most logical source of relief. This treatment, avastin infusion, is a normal, FDA-approved treatment. It’s not experimental.  In fact, regardless of possible motives or which of the two sources of information was correct, this treatment is the solution.

Avastin (more scientifically called Bevacizumab), is indeed used as treatment of gioblastoma. It is used specifically for brain tumors that were resistant to previous treatments.

The link I gave you, a link to the NPS Medicinewise website, gives the eye-crossing science of it, but here’s what I know I know.

Avastin essentially cuts off the blood (and therefore the food) supply to tumors. This should stop, or at least slow, the tumor’s growth. It also reduces swelling, which is what the steroids were for. The problem with steroids is that using that much for that long on my mother would eventually just contribute to the problem. So this treatment should work against the tumor while reducing the swelling that’s causing problems.

The plan is to administer a few (three) treatments and then take another MRI to see how things are going.

Knowing this was a normal, FDA-approved course of action put my sister a bit more at ease. I sat there, listening to the discussion. Frankly, I got pretty upset at the team caring for my mom. Being in the military taught me something about communication: When you can, go straight to the source. My frustration was that two people even spoke to my family. I’d be fine with the whole team being in the room to answer specific questions, but man would my family be a lot less stressed if one guy gave us one situation and then provided the list of options to which my father referred when I called him the day before. I’m not saying they’re horrible people or anything.  This conflict had way more to do with the team’s communication skills than their medical skill.

Frustration or no frustration, it provided a very clear line in which my family could stand on opposite sides.

The first task was making sure everyone was supportive of the current course of action. We got there pretty quickly.  I’m still not sure how well I did anything else.

It’s difficult because my family hans’t been united for a very long time. My biological father molested one of my sisters. That divorce did a lot of damage. It damaged our faith:

When my mom was about to move us out, the church we attended at the time saw fit to visit (en mass). They told her, and I still remember the quote.

“You need to get over it and keep your marriage together.”

They argued the sanctity of marriage to my mother, who was trying to get our family (and the rest of her daughters, three of which still lived at home) away from this person who committed this awful act.

I feel compelled to explain something. Matthew 5:32 makes one thing perfectly clear, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  That word “except” starts the most important prepositional phrase ever in terms of divorce and Christianity. No, a person is not obligated to get a divorce, but my mother was in every Biblical right to divorce my bio-dad.

Apparently that church forgot to read that particular verse in the Bible. As I’ve read and studied the Bible, I’ve come to see that church was (I have no idea what it’s doing these days) sadly misguided in their actions and woefully inaccurate in its doctrine. My greatest obstruction in my walk with Jesus is without a doubt false teachers. I encountered more, but this particular event was what drove the wedge between my family and the Church (if not God Himself).

My bio-dad’s abuse fractured our family: The chain of events that started on that day only got worse and worse, particularly for my sister.  This sister is not the one with whom our mother stayed. I have a lot of sisters.  I commonly call this sister my oldest, but that’s only accurate in terms of siblings I spent a large portion of my life with. Each time something happened, more wedges were driven. We were separated from people we love. The desire for acceptance and attention became critical. Our motivation was validation through gifts and words of affection.

Mom fought to keep us together. Mom fought to make sure we got along. I don’t know if my siblings share this opinion, but I feel that what happened was we all chose to compete for her affection rather than love. It’s shown in various ways. The most common would be to raise ourselves up by speaking ill about the others. I am easily as guilty of this as anyone else in my family.  Rather than being good children and good siblings, we competed to be the best child.

How I wish we’d studied the Lord’s Supper at some point.  How could we though? We’d already been poisoned against God’s words by a list of false teachers.

During the Lord’s Supper, the apostles began a competition to determine who among them was the best. Jesus responded to this debate by washing the feet of each of his apostles. When every one of Jesus’s most trusted disciples were fighting over being the greatest, Jesus showed them the way by doing the most demeaning, humiliating service that could be done in this time. See Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 20.

Here we are, nearly 30 years later. When my family got that news, words were said. Feelings were hurt. Yes, I know that’s passive voice.  To make the phrase active, let’s say, accurately, that relatives did things and/or said things to each other that hurt. I don’t need to (or want to) list the accusations or perceived offenses.  What I want is for you readers to try and imagine how a family hardened by nearly 30 years of stress  would react when the  central foundation of that family is the person we’re fighting over.

My efforts are to change the wording of this. Rather than fighting over, I hope to get to a place where we’re fighting with her.

For those families split by atrocity, whatever it may be, I ask you to be sure that your focus is on the family as a unit. It was hard for my mom. I didn’t make it easy. I was a prideful, hateful little bastard. I wasn’t exactly an angel before the divorce, and when it happened I, who bear a tremendous physical resemblance to the bio-dad, felt powerless, and I sought power by lying and undermining everyone I could. Even when I realized how selfish and hateful that course of action was, I still sought to be the most loved so that I felt like I was the least like the man who I still recognize because the face in the mirror is hauntingly, agonizingly so much like the face of the man I still struggle to forgive.

Those are my wrongs. Those are my crimes, and in this tale I focus on what I am doing and what I can do to be better.

All of my siblings struggle with this history. I’ve found immense comfort in studying the Bible and applying what it has taught me. So once we all acknowledged that this course of action was the right one for mom, I did the only think I knew was right.

I asked what I could do to help, and I did it. Then I had to keep working with my sisters to at least act like the children we should be.



Questions and Revelations

You actually want to forgive that molester? 

That’s the real problem. You see, the fact is, I know I should. We should forgive others, so that we are forgiven (Matthew 6:14).  That verse doesn’t say, “unless he did something really bad.” In fact one of the biggest issues facing the world today is the idea that there are “lesser sins” and “greater sins.” The simple fact is, sin is detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16) That particular reference provided six things the Lord expressly hates.

We are saved because Jesus took that wrath upon himself, cleansing us with his blood, speaking for us to God so that he may pass over the judgement for which we are all deserving.

We protest sins we don’t like, but we don’t reproach ourselves of the sins we commit because we think them “less offensive” to God.

When the divorce was fresh, and later, when the bio-dad died, I truly struggled with the idea that I might see him one day in Heaven. We picture Heaven as this blissful place where we see all the people we like, and none of the people we hate.  But God isn’t that small. We humans judge and classify things that are small in comparison to the universe as a whole.  We elevate ourselves higher, when the fact is, on any scale, we’re nothing.

So I’ve known my whole life that I should forgive. I’ve even said I forgive. Gotten over, is the more accurate term.  Think about it. Were you ever close to someone. Did someone that close to you ever do something to you that you just couldn’t get over?  It may be the case.  God, however, can get over anything. I say again, anything.  Does that mean the bio-dad is in Heaven? I don’t know.  I’ll let you know when I see you there, if you are saved.

The fact is, Heaven will be filled with the saved. I know for a fact there are people I love who don’t have a ticket. It doesn’t make me not love them, but the ticket into Heaven was bought by the blood of Jesus, and only those who acknowledge that and accept him into their hearts will get one. That means that when I get there, I might see bio-dad. He certainly proclaimed his salvation.  Many have, but that’s not necessarily the truth.

Does that mean I’ll rage out or I’ll hit him. No, because when Jesus returns, all of our sin, including the hate and resentment I feel, will leave me. We’ll all be like Jesus.

Some non-believers use this as justification to remain apart from God. They say, “I could never believe in a God who could forgive a killer.”

There it is again, a mortal elevating one sin above another. A man who lies is every bit as offensive to God as one who kills. I actually wrote a short-story on that years ago. I knew even then that sin is sin, and it’s wrong. It is equally offensive to God regardless of its classification.

I argue it is better to have a God who can forgive anyone of any sin. I feel this way because I’ve done some seriously wrong stuff in my life. I’ve stolen. I’ve fornicated. No, I’ve never killed.

I feared my bio-dad’s crime so much that I realized later in life that I avoided relationships.  I sought out pornography and strip clubs because I was terrified that one day whatever disease or insanity that struck bio-dad, and let’s not forget his bio-dad, the rapist, would visit me.  I kept thinking, “Well, you know, the bio-dad had several daughters, so maybe some strange thing happened in his brain to make him this way.”

For the record, even if that is/was the case, we still choose to sin. Our lusts, no matter how dark, are symbols of our humanity. Our faith is demonstrated in how we resist temptation.  For a long time, I resisted it by being shy. I resisted it by hiding from the possibility.

I think I’m a good uncle. In my arrogance, I happen to feel pretty strongly that I represent all the best things an uncle should be. But what made me fight to be such a great uncle wasn’t just my love for my nieces and nephews.  They were what I felt I was allowed to have in my life. I honestly felt I didn’t deserve love or children because my biological track record had disqualified me. I “could handle” nieces and nephews. I “could handle” being in the “friend zone.”

I have never once felt the desire to molest a child. I’ve never looked at a kid and been tempted. In fact, to this day I’m careful. I hug. I never kiss on the lips.  I fought for decades to avoid a temptation I’ve never felt, and what it cost me was time I can’t get back.

It took me a while to realize most of the children I know today have no memory of the bio-dad.  They’ve no clue at all who he was or what he did. All they know is their Uncle Matt.  I have a young cousin who get’s mad at me from time to time.  You see, I fly her around like  an airplane, and this airplane is very disappointing when it lacks the energy to keep her flying around endlessly.

My nephew gets mad I won’t tickle fight 24/7.

My other niece loves drawing with her uncle.

Saleah liked listening to me play guitar and sing. She loved watching TV with me. Now she’s off to college.

For decades, I struggled with avoiding a man I could never be. All it did was keep me from being the man I can be.

I have an opportunity now. I have this woman I mean to marry one day (soon), and she has three boys of her own. I see a lot of my concerns in them, and I intend to make sure they don’t live their whole lives trying to not be someone.

Our vow to not have sex until marriage (which is currently the only line remaining to cross), is important to me for that reason. I want to endure the temptation of having sex with her to show my faith to God’s will and my trust in him. It shows control of myself.

Whoever we are, God forgives. Whoever we are, Jesus saves. We show our faith and increase our bounty in Heaven by bearing fruit (helping to save others) and resisting temptation (whatever it may be).  Please know that you can never simply push on sinning thinking, “God will forgive me.” Sanctification is the reduction of sin in our lives so that we may be more Holy each day. This means I need to be less of a prideful jerk, and whatever your sin is, no matter how “small” or “large” you think it is, you need to repent and stop.

If we do, no matter who we are, we’ll be forgiven, and we’ll all see each other when Christ returns. We may even see people we hated in this life. If that happens, we’ll be incapable of hate, so we won’t hate them in the next.

For those of you who feel this probability is why one shouldn’t turn to God, I ask you to consider that you may see some people you don’t like, but is there really anyone you like less than Satan? Would you really risk hanging with him for the rest of eternity simply to avoid seeing anyone else? I wouldn’t. He’s the source of evil. He’s who introduced us to sin in the first place.


This incredibly long section is still only a part of the larger, but to help you understand where I come from and how hard it is for our family to unite, I had to explain how  we got to this point.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading