A Bubble Maker's Dream

Lately, it seems as though my life is a bubble maker's dream; everyday, something shifts, something changes, something is moved by the winds of anything. There are times that I genuinely feel that my life no longer has any direction, that I'm just floating on the breeze and going where it takes me; "nobody knows from whence it comes or to where it goes."

Last Tuesday, my mom kicked me out of the house and I had to move to Josh Riley's apartment in DeKalb. Then, he talked me into signing a lease with him for a crazy expensive apartment in Sycamore. Then, he told me that his little brother would still be living with him (thus, since the new place has only two bedrooms, he wouldn't have much room for me). Then, my mom apologized and asked me to move home. Then, on Saturday night, my stepdad drove to DeKalb to repack all of my things and I am now, once again, living at home.

For how long?, who knows.

Notwithstanding my current homelessness, the horizon seems hopeful. I'm really hoping I can get some serious coin saved up so I can take my Eurotrips in the Spring and the Fall of 2010 -- 2-3 months in Ireland in the Spring, teaching English as a second language in the Fall for six months. I'm also hoping that the substitute teaching gig will fall into place; maybe I can get a night/weekend job as a waiter to supplement my income.

Who knows -- maybe Daddy's Day Magazine is going to be successful, so I can get wildly rich and never work again. I can't wait to be The Man.

The sun also rises.


Long, Long Day

It's been a long, long day
I got some run-down shoes
Ain't got no place to stay
But any old place will be okay
It's been a long, long day

I sure been on this road
Done nearly fourteen years
Can't say my name's well known
You don't see my face in Rolling Stone
But I sure been on this road

Slow motion
Half a dollar bill
Jukebox in the corner
Shooting to kill
And it's been a...

It's been a long, long day
I sure could use a friend
Don't know what else to say
I hate to abuse an old cliche
But it's been a long, long day
It's been a long, long day


New Old Surroundings

You can probably tell by the new background behind me and the disconcerted look on my face that I am not in my normal surroundings. It's true -- I'm a little out of my element; and, yet, not.

Rather than a darkened office, I am a moderately lit living room. Rather than a cushioned swivel chair rolling over the ridges of a hardwood floor, I am sitting on one of the most comfortable couches I've ever surfed. Rather than a large house filled with people who can't stand each other and are always at each others' throats, I am in a small apartment with three people who love each other and sacrifice for each other. Rather than one of my many hometowns, I am back in DeKalb, at the Riley's house, for the time being.

I was kicked out of my mom's house first thing this morning. Here's the general story:

On Saturday night, my mom didn't come home; Bob, Morgan and I were worried, but we had a good idea where she was. On Sunday morning, I went to work at the pool. Whilst strolling the grounds at the apartment complex, I found her car. So, I called Bob to let him and Morgan know that I found her. He, in turn, called his lawyer to let him know about the latest puzzle piece to fall into place. The lawyer, in turn, served the apartment manager with a deposition to supply the court with the evidence of Mom's staying overnight at the apartments -- she parked directly beneath a security camera. This morning, the apartment manager approached my mom and asked her about what happened. My mom, in turn, reacted negatively and assumed I was trying to get her into trouble.

She called me to let me know that she was pissed at me for "trying to get [her] fired." Because of that, she decided that she didn't want me living in her house. She also decided that she didn't want me having a relationship with my sister and forbade me from ever seeing her. Furthermore, she decided that she doesn't want anything to do with me from now on -- for the time being, I am no longer a part of her family.

Her loss.

Thankfully, I have a solid base of friends in DeKalb who were willing to put me up for a while. I don't know how long I'll be here -- I don't even know why I'm here quite yet. I will say, though, that it's almost a relief to back in this town -- this town that I cannot stand. I never thought I'd be so happy to see the place.


Over the Wire Bible Study #2 -- Luke 1:5-38

And, now, it is time for the second edition of the "Over the Wire Bible Study" with Drew Moody and Joshua Riley. Last night, I looked into the first four verses of the first chapter of Luke; tonight I'll be covering the next 40 verses. Again, I invite all of [ the drew ]'s subscribers and readership to take part in this conversation -- Josh and I always welcome an interruption.

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Luke 1:5-24
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."

---> A couple things:

According to v6, Zechariah and Elizabeth were both faultless, blameless and honored all of God's statutes. They knew the Law and they obeyed. They were the models for exemplary behavior. So it strikes me as odd that God had not honored their prayers for a child (v7); if they were faultless and blameless, it would seem to me that God would be more than happy to give them a child! This, however, is not how God does things.

I often marvel at how some of the greatest in God's Kingdom were born from the most perplexing of situations.

Much like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah also did not conceive until they were very, very old -- well beyond the (naturally) normal child-producing years (Genesis 11:30), In fact, when God promised them a child, Abraham didn't even take Him seriously! He laughed -- nay, guffawed -- at the idea of a 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman having children (Genesis 17:17).

It almost seems like a prerequisite for people in Biblical times who were to lead significant, historical lives to have miraculous birth stories.

Consider, for example:

The very first births -- Adam and Eve. Adam was formed in the image of God, by God, from a pile of clay. He learned to breathe when God breathed life into his nostrils. Eve, on the other hand -- God constructed her with one of Adam's ribs. These two people lived in daily communion and fellowship with the Ultimate Creator and fathered and mothered all of mankind. Foolish, unnatural, miraculous.

Moses, born a Hebrew peasant in times when Pharaoh was rounding up all the Hebrews and making them slaves. His mother put him in a basket, sent him floating up the Nile River and was discovered by one of Pharaoh's wives. Moses was raised in the Egyptian courts, grew up (for all intents and purposes) an Egyptian and, yet, managed to lead the Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage. Foolish, unnatural, miraculous.

Joseph was born in a completely natural way, but the story of his birth was totally unnatural. His mother, who died in child birth, was called Rachel and his father, Jacob, was a slave for Rachel's father for 14 years because she was the love of his life and he knew he absolutely had to be with her. He worked her father's fields for 14 years just to gain his approval! Joseph would grow up to be hated and envied by his brothers, beaten up, thrown into a well, then sold into Egyptian slavery, then made Pharaoh's right-hand man for his dream-interpreting skills, then, ultimately, became one of the highest ranking officials in Egypt. Foolish, unnatural, miraculous.

But this is the way in which God operates; this is the way He goes about things. God chooses the foolish things of the world, that he might confound them that are wise; and God chooses the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).

So the fact that Gabriel came to Zechariah and foretold that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a child called John shouldn't have been too surprising, considering how tantamount that story is to Old Testament births.

Then, most miraculously of all, there is the story of Jesus's birth:

Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

34 And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

35 And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

So, now we have two stories that are not identical, but very, very similar. In both stories, Gabriel comes to two sets of people and prophecies miraculous births to both: one birth to a very elderly couple who have been married for many years and are well beyond their prime, and one birth to a very young couple who are not married and are both virgins (v34)! These two stories, in the natural, make no sense. It's the pinnacle of foolishness to believe that these two couples would give birth!

However, again, God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak to put to shame the strong.

What I find interesting, though, are the reactions Gabriel receives from both parties he talks to and the responses these reactions elicit from Gabriel: both immediately doubted his words, but Gabriel responds differently to them. When Zechariah expresses his doubts (v18), Gabriel silences him -- he makes him literally dumbstruck -- because of his lack of faith (v19-20). When Mary expresses her doubts, on the other hand (v34), Gabriel deals with her gently and calmly explains the specifics of the situation (v35-37). Why the disparity between the two stories?

I think it has to do with the status levels of the two parties involved.

On the one hand, we have Zechariah -- a man who is, as aforementioned, faultless and blameless. He was a priest and communed with God in the holy of holies -- he burned incense before the Lord while the other priests were content to stay outside and pray on their own (v8-10). He was raised in the faith, lived out the faith, perfected the faith, preached the faith and loved the faith. He knew the Scriptures inside and out, was well-versed with the miracles that God -- the God of Abraham and Jacob and Isaac, his forefathers -- performed for the benefit of His people.

And, yet, for all this knowledge, he still had the audacity and lack of faith to go so far as to try correcting God's messenger. Rather than falling to his knees, with tears streaming down his face, thanking God for His blessings of provision, his immediate reaction was to doubt God's word. So, Gabriel silenced him for his lack of faith.

I also find it interesting that the first several verses of Luke directly deal with doubt -- first, Theophilus in v1-4, then Zechariah in v18-23 and, finally, Mary in v26-34. Hmmm... Do I sense a theme? Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing of things to come? Oh, Luke -- you and your stellar writing abilities -- you do go on!

Now, at first, I will admit, I thought Zechariah's punishment seemed a little harsh; one slight indiscretion, one slight moment of doubt, and Zechariah is doomed to nine months of muteness. But, upon reading this selection again, I have to wonder whether or not Gabriel really had any other choice but to silence him. I mean, Zechariah was a high priest -- a leader and teacher of men. What sort of message would be conveyed to His people if God had not punished Zechariah for his doubtfulness? If God were to allow Zechariah's doubt to go unpunished, who's to say what sort of agnosticism would stem from Zechariah's congregation?

Mary, on the other hand, was not punished for her faithlessness (v34). As aforementioned, Gabriel calmly explained the situation to her (v30-37) and she was excited at the prospect of being the Holy Mother (v38). But Mary, on the other hand, was not a priestess -- she wasn't a leader. She wasn't even a leader in her household! Her gender automatically negated her leadership abilities, her age negated her leadership abilities and her social status negated her leadership abilities. Don't hear me wrong -- I'm not saying she wasn't capable of being a leader (she is, after all, the Holy Mother), but she was not able to lead in her day and age because of those three things. A believer though she may have been, there wasn't any need to punish her for her doubts. I'd like to believe that God had mercy on her, despite her doubts, because of the road that lied ahead of her.

See, when Elizabeth would conceive, all of her family members and contemporaries and peers would congratulate her and Zechariah and hail them as faithful to God's promises. They would recall the stories of the Old Testament and praise God for, once again, miraculously bringing a child into the world. When Mary conceived, on the other hand, she would become despised by those around her. She was a very young, single woman. When she told her family and friends that she was pregnant and single (the ultimate single mother), they would call her a slut, a harlot, a Jezebel. When she'd tell them that was still a virgin, that the Holy Spirit impregnated her rather than Joseph, they would call her insane and, quite possibly, stone her to death for blasphemy.

I think there is also a lesson to be learned here regarding the power of the tongue:

James 3:1-12
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

See, according to v1, Zechariah had to be greatly punished for his one single act of doubt. Furthermore, Luke even writes:

Luke 17:1-2
1 And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin."

There are serious consequences for tempting believers to stumble -- this is one thing that Jesus did not take lightly. Have you ever seen a millstone?? They are massive pieces of masonry -- about half the size of a man and considerably more heavy. According to Jesus, it would be better to have one of these things tied around your neck and to have you tossed into the ocean than to tempt someone to sin. So, really, Zechariah got off easy -- he was just silenced for nine months so that he wouldn't be able to spread his doubt to others.

I quite like the way Adam Clarke's commentary puts it:

Dumbness ordinarily proceeds from a natural imperfection or debility of the organs of speech; in this case there was no natural weakness or unfitness in those organs; but, for his rash and unbelieving speech, silence is imposed upon him by the Lord, and he shall not be able to break it, till the power that has silenced him gives him again the permission to speak! Let those who are intemperate in the use of their tongues behold here the severity and mercy of the Lord; nine months' silence for one intemperate speech! Many, by giving way to the language of unbelief, have lost the language of praise and thanksgiving for months, if not years!

May this be a lesson to us today, to tame our tongues -- to be wary of professing and/or spreading doubt and unbelief.


Over the Wire Bible Study #1 -- Luke 1:1-4

I was going to attempt writing an introduction for this blog to explain what is happening, but Joshua Riley explained it so well, that I just copied and pasted it into my blog. Hopefully, that is ethical and he is okay with it.

For everyone who reads my blog, feel free to check out Josh's updates at In Waiting We Are Lost and join in the conversation!

"This blog series...is an attempt to keep a friendship alive that is floundering in an uncertain sea of turmoil and distance. So this blog series is to take a stand, fight the good fight worth fighting and make this friendship work...In order to see [our relationship] sustained and our friendship and relationship with God grow, we plan on reading the Gospel of Luke separately, and blogging about our discoveries, reading each others' discoveries and being emboldened to, in our faiths, by each others' faiths and writings. Here it goes. I don't know where this is going to end up but I know that Luke's Gospel is the first step in what could end up as anything. We will leave comments on each others' pages; you are welcome to do so with us. We don't have a reading plan because reading plans are an avenue to some sort of failure of missed goals and frustration. We are going to read and post everyday -- that is the only plan. Other than that we are going to let God guide us..."
-- Joshua Riley

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Luke 1:1-4
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

--> Now, Luke is my favorite gospel account and, quite possibly indeed, my favorite book of the Bible. As a fellow writer (or, at least a fellow who claims to be a writer), I feel a kindred spirit with Luke, the historian. His attention to detail is impeccable; rather than focusing on what Jesus said and spending most of his time writing out Jesus's words (like Matthew), he focused more on the context and the setting of where these things were being said; rather than giving very basic summaries of what happened (like Mark), he went into great detail each miracle performed, each action Christ took and each reaction Christ received; rather than writing with an inclination to become very preachy as a means of reaching the lost faction of his readership (like John), Luke didn't offer much commentary at all -- he let the stories of Christ's birth, ministry, death and resurrection suffice for themselves.

In the preface of this book, in those first four chapters, Luke even explains that his intentions are different from his contemporaries! He is fully aware that stories were circulating and that books were being written. "It seemed good to [him] also" to offer his version of the story, his own spin on the story.

Maybe it's because I'm embarking on this blogging adventure with Josh that I am reading Scriptures more closely. And maybe it's because I'm reading Scriptures more closely that I have taken such a notice to the first four verses that introduce Luke's account of the gospel -- an introduction which I have never really paid any mind to until this project.

The book of Luke is a story about life. Of the four apostles who wrote gospels, Luke shares the most stories about the miracles Jesus performed: giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, healing blood clots and paralytics and lepers, casting out demons and even resurrecting the dead. It is the story of vagabonds, ragamuffins, castaways, sinners, demoniacs, freaks and, as Josh sometimes says, "a ragtag team of misfits and miscreants" -- all people who lost their way and were in desperate need of salvation, of a second chance at life (and "life more abundantly" (John 10:10)). Ultimately, as it is with the three other gospel accounts, the gospel according to Luke is the story of the greatest miracle of all: Christ's resurrection -- the very gospel itself.

Luke's account of the gospel is a book about the human condition and God's saving grace.

Another thing that sets Luke's gospel story apart is his target audience. Unlike the other three gospels, we cannot assume that he is writing for the sake of the general public; we cannot assume that Luke intended for his account to be widespread. We cannot assume such things because of verses 3-4: it is made very evident that Luke wrote this gospel account to a single person, Theophilus. Don't hear me wrong -- I believe that all Scripture is the word of God and that the Holy Spirit wrote the Scriptures just as much as anyone else and that God is sovereign. Perhaps Luke knew that 2,000 years later, you could pick up a paperback copy of his gospel account at a local bookstore -- God definitely did. What I'm presupposing is that we cannot say, for sure, Luke knew that; we did, however, know that he was writing this account to Theophilus, so that he "may have certainty concerning the things [he had] been taught" (v4).

The phrase, "the things you have been taught," leads this writer to believe that Theophilus was a believer or, at the very least, one who had been preached to. The fact that Luke is writing a personal letter to him out of great concern for the certainty of his faith, as if he were an old friend or even, perhaps, a ministerial associate, points to the former possibility.

And this believer, much like every believer from time to time, at one point or another will experience, was struggling with his faith. He had heard the gospel, he had experienced the gospel and he even had a relationship with at least one of the people who had firsthand experience with Jesus's daily interactions (namely, Luke). And, yet, for all this knowledge, he was still struggling with the things which he had been told. He was still wrestling with his faith.

Theophilus was Greek -- at least, we can infer that from his Greek name (which, ironically, translates to "friend of God"). His Greek heritage, therefore, made him a gentile -- he was not one of God's chosen people and, therefore, not a part of God's inheritance; that is, until Jesus came. Jesus's death and resurrection was for all, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). The Jews were growing on a vine that tied them directly to God and, because of Jesus's death and resurrection, the Greeks and all other gentiles were grafted in.

But, Theophilus, being a gentile, was not so sure. After all, Jews and gentiles were polar opposites; the Jews were God's chosen people, the gentiles were... not. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, they were enemies of God and had no part in God's Kingdom (this is why Theophilus's name is, at once, so ironic and, again, so indicative of what Luke's gospel account is all about). Needless to say, Theophilus was struggling with the idea that he too could now be saved.

Can you imagine the thoughts racing through his mind?

"So God gave up His Son to save us -- not just the Jews, but also the Greeks. But the Jews are still His chosen people. Does that mean I'm still saved? Can I be saved? Why would God change His mind? Was Jesus really the Messiah? But what about the struggles the church is having spreading the gospel? Wouldn't she be more able to minister to the lost without all the hardships and oppression and adversity? Why won't God end the evil altogether? Is what I'm hearing true? Am I saved? Is there a God?"

Admit it -- these are all concerns and doubts that we have today. Right?

This is why Luke wrote this gospel account: to explain and make clear exactly what happened, as it happened and why it happened. He clearly and concisely explains God's salvation plan, why everything had to be the way it was and that Jesus really is Lord of all. All the care Luke gives to the task, as noted in his preface, is designed to reassure Theophilus, who has been taught on such matters previously. Whatever pressure this believer is under, he should be confident that God has moved to fulfill his plan through Jesus. Like a pastor who comforts a believer under siege by the world, Luke wishes to encourage his readers. Theophilus may be asking, "Is Christianity what I believed it to be, a religion sent from God?" Whether it is internal doubt, persecution or racial tension with Jews that has caused this question to be raised, Luke invites Theophilus -- the "friend of God" -- to consider the story of Jesus again and know that these indeed were events that "have been accomplished among us" (v1).


the day

13 hours at the pool, sunburn, stress overload, give up caring?, maybe not but maybe, 70 people at the pool, a lump, a family falling apart, a fat kid, a stupid haircut, a stupid face, fiveoclockinthemorningandimstillawakebecauseidontknowwhatshappening, fiveoclockinthemorningandimstillawakebecauseiknowexactlywhatshappening, toss, turn, toss, turn, toss, turn, zzzz, deceased ipod.

such is life



Over the past two weeks, I have noticed a considerably sized chasm between my loved ones and myself. Everyone, really. I noticed it most this afternoon, whilst vacuuming the pool.

My mom sat at one of the tables, doing some paperwork, and the entire time she was sitting there, I just kept thinking to myself how little patience I have for her mere presence right now. Then I thought back to this morning's goings on, when I lent my stepdad an ear for the better part of five hours and listened to him drone on and on about how miserable he is. Then I thought back to the last conversation I had with my sister, when she told me about a whole slew of things I never knew about my mom.

And the more I thought about all of this stuff, the more frustrated I became. I just got more anxious, more testy, more angsty, more pissed off.

That's when it occurred to me: there is a battle raging and I am fighting this thing alone. And that's when I felt it--this great divide, this great chasm, this great distance that is separating me from my loved ones.

A couple weeks ago, I described my situation to my friend Joel and he said, "My God -- you are cut off from community and you are dying." The moment he said it, I realized it was true. And, at that point, I had only been away from my community, my people, for half of a week.

I'm not going to lie: there is a strange part of me that misses DeKalb. I take that back -- there is no part of me that misses DeKalb. It would be more apropos for me to say that I miss some of the people there.

When I lost my job in January and felt like I was at the end of my rope and even considering reverting back to my days of alcoholism, there were a handful of people that God had swoop into my life to help me pick up the pieces and carry on. He sent me some dear friends that I communed with on a daily basis; if I wasn't hanging out with one friend, I was with another. I spent afternoons with one person and evenings with another. I got used to constantly having someone there that cared about me and would call me, even if I hadn't called them in a couple days. I got used to having someone there would encourage me and laugh with me. That's become especially true with a dear, dear friend of mine who shall remain nameless -- I've gotten so used to hearing this person constantly reminding me of their love for me that, if a day goes by and I don't hear those words, "I love you," (I admit it), I feel a little empty inside. I feel a little hollow. I feel a little...

Cut off.

Now that I'm back in Yorkville, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. It's a shadow of something Jesus told his disciples: "Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house is a prophet without honor."

Granted, I do have a couple friends here: there's Little Bretty Poo, who lives down the street, and Jeff and Meggie, who live down the street in the other direction. I hardly ever see these people, though. It's nobody's fault and I'm not casting blame -- we're all busy people. Jeff and Meggie are married and should enjoy each other's company, Little Bretty Poo is home from college, just for the summer, and can't squeeze me into his itinerary without two weeks notice. Besides, he is now dating and should enjoy the company of his lady. Besides, I work every single day except for Monday. On the weekends, when everyone else is off work, I work two double shifts in a row (24 hours in two days!).

But, because of our commitments, I'm out of my element.

I was hoping my Love would be able to rescue me, even if it's just a simple phone call -- just so I would have some sort of contact with the outside world to make sure I wasn't actually totally alone. Our lines of communication, though, seem to have been cut.

I need to find a community here in Yorkville. I need to find a group of people that will remind me everyday that fighting the good fight of faith is worth it. I need that encouragement. I'm not the loner I thought I was.

At least I'm not anymore.


Well, Since Malice Reads...

...I guess I'll update tonight.

Today was Morgan's ninth birthday. My step-dad's mom and sister came to the house from Iowa to help us celebrate; we all gathered around the table, lit the candles on the cake, Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Morgan, make a wish, blow out the candles, whoosh!, eat the cake, open the presents, Show it to me so I can take a picture!

This kid gets everything. She has everything, and nothing all at once.

For her ninth birthday, tonight, for example, she got a new soccer ball, a couple Wii video games, some new clothes, a few gift cards, a brand new set of golf clubs and some good old cold, hard cash. Now, I wasn't deprived as a kid--I led a normal, middle-class, suburban childhood--but I wasn't in the lap of luxury either. My parents struggled to get by, but still provided me with the best possible childhood they could afford. In fact, after Moe opened all of her presents tonight, my mom commented, "Andrew used to get oranges for his birthday."

Oranges. I remember that. Every birthday, I'd get an orange.

I think back to those days often--the days of my childhood. Every now and then, I get a little bitter about my upbringing. I sometimes resent being raised a lower middle-class suburbanite; in the words of Ben Folds, "Y'all don't know what it's like to be male, middle class and white." I sometimes resent not having everything money can buy when I was Morgan's age. I sometimes resent those damned oranges.

Then again, I was raised in a house with my dad and my step-mom, and they were in love. I was raised by two parents who, though they didn't get along all the time, stayed together and remained faithful to each other. Morgan will never be able to say that. When she talks to her kids about her childhood, she'll say, "My parents stayed together for ten or so years, but they hated each other the whole time. They fought incessantly and your grandmother was actually having affairs with several other men."

I thank God for that history and I sincerely hope my sister doesn't grow up to forsake her upbringing.


Devoid of Inspiration

I don't really feel like writing anything tonight. Not that it matters. Nobody reads this shit anyway.


Not Much to Say

Same old stuff, I suppose. Not much to say, really. Mom's having an affair, she's running a vacuum until ten at night, my sister is high-strung, I'm struggling to keep my head above water.

Blah blah blah. Etcetera.

Here's the new picture: There doesn't seem to be much of a change. But that might change.

Sorry for the poor quality of these photos -- my laptop's webcam doesn't have the best quality.

Daddy's Day Magazine

Daddy's Day Magazine is almost set for launch! We just got an advertising agency who will be generating ad revenue for us and our tentative nationwide launch date is September 1.

Exciting times!

Stay tuned for another update tonight.


A Good Day

Today was a good day -- a much needed good day. Don't get me wrong, it didn't start off in a bed of roses, but its finish was impeccable; the only way it could have been any better is if my love were here to share it with me.

Mondays are my mom's day off, so she was to be home all day today -- I knew I had to be away. Far and away. I can't stand being anywhere near my mom as of late; her mere presence is enough to make my blood boil inside of me. Her mere presence is enough to send me into a state of hysterics. Her mere presence is enough to ruin a perfect day. She has nothing short of a toxic personality and I wasn't going to let her fumes poison this glorious Monday.

So, without any direction, without any plan, without any place to go or be, I got in my car and drove off. Whilst cruising around, with the windows down, to Peter Gabriel's Secret World Live double album, I decided to get some essential chores done: I emptied my change jar and deposited over $30 of coinage into my checking account, went to the post office and changed my forwarding address and then headed over to the Village Grind, a little mom and pop coffee shop in downtown Oswego.

After a small iced mocha and a home-baked chocolate chip cookie, I decided that I'm never going to Starbucks again.

The atmosphere inside was tremendous -- there are five different rooms that are connected in this shop, with homemade nick-nacks that are for sale decorating the walls. The floors are all hardwood and the shop is dimly lit, to make for a homey, comforting latte-sipping experience. I sat at a table in the corner with my coffee and biscuit, re-reading the Book of Ruth and watching the other patrons around me enjoy their beverages. I reasoned that this shop would be my new office space away from my office -- what better place to get some writing done?

Afterward, I headed out to the pool, despite today being my day off as well. Inside of the pool's clubhouse there is a small, makeshift workout room -- it has an elliptical, a couple treadmills, an exercise bike, some free weights and a couple machines that, at the very least, will make you feel like you have the resources to get a decent workout available. After running on the elliptical for half of an hour and burning a little over 240 calories, I swam for another half of an hour. If I do that everyday (which I am more than capable of, seeing as how I'll be there everyday this summer), I imagine I'll be looking a bit leaner by the end of the summer.

Now I'm going to segues to my next point:

To help me monitor my progress, I am going to post a new picture everyday on [ the drew ]. I've seen this done before and it has the potential to be pretty cool. The "photo-a-day" projects that I've seen are usually, at the very least, interesting. Granted, all of you out there in Reader Land will only be able to see my progress by seeing my face, but hopefully you'll be seeing my face grow slimmer and slimmer as the summer progresses.

And so we begin:

Come to think of it, after seeing this picture, perhaps I should invest in Rogaine so's that I can get rid of that empty space underneath my nose where my mustache should meet.


Mixtape #1: Le Mix CD Francais: Music So French, It Must Be Liberated!!

Here is the final track listing for my latest mixtape, Le Mix CD Francais: Music So French, It Must Be Liberated!!

1) Foux da Fa Fa - Flight of the Conchords
2) C'est Ma Vie - Phonoboy
3) L'elephant - Tom Tom Club
4) Lo Boob Oscillator - Stereolab
5) A Lete De La Saint-Martin 68 - Miou Miou
6) Fantino - Sebastien Teller
7) Mer du Japon - AIR
8) Solaar Pleure - MC Solaar
9) L'amour Ne Dure Pas Toujours - Feist
10) Une Anee Sans Lumiere - Arcade Fire
11) J'T'emmène au Vent - Louise Attaque
12) Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie - Belle and Sebastian
13) Paris 2004 - Peter Bjorn and John
14) Michelle - The Beatles
15) Belle - Jack Johnson
16) Paris - Yael Naim
17) Sympathique - Pink Martini
18) Cœur De Parisienne - Reprise d'Arletty - Rufus Wainwright
19) The Professor and La Fille Danse - Damien Rice
20) Au Fond du Temple Saint - David Byrne, with Rufus Wainwright
21) Les Champs-Elysees - Joe Dassin


I Think I'm In Love

I think I'm in love but it makes me kind of nervous to say so.


Heads, California

Rather than write another pathetic update about my troubling circumstances, I thought I'd type up the lyrics to a song I wrote a few years ago that still describes my heart's desires:

I've been kicking around, around this town
Around this town for too long now
Writing letters to myself
Addressed to myself from different towns

Pictures of myself in all the same places
All the same spaces since I don't know when
I've changed my hairstyles and changed my faces
But don't I know I've never changed a thing

I don't know where I'm going to
And I don't know what I'll do if I get there
All I know is I love you
And I love the songs that people wrote once they got there

Heads, California
Tails, Cork City
Isn't it a pity I couldn't be there now?
So come on baby, you look so pretty
I'm going to make you love me somehow

I don't know where we're going to
And I don't know what we'll do if we get there
All I know is I love you
And I love the books that people wrote once they got there

Heads, California
Tails, Cork City
Isn't it a pity I couldn't be there now?
So come on baby, you look so pretty
I'm going to make you love me somehow


A Little On Edge

I have to get out of Yorkville, first chance I get.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Last night, as I was laying on my futon, watching Extras in my bedroom, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs, walk past my door, then stop in the kitchen. Some things rustled, a chair was pulled out and pushed back in, the door to the garage opened and shut, the car outside started and that was it.

It was about one in the morning.

Two hours later, the garage door open and shut, the footsteps went past my door and back up the stairs towards my mom and stepdad's bedroom. I knew it was my mom coming and going in the wee hours of the morning, because my stepdad, Bob, was sound asleep in his recliner in the living room with the television still on.

The question, then, is, What was my mother doing leaving the house at one in the morning and not coming back until three in the morning?

God only knows, but I can imagine.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Last week, an old coworker, Ron, showed up at the pool and got drunk. I confiscated the wine from him and kicked him out after he offended me by making fun of my faith and said wildly inappropriate things to two fourteen year old girls that were swimming.

Two days ago, he showed up at the pool again and volunteered to watch it a while I went to DeKalb to move a couch out of my old apartment. As appreciative as I was that he did that for me, I, once again, had to ask him to leave after saying wildly inappropriate things to some women who were sunbathing and was behaving like a genuine ass. He even introduced me to one of his buddies there as "my stepson, Drew."

That pissed me off. A lot.

But imagine my chagrin when I learned that Ron drunk-dialed my mother last Sunday (the night I kicked him out): "Heya baby -- give me a call sometime."

To make matters worse, when I called my mom today to let her know about all of the things Ron did to piss me off and earn his place as social outcast, she defended him! Not only did she defend him, but after I told her all the reasons I couldn't stand the man, and all the reasons I think he is absolute scum, she replied, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

All of this adds up in my mind to lead me to believe that my mother has slept or is sleeping with Ron.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For the past two days, I have been trying my damnedest to get some of this freelance work done -- I've had it on my desk for two weeks now and have still only finished two of the seven articles I expected to have done by now. Furthermore, I have three articles awaiting me from Daddy's Day Magazine that I have to finish proofreading and editing by tomorrow morning. So I thought that if I buckled down tonight, put on my headphones and shut the door behind me, I'd be able to zip through all of it by midnight, no problems.

The only problem is that I live at home with a nine year old sister named Morgan and two parents that are dysfunctional, at best. These three people combine for a lot of noise, whether they are arguing, or fighting, or popping into my office every five minutes to give me Cubs vs. Braves updates, or give me apartment complex/pool gossip updates, or Webkinz updates, or just to simply annoy me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Needless to say, I am a little on edge as of late. All this time, I thought my younger sister, Gail, was crazy, irresponsible and stupid for making the decisions she's made in life. I thought she was just another idiot that fell to the wiles of peer pressure, succumbing to drug and alcohol abuse. Now, I have a better understanding of her motivations! This place is a madhouse and even I would do just about anything to get the hell out of here!

To all my friends who have called me in the past couple days and have been made a victim of my malice, I am so, so very sorry. I don't mean to snap and I don't mean to offend. I am under a tremendous amount of stress.

I know this is the enemy tripping me up--this isn't God testing me to see how I respond to overwhelming stress. I know it's the enemy because I snapped both times my best friend sent me text messages telling me which verses in the Bible I should read for comfort.

I flipped out.

"Who is Josh to tell me how to live my life?? How does he know what I'm going through?? Who is he to make suggestions and give advice??"

I was legitimately offended for no reason whatsoever. I was a wild beast in a cage and Josh did a very kind, very gentle thing to comfort me. My parents and even other friends, on the other hand, are picking up sticks and poking them inside the cage just to get me riled up or to hurt me more.

That's how it seems anyway.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And old friend, Sandor, sent me an email and told me he received a vision whilst praying for me. Here's his email:

Hey Drew!

I just read your posting about leaving Dekalb just now. And I was praying for you and the Lord spoke to me, and I felt led to share it with you as a word of encouragement.

I saw the words "Silver Springs" like I was looking at a sign on the road. I wondered why I thought that sounded familiar, then I remembered where it was. It is in Yorkville, Il. I actually went there when I was a kid on a field trip.

I believe the Lord told me that you will go there, if you have not already, and He will minister to you deeply and profoundly.

"They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them." (Isa. 49:10)

I also got these verses for you as well: Jer. 31,1 Kin. 17:1-6, Isa. 35:7, 41:18, and Matt. 6:24-34

Take care bro.


I think I'm going to head out there tomorrow with my guitar and my Bible to see what God has for me. I could use some quiet time with God to refocus and to recast my vision of my life.


Let Me Slip Into Something a Bit More Comfortable...

[ the drew ] has a new look.



Hills and Valleys

I have some good news and some bad news.


Things are going well right now -- a little too well, perhaps. I keep waiting for something to go wrong, because it doesn't seem entirely natural to me that life is meant to be this... okay.

Megan and I are doing wonderfully. For those of you who may not remember, I mentioned her a few weeks ago (about a month ago actually) in a blog about going to Columbus, Ohio, but haven't really touched on her since. Our semi-pseudo-relationship couldn't possibly be any better than it is right now. Well... If we lived a bit closer to each other, that would make things better. But besides that, we couldn't be better. Albeit true, we have hit a couple really rough patches very early on in our relationship, we are pressing through, staying the course, a thousand points of light.

A thousand points of light...? That doesn't make any sense.

In the words of a dear friend of mine, we are laying low the mountains and filling in the valleys so that we may walk a straighter, more level path.


I really don't know what this woman sees in me. This is probably just some self-esteem issue that I need to work out on my own; I'm probably a really great guy with a world of promise to offer. But, when I look in the mirror, I don't see that guy. I don't see the man she describes as "cute," "funny" or "sweet." I don't see the man that she claims to love.

When I look in the mirror, I see a derelict. I look at my shaggy hair and my unkempt beard and I wonder "Only a mother gorilla could love a face like this." I argue that the only reason she even remotely likes me is because we haven't seen each other in a long time -- "You have no idea what I look like now!" (as if I could change so much in one month)

It astounds me that a beautiful, talented woman like her could see anything in a guy like me. It astounds me that ANY girl could see anything in a guy like me. I marvel at the fact that there have been women in my life that have genuinely liked me. I marvel! In fact, there have been two occasions when I've had a girlfriend and it bothered me so much that she liked me that I freaked out and broke up with her. Is this normal behavior?? I'm not so sure it is. I even told Megan the other day, "You should probably end everything with me, move to France and marry a wealthy Parisian who'll bake baguettes for you and drink coffee on Les Champs-Elysees with you everyday." Megan should be with someone who has something to offer -- not me.

It just doesn't make sense to me.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh on myself. Again, this is probably a self-esteem issue that I need to work out for myself.



I really love my job. This summer, just like the summers of the two years previous to this one, I am working at the swimming pool at Courtyards Village West Apartments in North Aurora. That's right -- I'm the poolboy.

Okay, it's true -- this picture was taken two years ago, when I was still moderately attractive, but there's not much different about this job today than the way it was two years ago. I still sit around with awesome sunglasses, working on a tan and reading. So far, this summer, in only five days at the pool, I've started and finished three books. The best part of all, is that I actually get paid for this! And I get paid well! I really shouldn't be making more than minimum wage for the work I do there, in all honesty.


I need help, everyone.

I need prayer. I need grace. I need motivation.

As you all know, I just moved home to Yorkville and, already, I am itching to get out of here. Living here is going to be such a trial and I'm going to need to have such an enormous amount of motivation to keep myself going without getting bogged or dragged down.

My mom and stepdad, Bob, hate each other -- a lot. They have both filed for divorce from each other numerous times, but, for some reason, stay together and keep hating each other. My sister, Morgan, is always caught in the middle of it and I pity her.

My mother is an egomaniacal, self-centered, self-serving, sociopathic woman. In spite of her marriage -- a holy vow of loyalty to one spouse made before God Himself (which she has now made four times) -- she has a handful of boyfriends on the side that I know about and who knows how many others that I don't know about. She's not ashamed of her extramarital love life at all -- the other day, she even let me listen to a voicemail that one of her suitors left while he was drunk. "Hey baby -- give me a call back sometime." Why the hell is my mom showing me this??

Last night, I came home from my best friend's, the Jorays, house around 12:30 only to find Mom in the living room, on the phone to one of her boyfriends while her husband was sound asleep upstairs. There are times that she leaves in the middle of the night and doesn't come home until 6 or 7 the next morning.

Then there's Bob -- a lazy, lazy, lazy man who does nothing to help and nothing to better himself. He comes home from work, plops down in his easy chair, reclines it and watches television for the rest of the night. And he doesn't move. He falls asleep in that chair around midnight (with the television still on), wakes up at 7, then watches whatever show is on the channel he fell asleep to until he has to go to work. I leave the house, he is watching TV. I come home and he is still watching TV.

I cannot stay in this toxic environment much longer. If I stay here longer than the summer, I am going to implode. This behaviour is going to chip away and chip away at me until I am reduced to a pile of dust that is whisked away by the faintest wind.