Let them brush your rock and roll hair. Man, this one hurts.
Let them brush your rock and roll hair. Man, this one hurts.
Since August of 2018 I’ve been working on blog content that will explain the goings-on during September 2017 through the present. The good news is September 2017 is a static point in time. That end of things is fixed in place. The bad news is “the present” keeps rolling forward, week after week, while I’m still trying to get the incomprehensibly bizarre and complex “past” squared away. Consequently this writing project has felt like I’m bailing water with a measuring cup while water continues pouring in through a measuring cup-sized hole in the bottom of the boat.
The good news is that the occurrence of content-worthy events slowed dramatically in July 2018. To that end the water stopped pouring in quite so quickly. This has allowed for less frantic bailing. The bad news is that I have potentially figured out what All This is about. That’s a bad thing because, due to the nature of what All This is potentially leading to, there’s no practical value in publishing about it right now. It’s too soon. There will, I believe, come one single moment in time which will serve as a pivot from Too Soon to Right On Time. Whenever that right time rolls around, I will hopefully have an air-tight chunk of content ready to publish at a moment’s notice. It will be a large chunk of content, regardless of air-tightness. Right now there are seventy pages, give or take. But until such a time as I can publish all those pages, I have to decide how much of life at any point after July 2018 is worthy of publishing; while still trying to make sense of September 2017 through the present. And then write about it. But not publish it.
The good news is there’s one particular and monumental event that I can freely describe, by way of putting a proper pause on this blog. (It’s not lost on me that I’ve left all things “blog” hanging awkwardly for over a year now. It’s not been for lack of trying otherwise.) This one particular event was a continuation of a consistent theme that has been a player in my life since February 2010. Variations on this same theme are sufficiently documented in past blog posts.
There is no bad news with this one.
The morning of September 30, 2018. I’m five weeks into a dawning realization of what I think All This has been about, for however many years. Two? Ten? Fifteen or fifty or two thousand? The scope of it keeps growing into both the past and future. For five weeks I’ve had one long tension headache that occasionally grants me a few hours’ relief. My breathing is shallow and inadequate, no matter how much I attempt to discipline my lungs. Sleep has been hard to get and then fitful in the getting. I’m essentially having a weeks-long panic attack. Not because things are looking so bad; but because things are looking so big. I am dwarfed and overwhelmed by ramifications and potential.
A couple of days ago I realized that I had not received a “Joseph” message from God since March of 2017. And it has been even longer since I’ve heard from the friend who first prophetically called me Joseph in February 2010. I wasn’t complaining about the lack of Joseph in my life. I was simply surprised at how long it had been since either of those two wonderful things had crossed my mind. Especially since “Joseph” and my friend Charles are two elements in this wild story that God has used extensively to encourage me during horrible years.
I’m laying in bed trying to decide whether or not I will go to church. My kids aren’t with me this weekend; so I have no pressure to be the good example. But there’s a different kind of pressure that is weighing on me. In the past few months I’ve become increasingly aware that God has used dozens of people during the past sixteen years to speak to me His words of encouragement into whatever challenge was paramount at the time. Anything from an old friend who has had an extremely relevant dream, to a complete stranger who gives me a dead-on accurate prophetic word that cuts through the confusion of the moment. Each one among these dozens of people was a blessing to me because they bothered to show up. At church; at small group; at a prayer set; at a scheduled lunch visit. They showed up and were able to minister to a fellow believer.
It’s about being the Body of Christ. Encouraging each other; exhorting each other; sharpening each other. Bother to show up, and you just might be exactly the person someone needs in their life for a moment or longer. Or you might receive a blessing from God that will not be available to one who is still between the sheets, comfy and not apostate, yet separated from other parts of the Body. This reality is flatly on my exhausted mind, here between those sheets. I check the time. 10:05. If I get up now, I’ll make it to the church halfway through the worship hour. Even the overflow room might be full by then. Body of Christ. I get out of bed, both dutifully and grudgingly, and get myself to the church.
The spread of parked cars extends far out into the warehouse district surrounding Upper Room. No way will there be seating available in the main auditorium. My parking space is a four-minute walk from the building. I walk the four minutes. The sub-woofer of the worship team is rhythmically stuffing itself into the air outside the office park church. I go directly into the overflow room. Big crowd. But not at capacity. I spy five contiguous empty seats, second to last row. Perfect. I move to the middle empty seat with a buffer of privacy on each side. If no one sits in either of the four empty seats, I won’t have to fake friendliness during the meet-and-greet between worship and sermon. DETEST the meet-and-greet. Body of Christ? Whatever. I got my buffers. And then I join those in the room who are worshiping God, accompanied by whatever song the band is playing. I continue a silent line of prayer that I’ve been slinging up for weeks (years?). “Lord, is this real? This feels like it can’t possibly be real. Too big. Too much. Help. I love You.”
Worship is over. Our pastor announces the meet-and-greet. Totally prepared for this. I smugly sit with two empty seats on either side of me. Very satisfied with my foresight. “Yes. Buffers. Enjoy your meet-and-greet, suckers.” Someone taps me on the shoulder. You’ve got to be kidding. I hadn’t considered there were people behind me. Almost irritated, I look up to my right. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before. “Hey man, my name’s Caleb,” he announces with a disarming cheer that makes me forget to be irritated. “I’m Joe,” I reply as I stand. Caleb gives me a weird look. “Really?” “Yep.” I’m sure of it. We shake hands. Caleb hands me a scrap of note paper. “I think I’m supposed to give you this.” I glance down at the paper and things take a surreal turn. My vision clouds with tears. Caleb has apparently written me a note during the worship time.
I glance across the note, deliberately not reading the whole thing yet. I want to focus on it during the sermon. I tell Caleb. “I don’t know if you do this kind of thing regularly, but keep doing it. You’ve blessed me massively. This is further confirmation of something that’s been going on for years. Something that’s going to be huge.” I consider trying to explain my entire life – focusing primarily on the improbable events of the past fifteen years (and especially the past nine, and really especially the past two) – in one or two sentences. It cannot be done. We all sit for the sermon, and I read through what looks to be a hand-written note from God, as penned by a stranger named Caleb:
JOSEPH: Psalm 105:17
Sup, bro. The trials and oppression of Joseph positioned him to be sent before the people of God. In season he arose and stepped into the place for one part of his calling to be confirmed – that being the journey as a son of God.
May your heart find strength in the LORD this morning.
Psalm 59 has been a jam.
After the service I turn to speak with Caleb. He is talking with a woman on his left, possibly in another prophetic ministry moment. I’m shocked to see another woman standing on his right. She is a friend from our mutual previous church home and with whom I’d attended church small group with my then-family ten years ago. She and I both attend Upper Room now, though we see each other only twice a year or so. More pertinent to the moment on September 30, 2018, she is a part of the “Joseph” narrative. On February 20, 2010, when a total stranger named Charles had first called me Joseph, this woman had been one of two other people standing with us at the front of the church as Charles ministered to me. She had been present when God first put a name to whatever this is that He’s doing in my life. And here she’d been sitting next to another total stranger who continued that same effort more than eight years later. We greet each other, and I tell her what has just happened. She recounts a similarly remarkable prophecy that Charles gave her, back in the day. Charles bothered to show up, and the effects are still rolling, years later.
Caleb and I speak again when he is free. He is making plans to go or not go overseas. Conflicted. Sounds like he is feeling over-extended in some kind of ministry. I notice the small spiral notepad from which he’s torn a half page of paper with the note to me. I assume that Caleb is someone who routinely hands out the kind of message that he’s given me; that he is someone who can both hear from God and take the step of faith to offer such a message to a total stranger. We walk four minutes together to our cars, which are parked just a few spaces away from each other. We exchange phone numbers and head our separate ways.
The following Wednesday. I’m returning to my apartment after exercising. The events of Sunday morning have exploded like a paradoxical bomb of peace. Absolutely life-changing. If there had been unacknowledged cracks and flaws in my overall peace about waiting endlessly for some theoretical blessing that seems theoretically to grow larger each day, Caleb’s note and related elements have smoothed things over dramatically. I look down at my phone, which I’ve left on my dining table during the past hour-and-a-half. Right next to my phone is the note from Caleb. There’s a message alert flashing on my aged and disintegrating Blackberry. I thumb through to the waiting message and am yet again hit between the eyes. I see these words, accompanied by appropriate emoticons:
I sure love you and miss you.
The message is from my friend Charles. We haven’t exchanged texts or seen each other in some years. How is this happening? I grin uncontrollably. How did he know? Did the woman I spoke with on Sunday talk to Charles and mention me? How? I am disoriented, amused, grateful, slightly skeptical. I text Charles back immediately. We arrange to talk the next morning.
The next morning I call Charles. He tells me that he’s moved out-of-state since we last visited, which is why it’s been so long since he’s gotten in touch. I tell him about Sunday morning, reminding him for the hundredth time about the Joseph process that he’d announced back in 2010. He is genuinely awed at what God can do. He tells me that on the previous morning he’d gotten a strong sense that he should get in touch with me. Which is why he’d sent the text. Which addresses my skepticism about the woman from Sunday possibly talking to him.
So that whole thing – start to finish – was organic God activity; of a nature that perfectly avoided any circumstances that I could question as being driven by human agency. It was God and not man.
Some partially-baked thoughts about this particular “Joseph” episode:
+ The recent “Joseph” siting has cemented in my mind that All This is absolutely real. I don’t know why this one occurrence more than, say, the last one has calmed my doubts. Perhaps the cumulative effect of all (five?) of them is too much to ignore. It surely has something to do with the fact that this Joseph experience came on the heels of the most spiritually chaotic eighteen months I’ve ever lived. Whatever the ultimate reason(s), I know that I know that I know that God is doing something here.
+ There’s a sense of finality with this Joseph message. I have no proof that God will never send me another similar message one way or another. But the timing, method, and message of Caleb’s note has left me in a state where I don’t need any more. This recent one tied all of them up into one complete package.
+ The message on the note is the most comprehensive Joseph encouragement yet. It references:
Joseph’s “trials and oppression,”
which all ended “in season,”
when Joseph was “sent before the people of God.”
This comfortably confirms that my life’s challenges for many years have been for a purpose and that the season of trials and oppression will end when the time is right. Then, just like Joseph arose into his sudden promotion, I will presumably find myself likewise promoted one day. Promoted into whatever. The idea of going “before the people of God” perfectly fits with what I suspect is the real endgame here. The nature of the speculative endgame is irrelevant right now. But it is supported by Caleb’s reference to Joseph’s involuntary and unwitting role in the Redemption story, as described in Psalm 105.
+ It’s not possibly a random coincidence that I had that throw-away thought about Joseph and Charles; and then within days, both of them showed up the way they did for the first time in a year and a half (Joseph) and three years (Charles). For all I know, God inserted into my brain the Joseph and Charles thought. It certainly added a level of awe to the experience.
+ There is inestimable value in the permanent nature of the medium involved: it is a handwritten note and not an ephemeral spoken word that vanishes as soon as it leaves my ear drums. I can keep the note – have kept it – situated on the dining table for easy reference in times of despair, doubt, pain, grief, impatience, loneliness, or any other unpleasantness that has defined my existence for some years now. To be sure all of those negatives have actually been diminished BECAUSE I can look at the note and see the God behind it; the God and His love and His mercy. Or when I feel grateful for little things and huge things and all things in between. It’s also a nice prop with which to encourage my kids, who are inextricably caught up in all this.
+ This note from Caleb has caused me to consider more closely the suffering of Joseph the Patriarch and God’s relationship to him during Joseph’s time of testing. We today have scriptural references to people like Joseph and Job, for example, to provide perspective in our own trials. Joseph didn’t have that benefit. He was living the original thing, with no scripture to comfort him. How, then, did God encourage Joseph for all those years, when there was no previous Joseph character for God to reference through notes from random strangers? I have to believe God moved Joseph along with dreams, visions, or other breadcrumbs, which would have helped sustain his hope in otherwise hopeless circumstances. If God is merciful enough to repeatedly refer me back to Joseph the Archetype, then I think surely He would have done something equally merciful to the archetype himself.
I’ll continue writing about September 2017 through the present and will post the info whenever it’s the right time. Anything else like the Joseph note happens in the meantime, I’ll post about it.
Greetings. June 12 has come and gone with some mild hoopla. Nothing that doesn’t require ten pages of backstory to make sense of it. Life is a constant medium-grade struggle to determine the source of various presentations, most of which arrive concurrent with sleep. Status quo is the word, so to speak. At this point I see no reason to update the blog until the end of July. Maybe in six weeks there will be something that justifies an actual post.
Greetings, and welcome to not much news. There’s actually a lot going on; but it all feels like school. And I really never did like school. There’s still the perceived process by which (I hope) I’m learning to discern God’s voice from among the various options in life. I can say with some certainty that I will or will not hit a milestone on June 11 or June 12. Is as interesting as I can be right now. Prayers appreciated, as always. Send your requests my way, and I’ll be glad to intercede on your behalf. Thanks.
Greetings. If you haven’t arrived at this blog accidentally, you are possibly checking in for a status report. These days, I’m generally trying to discern God’s voice amidst some apparently deliberate and malicious spiritual confusion. More accurate to say I’m trying to discern, for any given perceived “message”, whether it came from White Hats, Black Hats, or myownself’s brain. If any one of us humans comes into agreement with demonic suggestion, even accidentally, all hell can break loose. Pretty much literally. I do not recommend.
There’s a lot going on, to that end; but it’s not worth blogging right now. Lotta waiting around, watching spiritual paint dry. Unless something dramatic happens between now and the end of May 2018, I don’t plan to post anything new in the meantime. Please keep me in your prayers, and feel free to post any prayer requests as a blog comment. I will pray for you and delete the comment without posting to the blog.
It has come to my shocked-face attention over the past week that some of my dreams/visions/words have been coming from less-than-reputable sources, for some period of time. I’m not saying it’s been “The Exorcist” or anything like that. But it’s been bad. Suffice it to say I don’t know exactly what to trust right now.
With that in mind, let’s dial back the rhetoric on what I think might or might not happen in my future. Ultimately, whatever will be will be. Que sera, even. In between this exact moment and The Future, I’ll be happy with just getting through any given night with all faculties intact. Job One: REALLY REALLY learn to understand how much God the Father loves any one of us. That part of my belief system is broken some how; and the compromise is fostering all kinds of lies and garbage that attract rats.
If you’re the praying type, I would appreciate all the cover you can offer. Thank you.
And thanks as always to Mary in Ecuador for her patience, insight, and wisdom. I am absolutely nowhere without her counsel.
The world still turns. As far as I know, I have not lost any favor in regards to whatever path God has me on. Never mind what the end goal is; right now, I’m simply doing my best to surrender my life to Jesus daily, in whatever way He wants. It took me years to give an inch. Now I’m giving miles per week. Technically, I think that’s how believers are supposed to live, anyway. It’s not something that gets a lot of play from pulpits and press in the Western church. Sacrificing one’s dreams, expectations, plans, desires, opinions, etc…, at the call of Christ is not something we humans are inclined to celebrate with our finances and attendance.
Many thanks to Mary in Ecuador and several (mostly) anonymous prayer warriors during this past week. I encountered spiritual darkness the likes of which I had never before. I keep wondering what in the world could possibly justify whatever training God is apparently putting me through. Assuming that’s what is going on.
I’ll plan to post another update around this time next week.
Three lifetimes ago I wrote that September 23, 2017 was a pivot point in my life. I’d planned a grand and detailed explanation of all that. Then things started happening fast enough that grand detailed explanations were not feasible. Then I got so far behind in blogging that any explanation at all looked to be inadequate. But there’s a sense of responsibility with this blog that won’t go away. Ergo, I’ll try to summarize five months of warp-speed sanctification, adventure, failure, grief, and – ultimately – voluntary servitude. Actually, it will be a summary of what I think this entire years-long trial is about. This summary will be in the form of belief statements.
I believe that in 2018 there will arise on the scene somewhere in the world a man who operates in the full power and authority of an an Old Testament prophet. Creative miracles, weather control, impossible knowledge – the works.
I believe God has been conducting a contest of sorts, involving at least three men whom He selected as candidates for this task.
I believe I am one of those candidates.
I believe God has told me on multiple occasions that He specifically wants me to be the guy (referred to in communications as “The One” or “The Anointed One.” Very Matrix-y).
I believe there was a certain time frame in my own life during which I was given many encouragements, tests, and opportunities, that I should have waltzed right into this position that God has prepared for someone whom He’s been preparing for it.
I believe my distinct seven-year period (itself part of a greater fifteen-year stretch of trials) of testing for certain promises from God ended in late December 2017, shortly after I botched my final opportunity to reach the status of Anointed One.
I believe I had been potentially slated as a direct advisor to President Donald Trump, which belief was born from several years’ worth of related incidents and which belief was cemented in an early morning word from God (Jesus, actually; he’s a guy, and guys are oftentimes simultaneously brutal and good-natured in the way they deal with each other’s failings) in late January 2018: “Here you are stuck in Dallas, when you’re supposed to be in the White House. How’s that for a pick-me-up?” Great. Thanks for the reminder and clarification.
I believe God showed me many other wonderful things that did not happen over the years, due to my refusal to ultimately bend my will to His.
I believe that anytime any one of us gets an opportunity to bend our will to the Lord’s, we should take that opportunity ASAP; because there’s absolutely nothing we can come up with on our own that will compare to His plans, however improbable they might appear.
I believe God has shown me that there are two men still in the running for the final goal of being His modern-day prophet.
I believe that God has, in His infinite mercy and kindness, given me YET ANOTHER opportunity – that of being one of those two men; an opportunity given, though, at the cost of unbelievably difficult, humbling (humiliating), and will-killing challenges.
I believe that the other candidate remaining is a rotund black man who prophesies without compromise while playing the drums.
I believe that the last man standing was known to God, like everything else, before the foundations of the earth; and that the man himself will know his status sometime on or after March 18, 2018.
I believe that the last man standing will be a man – as much as is possible at the time – emptied of himself, a true bond servant of the kindest Master a servant could have.
I believe I am of sound mind and reasonably sound body, and that all of the above beliefs are based on solid evidence and not on any self-deception.
I believe I will make some effort to blog something in the first week after March 18, 2018, at least for the sake of those faithful few readers who check in regularly.
I believe the year 2018 will be a pivot point for all us humans on Planet Earth.
On May 6, 2018, I modified this title, removing the “pt.1” qualification. I never wrote any subsequent info about September 23.
Here follows what I originally started writing about September 23, before I decided to provide some backstory.
September 23, 2017 was not a non-event – in my life, anyway. I gained some perspective after a few weeks. I’d initially hoped and expected that some great, long-awaited promotion was going to happen on September 23. After all, my interest in the date had been spurred by a pretty extraordinary display. When the day came and went with no radical and obvious changes in my life circumstances, I was a bitter human. And confused. I’d effectively had a neon sign vision identifying the date, along with some significant accompanying words. When nothing of note happened on the day, I didn’t know what to do. I declared the day had been an uneventful disappointment.
But in the days after September 23 I recognized that there were a couple of things different, though not in the style of any kind of dramatic pivot point in my life. For one thing, a hotspot that had been present off and on in the left side of my face for weeks had become abruptly large and constantly intense. I also noticed something that was notable for its absence. On the morning of September 24 I took my first preoccupied steps out of bed. The apparent fizzle of September 23 was weighing heavily on my mind. Some minutes after I’d been up and about, I realized my foot didn’t hurt. Not much, anyway. The focal point of the pain I’d been experiencing for months was mostly gone; there was no lump. The pain was much diminished and was localized in a spot slightly closer to my heel than anything I’d felt previously. It was like the absence of the lump allowed me to step on some tissue that hurt to the touch but only in a secondary way. I don’t know how to explain it. The overall pain and trauma had decreased from a 9 to a 1 overnight, with no corrective effort on my part.
Sept 26 – I was waking/dozing early in the morning. I had a somewhat chaotic dream sequence going, although I’m not sure I was asleep. There was a lot of ambient noise. Amidst the noise I heard a vague voice that made me realize that the noise was happening in the first place. So I guess I wasn’t asleep. The voice in the noise said: “Something’s different.” Abruptly the noise stopped, and the voice continued, contrasted against the silence: “Do you know what it is?”
I figured it might have been Jesus doing the asking. I projected that Jesus was asking me if I knew what grand strategic thing was different, now that September 23 had come and gone. My initial answer was, “No. No, I don’t know what is different.” I spent the next week telling Him the things that I noticed being different since September 23; and I asked Him to let me know if I was missing something. Here’s what I told Him I’d noticed:
1) My foot improved daily. Talk about turning on a dime. The change in my foot injury was sudden, dramatic, and directly coincident with September 23.
2) Child’s diabetes was stabilized. By September 23 we were over a month removed from hospitals, although there had been one instance of urine ketones in August. More importantly: I think (I’m writing from old and incomplete notes here) there had been an abrupt stabilization in diabetes management starting September 23 that went above and beyond the general calming that had occurred from late July through August and September.
3) There had been no “invitations” in a couple of weeks. The two-week deluge of dreams/words/visions in April into May had preceded an invitation from God to quit my job. I refer to it as an invitation because the last dream I had in that day’s-long sequence was of words that read “This is an invitation.” Subsequently, I’d begun thinking of the morning visits from God – like “Wash someone’s feet tonight” – as invitations for that particular day. I’d grown accustomed to experiencing such an invitation every week or so, during July through September. I assumed that this pattern would last for the rest of my life. It didn’t even last through September. The last discerned morning invitation was on September 10. By September 23 I was getting antsy in their absence. Had I done something to short-circuit the process? I was confident that I’d been walking the straight and narrow path. Whatever the case, I knew something was different.
Incidentally, it was also around this time that I prayed a prayer of specific thanks to God that I’d never lost my children in the process of surviving divorce. We certainly haven’t seen each other more than a fraction as much as we are wired to unconsciously expect out of a father-child relationship; but my kids know that their father adores them. That’s worth something. I’m grateful for that confidence, even in the dust of lost and irreplaceable years’ worth of togetherness. So I told God thank you.
Sept 28 – We had a guest worship leader at our Thursday morning prayer set. I’ll call her Rachel, because that’s not her name. Rachel and I had never played together in a set that she was leading. During that morning’s set she began playing a song I didn’t know. For whatever reason, I had a hard time picking a beat out of what she was playing on her guitar. It didn’t seem like a complex song; but it took me a while to get anything going, rhythm-wise. Complicating matters was the fact that the song was having a profound spiritual impact on me, as I listened to the words. I’ve been playing in Christian worship environments for over twenty years. I’ve never been personally moved by a song quite like I was that morning.
I’m generally a “music over lyrics” guy; I don’t hear lyrics all that well. I’m primarily moved or not by the music of any given song. But the lyrics in this song Rachel was playing were (at least as performed that morning) custom written to fit my spirit. As she sang the words, it was as if Jesus Himself was sitting in the drum booth singing to me. I could almost feel a physical impact from the words against me. Wild stuff. I wept as I hacked around, looking for an appropriate beat to that wonderful song. The song is written as a conversation between Jesus and the listener. Jesus invites the listener to join Him on an adventure. “It’s gonna be wild. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be full of Me…”
Oct 2 – woke at 0237
Oct 3 – While waking in the morning, I heard, “As time goes on, you will be invited into more things.” Thank you, God! This was comforting. It let me know I was still worthy of such consideration. I knew that “As time goes on” could mean anything from “one second from now” to anything further in the future. It felt like it would be more of a “further in the future” thing. I resolved to busy myself while waiting patiently for the next invitation. I had been spending quite a bit of time working on learning more music theory and practice on bass guitar and keyboard. I was also trying to finish up a couple of songs that I’d had in the works for a while. Music would keep me busy while I waited for more invitations, was my immediate plan. Life was good. I didn’t have to go to an office job that day; and more invitations were pending, whenever.
I rolled over and checked my phone. There was a text message from a friend of mine, suggesting we should plan to have lunch together. It was the first time either of us had communicated with the other in many months. He had uncharacteristically sent a photo with his text message. The photo showed some text in a magazine, highlighting a quote attributed to philosopher Goethe. The quote said something like, “He who chooses is haunted by choice.” I assumed that the quote was a reference to my months-old decision to leave my job. I replied to the text with some lunch suggestions. I got out of bed and, sometime later that morning, noticed that my face had stopped burning. I hadn’t knowingly done anything that I’d previously learned could cause the hotspots to cool. But I’d just been reassured about more invitations in the future; so I wasn’t worried much about the change in my face.
The morning was a pretty routine one – breakfast, exercise, drums. Routine days had been in short supply recently. The kids and I had just finished something like five straight weeks of them being with me much more than usual. It was great to see their faces and live life with them that much. It’s a different lifestyle than the one that happens when they aren’t with me. When they are here and I am in full-time father mode, all forward progress with regard to music and writing, for example, generally grinds to a halt. Which is neither good nor bad; it’s just how things go with our family’s dynamics. Now that the long string of August and September visits was done, I’d have time to slide back into a productive groove.
Late in the morning, I got a text from The Ex. She wanted to talk to me on the phone about something. That meant that she wanted something from me. Something big. I didn’t look forward to the conversation, though I was curious what had prompted an actual and atypical conversation beyond email or text. No big deal, whatever the case. Life was good. I didn’t have to go to an office job that day; and more invitations were pending, whenever.
Here’s more backstory to help make sense of life after September 23, 2017.
Back in June I stepped on a small pointed rock, while barefoot. The full weight of my step pressed onto the rock, which jabbed sharply into some soft tissue at the base of my little toe. There was a small painful lump that grew up in the tissue, at was apparently the exact point of injury. I found that if I iced my foot before getting in bed at night, that would minimize pain in the morning. For the next few months, the first few steps I’d take on any given day were marked by varying degrees of discomfort and stiffness on the injured spot. For the most part, the discomfort would clear quickly after I’d walked far enough into the day. It was a nagging annoyance, but nothing that caused any alarm.
In the three weeks immediately prior to September 23, the morning pain inexplicably intensified with each day. The lump gradually grew during this time period. Just before September 23, the lump was as large as it had ever been, and those first morning steps went from bearable to excruciating.This magnified pain also began lasting longer into each day. My foot hurt even when I was in bed at night. By this stage of the game (of life) I was years into a constant experience of unusual and nagging physical problems; so the foot thing was just one more grinding burden to bear. But the escalation of symptoms was bizarre. I wasn’t doing anything beyond the usual walking that had not (so far) exacerbated the problem. It appeared I was faced with at least having to self-medicate with a plantar boot for the thing to finally heal. Is where I was with all that on the night of September 23.
One of my kids has Type 1 diabetes. A T1 diagnosis is the end of spontaneity with food; and it is the beginning of a regimen that turns every minute of every day into a non-stop exercise in health care and mathematics. Any pleasure remotely related to the dinner table can become strictly incidental.
We’ve been doing a great job of maintaining acceptable blood glucose levels, for years now. Our pediatrician told us that many parents use the emergency room as their kid’s treatment; that is, that don’t take care of the diabetes demands until the child is so sick that they have to go to the ER. We never had to do that. Until August of 2016 (Not 2017. We’re not there yet.). That was during a long summer visit where the kids were with me non-stop. Something went haywire in the diabetes maintenance process; and we ended up having to go to the ER. During the interview the doctor told my child that her parents obviously loved her very much, if she had never before been to the ER after so many years since onset. That was nice to hear; but I didn’t understand what had gone wrong. I wasn’t doing anything different than I’d done in the preceding years of care. Anyhoo, life goes on.
Fast forward through this year’s long spring break visit, which passed without incident. The next long visit was June of 2017. Two weeks straight. I was fresh off resigning from my job and was looking forward to a visit with my kids that wouldn’t be built around a work schedule. Everything was great until the end of the first week. We couldn’t keep blood sugar under control; ketones reared their ugly head; and we were back in the ER. This time we had to actually be admitted for a few days. Again, I was flummoxed as to why this was happening. The admission provided some really pleasant (ha) quality time for my family and my ex and her family to be in the hospital room together. People were looking at me sideways, wondering what I had done wrong. And through it all, my face hotspot was blazing away. “Why?” I wondered. Dunno. But it sure was.
July 4 – I awoke at 0233 due to a flash of light in my eyes. As I was waking I saw a subtle text vision; it was the letters “A I (something else).” After the image vanished, I noticed that my apartment seemed unusually warm. I got up and messed around with the AC. The unit was blowing uncooled air. I escalated deftly into “call maintenance” mode, wondering at the same time if the text vision hadn’t said “A I R.” I also noticed that there was a thunderstorm beginning, and I assumed it had been a lightning flash that had awakened me.
Later that day, around 3pm, I lay down briefly on my bed. My AC was not yet repaired, and the temperature in the apartment was in the mid-80’s. Once prone, I was immediately sleepy in the thick afternoon heat. I sank into quick slumber and straight away saw a vision of someone’s hand lifting a cup to my lips. They poured a clear, room-temperature liquid into my mouth. I actually felt it in my mouth. The sensation jolted me awake. As I lay there trying to figure out what had happened, I heard, “I look forward to raising your kids with you.” I was taken off guard by this sequence. I was also both encouraged and skeptical. I believed that I’d just heard a hopeful word from Jesus about my family. It made sense to me in that summer drowsiness that He would only bother telling me the thing about raising my kids with me if my ex and I were to be reunited and living with our children under one roof. But our own kids are practically grown, relative to their ages when their mother and I separated. Was He talking about those kids? Would she and I have more kids together? It would be a medical impossibility; but medical impossibilities figure to be a possible (ba dum tss) player in my future. One way or the other, if my ex and I were to end up together again, it would indicate some undeniably miraculous thing had happened. Jesus would surely have to figure into that scenario.
Some days after the July 4 visitation, I realized the dream/vision was reminiscent of a scene in the movie Ben Hur. (Going from memory here) In this particular scene we see Joseph the carpenter discussing his son Jesus with another man. Jesus is absent from the carpenter shop, to the disapproval of Joseph’s acquaintance. We then see Judah Ben Hur chained with other prisoners on a forced march through brutal summer heat. Roman guards stop the procession for a water break in (apparently) Nazareth. Judah falls to the ground in parched distress. All the prisoners are given some small amount of water – all the prisoners, that is, but Judah. The Roman in command specifically forbids anyone to give Judah water. As Judah languishes miserably in the dust, we see someone’s hands come into view, carrying a cup of water. The unseen person offers the water to Judah, who gulps it down. The Roman challenges this interloper who has brought water, starting angrily towards the stranger and the grateful Judah. We then see the back of the stranger, dark hair down to his shoulders. He is standing upright, facing the approaching Roman. He is silent and unflinching. The Roman stops in his tracks; has an evident epiphany; and meekly walks away from the confrontation that he’d created. He hesitates and briefly looks back at the unmoving stranger, uncertain in his fading bluster why he’s been faced down and utterly humbled by this unarmed Nazarene.
Ben Hur is loose historical fiction, so there’s no reason to believe anything like the water scene occurred in real life. As a carpenter in Nazareth, Christ was as yet unbaptized and without the infilling power of the Holy Spirit; and He was not yet tested by Satan in the Wilderness. So He was not likely challenging the authority of Roman soldiers on the streets of Nazareth. Still, it’s a powerful scene in a powerful movie. The scene will no doubt resonate with anyone who has been truly made new by the resurrecting power of the resurrected Christ.
This is getting off track. I first watched the movie Ben Hur with my kids in January of this year. I was at the time coming to terms with what I believed to be my failure to step into a long-anticipated destiny. Related blog posts abound. I was as miserable as possible. Here’s blog content from one of the January 2017 posts:
I gave one of my kids the Charlton Heston Ben Hur for Christmas. We watched the first part just after the New Year. We saved the second half of the movie for later in January. On the evening of January 21, we fired up part two. I’d never seen the movie before and wasn’t expecting anything out of part deux other than a chariot race. SPOILER for anyone who hasn’t yet but might watch a sixty-year old movie in the future: Jesus factors heavily into the second half of the Charlton Heston Ben Hur. Jesus and miracles and man, oh man, did I not see it coming. By the end of the movie, as the life-giving blood of Christ healed the lepers, I was demolished. “These are the things you will not do,” I told myself. “These are the people you will not help,” I told myself…
After December 18 or whenever I’d had the King Kong vision, every successive day had felt more unstable than the day before. I wasn’t aware of how much I’d been anchored into a relationship (real or imagined) with God until it appeared that He’d picked up camp and moved on to a more cooperative child. The span of days from December 18 to January 21 was like one endless taunt from hell, in which I felt spiritually rudderless and beaten. The chaotic sense of loss and hopelessness culminated in, of all things, the surprise appearance of Jesus Christ in Ben Hur. You know things are going south and quickly when the loving portrayal of His Only Begotten, in a shonuf Hollywood epic, is a trap door to more despair than there was before.
I find the Jesus scenes in Ben Hur to be moving and powerful, both of which a tired cliches. Which is itself a tired cliche. The important thing is I had personally identified with Jesus a little better while watching Ben Hur. The personal identification was facilitated by a belief at the time that I had possibly been on track to be Christ’s armor bearer. Whatever that might mean or look like, I don’t know; but it’s what I’d come up with after some armor bearer-centric things had happened and about which I’ve blogged. When I watched the movie in January, I saw only lost potential to be that thing. Then two days after viewing the movie, I’d had a dream about “starting over.” I came to believe I was indeed starting over on a path to something like the previously assigned destination. The notice of starting over didn’t mention anything being different or lesser in the second destined outcome, compared to the original approach, now that I think of it.
By July 4 I was over five months into the starting over process. I had quit my job based on a massive amount of preliminary communication from God to that end. I was already adapting to the idea that I was perhaps headed to the same destination as before. The personalized Jesus of Ben Hur had stuck with me, however far in the back of my mind He might have been hanging around. All of this July 4 section of material to explain why the dream vision of the hands giving me water was reminiscent of the movie scene. I think it’s also interesting that the vision occurred on Independence Day.
There were two more hospitalizations during the summer, both of which occurred while my daughter was with me. Her blood sugar wasn’t any less crazy at her mom’s house; but it was only on my watch that we had to admit her to the hospital for ketoacidosis. Through it all the medical personnel and probably everyone else but me were growing increasingly convinced that I could, inexplicably, no longer manage diabetes. I was defiant, refusing to believe I’d somehow suddenly lost the ability to count carbs and do the math necessary to get adequate insulin into my daughter. My ex suggested I was relying too much on estimating carbs, rather than counting meticulously. There had never been any problem with my method before. But we were now giving our daughter much more insulin per injection than we had in previous years. Perhaps that was the problem.
I tried counting carbs more exactly, and I tried using both unopened fast-acting and slow-acting insulin, multiple times. I specifically used insulin that had come from the hospital pharmacy during admissions. No matter all that effort; we had to do a second and third admission. In the build-up to the third admission my daughter was, by all appearances, insulin resistant. I was giving her much more fast-acting insulin than her diet required. We might as well have been injecting water. I was under a most unsympathetic microscope from The Ex and the medical humans involved in all that mess.
And through hospital admissions number two and three, just as had been the case in the first, my face hotspot was blazing. Just roasting hot, the whole left side of my face, for as many days as the hospitalization lasted. That presence kept me from going nuts. I didn’t understand what I was supposed to glean from it all. I wanted to believe it was a sign that something was about to change. We kept going to the hospital, and my face kept getting hot; but nothing changed noticeably. By the end of July, I figured it was just God saying, “Hang in there.” Something like that. It is also worth noting that the second and third admissions saw my ex and me spend the night in the hospital room with our daughter a few times. I slept on the fold out chair; Honey Bun was on the couch. Weird, weird times.
On July 29, I woke just before 0530. As I was laying there in the dark, not sleeping but almost, I heard: “Wouldn’t it be cool if she was able to joke about all this with you one day?” I believed the “she” in question was my ex. The “this” was presumably the stupefying gauntlet of hospital admissions, one of which had just ended. In the voice note that I made for that event, I mentioned that I’d also awakened at something like an absurdly early time, just after 11pm the night before. Upon waking at that time I’d heard what I took to be a word of knowledge for my ex. While recording the voice note I remembered and noted that, before I’d gone to bed the night before, I’d asked God to give me words of knowledge for people. I think there’s little that can be so immediately healing to someone than to have another person speak a secret word from God into their lives. So I asked for that before I went to sleep. Then I awoke ridiculously early into a spoken word of knowledge for my ex (which I emailed to her). Then I awoke again later in the morning into this thing about joking about “all this” some day. I could see how it might all fit together. But the idea of us getting to a point where we could joke about anything in our mutual lives – whether it was the current hospital madness or just the general unnecessary death of a family that had been dragging out for years – seemed impossible on that morning. I was beyond exhausted and confused.
I’m blogging more than originally planned about July (and possibly August) now. So this backstory thing has grown into more substantial content. Words have a knack for growing out of control.