Monday, January 31, 2011

Behind the Seams

You wouldn’t know it, but this is an amazing one handed post!

Welcome to the continuing saga of having my hand sliced open. I know, it’s edge of your seat stuff. Pins and needles. I’m going to have to beat readers away with a stick.

Understand: this is a maddeningly slow process getting this post up. And I’m not allowed to twist, pull or stretch my wrist in any way. If I do that I can mess something or other up REALLY BAD under the slice. Which I apparently don’t want to do because it would be REALLY BAD! So I'm typing with my right hand while my left hand watches, feeling a little smug because it has a good excuse for doing nothing.

I got a good look at the slice this morning as they cut off the old cast and put on a new, smaller one. The slice wasn’t as far down on the wrist as I thought it would be. It’s at the base of the hand above the wrist. But it is definitely Frankensteinish, with black thread holding the seam together, which is kind of cool.

Here’s something you don’t hear very often: “The nerve looks pretty good.”

That’s what the doc said to my wife right after the surgery.

She said, “But I thought there was nerve damage.”

The doc paused for a second and said, “Yeah. I’m going to have to write a paper about that.

This guy is really cool. He looks a little nerdy, but don’t be fooled: he knows his business. He glows with competence. But he seems to be one of those people who are so smart they can have a hard time in the world. You know, trying to relate and such. At the same time, he also has an almost childlike sense of wonder and humor about him.

I like him, and I like having a doctor I like.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I wrote this post and set it to publish this morning (Jan. 25, 2011). It should post while I’m at the hospital, which is kind of weird. I should be sewed back together by the time anyone reads this, but who knows.

Anything can happen. And it usually does.

They’ve told me to be at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning. 5:30! Isn’t this vampire time? Aren’t the werewolves still on the prowl? Actually, I worked a job for years where I had to get up early like that.

I hated it.

So, if you pray, pray for me. I’m being sliced. But I’m thankful for the miracles of modern medicine. I’m thankful that my personal slicer isn’t a maniac on the prowl. At least not that I know of. My slicer is a highly paid professional. Which must count for something.

In case you don’t know, it’s my hands that are being sliced. Which means I don’t know when I’m going to be able to type, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post here. I have a few things I’ve already done that I should be able to put up. And I have some software that some great friends gave me as a gift that might help. We’ll see how I do with it.

Until then.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011


When I woke up this morning, I was laying on my left side and my left arm was sticking out from under me, numb and tingly, as usual. But the light was coming in from the window, glowing on my hand, and I realized for a moment what an amazing piece of art it is.

Yes, my hand, but not just my hand. Any hand.

If we’re going to vote for the most amazing hand in history, I might give the award to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s left hand. I’m sure others would give the award to Michael Jordan’s right hand, or maybe both of Michael Angelo’s hands. Or how about Thomas Edison’s hands? Or, hands down, we could give the award to the hands of Jesus.

I suggest you take a moment and stare at your hands. Move them around. Stretch them. Notice the complexity. There is an elegance to the construction of a hand that defies explanation.

Watch the hands of a dancer. See how the hands move in concert with the body. Even though the hands are at the extremity of the body, somehow they inform and guide the motions of a dancer.

Now, I’m no dancer, but I do public speaking, which requires a lot of typing for outlines and drafts and editing. I also play guitar and drums and some keys. I write a lot of music, which I usually do on guitar. It’s how I figure things out. And it’s all about the hands. I often “find” songs by feeling around the progressions for the right thing.

So tomorrow, I will have one of my hands sliced open to fix it. Down the road I get to have the other one done too. It’s actually a pretty minor surgery, but people keep asking me if I’m nervous about it. And I don’t think I am. But I might be. I lie to myself all the time. Not on purpose. It’s a coping thing. But I really don’t think I’m nervous about it. It’s just that there’s a weight to this event for me. I’m learning a new appreciation, and that’s almost always a good thing.

I am thankful for my hands.

Psalm 139:14
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Too Many Tyrants

There are days when I get up and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is no way to get everything finished that I need to that day.

This happens too often.

It wouldn’t matter if I was the greatest time management person in the world. Sometimes you just run out of time. So you find yourself trying to decide what to let go. You have to decide what matters the least. Or the most. And these are exceedingly hard decisions to make. It’s what an author named Charles Hummel dealt with years ago in a little book called “Tyranny of the Urgent.”

What a perfect description that is.

But sometimes “choosing” is almost impossible. Everything is important, right? At least it seems that way a lot of the time. So instead of picking one thing, getting it done and moving on to the next; I feel forced, by all these little tyrants of urgency, to jump from one thing to another. I basically try to chip away what I can as I run in circles, hoping to keep track of what I’m doing.

But I’m not very good at that keeping track thing. So you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got something else I’ve got to do.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Decisions

I work with human beings all the time, and I have observed a phenomenon that involves the workings of what is commonly called the “heart” and how the “heart” interacts with the “mind.” You see it when we try to make decisions. I’m not saying I don’t do it myself sometimes. But it’s very troubling.

It’s like this. There’s almost no way to keep track of what’s being pumped into our hearts and minds in a given day, let alone any extended period of time. Keeping track of and understanding our thinking is hard enough; understanding our feelings is next to impossible. And yet, when making decisions, I've noticed how we often have our minds “made up” long before we even realize it ourselves. A few negative experiences. A few words or suggestions spoken one way or another. A few emotional responses of one kind or another, and vague “decisions” begin to form within us, often uninformed or misguided, but the path is set. The mind or the heart, or both, begin leaning in a certain direction, and it’s at this point that many “decisions” are really made. Neither wisdom nor reason nor a concern for the will of God have much of anything to do with it. It’s too vague for that. It’s more a set of reactive, emotional experiences that begin to shape an attitude about things. And unless something compelling comes along to change the attitude, the beginning of a “decision” is made.

A decision about a person. About a belief. About what is or isn't acceptable. About a job or a situation or maybe even about ourselves and what we can or can’t accomplish.

People decide first. Then, they begin looking for rationalizations and validations. They look for reasons to do what they’ve already decided to do so they can supposedly make the “decision” they’ve already made. And when they arrive at a “decision,” they assume it’s in that moment that they actually "decided."

I know it's confusing, because it's confusing.

Like when a man suddenly "decides" to tell his wife he’s not happy so he’s leaving her and the children for another woman. Like when someone bails on a friendship or a commitment because of some little incident that simply doesn’t add up to bailing. Like when someone blows up in anger at some small thing and berates another person with a long list of what’s wrong with them.
But what’s really happened is, they have finally gotten to the point of resolve, to act on all of the impulses and feelings and intuitions and thoughts they have been experiencing for some period of time. They pour out the feelings and intuitions they’ve been feeding and growing with whatever “facts” they’ve allowed through the filters of their anger or pride or desire. They’ve finally gotten up the nerve to act on a decision they made a long time ago, long before any careful thinking or reasoning had a chance to make any difference at all.

Then we do what we want to do. What we wanted to do, really.

And we have every good reason we could find along the way for doing it.

Jeremiah 17:9
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Have you ever been in one of those situations where people are all looking at something, and you find yourself wanting to see what has gotten their attention?

I was at some fireworks once, and everyone started looking up into the sky, so I looked up into the sky, to see an advertisement for some politician on a banner, floating behind a little airplane. Yawn.

One time I was walking down a sidewalk in a little town that had shops and coffee houses, and people were all standing at this one place, looking in the window. So I waited for it to clear out a little and went to see what they were looking at. It ended up being my first exposure to one of those pictures that you have to stare at with your eyes painfully crossed for at least five minutes until you finally “see” a kind of 3D image of something like a bird or a car or whatever.

One time I was at a friends house, and a bunch of people were watching TV in his living room. I went to see what they were all looking at, and it turned out there was this new cable station called MTV, where they were going to show “music videos.” It seemed a little boring to me, but what do I know.

Years ago, someone told me there was this new thing called MySpace that everyone was using to kind of “promote” themselves. And then, there was this thing called “Facebook.” College students were using it to keep in touch with each other. Sounded like an interesting idea. And one day I heard some people talking about a video they saw on something called “Youtube.” They thought it was funny and they said millions of people had watched it.

If this were a sci-fi movie, it would all be a plot put together by aliens to take over our minds and control us so they could have us for lunch. And I mean, HAVE us for lunch.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’ve seen it too. It’s not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with any of these things that command our attention. But still, it’s kind of creepy when you think about it: Something grabs the attention of someone, then someone else, then before you know it, without really thinking about it at all, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people all have their attention on the same thing.

Without thinking.

Hebrews 12:2-3
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Cut Is The Deepest

I have a rendezvous with a knife wielding medical professional in about a week. They’re trying to wake my hands up. Just when they were starting to get some real sleep. You’d think the sight of the knives alone would make my hands jump up and say, "I'm awake, I'm awake!," but my hands are stupid.

The doctor is making me come in this week for an hour or so to rub it in my face before the actual surgery. They want to tell me what time I have to be at the hospital and talk through what to expect and all that. I imagine he’ll pull his knives out from some shiny black leather sheath, sit them on the table to gleam in the grisly doctor lights, and talk to me about his favorite slicer, which he has probably named something like, “Mack” or “Betty.” He’ll pet it for a moment, whispering, “my precious,” and then pack it away with a look of love.

Actually, the guy cutting my hands is popular with sports people. He’s apparently some famous hand surgeon who has done work on lots of hockey players from all over the country. Hockey, as a way of making a living, is tough on the hands and wrists, or so it seems. The doctor’s walls are lined with photos of these athletes, in full dress action poses, all hand signed, thanking him for making their hands better without accidentally slicing them off.

I was thinking, after the surgery, I could provide an action shot of myself sitting at my computer, writing things.

Or not.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I realized, belatedly, that I have just reached my one year anniversary as a blogger.

It’s been interesting to me how I don’t fit into the world of blogging much better than I fit into the real world. I’m not doing a cute mom blog or a heartbreaking confessional blog or an angry political blog or a trendy blog. This is clearly not a professional blog or a Biblioblog or anything like that. And I definitely am not doing a self help five-steps-to-a-better-life blog.

I’ve looked back at some of my posts and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the red hot hemoglobin I’m doing here. I imagine others are having the same issue.

The truth is, my heart and soul have been poured out in these posts, but not in obvious ways. I have revealed some of my weaknesses, more than you might realize at a glance, but I have not been simplistic about it and I definitely don’t like fishing for sympathy or pats on the back. I have tried to write kind of specifically about faith and life and music and art, and yet my posts often seem to be about something other than what they seem to be about, if that makes any sense. It just turns out that way. Kind of like my life. And the order of things doesn’t make any real sense from post to post. It’s kind of confused and disjointed. Once again, like my life.

I'm guessing that if you want a lesson in how not to blog, just read this one.

I wasn’t sure I was even going to do this for more than a month or two. And I’m still not positive it’s a great use of time. But I think I’ll keep blogging for now. I like doing it. I feel good when I hit that publish button. And I like hearing from people about the stuff I get down here. Sometimes people read it in a totally different way than I intended, which is massively fascinating to me. And some people seem to be taking encouragement from it somehow. I don't think it's an easy read. But I'm not an easy read.

As I write, I’m still mostly talking to my kids and my wife, painting a picture of myself. Sort of a Jackson Pollock approach, but with words. They don’t read this blog right now, but I’m thinking a time will come when they do. And I hope they like it.

I hope you like it too.

If not, it’s perfectly okay with me. I’m not sure I like it either.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Odyssey of Theodicy

A delusional man, driven by evil impulses, shot a bunch of innocent people this past week and everyone wants to know “why?”

Here’s why: He was delusional and driven by evil impulses. He is simply an extreme, out of control, version of a broken human being. There is no math of experiences that can explain it away.

Why was he delusional and driven by evil impulses? Why?

Maybe a better question is: Why not?

What do you think keeps this from happening every five minutes?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

Liking Lime and the Cole Slaw Incident

Suddenly I liked lime.

For years I would not have even thought about eating something flavored with limes. I might drink some lime soda/pop something or other. Lemon lime whatsit. But Key Lime Pie seemed gross somehow. And lime ice cream? Yecchhhh.

But then one day, suddenly, for no apparent reason, I thought, I’d like some lime juice in the house. So I bought some. I tried it in some marinade for chicken. It was incredible. I tried a piece of Key Lime Pie. It was great.

Suddenly I liked lime.

This was different than the Coleslaw Incident, as we think of it around here. The Coleslaw Incident went down like this:

The wife and I were in a town called Frankenmuth. It’s referred to as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” a little town full of shops and some restaurants that people like to go to for the weekend. We were eating at this big restaurant called Zehnder’s, where they serve a great meal with all these courses of breads and sides and chicken and whatnot. Well, one of the sides is this very creamy looking, large cut coleslaw. They would bring it to the table and my wife would eat it and keep talking about how good it was, but I didn’t eat any because I hated coleslaw.

Hated it. Seriously.

Yes, I had tried it. I had tasted it. And it was nasty, at least to me. But as I watched my wife enjoy that coleslaw, it started me thinking that maybe I was missing out on something. So I spooned a little onto my plate, which caused her to stare in disbelief because she knew how I felt about the slaw. But I just looked at it for a second or two and I said to her, “I’m going to teach myself to like this stuff.”

She laughed at me. That happens a lot.

“Seriously,” I said. “I’m going to train myself to like it.” So I ate that little bit on my plate. It was bitter. Slimy and yet rough. But I ate it. A few weeks later, at my mom’s house, I ate a little more. I didn’t give up. And it took about a year. A little here. A little there. But now, I like it. I DO like cole slaw Sam I Am.

And limes.

Some things are a gift. Some things take work.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Dreams Have Gone To Sleep

My dreams have gone to sleep.
The television, off,
sitting expectantly,
and the iron,
and the lights,
so sure of another day.
The kitchen sighs,
refrigerator hum,
and the furnace,
urging me to be still.
Go to sleep.
But I feel my way
in the dark.
I know this house.
Eyes closed,
I could dance in this
absence of light and
who would know?
The feel of the carpet
under my feet.
In the beautiful

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Ideal Place

Due diligence dances
down at the meat market.
Coffee in the morning or
whatever way is customary.

Say, “talk to me.”


Tell me how you really feel,
if you know,
you know what that is?

That is your life.

Take any normal set
of old playing cards.
Take any old
phonograph record.

I didn’t know that
you were afraid.
It’s just the water,
and the sound of the fan
in the freezer,
and the spot
on the Formica
that has defeated me.

It takes so little,
so little time,
so little money,
but I shouldn’t
have any trouble.

There is always
that book of matches
in the drawer,
right next to
the steak knives.

There is, of course,
always an ideal place.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, January 6, 2011


“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Does your house get cluttered? How about your mind? How about life in general?

The Dictionary describes “clutter” as disorder that impedes movement or reduces effectiveness.

Oh yeah. I have a clutter problem.

Not that I don’t work on it all the time. I am always putting things away, trying to find a good place to store things, trying to organize stuff. And my thoughts. Organizing my thoughts is one of the most challenging things I do on a daily basis.

It’s hard, because I’m in a place in life where I’m forced to multi-task, and I am NOT a Multi Tasker. Not by nature. Definitely not by talent.

And here’s where I don’t tell you how I’m going to fix this. Because I’ve learned the hard way that there’s no easy fix for the clutter. There is no three step process that’s going to make it go away in short order. At least not for me. Like most things in life, it is a battle. A long term battle. It takes resolve. It takes strategy. It takes perseverance and courage.

And a whole lot of coffee.

I have learned to try and take it one hill at a time. If I try to clean up the whole battle field at once, I go down in flames every time. I know, I know, I’ve heard the speeches: people of faith are supposed to do “great things” for God. We’re supposed to “live victoriously.” And I realize I can do nothing without Christ. I really do. But you amazing and impressive human beings need to shut up for a minute and realize this: for some people, getting that one hill cleared is a great thing. It is a victory.

And to celebrate, we’re going to have some more coffee.

1 Corinthians 14:33
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Knives In My Future

Right now, typing this, my hands are falling asleep.

Because of this phenomenon, at the end of the month, I have to get my left hand sliced open, my muscles spliced apart, my nerves moved around, then have it all sewn back together. And a few weeks later, I get to go through it all over again with my other hand.

I will have Frankenstein hands. Which is the only part of the whole thing I have any excitement about.

Here’s the problem with medical problems: Most of the time you don’t really know what to expect. How long will it take to heal? Will I be able to get my work done? Will the doctor secretly implant remote control devices in my body so that I can be manipulated into some evil scheme?

The doctor laughed at me at the consult. He said I had not asked “the question.” I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally, he told me. The question I had not asked was this:

“Will it hurt?”

Never crossed my mind. Until he brought it up.

Health problems force you into troubling questions and situations. You have to take advice, you’re kind of forced into making quick decisions about crazy things. “Yes sir. Please slice open my hands and move things around in there.” Who in their right mind would say such things? And it’s kind of like having a baby. Everyone has an opinion on it. Pros and cons. Dos and don’ts. Which is kind of fun as long as people don’t get all righteous about their opinions.

I have this pair of great friends (the marvelous C&J) who have been trying to help. I have to admit I love being loved. They bought me some cod liver oil, which I think really works to reduce symptoms, and the wife of the pair made special tea out of some scary stuff in a jar (it sort of looks like a placenta from an off world creature to me) that I am now drinking. You have a little of it each day and see what happens. It may be implanting off world creatures within my body, but it tastes kind of like apple cider, so what the hey.

I still have to go under the knife.

And I don’t want to.

But I’m going to.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Feeling Prudish

So this is what 2011 looks like.

I thought it would look, you know, different somehow.

Well, maybe we should just give it a little time.

Last night we were watching the Dick Clark countdown thing. We like watching to see how Dick Clark is doing each year. But we've become wary. Dick Clark is a class act, but ABC doesn't have a clue. This is the one night when young kids are trying to stay up until midnight with their folks to watch the countdown. And ABC treats the time slot with the reckless abandon they have come to be known for. Trying to keep up with FOX on the cool meter, I guess. So we're down to watching the last ten or fifteen minutes before midnight, because it's so out of hand. It makes you wish fervently that John Lasseter would be put in charge of the entire empire, top to bottom, simply to inject a little common sense into the enterprise.

And last night was the same deal as always. A few people on there are trying to do it right, trying to show a little class, like Dick Clark and even Ryan Seacrest. But they are surrounded by "celebrities" and singers and whatnot who don't have a clue. They are only on there because they are popular at the moment, or because their agent thought it would be good for their image. But they can't manage to get through a three minute segment of live television without saying something completely stupid and inappropriate.

Seconds before midnight, someone who is clearly completely self absorbed and immature was on the show, and they said something that demonstrated very clearly how self absorbed and immature they are. Stupid stuff, which left us with a seven year old asking us to explain things to them that they are not ready to even begin thinking about.

I don't blame the people on the show. The self absorbed ones. At least not completely. They are what they are. You wish better from them, and for them, but the people at ABC know what they are getting when they put them on the show. Most Americans, as well as people all over the world, don't really know much about these celebrities. We don't really know who they are. Most of us aren't interested in their exploits. So they are trotted out on these broadcast shows to expose them to a wider audience, which they don't deserve. They are not wider audience material. And one wonders why the programmers at ABC don't know this? Or maybe they do, and they just don't care?

I'm thinking that's it.

But don't worry, it won't happen again. Not in our house anyway. We'll check up on Dick Clark some other way.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011