Saturday, October 27, 2007

Do The Right Thing

I hope it is not plagiarism to use "Do The Right Thing" as the title of my blog. It is also the title of a Spike Lee movie, which I have not seen and therefore cannot comment on. And it is part of a thought that just came to mind as I wrote to a couple of friends: "Why is it so hard to do the right thing?" First of all we must know what the right thing is. I believe we often exaggerate the difficulty of doing so. Jesus let the religious leaders of his time know that they were being too anal when he told the parable of the good Samaritan. (;&version=72;)

All day long we walk up to people that have been beat up to one degree or another. All we have to do is give them some help. As for me, sometimes I do, and sometimes I am just too selfish.

This morning I sat in my comfortable easy chair, reading the bible, praying, and hurting. Nothing life threatening, just the still simmering withdrawal from oxycodone. Aches and lethargy are coupled with a sort of anxious feeling that something must be done to ease my suffering. Read, pray, lament. Read, pray, lament. I was stuck in a loop and seemed to be spiraling downward. Then I heard my son get out of bed to get ready for his sixth day in a row of serving his high school by doing the grunt work for homecoming week. Publicize, speak to crowds, set up, tear down, clean up. All that is on top of his busy soccer team schedule.
This is all good stuff, but the kid is tired!

The thought came, "I could make a nice breakfast for him". Even I can scramble eggs and ham. I can make toast. I could serve it and clean up.
So I did that after many selfish thoughts about how he could just eat cereal, he's in a hurry anyway, he won't thank me, etc. etc. etc.

The hardest part of all was letting him eat it without asking him "Isn't that good. Aren't you glad I did that for you?" I wanted those ego strokes so badly. He said a quick thanks and left.

I washed dishes. As I did, I realized that for the previous half hour, I had final stopped wallowing in self pity. I was distracted by doing the right thing. Now I have done a couple of more right things, and it is almost noon.

Why is it so hard to do the right thing? The results are ultimately always good. There are so many opportunities! Our sinful nature fights tooth and claw to pull us back into ourselves. The enemy of our soul lies to us about how hard it will be. Yet, God's still small voice is always there reminding us of our hope and strength in him.

May God grant us all the grace to do the right thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Many months ago I added a tracking feature to my blog. It doesn't give me names of who visited. It does however show the city and country for any computer that accesses the blog. (by the way, at first there was a little site meter on my blog letting you know that the tracking was going on, but it disappeared and I don't know how to put it back. I don't want to seem sneaky!) At first only my immediate family read what I wrote. But soon I noticed that I was getting hits from all over the world. The other night I learned how to see what page had referred a reader to my blog. I was amazed to learn that a substantial portion of the time, someone has done a Google search. For example, recently, someone on the island of Tonga (as far as I know, someone who never met me) did a Google search on a term something like "how the choices I make affect my life" (no quotes in the actual search term). I had written a blog post on choices and how they impact our lives. So someone in Tonga spent about 12 minutes reading my blog to see what I had to say.

I get about 9 hits a day. About half are for zero seconds. Sometimes folks far away will spend quite a few minutes reading various pages of the blog.
I have had visitors from many countries on all continents except Africa and Antarctica. Once I had a hit from a remote part of China. It showed up when I was showing some coworkers at HP how the tracking program worked. One of the guys said, "Hey, that was me!" He had been vacationing in China, visiting the family of a student he and his wife had hosted.

O.K. So what? I am not actively trying to get a big or distant readership. I am trying to write things that are meaningful. My conclusion is that we all impact more people than we know. In this case, your computer leaves a little mark that it was here and that someone in your city read my blog. But for most of what we say and do, we have little knowledge of who will see it or hear of it. We have even less knowledge of how those other people are impacted. Nonetheless, they are impacted. My prayer is that more and more of what I say, write, and do will impact folks in a positive way. In particular I pray that God will be glorified. I pray that he will use me.

It happens that my wife is in Africa this week. Maybe I will get my first hit from Africa! Then I just have to work on Antarctica :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Barbara is in a jet or an airport somewhere in the world. She will arrive in Freetown, Sierra Leone sometime tomorrow. It is a site of incredible poverty. It vies among a small number of other nations as the poorest, most wretched country in the world. However, there is an active Christian church in the country. Barbara and others will be doing their best to encourage the leaders of a number of those churches that will be gathered in Freetown. She will be there more than a week and then will spend another day and a half traveling back home (ten days all together).

I am dealing with fears. I have little structure in my life now that I have retired from HP. Now my wife and best friend has flown off to a rather dangerous place and I will seldom be able to communicate with her. Freetown doesn't even have electricity or running water. It has all the usual nasty tropical diseases and parasites. And Barbara left feeling very unsure about how she can provide assistance to the people of the churches in Sierra Leone.

In a couple of months my oldest child, Julia, plans to fly to a remote spot in Tanzania with her husband and my grandson. There again, there are risks that do not exist in our rich, sheltered country (or the even richer, more sheltered Norway where she currently lives).

This is where I find out if I really believe what I say. I say that if we are doing God's will, that is the safest place to be. It does not mean that we are exempt from suffering and or immune to injury and death. It simply means that even with what may happen, it is the best place to be.

As for me, I must try to stay at the center of God's will while I sit tight right here in little old Philomath, OR, USA. I look forward to an eternity with God. No more crying, no more pain. For now, we are here for a reason. I pray that we would understand that more and more and follow God's lead.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I have been guilty of making lot of jokes about being old, especially now that I am 57, retired, and have had an artificial knee installed. This week, God is calibrating me. Certainly I have lost many of the capabilities I had at 20, 30, 40, or even 50. And retiring and recuperating from surgery are a guarranteed combo for making one feel "less than".

However, since Barbara's mom has been hospitalized for three days, I have had ocassion to spend a lot more time with Barbara's dad at the assisted living facility that they have an apartment in. Today I had lunch with Ted (86), Ruby (88), and Herman (93). Herman is Ruby's husband and is enabling her to continue living in assisted care since she had a stroke last August. As we chatted about this and that, at one point Ruby joke about talking too much. Then she turned serious and declared "But that is all I have left". The stroke affected her vision. She can't read, write. She really can't feed herself. She can't walk. Fortunately Herman is one of those big, robust 93 year olds that just blow your mind. He spent 43 years repairing shoes and sewing cowboy boots in a town in west Texas (think wide open, very dry, spaces). Ruby and he have been married 70 years and were still very kind and loving to one another, even in this extreme circumstance they find themselves in.

OK. So I get it. I am not old. I am aging. I have lost a few abilities. But they really minor compared to what folks like Ruby have to deal with.

It also reminded me, that in the end, it is only our relationships that endure and give our life meaning. Our stuff may wax and wane. Our abilities may grow or shrink. But it is the people we love that makes life matter.

My prayer is that I would love more and gripe less.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


By the way. I have written on this blog about how I have abused various substances over the years. I am talking abuse/recreation here, not legitimate medical uses. It occurred to me that there might be someone out there who would actually try some of this stuff to see what it was all about. Please be informed that one of two things will happen: 1. You will not enjoy if for some reason. Some people get sick, dizzy, or just plain scared (and rightly so!) 2. You will enjoy it.

If you enjoy it, there is a good chance that you will be tempted to have a bit more, sooner or later. The only thing I have seen with a decent success rate is people drinking alcohol in moderation. However, obviously a percentage of people can't even stick with moderation on alcohol. I don't think most of the other substances have a future as a moderate habit.

Every single substance that I know of is very deceptive in that they can be a lot of fun .....for a while. Sometimes a long while. Sometimes a short while. But never for a life time (unless you die young). They are also deceptive in that the fun they may provide generally blinds you to the damage that is being done to your body, your soul, and to the people who love you.

There will come a time when the piper must be paid. The price is very high.

When I read or heard things like this as a young man, I figured it was just someone who didn't enjoy having fun and certainly didn't want other people to have fun. I was wrong. I was stubborn. I am paying the price. I hope you never have to.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dope Sick

It is time for the final confrontation with my oxycodone dependence. During the past six weeks I tapered from about 360 mg per day to 60 mg.
I paused for two weeks at 60 mg because my body needed some time to adjust to the change and because I was traveling from Sept 29 through Oct 8. I took my last pill last night at midnight after a long day of traveling. I felt pretty good most of today, and began to think that perhaps the last bit would be simple to quit. Now I am shivering while wearing two fleesces and two shirts in a 72 degree home. The aches and pains aren't so bad, but they haven't really stopped since I first started tapering. However, the thing I am struggling with most is feeling old and feeble. The combination of retirement and disability is taking a pretty heavy toll on my image of who I am.

I may regret saying this, but I welcome this chance to confront this nonesense about who I am. I am God's creation. I am also a sinner who does not deserve forgiveness. The very sins that I am guilty of are those which have created the chaos and misery in this world that also has so much beauty and pleasure. I am saved by grace, not by my own efforts. All that I own. All that I treasure. All good that I am able to do. All are by the grace of God. I am not defined by those things, they are gifts and blessings from God. Now for a season I am able to do less. That is a trial. What I am will be revealed more by trials than by the blessings God has bestowed on me.

I will spare my reader (and myself) an inventory of the things that trials have revealed about me. I will summarize by saying that nothing reveals our selfishness so much as having our self feel lousy.

I will end by saying that I had a wonderful vacation during the past week.
Seeing my daughter happy, prospering, and in love. Visiting family. Simple pleasures like talks, walks, fishing, and home cooked meals. That reminds me that this would be a good time to reflect upon the many blessings I have known. Whatever your own struggle is, I hope that you can do the same.