A Modest Hope for Titus Lee (Part II)

I was stumbling through my archives last night and ran across this prenatal piece I wrote for Titus Lee.

I imagine that he'll grow quickly. We all do. He'll learn to eat solid food soon, learn to say "scared" instead of "scarwed." He'll have a first grade Sarah. They'll be destined for marriage until he meets his fourth grade Emily, and so on. He might play piano or guitar or he might dunk a basketball. In high school, he might be in show-choir like his momma. They'll sing Smells Like Teen Spirit, and he'll tell us how much he loves that kind of classic rock. In college, he'll major in partying until he meets Jesus. Or maybe he'll major in Jesus from the get go. That'd make me proud. He'll marry, have children, work a job. I hope he eulogizes me at my funeral. He'll say I wasn't perfect, but hopefully he'll say "he was a good man; he was my dad."

We hold more loosely to those old modest hopes these days. Now, Amber and I chart growth in ounces and wonder when Titus Lee will stomach solid food. I think that's all the better.


There are lessons to be learned in the rearranging of hopes: the fierceness of a mother's resolve; the faith that extends to doctors and friends; the joy found in a toddler's smile.

Titus Lee has taught me well. I never thought to hope for that.

More Than Meager Graces

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Molly Beth and I sat in the hospital cafeteria; she was mashing macaroni and cheese under her plastic fork. "We had a baby chicken a few weeks ago," she said. "It got a foot disease or something so its momma kept pecking it to keep it away. It died." She said this matter-of-factly, like she was explaining the mechanics of a seesaw, or why all kids...

Continue reading at A Deeper Story.

Malone's Scar

I was chopping onions in the kitchen when he knocked on the front door. “You know I live here, why’d you knock?” I asked. “It just seemed polite,” he said before giving me a hug. Malone’s wife came in behind him. She’s the kind the smiles wide, with her whole face. Amber heard the commotion in the kitchen and came from the living room in her house shoes. “How’s your good day?” she asked Malone. “Just about right,” he said.

Continue reading Malone's Scar at Deeper Story.

Number 176

Over he last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words.  Wherever we go we are surrounded by words: words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited, or sung; words on records, in books, on walls, or in the sky; words in many sounds, many colors, or many forms... words which flicker off and on, move slowly, dance, jump, or wiggle.~Henri Nouwen


A twenty something rambles on about living life... really living life, he says.  His words bubble like a bottomless Coca-Cola, sweet and sticky.  He spills them on internet pages and podcasts.  They're splashed across screens just like this one.  He is aspiring.  He'll tell you, even if you don't ask.


Mike calls, tells me he's heard about a family struggle.  He listens to the story, offers "mm-hmms" and the occasional "I'm sorry."  When I'm finished he says nothing, allows the silence to hang.  Then he says, "I have no words, but I'll sit with you if you want."  The silence hangs again, and I feel the shaking cedars still.  I feel my bones harden like steel.  I feel the possibility of solidarity, the endless proliferation of hope.

Quiet Spaces, Old Friends

There are so many things that are vying for our hearts,and our minds, and our affections. We're in an overload of marketing and information. Sometimes, we get so distracted and we lose our center. ~Brady Toops

I was staring at a blank monitor when the congregants were receiving ashen crosses on their foreheads. It was the first Ash Wednesday service I had missed in four years, but this world offers unbending deadlines and sometimes honor requires that we complete the seemingly less-than spiritual. So I stayed firmly planted in a leather office chair.

From all that I have said about our worried, over filled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when he is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction he calls us. ~Henri Nouwen

I purposed a short break and opened up an internet window, pulling up the music of long-lost friend. Back when I knew him, he was a college baseball player. He was the star of the campus, a grand-slam, a promising talent. Brady had signed a minor league contract with St. Louis Cardinals' farm team. But then, he simply quit chasing the dream. He put down his bat and picked up a different stick of wood.

...help my own selfish ambitions, and me, wanting to get ahead and get in the rat race. Help me to quiet that and ask, 'Lord, what's on your heart? What do you feel about my neighbor? How do yo feel about my enemy? In that sense, i think you pick up your cross daily. ~Brady Toops

There are secrets you can learn in an office chair, lessons in missing a church service. I found them in five minutes of quiet solitude. And when I went back on the clock, the questions were left suspended in the space between my desk and the fluorescent lights--"what about the sacred heart, the wounded neighbor, the enemy of enemies?"

As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. ... [but] the discipline of solitude... is a simple, though not easy way to free us from the slavery of our occupations and preoccupations and to begin to hear the voice that makes all things new. ~Henri Nouwen


[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/23147238 w=400&h=225]

Last Letter Artist Series: Brady Toops "Lift Your Eyes" from Last Letter on Vimeo.