13 May 2007

Li was right

Li prophesied I would get Woof - she was right.

Your results:
You are Worf

Will Riker
Mr. Sulu
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Beverly Crusher
Jean-Luc Picard
Deanna Troi
Geordi LaForge
Mr. Scott
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
You are trained in the art of combat
and are usually intimidating.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

04 May 2007

First draft

This blog was named M because I hoped to use it to post drafts of chapters in a novel I’d love to write – a novel named M. However, I’m pretty sure this is the first and only piece from that story that I’ve ever managed to post. Perhaps I’ll get back on the ball.

“Couldn’t we do this somewhere else?” whispered Donlon nervously.

“Why? Are you afraid the scarecrow will give us away?” Keris snickered under his breath. “This place is perfect.”

Donlon licked his lips and tried to swallow but his throat was too dry. He looked up at the Avatar’s face again, so perfectly human and lifelike and yet somehow unlike him and Keris. It sat stoically on its throne, silent and still, in exactly the same way it had for as long as anybody could remember. But Donlon couldn’t help but wait for it to move, to twitch or shift its weight. Crouching at its side, trying to squeeze into its insufficient shadow, he was only a few inches from its exquisitely detailed hand. Even in the dim moonlight, every conceivable detail could be seen; freckles, hair, pores, you could even imagine that this Avatar had a bad habit of biting his nails. And yet, despite the perfect reproduction of every human imperfection, it never seemed an image of an ordinary man. As Donlon’s gaze moved up the Avatar’s arm to its shoulder, earnestly searching for any telltale mistake that would assure him the thing was only an artifice, he remembered the first time he had seen an Avatar.

* * *

He was a child of seven and his family had ridden three days to visit relatives in Ehllay. The center of Ehllay had shifted over the centuries and its Avatar was now atop an overgrown hill that was rarely visited. Donlon’s father, Dotah, made a hobby of visiting Avatars, marking their locations on a hand-drawn map and sketching their portraits in a notebook. After lunch one day, Dotah stood over Donlon, pushed a daypack onto his shoulders, and said they were going on an adventure.

New Bishop was a tight cluster of homes and markets, but Ehllay was a sprawl of ancient ruins that spread out for hundreds of miles. Scattered throughout were several small communities like the one his uncle lived in. Despite the fact that some were separated by as many as fifty miles, each village was still called Ehllay, as if they considered themselves distant descendants of the ancient metropolis. Donlon still had vague memories of sweeping concrete ramparts, gigantic, glistening towers that stood beside gutted shadows of themselves, and the wasteland of Holly Hole Crater, a haunted vale of sulpher, smoke and skulls that would tell their dreadful tales if you had the courage to ask.

The walk through the ruined city was long and full of pleasant side-trips. Dotah played hide and seek with his son and filled his mind with legends of Ehllay in its former glory, sobering tales of its judgment and the trials of its resettlement. Every so often, they would find some other wanderer, usually a treasure hunter or an historian, and ask how to reach the Ehllay Avatar. Invariably, they pointed west.

By the time the sun was low and orange, they could smell salt on the air and hear the cries of seagulls. A narrow gravel path led up a steep hill covered in brambles that often encroached on the aging and poorly maintained stairs. Donlon raced ahead of his father, climbing the wide steps in tireless leaps.

At the top, the brambles opened onto a long, narrow alley of red clover. Donlon could hear a low, rhythmic rumbling. He looked back at his father who was slowly laboring up the path. “That’s the ocean you hear - its endless caress of the coast.” Unable to wait for his father, Donlon raced up the alley toward the sun that was starting to sink into the sea. Still twenty yards from the cliff, he suddenly noticed that he was not alone. Squinting into the setting sun he saw the sharp silhouette of a woman, sitting in a low, delicate chair. She was peacefully watching the sunset and Donlon came up short, hoping that he hadn’t disturbed her. There wasn’t much room between the hedges but Donlon was anxious to see the crashing waves, so he quietly slipped beside her to the edge of the cliff.

Standing at the precipice, he kept glancing at her from the corner of his eye, but he was too shy to introduce himself. Wave after wave crashed on the rocks below and the sun sank lower and lower. After counting several sets of twenty-seven waves, the highest he could count at the time, his curiosity got the better of his courtesy and he turned suddenly announcing, “My name is Donlon. What’s your na…”

There was only a minute or so where the last rays of that day’s light fell upon her face but the image caught in Donlon’s mind like a fish hook. The woman’s features looked slightly younger than his mother but her eyes were immeasurably older. She stared full-faced into the setting sun wearing a slight smile. Her hands were folded casually in her lap and a necklace of some kind was concealed within them. A long braid of thick, black hair lay heavily upon her right shoulder and one bare foot was folded up beneath her and hidden under the simple white dress that she wore. At first glance, everything about her was kindness and gentleness, but otherwise unremarkable.

Looking at her, waiting to be acknowledged, his eye caught a faint glimmer on her forehead. Twinkling in the sunset shades of roses and rubies was a tiny diamond set into the very skin of her brow. For a moment he was simply amused by the unusual decoration until he recognized the gem as a Star of Rachel.

Suddenly, he seemed to perceive a second woman, overlaying the first. Her kindness was mingled with tenacious strength and her gentleness seemed supported by the kind of confidence he was used to seeing in his grandfather. Though her eyes never glanced in his direction, Donlon was certain that she was somehow gazing at him intently and he felt an urge to tell her that he’d lied about feeding the horse, that he’d squashed a frog with a rock this morning, and that he had called his younger brother a baby girl.

As all of this rushed through Donlon’s mind he staggered back toward the edge of the cliff. From what felt like another world, he felt his father grasping his sleeve as he said, “Easy now. Don’t go off the edge.” Donlon looked up at his father with searching eyes, unable to give voice to the dozens of questions he had. “She watches over Ehllay, Donlon. This whole valley is under her protection.” Donlon continued to stare at Dotah, unable to make sense of what he’d been told. “It’s not like before son. She’s one of our elder sisters. You have nothing to fear from her.” Dotah gestured and nodded and Donlon looked back at the woman, the Avatar of Ehllay. To Donlon, it seemed again to be an ordinary woman, gazing silently over the darkening waves.

* * *

Unlike that peaceful looking woman, the Avatar of New Bishop was an image of a man, and notably older in its appearance. Not that it appeared aged or weak in any way, but the wrinkles around its eyes and the graying hair above its ears led Donlon to guess its ‘age’ to be about 50. It sat stiffly, formally upon a heavy stone chair, peering tirelessly across the valley that held New Bishop between its grass-covered slopes. Overall, the Avatar of New Bishop was more impressive but much less likeable than its counterpart in Ehllay.

“C’mon Keris. Let’s get up into the trees and do this. We’re out in the open here.”

“Quiet!” Keris snapped. “Just shut up and hit him hard. Besides, we can’t move now, he’ll see us.”

Glancing up over the armrest of the Avatar’s throne, Donlon spotted a horse coming up the road. Above the dull clop-clop of hooves was a high-pitched, rhythmic jangling from a pair of saddlebags. The man atop the horse was a rancher from
Wrenright who had spent the previous week in New Bishop selling cattle. Keris was the son of a butcher and if he was right, there were hundreds and hundreds of aggies in the man’s bags. Regardless of the treasure he carried, he rode up the hill slowly, calmly, singing under his breath, while Keris pulled his scarf up over his face.

“Keris! This is stupid. Anyone could see us here!”

“Who Donlon!?” Keris’ voice was sharp with spite. “There’s nobody here but him and us! Now stop talking and get ready. He’s almost here.” Keris turned back to the road with a frustrated sigh and dug his toes into the turf for better traction.

Donlon ground his teeth together, as much in anger as in anxiety, and he glanced tensely between the approaching rider, his crouching accomplice and the quiet Avatar above him. His grip repeatedly tightened and slacked on the staff in his hands as he tried to steel his nerves. Forcing himself to focus he rose up on his toes, coiled, and sought to press every inch of his body into the Avatar’s shadow.

A tense eternity passed as Donlon listened to the horse getting closer and closer. Unwilling to risk another peek, he twisted his head this way and that trying to hear what he couldn’t see. When he could finally hear the horse snorting between hoof beats he drew in a deep breath and held it. As he did, Keris’s hand came to rest softly on his shoulder. Donlon nodded to indicate that he was ready, but when he turned to face his partner he saw that Keris had both hands on the ground, preparing to sprint.

A frigid lightning bolt raced up Donlon’s spine and the hair on his arms stood on end. The hand on his shoulder grew steadily heavier, and hotter, but Donlon was unable to move. His throat slammed shut like the door of a tomb and every muscle in his body made a vain and painful attempt to run, flail or fall.

Just as the rancher came alongside the Avatar’s dais, Donlon’s legs become his own and he leaped forward to escape the mysterious grip. He rolled to his back in midair, desperate to see the Avatar, and expected to find a great flaming sword raised above its head. At the same time he screamed, “He touched me!”

Donlon’s flying body crashed onto the road with a dusty thud where the rancher’s horse, a few bare feet away, reared up with a frightened whinny. Keris, as surprised by Donlon’s outburst as the rancher, and still hidden in shadow, saw that the moment was lost and immediately slipped behind the Avatar and away into the night. Donlon scrambled backward across the road on his back staring up at the Avatar. The rancher quickly regained control of his horse and rode off toward Wrenright leaving Donlon alone and sweating.

Slowly regaining his breath, Donlon stared intently at the Avatar, looking for any indication that it had changed its posture, shifted its weight or batted an eye. Laying in the road, propped up on his elbows, an intense fear of moving fought with an equally intense urge to run away, but as the minutes passed and the Avatar remained as still as stone, the terror passed.

When he finally convinced himself that he had imagined the hand upon his shoulder, he got up and beat the dust from his pants. Shaking his head, wryly laughing at his own foolishness he reached up to brush the grass from his shoulder when he noticed four distinct fingerprints burned into the leather of his coat.

First Thing In The Morning

I don’t get up at 6:00am. I never get up at 6:00am. I make webpages for a living and one of the reasons I chose that career was because it never ever requires me to get up at 6:00am. But there I was rubbing my eyes and envying my still-snoozing wife. Dressing in the near dark, layering fleece over flannel over cotton and hoping that it would be enough in the frigid November air, I fought against the bulk as I stretched to tie my shoes.
My new uncle-in-law lives in northern Washington alongside a slow, chilly creek. The steep-sided valley of scattered lodgepole and aspen was covered in shallow fog and mile upon mile of tawny dry grass as I slipped from the guesthouse and headed for Dave’s front door. A tiny wisp of smoke rising from his chimney told me the coffee was ready and Dave was probably struggling to tie his own oversized shoes.
Dave had drawn a late-season tag in a unit adjacent to his own front yard. It was his first yard in three years and by inviting his inexperienced, suburban nephew along he was taking a certain risk. Nobody ever said so in as many words but it was implicit that my role was to carry binoculars, stay behind the rifle and not ask too many questions.
While I’d grown up in a rural setting, there were no hunters in my family. I was familiar enough with deer but only as highway hazards and I couldn’t tell you if we were dodging whitetails, mulies, or saber-tooth deer on Route 18. I didn’t grow up with any aversion to hunting, no moral conflict over the steaks I ate; but neither did I understand the motivation to hunt. There was a stereotype in my mind, born no doubt of Southern California politics, that hunters were Bud-pounding, monosyllabic Neanderthals, when in fact, that’s a more accurate description of surfers.
By 6:45 Dave and I were climbing a steep dirt road in his pickup. The rising sun lit the western ridge with brilliant hues of gold and rust while most of the valley still slept in the shadows of the eastern peaks. When we stopped the truck and stepped out into the stiff breeze, I felt as if I’d never seen this country before. Adding to the otherness of it all I stood not in soil but in several inches of fine powder. Fire tore across this slope fifty years ago, thinning the thick pines, making room for the newer aspens and covering everything in a deep blanket of ash.
With a silent nod toward a distant shape, Dave shouldered his 30-06 and headed north. The doe he had spotted was patiently waiting for her sisters to climb a steep gully she had surmounted. With no pretense of stealth, Dave and I approached to within a quarter mile before the group of females casually sought higher ground. For the next half-hour we continued in this way, following one group of females or another at a good distance, looking intently for their mates. Dave was giving me a crash course in outdoorsmanship by pointing out details I should notice: the wind, the clouds, the faint deer trails. He would periodically raise his binoculars and survey the sprawling hillside while I dutifully copied his actions, trying to see what he saw. By the time the sun had climbed high enough to light the valley floor, we were approaching a thinly wooded saddle with sunlight streaming through the trees in long, dusty blades. “Look for the sunlight glinting off an antler,” Dave instructed. “That’s the easiest way to spot a buck.”
I was fascinated with the trees, with the light, and with the tracks we found. “See how the toes are splayed out, and the impression of the dew claw?” To me it looked like a pair of quotation marks but I nodded respectfully. “That shows the animal had to be carrying a lot of weight. Probably a buck and a good sized one too.”
 From the driver’s side window woods are woods. I could identify a half dozen varieties of trees, recognize various geological formations but here I was getting a glimpse of something far more, far deeper. This wasn’t calculated environmental science but wood-wisdom. A druidic knowing of the land and its inhabitants that could only come from sharing the space with fir and fox and the day’s first breath. As much as I was being instructed, I was being mentored.
As we crouched there over the tracks I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye. Bringing the binoculars up, I scanned the hillside and spotted another doe lying in a patch of rabbit brush, twitching her ears and rolling her neck. Following her gaze I quickly spotted four other deer slowly moving up the slope.
“There’s a buck over there,” I whispered to Dave.
“Where?” he said.
“See the dead tree? Look just to the left of it.”
There was easily a quarter mile between us, probably closer to a half and almost no cover. “If we get behind that knoll we can close in without any of them seeing us.” I said.
Dave looked at me a long moment, his eyes squinting in an unreadable expression. “We could do that,” he said, “But then we won’t be able to see them either. If they move we won’t know where they went.” I nodded, just a little crestfallen. “Still,” Dave said, inhaling sharply, “it looks like our best chance of getting a clean shot.”
Without another word he stood up and started toward the tree line. Walking calmly and deliberately he stopped now and again to watch the distant deer. Trying not to rush, stopping whenever a head would turn or an ear would twitch, we moved behind a small hill. Quickly now we crept across its base toward the dead tree that had helped us spot the buck. Not quite sure how close this detour had brought us; we eased quietly to its crest and took a peek. No deer – just another, lower hill between the courting buck and us.
Darting between rocks and pines, painfully seeking to make each step on the dry pine needles as silent as possible, my heart was racing. Above us was a large outcropping of basalt and the point of no return. If we reached that rock and found the buck on the other side, the shot would be clean and short and simple. If we poked our heads out to find nothing but sage, the day would be over and Dave would try again tomorrow, without me.
Those last fifty yards seemed like a mile. Every twig that snapped sounded like thunder, every sniff of my nose seemed like a hurricane. I couldn’t believe that I could make such a racket; and it seemed impossible that the radar-dish ears of these animals could miss it. Step be step we closed the distance and I dared to glance around the crumbling stones.
The whole group was still lounging around, completely unaware of our presence. I literally gasped and in that instant ten gigantic ears swiveled to face me. Dave’s rifle wasn’t ready and any motion on his part would undoubtedly be seen.
Gradually, the deer went back to their munching and Dave lifted the Remington to his shoulder. A moment later a sharp crack echoed off the hillside and a four-point buck fell among his escorts. The does stood, bewildered at the sound and only moved off when we stood up and approached them.
I won’t deny that the process of cleaning the animal soured my stomach just a bit but in hindsight it’s the detail that I remember least. The impression of that extraordinary day continues to be the glory of an autumn morning, the wonder of sharing that hillside with wild animals, and the discovery (or re-discovery) that the wilderness is not the border that surrounds and threatens my home and my life, but rather an older, more patient home that has simply grown unfamiliar. Dave seems to think that I brought him good luck and promises to invite me on his next hunt. I don’t know if I’ll carry a rifle next time, or just binoculars, but looking forward to another morning like that gives me a comfortable rumble of anticipation.


It’s Saturday and a lazy, late morning has aged into a warm, quiet afternoon, the kind where you walk past a mirror and catch yourself wearing a smug grin without really caring why. We drove up to the mountains last night. His parents keep a cabin here and I almost couldn’t fall asleep in the rural silence. Getting up from the first novel I’ve had time to read in eight months I wander softly to the kitchen window where I can see him in the back yard. Earlier, he decided to cut the deadwood from a pair of old plum trees and now he’s turning fifteen-foot tangles of fallen branches into fuel and kindling for the fire ring. In my mind, it seems like such a boring, pedestrian task but to see his shoulders work with his back and work with his arms in smooth, natural arcs instead of the tightly regulated rise and fall of health club circuit training makes me wonder why I’m here.

For twenty-eight years I told myself, and anyone who asked, that I did not like body builders. I would tactfully discourage the muscle heads at the gym who offered to help with my technique and then secretly gag and giggle with my friends. Standing in front of the newsstand, pointing at the fitness magazines and discussing why nineteen inch biceps were disgusting seemed a legitimate way to kill a few minutes at another time in my life. I loved telling my friends that there were two kinds of iron pushers: the dumb ones and the violent ones.

Now I’m watching him through the window, spying on him and remembering how he beat me at Trivial Pursuit last week. He doesn’t belong on a magazine cover or anything like that, but in the real world, where I suck my belly in when he lifts my shirt off, he is something to behold; tall, handsome and strong with a physique that has been nurtured without being pampered. I’m watching as he uses a pair of gardening scissors to remove the hundreds of small sticks and twigs that clutter the fallen branches. The tool is a bad choice for him. About every fifth twig is too thick for the delicate shears but too thin to discourage him. So his hands squeeze the blades together in a way they aren’t meant to be squeezed and the branch is cut, but not severed, as the blades twist away from each other. His right hand is darting gracefully around the knotted branch, sending a shower of tiny boughs to the ground as his left hand deftly twists and spins the awkward branch like a baton to bring the next tender shoot before the shears.

He finds the work relaxing. I can tell by the way he’s breathing. His back is toward me but I’m positive that a satisfied little grin is perched on his lips. Working with computers, he rarely gets the chance to use the arms he’s built and this opportunity is being savored, paced and memorized. His shirt is off and I’m watching the corded muscles on his back shift and wave each time he manipulates the wood. I’m trying to memorize the strong line from his neck to his shoulder and I’m trying to remember why I found a muscled male so uninteresting before.

At some point in the past I made the assumption that any man who would spend a significant amount of time developing his body, must do so at the expense of developing his mind. If a man ever had to seriously consider the size of his arms when he bought a shirt I classified him as a moron at worst or abhorrently self-absorbed at best. It never occurred to me that I met these men while I was at the gym, narcissistically devoting hour upon hour to the shape of my thighs. They were a sort of character type in my mind. Body builders were like an entire class of human beings, defined by that single trait, who were thoughtless, boorish and arrogant. I would castrate a man who looked at my hair or chest and then offered me a piece of bubble gum, but I would routinely direct a man with a thick neck to the picture books.

I was raised in a culture that had abandoned woman and womanhood. As a female I was expected to be just like a man that could bear children: ‘could’ being the operative word. In the bright glare of that understanding I came to find men who acted like men offensive. Instead, I was attracted to men who were, in fact, women who could get an erection. They were sensitive, peaceful and meek. Calmness and passivity were associated with creativity where masculinity was associated with Hemingway machismo or domestic violence. Only the first trait had to be displayed, and the secondary traits were assumed. If a man was aggressive, assertive or, God forbid, strong, I called him a pig and often pitied his wife.

There is sweat on his shoulders. He has finished with the clipping and is beginning to change the long, naked branches into pieces short enough to fit in the fireplace. My hand has drifted up to cup my chin as my little finger is playing softly with my lower lip as I watch. With a nasty looking bow saw near his feet, he grabs each end of a large branch and bends the wood until it snaps. Some are greener than others and he grunts through clenched teeth as the wood bends to an impossible angle before separating like an old rope. These are the pieces he has to wrestle with in twists and pulls before the two halves finally jerk free from one another. The freshly oiled saw sitting unused on the ground.

He is enjoying his own strength. The sweat across his chest, the sunburn on his shoulders and the lattice of tiny scratches and cuts across his arms are all trophies. For a moment he is able to put aside the tools and conveniences of modern life in exchange for a celebration of clean, honest power and he is wearing his battle scars with pride. In his heart of hearts this chore has become an act of survival and his mind has decided to quietly watch from a distance.

He found me in an airport terminal when our common flight out of Chicago was delayed by snow. From behind his copy of the Journal and a winter jacket I couldn’t see the size of his shoulders, or the breadth of his chest. He made me laugh for forty-five minutes before mentioning that he thought I looked familiar and asked if he had seen me at the gym. My guard immediately went up and he must of seen it because he began joking about how we all go there to look better for the sake of meeting attractive people but actually meeting someone at the treadmill was strictly taboo. He read my mind, or perhaps recalled previous experiences, when he mentioned how he tended to classify every woman on the Stairmaster as a bimbo without ever talking to her just because of the stereotype. He then chastised himself for being so shallow. After all, he confessed, he considered himself an intelligent man and there he was at the same club, sometimes on the same Stairmaster. Peeking out from behind my emotional fortress, I agreed that it was inappropriate for him to have such a blatant double standard and suggested he should at least get to know some of the women he had wronged in this way. A tiny smile passed between us and I gave him my number. That was nine months ago.

Even though he hasn’t seen me in the window, something inside him knows I am here. Something ancient and visceral in him, something born on an endless savanna with a stone tipped spear in its hand is trying to speak to something deep and primal in me that was born wet and cold into an antelope skin. The thick branches splinter and crack in his powerful hands and that irrational, incontrovertible something tells me that he would rip a grizzly bear limb from limb to protect me. With the next sharp snap, the rational and often fickle part of me concedes that even if that weren’t exactly true, he would die trying. At another time in my life, I would have found this sort of revelry in brute strength barbaric and crude, but today I find it flattering. I know that at a certain level it’s for me. Today I find it affirming, compelling, even arousing. I think of the many times I’ve suggested that he try to “regain contact with who he really is” and begin to wonder if he ever lost it.

When the last branch has been quartered and stacked he stretches his arms high above his head. His chest fills with air in a deep, satisfied breath and as the stretch pushes his bloodied hands toward Mars every muscle in his body flexes with joy at the completed work. The human race can continue unhindered. For that moment his body stands in silhouette before the low, lazy sun with the beads of sweat lending a momentary aura to the vision before he exhales and the figure looks terrestrial once again. The work has filled him, soothed him, completed him. As he turns back toward the house I see the dirt and the sap and the blood that he’s wearing along his arms and chest. He sees me in the window and stops to look at me. He knows how I feel about anything macho and he decides his best defense is to make fun by posing like some Olympian statue. He’s wrong though. I realize that one of my most basic needs as a woman is to feel safe and even if I’m unlikely to face a ravenous cave bear in the city, he makes me feel safe. I laugh back at him through the window and he smiles warmly. Despite the smile, his eyes tell me that he has been tested by the job behind him. He continues toward the house and I can see that he’s tired. Not too tired I hope as I move to meet him at the door, slipping my shoes off along the way.

02 May 2007

Another Boot Camp in the rear-view mirror

Well, we’ve run another boot camp and I’m again gobsmacked by God’s bigness.

My experiences surrounding these events is approaching a point where I feel compelled to be careful about what I say. There are things that cross the fuzzy and frankly scary border into mystical and while I trust the spiritual maturity of my friends who read this, I’m cautious of presenting too much weirdness to the casual passerby.

So please forgive me if I’m vague, but the events and the struggles surrounding Boot Camp Northwest seem to be steadily, well, escalating. And on both sides of the trench if you get my drift. The opposition is becoming more obvious, more determined, and dare I say more corporeal. But likewise our allies ratchet up...becoming more luminous. To whit, I suspect an honest-to-goodness angel may have been seen. Not by me, so I must point out this is hearsay, but the sources are beyond reproach in my mind, and multiple, so I’m confident they saw something – what they saw becomes a matter of deduction that leads me to the conclusion noted here.

But the Word said clearly - “Don’t celebrate that the demons obey you; celebrate that your names are written in the Book of Life.” The paraphrase reading “mystical-schmistical.” The truth is that our real and stated goal is clear – set men free. And holy-cow did that happen. This was, in my experience, the most tuned in and hungry audience we’ve had at BCNW, not the least of which was my own father. Of course only time will tell whether or not these seeds find good soil but I know that after the camp my dad was dramatically more talkative, and about really deep things, then he usually is. Even better, the day after he arrived home, he contacted his estranged sister who he hadn’t spoken to in over three years. That alone would be worth the price of admission.

For the record, God was very gentle to arrange circumstances to where there was no opportunity for me to ‘hover’ over my father during the camp – I had too much to do, and he was better off having ample time to himself. So that part went swimmingly. As for performing – I don’t think I acted differently than I would have when I had the mic. I did, however, make my dad cry (in a good way) when I told a story about him being a firefighter and all – so I got that going for me. :)

Also, God’s been really good about coving my home base while I’m gone. As the spiritual warfare ramps up for, by, and against me I tend to get increasingly concerned that it will somehow spill over onto my family, my home, or my business. Frankly, it’s a significant point of distraction and anxiety. But God has really shown himself faithful to cover those bases while I’m on mission. I have this tornado of a weekend and come home to find the biggest drama to be Odin’s mucus and as Gandalf says “That’s an encouraging thought.”

Also in the words of the Grey Pilgrim – I am a servant of the Secret Fire...
...and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.