Rick and Monique

Friday, July 8, 2011


Floating cotton fields
Perspired July cottonwoods
Curvy summer winds

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rarin' to Roll

Dad got his 1985 250cc motorcycle running after sitting in the garage for more than 25 years. He was knocked over by a ferocious German Shepherd on his way out of the driveway one morning on his way to work. That dog was more than a pain in the neck. He was bloody mean. And I guess he hated motorcycles and didn't like dad much either, making him less of a dog in my eyes. I don't remember that he rode it again. He came back into the house a little bloodied, his hands shaking. I think I remember that he didn't get too excited. I think he always sensed that his wife and his family needed his surety, even when he should be freaking out. The bike lay there on the dirt. That Shepherd held dad at bay for awhile. Eventually he got the bike moved to the garage, and there it sat, a bit tainted, but ready nonetheless. The motorcycle became more a dusty fixture than anything. That's the way of things sometimes. Maybe we needed to forget for awhile. Maybe he couldn't afford to fix it. A man's allowed his reasons. It's all good. By faith and time, wiles and dreams, some hard work, wisdom and a little integrity, some times things come full circle.

Here we are, a good ways down 2011 and his classic 250cc Honda motorcycle is finally fixed, and my Dad is back on the bike! Maybe enough time has past, maybe they can afford it. Doesn't matter really. The courageous don't just get back on the horse, so to speak. They hop on with spurs on. I remember sitting on that bike as a boy thinking I wanted to ride it, needed to ride it, so I could be just like my dad. I doubt I'll ever have to dust off my dad.  He gets hurt sometimes, but never stops.  Some guys stop.  They quit.  He'll never be a cranky chained, stiff wheeled old man, my dad won't.  At sixty-something he's slower maybe.  He smells a few more roses these days.  But he paces himself.  I don't crank my bike hardly ever.  Best way to ruin something is to go full tilt all the time.  Takes wisdom to keep it cool.  

I guess I'll never be just like my munificent dad. But, I am my father's son. When I finally ride it someday soon, I'll feel proud to have the privilege of sharing a part of his life on that little red dream. The German Shepherd's dead. But it's hard to keep a good man and his ride down. The bike, my dad and myself are alive, ready and rarin' to roll.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank You for Serving

Both my dad and my wife's dad came home one day after a long 'bout in Vietnam.  They returned to a country that seemed either to hate him or that wasn't aware he'd come home, maybe wasn't even certain he was ever home in the first place.  They were, like immigrant America, tired and poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  These were the homeless and tempest-tossed we'd sent, some of them more homeless than ever because we did.  Some, we'd not yet earned their trust and yet they defended us.  My lungs well with thankful heaves.  For Americans of every journey, America's not a land, it's a mindset, a way of life.  

Was a quiet day when our camo-covered dads landed back on our soil.  I'll forever salute our dads and be grateful that they returned home.  I'll forever cross my heart and sing loudly and proudly for the ones who couldn't make it home.  

Turns out my birth defect called Spina Bifida has something to do with Agent Orange.  Agent Orange was not a Dutch super-spy, although it certainly fell from aircraft...was much less elusive though.  Agent Orange, the mighty jungle obliterator, the weaponized pesticide, has much to do with when dad served the United States in Vietnam.  The U.S. spread that stuff--thought it would help--tried to keep the war out of the jungles by killing the jungle.  Lasting effect though is more an example of types of friendly fire.  That and everything about war is a lot to sacrifice and a lot to deal with in a lifetime.  Few soldiers dream for death and war and Agent Orange, but they go when called on.  No one truly understands the powerful motives for war, the cause of cause, the paradigms or what it is about their nation that's worthy, always worth the defense, but they serve and defend anyway.  Few truly understand the courage and strength that is the current and currency of a soldier facing the tip of a gun, or the switch of an IED, potentially laced with sarin, or stand in the breach for those whom they love within a nation that is theirs; for they who huddle in homes nestled on a fuzzy line between right and wrong.

I suppose we could relate a bit of what it is to stand in the breach for another; we'd resist opposition to great lengths for our children, for our friend.  We'd honor them with our lives wouldn't you think?  

I know soldiers; intrepid but welted soldiers, flew home to open arms of family and friends who'd in poignant ways gotten used to life without them...had to just in case they couldn't return.  Some sons or daughters waited whom hadn't even met their own dads yet.  That sacrifice straps to the servant soldier's back one-hundred pounds at a time; geared up men and women who form, who run, who crouch who lie.  They return home to open arms of family wishing for a large dose of love and a little of what was, and getting large or small doses of PTSD and at the very least...scars.  War makes life harder to love sometimes.  War makes it difficult to mow the lawn, paint the walls, go out to eat or watch the kids perform some kind of thing...any kind of thing.  Scars make or break families.

These men and women know these soul-traps are coming and yet they bind themselves to ships and guns and aircraft ready to defend what they love.  Duty requires these men and women to look into the faces of other men and women from other places, other nations and hold their own people, the immigrant home, richly in their heart; for they must look upon full-on men and women and then fight them.

War.  A sometimes necessary, sometimes penurious, impoverishing experience.

We've heard stories of oppression and suppression and extreme cruelty to people of other lands, and we've heard of cruelty on our own soil and these evils must expect push-back, must accept the righteous torrent that seeks evil's erasure.  These evils--they're worth eradicating, worth pushing back.  The faithful desire besting monsters.  

There are long histories of boogeymen under the bed.  

A caveat: The people of God are no strangers to monsters--we know.  Sometimes those who call themselves the people of God are the monsters.  It's sometimes difficult to speak for, let alone hear the voice of God.  We just can't be perfect people, even as we constantly wish we were.  We know there's something about freedom that's easier to explain than reveal, even as it's revealed anyway.  It takes certain people of faith to stand for the others, with the others and by the others; takes certain people to hold people safely on their path.  

Good men desire peace--yearn for it. Sometimes oppression must be quelled so that peace ensues.  But peace does not need a cause to call itself peace.  Darkness is not the opposite of light, for light is something.  Darkness needs the light for those to understand they've been in darkness, not the other way around.  The American people--we're not perfect--have many flaws.  But I know one thing.  We seek a free people wherever we send you soldier.  That knowledge alone can lift a man covered in soot, jungle, rock and sand.

I don't know what you saw my friend, I don't know what you experienced or how.  I know you served humbly the freedom cause.  And I know it wasn't silent the day you returned because there were many of us with open arms, hoping you were ok, hoping you could now survive this life, and you will.  Because our arms will never close to you, only around you.

It was a loud and joyful day when you returned home brother and sister, we're mindful that while you are safe, you might not feel secure.  And it was and is with great pride that we receive you, and by an eternity of gratefulness we now protect you.  

Thank you for serving soldier.  A free people welcomes you home.  God bless you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Thee We Raise

To Thee We Raise  a poem by r. elgersma
Drops of rain slide
From eye to cheek
A path like war,

A realist’s version
Of those who fall
Where they love.
Like, the heavily dusked,
And thinly layered moon
A resting reflection of another’s light
And a husband to her.
The righteous man forebears honesty
And the foolish continuously repairs it.
Even a love’s loss finds it again,
Where unctuous abuse knows love not.
Submission and servanthood,
One whole, and the same,
And there I am where you fall,
And rise again.
A woman’s submission
is not subservience
Or weakness, nor her will dominant,
And a man’s headship is not 
Overpowering or abusive,
Nor his will dominant.
A wife submits and loves when she allows 
Her husband to lift her, 
Perfect, before the Lord,
And a husband provides and loves 
When he proves the servant’s 
Strength and humility to lift her.
I am grateful not to be alone,
And that you are part of where I am.

For the beauty of the earth
And the glory of the skies.
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recessed in Ritual

I understand differences in how people prepare for worship.  I find verbal and non-verbal cues to be important in many, if not most cases.  But views about worship settle into God as audience, and man as performer, giver or prompter (the term "prompter" should be given proper citation to my dad-in-law Joh who writes his own blog at http://joh-corrie.blogspot.com/).  I believe God is audience--but he's also in our midst, directing, proving, probing, teaching, prompting, revealing and so on.  I don't believe we can restrict God's roles to audience in worship, and I don't believe we can relegate, for instance, the Praise Team to a one dimensional prompting role.

And so, I'm wondering if Christians don't just misplace values on worship tasks?  Martin Luther King Jr. once said,  ‎"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."  I'd like to squish that quote smack in the middle of historically religious stigma.  Historical verbal or non-verbal cues regarding rightful value placements were how the church developed the hierarchal pedestal complex value toward pastors and priests who were often seen as more holy than anyone else.  And someone down the line decided that musicians who do extra work other than lead the congregational singing, should deem their solo work as "special music."  The greater church have become riddled with titles for tasks, and have become confused as to whether something is more or less special, a performance, a prompt or something else, and thus have become confused as to how to respond to it.  I've seen too many great musical or non-musical performers walk off stage met by legalistic silence-ridden congregants afraid of an unrighteous applause.  Furthermore, when the values are not adequately met in whatever scenario, the semantic worshipper blames their experience on someone else, and a blame-game ensues.

The quality of the sound, or music, or sermon should not shatter or shudder the joy of a group of people who can't wait to be together as children of God, knowing that God is with them.  Worship unbridled from mis-tokened titles frees audience response to song and sermon and resounds joyfully regardless, simply because God is.  In fact, in that environment, people are amazingly unshackled and allowed to burst into relational qualities previously unheard of, and that had previously felt uncomfortable.  For instance, a participant could then learn to enjoy the performer, performance, prompt, and the praise all from and by the same person.  Sometimes, when someone does a great job, they're afforded a bonus, or a promotion.  When a performer does a great job, they in kind, are afforded excellent applause, if not because they were great, but also then because they're God's.  And so applaud the performer and praise God.  Both are simultaneously good reasons to clap your hands.  A confident performer is upheld by the encouragement and appreciation just as many others are glad to be appreciated or responded to based on their own actions or generosity.

Worshipers shouldn't run willy-nilly into a worship experience.  Form and function matter.  That church leaders, workers and musicians are healthy and prepared for their task, absolutely; Most situations in or out of church are met by people whom expect good jobs out of each other.  Yet, I hope you'll flee from legalism, pietism and dogma recessed in rote ritual.

Engage in massive, infinite worship.  Sometimes we need to release our value placements from the experience.  Maybe God is our audience, but he's also the director and prompter I suppose one could say--he directs and also reminds us of our lines.  I do like that image (again see Joh Huizinga's blog).  Furthermore, a good director requires practice, and requires you to be ready to take joy in all things because He is, thereby freeing you to clap at a moments notice.

It's my view that when Christ said that if an action (feeding the hungry, dressing the naked) was done to the least of men, it is also done to Him (Matthew 25:40), his broader message was, "I love a cheerful giver, give to my glory, do not expect the seat of honor, allow it to be given to you and then enjoy it, and be generous to all men for my glory."  This means that by praising a someone for an excellent performance, by enjoying a sermon, by appreciating an intuitive point, and by thanking or rewarding someone for their excellent work, one also acts as a man or woman who's every intended regard is to the glory of God.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Light and Worship

"Did you think that being a Christian means you need to live a bland and boring life?  Never!  Christ calls us to be spicy!"  That's the quote on my church's website.  I love the church.  I believe that we are one body, many locations; my church makes no qualms about saying exactly that.

My friend's waiting for a flight at the Denver airport.  He texted me saying, "I guess I get to do worship on my own.  I have several sermons on my phone."  He went on to say, "There are a lot of people in my church that would not consider that worship."

There's so much worship out there.  Pastor Mike asked us when was the last time we simply stopped confounded by some amazing creation moment.  I drove into my driveway a few days ago and a doe skirted in front of my car and ran past.  I drove into the garage, walked out of my garage, and there she was, a few feet off my driveway, watching me.  I stood and watched her--truthfully, I talked to her.  It was silent, it was night, I stopped confounded; I worshipped.  That a God constructed a confounding creational moment coerces me to fall, trembling, and raise my joyful hands simultaneously.  Paradoxical maybe, but God is.

There's infinite worship out there.  Not much light streams into places that can't accept a man who would worship by a headphone sermon. Not much light streams into their tiny, austere little religious holes.