For My Father-In-Law (On His Birthday)

I mentioned previously that my father-in-law passed away earlier this year. Today (Dec 7) marks what would’ve been his 70th birthday. In honor of his birthday, I wanted to share the full text of what I wrote for his memorial service.


I’m not holding onto You
But You’re holding onto me

These lyrics from a Casting Crowns song that remind me God is holding on and not the other way around have been a comfort during this sad and difficult time; the day I learned of Jim’s passing, those words kept playing in my mind while I was driving. I don’t cry very often, and I like to think the light rain falling that day was for the tears I felt unable to shed, but listening to that song and being reminded that God is holding on allowed me an opportunity to cry for Jim’s passing. 

The day I heard he passed, I knew I wanted to say something at his service, but I didn’t know what at the time. I only knew him for not quite three years before he passed, so I don’t have any deep, meaningful, or funny stories to share about his life. In the time I’ve known him, his health limited his travel ability, so almost the only time I spent with him was when Jaimee and I would visit Denton. The most meaningful one-on-one conversation we had was the day I talked with him about marrying Jaimee when I asked him about his life, but there were things I still didn’t know about him until Jaimee and I were sorting through photos for his slideshow.

Jim, or as I had started calling him “J-Pop” in recent months, was by no means perfect; he was a man rough around the edges. He was stubborn with a sarcastic sense of humor; we connected over that shared style of humor and a love for his daughter Jaimee. There’s a special place in his heart for Jaimee, being his only daughter, his only child. Both are strong-willed people, and they had their disagreements, but at the end of the day they loved each other. I know he wanted to see her happy and was glad he lived long enough to walk her down the aisle, even if it was only part of the way. 

Before we met, Jaimee was his primary caretaker, so he came to depend on her for a lot. I never said it before he passed, but there were times I felt as if I took her away from him, but sometimes change motivates growth. When Jaimee and I first got engaged and she was getting ready to move out, Jim went into denial that his little girl was growing up, but he eventually came to terms with what was happening. Once he accepted she was moving out and getting married, he started to do more things for himself for a while, which improved his demeanor, but at some point his health began to decline again. Because he had health problems, lived alone, and was a bit of a distance from us, we wanted him to think about living in a retirement community, but being the stubborn man he was, he didn’t want to leave his house or his cats. He loved those cats and took care of them, often at the expense of himself and his health. I’m not sure if he loved Jaimee or his cats more, but he didn’t have pictures of his cats around his house or in his wallet.

Since he didn’t travel much, there wasn’t a lot we could do together, but after Jaimee and I got married, we would go to Denton to visit every few Saturdays, spend some time together, and maybe play Spades or Farkle with Jim and Janet. You need four people for Spades, and Janet wasn’t very good when we started playing, but Jim taught her to become a much better Spades player and a more-formidable opponent. Even though we didn’t do much together as a family, those visits would brighten his day.

We also liked to joke around together. While playing games, he would jokingly tell me to watch out for Jaimee as if she was trouble. As we would get ready to leave for the day, he would jokingly tell her to take care of me like I was helpless, and we would tell him we take care of each other. We shared other jokes and sarcastic quips together over the last couple years. Jim may be gone, but his sense of humor lives on through Jaimee.

God’s timing is never our timing. Jim was months away from turning 70, a milestone we would’ve liked to celebrate together. He may not have lived as long as we would’ve liked, but he lived longer than even he expected and got to see his only daughter get married. We wish Jim could’ve lived a few more years, maybe one day get to see and hold a grandchild, but God had other plans. We may never know why Jim was taken from us when he was, but I am reminded that God is still here; he is in control and has His reasons, and He is still holding onto us, and this has brought me comfort as we mourn Jim’s passing. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians – which the pastor read for us– that we who are in Christ don’t mourn as those who have no hope; hope in this case is not a wishful longing, but an assurance of what is to come, that we will one day see our loved ones who have died in Christ; though we grieve now for Jim’s passing, one day we will see him again.

We may never plan for the day we lose a loved one, but that day still comes.
We may never expect to say that last goodbye, but those words will be spoken.
We think we’ll see someone tomorrow, but sometimes tomorrow comes alone.

If you love someone, don’t neglect to tell them so.
Always say goodbye when you leave the ones you know.
There will be a time you can’t, for tomorrow will one day come alone.

Jim, we love you and miss you. For now we say goodbye, but someday we’ll see you again.

jim

Sometimes Tomorrow Comes Alone

(In honor of my father-in-law, who passed away in early June)

We may never plan for the day we lose a loved one, but that day still comes.
We may never expect to say that last goodbye, but those words will be spoken.
We think we’ll see someone tomorrow, but sometimes tomorrow comes alone.

If you love someone, don’t neglect to tell them so.
Always say goodbye when you leave the ones you know.
There will be a time you can’t, for tomorrow will one day come alone.

Ten Years Later…

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It’s been about ten years since my life first took a change for the better. I didn’t know how much could change in that length of time, but looking back I can see how different my life looks compared to what it was.

The short version is my life was going nowhere. I was stuck in empty routines and living with untapped potential. I was somewhat self-enclosed and shut off from people around me. In some ways, I struggled with depression and didn’t have much sense of self-worth. I felt as if no one knew the real me or cared. I had what I call “hello, goodbye” relationships.1

I grew up in the church, so I know what it’s like to live in a “church world” bubble and not see or understand what’s going on in the rest of the world, to not care about what’s going on around me.  It eventually became a place I went to, something I did, a mindless routine in a week of nothing. For a little over 24 years, I stayed at the church I was basically born into and the place I got saved, but I finally decided to leave a place I had grown up and venture somewhere else. By the time I left, there was a generational gap between most of the people and myself; my brother and I were the “young adults.” It’s hard to feel a sense of belonging if there’s no one to relate.2

Prior to leaving I had felt little real world connection and instead retreated into an online world where I had connected with people I didn’t know in person. Ironically, I developed some lacking social skills by interacting with people online and being part of their virtual community. I was (still am sorta) part of a LEGO forum that allowed me to express myself and connect with others in ways I hadn’t previously learned.3 I’ve since had a chance to meet some of these people and develop some friendships with them.

Before stepping out of what we knew, my brother and I were invited to visit a few church locations, one of which we chose to become members. There were plenty of people around our age, and there was some activity for such people, the first such event for us being June 17, 2009. So we settled in, though I stayed for about four years. In that time, I began to cultivate friendships with people my own age and more or less left the online forum for real world relationships. (This was also when Facebook and social media started taking off.) While I was part of this community, I did have a chance to travel to Hungary a couple of times and teach English at a summer camp, which was something I’d never done before. (It was also my first flight… two birds, one stone.) Eventually the number of young adults began to decline– along with other changes, and I again started to feel as if something was missing.

Before leaving there, I had been part of Bible study comprised of people I didn’t at first know but grew close with. It was led by a couple who became like mentors to me; they taught me things about myself and helped me grow into adulthood like no one else before. Under their guidance, I got my first “real” job, bought my first car, and moved out of my parents’ house. But then came the time the couple moved to California. It was bittersweet. We were sad to see them go but happy for their new beginning. Also, we had become somewhat insulated within our group, and after they left, the group kind of fell apart for various reasons (not necessarily all bad ones). We each branched out in different directions; some of us still keep in touch, but for the most part, people have since gone different ways.

That job I mentioned was not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it did allow me an opportunity to grow as a person and develop some work skills, but it was a night job, so it also severely isolated me more than I had been previously and made me really feel the need for other people in my life. For five-and-a-half years, I worked nights and didn’t have much opportunity for social interaction outside of work. Since I worked nights, I was perpetually tired and miserable; I learned how much I had taken sleeping at nights for granted.4

Once the Bible study group dissolved, I felt more and more alone. I was living by myself and still working nights, and there weren’t a lot of people my age around me. Several months later, I wound up at a new church community with people around my own age, which was cathartic and helpful. For a time in my life, being around older people made me feel sad and somewhat depressed. But I was able to overcome this difficulty by building that missing connection of peers. I eventually found myself having no problems with being around people of any age group. However, due to my work schedule and living arrangement, there was so much I couldn’t be a part of, so I still had very little social life.

As I mentioned, I lived by myself part of the time I working nights. I managed for two-and-a-half years, and I learned more about myself. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I opted to find a roommate and ended up in house with some other guys. Within a year of moving, my life took a few more major turns, and this was again for the better. I managed to find a job that is better in so many ways. After several years of working nights, I was finally able to work days and soon began to feel alive again.5 Soon after starting my job, I met the woman I would marry within a year’s time. : Since I began my daytime job, I was able to get better transportation (and I drove happily ever after, right?).

Aside from connecting with other people, being part of my current church community has allowed me creative opportunities like never before. During the time I felt little connection to the real world, I would write for myself in a journal because it seemed no one paid attention. Then I started relating to people online and in the real world, then began writing for audiences beyond myself. Eventually I figured out to some degree who I was as an artist and learned to write and share more openly. I’ve had some public performances, which I’ve enjoyed.

As I look back and reminisce, I see how my life is different. During the past 10 years, my life has had several changes, major and minor. There’s a lot more I could write about: of celebration and loss, of new places and experiences, of things learned, and the list goes on. But there are decisions I regret and mental reminders I’d rather forget, things I wish could’ve gone differently, but that is the past and cannot be change. 

I may not have always seen God’s hand during my circumstances or understood why at the time, but I know He has brought me through for a purpose, even if I don’t know what. I may not have always focused on God during these last ten years of transition, but I know He’s watching over me. All I have to do is look back and see how my life has changed from someone who basically wanted to be left alone to someone who is learning to love other people and enjoys being alive.

Who knows what the next ten years will bring.


The kind in which people ask how you’re doing, and you say “fine/okay” and they say “good” and move on.

There was one older guy I talked with about stuff, but he had passed away shortly before I left.

The Internet is such a wonderfully-interesting tool.

I have a perpetual reminder of my job via tinnitus in my left ear.

I still have issues with sleeping at times, but for the most part I feel more energized than I once did.

JJ Abrams Says No New Fans [SATIRE]

HOLLYWOOD, CA – In a stunning move that shocked fans, big-time producer J.J. Abrams, known for such hits as Lost, Alias, and Star Wars, was reported saying he didn’t want any new fans. “Stop telling people about my movies and please don’t go see my latest film in theaters. If it comes down to it, my company will stop providing entertainment for the masses.”

When asked what prompted such a bold statement, J.J. replied, “I was cool with allowing potential future fans to die before birth and not say anything, but then I realized it’s much more humane and makes more sense to tell people who are already outside the womb to stop seeing and enjoying the products of my labor.”

He later apologized for using the word “labor,” saying it reminds him too much of women giving birth and the magical process babies undergo to change from potential life to actual life upon exiting the womb.

Sexually-Abusive Man Doesn’t Think He Can Handle Being Known as a Rapist and Possible Prison Time

A satirical response to an Onion article*

MONTGOMERY, AL—Conveying his concerns that the additional obstacles presented by having his secret life exposed would be too much to bear, 24-year-old sexual abuser Rodney Dunn was reportedly worried Wednesday that he wouldn’t be able to handle being reported for his crime on top of everything else he had going on. “I have several engineering reports and a big physics exam coming up in the next few weeks, and I had even been thinking about asking for a promotion at work, but being branded a rapist and possibly going to prison are really going to cut into my reputation as an upstanding citizen,” said the university student, who acknowledged that modern DNA testing associated with proving he’d committed such an unspeakable act had made it more difficult to cover up the truth and added that there would likely be even greater challenges being known as a child molester. “This year has been tough in a lot of ways. I had to change majors, and my family wasn’t aware of my sexual activities. My relationship with my stepsister is pretty much consensual. I wish I were responsible enough not to take advantage of a minor, but ending unwanted pregnancies is supposed to protect people like me. I’m really sorry I was found out.” At press time, Dunn had expressed hope that no other accusers would come forward. 

*I’m aware it’s satire, but the underlying view expressed throughout the article is worth a response.

Behold, Resurrection!

Behold the Lamb!”
The words of John,
As he sees a dove descend

Look at Him
Who takes away sin,
He is the One you seek

Of Him I am unworthy
To loosen His sandal.
He is the promised Messiah.”

Offerings He makes
No sin He partakes
He is the Holy One

Death awaits
This is the fate
He will bear our sins


Christ the Savior
The unique God-Man
He must taste of death

Redemption’s cost
To save the lost
A price that must be paid

On the tree
His hands and feet
Are nailed to hold Him there

Sacrificed for sin
The spotless Lamb
Now bares scars on Him

Salvation secured
“It is finished!”
He breathes His last


Gone His spirit
His body remains
It is laid to rest

Rich man’s tomb
A stone is rolled.
Is this how it ends?

And those who followed
Now filled with grief
For the leader they have lost

Victory is taken
Their hearts are breakin’.
How could this have happened?

Emmanuel! God with us?
But where is He now?
Has He abandoned His people?


Secured by those in power,
Guards placed outside the tomb,
The body cannot be moved.

Three days later,”
His enemies remember,
“He said He’d rise again.”

Ointment and spices
Have been prepared
By those who were His friends

No one expects
Most don’t understand
The words they’d heard Him speak

Entombed the Messiah
Who gave up His life
Death has seized the day


Righteous for the unrighteous
Innocent for the guilty
The price of holiness’ demand

Israel’s Messiah
Resurrection and Life
He lies inside the grave

Sunday morning
Without warning
The ground begins to shake!

Empty the tomb
Christ has overcome
Death’s score is minus one

No more shall death
Hold Him bound
He arose victoriously


Behold, BLOOD shed
Behold, CROSS crucified
Behold, GRAVE buried
Behold, STONE secured
Behold, RISEN Savior

Behold, Resurrection!

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Captain Marvel Reminds Us the MCU Is Still a Thing

Captain Marvel is an okay entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It does a good job of reminding us it is part of this universe more than it tells us about Captain Marvel.

BEWARE! SPOILERS!

Before the movie released, people were complaining about the actress. The problem with Captain Marvel has less to do with acting/actress and more to do with overall story/plot. It feels like an obvious piece of the larger MCU more than a standalone movie. It is a bridge between Avengers 3 & 4, the character having been “introduced” in 3’s credit scene, and it contains more than enough components that are best understood if you’ve seen enough of the 20 other films. (I haven’t seen them all.) While it’s building this connection to the rest of the universe, not a whole lot more is known about the character by the end of the movie than at/near the beginning.

I get these movies are all part of one universe, but a self-contained story on its characters is doable (see: Black Panther, Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy), especially if it’s an origin story. However, Captain Marvel doesn’t spend enough time explaining/developing certain plot points without moving on, but it repeatedly lets the viewer know it’s part of the MCU, serving as a reminder all these movies are somehow connected. This includes, but is not limited to, having a major character from a “future” movie playing a minimal roles in this movie (Ronan) and revealing Cap’s powers originated from the Tesseract (because why not). We even see how Nick Fury loses his eye (“Cat Scratch Fever”? Seriously? Why?) and comes up with the name for Avengers Initiative… bits that are minor to the movie and maybe minor to the overall MCU. Seriously, if we never found out exactly how he lost/injured his eye or decided on Avengers Initiative, there would be no impact on the bigger picture. Maybe the only thing that had significance was how he got the pager, since it was the key to the lock.

On the other hand, there are certain elements of this movie left unexplained or that felt unnecessary. How/why did Carol lose her memory after she gets her powers? (Other than we get to learn as she learns through chopped memory sequences, making her origin story Bourne Identity meets Luke Cage)*. Why did Dr. Lawson/Mar-Vell change sides? The first half of the movie spends so much time focused on finding her to advance the plot, but then we learn she’s not really fighting with the Kree. Or is she? Was she fighting against her people the whole time? Did she learn something that made her switch sides?  All we get is “here’s a disc so you’ll stop attacking us” and blind acceptance to what the Skrull leader says. This could’ve been resolved by the hidden Skrull revealing in a few lines why she hadn’t been working with the Kree, but by then it’s forgotten.

I mentioned the cat, which was basically a plot device, showing up inexplicably in multiple scenes until the one scene it’s revealed the cat is not really a cat. Instead it’s really a tentacle-mouthed creature that can eat the Tesseract, the MCU MacGuffin that can’t be touched by human hands. (For the uninitiated like me, Google explains this “cat” is something called a flerken… I think it’s Kree/Skrull for “plot device.”) I suspected early on it wasn’t just a cat, since it did keep showing up, so the reveal was bizarre but anticlimactic, as if they just needed to wrap up the story and relocate the Tesseract for “future” MCU purposes. (End credit scene shows it coughed up, conveniently tying up another loose end.) Then the cat suddenly scratches Nick Fury, just so we can have an answer to how he got his eye messed up… was it surgically removed after this? It was just a scratch, right? Not a clawing out? Why did it even turn on him?

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate this movie, but there was nothing that particularly stood out to make this movie its own story apart from being a part of the MCU. Since it is less of a straightforward narrative and more of choppily digging through memories (Carol’s and the MCU’s), it’s difficult to get a sense of who the character is or why I should care. As someone who knows little about the character, I would’ve liked to learn something about her that makes her who she is and not just another cog in the machine. It seemed more of a CliffsNotes version of Captain Marvel’s power (and maybe Nick Fury) to set up the next MCU domino than much of anything else. I didn’t know what to expect from the movie going in (other than 90s nostalgia from the trailers). I mainly went to see it because of its place between the Avengers 3 & 4, but I thought this would tell me something about the character. However, I feel as if I could probably watch the next installment without having watched this one and not have missed anything important. I guess we’ll see if there was any payoff when Avengers 4 rolls out next month.

*Forgetful character trying to remember. Flashback reveals overdose of power source leading to invulnerability.

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