Adam’s Soul Leads Us On

You have to muster up something to look over into the coffin where a dear old friend’s body lies. Yesterday after I shared a few highlights about my friend Adam Allen and I already cried in front of hundred or so people I’ve never met, then, then I could look. It was only the second time in my life I’ve seen a dead body (the first time was my grand-dad’s). The same feeling I remember after seeing my grand-dad filled me. It was this indescribable and indisputable knowledge that Adam was not there. The best way to convey the feeling is that it sharply contrasts the feeling of seeing a sleeping friend.

Right after the funeral I was busy catching up with friends I haven’t seen in 20 years, getting lunch and driving 3 hours back home. Finally though, just before bed, I started to process the day, the people, the service and lifeless wax sculpture I am told was Adam’s body. Why did that not feel like Adam? I wondered. Well, let’s think about this. None of what makes Adam, Adam, was in the building yesterday. All of us who shared memories, we brought more of a semblance of Adam to the room then did his body in the casket. And those snapshots, those were the things that made my eyes well up. Someone mentioned his sneezes that came like cracks of thunder and would make your skeleton jump out of your skin. Another mentioned his bone crushing hugs, or the way his shoulders bounced up and down when laughed so hard he couldn’t breath (as he often did).

You see, the more you knew Adam, the more you will understand that he wasn’t that room yesterday. A lot of times people muster up good things to say at a funeral: a very general “He was a loving father, brother, son, friend” or whatever. But Adam was someone that was easy to come up with good genuine memories and great things to share. I was thinking just a week or two ago, after seeing a funny Facebook post he made, how much I missed him and how he was truly one of the wisest, deep thinking, listening and loving friends I have ever had.

I want you know all of these things about Adam, because I believe God engineered that unique personality of his for a reason and the more people he influences (even posthumously) the better. I first met this chubby little friend because alphabetically his last name seated him next to me in 5th grade Home Room.

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Mrs. Birdsall’s Home Room, 5th grade. 1990/1991. Me in the Mickey Mouse shirt and Adam Allen on the right.

He was in several classes with me and it seems like it was in Mrs. Firestone’s music class where he shared with me his invention of an edible food glue. Right away I knew he wanted to be a chef someday. He loved my cartoon character, a little lizard named Duke and had me draw him all the time.

Im 8th grade Adam dressed as a chef (or maybe he was the Pillsbury Doughboy, I can’t remember)

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Halloween in 8th grade, 1993. 

Adam moved back to Utah after 8th grade but came back to Craig in high school. I shared at the funeral that I’m not sure how he and I became such great friends, because almost every one of his friends from high school and on were heavy into games like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering and such and I am not into those at all. He as also part of the LDS Church which I was not. Maybe it was because I was a little bit into Sci-Fi and he enjoyed that too. I can’t remember what grade it was in when we watched the movie version of Fahrenheit 451 and after seeing the main character’s unique, forearm-grasping handshake, he and I greeted each as such for years afterward.

Our friendship became strongest when he joined my church youth group at Calvary Baptist Church. He grew up a Mormon and died one, but there was a section of his life when he was questioning all he believed (another personality trait of those with strong minds). He was quickly assimilated into our group of friends because he was such a caring and jolly person.

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Though we worked at Pizza Hut together I didn’t see him there much as he was a cook and I was a delivery driver. (1997?)

There were many adventures in the Calvary Baptist youth group and times when Adam, Nick Augustine and I hung out together. A couple of situations were so powerful, though, that they still come to mind often. One, which in way helped me discover part of my identity, was when Adam and I (and sometimes a few other friends) would meet up for coffee at the Craig Village Inn late at night. Our conversation would go into deep places as I hadn’t experienced with any one before. I realized then how much I like to think deeply about things (usually theological stuff). The other situation was right after Adam had to break up with his girlfriend Sara.

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Me, Adam and Sara in a photo booth in Centennial Mall. (1997?)

Adam needed to get it off his chest and so he pulled me aside in one of our church’s empty classrooms. He told me they had to break up and then, the tears started to flow. I think he was falling in love with her. I had never seen him cry. I put out my arms and he crashed his head into my shoulder with shudders. Not many guy friends (especially at that age) are that vulnerable and it told me that Adam trusted me probably more than anyone at that time. That vulnerability also showed when he told friends he sincerely loved them.

Adam’s desire to be a chef earned him the nickname Chef Curly and led him to pursue Culinary Arts in college at Mesa State in Grand Junction. I had already been there a a while getting my degree in Graphic Design and I was involved in a campus ministry called Master Plan Ministries. It was another large group of close friends that found it easy to accept Adam in.

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I think this was the fall of 2000 retreat at Cascade Lodge with Master Plan Ministries. 

 

Brian Tom and Adam play chess
Of course deep thinkers like chess. Bryan Kinser and Tom enjoying chess with Adam. 

I can’t remember where he went after Mesa State, but at some point he earned another degree at the Community College in Craig.

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Adam getting another degree in 2005. (My mom, right behind him, got her Accounting degree that year)

Years and distance separate all of these good friends like leaves in a river. You can’t keep up with every one you’ve ever known and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. You have those who are in your life now to turn your attention to. Sometime you’re lucky enough to both be in Craig again at the same time and this happened one last time for us about 4 or 5 years ago over Christmas. We met up for coffee at the Starbucks in Craig’s Safeway. We were both in our mid 30’s and still unmarried and we were commiserating about it. He listened to me go on and on about how I had chances with all of these hot girls and how I was disappointed over and over again with their character. He said “Josh, we have to learn to love those who are good for us.” He was dropping wise words on me all the time like this. But that one really stuck with me, especially over the next few years when I was in for more of the same. His words echoed in my mind until finally I began to change the priorities in my mate-search criteria. I truly believe it was his words that helped me find my wife. Thanks, old friend.

Unfortunately in the years since I last saw him, our friendship was nothing more than “Liking” a silly post he made on Facebook here and there. To his credit, he never missed a Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Thanksgiving to shoot a text wishing a happy one.

In the last couple of years Facebook has been full of political and ideological vitriol. I have kept following several friends with sharply oppositional views because 1) They’re old friends and 2) I believe its healthy. Through this I have a clear window into a world of people who do not believe in God and therefore buck at any morality that comes from specifically a Christian world view. Sometimes it seems this Godless world has completely lost its mind. Several weeks ago I was thinking to myself, you know who would have a level head about these things? Adam Allen. And I thought it would be really fun to meet up at a Village Inn and hear his thought on this issue. When you miss a friend, it really stings to know you won’t, you can’t see them again. I saw a post from a co-worker at Pizza Hut saying that he had passed away and my first reaction was Wait what? Nooooooooooo!

I know this was long….and more of time line than a picture of who he was. I want to give a picture, but its made up in so many millions of nuances, how do I? Like how he always said “Cool beans”, or he called me and my brother “Squashy Mess” (our names are Josh & Wes). Those nuances, those were the things missing from the room yesterday.

As I thought about all this last night, that was when I think God showed me the importance of our souls, the deep down part that is really us, our spirit. It’s why the Naturalist, the Atheist, the Evolutionary  argument doesn’t work for me. If Adam was simply one of billions of highly evolved organisms, a meat computer who’s hard drive has finally failed…then where did Adam go? Sure, the body he occupied for 37 years was laying there right before my eyes, simply not functioning anymore. But where’s Chef Curly saying “Cool Beans” and talking about a food glue he invented?

 

Valentine’s Day Tragedy (Refurbished MySpace Blog from March 31, 2008)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Valentine’s Day Tragedy

Current mood: shocked

Hey friends. Thank you SO much-all of you who called, texted, drove, prayed, etc. I wish I could speak to each of you personally, but since I can’t, please read:

I’m having a hard time remembering who I’ve told what and so heres a blog you can read and get the latest info. I’ve broken it up into headings, so if you’re not interested in the whole story you can skip down.

My First Valentine’s Day

I don’t want want to go into why I’m 29 and this was the first Valentine’s Day of my life when I have had a “significant other”, I just mention that so you will know that the night had a lot of meaning for me. I have been dating Albina Gadeliya for just over a month now and had a plan for Valentine’s Day- I was going to take her to River’s, a fancy restaurant in Glenwood Springs.

I had a very short time after work to rush home and get dressed and pick up the gifts I had for her. Outside the snow trickled down sparsely as Adagio for Strings (In 2004, Barber’s masterpiece was voted the “saddest classical” work ever by listeners of the BBC’s Today programme) played on the classical radio station (this was sort of the eerie soundtrack of the night for me-click play at the bottom of this blog). I got to her condo at about 6:30 and gave her the card I made her with a dozen roses and teddy bear wearing earrings (That would give us 2 hours to get to Rivers where I had an 8:30 reservation) She was rushing to get ready as well and gave me the card she made with a teddy bear and chocolates. She reached into her laundry closet to get something and leaned up against the water heater giving her a pretty bad burn on her right shoulder (2nd degree burn). She grabbed a bag of ice and we rushed out the door.

As we left town in my 95 Honda Passport, I didn’t tell her where we were going. We got on I 70 and she watched the exits for Horizon Drive, Clifton and Palisade pass and her curiosity rose. I noticed the thick clouds hanging among the Bookcliffs creating a surrealistic atmosphere and defining some of the closer spires like some gigantic otherworldy castle.We listened to Yo Yo Ma and then Miles Davis as we winded through DeBeque Canyon.

Something’s Not Right

She mentioned her ice was melting as we neared Rifle. We came upon a slow moving minivan covered in mud I and got into the left lane to pass it. I saw the van start veer into my lane several times and I just wanted to get by it. We passed it & had just passed the first Rifle exit when Albina said she really needed to do something about her ice. She asked if I could just pull over and she could scoop some snow into her bag.

The Accident

I pulled over on the shoulder and remember vividly thinking that I should pull over as far as possible since we were on the interstate. She unbuckled, turned around in her seat and put on her jacket and BAM! We were rear-ended by a vehicle moving between 65 and 75 miles per hour.

I think I saw Albina collapse into the floor board facing the seat. She passed out onto the seat amid chunks of broken bloody glass. My blood went cold and she breathed heavily-a kind of snore that meant her airway way in someway constricted. Thoughts ran through my head about what to do and not to in an accident/when people lose consciousness/ etc. I froze-I didn’t know what to do. I reached into my pocket, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why, but I set the phone down on the back seat-I think it was because I was more concerned with her.

I whispered to her, not knowing if I supposed to wake her up or not. After what seemed like eons, she woke up and that’s when I noticed her arm bent in the wrong place. She looked bewildered and looked at me for answers crying. She looked down at her arm as if to wonder why it wouldn’t moved and then back at me. A million thoughts went through my head-should I push her up off that arm? Should I just talk to her? What can I do? I reached over gently stroked her hair and told her everything would be OK.

I saw people start to surround my vehicle and that’s when I realized I had 911 on the line. I picked the phone up and tried to talk to them but firemen started to force open the doors. They were asking her questions, asking me questions and one guy I think was an off duty fireman who was the first to my car and I think that’s when 911 realized their people were there and I said bye. (Sometime about then I pulled my keys out of the ignition…I don’t know why…I think I thought if the engine was running still that might be dangerous)

They had a hard time trying to get my door open so they opened the back door. When I looked back, I think that is when I fully realized the back seat was at a 45 degree angle. They finally got my door open and saw the gash in the back of my head. It was the only pain I felt. One of the firemen put a rag on my head and helped me out of my Honda.

I saw the van that hit us about 40 yards in front of us and facing us. The front just a mess of crushed metal. As they walked me to the ambulance I saw the other guy being laid on a stretcher and heard Albina’s screams from my car. I saw my Honda in the ditch, headlights still on.

A fireman put a bandage around my head and I sat on the bench in the back of the ambulance praying that God would ease her pain. The back doors were wide open letting in the cold air with her screams and allowing me to see the traffic diverted around us. It seemed like I waited there for a week before they finally came in and put a neck brace on me and had me sit in the upright seat. I was hoping for them to put Albina in my ambulance, but instead they wheeled in the guy that hit me.

Quite frankly I was pissed off at the guy and didn’t want him near me. They had to cut his clothes off and he protested them cutting his coat up which pissed off the firemen. They scolded him and they asked him questions. I think I heard one of them say that he was not drinking and was not on any drugs.

Immediate Aftermath

They wheeled the guy out and that was the last I saw of him. They decided to put me on a stretcher and stabilize my neck to get me out. They wheeled Albina and I into adjacent rooms and I heard her still screaming. They cut my pants, shirt and tie off. They checked me out but then it seems like I laid there in that bed in that stiff neck brace staring at the ceiling for hours. I could see a clock and watched the hours go by. I wondered what they were doing to her and if there was anything wrong beside her arm.

It’s hard to remember when all this happened, but they got info from me and called my mom & dad & Canyon Vineyard Church (Where I work). Periodically a Police officer came in and told me some stuff.

At one point they rolled me on my side and I got nauseous and just about threw up-but it passed quickly. I heard them take Albina in for a CAT Scan and when they were done they ran one on me. Right before they took Albina out, they wheeled her next to me and let her say bye.

They wheeled me back into my room and after a while they came in stitched up my wound and put in 10 staples (I didn’t feel it at all). Finally I was done and by that time Nate & Maegan came to pick me up.

12-my-staples

The Drive Home

On the way home my mind kept playing through everything. Periodically I would have flashes of memories that seemed so real but just when I tried to concentrate on them they would vanish & make way for another one. At one point they flashed through my head in such a fast dream-like manner that I got nauseous and almost had to have Nate pull over. The drive seemed to take forever, especially with these weird thoughts rolling through my head. It made everything seem almost dreamlike. I remember we looked up to the clouds rolling off the foothills of Mt. Garfield and they seemed to take on a sinister-otherworldly look.

Finally we arrived at my house where SteveO & Daniel were waiting. I changed my clothes quickly (and found glass in my underwear!) and then then they took me to St. Mary’s.

At St. Mary’s

As we came in, Wes, Rebecca, Jared & Katie were there to greet us. (I think sometime around there was when I felt something in my mouth and realized it was a piece of glass) I was able to go immediately to where Albina was. I held her hand as they put 6 staples in the back right side of her head. After that, Anna Mazon came in and wheeled her to her room.

In her room, Wes, Rebecca, Jared, Katie, Nate, Maegan, Daniel & SteveO showed up and we all joined hands and prayed for her. After that everyone filed out of her room and I knelt down to say good night to her.

Just as I began to speak, the power of the entire city went out. The lights clicked off and all the hallway doors shut themselves. I was slightly scared at what this could do, not only to Albina, but all the patients. Then I remembered they ALWAYS have back up generators at hospitals. About 4 or 5 minutes later the power came back on. I said good night to Albina.

Home

SteveO & Daniel gave me a ride home. There was a strange fog thick around town as we went home at about 2:30am. I was dead tired but could not sleep until around 4 or 5am.

The Next Day

Albina’s arm was badly fractured around her elbow. They began surgery sometime around 2 and she wasn’t out until after 6. I was finally able to see her then. Beside periodic bursts of pain between morphine doses she seemed a thousand times better. Finally her eyes were open and she was talking to all of us. (Her mom drove up from Colorado Springs and her twin sister Agnessa drove from Salt Lake)

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Saturday

Saturday Wes drove me to the hospital around 1 and I just spent the rest of the day with Albina in her room. That night after I left (around 2am) her block from surgery wore off. This was the most excruciating pain she had felt yet.

Sunday

When I woke up I picked the last piece of glass out of my hair.

She felt much better today but due to the drugs and her anemia she has been drowsy almost to the point of falling asleep all day.

Monday

Wes drove me to Rifle where I we finally saw the wreckage and I got all of my stuff out of it.

________

What’s Left of My Honda

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Tuesday & Wednesday

Albina is very drowsy, nauseous and gets dizzy very easily from all the meds and her anemia.

Thursday

Finally! She’s out of the hospital! She is still feeling drowsy and has intermitent pain but she’s actually got a little appetite. She had her staples removed earlier and at lunch today she took my staples out!

I got a fax of the accident report today and apparently the guy that hit us had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Thank You

I have had a flood of calls, texts and emails from friends and family. Maegan & Lucee offered to make me dinners. Pastor Wade has hooked me up with a car I can borrow until I get a new one. Wes & Rebecca have been there at every moment. Jared & Katie were there at the hospital despite barely even knowing Albina. I really feel bad that haven’t been able to get back to everyone who dropped by or left a message. Also, my initial text message failed to get to half of my phone book-so please don’t feel less important to me if you didn’t get the text. Albina has really enjoyed all the flowers-she has 12 bouquets last I counted.

Most of all, of course, I want to thank the Lord. We were parked and hit by a vehicle going Interstate speed and we are alive to tell the story. Thank you God.

Currently listening :

Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11/Orchestral Music; Leonard Slatkin

By Samuel Barber

Release date: 25 October, 1990

How I Broke My Neck (refurbished blog from MySpace 10-27-08)

Monday, October 27, 2008

How I Broke My Neck

Josh the Mountain Goat Monkey

If you have hung out with me at all in the outdoors, you know I can’t help but to climb anything that is climbable. I look at trees & rocks as playground equipment built by God. Every time I glance at granite cliffs, a building with interesting architecture, or a grove of old growth trees, my mind automatically projects a rout to the top and some sort instinct inside tells me weather it is possible. The instinct is probably right like 90% of the time and is probably based on a lifetime as a Colorado kid, or maybe from “monkeying around” on the jungle gym dad built in the  backyard, or maybe being the son of an avid mountain climber (he climbed all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 peaks in the span of 10 years)

Anyway, I had often looked at the giant cottonwood tree on Old Man Gallop’s property, close enough to the fence between us to share a little pouring of its leaves and most of its shade with us. Old Man Gallup has several acres of property south of mine & my roommate’s house and as far as I can tell the whole place is fenced in by a 6ft. high barbed wire fence. Occasionally he takes his horse for a trot out there before retreating back to the more wooded half of his property that is cluttered with old cars. His house probably several hundred yards from the edge of where our suburban neighborhood meets his property.

I always wished that tree was ours a we have no trees in our yard. We would do so much with it: put a tree swing on it, build a tree house in it, jump out of it on to or trampoline, or just climb it.

Climbing Old Man Gallup’s Tree

So, Sunday (the 19th) I came home from lunch at Dos Hombres to an empty house. StevO called me up to go shooting, and now I wish more than anything I had went ahead to the store to buy ammo. Instead a quiet afternoon reading a book seemed more inviting. I dragged a lawn chair into the backyard grass, sat down and opened “A Wind in the Door”. The October afternoon was so perfect I had to look up and observe after every paragraph. Once again I looked at Old Man Gallup’s tree, my eyes mapping out the many branches as I thought ‘Why haven’t I ever climbed that tree before?’

I had my plan, I would get my camera, take a few pictures from up high and come down and get back to my book. When I got to the fence I remembered what had stopped me before. To get in the tree, I would need to be on Old Man Gallup’s property and the worst part…there are no limbs lower than about 15 feet.

I climbed on top of the fence post and studied the only reachable branch. It curved from the tree drooping behind me almost to the ground. The only way I was going to climb this tree was to get myself on top of that branch. I thought about what I’d need to do .I’ve done it many times in other trees before. I jumped up and grabbed the branch. I swung my legs up around it. The a limb sticking up almost vertical about 4 inches thick. Next I would need to use that limb to wrench myself around to the top of the branch. I grabbed ahold with my right hand and tugged, it felt secure. With my left hand I reached up to 3 inch branch that split off from it. I think a small thought in my head said if this one breaks, my right will hold me.

I grabbed the smaller branch with my left hand which transferred most of my body weight to the 4 inch branch. With a suddenness that seemed to preceed even grasping the branch there was a loud snap! I had the split second feeling of having the world yanked out from under me like a table cloth.

The Scariest Moment of My Life

From what the doctor says I landed on my head first which snapped back fracturing a joint in my lower neck. I lay in a pile of dead branches. I tried to move but it felt like a 200lb. person was sitting on my chest. I tried to move my hands but they wouldn’t budge. I felt pain everywhere and I panicked. “Help!” I cried. I rolled myself around in the sticks yelling “Help! Somebody help!” but I knew I was too far away for anyone to hear. I had to get up. Breathing as if that 200lb person was still on my chest, I struggled against the pulsating pain to my tingling feet. I looked myself over trying to figure out what was wrong. I saw blood but didn’t know where it was from. My right arm looked weird, was it broken? I realized I was hunched over and bent to the right. “Oh $%&), HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!” I whined.

The closest people I knew of were one house passed an empty lot to the west of our house. I yelled in that direction to no avail. I realized I had my cell phone in my left pocket. I reached down and pawed the phone with my limp fingers. There was no way I was getting it out. To find help would I would have to get outside of this barbed wire fence! In the back of my head I knew there where no gates near and looking around confirmed it. Then a terrible thought came to me, I was going to have to hurl my limp body, already blasting with pain, onto the barbed wire and flip over the fence! No way I thought, there’s got to be a way out.

I wobbled on my numb tingly legs east to he fence by our front yard. Thank God, there some kids riding bikes in dead end of our street.

“Hey kid! Can you call an ambulance? I fell out of that tree over there and hurt myself pretty bad,” I said through painful gasps. Soon the kid had informed our next door neighbors Kenny and Vicki. I was able to explain to Kenny what happened through labored breathes and sweating profusely. My entire body screamed in pain and I tried to change my position to ease the pain. Kenny was able to reach through the fence get my cell phone out of my pocket. I leaned my head on my forearm on the fence which slightly relieved pain. Then I tried laying in the weeds, that helped a little bit.

I heard Vicky say “Oh Josh,” and start praying for me. I grunted every breath and it seemed like half an hour before the ambulance got there. Finally I heard the sirens and out of my peripheral could see a fire truck pull up. Firemen  cut a hole in the fence and strapped me to a board as an ambulance backed up to the fence. The cut my shirt off and told me not move as they strapped a neck brace on. Ivs  were jammed in to my arm, questions were asked, the ride seemed to take an hour before I saw through the ambulance sunroof a crane overhead indicating we had arrived at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s, Prognosis and Rehab

They ran me through claustrophobia tube…I mean MRI and found I have a fracture in my C5 vertebrae. The fracture itself is not displaced and will heal fine. However, the pain in my back, arms and hands is coming from swelling in the spine inside an already irregularly  narrow spinal canal (apparently some people are born with this).  They also found some degenerated/bulging discs that were from something previous, hmmm what could that be from? Flipping over the handlebars of  a motorcycle? Tumbling down the ditch at 30mph in the Ridges after falling of my longboard? T-boning an SUV at 45mph on Broadway? Catching an edge snowboarding and tumbling down the hard packed snow? Or perhaps getting rear-ended by a guy doing 65mph when I was at a standstill? Anyway, Dr. Clifford thought I may need surgery to relieve the swelling and so I wasn’t aloud to eat until the next day. I got a catheter, oxygen, IV, a Sterroid and foot circulators hooked up to me  and went to sleep staring at the ceiling. Wes stayed with me that first night.

The next day Dr. Clifford explained to me that surgery was optional. They could do a procedure to widen my spinal canal or they could remove the degenerated discs and fuse those three vertebrae together. Really surgery would be a preventative measure in case I got in an accident like this again. I chose not to have surgery.

Those first few days my hands were by far the most painful part of my body. They constantly felt like they were burning. That has gone down a lot and though I still can’t extend my fingers, the only constant pain is my right thumb (tingly and numbish), my left ring finger (sharp pain) and dull pain in neck/back. The worst thing I’m experiencing though is that sometimes when I move just right I think its pinching a nerve. This is by far the most painful thing I have ever felt. When it happens I can never really figure out what position caused it and so I spend a terrifying minute trying to move out of the position. It feels like I’m having a heart attack or being electrocuted starting at my spine and running through my shoulder straight to my thumb. It’s like some one taking plyers and crushing the raw nerve or pouring liquid metal down my arm.

So after spending several nights being woken up for vitals and fed Percoset or Vicaden and Flexerol and Lyrica every few hours, it was on to rehab floor where I am now. This floor is mainly for recovering senior citizens and so for the last few days I’ve felt like I’m trapped in an old folk’s home.

I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, techs, PTs, Ots, ect. That have worked on me…I think there’s been at least 50! Most have been above average nice! Most of all I want to thank mom & dad for making several trips here from Craig despite their own problems (Granddad has the flu) and taking shifts sleeping on the couch in my room, Wes and Recbecca for spending almost every evening with me and Wes also sleeping on that crappy recliner. Also, I have been blown away by the response of my friends! I have had at least 1 vistor every day and like 12 one day! You have all cared SO much! Thank you for the sweets, the cards, drawings, and even flowers! I can’t describe how seeing you guys has helped me get through this! I was going to list all of you but then I feel like crap if I missed someone! Also, was pretty out of it on pain med a couple of times and some of you didn’t realize you had to stand directly over me for me to see you with this collar on! Oh and last but certainly not least….in fact, first, Thank You Lord, you were with me the whole time reminding me “…that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Currently listening :

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

By Fatboy Slim

Release date: 1998-10-20

Human Life’s Averment

March 11, 2016

I saw something today that was difficult to comprehend. Though it was something very common in our day and age, something I have heard about as far back as I can remember, it was hard to believe. I saw on a TV monitor, grey, white and black splotches that etched out the shape of a complicated little object. I am told this a computer image of what is inside my wife’s uterus but I cannot seem to make this connect to the same reality of my wife’s tangible fingers interlaced in mine and the technician at the computer across from us.

Finally I’m able to move passed the feeling that this is just the same ultrasound picture that I’ve seen in movies and TV shows and realize this is not a stock photo or a YouTube clip; this is a real-time image. Those grey and white blobs define the unmistakable arch of a skull complete with teeth, the dashed line of a spine, the pulsating spaces of a heart, the stripes of ribs and various white sticks that are arm and leg bones. What I’m watching is the actual movements of a tiny human baby and not just any of the millions around the world this same day, but this one….this one is my son.

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Thumbs up, mom & dad!

If I recall correctly, it was about 2002 and I was 23 the first time I felt like I was really ready to be a father. I didn’t even have a girlfriend at the time, but a friend had just given birth to her baby boy and was bringing him around the house I lived in at the time. I’ll never understand God’s timing, but here it is nearly 13 years later and finally it’s really my turn to be a father. I feel like every year gone by has made this a little harder to believe, but it doesn’t dull the enormity of it all.

The usual thoughts of expectant parents start pouring in like: Will he have my nose? Does he have Shelly’s lips? Is he going to have those big blue eyes like his mother? Is he going to have a great sense of humor? What kind of man will he grow up to be? Like all parents I hope he’ll grow up to be great, to be honorable and wise. I think about all of these traits and where they’re coming from. I look at the perfect curvature of his little scull. How is he so perfectly human? Shelly and I only “knew each other” to put it in Biblical terms, but other than that, what did we do? Nothing. We didn’t have to concentrate really hard. We didn’t have to carefully sculpt him with our hands. We didn’t have to be careful to remember what all goes into a human to make sure he is being built right. So where did this new little person come from? If not our hands, whose are guiding his shapes and numbering his ribs and vertebrae? So much of who and what we are is laid out like a computer program in our DNA. So this organic code is driving the formation of our boy, but now more than ever I am hung up on where on earth did this blue print come from? It passed from Shelly and I, and ours came from our parents which got theirs from our grandparents and so on. But how long does that go back? How long has the code been building humans as we know them?

I watch that screen in perpetual amazement; I really think I could sit there all day watching. What is most fascinating is when he decides to move. This creature inside of my wife is making an autonomous movement and it just hits me that he is a complete entity of his own. Yes he is tied to his mother by an umbilical cord and at this point could not survive outside the womb, but that does nothing to mute the loud averment of this distinctly human gestalt displayed before us.

Later that same day I am scrolling through Facebook posts and I come across a post that would normally get my hackles up, but today it hits me more somber. Its a liberal friend’s post about how evangelicals are fickle because they have only defined life at conception since sometime in the 70’s. I’ve read many posts like it and the bottom line is that the author is trying to find some loophole or some new angle in which they can debunk the Pro-Life movement. It is just so sad to me that my friend, like the writers of these articles, is so desperate to find some argument or point of view that proves people don’t really have souls so their conscious can be clear if they or a friend should choose an abortion.

I could drown in the quick-sand of addressing each of these articles and blogs, but I’ll save us all the pitiful sight of more of these online shouting matches. You may think I am choosing to remain ignorant by not hearing out each of the Pro-Choice arguments, but I think I can safely say I don’t need to hear anymore. Why? Because I know what I saw today. I observed, with my own two eyes, my own son-with a skull like mine, two eyes, a nose and little fists and I saw him get uncomfortable-the same way I do in bed at night-and roll over. From this point you can level every argument known to man against the Pro-Life viewpoint and it simply wouldn’t make sense to me. Recently NARAL was upset when a Doritos commercial humorously depicted a baby shooting out of the womb to grab a chip. They tweeted “ – that Doritos ad using tactic of humanizing fetuses…”. “Humanizing fetuses”? Besides the silliness of the baby reacting to the Dorito outside the womb, in what way did the creators of the commercial humanize the fetus? Maybe the people at NARAL have never seen what I saw today, because the fetus in an ultrasound is plenty human on its own without any manipulation or editing. Trying to tell me what I saw today isn’t human is the same as telling me a puppy isn’t a dog, or a sapling is not a tree: it just isn’t rational.

As the days go by I only get to watch my wife’s belly grow, but she gets to feel the little guy squirm, kick and roll around. His movements are a daily reminder that he is alive and well and Shelly’s growing womb is an undeniable sign of the eventuality that our son will have completed his stage of dependency on the confines of mom’s body. We will soon hold in our hands a crying, breathing, human baby ready for the outer world.

How's this for humanizing an ultrasound? Baby Anderson 3-7-16
How’s this for humanizing an ultrasound? Baby Anderson 3-7-16

 

Review of The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson 12-3-15

As Christians we argue over the best methods to evangelize. We debate over the Cessationists vs. the Charismatics, Calvinism vs. Armenianism, Creation vs. Evolution. I’ve been a part of many of these tense “discussions” and really can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone change their stance on any issue. For time I was reading a lot of Creationist literature and found myself astounded by the scientific evidence for Creation. I thought, ‘if only Evolutionists, atheists and the like knew this stuff, surely they would change their mind.’ However, in instances where I saw these ‘silver-bullet’ Creationist ideas being used, I was surprised to see the opponent not only unchanged, but seemingly even more stalwart in their stance. Finally I realized (with the help of other writers, etc.) that a mountain of evidence in any debate means nothing when someone has a presupposition toward something (they will simply interpret all evidences through the lens of their presupposition). So I wondered, ‘if the most amazing scientific facts can’t convince someone, what can?’. The answer, I believe, is something like this from this unheard-of preacher, published in 1908. It’s simply looking deep into this Jesus we claim to believe is the Son of God. It is a methodical, piece by piece study of every attribute of the Lord that we can possibly garner from scripture. When we quit practicing our Christianity looking horizontally human to human and look heavenward toward the Christ, our batteries are finally recharged, we are set ablaze and we actually WANT to share our faith. Books like this (and AW Tozer’s The Attributes of God) revive my love for Jesus.

Dark Apartment (from September 24, 2004)

9-24-04 Last night something really freaky went on. The only thing that makes it seem all normal or OK is that I’m pretty sure it was all a dream. I think I had been dreaming of being somewhere and I think I was with my brother. The scary part started when I thought I woke up. My eyes were barely opened and for some odd reason I didn’t recognize the room. There was a slight panic as I tried to remember where I was. Even as I started to remember I was here in my apartment it still seemed a little different or unfamiliar. Then I started to hear something like what I thought was a “ruckus” downstairs. There seemed to be a lot of commotion down there and I thought the lady below me was going to come up here or something. I heard talking (or yelling?) I think that’s when I heard a cookie sheet pop in my kitchen. The commotion may have been the neighbors on the other side plying music or video games but it sort of blurred into a constant roaring (This could have been a train going by because I live close to the train tracks) But my mind began to reel as I tried to figure out what was going on. Then I heard what sounded like someone brushing across blinds in the living room (but not mine, more like those vertical hanging type) back & forth. This rumbling sound continued and about the same time I heard this weird strained breathing with a bit of “voice” in it…sort of like a goblin – I swore I saw one, two…maybe three shadows pass my bedroom door way. I was panicking and frozen in fear. Then I thought I saw the arm of another figure walking by but then I realized I was looking at my dining room table. At the height of all the creepiness, as I lay there feeling paralyzed in fear I called out “In Jesus Name, leave me alone!” That is when it all stopped immediately. This one fact is what also led me to believe there was something spiritual actually happening and not just my half-asleep mind warping some outside noises and maybe some sleep paralysis.At that moment I managed to lift my head and completely open my eyes. I laid back down and thought about all this stuff and the fear made me start crying. Tears poured out of my eyes because it was so real. Just now writing about it I got chills and my eyes teared up (5:30AM)

Dreams between 4-20 & 4-24-15‏

I dreamed something about a group of us dancing in a sort of a club type place sort of like Mesa Theater. Shelly was there. Then somehow I was in Five Iron Frenzy only it was just me and Reese Roper. We went out on stage right after MxPx finished their show. There was a huge crowd and I started playing my bass but it was all out of tune and one string wasn’t even set in the neck grooves. I started tuning but my guitar head was a refill bottle of milk & honey handsoap I started turning the tuning pegs and that’s all I remember.
Then I was like on the Kaleo worship team or something and my instrument was (now I can’t really remember) really small…like two halves of a walnut that I would clap together in rhythm.

A few nights later I was sort of dreaming about the wedding & stuff. I had drawn a book much like the engagement book I used to propose to Shelly and was flipping through it looking at the pictures. I knew there needed to be some more scenes added but was surprised to see they were there. Ten I realized Tim Essig (one of wedding photographers) had drawn them in and mimicked my style really well. Then I noticed he’d doodled some comics on the back of some of the pages and they were REALLY good! I remember being jealous that he was making time to draw while still being a photographer.
I was showing the book to Shelly when the scene sort of morphed in us hanging out in the middle of a small street (it seemed like mainly in a 3rd world country). The book I had been showing her turned into a little color guide type thing that fit inside this plastic shell (something like the side piece/storage compartment on my motorcycle but blue) I was sitting Indian style and I think Shelly was laying across my lap. There was lots of foot traffic all around and some men kind of yelled at me to move. Then I realized, it was Muslim men heading to their Mosque on one side of the street and they thought, because of my bald had, that I was a Buddhist and should be joining them in their temple right across the street.

Review of “Simplicity” by Mark Salomon 4-28-15

Mark demonstrates how his years in a Christian band, even in the punk scene, grew him to realize the entire industry called “Christian Music” or “Christian Record Label” or “Christian whatever” is basically a sham. Over his years in the band The Crucified he realized that he & the band were being put on a pedestal and expected to be pastors or perfect role models.

This book was highly interesting to me as I was intensely interested in “Christian Music” in high school and college and particularly in the scene that Mark’s bands & involvements were in (The Crucified, Stavesacre, Tooth & Nail Records, etc.) I was like the number one supporter of all Christian bands, radio, record labels, magazines, etc. Over time I realized that it would be far more beneficial if most (most, not all!) of these bands were just going out into the music industry the way any secular band would. Sink or swim, it would on the one hand be more challenging to musician’s talent and professionalism, and on the other, an infiltration of believers into the general music industry*. Sure, it would make it much more difficult for parents to make sure their kids only hear wholesome stuff, but think about the non-believers who would be exposed good music that was made by people who were, at the heart driven by The Spirit (even if they never actually mention Jesus in their songs or had alter calls at their concerts!) This is exactly the train of thought, I believe, that Mark is getting across in this book.

Also, this book is fun for someone who has listened to Stavesacre since the 90’s and has a Crucified album laying around at home. I loved hearing the back story of Mark’s journey in music. I hope he writes again because it would be great to hear more about Staveacre (this book was mostly about The Crucified years) I am also very curious about his involvement in CHATTERbOX and Argyle Park and he never even mentioned Outer Circle!

Altogether a great read, especially if you were ever into Christian music, more so the edgier stuff.

 

*I think in the decades since the 90’s there is more of trend in this direction.

Links to Friends’ Creations

I’m constantly blown away by the talents of everyone I know and none of them are getting the attention they deserve! I hope I can help just a tiny bit! (Working on links over time)

Shelly [Steenwyk] Anderson: blogger- Laughing Under Waterfalls

Josh Anderson (me!): blogger: JoshStories, graphic designer, artist: Josh Anderson Art Blog, somewhat musician

Wes Anderson: graphic designer

Stephen Wallace: woodworkerartist: Anchor Worksauthor: Nickel’s Fortune

Andrea Cronin: “Repurposed Vintage and Adventures” blog and store: The Lovely Adventure

Nathan Carson: artist: NART, graphic designer NARTwriter & poet: Dear Poetry, musician: Koima

Troy DeRose: artist, graphic designer: Fixer Creative, musician: The Invisibles, The Yes We Cans

Aaron Sheley: writer, poet: , film critic, film director, actor, producer, musician: The Dead Telluriders

Daniel Dawson: photographer, videographer

Jon James: musician, producer, videographer: Shedd Studios

Butch McCain: actor, musician: The McCain Brothers & Cuzin Jed, voice artist

Charity Meinhart: graphic designer, photographer, musician: Jake Wilkinson’s Unicycle

Dave Hansow: entrepreneur, founder of non-profits Light Gives Heat (Suubi, Epoh), Chrome Buffalo, The Find, graphic designer

Dale (Pagenkopf) Brown: graphic designer

Chase Martinez: musician: Chamberlynn, Starship Romance, ChaseMance, The Redlands, Valeta

Eve Roberts: blogger: Dabblism & FruitNVeggie

Jeff Kirtland: musician: Free While Supplies Last, Jake Wilkinson’s Unicycle

Justin Nordine: artist, tattoo artist: The Raw Canvas

Benson Broyles: musician: The Pineapple Crackers (R.I.P.)

Sean & Megan Henry: artists & photographers: Revelare Photography

Peter Rosenthal: musician: Dirtylectric

Dustin Wise: musician: Mike’s Chair & Plaid Owl, audio production: Plaid Owl Productions

Jim Blevins: musician, web designer: 100 Watt Design

Jen DuBois: artist: Jennifer Kay Art, blogger: Beauty from the Ordinary

Elise Soniat: photographer: Source of Light Imagery

Corey Wright: muscian: The Steadfast Project-Corey Wright Music

Danny Odem: musician: Mode

Arlo DiCristina: artist, tattoo artist at The Raw Canvas

Amos Biocic: artist, fabricator: Myrick Designs

Wade Yamaguchi: photographer, videographer: Yamo Films

Shea Bramer: artist, songwriter, musician, producer, entertainer: Shea Bramer Music, Autumn’s Chase

Melora Coyle: tattoo artist at The Raw Canvas

Rob Labig: musician: The New Fall of Man

Josh Roberts: musician: Loaded .45, Loaded .45 at bandcamp.com and Bad Karma Kings

Scott Aneloski: artist, graphic designer: Scott Ford Aneloski

Colter Harkins: actor

Bre Skaggs: graphic designer, artist

Josh Christensen: photographer, blogger: Josh the Wanderer

Haven Herrera: artist, rapper: SolidSavage, Illfluent, Rated Ill

Ian Barefoot: artist: Xanthier, Ion-Design

Casey Dry: musician: Junk Drawer, Tight Thump

Ray & Candace Ward: Thailand missionaries & entrepreneurs: The Outpour Movement, Famous Rays Burgers, Famous Rays Bicycle Shop, the Refuge Children’s Home

Seth Schaeffer: musician, videographer, web designer, producer: Hoptocopter Films

Brose Deply (Rob): film maker, director: In Bloom Pictures

Jeremy Plantinga engineer, entrepreneur, inventor: Crux Offroad

Troy Behrens: musician: Five Face Down, photographer: Time Flies Photography

 

 

Fernie Garcia: musician

Emily Knapp: graphic designer, musician

Travis Roberts: musician, producer

Dustin Haily: graphic designer

Tim Nutting: musician, founding pastor: Life Community Church

Paul Watson: founding pastor: The Downtown Vineyard Church

Curt Lincoln: founding pastor

Andrew Mabrey: musician: Autumn’s Chase

Melissa Pruitt: photographer: LaTeeDa Photography

Vanessa Jergensen: photographer: Ginger Moose

Rob Wallace: musician

Steve McGarry: musician

Dan Cox: author

Will Arbaugh: author

Danielle Cox: artist

Lawrence Aguirre: artist, dancer

Melissa Ludeman: blogger

Daniel Bachert: photographer: Copper Photography

Cheryl Talbott: artist

Tim Herrera: artist, break dancer

Tyler Gonerka: graphic designer, musician: Autumn’s Chase

Brooke Jeschke: graphic designer

Danny Tavori: musician

Jen Rossman: artist, graphic designer

Kevin Decker: musician, photographer

Joel Watson: graphic designer, web developer

Leah Allard: artist

 

Review of “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” by John Piper

Although I disagree with Piper’s Calvinistic views, I have otherwise found him to be a solid teacher of the Bible. I admire the authority and respect that he hold for the Word. That being said, his speaking/writing are little more dull to me than other favorite writers or speakers.
Desiring God’s over-arching theme is one I kind of thought I would agree on from the outset and finishing the book, I, for the most part still do agree. It’s kind of funny though, because I think Piper was addressing lots of critics of what he terms “Christian Hedonism” and so the reader automatically feels like they are opposing him and you’re being thoroughly debated even if you agree with him! I completely agree that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever”. I feel like using the term “Hedonism” (even though he gives good reason in the last Appendix) is a little off base. It seems he has garnered unneeded controversy over using that term when he simply could have said it another way.