Wednesday, January 23, 2008


We've been watching Ken Burns' fine DVD series about World War II, "The War." At one point, Burns points out that the young soldiers used language they never would have dreamed of using at home. That fact, coupled with lack of confidence in their superior leadership, caused the soldiers to come up with colorful slang to describe their circumstances. So acronyms like "SNAFU: Situation Normal All F----ed Up" and "FUBAR: F---ed Up Beyond All Recognition" came into usage.

Somewhere after I turned 30 until about 45 I put my nose to the grindstone, put blinders on and buried myself in my work, thinking that work and money would meet my family's needs. I disregarded my role as spiritual leader and my marriage and relationship with my sons became like a long, drawn-out war. Gwen describes knowing how terrible things were, but deciding to hunker down, battle it out, keep a "stiff upper lip" and to keep on doing the right thing despite what I was doing. She says she would go out of our home determined to act "normal" and come home to a "mausoleum" (after all, I had "buried myself" in my work). I was spiritually dead. Although Gwen wouldn't use such language, our home life became a SNAFU.

"The War" describes what was then called "battle fatigue," with symptoms like numbness, depression, excessive irritability, guilt, nightmares, flashbacks, and overreaction. Army planners determined that the average soldier could withstand no more than 240 days of combat without going mad. But, by that time, the average soldier was probably dead or wounded. Gwen and I have been married 30 years now. For most of those years she was involved in combat with my arrogance, pride and my flesh nature. She did exhibit many battle fatigue symptoms and it's a wonder she didn't go mad.

It pains me now to think that Gwen and my sons lived that way. It pains me that my leadership was so misguided and my sense of right and wrong was so warped. It pains me that my judgment was so poor. If I had it to do over again, things would be so different. I know now that my values were warped (Some might say FUBAR). If I had it to do over again, I would've realized that building my spirit and those closest to me was more important than building my business or my bank account. As it turns out for me, none of them were built up.

Now for the hard part. Some of us (yes, maybe even you) have yet to recognize that our wives may consider our marriages to be like a long, drawn-out war. Some of our wives feel like prisoners of war. In that war, our enemy is not our wives, but as the saying goes,

"We have met the enemy and he is us"

For some of us, it's time to wave the white flag, call a truce and begin negotiations to surrender. Only pride and ignorance are stopping us. If you don't know, ask her.

Peace, Kim

Friday, January 18, 2008

P4E.056 Wishing On A Star

I'm not sure why I'm writing this post. It has something to do with believing the idea that physical circumstances are put into my life by God to teach me spiritual lessons. I try to take notice when unusual things happen and when the same darn thing happens over and over again.

A few nights ago, I went out to take one of our dogs, Dunkin, a yellow Labrador retriever, for a walk as usual. As soon as I walked out of the house I noticed the silence. I live near some well-travelled streets and it is very unusual for it to be truly quiet. This silence was as though I had covered my ears and drowned out all sound. I looked up. Crystal clear, dry and cool, stars twinkled against the dark night sky. A sliver of a crescent moon, like a luminescent rose petal, hovered above the mountains in the west. I turned around to look at the sky just above my house. Out of the corner of my eye, coming out of the east, I saw a streak of light. It looked like a firework sparkler with a long tail and lazily streaked from my right to my left so close in the air above me. As it sped silently towards the setting crescent moon it disappeared. It felt like I was in a lucid dream. The feeling I got was one of catching a glimpse of true harmony in the Universe. I felt peace. It caught my breath...

CS Lewis described moments like these as "romantic," as exemplified in Novalis' Blaue Blume (Blue Flower). Sometimes it might be a piece of music, a poem, a scenic view in nature that gives us that romantic, fleeting, glimpse of what harmony with the Creator would be like. My wife, Gwen, says that she experiences these moments when she's doing "natural-horsemanship" training with her silver-dun quarter horse, Sterling.

When events converge like they did for me that night I'm filled with a seemingly unfulfilled longing; a striving for the infinite and unreachable. We belong with God, in Heaven, and events like these confirm our "fish-out-of-water" existence here on earth. I wanted that feeling, that moment, to last longer....forever. Of course, it didn't. At once, the silence and the "spell" were broken. It's so hard to describe the "magic" of that moment. It makes me wonder what it will be like...with Him...forever...

Have you ever experienced something like this? How did it make you feel?

Peace, Kim

PS - I'm not a superstitious person, but yes, I did make a wish. The first wish that came to mind was that my relationship with my wife and my 3 sons would continue to improve and be whole and healthy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

P4E.055 RUDE!!!

I was rude to my 14 year old son, Ben, a few nights ago. We (Gwen, Ben and I) were watching a DVD movie and I commented about a place in the movie where I thought one of the characters was rude to another. Ben was playing on his Nintendo DS at the time and asked what I was talking about. While the movie was still playing, I tried to reconstruct the part that I had commented on. He didn't get it. I started to get impatient. I thought, "He's playing his game. He's not paying attention to the movie." I stopped the movie and rewound it to the part I was talking about and re-played it. Ben got snarky and said "And the problem is?" I thought, "Now he's being rude!" and said "You're not paying attention. You lose the right to ask questions!"

Gwen stepped in and said, "I disagree! There's never a wrong time to ask questions. You are working on the computer, Ben's playing his game and I'm reading at the same time we're watching this movie. YOU are being rude! You shouldn't shut Ben down from asking questions. You've done that before, but don't do it to him." I countered "I may be working on the computer, but I'm not asking questions!" A wrestling match ensued between my flesh and my spirit. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to debate and show how my perspective was valid. I agonized about how it was possible that Ben didn't see how the character in the movie was being rude. I didn't want to admit that I had been rude. I wanted to focus on how I thought Ben had been disrespectful to me. Part of me didn't appreciate that Gwen was pointing out my faults in front of Ben.

I took a breath and made the effort to reorient my brain and spirit. Gwen was right. I had shut her and my older sons down in so many ways. What I had done before didn't work. I was repeating an old behavior. We were all multi-tasking while watching the movie. I was being hypocritical by faulting Ben for playing his game while I was balancing the checkbook on the computer. The irony of being rude while pointing out rudeness was not lost on me. It was only my pride that cringed at having my faults exposed.

I was able to regroup and answer Ben's question and he did understand why the character in the movie was being rude. The movie played on. I'm embarrassed to tell you that Gwen had to prompt me to apologize to Ben. I did. It's difficult when my flesh wants to take control. Pride is a formidable opponent. Later, Gwen reminded me how important it is to acknowledge my offense and apologize as quickly as possible. Having the perspective that Gwen is my help to become a more Christlike person really helps. She truly is prompting me to become a better person. I obviously need the help.

Your partner in Crime Prevention, Kim