justbarelymadeit

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When God made it clear I wasn’t a very good Dad.

I remember that moment in church…sitting vulnerable before communion. I am supposed to confess my sin and reach out to God for communion and intimacy. All the normal confessions rolled through my head… lust, anger, impatience, dishonesty, condescension and greed… all of the local flavors of each finding their honest way to my tongue and each vanquishing on the altar of forgiveness. Then it happened. I made the brutally honest request of God to show me what I should be teaching my children.

Why did I do that? I knew what I needed to teach each child. I knew each of them intimately and deeply. I helped them come into this world and have been with them each and every step since. I knew these human children and new what they needed to flourish. I never claimed or thought myself perfect. I knew I had flaws and a tendency towards anger and critique. But in that I could see their weaknesses and what they needed to improve to be a success later in life…if only they would heed my warnings. I worked toward that goal and encouraged, and berated my children to make their futures brighter. If only they would listen.

But… then I had to go and ask God, what do I need to teach my children. After all I already knew what they needed. What a foolish question to posit. And. He. Answered. And long has it been since my soul has been shaken in this manner. Because His answer was unlike anything I had planned. He said to me almost as clear as day. Your children need to learn compassion, gentleness….kindness.  These are the things that they need. Can you teach that to them, Lonnie?

I was floored, because none of those were on my top five list. I …couldn’t even register this properly. I sat there in confusion and hurt. Open and vulnerable to the God I needed, I couldn’t even process this initially. I already knew what my kids needed and I worked ceaselessly towards it. Whether it made me the bad guy or not…some day he might thank me if he might get it. But that voice came back and insisted… “Lonnie…Regardless of your ability or not… I want you to teach your babies compassion, gentleness and kindness. I can sort the rest out… trust me.”

Oh that difficulty… trust you?  How can I trust you? How can I teach these things when I cannot seem to know them myself…. And that is when He reminded me that, He had little need for my skill. He had little need for any expertise I might have. It was and always is the weakest of these that He has chosen to use, ultimately for His glory. And those… those of the ones He gave what they needed. So, I hope to trust in that then. I hope to trust that somehow in some weird bizarro way I cannot understand God is going to show me how to teach my boys compassion… my girl how to be kind. And screw all the rest, if they learn nothing else to be compassionate, gentle and kind…the rest will fall in line.

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Here We Find Ourselves

Lord here I am,

The weakest weekend warrior in the area.
False in my assuming and impotent in my trying.
I am here to be yours, but oh how I fail at it.

Take this for what its worth, nothing much there.
But isn’t that what You do?
Isn’t that who you use?
The weakest and most foolish of us?
I have spent my life seeking Your truth and never quite finding it.

Relying on that power of knowledge.
Relying on the certainty I have managed to dredge.
Relying on me.

And yet I have come up short.
Any yet I have just made myself tired.
And yet I have just nothing.

Lord take what very little I might have and please use it before I end.
Take it and use it before it fades.
Or…let it fade and perhaps there I might be something.

I still seek to be something but refuse complete surrender.

I see the jealousy and impotence in my life and just want to scream it away.
thank You.

Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame
He stands on the stool, shirtless and wearing old pajama bottoms. Around his neck a homemade cape hangs denoting otherworldly powers. His blonde hair askew, and his face frozen in a rictus of rage and omnipotent power. Below him a boy in briefs and a camo shirt waves a spatula defiantly, even though this might be it for him. Facing this mighty foe, he regardless stands his ground, howling his strength and defiance.

Freeze Frame.
My arm aches slightly as I look down at my burden, a fat smiling baby, shirt soaked in her own drool. Blue eyes survey her dominion beneath a mess of curly brown hair. A young boy dances unmindful of those around him, swinging a whisk like a baton. The music filling his ears, and his mind, is the only thing he cares of at that very moment.

Freeze Frame.
A beautiful mother stands laughing at her ridiculous husband who somehow after years still thinks he can dance. She straightens the kitchen in an endless battle against the mess, knowing tomorrow she will retake this battlefield and engage the very same foe.

Freeze Frame.
I pause in my dancing and my heart aches as I see my family, all mistakes. All unintended. What a grace, I have been given. In this moment, I don’t – can’t – remember the bad days, the days I am so tired and angry and hopeless. I can’t even see that because of the mystical beauty of life I am caught up in.

I never intended any of this, and yet here I am. How someone could intentionally put an end to this I cannot fathom.

One More Year

It’s my birthday today, and today I turn Thirty two.

Now that I am an adult and responsible and such, I feel it might be important for me to spend some time in memory. Here are some interesting facts about this thirty-two year old:

-I have lived in 2 countries, 3 states, 6 cities, and 9 houses
-I have been to 9 countries
-I have had 7 different real jobs
-I have been married twice
-I have 3 kids, all boys
-I own 5 swords, 1 glaive, and one battle-axe
-I have been a Christian for 27 years
-I have owned 6 computers
-I graduated when I was 16
-I have preached from a pulpit 3 times
-I have brewed beer for 3 years
-I have owned 6 cars

I am sure there is more there but that’s all I have for now. Happy Birthday, me. I promise my next post will be less me-centric! Here’s to another year!

RETRO POST: Ignorance is Infuriating

Sept 2007

Sometimes I see red.

Sometimes I seethe and sweat, righteously angry with it. Nothing seems to really get under my skin sometimes than ignorance and stupidity. These two things fuel such concepts as racial prejudice, discrimination, fear of what is different. Ignorance, a force to be reckoned with, can be brought to bear fully and in its manifestation can destroy so much. It can affect so many people on so many layers. It can get people killed, fired or just hurt, physically and all too often, emotionally. It can hurt people you don’t even know or might never see, but more significantly it can hurt people who know and love, and care about you.

Call me callous, call me insensitive, but right now I don’t care two shakes of a rattlers tail about the first group. I don’t really mind a whole lot that is hurts people who are unknown. I know I should, but now all that consumes me is how much we can hurt and damage the people close to us, the people who would give their right arms for us. THAT is what really gets my goat! I guess that is what really makes ignorance and bad decisions so significantly horrifying. It is when you stop to make that bad decision. You chose to sleep with her. You choose not to pay a bill. You choose to keep at that addiction, or to cheat on your taxes, or to overdraft your account, or to say that ignorant statement that will scar a heart, or a myriad of other ways we can royally screw things ups. It isn’t just you that you hurt. You get the STD, you get sent to collections, you throw your life or love away, you are arrested or bankrupt…these are all such horrible things that can happen to us, but they pale next to what you do to your parents, siblings, spouse, and friends. It is those that have to stand by in anguish and watch it happen. Those have to pick up your pieces when it is all done, because you know they will. They love you, and that is exactly why it hurts them the most.

So what, you ask? Why this maddened rant? This is why…

So I can plead. My rant of fury leads steadily into my pitiful plea. Please learn. Educate yourself from any source you can. Your friends, your school, your Bible, whatever God places in your path, just learn! It is only through some form of education that you can overcome this. Sin is the root of all conflict and suffering…and sin has a heyday with ignorance. Proverbs spends itself on the subject of wisdom and what can be considered educated living. I am not just talking about going to school, or college, but any form of education that elevates you out of your own cesspool of ignorance. Cleave to this, pursue it, and educate yourself if only for the simple reason of saving those poor souls around you that happen to care about you!

So sit down, pick up a book and start reading. Shut your mouth and start listening to your elders, friends, siblings. Wake up and pay attention in class. Try to puzzle out what the preacher man is talking about. Read your Bible, and learn. Trust me, you will not regret it.

LIGHT-HEARTED POST: The Music

This has recently captured my attention, and I cannot seem to shake it.


Mozart’s Magic Flute is incredible, but this song in particular sends shivers down my spine. I used to say that I couldn’t stand opera, but it is tremendous examples of vocal skill like this that have slowly turned that around to the point where I find myself listening to opera and classical music on a fairly regular basis.

If I remember correctly this opera was originally criticized for having too many notes, and boy am I glad it did!

Another interesting tidbit is about Beethoven’s 9th symphony which struggled when it was first released and even lost money in the beginning. Imagine if it has sputtered and died, fading into obscurity?

We would never have this!

Stephen Mattson

Inspiration. Faith. Christian Culture. Writing.

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