Week of Silence Day 4: Arguing with your Wife

The Last 24 Hours

Occasionally, my Wife and I will have  a little “discussion”, which is a fine, Christian way of saying we had an argument.  Last night was one such “discussion”.  Have you ever tried having a “discussion” with a spouse who was trying to “discuss” without using words? I have to imagine I looked pretty ridiculous — sweeping arm motions, flexing eyebrows, texting my point and pointing to my mouth as I say the words (as if that helps her understand me any better).  I even resorted to my Smartphone app that speaks whatever I text….and I used the Hugh Grant voice….how can you lose an argument with an English accent??? (trust me, it’s entirely possible)

What I’ve Learnedwww-St-Takla-org--Domenico-Ghirlandaio-Annuncio-dell-Angelo-a-Aaccaria-02-details

Listening. There is nothing passive about listening. In fact, it’s one of the most active ways we can communicate.  When you aren’t speaking, then you don’t have to reply immediately to what someone is saying. When you don’t have to reply, you have time….time to….listen.  Typically, we have a conversation or argument or discussion, by half listening to the other person, gleaning just enough information to formulate our own response. We fire off a few rounds of sound argument, and then in the time it takes the other person to respond, we reload and prepare to fire as soon as they are done speaking. We are not focusing on the words being said, and the emotions attached to those words, we are simply waiting for the other person to stop talking so that we can start again.

This is true within Washington, D.C., as well as the Church; Between family members and long time friends.Between children and parents, and Husbands and Wives.  We have entire segments of the population who have forgotten how to listen; who believe they already know what the “other side” has to say, and they already disagree with it. People who would rather keep talking so they don’t have to listen. Listening is not only vital to communication, it is itself an act of love, honor, humility, and good faith.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

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Carrying Death in His Hands: The Conclusion

To Read part I  click here. To Read part II click here.

Carrying Death in His Hands.

The crisp, spring air filled the room where Bathsheba slept, drawing her from that purgatory between fully dreaming and fully awake, where the lines between what is real and what is illusion are harder to find.

“Bathsheba!” Uriah’s voice echoed throughout the house. “Bathsheba?”  Bathsheba leaped from bed, and turned the corner to find her husband gathering his things and carelessly shoving them into his sack. “Uriah, what is it?” Bathsheba asked rhetorically.  Uriah turned and rushed toward her, clutching papers in his right hand. “I just left the palace, I was with my commander….I’m heading out….today….right now….

“What is that in your hand, Uriah?”

“My orders, for my commanders upon my return.”

David and Uriah by Rembrandt

“What do your orders say?” Bathsheba probed with subtle curiosity and growing fear.

“I….I don’t know….I haven’t read them….they….they are for my commander, Bathsheba.” Uriah said, his excitement dampened by his Wife’s confusing line of questioning.

“Bathsheba….I will carry these orders back with me to my men; I will fight for our King; and then I will return home to you and we will begin our family.” Bathsheba could only stare at him with pity. He placed his hands on each side of her face so as to catch the tears now on the downward slope of her check bones.

“But Uriah I….” “Not now” Uriah stopped her. “What till I return….I will be back soon.” He then turned to finish collecting his things.

A few hours later, two riders from the King’s palace arrived at the door to escort, Uriah, back to the battlefield.  Bathsheba stood in the door frame of their house as, Uriah, mounted his horse and secured his sack. He removed his helmet and turned to see, Bathsheba, one more time. She smiled and raised her hand. Uriah, sat motionless, staring at her as though he were mentally sketching every detail of her frame. He raised his hand to match hers, smiled, then quickly snapped the reigns and sped away with his escort.

In his hands he still held the orders from his King.  If only Uriah would’ve opened the letter and read his orders. just inside the fold were the words,

Uriah, battle, retreat, struck down, die.

Oh to carry death in your hands and be unaware of it.  As Bathsheba watched her husband disappear out of sight, she became a witness to the ravages of sin; the power that it wields to permeate all of life, to wound, to break, to steal, to kill, and to destroy.  By Winter, Bathsheba, would  give birth to her first child, a boy. She and her husband, King David, would also carry death in their hands, pleading for the life of their firstborn, as death once again takes what it does not deserve.

Weeks have passed since she said goodbye to Uriah, and Bathsheba makes her way to the rooftop, in the cool of the evening. As she sits in the bath, she recognizes the faint glow of torches, being carried by riders on horseback. As they move closer, she can make out two men from the King’s army, weaving through town and moving closer to her house. Bathsheba, steps out of the tub, dresses, and makes it down to the door in time to greet the two men. No words are exchanged. One of the soldiers pulls a letter from his saddle, walks over to Bathsheba, and places it softly in her hands. The two men mount their horses, turn quickly and gallop away, unaware of the tiny frame of what was once a wife, now collapsed by the doorway in a pile of sorrow.

Carrying Death in His Hands Part II

To read Part I of this short story, click here.

Death in His Hands Part II.

The walls of their home danced with shadows as Uriah and Bathsheba sat by candle light and rehearsed the story of their individual lives until they moved in step once again.  Uriah, said very little about the fighting that had taken him away from, Bathsheba, many months ago.  Occasionally she would ask a question that moved closer to the memories of combat, to which, Uriah, would respond by questioning the King’s decision to call him home, away from his men, away from his duties.

David & Uriah by Rembrandt

Bathsheba, could also not bring herself to mention the unseen battle she was engaged in just a few months ago; a battle that led to her surrender, led away like a captive to the sinful desires of a King whose eyes fell on Bathsheba one day as he walked the balcony of his palace instead of the fields of war.  She recalls every detail of that night with a strange mix of fondness and regret. She remembers all of the moments along the way to her King’s bed when she could have stopped, whatever the cost, she could have stopped….why didn’t she stop?

As they continued to talk, Bathsheba felt the tension draining from her body. With each kiss, each touch, she was reintroduced to the man who years ago took her hand and brought her to his house.  The hour was late, and so she rose, took the hand of her husband, and led him to their bed. Uriah first walked willingly behind her, then stopped suddenly, as though he recognized the moment.  “Bathsheba….I….can’t” he said quietly. “Tonight, as I sit by your side, my men, my brothers, are sleeping under the stars, burying the dead and preparing for another battle.” “How….how can I live with you in this house as though I were unaware?” Bathsheba stared into her husband’s eyes with great longing….but even greater admiration.  Uriah, leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead, lingering for just a moment to breathe in the fragrance that was unique to his wife. He then turned, moved toward his bag, and spread out a bed on the ground.

“I’m pregnant, Uriah” Bathsheba whispered as she watched her husband prepare for bed. “I’m pregnant with King David’s child….I’m….I’m so sorry”.  She could not speak the words any louder, just as she could not foresee the series of events that an evening with the King would set in to motion, and the devastating consequences for everyone involved….

Carrying Death in His Hands Part I

After a month away, I am back to writing. I decided to start my blog again with a retelling of a familiar (maybe too familiar) story in the bible.  You can read the story in 2 Samuel 11 by clicking here.  

Carrying Death in His Hands.

Uriah, stood in the doorway of his house….his bones ached from exhaustion, his mind tortured by images of battle, his senses taunted by the sights and smells, and familiarity of home.  He could see her by the open window, rays of afternoon sun flirting with her black hair that hung like curtains around her neck. Just the sight of her frame brought back memories of a life outside of war, and filled Uriah’s eyes with tears as the longing of his heart found expression on his face.

David & Uriah by Rembrandt

“Bathsheba” He whispered through parched lips.

Bathsheba’s hands froze in the dough she was kneading. She looked up but could not wrestle her body to face him. “Bathsheba?” Uriah spoke firmly this time, leaving no doubt she could hear him. She turned toward him, eyes pooling with tears; she wiped the remnants of dinner preparation on her gown as she bounded toward him. Uriah dropped the sack in his hand and ran to hold her. The force of his hug consumed her and sent them both stumbling across the room. He pulled back from their embrace to study her face again. Bathsheba’s eyes were a mixture of colors and textures; splashes of joy and hope; streaks of shame, shades of regret.

“What’s….what’s wrong Bathsheba?” Uriah asked, confused by the mixed greeting in her expression.

Bathsheba wrestled her face into submission, forcing the corners of her mouth to rise against their will until she presented him a smile. “it’s….it’s just been so long, and….I wasn’t expecting you….I have nothing ready, nothing prepared for….” Uriah placed his hands on each side of her face, and guided her lips toward his.  “I’m home….with you….everything is….perfect”.

Uriah embraced her tightly. Bathsheba knew that everything was far from perfect. The child growing inside of her, was now a constant reminder of the double life she had entered into. As she held her husband, she could see the walls of the King’s Palace behind him, invading the open window of their house, dividing the couple joined in embrace, and conquering a love she once believed was as strong as death.

She needed to tell him….he needed to know the truth….

Do NOT do any yard work until you read this!

Please take a moment to read about the nightmare I recently went through at the hands of an alien invader no bigger than my fingernail….it may just save your life, and the lives of those you care about.

I was outside blowing leaves with one of those backpack blowers. You may be asking why I am just now blowing leaves in April, but it’s a long story and it makes me look lazy, so let’s not get sidetracked.

I was walking the backyard, blowing a wide swath through the November leaves, pushing them into the woods. I was so focused on where those leaves were going, that I failed to recognize I was walking headlong into an ambush, arranged by a nemesis that waited patiently for me to step in to their trap.

For over a week now, little inch worms have been arriving, gathering, spinning webs and waiting patiently.  I’ve been watching them, taking them down whenever I can.

So I was watching the ground, and did not see the 1.5 million worms that had gathered in the tree, hanging all around me. As I’m walking I feel something land on my head, I reach up to find it’s a worm.

Looking up I then run head first into another worm.

I spin around to feel one crawling on my neck.

I turn the other way and there are two worms in front of me who appear to be mating (why are they mating??)

At that moment a worm drops from the tree, and lands in between my glasses and my eyeball. I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping the sheer force of my lashes will crush it. Worms are now dropping all around me, like tiny kamikazes determined to defend their way of life.

I use the backpack blower to fight my way out, as the dangling spawns of satan continued to torment me. I look down to find worms all over my shoes. I’m struggling to clear the webs from my head and pull the little parasites out of my arm hair (why must I be so harry??) It’s then that I feel a worm drop down the back of my shirt.  I drop the handle of the leaf blower, which is still blowing full blast, bouncing up and down off of the ground. I reach for it when I feel a tiny tickle moving around the waistband of my boxer shorts.

Now I am dancing around, the leaf blower still flapping in the air, as I attempt to grab the worm without sending it even lower.  I can only hope that my wife does not come out at this moment, to see her “shining knight” whimpering like a small child and jumping around the yard. I get control of the leaf blower, and run toward the door of the house. I open the screen door and run headlong into an inch worm web, that I had just cleared out 30 minutes earlier!

I stood in the sun room, visibly shaken. I looked out at that tree, still draped in inch worms and their webs, daring me to come back for more.

I’m told that if I wait a little longer, the worms will burrow into the ground, and be gone until the fall….I will outlast them.

But the point here is clear….Guys, you must suspend all outside yard duties until such a time as it is deemed safe to do so….your wife will understand.  But if you must go out there, be sure you keep your eyes open….and wear a belt.

Attacked at Great Clips: The Church and False Advertising Part I

First a story about growing a beard (nothing like a good beard story to suck you in)

Each year I grow a beard….it gets pretty big.  

I wish I could say the beard was some kind of statement, or my attempt to survive the cruel Virginia winter, or even regular prep for any opportunity to play a devious biblical character. But I’m pretty sure my reasons for growing a big beard have more to do with laziness, novelty, and….ok maybe the opportunity to play a devious biblical character.

When I get a haircut.  I go to Great Clips.

It’s perfect for what I need. I feel like the fancier places have too many unspoken rules I don’t know about – it’s like being a part of a secret society.  Plus my hair cutting needs can be easily addressed with clippers and a #4 guard.

Around Christmas time, I decided to get a hair cut.  So I went to my closest shopping center, walked in, sat in the waiting room, and studied the shampoos on the shelf. I then looked at the menu board they have hanging over the register.  As I look over the options and prices on the menu, I notice something that catches my eye, “beard trim”. I never knew that was an option, I’ve never had my beard trimmed by someone else….but suddenly, I was interested.

In a few minutes, an older gentlemen called my name. I walked back to the chair and sat down. I am very uncomfortable in a hair-cutting situation. I can stand up and speak in front of hundreds of people, but I dread sitting in that chair for the 12 minutes it takes to get a haircut. I don’t know the psychology behind it, but to me it is awkward and extremely uncomfortable. Maybe if I were there every week for a wash and perm it would be different.  All I know is that by the time he tapes my neck off with that white paper and straps the cape on me, I have exhausted most of the small talk I was preparing while I waited to be called back.

So out of desperation, I throw out a question, “so….I see on the menu you guys do beard trims?” “Yes,…are you thinking of getting your beard trimmed?” He asked as he stared at my beard, trying to decide if his clippers were up to the task. “Oh I don’t know” I replied….and then silence.  He finished my hair and then asked, “so, do you want us to trim that beard for you?” “that beard” implied it was some kind of parasite that had attached itself to the bottom of my chin.  The thought of not having to clean up a bathroom full of fur was pretty appealing, so I said, “sure, why not, let’s go for it.” There was a slight hesitation from the man, as if I had called his bluff, and now he actually had to go through with it. He looked uncomfortable, and I can’t blame him, cutting this beard is like taking a push mower to a row of hedges. So he prepared his instruments on the table in front of me, and got to work.

That’s when I quickly learned the man who stood before me had never trimmed a beard in his life.

He began hacking away at my face, hair flying all around me. Several times he would try to go too deep too fast, and you could hear the clipper motor bog down, trapping the clippers in my beard for a moment. I started to laugh and fought to keep it internal, my shoulders shaking gently. The clippers moved to my upper lip. and as he swept upward, the teeth of the hair guard would catch my right nostril. Multiple times I could feel the guard go up inside my nose. I jerked back each time, but he remained silent….focused….clueless.

After cutting huge swaths in my beard, he then moved to the fine trimming, creating even, symmetrical lines with the stubble that remained on my face. Only I watched him as he trimmed too far down on one side. His choices were to either trim it off completely or just leave it and hope I enjoyed making a statement about beard conformity. He tried to lower the other side, but it wasn’t helping.  At a certain point, he just stopped, looked at me in the mirror and said, “well, I think we’re good here, what do you think?”

Now I should have pointed out that I could see several tuffs of hair that he missed all over my face, like some sort of mangy dog. I probably should have mentioned that the roller coaster outline he created on each side of my face was not the style these days.  And maybe I should have asked for a tissue to stop the internal bleeding in my nostril from his erratic trimming. But instead I looked in the mirror, smiled, and said, “yep, that will do.” I just wanted out. As I walked past the waiting room, I could feel the pity-filled stares of those who watched the entire ordeal.  I wanted to shout at them, ” I was once like you!!” “I am a man, I’m not an animal!”

I drove home, pulled in to the driveway, and walked inside. My wife was the first person I saw as I  came in the door. “Wow, you got your beard cut off!” “Yeah, but look at it” I said. She started to walk closer to me and then stopped short once she could see what I was referring to. She stared at me with compassion, in the same way that Esmeralda looked at Quasimodo. “Oh….what happened?” she reached to touch it but I pulled away. “I’ll be in the bathroom shaving” I said as I stormed out.

Isn’t it interesting that this company offered a service on a menu board that they were not prepared to provide to an actual customer?

Isn’t it strange that this worker thought he was providing a “good” beard trim when he was actually providing me several nights of flashbacks and night sweats.

Isn’t that exactly what the church is like sometimes?

I’ll explain what I mean….tomorrow (dum dum duuuuuummmmm)