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Some ‘splainin’ to do.

Author’s Note – This post went out incomplete at first publication. . . the result of accidentally hitting the “Publish” button instead of the “Preview” button. If you saw this post in an obviously incompletely form, my apologies.

Another Author’s Note – This one is for you, Pete.

Yeah. This post. I’ve been putting this post off for some time – weeks, maybe months. I have to explain why Brandi and I disappeared, and in the process halted the progress of a blog that was, possibly, on its way to growing from a very-modest-blog to a slightly-less-modest-blog. I’m not writing this post because I want to – rather, I’m writing it because, well, sometimes there’s nothing left to do but put on some Third Eye Blind, sit down at the computer, and make shit happen.

There have been times, in the past few months, where I have felt like the. Shittiest. Christian. Ever.

Except not LITERALLY, cuz. . . you know. . . these guys.

Except not LITERALLY, cuz. . . you know. . . these guys.

I feel this way because my faith has become bipolar. It’s been about a year and a half since I conducted the Great Faith Experiment that lead me to Jesus Christ. And ever since I moved from Duluth, MN (home of Hillside Church, which was my church) to Minneapolis, it feels like I’ve lost all of the momentum that was sustaining my faith. What had once been easy (praying, thinking about theology, reading the Bible) became arduously difficult. As I’m sure you noticed, this extended to blogging – it’s not that I didn’t want to write. But every time I tried, the weight of what I was trying to say seemed so overwhelmingly heavy that it was impossible to start typing. In addition, I completely dropped out of the Christian faith community. I tried attending a couple of churches, but real life circumstances made it hard to continue going there. The first church, River Heights Vineyard, was supposed to be the church I would attend after the move. In fact, RHV is one of the reasons I moved in the first place – I knew I’d have a church to attend when I got here. And I did go – once. Then my money situation imploded, and I could no longer afford the gas for the (very, very long) drive from my home to the Church. The next church I tried was a liturgical Lutheran church. This church was much closer to my house, and I enjoyed many things about it – the way that liturgy humbled me, the kindness of the pastoral staff, the neatness of the homemade liturgies (this church changes them every month, hiring local bands to write and perform them). And yet, I never really connected with the church or the people. So, after a couple of visits, I stopped going.

Meanwhile, as time did what time does and carried me further and further from the emootional revelations that brought me to church in the first place, faith had to contend with the “real” world – the world of empirical data, of science and fact and the Discovery Channel and the supremacy of Homo Rationalus. I thought about entropy, and time, and started to think that the tremendous, frightful grandness of physical resurrection made the idea absurd. Where would we all live, I wondered. What would we eat? Would the world be big enough? What would we do, we who had been resurrected on this one rock in one corner of space, when entropy finally brought the universe to stop? The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed to believe in the predictions made by we tiny, religiously inclined humans – predictions about an end that would, if it were to pass, affect far more than just our planet. There were a few times when I was tempted to just give up on faith entirely. I almost wanted to fall back into the comforting, noodly arms of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the mascot of atheism.

Oh, for the comfort of his sticky, starchy, imaginary embrace. . .

Oh, for the comfort of his sticky, starchy, imaginary embrace. . .

But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t give up my faith entirely, because that didn’t seem to be a step toward embracing the truth. As I’ve said before, I tend toward skepticism – not because I love arguing with people, but because the search for truth is very important to me. For me to become an atheist, I would have to come to the conclusion that any experience I have ever had that implied any truth that contradicted the known laws of physics was, at best, a mistake. No matter how emotionally powerful an experience I had (the popsicle story comes to mind) I would be forced to immediately decide that it was of no value to me in my determination to learn some truth about existence. Furthermore, it would require that I take steps toward another type of faith. I would have to embrace the faith of coincidence – to believe that, at the times when it seems like two events could not possibly have occurred with the intervention of a mysterious intelligence, those two events were completely unrelated. When my mother-in-law needed a ride from Tucson to Texas to attend a family funeral, it looked like there was no way for it to happen. Despite the seeming impossibility of the situation, Brandi and she prayed together over the phone for God to find her a way. A few minutes after that prayer, during that same phone call, my sister-in-law called Brandi’s mom. She said, and I (kinda) quote, “I don’t know why, but God is telling me to tell you that I will drive you to Texas.” To be an atheist, I must believe that this was a coincidence and nothing else.

Even in my state of weakened faith in the Christian worldview, I saw that this wasn’t going to work for me. I was exhausted, my belief running by fumes and the memories of easier times. . . adopting a faith in coincidence didn’t seem to be an easier option.

So, where am I today, you ask?

Today, I’m letting you know. If you came to this blog because you’re a Christian, I’m sure you’ve been through this sort of situation before. And if you’ve come to this blog because you’re an atheist, well. . . I admire your faith in coincidence, because I don’t have the strength to follow in your footsteps. And maybe you came to this blog because you’re like me – a faith baby, someone who had their understanding of the universe shaken so much that they have to embrace the insanity of believing in something that seems impossible. If that’s the case, I hope you’ll learn one thing from this confession – expect shit like this to happen. It probably will. And when it does, don’t sit on it – find a community. Find a friend. Talk to someone who has been there. And don’t give up, because (believe me) you won’t find any answers sitting on your ass.

Thanks for your patience, folks.

Peace,

Dan

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This post has no pictures!!!! You have been warned!

So I know it’s been a long time since I was the one posting on this blog, and I know that normally we post about Christian-type issues. I haven’t posted in a while because of several reasons which I will possibly maybe detail in some later post, maybe.

Today I thought I would switch it up. Normally the blog isn’t used for these sorts of thing – normally its purpose is to detail our foray into faith, with all our doubts, complaints and triumphs. This time my plan is to talk up something that I feel has been a huge blessing in my life. More than that, it’s been one of the single features that have kept me grounded and turned toward the center no matter where I was in my life.  At the risk of sounding cliché (and a little gross), I want to take a minute, in honor of Father’s day, to give a shout out to my husband.

Now I know today is Father’s Day (or else it recently passed. . .  I can be a pretty serious procrastinator, when the mood is on me) and that means this post is bordering on “expected nonsense” already, and as a general rule, I loathe doing what is expected of me. It’s true, ask anyone. I thought that I would take a moment to give a little thanks for someone who doesn’t get enough.

So allow me to prattle on a little bit, and if you can’t because this is sentimental type-vomit, feel free to scroll to the end. Either way: here we go.

I met this guy at the ripe old age of 22. By this point I’d already had two failed marriages and as many children. I was bitter, full of baggage and hang-ups, not to mention not at all looking for a different (read: exactly the same) relationship. I should also mention, he was my boss.

Now, Daniel didn’t try to woo me, didn’t try to pick me up, and didn’t even try to flirt with me. He gave me something else I needed, which I’ve already mentioned; I don’t do well when left to my own devices. He gave me friendship and support. Before we ever started dating there were game nights at his house with a bunch of his friends, there were play-dates (I hate that term) with our daughters who were at the time 3 and 4. There were break time conversations at work that were deeper and more meaningful than anything I’d been able to experience in a long time.

Slowly his intelligence, wit and charm made me peek around my walls. But it wasn’t enough. Two failed marriages is enough to teach a lesson to all but the slowest of learners, and I was never one of those. I kept my distance despite the growing feelings in my heart.

The guy I had recently divorced was basically useless, both as a husband and as a father. Couldn’t keep a job, couldn’t be relied upon for anything as simple as a ride much less taking care of his two young children’s basic needs. Daniel and I were not even dating yet, though we’d been working our way into a pretty heady friendship, when the need for my kids to have new coats for winter arose. Baby-daddy had never returned any calls, much less coughed up any money, and every dime I had was going to the basic support of the kids. I couldn’t afford anything extra. Daniel heard of this and volunteered his own money to buy coats (nice ones) for the kids that weren’t even his despite the fact that he was getting nothing at all from me in return.

Later, when we started dating but were not yet extremely serious, my young son Dustin (who was at the time about 8 months old) burnt both his hands badly on an unsupervised oven door while under the care of his biological dad. Baby-daddy couldn’t be talked out of his screeching panic to do anything, so I was called from work where I did some damage control on the poor little dude’s badly blistered hands, and took him to the hospital. Daniel and I were supposed to meet that night to have some quiet time together. I called him and let him know I wouldn’t make it because I would be at the hospital with the boy. He got off from work and met me next to Dustin’s urgent care bed, as if that was the ‘date’ he had in mind all along. He never voiced a word of complaint.

As things got more and more serious between us, I began to see more and more of the selfless nature of Daniel’s character. He wasn’t perfect, sure. He had his fair share of pride and attitudes, sure. But beneath all of that he was willing to sacrifice everything to give to me, and my children.

My daughter was old enough to remember her biological father, and she felt some resentment toward Daniel for trying to take on that role . . . even though he was much better at it, and more available for her than her dad ever was. She never hesitated, in her 4-6 year old way, to tell everyone that he wasn’t her REAL dad. He never left her side, and though I know it hurt him to hear her say things like that, he bore it with the good graces of some sort of saint, and never stopped trying to reach out to her and bond.

Daniel and I have been together for 8 years now. My daughter is 11 and while she remembers her dad, Daniel has become the face associated with the word “daddy”. My son Dustin doesn’t even remember his real dad – Daniel is all he’s ever known, and together Daniel and I brought Teaghan, our youngest, into the world. You might think there was a separation, even subtly, between “her kids” and “our kid” but there isn’t. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact. Our kids are loved equally and individually, and I’ve seen him go to work in holey underthings and threadbare shirts so that our kids could express their individuality at school in fresh new clothes.

This is just a surface glimpse of the gift I’ve been given in this man. Never mind that he is amazing to me, and has been a pillar of support and a lynchpin of my explorations into growth whether we’re talking about faith or emotional growth. He took a broken, angry and bitter girl and turned her into a (sort-of) wife, and he took a broken household and turned it into a (dysfunctional, but whole) family.

I have no money. I have nothing I can do for him to show him how much this means to me. What he’s given me is beyond value, and even if I were wealthy I don’t think I could do anything to accurately and adequately express how his continual selflessness, his patience in times of trial, and his sacrifice for these children not even his really means. I will say that for all his gruff and sometimes crass nature, he is a much better person than I am in so many ways, and I don’t think, were the situations reversed, that I would have tried half as hard, nor endured half as well, as he has done these past 8 years.

So! None of this was particularly funny, and this is a huge wall of text. Sorry for that. If its tl:dr. . .well, I’ll sum it up for you.

“Daniel Mitchell. You have been the single greatest gift I have ever received, and you’re still giving to this day. I love you. I’m glad to have you and you are more appreciated than you can ever know. I love you. Thank you. Happy Fathers day.”