When Winning Isn’t

Part 1

My father died in 1991. We had never been close. A family friend who had known my father from 1931 to 1991 said in 1993, “Your father was a hard man.” I knew that from a lifetime living with my father.

From my earliest recollections of my father, I never would describe our relationship in loving terms. I was in my early 20’s before he ever quietly said, “I love you.” Not much ever said after that. He was indeed a hard man. I respected him. But I have many memories of his volatile outbursts of anger. Thankfully, he never hit us boys. But fear was our common response to his anger.

Through the years of school, I did relatively well, consistently an honor student. My father never said a word of appreciation or congratulations. In sports I was far from a good athlete, but did well enough. Not a word from my father. That pattern continued through college, Naval service, commissioning, graduating from Naval Postgraduate School, and early selection to LCDR.

In 1961 I began learning to play guitar. My father had a 1934 Montgomery Ward guitar but never played it. That was my first guitar. Finger action was so bad that my fingers bled consistently for the first few months of playing. But I stuck it out. My father passively supported my attempt at playing.

Two brothers, my mother’s age, were superb guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin players. They began to invite me to sit in with them. I learned much about music and complementary styles blending with all instruments, and each session was a joy. My father and mother would drive me there every week. He seemed to enjoy, but he never said a word.

The lack of acknowledgement was discouraging, but I grew to expect nothing. By 1971 my wife and I began our moves as adults as I found work away from that part of the state. But each year we would drive home and get together with the two brothers, and often others joined us. It was always a highlight, and my parents were always there.

My father never said a word about whether he enjoyed it, but his expressions seemed to indicate he did.

Then 1983

In 1982 I entered seminary. My time was consumed with seminary studies, part time job, and raising two boys entering their teens, one of whom was beginning to cause major problems for us. Meaning, I had little time to keep up with my guitar playing, much to my dismay because I loved playing. I missed it.

In 1983 we went back home at the end of summer Hebrew. So we managed to contact the brothers and set a date to play. My parents also came. After an hour of playing, my lack of practice over the previous two years was evident, certainly to me and the brothers. But nothing was said, we were enjoying and reminiscing, and I was able to keep up with all of it. We still had fun.

That was when my father made his only comment ever on my playing. “Boy, you really are rusty, aren’t you?”

I was so stunned, I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t say anything. For 33 years he had never said a positive word about anything I had done, especially my guitar playing. And now in one night he mentions my failure to play well in front of about 15 people, close friends. I swore that I would never let that happen again. For the next 8 years (until he died) I wasn’t going to risk another public humiliation. Hence I never played guitar in front of him. I wasn’t going to let him “win” this.

And I became the hard man.

So who won?

My father never mentioned my lack of playing again. Years after he died, my mother said he noticed that I never played. I began to tell my mother… and she stopped me, saying that she knew exactly when I stopped playing because she had heard my father as well. She cried that night (I didn’t know that).

So who won? Certainly not me. In the short run, I “won” because I never faced his public disapproval again. But my mother did not win because she loved my playing and missed it. And my father did not win, because he did like my playing but he could never say the words.

Part 2

From 1983 to 1989, our older son was getting into further trouble: drugs, stealing, etc. By spring 1988 we had asked him to leave the house (he had just turned 18). He was then arrested, and he spiraled out of control.
In 1989 my father and I began to have an uneasy but unspoken truce; we spoke politely, but nothing serious. My parents came to visit that summer. They had taken a day to travel to a larger city in that area to shop, etc. When they came home, my father was very different. They had seen and met our older son in that city.

In previous years, he had made comments about how disruptive teenagers could be. One time when I was about 11 years old, we had seen teenagers causing a few problems, but nothing out of hand. My father commented, “If you ever see kids acting that way, you can definitely blame the parents.” That assessment hung over my head when we adopted the boys in 1978. As it got worse, my memories of that comment intensified, causing me guilt and shame.

I had never seen my father shook up, raging anger, yes, but never this way. He spoke first: “I never realized how bad it has been for you these past years. I am so sorry.” And he had tears in his eyes, something I had never seen. He apologized, which I also had never experienced.

They visited two years later for our younger son’s high school graduation. They usually stayed two days because the altitude affected his breathing. But after two days he talked to my mother then asked me if they could stay another day or two because they enjoyed our time. We gladly agreed. And we did have a good time.

Three weeks later my father died. I am so thankful that our last time together was not clouded by all the distance, lack of words, lack of showing affection. When they left, he hugged me seriously and thanked me and said he loved me. How could I not also say the same thing? That’s all I wanted.

Who won then?

I think finally we all did: my father, my mother, me.
My only regret is that I didn’t play guitar for him and my mother. But we did mend a rift that had festered for 42 years. For that we all won.

I learned to say many things to my sons. No matter how bad our older son got, sometimes behind prison bars, I always, always told him I loved him. So also with our younger son when he deployed and was in combat, the last words he heard from me were “I love you.” So also my words to his wife and our grandchildren. There is no doubt that such will be the last words they hear me say: “I love you.”

And we all win!

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The Liturgy of S(p)orts

The Liturgy of S(p)orts

© 1989, 2010

Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced with those who said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”

What an interesting insight the psalmist gives to worship. He rejoices to go to Yahweh’s (the LORD’s) house! Is that true today? Perhaps some of us quietly admit that worship is less than thrilling, less than exciting. In fact, it might be a rare occasion when we could admit that we rejoiced about worshiping. An interesting parallel with basketball will help us better understand what happens in liturgy, and why we can join the Psalmist.

For a basketball game people gather to be ready for the game. They (usually!) stand for the national anthem. So at worship we gather together standing for the opening hymn in worship.

At the basketball game, the players are introduced. So, too, in worship. One side in this game is: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit = God” and the other side is: “I, a poor, miserable sinner = us sinners.” At this point, God stops the game and declares, “You can’t play in My game. I am pure, holy, and righteous. You are sinners, deserving my full punishment.”

Then comes the surprise. Like in basketball, the jump ball starts the game. Usually the taller player can tip the ball to his or her team. In worship, this is a game between God and us. Who will the tipoff? Even the tallest basketball players are not able to compete with God. So to start the game, God wins the tip off.

In worship, since it is God’s game, He grabs the ball first and rushes down the court to tell us of His love and forgiveness. God says, “I forgive you all your sins for the sake of My Son, who is the Star of the game.” With that, we are invited to play in God’s game with God’s rules— with God’s victory already assured! We rush down the other way, scoring with our praise. We don’t shout “Yeah, God,” but we use appropriate terms such as “Praise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah.”

You keep track of who has the liturgical ball by watching the pastor. When he faces the congregation, God has the ball, speaking to the people. When the pastor faces the altar, the people have the ball—they are speaking/singing to God.

As in a basketball game with four quarters, in worship we have four quarters. When the basketball game is on the line, everyone stands in anticipation of victory. So, too, in worship, when the Gospel is read, we stand, because in effect, God says, “Right here, this is My Star, and this is how He won the game.”

When the pastor says, “The Lord be with you,” that marks a quarter break.

First quarter: Invocation, confession/absolution, and praise.

Second quarter: Scripture readings, sermon, and creed.

Third quarter: Lord’s Supper (Christ’s body and blood for you).

Fourth quarter: Final prayer and benediction/blessing.

In a basketball game, each player can commit five fouls (in high school and college) before leaving the game. But in worship, five times we hear the words “your sins are forgiven.” God doesn’t want anyone to foul out of the game! Notice the focus of each declaration:

1) Confession/Absolution (general),

2) Scripture readings (how God achieved forgiveness),

3) Sermon (application),

4) Creed (joining the Church Catholic everywhere at all times proclaiming forgiveness of sins),

5) Lord’s Supper (forgiveness of sins —specifically “for you individually”).

Years ago on Monday night football, Don Meredith had a way of signaling the essential end of the football game. He would sing, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over…” Many people think that the benediction/blessing at the end of the service functions the same way: “It’s over, finally.” But not so!

Notice throughout the liturgy, God provides the words through His Word. He gifts the Church with musicians and servants to help in worship, Our highest form of worship is receiving His gifts and praising Him with His words. Music and art enhance our worship, not to entertain us, but to point to Jesus and His saving work.

To this game God invites the bruised, broken, abandoned, abused, forgotten to gather together, to join with others. After all, if we are honest, we fit one or more of those descriptions as well. There is only one star—Jesus

The star and center of worship
is Jesus: who invites you!

Unlike a basketball game in which the thrill of victory fades, in worship God declares that the victory celebrated during worship will continue with us during the week — daily. Therefore, we leave not looking for a let down, but having been built up by playing in God’s game according God’s rules—winning with Him. In other words, the benediction declares that what God has done for us continues to be for us, in us, with us, and through us.

Guess what? Next week the game is repeated. Basketball fans do not complain that “we have to go to the game next week!” Nor as worshippers do we complain about worshipping next week. What an exciting event! Ultimately we look forward to the greatest day — when we will be with the Lord forever, rejoicing at the final victory won and celebrated permanently in heaven. Therefore, we join the psalmist and say,

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the LORD.’ ”

Praying the un-prayable

As Christians we cherish the Old and New Testaments for many reasons. They teach us about God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The prophecies and promises of His coming in the OT, and the revelation of Him through the Gospels, and then expanded teachings in the NT letters. 

There are many texts in the OT that you can read that point ahead to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Here are just a few (look up their fulfillment in the NT):

Gen. 3:15; 12:1-3; 15:1-6; Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7; 53; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9-10; 13:7-9

As part of our new relationship with God (saved, not condemned), God invites us to approach Him in prayer.

Praying

Jesus invites the hearers/readers/listeners to believe on Him and be saved. This includes forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, etc., and to approach God in prayer and to do so with confidence. In fact, we see in both testaments the encouragement to pray, the models for praying. Reading the Psalms can be great sources of praying, and learning about prayer.

For centuries Christians have grown in their prayer lives as they are influenced, guided, and directed by the Bible.

Praying can be hard

As we live in this world that is scarred by sin, it doesn’t take us long to hit the brick wall of difficult prayers. I don’t mean simple prayers, but those prayers that are so agonizing that we can’t even express ourselves. Words seem to fail us.

Having lived through decades of agony, fear, inability to change circumstances, I can’t even count how many times I was flat on the bed, floor, ground, crying out loud, “How long!?!” One Psalm captures that extreme sense of loss, abandonment, despair.

God does not leave us in that condition. And it is a good thing. Perhaps the pain of what is happening is monumental,  and we stutter, frozen in a failure to even pray. God promises that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in that exact spot:

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.  (Romans 8:26-27 GW)

What a comfort that God helps form our prayers even in those difficult, trying times.

Praying the Un-prayable

But now we come to the most difficult part. Trying to pray the un-prayable. This is the extreme condition when praying even seems unspeakable. When the pain is beyond description. To even say words at that point would mean that even God would be offended!

Psalm 137 comes to mind. It begins with a lament.

So far, this seems like a normal lament. But notice how this ends:

That is startling!! A few years ago I read one commentator who wrote strongly that this is “sub-Christian” and should never be uttered by anyone! Or in the words of this subheading: Praying the un-prayable.

I would offer that this prayer is precisely a Christian prayer, a faithful prayer. For the Jew writing this, the agony of seeing Jerusalem and the temple destroyed was overwhelming. The agony of deportation to other lands (not just Babylon, but also Egypt). The death of many family members and friends boils in the backdrop of the mind. The Psalm is not written with a “peaceful, pretty, gentle” background. The raw emotions of the Jewish people comes through very clearly.

But God… and this is key… But the Psalmist who utters this prayer brings the full brunt of the desperation before God. Notice, however, that the Psalmist does not act on this violence, namely “smashing babies against the rocks.” Rather the Psalmist is praying in faith before God. And that faith is such that God can handle the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness. The worst of all imaginable words, yet the Psalmist brings those emotions, hurts, losses, and now even words before God.

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A word about justice:

The Psalmist does not take matters into his own hands. His heart is open about what he wanted to do—before God. But justice was not in his hands. God raised up others (namely, the Persians) who conquered Babylon. Was it instantaneous justice? No, but it was far better than one person trying to take on personal vengeance.

In the case of the sexual abuse scandal at MSU, USAG, and OSOC, God raised up people to address not one abuse incident—remember that many were not aware how extensive it was—but the larger scheme. Therefore, God raised up Rachael, Morgan, Makayla, and many others to become the voice that shouted “no more!”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the courtroom allowed those many voices to be heard. The voice was no longer one lonely, fearful voice, but a combination of hundreds of voices, angry voices of women who were finally being heard. The Psalmist of 137 gave way to God’s greater justice. And now that same process is being played out. Justice is being served.

And the voices of others who have been abused are now catching worldwide attention: Abby Honold and the law named after her in Minnesota. Sammy Woodhouse who survived the Rotherham abuse ring is telling the story through her book and personal appearances. 

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Hope in Praying the Un-prayable

In praying this way, we are not offending God by our words. Rather we are actually trusting Him to hear, and respond in His perfect way. Not our way, not the expedient way, not the way we planned, not in the time we demand, but in His perfect way and perfect timing. We do so, knowing His promises to hear and to act.

Over the years when the ongoing turmoil was moving beyond 30 years, and part of it was our one son was missing for 18 years, life was beyond messy—it felt like the Babylonian captivity. It was what I described privately as “hell on earth.” That was the strongest way to describe it. Was God offended? No, he welcomes the prayers that are un-prayable. My heart was broken into a million pieces, my words inadequate. But, God listened.

My prayer of lament, the un-prayable prayer, was answered in a dramatic fashion two years ago. What I struggled to utter during those decades was answered in a way I didn’t think possible. But God…

Abused, broken—
prayers for them and with them

As I think about those who have been (and are being) abused, I think of Psalm 137. We can pray their un-prayable prayers for them and with them. We can open our mouths before God to say the difficult words, express the hurt, anger, rage, frustration. And we know that God can handle it.

That is one reason I began the daily prayer on Facebook and Twitter for #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors who suffered (and still do) under the abuse by Larry Nassar, MSU, and USAG, USOC, etc.

But now, we can expand that to pray for the many who have suffered abuse in so many ways. I think of Madeleine Black, Abby Honold, Lori Ann Thompson, Sandy Beach, Mary DeMuth, and so many others. And prayers for those who care for and minister to those who have been abused.

When we pray for them, we do not in any way minimize or diminish what has happened, what they are experiencing, the anguish, despair, sense of being forgotten. Rather, we pray in light of all that, we pray that God brings what we cannot.

Let’s storm God’s throne of mercy with un-prayable prayers, for the sake of our sisters and brothers.

Our prayers continue

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 5

Again a summary of prayers for those abused in the MSU and USA Gymnastics scandals. We have to remind ourselves that abuse and its consequences can affect the survivor for a long time, even a life time. These prayers are a tribute to each survivor, and a petition for mercy for each one of them and their families.

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Day 53 Lyndsy Garnet #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Jesus, Your name is above all other names. You have come for the hurting, the broken, the forgotten. May Your love surround Lyndsy each day, giving her strength and hope. Heal her. IJN Amen

Day 54 Taylor Cole #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor on Taylor each day. Whatever her concerns, hurts, anxiety, may You heal, comfort, & strengthen her. Bring people in her life to care for her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 55 Jessica Smith #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray for Jessica; her needs are daily, may You more than meet them. Grant her comfort, peace, & hope. Bless her & her family to heal & grow stronger, may she know love. IJN Amen

Day 56 Arianna Guerrero #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O God of hope & healing, bring all comfort, strength, & love to Arianna. Grant her days of hope, gaining an inward strength & beauty. Protect her heart & bless her & family. IJN. Amen

Day 57 Melody Posthuma Can der Veen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors LORD, look with favor upon Melody. Heal the abuse, give her a vision of life free from the past. Encourage, comfort, strengthen her and her family. Grant her peace. IJN Amen

Day 58 Christine Harrison #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, look w/favor upon Christine in all her needs. Whatever she experiences may there be joy even in heartache. Sustain her in challenging times & fill them w/hope. IJN Amen

Day 59 Victim 153 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray she who is in shadows but is known to You. We pray for Victim 153 & her family. Whatever her needs, raise up people to meet them. Strengthen, encourage, & comfort her. IJN Amen

Day 60 Victim 11 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, altho nameless to us, Victim 11 is certainly known to You. Continue to strengthen her each day as she grows beyond & above what has happened. May her past not define her, but who she is now. IJN Amen

Day 61 Victim 136 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for each victim, but today especially #136. Grant her healing of physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual wounds. Raise up people to encourage, comfort, & support her. IJN Amen

Day 62 Kristen Thelen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may this day bring new hope, added strength for Kristin. May the scars of abuse become reminders of healing, no longer chained to her abuser. May Your love surround her each day. IJN Amen

Day 63 Katie Rasmussen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today we pray for Katie and all her needs. Whatever they are may You abundantly provide for her. Grant her times of peace, nights of rest, and strength for each challenge. IJN Amen

Day 64 Jessica Tarrant #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our God, how majestic is Your name. In Your love guide, protect, & heal Jessica each day. Give her wisdom, strength, & comfort to meet every challenge. Surround her w/people of love. IJN Amen

Day 65 Mary Fisher-Follmer #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, we pray for Mary today that You would meet & surpass all her needs. Where wounds exist bring healing. Where discouragement bring hope. Where loneliness bring love & friendship. IJN Amen

Day 66 Jordyn Wieber #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bless Jordyn today as she continues to heal & grow. Wwhat happened to her does not define her, but how she is responding. Strengthen her on difficult days, encourage her when challenged. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 67 Chelsea Zerfas #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, You know victories & fears, losses & challenges of abuse. Even more, You know the path of healing & the gifts You provide for her. May these all be for Chelsea especially today. IJN Amen

Day 68 Samantha Ursch #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bless Samantha in her walk in freedom from abuse. Give her wisdom & strength. May You guide her, love her, & encourage her with friends who can daily support her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 69 Kara Johnson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, extend mercy in a special way today for Kara. In fears, doubts, concerns, may You be sufficient. Grant Your peace to her & her family. Bring relief & joy at the right time for her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 70 Maddie Johnson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, be present w/Maddie in special. Continue to strengthen her, & guide her. Remind her of Your love in Jesus. Bless her family as well as they journey together. Through the process may You bring newness & hope. IJN Amen

Day 71 Marie Anderson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, You know the needs, hurts, & challenges Marie faces. But You also have gifted her in ways to grow thru the turmoil. Strengthen her each day. Bless her family as they provide support. IJN Amen

Day 72 Amy Labadie #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors We ask, O God, Your mercies to be new every morning for Amy. Grant healing of her heart, strengthen her in living beyond the abuse. Bless her & her family as they receive love & care. Give her hope beyond each day. IJN Amen

Day 73 Ashley Yost #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessings flow to Ashley. Grant her healing, peace, comfort, & wisdom as she moves forward. May she experience times of joy. Bless her family as they walk w/her. You mercies are new every morning. IJN Amen

Day 74 Aly Raisman #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, thank You for strengthening Aly as she continues to speak out against abuse. Surround her w/people of love to encourage her. May You continue to heal her wounds. Use her voice to speak for many who are abused. IJN Amen

Day 75 Kassie Powell #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, today our prayers are for Kassie. Whatever her needs, may You more than meet them. Strengthen her each day to meet all challenges. Grant her grace to speak truth & help others. Bless her family. IJN Amen

Day 76 Megan Ginter #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Our Father, we bring Megan before Your throne of mercy. You know her needs, hurts, desires. Grant her healing, strength, & comfort for the days ahead. Open paths for her to follow enriching others and using her gifts. IJN Amen

Day 77 Katherine Gordon #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, look with favor upon Katherine. You know her needs for healing, strengthening, comforting. Raise up people to provide for her and a safe friendship in her life. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 77 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Supplement I am including a prayer for Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Lord, we give thanks for this conscientious judge who provided the avenue for many women to speak about abuse. May You continue to bless her & in her service. IJN Amen

“Don’t believe the press release”

The Press Release Connection

Back in the mid 1990s, Marcus Allen had already been an NFL star for more than ten years; he played on a Super Bowl winning team. Now he was playing for the KC Chiefs. One young player just out of college was touted as being the real deal, a star before he even put on his uniform. One time he scored a touchdown, and was parading around in the end zone and showing off to the crowd. Marcus Allen finally spoke and told him, “Don’t believe your press reports. Act like you have been there.”

In 1960 our family went to our local town (~5,000 at the time). My father was very strict, and he kept us in line. We saw a few teenagers messing around, causing some havoc, but nothing serious. I remember my father commenting, “If you ever see this kind of actions by teenagers, all you have to do is look at the parents and you’ll see the cause.” Little did I know that this would be my “press release” as a parent 20 years later.

The Press Release about Me

I served in the Navy when we adopted our sons (1978). Early on it became obvious that the older son (8 when they came to us) was going to be a problem. Little did we know how big of a problem. He began stealing from us within a year, and it escalated from there.

In 1982 I left the Navy to attend seminary in St. Louis. He soon began stealing from others (we didn’t know it for quite some time). The lies and stealing escalated to the point that when I went on vicarage the first week he purposefully stole from a store—his intention was that the police would take him away from us, then he could do his own thing apart from our parenting role, i.e. supervision. That didn’t happen. But the drugs soon entered the picture. And my father’s press release was coming to mind almost every day.

When we returned to St. Louis he quit school in the first two months of his freshman year. Frequently after study and work, I began searching for him in the surrounding suburbs after 10 PM, sometimes finding him under cardboard, or in a make shift lean-to. He spent his 16th birthday and several weeks later in the county jail. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was severe bipolar and schizophrenia. We just knew something was severely wrong with him. And my father’s press release was pressing on my mind.

When he was released to us he became so violent that we had to call the police to have him arrested. They first had to take him to hospital because he put his fist through one of our windows, cutting a major blood line in his wrist. He had sprayed blood all over the ceiling, floor, walls. And my father’s press release was pressing on my mind.

We then had him committed to a psychiatric hospital, eventually for 18 months in another state. The next year he had reached the age (17) he could legally check himself out (without our approval). I drove 900 miles one way and straight back without sleeping to pick him up. He stayed with us for a few months, but eventually drugs and alcohol were back in his life, and I kicked him out in late 1988. And my father’s press release was pressing on my mind.

The Press Release Begins to Change

My parents would visit us once a year for a few days. In 1989, when they came, our son was not around—we had not seen in several months. But my parents decided to spend one day shopping at the larger city in that area. When they came back later in the afternoon, I will never forget that encounter. We had told them a few things that we faced with our son, but not the really bad stuff.

Prior to that day there were two things I had never observed about my father—he never apologized to anyone, and he never cried. Apparently the only time he cried in his life was in 1944 when serving in the Pacific as ground crew for B-29s. One day all his best friends were on a plane that crashed at the end of the runway, all dying—he had to clean them up and the debris from the plane. 

As we talked this day, they mentioned that they had seen our son. My father took me aside with tears in his eyes and said, “I am so sorry. I didn’t know how bad it was for you with your son.” He never said what happened, but it shook him up so much that he couldn’t even offer any advice or hope. But having him apologize to me was overwhelming… and a little relief.

My father died two years later. He missed the worst of the torment: our son was in seven different prisons in several states over the next 27 years, homeless the rest of the time, violent… And my father’s press release was pressing on my mind—even after his death.

The Press New Release

Needless to say that my own press release as a father was not high praise. It was barely above zero, and sometimes felt far below zero. Over the last few years I have begun to move away from my father’s press release that had become my own prophetic failure.

Interestingly over the past couple years (both in their mid to late 40s) I have spoken to both sons about my struggle as a parent. It shocked me when both sons independently told me how much they appreciated me as a father, how much they learned, especially how much they learned about love, with a never-failing love, and never giving up on them.

I think God was using them to give me a new press release:

broken sinner (for what had happened and what I did),
forgiven sinner (for my sins and failures),
redeemed sinner who could love again with God’s love.

I have not written about, talked about, nor published this change in press release until today. I love my sons, but it is because of God’s unfailing love for me that I can even do a little in this regard. 

Contra Marcus Allen, I like this new press release—and I believe God’s press release!

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 3

Continuation of prayers for the survivors and conquerors of the abuse by Larry Nassar. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many including family members of those abused. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

Day 32 Amanda Thomashow  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, in Your mercy look upon Amanda, heal her heart, grant her peace, protect her from all that would challenge her well being. Raise up the right people to care for her. IJN Amen

Day 33 Victim 105  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Grant, Lord, Your mercy & comfort 2 Victim 105. While we do not know here name, You do. May her precious name be exalted with healing, love, compassion. Raise up people 2 speak love. IJN Amen

Day 34 Gwen Anderson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your mecy be evident to Gwen, especially on difficult days. Strengthen her for each task, guide her and comfort as she continues to move forward. We pray for her family. IJN Amen

Day 35 Amanda Barterian  PrayerSurvivorsConquerors We pray for Amanda today and all her special needs. If hurt, grant healing, if discouragement then hope. Enable her family to continue to support her as they too move forward. IJN. Amen

Day 36 Jaime Doski #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bring to Jaime Your unending love & mercy. Strengthen, comfort, & lead her each day to grow in her trust in You & her capacity to love others. Use her mightily in years ahead. IJN. Amen

Day 37 Jenelle Moul #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of love & mercy, grant Janelle Your protection, hope in midst of darkness, comfort on most challenging days. You know her needs, desire. IAW You wisdom grant all she needs/ IJN. Amen

Day 38 Madeliene Jones #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we stop & take time to remember Madeleine & her needs. Raise up the right people to speak to her words of hope, love, & encouragement. In challenges grant her strength. IJN Amen

Day 39 Kayla Spicer #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, Your special promises in Ps. 91:14-16 for those battling great challenges. May these promises help, uplift, & encourage Kayla each day. Grant her peace, strength, & love. IJN Amen

Day 40 Jennifer Hayes  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look with favor upon Jennifer as she deals with all that has happened. Give her peace of mind, strength, and courage to move forward. Heal her heart and empower her. IJN Amen

Day 41 Nicole Walker  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the pain & agony Nicole has experienced. Bring healing to her heart. Raise up people to show her love, kindness, compassion. Strengthen her daily to move forward. IJN Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 2

Continuation of earlier this month. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

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Day 20 Melissa Imrie #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of life & love, may You sustain Melissa day by day. Bring healing to her mind, heart, & soul. Bless her family as they too need help. Strengthen her this day of her new life. IJN. Amen.

Day 21 Victim 125 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, you know hurts, agony, need for stability 4 Victim 125. Today bless her, comfort her in dark times, raise up people to walk w/her, to bring Your words of love & hope. IJN Amen.

Day 22  Megan Halicek #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we lift up Megan as she continues to live in aftermath of the abuse. Grant her nights of rest, & comfort her in the midst fears, uncertainty. Surround her w/people of love. IJN. Amen.

Day 23  Victim 48 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, bless and protect this woman. Reassure her of Your love and grace. Embrace her with people who know You and love her. Whatever her needs, may You meet them thru Jesus

Day 24  Katelyn Skrabis #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor upon Katelyn in her needs today. We thank You for those who have walked beside her, support her. Continue to bring wholeness and strength to her. IJN. Amen

Day 25  Brianne Randall #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. Be present w/Brianne in whatever her needs. Comfort, strengthen, & encourage her. Bring healing to her heart. IJN. Amen.

Prayer for Jules: Lord God, You know all that she has faced,
You have strengthened her in midst of much opposition.
Grant that Your Spirit would fill her heart so that she
demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit in all circumstances.
Her story is not “her truth” rather “the truth.” Protect her heart,
give her wisdom and courage to speak that truth. IJN. Amen.

Day 26  Victim 2 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, once again we come to You in behalf of this victim. Heal her pain, grant her nights of rest and peace in the midst of the turmoil. Bless her family as well as they continue to care for her. IJN. Amen.

Day 27 Anna Ludes #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Dear God, we lift up to Your throne of mercy Anna. You know her heart, agony, sorrow, also new life moving forward. Give her joy in life. Strengthen, comfort, and love her. IJN Amen

Day 28  Lindsey Schuett #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we entrust Lindsey to Your loving/healing care. In depths of hurt, bring soothing care. Remind her of constant love in Jesus. Bless Lindsey & her family as they mend. IJN. Amen

Day 29  Maggie Nichols #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the needs of Maggie. Not only meet them, but raise up people who can minister to her & care for her. In times of difficulty, loneliness, may You be her Rock. IJN. Amen

Day 30  Tiffany Thomas Lopez #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Our God, grant Your healing, comforting presence for Tiffany today and each day. Where the hurts are deep, bring the soothing salve of Your love and grace. Be her Rock IJN. Amen

Day 31 Jeanette Antolin  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, grant Your mercy upon Jeanette as continues to build her life. Strengthen her in the midst of weakness, comfort her in the dark days, love her continually. IJN. Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed