Quotes From My Cocoon

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune but omitted and the voyage of their lives is bound in shallows and miseries.  On such a full sea are we now afloat and we must take the current when it serves or lose the ventures before us.”  ~Julius Caesar Act 4 Scene 3 (as encountered in OTH S1E1)

“Look, son, there’s no shame in being afraid.  Hell, we’re all afraid.  What you gotta do is figure out what you’re afraid of, because when you put a face on it, you can beat it.  Better yet, you can use it.”  ~Coach Durham (OTH S1E2)

“It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. ~John Steinbeck  (OTH S1E5)

“Perhaps we give the best of our hearts uncritically to those who hardly think about us in return.” ~ T.H. White (OTH S2E2)

“See Charlie, the thing about kids, is that, um, you can’t make them into what you want.  You can teach them values, character, and a little common sense, but then you have to let go.  You have to let them become the man or woman that they’re intended to be.”  ~Alan Eppes (Numb3rs S2E5)

“…Well, as you all know, there are four fundamental forces in physics: electromagnetism, strong nuclear interaction, weak nuclear interaction, and gravity… We’ve been talking here about the forces that bind the universe.  But what binds humans?  Love.  Powerful in small spaces, yet with profound effect on distance.  Love defies time, outliving both its source and its object.  Love is faster than light, for light requires time in order to travel through space, but love reaches its object instantaneously.  Love journeys forever, into infinity, and its here binding together two lives.”  ~Professor Lawrence Fleinhardt (Numb3rs S6E16)

“Many people die with their music still in them.  Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live.  Before they know it, time runs out.”  ~Oliver Wendon Holmes (OTH S2E7)

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the truer.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne (OTH S2E10)

“The courage of life is a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.  A man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures.  And that is the basis of all morality.” ~ John F. Kennedy (OTH S2E13)

“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past.  Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” ~ John F. Kennedy (OTH S2E15)

“You can’t get it all back at once, man.  Take it slow.  Give it some time. Pretty soon, you’ll be back and better than ever.” ~Tony Battle (OTH S3E1)

“Live each season as it passes.  Breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.” ~ Henry David Thoreau (OTH S3E2)

“Faith is believing where there’s nothing else you can do.” ~ Karen Roe (OTH S3E3)

“…So look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (OTH S3E3)

“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone, and do not be troubled about the future, for it is yet to come.  Live in the present and make it so beautiful that is will be worth remembering.” ~Ida Scott Taylor (OTH S3E10)

“Regret makes you old and bitterness poisons the people around you.” ~Karen Roe (OTH S3E14)

“There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow.  When we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and recovered hope.”  ~George Elliot (OTHS3E19)

“There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads.  Afraid, confused, without a road map.  The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.  Of course, when faced with the unknown, most of us prefer to turn around and go back.  But once in a while, people push on to something better, something found just beyond the pain of going it alone and just beyond the bravery and courage it takes to let someone in or to give someone a second chance.  Something beyond the quiet persistence of a dream, because it’s only when you’re tested that you truly discover who you are and it’s only when you’re tested that you discover who you can be.  The person you want to be does exist, somewhere on the other side of hard work and faith and belief and beyond the fear of what lies ahead.”  Voiceover (OTH S4E2)

“When life comes rushing at you from out of the darkness, who will you choose to face it with?  Will it be someone you trust? Will they be wise? And will their love for you help them to guide you to the light?  Or will they lose their way in the darkness?  Will they make noble choices?  Or will that person be someone untested, someone new?  Life comes rushing at you from out of the darkness.  Where it does, is there someone in your life you can count on?  Someone who will watch over you when you stumble and fall and in that moment, give you the strength to face your fears alone.”  Voiceover (OTh S4E6)

“The rest of your life is a long time and whether you know it or not, it’s being shaped right now.  You can choose to blame your circumstances of fate or bad luck or bad choices, or you can fight back… Things aren’t always going to be fair in the real world.  That’s just the way it is.  But for the most part, you get what you give.  Let me ask you all a question:  What’s worse, not getting everything you wished for…or getting it, but finding out it’s not enough?  The rest of your life is being shaped right now.  With the dreams you chase, the choices you make and the person you decide to be.”  ~Haley James Scott (OTH S5E2)

“You know, son, there’s gonna be a lot of times in your life when you’re afraid.  Being afraid is okay, but if you don’t work through that fear, you might miss out on some pretty great things.”  ~Nathan Scott (OTH S5E2)

“Sometimes people write what they can’t say.”  ~Haley James Scott (OTH S5E18)

“You know the best thing about a paper jam?  it forces you to open up the machine to figure out what went wrong in the first place.” ~Julian Baker (OTH S6E9)

“So what’s it about then? –Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.  I’m not a writer but let me take a shot at this.  It’s that we found a story worth telling.  We got the script just right.  We got the crew just right, we got the perfect cast, and we were oh so close to being able to make something that would actually affect somebody–someone we’ve never met, but for two hours we can have a dialogue with that person, speak to them and maybe, I mean, just maybe illuminate a small part of their world by telling a story in ours.  here’s the part you’re missing.  Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.  We took a shot.  We gave it everything we could and we did it well.  Just didn’t work out.  Now, when that happens, you have two options.  You could sit in a public park like a bunch of homos, pouting and drinking cheap beer, or…you can celebrate the attempt.”  ~Adam Reese (OTH S6E18)

“Sometimes happiness doesn’t come from money or fame or power.  Sometimes happiness comes from good friends and family and from the quiet nobility of leading a good life.” ~Peyton Sawyer Scott (OTH S6E24)

From The Ashes, Part I

I used to say all the time that I feel like I got kicked in the ribs.  It is my way of explaining a strained feeling that I get in my chest sometimes.  I don’t even know what causes it and it seems to pass fairly quickly, so I never worry about it.  But sometimes, life has a way of kicking you in the ribs.  That happened to me a couple months ago.

The first week in November, I found out that I wasn’t going to be kept on at my job at UNL-Housing Burr/Fedde Facilities.  I was stoic that last week because I knew it had to happen someday, I mean they call my position temporary for just that reason.  The last few days of work, I said good-bye to a lot of good co-workers, not that I haven’t seen them since I stopped working there, but you get the idea.  The social committee threw a party for me the last day as a send-off and I went home with a ton of cake.  Monday morning, I was already missing it.

That Friday evening, I had a very unsettled feeling.  I call it being ‘restless’, but it was worse than I’ve ever felt it before.  (I get that ‘restless’ feeling all the time.)  I walked around outside for four hours unable to focus on anything.  Finally, as usually happens in this situation, sheer exhaustion put an end to my evening and I slept fitfully that whole weekend.  I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do with myself.  Something that I really enjoyed doing, the first job I had that wasn’t just a job for me, had been suddenly ripped from me and I was sent reeling.

I slept in until noon and stayed awake until 4 am or later.  I spent one day working on my story, but quickly ran into a block, because the next part I was supposed to describe was tragic loss.  The story plot was mirroring my own life all too much and I couldn’t take it, so I didn’t even think about it.  I listened to a lot of music and began to really dig into the meaning of the lyrics I was hearing.  On November 13th (or actually November 14th, since it was after midnight), I had a jumble of words stuck in my head, which I promptly unscrambled in writing them down.  You see them as the finished product in my post “Lyrical Turns”.  It was a fun exercise while it lasted, but it was over abruptly.

I buried myself in Netflix movies for fourteen hours everyday.  There are and were some movies that I watched during this time that I really liked and those that know me well know that the movies that I like the most are ones that have a very articulate moral or a story that I identify with very well.  One of the Netflix titles that was recommended to me was the TV show One Tree Hill.  I had caught one or two episodes of it on TV many years ago and was curious about it.  I know it has been categorized as a high school drama, but I always seem to find a way to look past the superficial drama nonsense and find something more substantial.  So I started watching episodes.  At first, I was drawn to the basketball aspect of the show, intrigued by coaching methods, as I had been with another TV drama that I had watched before, but then I began to see myself in some of the characters.

One day, I drank copious amounts of caffeinated coffee, so much that I was shaking all over, twitchy and so jittery I couldn’t focus on anything.  It was similar to the ‘restless’ feeling, but not induced by racing thoughts as is usually the case.  That night, at 4am actually, I decided to try to go to sleep, but I couldn’t.  I ended up writing about it instead of laying in my bed wide awake.

‘It’s 4am as I lay my head on my pillow, twitching off the effects of another bad decision.  The throbbing I feel is my heart [pounding] in rhythm with my head, but they’re both surreal.  I blink with jitters as my whole being shakes.  I’m left with not but to wait.    This Thanksgiving, I take stock of my life.  I am alone as always with the darkness that I’ve chosen.  I stand at a precipice, waiting when I should just jump.  Paralyzed by fear, fear of failing, fear of being inadequate, fear of freezing, but I’m doing what I fear.  I make no move.   I’m sorry I kept you waiting, nameless beauty.  I sat down and fell asleep when I should have jumped.  I made excuses as to why I didn’t deserve you, why I wasn’t good enough for you.  How can I not deserve you if I don’t know you?  Wait for me til I find you.’

I posted two-thirds of it on Facebook and a few nights later I mulled over it again.  I was really discontent with how my life was and I wasn’t doing anything about it.  I read my status from Facebook over and over again.  My mind went in a different direction than the closing sentences, which I didn’t actually post.  I thought ‘wait for what?’  Wait for life to happen?   I have always likened myself to my book characters, like it’s this tension between who I am and who I want to be, but in reality the person I style as the person that I want to be like falls short of my aspirations, and the character I liken myself to most often isn’t like me really either.  One runs to adventure and life and makes tragic errors along the way, and the other runs from adventure and from tragedy.  I realized that I neither run to nor from adventure, life and tragedy.  I merely wait, which is neither a life nor an adventure, [both things that I say I want] and that’s tragic.

One of the characters in One Tree Hill that I identified with was a brooding artist, being as I was an unemployed writer suffering from chronic writer’s block.  Those weeks were actually very dark for me, never to be confused as depression but just dark.  Looking back, I think the best way to describe it is to think of a catepillar when it develops a cocoon.  I was in the middle of a month long period inside a cocoon.  I had moments of interaction with the outside world, mostly church and youth group activities, but I was always detached from it, either by my own efforts or otherwise.

One such incident was a impromptu dinner at Valentino’s with my mom and younger brother and sister.  I spent the entire evening in the restuarant thinking about other stuff.  Always the observer anyway, I noticed a party seated next to us and how they emptied their pockets of their wallets and cellphones and set them on the table as they sat down to eat.  I thought ‘what a leash, that we have these devices that grant us immediate access to anyone we know and we keep these devices closeby at all times.’  I hardly get or make phone calls and my phone is more like a $40 a month alarm clock, with all the use I get out of it.  But other folks get their money’s worth.  It’s sad really, the chains we bind ourselves with.  Oddly, that statement reeks of Dr. Fleinhardt of the FBI TV show, Numb3rs, so I can’t take full responsibility for it.

Late that night, I posted this on Facebook:  ‘In the TV drama of my life, I am the quintessential brooding artist/writer.  I play my part well.  I neither run to nor from life, adventure, and tragedy, I merely wait and that is neither a life or an adventure and that is tragic.  It’s sad the strange chains we bind ourselves with.’  Also that night and unknownst to me at the time, I got a text about an audition for the play ’12 Angry Men’, nudging me to try it.  When I read it at 12:30am, three hours after it had been sent, I knew I was made.  How could I write publicly about discontentment with my life for a week and then reject outright a chance to start something new and adventurous?  So I decided to audition.


Lyrical Turns

Clever tales concealed in the shrouds of misconception.  Tiny puddles of truth in the midst of a lake of lies.  People lost in a crowd on a path they’ve chosen to a destination they don’t believe in.  Souls rot from a lack of purpose and the one thing they need is the first thing they reject.

The intellectuals talk circles around themselves, explaining away flaws with flawed reasoning.  It takes more faith to reject than to submit.  In Him we live and move and have our being.  Are we so close to absolute zero that we’ve stopped living?  An eternity-sized hole in a morbid existence begs the question.  Are we made for more than this?

Surely He has put eternity in our hearts, but we rejected Him.  The Light of Life left us and we died.  Lifeless corpses walking around, refusing to admit they are dead.  Darkness descends, purpose is lost and despair takes hold.

There is beauty in the broken, redemption for the fallen, and life in knowing your Creator.  Do not be afraid; the Judge you fear loves you unconditionally.  Shaky knees after running are primed for surrender.  Stop running from pain and race toward the perfect Healer.  Cease striving and know that God is God.

Game of Thrones

I saw a throne and a king seated on it.  He had a look about him that emitted might and power and I knew he was the King, not just a king, but the KING.  The throne room was richly furnished, as one that belonged to a monarch of surpassing wealth.  He and it seemed to define beauty, righteousness, and holiness.

Suddenly, the double doors at the back of the room opened and one of his subjects stomped in and trooped down the red silk carpet to stand before the King.  I knew then that something was terribly wrong.  He didn’t bow or prostrate himself before his king.  He instead began to bring a list of his demands to the King, placing blame on Him for a plethora of things that were wrong in his own life.  Without a word from the King, he was ushered sternly out of the throne room.

Then without warning, a side door opened and a young boy ran into the room, making a beeline for the King.  No one sought to delay or hinder him.  He climbed up onto the King’s lap and gave Him a huge bear hug.

“Daddy!” he cried.  “Abba!”

The King returned the embrace, wrapping His gentle arms around the child and shielding his head from all eyes.  I felt my lips tremple and quiver and tears form in my eyes.  Which was I?  The demanding subject or the son running to his Father?


Moor(n)ing Lines

There once was a dinghy on a lake.  This boat was propelled by a single pair of oars in the hands of its owner.  The lake was vast and deep; its water was variably warm or cool.  The owner enjoyed giving people rides on his private lake, sharing with them why he loved the scenery.  Many times, he’d describe the views or even the depth and temperature of the lake during a prior solitary glide.  That is how he spent most of his time, rowing alone on the expansive waves of his lake. 

When he’d satisfied his need for adventure and beauty, he’d row to shore, seeking a tree or post to tie his rowboat to.  Even on the dock he built for his many pasengers, there was no securing his boat to anything.  When the tide came in, if he was not in his boat, the waves would plunge the dinghy across the water, tossing and jostling it toward the middle and deeper parts of the lake.  All he could do then was wait for his boat to land ashore again, as it always did.  But there were no mooring lines.

Creativity or Just Memoirs

I write for fun, I enjoy it that much.  I write about things I know and leave hidden in my imagination what I don’t know.  I hide many things, creatively.  I say without saying.  With metaphor, simile and fictional story.  But is that actually creativity, or imagination or just what I know?  Is all this just creativity and imagination on paper or is it just my story, feebly and vaguely committed to pages.  Twenty-seven, no twenty-eight chapters and verses.  Yet no one reads between the lines, or on the cover.  Is it creativity or just memoirs?

JA Menter 3

“I feel numb, I can’t come to life, I feel like I’m frozen in time. Living in a world so cold, wasting away…”

20 Degrees

I promised myself I would post this at some juncture this week, so here goes.

Does anyone remember what temperature it was at the beginning of the year?  I don’t know how to transition into what I need to say, but the first week of 2011, it was about 20 degrees at six o’clock one evening.  I went on a run three times that week, the 40, and the 48 South twice.  That nomenclature has to do with where I turned around.  But anyway, the second of those three times, I ran because I felt like I was a boiling pot of water and the pressure was building.  It was a Tuesday and I was in charge of the festivities of Z-360 that week.  In fact, I was going to be all by myself and preaching.  I hadn’t come up with a game yet, but that was only one of my worries. 

As I ran, I thought over a particularly crazy and ridiculous situation I had caused about a week earlier.  An instance where, as always, I proved once again to myself at least that I shouldn’t be trusted in public.  The episode that proved my handicapping madness was seared on my memory like a cattleman’s brand.  I kept thinking, ‘I’m broken; I need fixing.’  My message that I was going to preach was about stress management from a biblical perspective.  See my posts from that first year of blogging to get the jest of what I was going to say.  This run was my ‘effective stress management’ ie giving it up.

Earlier that week, I had had a conversation about predestination from the viewpoint of Calvinism, which by the way is not the same as what Paul was talking about in Romans 8, but try telling a 5 point Calvinist that.  As I struggled with how to articulate my understanding of the matter, during my run, I began to declare this epitaph, which quickly became like a chanted montra.

What is a master, like an expert? It is someone who has knowledge and skill in a particular field.  A master carpenter has skill in carpentry and has power over wood.  Power.  Authority over.  A master designer has power over the design.  God is a master designer, THE Master Designer; He has power over His design.  We are created in His image (Gen 1:28), therefore, we have choice because He has choice.  We didn’t choose Him, but He chose us, because He is the Master Designer.

Then my mind turned to my episode of madness, my time outside my element.  I remembered Colossians 3:15, which is “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”  The question came and I voiced it:  Why does the peace of God rule in hearts and not minds?  It is a part of the image of God we bear, yet we were and are deceived.  Therefore, we are to renew our minds whereby we are transformed, cured.  2 Corithians 10:4-5 talks about the weapons of our warfare for casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  The obedience of Christ as in Philippians 2:8.  Humility, He humbled Himself, just as in 1 Peter 5:7, the context is humility.  Col 3:16 ‘may the word of God dwell in you richly.’  The word of Christ.  Romans 12:2 spoke of proving the will of God after being transformed.  The word of Christ transforms the mind.  The Word.  The WORD…guards your heart and your mind

At this point, my pace is quickening and my breathing is labored, but the words are still coming out of me, as if I have no regard for oxygen at all.  My thoughts voiced then and typed now had flown unbroken, fluidly, but then came this montra, this chant that I repeated over and over.  The cure is in the Word, no ‘IN the Word IS the Cure.  I am Yours, Master me.  I am Yours, Master me.  In the Word is the cure.  IN THE WORD IS THE CURE!!  I AM YOURS; MASTER ME!!

In that moment, everything else seemed so very small, infinitismal even.  I knew without thinking what the game the following night was going to be.  I knew beyond a doubt that I had rediscovered something that had been staring me in the face all along.  It was the key to so much.  Surrender and the Word, both scary in themselves, yet so very much a part of those of us ‘predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son’.  We cannot be conformed to something without being around it, remember Romans 12:2, and we can’t be around ‘His Son’ apart from the Word.  In so conforming, we must also surrender our old way of life, the pattern of this world, the pride and blasphemy of rebelling.  The war in our minds between deception and truth hinges upon surrendering and being mastered, as well as being washed again and again by the Word, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

JA Menter 3

“In the Word is the cure;  I am Yours, master me.  I AM YOURS; MASTER ME!”

A Lesson on Comedy or Errors

I haven’t posted a blog since I graduated and I suppose I had better put one up.  This is a semi-impromptu comedy routine perhaps.

I have a pet peeve of people complaining and then refusing to do anything about it.  I’m sure you know the situations I’m talking about.  I’ll give you an example and help you through my thought process as it unfolds.

Person:  I’m cold

Thoughts: Person is cold, therefore a coat or blanket would probably remedy the situation.

Me: Here, take my coat.

Person:  No, that’s okay.

Thoughts:  Here we go again, one of those people.  I thought this was a call for help, but it was just a pity party.  If they were going to merely state fact, why didn’t they use the indefinite “It is cold”?  Maybe they are doing the whole “I know what it is to be content” part of Philippians 4, but haven’t figured out the “without complaining or arguing” part yet.  Is the coat too small or something?  Wait, it is mine, so it can’t be that.  Maybe it’s….no, it’s mine.  Did they notice the time I sneezed or coughed into my sleeve and think that I’m contagious?  Ultimately, is it me or them?

Thus I stand with a complainer on one hand and a coat in the other.  The chronic complainer.  Or were they venting?!  That’s a whole different animal.  Since I’m rarely in a position to vent, I most often find myself the recipient of the venting.  The problem is, now that someone has spewed their crud on me, how am I supposed to clean it up, or even am I?  Do they really mean to ask for advice and not vent?  How should I respond?  The anticipated response is always the other one, it seems.  When I think that they want advice, they were really just venting and vice versa.  And if they were just venting, why did they pick me and what am I to do with it.  Throw it away like junk mail, or polish it like I do at work?  (I hoped you’d laugh here)  And now that I’ve vented, what are you going to do with it…  actually there was a point to this, as always.

JA Menter 3

It is cold, but “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

And to you Lincolnites, Philippians 4:14

Age is Irrelevent Part 1

A bent man limps to the sidewalk, steady determination on his sullen face.  Each step is labored like a motor with toothless gears.  A bony hand grips a wood cane in attempts to balance his weight.  Walking is more falling forward and catching himself before he hits the pavement.

The man’s eyes peer out from behind thick glasses.  Starring at the ground in front of him, he struggles over every crack and break in the cement.  He walks but a few steps before the excursion forces him to pause.

The man’s hair lies flat across his head, the hair on one side of his head combed up over the growing bald spot on his crown.  The hair, once a shiny brown now a pale white, is thin and slicked over with grease and last ditch attempts to improve its appearance. Stubble forming on his cheeks and chin is coarse and white, fraying on the edges.

The man finally reaches an intersection and stops for traffic.  The street is busy and many other pedestrians stop to wait.  When the light turns, a middle aged man tries to help the bent man cross the street but the aged man insists.  To everyone’s amazement, he lifts his cane and declares, “I can do it myself. I’m only twenty-four.”


Today, or rather yesterday, was the last day for one of my co-workers.  No, his name is not John.  We have worked together on the same paint crew for the past three summers and often during the school year as well.  This co-worker recently graduated and accepted an engineering job in the Kansas City area.  He drives down to Overland Park today.  As I think through all the work we did together, I am reminded of the day two summers ago when we were touching up Burr East, just the two of us.  That day, we talked about Southpark and The Office, cults and religion, and the weird sock we found in one of the rooms.  Or the hundreds of lunch conversations about our co-workers and the lastest rat race that is life at BFL.  Or most recently, the time I caught him sleeping just after second break and Gerry and I woke him up with a funny video that another co-worker had sent us.  But mostly, I remember how much I looked up to him, both figuratively and physically.  He stands 6’9″ tall on a short day and when he had to take a physical this summer, the nurse couldn’t read the measure stick.  It reminded me of the “too-tall Jones” Geico commercial.  I looked up to him because he was so good at what we did day in and day out.  I always tried to out-work him in both quantity and quality, but failed on both counts.  Now, for the last few months of 2010, I am the top dog, actually the only student painter still employed at BFL. Today an era ended and next summer, a new era for BFL paint crew begins.  An era after Ben Nelson.   Good-bye and Good luck Ben!!  I will miss you.

JA  Menter 3