Good, Bad, and the Ugly

After I wrote “Not Alright”, I had a decent fall break.  I passed out flyers that Saturday with the Ranger boys and listened to the ISU game.  God was gracious and allowed me to play football with my siblings and neighbor friends.  It was pretty refreshing because, as I mentioned, I hadn’t played it in a really long time.  Sunday was full of fun activities that included my cousins and no work. :P  Monday, I ran to the bike store and didn’t buy what I wanted because they didn’t have it.  I put a piece of plastic in my tire and biked to Lincoln East high school to observe a football practice for coaching class.  Then, in a weird change of events, had my evening plans postponed so I could just relax and do nothing.

Tuesday, I worked and it wasn’t like the tuesday’s of weeks past, because work wasn’t preluded by classes all morning.  The fine details of the week back in school are largely lost to my memory, though I’ll probably remember them long after the time for this post has come and gone.  I spoke (typed) too soon.  Wednesday was that cold rainy day that I had to bike to campus in the pouring rain and ended up soaking in my cold, damp clothes all morning. (No wonder I wanted to forget that day) :)  Thursday, I met with Renae and chatted about a lot of things, mostly the book.  It was good and maybe someday, Renae, I ‘ll be able to talk about some things in less vague terms.

Friday, I only had one class and biked back to the bike store to finally get what I originally needed from there.  I wrote another page and a half of my story that afternoon, a much needed sign of progress in a activity that was a cause for much discouragement.  As if God hadn’t blessed me enough, work on Saturday was over quickly and we again played football after a Nebraska win. 

Narration from here on is quite redundant in many ways and much that I would disclose would be in respect to my interactions with my readership.  I will say though that my time with God has been incredibly good this week and hopefully will be the subject of another time in the next week or so. The reason for the delay…

Next week, all of my classes have tests scheduled.  Now that I only have four classes, the work load of studying is somewhat less than before, but it draws my attention to the endlessness of my college career.  My next semester of classes, though light in terms of credit hours, will take a toll on my church life in particular.  Two of my classes in the spring are scheduled only during the hours that weekday meetings happen at church.  I will most likely have to take time off from the worship team as well as Royal Rangers.  Granted, the age group that I teach in Rangers is probably the best prepared for this type of issue (Jason also teaches it) since I’ve been helping out with Rangers, it is still a hard thing to give up.  I’ve always disliked classes in the afternoon, but when they detract me from evening activities I’ve been a part of for as long as I have, it becomes tough.  I wish I could split myself into three people, so I could do all of it at once.  It would probably just mean I would get three times as tired by the end of the day.

JA Menter

Have you heard the love song of the cross recently?

I Can Hear Your Voice

This is a song by Michael W Smith, from his ‘Worship Again’ album.  It’s been “stuck” in my head since early Sunday morning.

I Can Hear Your Voice

I’m in the river that flows from your throne
Water of Life
Water of Life
It Covers me and I breath again
Your love is breath to my soul

I can hear Your voice as You sing over me
It’s Your song of Hope breathing life into me
I can feel Your touch as I come close to You
And it heals my heart
You restore and renew

Not alright

It happened, the mask is crumbling, my charade is over; no one was buying it. I can no longer hide behind my intellectual verses, my personality, my responsibilities.  I’ve hinted to this many times in terms too vague for people to pick up on, but now it must be told.

Since June, and perhaps even further back, I’ve struggled with a shadow of depression.  I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, given all the things I’ve told you and the things I’ve done, but I often struggle to just get out of bed in the morning.  There are things that I used to enjoy that either don’t capture my interest anymore or I don’t ever do them anymore. I am prisoner to a demanding schedule I’ve created for myself in order to reach for a goal I’m not sure I have anymore. The life is being sucked out of me by things I thought I needed to do in order to be equipped to do what I thought I wanted to do.

The one thing I know I still enjoy is playing football, not coaching football necessarily, but playing it. The last time I did that was at a Cook family shindig this spring and before that it had been probably two and a half years. Again, because of the demands of school and work, I just haven’t had time to do that. I have a break from all that this weekend, but I can’t play football by myself like I play boardgames. Convincing siblings and relatives that they want to play is a task that is impossible for me; none share my enthusiasm for this sport.

In all of this, I struggle knowing that God has an abundant life in store for me and trusting that He provides that for me. It’s not that my faith has been shaken, but the feelings of insignificance, misdirection, and depression are hard to escape. They are the burden I ask that someone help me bear. They are the past I listen to all too often.  Despite the fronts I assault your perceptions with, I am just a boy, broken and isolated in my battle. I’m not alright; I’m broken inside.


As you will probably discover (if you haven’t already), I use uncommon words, metaphors, and word pairs that aren’t usually put together in order to create a distinct meaning, and then spend the next several sentences explaining how I arrived at those specific word groupings or defending my metaphor. It should be no surprise that I’m going to try that again here.

I wish that I had social stamina, the word grouping of the hour :) And here’s the anticipated expanation.  These two words have been used in various contexts, apart from the other, to mean many things.  “Social” almost always has to do with people or groups of people interacting on various levels and media. Direct verbal communication is the most commonly used medium for social interaction. But my curious word grouping wasn’t “social interaction”, was it?

Stamina refers to strength of physical constitution; power to endure disease, fatigue, privation, etc. (From  It could be used instead of endurance, staying power, even will power.  Most people know of my endurance in running (I could run all day long) and my staying power in biking (I can bike for days), but honestly, the longer I run the more that endurance is about will power.

For example, early this summer, I went on a 9 mile run.  It was the longest run I had ever attempted up to that point.  It was a Tuesday, and people were watching “A Knight’s Tale” at the house.  We’d started it fairly late because supper didn’t get over until later.  I had decided the morning before that I was going to go on this 9 mile run.  Instead of ripping myself away from the movie and my friends to undertake this test of my physical endurance, I could have very easily just stayed where I was and tried it another night.  Granted, I wouldn’t have been ready for the 13+ mile run I attempted later that week, but I could’ve done nothing.  partly out of my integrity and partly by will power, I strapped in and set off.

In light of these observations for clarity, I want to again draw your attention to my peculiar word pair (Social Stamina). I think, by now, you understand what this means but let me expand it a little.  Almost a year and a half ago, I found myself quite isolated in a circle of friends I’d created for myself.  Things went on where I didn’t say more than the barest of bare minimum to anyone and spent weeks on end saying nothing at all.  While some of you might think that to be rather fun, take my word for it as a longtime introvert, it wasn’t healthy or safe.  It leaves time for the mind, or at least mine which is found to be active at all times to the chagrin of its possessor sometimes, to go places it really shouldn’t and I mean that in the most upright way possible.  An alternative world is all too easy to believe in instead of the real one, if one’s not involved in the real one.

At the beginning of this year, 2008, (actually much before that but then I was too comfortable in my chains to allow for this sort of growth) I was really challenged to get out and expand my social network as it were.  I have many friends that I’ve only met this year and longtime friendships only recently actually cultivated, but I still struggle at times engaging in this thing we call verbal communication.  It gets easier when the people talking actually have something to say, but often times I’m around people so long, they run out of things to say.  The absolute hardest thing for me to do is listen to people making noise for the sake of hearing themselves or just making noise.  This is when my social stamina, which has grown considerably this year, runs out and I find myself simply exhausted, physically and mentally.

To a certain degree, this happened after this weekend’s festivities.  My birthday on Friday started what I felt to be a four day celebration and a fifth day that is always hard for me to live through.  Not necessarily because I was the center of attention, but because I often made an effort in trying to develop this social stamina to at least command someone’s attention, (really anyone’s attention), I felt like I was involved in a lot of stuff Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and to a lesser degree Monday.   

I was certainly running on fumes by Sunday evening and had to go walking to force myself away from things. (Perhaps you have my answer, Rebekah, to whether or not you were right in guessing which one of my random facts was false?!)  By Monday, I was trying to turn my attention to the week of school, (here’s one of those plays on words that I should now be famous for saying: After my crazy Tuesday, I go into autopilot before I trip into fall break), though I still had a final celebration to make an appearance at before my evening bible study.  Then came Tuesday. :P Already exhausted in virtually every way one can be exhausted, I had a day in which I had to spend 12 hours on campus doing things I don’t particularly enjoy doing at a point in my life where my mind goes all over the place when it hasn’t a definite task to perform.  I really hate being tied to a specific place without the ability to write down my thoughts.  Too often, exhaustion that I know I should feel is in conflict with my thoughts that keep coming regardless of my physical condition or even my ability to order them sufficiently or will power to keep them in check.  I end with this observation of an obversation: Apparently, I wear my mind on my sleeve, but few actually tell me they can read it.

JA Menter

Isaiah 40

1 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
      Says your God.
       2 “ Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
      That her warfare is ended,
      That her iniquity is pardoned;
      For she has received from the LORD’s hand
      Double for all her sins.”
       3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

      “ Prepare the way of the LORD;
      Make straight in the desert
      A highway for our God.
       4 Every valley shall be exalted
      And every mountain and hill brought low;
      The crooked places shall be made straight
      And the rough places smooth;
       5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
      And all flesh shall see it together;
      For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
       6 The voice said, “Cry out!”
      And he said, “What shall I cry?”

      “ All flesh is grass,
      And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
       7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
      Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
      Surely the people are grass.
       8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
      But the word of our God stands forever.”
       9 O Zion,
      You who bring good tidings,
      Get up into the high mountain;
      O Jerusalem,
      You who bring good tidings,
      Lift up your voice with strength,
      Lift it up, be not afraid;
      Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
       10 Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand,
      And His arm shall rule for Him;
      Behold, His reward is with Him,
      And His work before Him.
       11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
      He will gather the lambs with His arm,
      And carry them in His bosom,
      And gently lead those who are with young.
       12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
      Measured heaven with a span
      And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
      Weighed the mountains in scales
      And the hills in a balance?
       13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
      Or as His counselor has taught Him?
       14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
      And taught Him in the path of justice?
      Who taught Him knowledge,
      And showed Him the way of understanding?
       15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
      And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
      Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
       16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
      Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
       17 All nations before Him are as nothing,
      And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
       18 To whom then will you liken God?
      Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
       19 The workman molds an image,
      The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
      And the silversmith casts silver chains.
       20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution
      Chooses a tree that will not rot;
      He seeks for himself a skillful workman
      To prepare a carved image that will not totter.
       21 Have you not known?
      Have you not heard?
      Has it not been told you from the beginning?
      Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
       22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
      And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
      Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
      And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
       23 He brings the princes to nothing;
      He makes the judges of the earth useless.
       24 Scarcely shall they be planted,
      Scarcely shall they be sown,
      Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth,
      When He will also blow on them,
      And they will wither,
      And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.
       25 “ To whom then will you liken Me,
      Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
       26 Lift up your eyes on high,
      And see who has created these things,
      Who brings out their host by number;
      He calls them all by name,
      By the greatness of His might
      And the strength of His power;
      Not one is missing.
       27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
      And speak, O Israel:

      “ My way is hidden from the LORD,
      And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
       28 Have you not known?
      Have you not heard?
      The everlasting God, the LORD,
      The Creator of the ends of the earth,
      Neither faints nor is weary.
      His understanding is unsearchable.
       29 He gives power to the weak,
      And to those who have no might He increases strength.
       30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
      And the young men shall utterly fall,
       31 But those who wait on the LORD
      Shall renew their strength;
      They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
      They shall run and not be weary,
      They shall walk and not faint.


Apparently, I’m supposed to come up with 6 things that my readership might not know about me. This is hard since my readership knows me pretty well, but I’ll give it a shot. Some of these things will be false and to add a twist, you guys can guess which one is not true.

1.  I have gone on a long run at 2am

2.  I walked to the library this evening. (8:30pm Oct 12)

3.  I ran home in my street clothes with sandals carrying my cell phone in 16 minutes and change (2.5 miles)

4. I bike on average 65.25 miles every week.

5. This year is the first year since the Fellowship of the Ring premiered that I haven’t read all of Tolkien’s works annually.

6. I have read over 200 books on history.

JA Menter

“Writing with a broken pencil is pointless.”

Too Vague?

Several days ago, I had a dream that disturbed me greatly.  Even now, I can see the images vividly when I close my eyes.  Two figures, faceless and unidentifyable, huddle over an overturned barrel, wooden clubs in hand.  Like a camera angle in a movie, my point of view is up close on the dying grass where the huge barrel had been.  Coiled tightly in my entire vision is at least ten snakes, viporous and deadly.  The end of the baseball bat like clubs enter the frame, wheeling quickly.  I hear a grunt and thud as the blow lands and snakes fly into the air, their head crushed flat.  Another and another churn the ground like butter and send snakes and parts of snakes airborne.  One escapes the onslaught and slithers into the surrounding grass.  Club blows aimed wildly bruise the fescue until one finds its mark.  The loud cracking of vertebrae and lumber fills my ears and jars me awake.  I turn to my alarm clock which reads 4:47 in large lime green digits.  With a sigh, I realize that three hours earlier I’d tossed and turned with pre-test anxiety and knew that sleep time was effectively over.

As I lay there, I was reminded of a summer ten years ago when my cousin lived in Lincoln and we’d go catch minnows and tadpoles in the drainage ditch by my house.  One day, we found a snake lying dead on the ditch floor, rock gouges crushed into its body.  We found probably two more snakes that day, alive, and spent quite a while trying to catch them and bring them home.

Fast forward (or Rewind) to the last week of August.  At twilight, I went walking as I normally do. A snake slithered off the sidewalk in front of me. My mind went back to the events of the previous paragraph and I continued walking, without thinking too much of it.

Then two Tuesdays ago, I went on a walk after spenting all day on campus.  I had seen dead squirrels and grasshoppers almost every day for the past month, and had actually run over a squirrel on my bike perhaps two weeks before. I was watching the lightning but almost stepped on a dead snake. (see a trend here?) I watched the bugs crawl away from the carcass and went back to viewing the horizon. I like watching lightning and did so in the same spot for perhaps ten minutes. The very next day, I saw another dead snake along the bikepath on my way to campus. This pattern unnerved me and I was left wondering if there was a particular message in this.

JA Menter