Friday, October 5, 2012

A Good Day!

The boat arrived at 9:45 AM.  It was a beautiful 22 footed that resembled the old Chris Craft boats that were seen often on the lake during the 1950’s.  The young man on the dock helped us load the golf bags onto the boat while Paul and I got settled for the ten minute ride from our condominium to the golf course on the opposite shore.  The air was a little crisp as the bright morning sun shone down on us. 

It was our first, full day of this golfing vacation that we had been planning for quite some time.  More than a year ago, one of my closest friends, Paul, had called to tell me that he and his wife, Mary, wanted to thank me for watching their house and dogs on frequent occasions by giving me a week at a time-share on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.  It was also a week to celebrate the fact that my supervised release would be over and I would be a “relatively” free person.

As the boat pulled up to the dock, a tall, slender Asian girl tied up the lines and took our golf clubs.  She introduced herself as Lauren and told us that she would be our caddy for the day.  She was a beautiful young woman that we would find out was from South Korea and had been adopted with her brother by a judge in Spokane when she was six months old.  She was a recent college graduate and was spending her second summer as a caddy at the resort golf course.

Paul shared a story while were playing the round that became our mantra over the course of the week.  When his grandson, Ryan, started Kindergarten he went to their home after school one day.  Ryan was full of smile and excited when ran into the kitchen.  Mary leaned down and asked her grandson how his day at school went.  With a beaming face he said, “Nana, we got ice cream.  It was a GOOD day!”  So as we meandered our way across the golf course for the next five hours, Paul would look over at me and say “It’s a good day!”

For the next six days we travelled from golf course to golf course in the Idaho panhandle.  At night, we would drive the 25 miles into CDA to enjoy a Blizzard from the local Dairy Queen.  Paul took me to one of his favorite restaurants in a run-down dive on a siding road called The Wolf Lodge Inn.  From the outside it looks like a place you would quickly pass by and not think twice.  But the steak they served on the inside was one of the best I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant.  On Sunday, I was there with Paul when he hit his first ever “hole-in-one”.  It was a good day.

From the outset, Paul wanted this to be my week.  He said he was just along for the ride (and to pay the bills).  After playing on a course that I often played as a college student with my roommate, we took a short drive to Newport where I had a chance to see Mom and Dad’s grave marker.  I hadn’t been there since we buried them more than a year ago and no one in the family had had a chance to see the beautiful marker that my younger brother Geoff had ordered for their burial plot. 

The week in CDA gave me an opportunity to reflect on my life.  I had just completed what I would describe as the most traumatic eight years of my life.  It has been filled with far too many difficult days.  Days that I wasn’t always sure I would make it through.  It had been filled with much loss.  But as I peeled back all of the negatives of those eight years, I was reminded of many positives as well.  The re-establishment of genuine relationships with my sister and brothers.  The involvement in a church that has fully embraced and accepted me.  A wonderful friendship with my ex-wife.  The friendship and support of a wonderful who is a friend and co-worker.  The day I met Paul.  It was a good day!

Photos by Mark and Paul

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The New Roommate

I really didn’t know what to expect. This had all been set up by my brother, Frank’s wife Clare. I had been over to their home for dinner about a month earlier and she asked me to consider it. I shared a few reservations with her through a couple of text messages and hadn’t heard any more about it. That is until about a week ago. And then on Friday, the day arrived.

I got home and left a message with Clare that I was there and I was ready to meet my new roommate whenever they wanted. They were in the middle of dinner and said they would be over in a little while. I enjoyed a light meal and sat in the recliner overlooking the bay reading until I heard the door bell ring.

When I opened the door, my brother was standing there with a little fur-ball in his arms. Clare introduced me to Suzie, a two-year old Terrier (mix) that belonged to her daughter, Mary and her husband, Adam. She took one look at me and started growling, followed by a few sharp barks. Frank put her down and she ran across the room and hid behind one of the large chairs, barking…and then running over behind another to continue her chorus of canine yelps.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, Suzie was coaxed to become more comfortable with me through the use of toys and treats. She was held so I could try to pet her…always to the response of growls and barks. It was obvious that there was no bonding occurring on the part of Suzie. As the time passed, it was finally time for everyone to leave. I was left with numerous words of encouragement and as Mary and Adam gave their little puppy one last set of loves and hugs before they left for a three month trip to Africa, the door closed behind them and I was left alone with my new roommate.

Suzie immediately ran back across the room and continued with her barking and growling. I one of the soft chewy treats they had left to try to coax her into coming closer. She wasn’t buying it. Suzie continued her little dance behind the chair, always keeping it between me and her. I finally decided to give her some space and went into the bedroom to read. I would occasionally hear her bark and growl, and when I’d go check on her, she’d be laying on the couch but immediately jump down and hide behind a chair and growl and bark.

This little “dance” continued for about an hour and a half. I went out to check on her at about 10:30 PM, and was again greeted with the growls and barks. I knew I had to get the leash on her so I could put her out to go to the bathroom so I “herded” her toward the bedroom. As I closed the door, she jumped up on the bed and sat perched on the top of my pillow…staring and barking at me. As I approached, she jumped off the bed and went into the master bath. With the door closed and the two of us in about 10 square feet, I grabbed her and clipped the leash to her collar. When I opened the door back into the bedroom she used all 15 feet of the lead on the leash and ran under the bed where she anchored herself with her feet planted firmly into the carpet.

After about five minutes, I finally got enough leverage to pull her out and took her outside for a short walk and a chance to go to the bathroom. No more barking or fighting against me. She didn’t take care of business but simply explored the back yard a little. We went back into the house and when I let her off the leash, she once again ran to the living room and hid behind the recliner.

I went back to the bedroom and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to spend a sleepless night with Suzie barking and growling all night. I got her crate ready with food, water and her blanket and set it up in the room. I went back to the living room and she stayed on the couch when I approached. As I reached down to pick her up, I was greeted with growls, but she allowed me to take her into my arms. I took her to the bedroom and put her on the bed. She stayed there for a moment and looked at me and then walked around the bed exploring it. When I reached to pet her, she let me. I laid back down and read some more and she stayed on the end of the bed, watching me. I finally decided to see if she would stay on the bed so I got her blanket out of her crate and set it on the bed beside me. After a few minutes, she walked up and laid down and curled up. I got back into bed and spent the new few minutes softly petting her and simply loving her. No more growls. No more running away.

When she woke me in the morning with licks on my face and ears to let me know it was time for me to take her out for a walk, it was apparent that I had somehow passed the test. Suzie had a new roommate…and it was me.

Photos by Mark

Monday, August 20, 2012


It was probably a good thing that I left my Superman x-ray vision at home.  I’d travelled to Battleground to spend the weekend with my sister Deb and her husband Walt and to attend their first public performance since beginning to take West African drum lessons back in March.  On the outside, Deb looked as calm as a country lake at sunrise.  Not a ripple visible.  Only the reflection of the rising sun and peaceful clouds drifting overhead.  But outward appearances are often deceiving.

I learned a little bit more about my older sister this past weekend.  Over the past five years the two of us have come closer than we had ever been before.  We’ve had countless hours of talking about our lives and our past.  What we want for our futures.  We’ve talked about fears and passions.  And through all of that, Deb has shared that the fearless, bold, perfectionist, hyper-confident person that I had always pictured her as was not entirely accurate.  (Well, the perfectionist part was spot-on.) 

In actuality, Deb had the same type of butterflies that I remember experiencing every time I stepped on the football field to compete in high school or graduation day when the entire community seemed to be packed into our gymnasium at the school where I was the principal.  I think for all of us, butterflies are a way of life…but sometimes we think only in “our” life.  For some reason we tend to think that other people are more confident than we are and don’t suffer from those same insecurities. 

When I think about the Deb of my childhood, I’m sure that if she would have had any reservations at all on her performance being anything but perfect, she would have skipped dinner, dominos, breakfast and lunch and spent that time out in the garage (or some other secluded place) and would have been practicing over and over.  But she didn’t.  (By the way, it sounded perfect to me as I sat and watched the performance so maybe she snuck out in the middle of the night when no one might have heard her). 

As I sat and watched the rehearsal and then again the actual performance, what I saw in my sister was joy, not nervousness.  There were moments of a furled brow as she concentrated on the rhythm of the “song” they were performing.  But mostly, there was a smile and a radiance that only comes when someone is doing something they love.  Even as she stepped forward to perform her two solos, the audience was greeted with a smile and serene composure. 

Deb has done a lot of things over the past several years that I am extremely proud of her for.  Taking a leave of absence to focus on her writing.  Facing some of the demons of her past to find healing where she probably felt healing could never come.  And last weekend, being brave enough to invite her brothers to watch her perform on her drum for the first time.  Maybe I should give her my superman cape.

Photo from

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free At Last!

This day has been coming now for the past 1826 days. I haven’t been counting…not really, but I’ve certainly been aware. At 12:01 AM, my life will change. Most likely no one will actually notice. I won’t look any different. I won’t be driving a new car or living in a big mansion. I’m not getting engaged, married or becoming a dad or grandpa. But they day is extremely significant all the same.

Five years ago today, I was awaked at 4:30 AM from my upper bunk in a prison unit in California. I stuff the few belongings that I had into a double bagged garbage bag and grabbed the 4” thick mattress that I had been sleeping on for past three years. My legs were still wobbly from the vertigo that had kept me in bed most of the previous day. I took all of the extra bedding and laundry items that I’d accumulated back into the laundry room and tossed them into the hamper. I knew that by 8:00 they would have found themselves in a different inmate’s locker.

At 6:00 AM, the yard opened for a short movement and I carried my stuff over to “R & D” (receiving and discharge) and began the process of being released from prison. I was given a stack of papers from the guard and in exchange, I gave him a few drops of blood for the National DNA database and waited in a holding cell with three other men who were being taken to the bus depot for their ride home. Because my friend and Pastor Cal was coming to pick me up, I was held until 8:00 AM. Then an officer came and escorted me to the front and said I was free to go.

I simply stood outside the front door of the Taft Correction Institution for several minutes taking in the moment. My ride was there yet, but it didn’t matter. For the first time in 1086 day, I was outside of a locked facility. Unless you’ve been there, you really can’t appreciate what that feels like. Even having been there, I don’t have the words to describe what that moment was like when I stepped out through those doors, except to say that my life changed in that moment.

At 12:01 AM on August 15, 2012 I will have another one of those moments. From the minute I stepped out of TCI I was on supervised release. I had 72 hours to report to my probation officer and begin what I would call “phase II” of my sentence. For the past five years, my life has been monitored and restricted in ways that haven’t always made sense to me. I’ve endured the stress of multiple polygraphs, never knowing for sure if the stress of “fear of failure” might actually cause me to fail. I spent two years in “group” with a counselor that wasn’t all too helpful and seemed more concerned with the checks that he received than getting to the root issues of why we were all there. And found myself surrounded my other men who had committed crimes that involved illegal sexual contact with minors who had served a fraction of the time I had and each week worked in my mind to rationalize that it was “fair”.

My life was like a yo-yo being allowed to wish that I was going on a golfing trip with my best friend Paul, with tickets purchased and plans made, only to be pulled back at the last minute because my probation officer hadn’t bothered to actually check with the State of California to see if they would allow me to visit their fine state and find out that they didn’t want me there. Out of state trips that had been planned and had to be cancelled at the last minute because the probation officer didn’t get me the travelling papers in time. And learning with a month to go in my supervised release that many of the things that I had been doing in my church with choir and teaching Sunday school and volunteering for activities probably wouldn’t have been allowed now.

When I wake up on Wednesday morning, the sun will come up just like it did on Tuesday. The coffee will taste the same and the dogs that I’m house-sitting will wag their tails and love me in the same way that I have all week. But the day will be different. I won’t be taking unconscious looks over my shoulder. I won’t be wondering if I’ll get a call to go take a polygraph or drive out to the house for an unscheduled home-visit. And best of all…when I go to Battleground, Washington this weekend to visit my sister Deb and her husband Walt and go watch them play in a drumming performance, I don’t have to worry about whether it will be held in Vancouver or Portland. I’m free.

Photo from Flickr, by planetmarsphoto

Monday, July 2, 2012

Extended Family

I walked around the corner with my golf bag on my shoulder, seemingly weighing about seventy pounds. My eyes are watching the ground as I move to an open spot and set the bag down. As I looked up, I was immediately greeted by a smile and open arms pulling me into a bear hug. It was none other than my friend Paul. I’ve only known this man for a little less than five years, but it seems like it’s been forever. I met Paul through our church where he is on the board and is the leader of our Men’s Bible study group. Since then, he has become like a brother, and in fact my sister Deb calls him “our” brother.

Only two nights before, I was invited to dinner by my boss and his wife. I met Lee and his wife Luann through one of our pastors three months after I was released from prison. Over the course of the past four and a half years, my relationship with Lee and his family have become much more than simply co-workers. We have a friendship that borders on a “familial” relationship. Lee will be 78 years old this fall and is almost like a father to me.

About a month ago, I received an email from Jamie, my probation officer. Attached to it was a copy of a new policy that had been put into place regarding church services. As I read through it, I was a little shocked by how restrictive it was. It almost seemed as though they were trying to discourage church attendance. I have to sit in the front row. I can’t go the restroom without a chaperone, and in fact I am encouraged to “plan ahead” so I don’t even need to use the restroom at the church. But it was the last item on the list that really hit me. “You shall not attend any (bold is theirs) church parties, potlucks or other functions (regardless of location).” By the letter of the policy, this would mean that I couldn’t attend my Men’s Bible study or the monthly Men’s prayer breakfast that I had attended since I got out of prison. I sent an e-mail to Jamie and she gave me permission to continue to attend those two events, but it made me think about the men who follow me out of prison now.

It is extremely difficult so assimilate back into our society when you leave prison. Not only do you feel isolated by your own guilt, our culture doesn’t exactly welcome us back with open arms. For me, it was through my church that I have been able to make new friendships and establish the strong relationships that I have. And I believe it is through the relationship with people like Paul and Lee that I am anchored to something stable and will help prevent a relapse that would send me back to prison. They see me daily or weekly and off me encouragement and love. Without them, I would most likely isolate myself.

I’m sure the Department of Justice has their reasons for making policy. Unfortunately when they do, they usually throw a strict policy that is the result of an isolated incident over a broad group of people. As a result, I think it has the unintended (I hope) consequence of pushing those individuals that need to be assimilated back into our society and culture in the darker corners of our society. When you know that you are not wanted nor welcome, it’s easier to go to those places and people who will welcome you. Our gangs are full of young people for just that reason.

I feel fortunate to have the extended family that I do. I’m also fortunate to have the biological family that I have. I feel completely loved by both groups. When I see my probation officer, she often compliments me on how well I’m doing and how easy I am because I do everything that I’m supposed to be doing. I think I can thank my family…ALL of them, for that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


It wasn't the first time the thought had crossed my mind. It was a late night in the winter of 2003 and I found myself on the long, winding stretch of Highway 2 that runs along the Wenatchee River.   The road was narrow with many blind turns. It wasn't uncommon for parts of the rocky hillside to give way and block the roadway with rocks and mud.  "It would be okay if a semi came around the corner in my lane...too late to get back", I would think. "Or even if it just ended up forcing me off the road into the river.    I could never survive that current or the icy waters."   At the time, there were parts of me that just wanted it all to end but I didn’t have the strength...or courage perhaps, to end it myself.   The lie of a life that I was living weighed heavier and heavier on me each day, crushing the life out of me.   On the outside my life was near perfect.   A great job.   My wife was falling back in love with me after nearly destroying our marriage with the same lies and deceit only three years before.   "If I was just killed in an accident or something", I thought "there would simply be grieving and sadness and no one would know my one would get hurt."

 Those memories came back to me this past week as a series of events unfolded in the community where I once lived.   I had received a text from my Pastor's wife.   "Dan was killed in a motorcycle accident today.  Pray for the family."   I had attended church with Dan years before.   He was the son of a prominent evangelist and his wife was a close friend of my wife.  While we weren't close friends, I had been to his home on several occasions and he'd invited to me to enter into a business venture with him, but it was one of those tiered marketing prom fans and it didn't really suit my personality.   I had lost contact with and his family after my arrest and incarceration and didn't know that he had prospered greatly over the past ten years and had accumulated considerable wealth.   

I didn't attend his service, but talked to some who did. It was in our old church...the entire seating for 1000+ filled to capacity.  He was spoken of highly with pastors and friends recalling their memories of a man who they remembered as loving and generous...always willing to help others.  When I heard my friend speak of the funeral, it made me think for just a moment that at one time in my life, I might have been remembered like that. 

But over the course of the next week, things changed as things about Dan's life were revealed.  There were people coming to the family wanting to know where their money was.  Apparently Dan was into Forex trading and a lot of people had invested with him and now they wanted the return on their investment.  But there was a one knew where the money was.  No one could find any records of money being invested.  Millions of dollars had disappeared.  A couple of days later the FBI was at the old church.  The following day, they raided Dan's former home.  The stories appeared in online blog sites that Dan had been running a Ponzi scheme, bilking his friends and others out of untold amounts of money.  "Dan had been under investigation before the accident", the articles said.  Some accused him of intentionally driving his motorcycle head on into the semi truck that killed him instantly.  The man who had been praised only days earlier was now being accused of a heinous, selfish crime. 

I don't know if any of what has been said of Dan is true...only time will tell.   But that's when it struck me that my life and Dan's life were on similar roads for a number of years.  If what was being said was true, then like me, the Dan people saw was not the real Dan.  We were both on a slippery road that we both knew could cause our live to crash at any time.  We were both Christian men who were prominent and successful in our community.  We both had a lot to lose. And in both of our lives, the FBI took an interest in our secret lives and put everything we had worked for at great risk.  

And that's when I think we chose to take different roads out.  We came to a fork in the road where we had to choose one direction or another.  One road was very short. It literally "dead ended" very quickly. As you looked down that short road, you could see the semi truck already coming right at you.  But as you looked down the other road, it turned quickly and you couldn't see what was coming...or how long the road was.  You could see that it was going to be a difficult road as it started to climb up the steep, rocky hillside.  When we got to that point in the road that make up our life story, he turned one way and I chose the other.   

I know that God knows all things and that He can prevent bad things from happening I our lives.  But I also believe that He allows many painful things to happen because He knows that our story can be used to help others who are lost in their own sinfulness.  He lets us make choices (both good and bad) and then gives us opportunity to do something with the consequences.  

I'm far from perfect, but when I chose the road I did when the FBI entered my life eight years ago, I was put on a path to help other people.  I'll never know how many lives have been impacted in a positive way by publicly acknowledging my weakness and accepting the consequences of the choices I'd been making.   I don't know how many men I might have given hope to that were in the same trap I was in.  God has used me, and my life story, to bring others out of the darkness and blindness that pornography suffocates a man with.

And that makes me think of Dan and the story his life might have been had he taken the other road...the one that looked so difficult at the fork.  So many in our world are trapped in greed.  There doesn't seem to be enough money to satisfy them and they don't care who gets hurt as they do anything to accumulate more.  If what is being said about Dan and his running a Ponzi scheme is true, his testimony could have been so powerful to those who are consumed by the selfish greed that he was blinded by.  A gifted speaker in his own right, he could have shared the actual cost of living that lie.  He too would have been used by God to help others.

We are all on a road in our life story and the road is never straight.  And we don't always know where that road might lead, even when we think we do.  There are blind curves with danger around the corner.  And there are forks where we will have to choose which road to travel next.  That road is the important one.

Monday, April 16, 2012


“Richard Mirau.” I’d seen that name pop up on my cell phone more than a hundred times in the past year and a half. Whenever I see it, I get a little excited inside because it means that I’m getting a cal from the antique mall where I’ve had a dealer space since 2010. A call usually means that someone is interested in one of my antique pieces and they are calling to try to get a better price. I actually look forward to the opportunity to give a buyer a break and haggle over the price a little bit. It’s one of the features of the antique business that separates it from many others these days.

As I answered the phone, it wasn’t Dan or Wayne or one of the ladies on the other end…it was Rich himself, the owner of the mall. I could tell immediately from the tone of his voice that something was wrong.

“When they were making their rounds this morning, one of the mall workers noticed that your small case had been broken into. I’m not sure what all they took, but all of the sterling on the top shelf is gone.”

I sat at my desk for a moment…silent, trying to sort out what I just heard from Rich. It felt as though I had been punched in the gut…right in the solar plexus – the air knocked out of me. “All of the sterling gone.” I wracked my brain trying to sort out exactly what that meant. By then Rich was speaking again, telling me how sorry he was that it had happened. He offered to let my move the rest of my sterling in my large case into a display case by the front desk at no charge. I thanked him for his offer and for letting me know about the theft and set the phone back in its cradle.

Like most people, I often wonder why things happen the way they do. It’s not like I can afford to have more than $500 worth of antiques stolen from me. The antique business is not one where it is fiscally practical to take out insurance on your inventory. I’d looked into it when I opened the business, but it is difficult to assign an accurate appraisal and the inventory is constantly turning over. As a result, there is no insurance check coming in the mail. It will take a lot of sales to make up for the loss.

But it’s not only the loss of the money value of the antiques that knocked me for a loop. It was the items themselves. When I buy antiques, I look for the most beautiful and unique items I can find. And I love to buy antiques with an angel or cherub motif. The items lost included a cherub perfume, cherub grape shears and cherub match safe among the sterling pieces. I can’t just go to the mall or a warehouse and replace them. They are antiques and no longer made. And the saddest part is that most likely, they will be sold for scrap value and melted down and lost forever. I would have rather been robbed at gunpoint of $1,000 than lost the irreplaceable.

The longer I work in the antique business, the greater my passion for antiques grows. It’s not only their beauty and their uniqueness, but the fact that they are a part of a past that is no more. Maybe it’s a result of my own years that seem to pass by at a much more rapid pace that before. Or perhaps it’s a result of living in a “mass market” society where much of what we buy is designed to thrown away after a few uses.

I’ll recover from this loss and do business a little different to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Just as it did when I was a boy in junior high school and got the wind knocked out of me when an older student punched me, I got my breath back. Life goes on. Another memory is imbedded. Another question in my mind unanswered. Why?
Photos by Mark

Monday, February 13, 2012

Noises In The Night

The clock on my phone read 4:37 in blazing red color. I felt somewhat disoriented as I set the phone back down. Was I hearing things? Clare had mentioned before they left that they hadn't had a chance to repair the door sensor downstairs for the alarm system. I laid there and strained my ears to see if the noise would repeat itself. Nothing.

I rolled back over and fluffed the pillow, stiff firm in its relatively unused condition. It felt much different from the ones I have in my own little home...not necessarily in a better way, just different. As I continued to lay there, I was drawn to other unfamiliar noises. The vibration in the window that sounded like a jet engine. Perhaps a little exaggeration, but at 4:58 in the morning everything sounds louder. Suddenly, the furnace kicked on and the walls and floors started their symphony of creaks and cracks. And then without warning, they would just as suddenly stop as if the conductor slashed is baton quickly to end the piece.

It's been a long time since I've spent a night in a large house alone. Even when I occasionally house sit for my friend Paul, the dogs and birds are downstairs and my senses are tuned in to expect noises in the night. But here, it is different. No dogs. No birds. No...anyone, just me.

As I move closer to entering the next season of my life, I recognize more and more how much my life has changed in the past eight years. Some of my senses are much keener than they used to be, especially my hearing. Perhaps it's the three years in a prison unit with several hundred other men and the self-preservation awareneness of unusual sounds or movements that you hone as a survival mechanism. Or maybe it's simply that I've lived without a partner for those same eight years and the comfort of knowing there was someone there with me in the night making noise and moving in the house softened the awareness for twenty years.

Soon, I may be in a new place to live. Not a new trailer park where I can park the 36 foot fifth wheel trailer I've called home for the last four years. No, it would be a real home. A house that makes strange noises in the night. A place with smells and sounds that are unfamiliar. Views that are breathtaking both at night (with the lights of the houses across the bay shimmering like Christmas lights on the glass-like water as I see this morning) or during the day when the seals and sea otters come and play off the end of the dock.

My brother Frank and his wife Clare have offered to let me live in their old beach house as they work on their new home and wait to get a new dock built to move their boat over. The stay would be perhaps only a year or so...enough time to get used to life in a house that doesn't move. Enough time to get used to a living space greater than three digits. Enough time to forget some of these past eight years. Enough time to continue to heal and grow.

6:28 AM. The sound of the refrigerator going through its cycle. Faint creaking in the walls behind me. The sound of air pushing the warmth from the furnace through the heating ducts The light tapping from the keyboard in my iPad as I finish this post. Sounds that I can get used to.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

Just what was it that I thought I was doing? There I was, standing in the kitchen, gazing out the window looking across the back yard when suddenly it caught my eye. We had snow for the first time this year and there was quite an accumulation; at least for us in the low lands of the Pacific Northwest. Over the past week’s time we had about eight to ten inches total but today was the first day of the thaw.

To most people what I was seeing, what caught my eye, would be totally insignificant. But to those who know me, I mean really know me, they would understand. They might not, or should I say probably would not agree, but because they know me, they would understand that this is just something I have to do. So what was it that suddenly grabbed my attention and wouldn’t release me? What was so important that I was willing to discount any other plans that I might have had for the day for this? What could I possibly have seen that would cause me to give up unrecoverable time just to be mesmerized by this?

Well… there, across the yard is where the barn is. We call it the barn because both my wife and I work in “the shop” so to call this building the shop would just be too confusing. The barn is actually an aluminum pole building. It has two sections. One section is for auto repair. That’s the part that is taller. Actually almost a two story building and then the other lower section is for wood working. We have a fairly large carport attached to the taller auto section and over the week’s time as the snow was piling up I had to shovel the carport to prevent the possibility of a cave in. The snow around here is really wet and heavy so I just don’t like to take those chances. Time ran out on me the night that I was shoveling so I never got to the lower section roof to shovel it. As I get older I find that the tasks that I used to do quickly and easily take much more time and energy than I expect. Fortunately the snow stopped falling and the melt started, so I never did have to shovel that lower section of roof and it’s because of this that I was now standing, mesmerized by the view.

There on the lower section of barn roof was the piled up snow starting its decent. It had slid enough to overhang the eaves by twelve to fourteen inches and had cracked the surface pack. It was poised to fall at any time. This is something that I just had to witness. I know that may sound silly but I just had to wait and see it break off and tumble to the ground. As I stared at this eighth wonder of the world, I just knew that I couldn’t do anything until that overhang fell. I grabbed a cup of coffee and settled into a spot that gave me an optimum view.

The first ten minutes was nothing. I expected to have to wait. The next thirty were a bit harder to endure. Then I started getting restless. I started asking God to just break it off already. I had waited long enough. Come on God, this is my life I’m wasting here. How long do I have to wait to watch some stupid snow to fall off the roof? I know, you thought that at the very beginning, but now I was getting impatient. I finally gave up and told God that it just wasn’t important and that He wasn’t listening to me anyway. So I determined that I was going to go and knock it down since He wasn’t going to heed my request. I got all dressed to go outside and headed for the door when I realized that I … needed to floss my teeth? Really? The eighth wonder of the world is about to unfold and I need to floss my teeth? Go figure!

So I floss my teeth as quickly as possible and come back out to find… you guessed it, I missed it. The show was over. All that waiting, all that anticipation, gone. Wasted. I got distracted. I lost the focus. So of course I told God that I really didn’t care. That it was stupid anyway. So I marched down to the barn and knocked off the little bit of snow that remained because I was going to be in control. But inside I knew that I just allowed my impatience to get the best of me. I knew I should have just waited. I knew this one was on me.

So what did all this mean? Was there something larger here then snow sliding that God was trying to teach me? I believe that there was. But that only became evident today. So as Paul Harvey so eloquently stated; “Now the rest of the story.”

This morning I got up a little later then normal for a Sunday, and headed downstairs for a cup of coffee. I knew that we were too late to make the early morning church service but for some reason I wasn’t interested in going to the second service either. As I took my coffee and roamed through the house I looked out across the yard and there once again was that ledge of snow hanging precariously at the edge of the roof. This time however there was no crack in it so I knew that it would be some time before this ledge would hasten to the pull of gravity.

As I thought of the events of the previous day, I told my wife Lynn of all that had happened and we had a good laugh over it. I told her that as I sat there yesterday waiting, that I had thought of her, and knowing her personality, accepted the reality that this was something that she would have been incapable of doing. Just the same as with the nights that I stand out in the middle of the yard gazing at stars and not allowing myself to go off to bed before I see one more shooting star or one more satellite go by. She agreed and appreciated that I knew her so well and again we laughed.

And then, it happened. God began to speak to me. I looked out at the ledge of snow again on that roof top and now, there it was, a fresh crack across the top snow pack on the overhanging ledge of snow. I thought to myself; it won’t be long now before it falls and then quickly remembered that those were my thoughts the previous day and I didn’t have the patience to wait. That is when God spoke and said, “Are you willing to wait for My time?” As I pondered the question it occurred to me that there was great relevance here. So I decided to get another cup of coffee and sit for a spell and see if there was anything else He was going to say. As I sat and watched, He brought greater insight to my mind.

He brought to mind the reality that all too often I get impatient and end up working ahead of His timing. As I sat there, a Stellar Jay flew by and perched in a nearby tree. He reminded me that sometimes I get so focused on the outcome that I miss the beauty in the work. A few moments later, a hummingbird flew into view. It stopped at the feeder for a few moments and was gone. Again He reminded me of His creation and His blessing. Then, a red-winged woodpecker flew by. You guessed it, again He spoke and said, “I have created all of these for your good pleasure.” After a few more moments a couple of Crows flew by and I wondered if this was Satan’s way of distracting be from my goal.

After much more waiting, an interesting thing happened. In the middle of the overhang, a large part of the bottom of the ledge broke off and fell to the ground. He again spoke to me and said, “Sometimes when you wait for something it doesn’t all happen at once. It may come in smaller increments.” Just then a beautiful Red-tailed hawk soared by and I was in awe at the diversity of His creation.

Suddenly I noticed that the crack was getting bigger so I decided to go down and look at it first hand. By this time, the weather was getting blustery and rainy. I put on my hat, boots and coat and walked across the yard toward the barn and just then four huge Canadian geese flew by seemingly close enough to reach out and touch. I had to wonder just what it was that He was trying to say with all of these beautiful flying masterpieces that He had blessed me with and then it came to me. He wanted me to see that the waiting doesn’t have to be as painful as I had made it the day before. The waiting can be a blessing if we know and recognize that it’s His plan to wait. I’ts easy to get so focused on the final outcome that we lose sight of the blessings along the way.

So I finally got to roof’s edge and as I inspected it I could hear it creaking and groaning. But I could also hear the sounds of the birds calling to each other in the background. The Stellar Jay squawking to its mate. The Crows just having a time of community and then I recognized another sound. The song of the Robin. Now to me the Robin’s song means a new beginning or new life. When I was growing up, the Robins would leave for the winter and it wasn’t until the spring when the carpet of snow gave way to the new blooms that the Robins would reappear. That’s when He spoke to me again saying, “I will make a new thing for you if you are willing to wait for My time.”

Wow! That was one powerful message. That one really got my attention. With all that has been happening in my life lately I really needed to hear that. So I stood there in the wind and the rain and the cold and I waited. I listened and watched and waited. But while I was waiting, knowing that I had to wait this time, nature started calling. All those cups of coffee that I had enjoyed earlier that morning where starting to talk to my bladder and I knew that I would have to relieve myself soon. So I paced back and forth and called out to God and pleaded with Him to just let this snow ledge fall already because my eyeballs where about to start floating. Nothing! The snow ledge was getting longer, the crack was getting bigger but it just wouldn’t fall. Finally…. I could wait no more. I had to relieve myself. I went back to the house and took care of business never looking back. When I came back out…. You may have guessed it. Or not.

The snow ledge was still there. He hadn’t let it fall. As I walked up to the barn He spoke to me again and this time He said, “Some times when it’s necessary, I will wait for you too.” So as I gathered my thoughts and took my position of waiting once again, not two minutes went by and it happened. As I was starring right at it, the ledge of snow made a clean break and fell to the earth. I smiled and my spirit smiled and I knew that God was very near. I went close and looked at the break line and noticed that there were a few spots that were still hanging on and He said one last thing to me. He said, “Sometimes there will be some reminders of the past but don’t let them control your future.”

So today I missed my church service. But what I got instead was a real life lesson from my Father Himself. Attending church is an important part of our lives and there is much good to gain from it but we need to have discernment enough to be able to know when we just need time alone with the Father.

Don’t let the waiting in life be a burden to you. Enjoy it and look for all the blessing along the way. Who knows, there might be a snow ledge, shooting star, or satellite out there with your name on it.

When you are willing to wait for His perfect timing, the sky is the limit. Happy waiting.

By Geoff Lyons
(Note: This beautiful piece of writing was done by my younger brother and sent to members of our family. When I read it, I knew that it was meant to be shared, and with his permission, I am posting it here. I pray it touches you in the same powerful way that it did me. - Mark)