Thursday, October 29, 2009

Future Reminiscing


Such sweet memories we invoke
Counting countless walks
So oft’ walked alone
Now enter splashing tango in drizzling midnight
And small talk sentiment for hours on the phone…

Iris to iris
Cheek to cheek, dancing rhythm
Begins to exfoliate intricately woven designs
And extinguishes the addiction
Of once-fashionable tattoos of caustic shame

And on flaky white chill winter night
Dull images flash across my flickering screen
And I’m reminiscing about things that have not yet made the scene   
Like wet clothing hung on a line to dry in the scented summer sun
Toes dipped delicately in ice cold Atlantic waves
Even on sweltering east coast early August days
Wandering hearts now drawn together
Undeservedly recompensed in unified debut
Glory reveals only glimpses of this mystery
If not rescued for each other
Then forever for the hope of you

-RbR OCT 09

Tuesday, June 23, 2009




(German for Party-pooper)

I know this much is TRUE: For the most part, TV will suck the life out of you.

In a moment of insomnia driven weakness, recently, I caught the last half of the 80’s brat pack film 16 Candles starring Molly Ringwold. Films like these bring back hauntingly embarrassing memories of my pubescence, by the way. The only decent scene in the film takes place when Miss Pretty-in-Pink’s parents forget her birthday and then her Dad can’t sleep and he comes downstairs and apologizes and they have this real family values father-daughter moment. The rest of the movie is CRAP! Did we really live this way back then? I suppose so. After all, there was a time when I frequently applied layers of aquanet in an attempt to adequately feather my long hair.

If my life was on film I guarantee it would not be suitable for all ages.

I sometimes feel like the stubborn old man rowing furiously for days after his great fish in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:

"It is not TOO bad," he said. "And PAIN does not matter to a man."

The future Sundance favorite might be titled something like this:

"...I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…"

If I had any license in its production I would hope to ensure era-driven songs from bands like Spandau Ballet and Air Supply would remain absent from the soundtrack.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Firefly Tango

Sitting on my porch yesterday evening…at dusk:

Ninja fireflies
Stealthy tango on humid nights

Dazzling, midsummer, bright
Materialize from shimmering shadowless stratosphere
From nothing
Now dazzling festive atmosphere

Watching and wondering
Do they still fly by light of day?
With just as much verve to illuminate…

Do they rest and pray or continuously careen
Fervently through this void
Before their light dies and finally fades

Whereas the question also begs:
Am I too a ninja firefly?

So generous with my own spark of light?
Do I tirelessly generate flint and steel…
Giving all for all in the darkest of nights?

-RBR June 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

notHing Heroic Here

If only I knew the answer. If only I could hear the whispered response.

Do you ever hide yourself away so that in solitude you can simply cry?

I would wipe away your tears if only I could hear the rhythmic pattern of your warm drops on cold floor.

Do you ever burst out laughing?

I would giggle and roll on the floor in awkward and relentless animation if that would even splinter your expression into a smile.

Do you ever gaze hopelessly at the stars in the dark of night?

I would stare, from here, into that same timeless void and hold on for you your hope in wonder and awe.

Do you ever feel anger and rage?

My blood would boil and heart would break to change every wrong to right.

Do you ever brace yourself against the howling and biting wind and wonder when it will end?

I would rise up and block that invisible antagonist and form myself into a hearth a comfort and warmth.

If only I knew. If only my senses could perceive.

If only I could catch a slight glimpse.

I would rise up like some kind of superhero in the nick of time.

I would bag the villains and stop the hurtling train in its tracks.

For you I would take a stand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Essay for Fuller Application

Fuller Theological Seminary

Instructions: Communicate clearly in written English.

A. Reflect on your past Christian experience, including the most significant spiritual event/influence in your life, the role of Christ in your religious experience, the effect your faith has on your worldview, your involvement in Christian service, your perceived gifts/calling for ministry, and your reason(s) for attending your church. (minimum 250 words; maximum 500 words)

ESSAY 1 with Melissa and Matt’s edits FINAL:

I first met God in a Hong Kong Sunday school when I was seven. My brothers and I were the only English speaking kids in the class, and the teacher attempted to explain creation using nude pictures of Adam and Eve. In junior high, my youth pastor explained that I was separated from God and in need of salvation. I readily asked Jesus into my heart. Since that moment, I have been a seeker of “good” with a passionate servant-heart for others.

My first exposure to the destructive power of pornography occurred in my neighbor’s basement during that same summer. The spark of curiosity, the power of porneuo warned against in 1 Corinthians 6, had an insidious and eventually destructive impact on my introverted adolescence.

I joined the Army with its hazing and coming of age, yet still sought after “good". I married a young woman with two daughters and we raised two more. I was promoted, grew in experience, and assumed roles of husband and father. We led Bible studies and youth groups and, as I watched the unfolding drama of society’s ills and pernicious lies, my passion for reaching new generations for Christ exploded.

But I was living two lives. The façade - a man recognized for his work ethic, leadership, and love of family. The truth - a struggling man who kept pain, sin, compromise, and addiction wrapped in an unbreakable cocoon. Eventually, lack of trust and monstrous selfishness formed a destructive cycle that spun out of control.

My world imploded and my family left. I endured dark and searching solitude, and realized my personal incapacity to fix anything. This illuminated the mystery of the Gospel. The essence of the resurrection became a freeing and healing fission that multiplied hope within my hopelessness. Grace became real. And, as Bonhoeffer writes, it cost something. It cost God his only Son. At first that grieved me. But when the cloud of condemnation and lies dissipated, I saw that God loved me so much that he would do anything for me, even if it meant following me into the blackest depths. God’s plans embraced and encompassed my own, and I became new.

Suddenly, serving others became a delight rather than an obligation. Community became my new identity. The Lord established the most intimate friendships I have ever had. We became a band of brothers who encouraged and challenged each other through the junk of broken life. Serving with Navigators and Cadence International we adventured, laughed, prayed, cried, and became alive in our vulnerability. I became part of The WELL, a community of believers that exists to continue the redemptive work of the Son. God wants to heal all people, and he wants to do it through us! Along with the writer of Psalm 91, I found rest in the shadow of something much larger than myself. I want to be within the center of the Father’s will and become the hands and feet of Jesus. That is why I exist.

B. Reflect on how attending Fuller Theological Seminary would complement your present Christian experience and/or help you to achieve your future professional and vocational goals. (minimum 250 words; maximum 500 words)

And Moses said to God, “who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.”

My military career has culminated and will come to a close shortly as I retire this uniform after 20 years of service. In the same way as God will use my hurt, pain, and transformation to help others, I believe the experiences I had in the military were not in vain. God will use my training, travel, relationships, leadership, and vast amount of lessons learned for his glory in the kingdom. I have dealt with crisis after crisis in the past two decades and God has brought me through each of them.. Only through His grace has he given me a resiliency and blessing to overcome and endure. Like Daniel, though I don’t purport to have an ounce of the strength of character of this hero, God has brought me through the crucible and released the jaws of the lion. I’ve learned to rest in the shadow. God has given me a burning desire to work for social justice, help transform lives, engage in urban development and eradicate poverty. It is in my blood to respond to the many crises of my fellow humans, and especially unreached people groups who need Jesus and their own cluster of flourishing culturally relevant churches.

I’m at a crossroads in life. I have a corporate resume that could lead me to a well paying career in Washington’s belt-way or in a federal building with no windows making plans for war or other governmental operations. But I know this is not the direction I am to go.

It is no accident that in January of this year I felt led to enroll in the Perspectives course through Manhattan Christian College and simultaneously lead a small group study of the Truth Project at my home.

I believe Fuller is the stepping stone I am to use to cross into life’s next chapter. It will be a time for growth and transition, and more importantly a time to put my faith into action and be grounded with greater knowledge to be an effective Kingdom worker. The MA in Cross Cultural Studies ties into my BA in International Relations and my calling to serve in overseas or domestic urban ministry. I think I will come away from the Fuller experience with a more technical understanding of things like micro-enterprise development and sustainable agriculture. I believe Perspectives adjusted my lens to see God’s focus on justice and human rights, human and social transformation, globalization, public policy, and humanity’s gifts in the arts and culture. Studying at Fuller will equip me with tools to execute programs that support God’s purpose. Dedicated and unhindered time with faculty and fellow students in Pasadena will be an opportunity for me to be in an encouraging place where we can motivate each other to act justly, love mercy and walk more humbly before our God.

Friday, May 1, 2009


High Fidelity!

…I conclude

Rising past the riches of my raisin wrinkled solitude

Like graphing swells of emotional seismology:

The passive-aggressive drama

And off-broadway antics

I so colorfully exude

Inner façade spiking the charts

Exposing me to the real me


Counting darkened stars

Fails to roll with the fade from black to blue to gray

In ever burning Glorious electric day

Its time to go public with this:

So I apply for a loan

To stimulate my economy

And cinch tightly the belt of my contentedness

Which to the highest bidder

Auctions off my blinded tender searching soul

All Rise!

The bailiff cries

As duelers duke it out

Frenetic Forensics lay down the story

To disprove the truth of the absolute

And I just march with the clowns on parade

In all my naked shame and new found glory

Oh, Stalking me!

these pernicious lies;

But I, with gortex for skin

And with a resounding drive to win

Abide and nimbly climb;

Kilimanjaro, or something higher

In microthin air that exposes my flair

To at long last summit the spire

And deftly expose the truth:

The liar is a liar

Monday, April 13, 2009

I think I'm suffering from post-partum depression or I ran over a puppy on Saturday

So, since the first week of March I have visited the local Emergency Room three times and spent a multitude of hours with various doctors. It all started when I forgot how to breathe.

I was sitting in a lecture, mesmerized by the soothing drone of a speaker and his well-worded powerpoint slides, and I noticed my heart rate rapidly increasing and my sudden inability to catch my breath. It sort of freaked me out because I have been breathing most of my life. I guessed I was having a heart attack, which seemed quite improbably given my superhuman stamina and kryptonite resistant immune system. After my first hot date at the ER, the docs told me I was probably stressed out and prescribed me some chill pills. But since my heart rate continued to travel in the left lane of the Autobahn and my breathing became more labored throughout the week, my superhero friends Matthew and Layne ended up driving me back to the ER again. On, this six-hour fun-filled visit, at which this dude actually shaved my chest in order to achieve a better seal for the EKG sensor, I felt like I was watching a prime-time network medical drama rerun. As I lay on the gurney trying to reacquire the oxygen I was craving, one man lost his left testicle in a bike accident, a woman attempted to OD on prescription narcotics because she wanted to be with her husband who died five months ago, and a 7-year old girl fell and suffered a tremendous head injury and was vomiting all over the hallway outside my room. Meanwhile, as I endured a tinted CT scan to check my circulatory system, Layne and Matt furiously played scrabble in the waiting room. By the way, when the technician injected warm iodine into my veins so the CT scan could follow my circulation, I immediately experienced the sensation of peeing in my pants. I had to check myself.
So, the battery of tests showed a strong heart, good circ, and healthy lungs. Later at home I was still freaking out and clueless because I felt like I had a 50 lbs weight on my chest and when I tried to walk, run, exercise, eat, or have a conversation I became virtually breathless. Then I read Matthew Chapter 8 and was reminded that even the winds and waves obeyed Jesus.

The next day a doctor called and informed me that a blood test revealed that my “TSH” levels were through the roof and that indicated I was hypo-thyroid. This, in a way, was a relief, because I did not enjoy the high-life induced by the prescription chill pills.
- Seal the cracks before it completely collapses! (from Psalm 60) “You have shaken our land and split it open. But you have raised a banner for those who honor you- a rallying point in the face of attack.”
Another day: I’m having trouble breathing again today. My primary care physician wants me to take thyroid meds for life. I was a wee bit skeptical and nervous about that and asked for a two week reprieve. Of course that means I need to deal with these symptoms. Other people suggested heart stress tests to rule out angina or other heart related issues.
Finally, one doctor suggested my inhibited breathing and chest pressure might be due to an alien inhabitating my esophagus, as depicted in Ridley Scott’s ALIENS. Fortunately the X-rays revealed no such thing, so I probably have been dealing with excessive Acid Reflux or a condition called GERD, which actually can be quite serious, but is much easier to deal with than the potential cocooned infant alien’s head suddenly bursting through your chest wall. So I’ve been on the purple pill for several weeks and things have been much more stable. Not symptom free, but stable.
Today I drove to the state capital to see a nurse practitioner who specializes in endocrinology. I am now forming the belief that it may be wiser to seek medical advice from an NP specialist rather than an overpaid MD. She quickly scanned my records asked me some questions, tapped my knee with a hammer, and then prodded my semi-swollen thyroid, which by the way is a butterfly-shaped reservoir glob of cells, glands, and nerves that covers the inside of the front of your neck around the (males) Adam’s apple sector. The Thyroid is like a dispatcher that sends hormones throughout your system to regulate just about EVERYTHING in your body’s system. It’s kind of important to human functioning I think. Anyway, her conclusion: Because my blood tests show my rapidly fluctuating between hyper- and hypo-thyroid, that I might have a condition referred to as POSTPARTUM THYROIDITIS. WTH, OVER? Does not compute. I am not, have never been, and never will be PREGNANT. Ok, but Thyroiditis, is a thyroid dysfunction triggered as an autoimmune response to all sort of things like hormonal change or stress. Have I been under stress over these past three years? Whatever. But, the good news is, if indeed I am dancing with Thyroiditis, then this may be a temporary, 4-12 month ordeal as opposed to a life-long condition. Well, that would be an amazing answer to prayer, praise God!
Next step. On Wednesday I’m heading back to Topeka to see a Gastro-dude in order to prepare to have a camera shoved down my throat. This should be interesting since I am already walking around with the feeling like ET is chilling in my food processor.
Honestly though, all of this seemed to start when I began my Fasting FACEBOOK for LENT experience. I’m back on FACEBOOK as of today, so let’s see what happens. 
Oh, about the puppy. ON Saturday, I ran over a puppy. Besides a small sapling that I uprooted with my Dad’s truck as a teen, this puppy was the first object I’ve ever hit with my car. It was quite a traumatic experience for me and my beautiful passenger. The hardest part for me was not the death of this cute dog, but, after parking and walking back to the scene of the accident, and observing the owner, an elderly woman, scoop up her lifeless black terrier from the roadway, and walk, dignified, canine in hand, blood and entrails covering her clothing, back to her house. If ever I had the power to heal, I wish that I had been able to use it then.
Is there a correlation in all of this? If so, please tell me. In my weakness I find strength.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sometimes we cut hair

SoMeTimEs wE cUt HaIr BeCaUsE iT grOws. You KNow?


I really enjoyed laughing and living at ATM this afternoon. There should be more of that in life. But I knew I had to leave because life can’t stop. And I have to keep my feet in the ruts of this course or I’ll be swept into the barren desert.

Did you know David Wilkerson says our cities are about to explode with more destruction and raging fires than we have ever seen.

I don’t know about that. Maybe we are already there.

William Carey, the father of modern missions to the lost, lived by the motto of “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God”.

Not sure where the future is leading me. I am baffled as to the reason my heart rate or anxiety or thyroid or whatever mysterious thing this is that has engulfed my waking and non-waking moments in recent weeks. It is engrossing and throwing life off balance.

I think I have expected great things from God, but have not really put much effort into attempting to do great things for God. I let my failures get the best of me. At least I have in the past. I have an even greater now to live for God’s greater glory, even while stricken with this manifestation of freaking out. I’m encouraged by the words and heart of my friend, Rich, who desires to be more faithful in everything he does. So may we be more faithful with our lives, knowing that our bodies are not our own; may we give more, may we be faithful to friends and lovers, bosses and teachers, the silent ones and the destitute. May we live life to the fullest. May we rise up to the challenges that lay ahead. May we take joy in the difficult.

And may we delight in the less complex events, like having a party to give a shaggy friend a haircut.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Riding the Rails in November (or from Munich to Mannheim One Morning)

Riding the Rails in November
(or From Munich to Mannheim one Morning)

Click Clack
The Trees and Buildings
Cities and Skies
Click Clack
Autumn’s brown drab
Bleeding furiously by

And in the peripheral
Hurtling past my window seat
I catch the vivid reruns
Flashing past my
Captivated eyes

These faceless faces
And bleeding lives
Equally bound in
Haunting beauty and
Pernicious lies
It Crashes
Where did it all flow?

Click Clack
And in the peripheral
Hurtling past my window seat
I catch the vivid reruns
Flashing past my
Captivated eyes
Click Clack


Friday, February 27, 2009

To This One It Matters

To this one it matters

So this is the world we live in.
Cigarettes and peer pressure:
Being like me, Being like you.
Conforming to the hollow
Just passing on through.

But enough of the excuses
As my eyes look toward You.
And my soul moves forward.
To this one it matters…

So show me this, destination next:
To find a house where everyone’s arrived.
And may they reflect on You
when they think of me.
Instead of dwelling on my greed and pride.

And I say to myself:
Take action.
or leave this life.
Because everything is still a mess
And they’ll never find me in the dark.
I lie.
And healing only comes from being holy.
But I’m willing and confused
Doing what it takes
Bleeding the brakes.

Wanting to be reconciled for every occasion.
Is this desperate persuasion?
Merely a crime of passion
Against the obfuscation of a beating heart?
Expose me, bare my naked soul,
Unshelter the eclipse
Until I can bear no more.
To this one it matters.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Carbon Fingerprint Checks

Today, at work, I intended to lessen my carbon footprint while hopefully also improving oxygen production and saving the amount of sun protecting shade in our world. I’m not an environmentalist, but I wanted to do my part, you know? I needed to print a 52-page document that required proof-reading. Doing my part, I decided to print it double-sided. Since my office lacked a duplex printer, I had to print the odd pages first, then the even pages. But, when I flipped the first 26 sheets and put them back in the paper drawer, Mister Hewlett Packard decided to print a co-worker’s print job that had been waiting in the queue. This meant one side of my document was the procedural guide I was trying to proofread, and the other was someone else’s equally important spreadsheet. I ended up having to reprint everything, but out of my impatience and frustration I hit print without selecting “odd pages only”. So this time I printed all 52 sheets single-sided. And as I witnessed this travesty unfold; I became vehemently angry with thoughts of rage and destruction. And this raised my heart rate a few beats and temperature several degrees at least. So, not only did I use 78 sheets of precious white Northwestern 8.5 x 11 inch paper to print a 52-page document, which probably called for the felling of 13 trees, thus reducing the shade for a certain square segment of forest, subsequently resulting in a higher average temperature and environmental disaster for the squirrels living in said forest, but I also offset my normally cool composition and relatively unmoody carbon footprint. As I pondered the aftermath of my fateful decision, I also noticed I have two heat generating, power sucking LCD flat-panel monitors on my desk that allow me to do more work on my digital desktop without having to print a lot of documents. I am the cause of Global Warming.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Ungraceful Dance

An Ungraceful Dance
(Plagiarized thoughts compiled and arranged so ungracefully by Robert Rossow)

And the dance is not as graceful as we might want…

My pulses bound in exultation. And in my heart once more unfold the senses of awe and inspiration: The life, the tears, and love untold.

She drinks quietly from her image. She drinks what a lover would drink feeling dazed, searching it feeling mistrust

I said, “What’s your name?” She turned as she answered and I kissed her clumsily and missed her mouth. She said, “We needn’t, you know. We’re grown up people...”

Her smile bloomed and she fell into his arms and he hugged her tight and to hell with every (one) in the world she thought

Ahead of us everything is shimmering. The first night we try to find our bearing,

Then he looked keenly at her and he felt the fragrance and dampness of the flowers and immediately looked around him fearfully

“I gave him my heart, and he took it and pinched it to death, and flung
it back to me. People feel with their hearts…and since he has destroyed
Mine, I have not power to feel for him…”

Too late in the wrong rain, they come together whom their love parted:
The windows pour into their heart and the doors burn in their brain.

“I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am! And Satan laughs at it!”

And if anyone knows the pain of love unreturned, it must be God

I panicked. I shouldn’t have left her. What had I been thinking?

“Yes”, I said. “I was raving. You had made me angry. But I had thought that all loves alike were eager to clear the things they loved of vile charges brought against it

“I am nothing special. Of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I've lead a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I've loved another with all my heart and, to me, this has always been enough.”

Together they finished changing the bandages. She winced at seeing the cuts and felt tears coming again. They slipped down her cheeks like a cleansing oil and he let her cry softly we learn to dance with the One who made us and it is difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign.

1(Donald Miller, Journey Through Painted Deserts)
2(Aleksandr Pushkin)
3 (Rilke, Woman at a mirror)
4(The Comedians, Graham Greene).
5(The Tortilla Curtain).
6(Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front)
7(Anton Chekhov, Lady with a dog)
8 (Bronte, Wuthering Heights)
9(Dylan Thomas, on a wedding anniversary)
10(The Scarlet Letter)
11(Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings)
12(Joyce Meyer, The Penny)
13…(C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)
14(the Notebook)
15(Ted Dekker, When Heaven Weep)
16(Donald Miller, Journey Through Painted Deserts)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Effervescent Two-Step Warms the Birth of Winter

So, we walked in the late autumn rain, searching for some random activity or dodgy place to hang out. We walked along the “river” front, which was really a canal, and then the biting wind drove us back to the plaza where we sought warmth in a giant three story bookseller, where we browsed and talked about books and issues until thawing out fairly well. Not finding the Irish Pub, we saddled and mounted the outback and drove south to find a jazz dive we had read about. It turned out to be a rather seedy looking establishment situated in a strip-mall, so we drove back toward the canal, and parked at the Intercontinental, hoping to find some more refined jazz playing in the piano room. We did find it, after crashing a wedding reception on the top floor. My full bladder had been harassing me for an hour, so using the bride and groom’s rented facilities seemed like the thing to do at the time. The Jazz band cranked their tones quite loudly and the ambiance was not so pleasing, so we backtracked to the car which was nowhere to be found. With a Knightrider-like mind of his own, KITT had apparently hidden himself in a different parking lot. I felt like David Hasselhof, but without the pecs. Finally finding the car, we parked again at the plaza, where we asked some pedestrians to point us to the local Irish Pub. When we arrived at said destination there was a headlining band playing Bon Jovi covers, and I grimaced at the lack of correlation between the sounds of Ireland and the wail of 1980’s New Jersey. Eventually, after wandering for another decade of minutes with aimless purpose, we ended up in the last two available seats of this supposedly trendy little martini bar-looking night spot. The lonely stools sat adjacent to the ever opening drafty door, but provided a spider’s eye view of every vampire that ventured in and out at this later hour. It served to fuel the gaps and commercial breaks of conversation with interesting dialog. A minimum drink ordinance being in place at this establishment, we sampled some Martinis, a pastime about which I was ill-informed because of my sheltered life or simple lack of class. We talked for hours, it seemed, as the autumn suddenly became winter and snow fell outside the picture window in large flaky abundance blending the city streets into a growing blanket of blasé. We were blending less and less in that effervescent and cacophonic rhythm of a crowd. Returned to the electrically heated seats of the Outback we began to drive toward nowhere, having intentionally failed to pick a destination. After losing ourselves in the city we ended up downtown and I showed her some of the historic sights of KC’s jazzossphere. We parked in Power & Light and over a Guinness sat at an extremely back table finally having the opportunity to listen to an Irish duo sing everything from emerald isle classics to Rhianna’s “Under My Umbrella”. It was quite different than I had expected. Especially watching the natives attempt the River Dance, which I guess is not unlike a fancy two-step. Which is something this evening…had become.