Déjà Vu

I only feel déjà vu with negative experiences, almost never positive.

Our first three children came after completely complication-free pregnancies. Not once in those pregnancies did I get a feeling of déjà vu. Why? Because there’s nothing that sticks in the mind when everything goes as it should. But when something goes wrong the mind latches onto it.

We’re now on our sixth pregnancy. Our fourth child, Andrew Paul, was stillborn. After Andrew we had a miscarriage. With this pregnancy I feel déjà vu many times a day. There were so many events that led up to Andrew’s death that I can’t go for very long without having memories forced to the surface.

And in the latest ultrasound there were several uncomfortable similarities to our last ultrasound with Andrew. The baby looks beautiful and very healthy. But it’s still very worrying.

All we can do is pray for God to protect him, and trust Him to hold us. Trusting is so hard.


I am thankful that Adam Ford’s comic today was on trusting God.

This is one of the panels. The whole comic is well worth a read.

Live-Tweeting Despair

Yesterday I watched a man live-tweet the death of his six-year-old daughter. It was horrific. Not because he was tweeting it, he was crying out in pain. It was horrific to watch it unfold.

She had cancer and he knew it was coming. He held her as she lay unconscious fighting for the last bits of life she had left. She was my daughter’s age. She died on her birthday.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

Drinking from the Firehose

I recently changed jobs. I went from being a web administrator in the medical field, working with SharePoint and ASP.Net to deploying and configuring software on Unix servers for a shipping logistics company. By my wife’s description (“He works with computers”) my job hasn’t changed much. In actuality, the only consistent thing between the two jobs is “He works with computers.”

It’s been intimidating to make such a big change. In some ways I feel almost like I’m starting over, learning all new systems. Fortunately, I’ve been playing with Unix for fun for almost 15 years, so I’m not starting from scratch. But at the start I had a few meetings where the only words I understood were the conjunctions. It felt like drinking from a firehose.

My “strategy” (if you can call it that) for learning everything I need to is based on how I’ve watched my children acquire language. This is the human mind’s first task after birth and the process has worked for many thousands of years, so I think it’s worth examining. It’s also very simple. It is natural, it’s the way I would have approached it by default, without thinking about it. And that’s part of why I think it’s interesting, because the human brain is so powerful. It’s natural approach is so effective. By mindfully approaching the subject like a language immersion study I am learning much faster than I anticipated.

When a child learns language she starts with a very simple base vocabulary and let context and usage inform the meaning of the new words as she encounters them. She also isn’t shy about asking for the meaning of some words if she can’t figure out the meaning on her own.

So that’s essentially what I did. I sat quietly and listened during my meetings and listened for how our systems are built and how they relate to each other. I usually waited until after the meeting to ask for clarification on some of the systems or acronyms so that I didn’t disturb the productivity of the meeting. I worried that asking these questions after the meeting rather than when they came up would detract from my ability to understand what was going on in the meeting. Actually, though, I found that steadily, day after day, I was building a more comprehensive mental picture of the systems. Every meeting I understood more and more.

I’m still not there, yet. But I’m now at a point where I feel comfortable, more or less, doing my job. This is really encouraging since I was very stressed about starting a job in a completely different discipline.

My Misdirection in “ Personal Development”

I’ve been so worried about content production vs. consumption this year. It’s been stressful to look at the minuscule amount of content that I personally create, outside of work. “How am I supposed to develop myself into a better person if I don’t have this cathartic outlet?” I’d ask myself. But, I never really stopped to consider that the thing that is the most important is they type of content I consume, not create. And it’s not been enough Scripture.

The key to developing myself personally in the ways I want is not introspection through content creation. That’s just navel-gazing. It’s learning to emulate and trust Jesus more, and more deeply. How? Brought consumption of a Scripture. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4 ESV. As my grandfather has said, “You cannot be profoundly influenced by that which you do not know.”

Let’s Talk about Les Misérables

Grace as a Destructive Force
Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Les Mis. My parents saw it when I was young and bought the recording. I’m not sure when I first heard the music, but that was my first exposure to Les Misérables. As I’ve grown older I’ve sought out more tellings of the story. I’ve seen multiple movies (musical and not) listened to and watched different performances of the music (live and recorded), and a year or two ago I finished the unabridged, albeit translated book by Victor Hugo himself. It is a work of art.

And like all art there’s always more to be enjoyed. But I want to just focus on one point, Valjean and his foil Javert. A foil relationship is where an antagonist is crafted in such a way that his traits highlight specific traits of the protagonist. In this instance (especially in the musical version) I think the foil is actually set up to highlight a third actor in play, Grace.

These are two men who are shown grace and respond in very different ways. Jean Valjean is a hardened convict who hates humanity because hate is the only thing he’s known. When the Bishop shows him grace even though he’s never been faced with it before, he accepts it. It upends his worldview and he becomes a new man. Javert is a strict keeper of the law, he believes that through the structures of law and society we ought to, and do, get what we deserve. He also recognizes the grace shown to him, but it does not fit into his rigid meritocratic worldview and it kills him.

From this we see something about grace. Grace is a destructive force. When we recognize grace it will destroy either our warped sense of self-deservedness or it will destroy us. Which will you let it destroy?