Ash Wednesday 2018


This Valentine’s Day, love is in the air, spoken to the object of one’s affection, and proclaimed through gifts of every sort.

Romantics are singing “I Will Always Love You,” and “Love Will Keep Us Together,” and “Crazy in Love.” The less-traditional might be grooving to Robert Palmer’s fun “Addicted to Love.” Me? My all-time favorite pop song remains 10cc’s 1975 hit, “I’m Not In Love,” in which the singer does a lousy job of covering up his heart.

If anyone has chosen today to be united in marriage, there is a very good chance the following words will be part of the ceremony, regardless of the religious beliefs of the couple:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).”

And, since today is also Ash Wednesday, these would be perfect words to be heard in church.

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How do we know when we are in love? When we experience what love is? When love for another person has taken up residence in our heart?

Is it the same or different when that love is romantic, versus love for family, versus brotherly love, versus any other kind of love?

While love can be defined in many ways, when we get to the root of what love is, does it differ in how it affects us? And, if it does, then does one qualify as love and the other not? And, if it does not, then might we find that we are able to give a decisive definition to love?

Look again at the biblical citation. Consider the attributes of love. It IS patient and kind and hangs in there. It DOES NOT envy or boast or insist on its own way or rejoice in wrongdoing. It IS NOT arrogant or rude or irritable or resentful. It NEVER ends.

That’s a pretty stiff drink to swallow. What do you think? Shall I pass you the cup? Are you able to sip from it?

If you insist that you love a person—the one with whom you make a couple, your child, your friend, whomever you claim to love—but fall short of being able to claim even a single item from the Love List, can you truly claim that you love that person? If you need to remove one item—say, envy, or patience, or boasting—would it be okay for the other person to remove one, too? And, if you can remove one item, then why not two, or four, or however many you need to be able to create your own definition for love? And, if you do that, are you left with love, or have you now defined a different term, say “like” or “meh”?

Do we get to define things? Well, when it comes to thing which are our opinion—I think broccoli is the best vegetable; I love it—we get to define away. But, remember, it’s our opinion. It is subjected to how we feel, not any objective standard. I mean, some people actually like beets . . .

When an objective standard is used, all opinions stand mute. 2 + 2 = 4, no matter what you think about it. The earth is round, and arguing its shape will not flatten it. Broccoli and beets taste as they do based on their composition, it’s my taster that determines how I feel about them.

Can something such as love have an objective standard? I sure hope so. If not, by what do we measure love? If we are left to measure things by our opinions, then we will never have standards by which to measure them. Right, Democrats and Republicans?

I rather believe that the world needs standards. Rules. Reliable things. I’m glad that gravity works without how I feel about it at any given time.

When I was a pastor, I used a tool to teach the truth of things. When someone in class would say that what they believe about something determines what that thing is, I would pick up a chair and say, “In a moment, I am going to swing this chair at your head. You need to believe, with all of your heart, that the chair is a pillow, so that it won’t hurt. Can you do that?” I would then swing it halfway toward his or her head.

Everyone would laugh. Everyone got the point. No one decides the truth about something by what they believe about it. Things are what they are because of what they are. My opinion about something only affects how I view the thing, or will use the thing, or care about the thing.

So, what of love? Is it subjective or objective, an opinion question or a truth and a fact? If you can’t change a chair into a pillow, can you change what love is?

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In my mind, I have returned to the room in Port Hope, where I would pick up the chair in threat of pummeling one of our church members. Behind me is a concrete wall. When speaking of the cross on which Jesus Christ died, I was prone to turning and pounding the wall with my fist. Shaking the sting from my hand, I would say, “The cross was just as real as this wall. Whatever you or anyone believes about the cross doesn’t change the realness of it.”

Of course, it’s not the cross which is debated, but what occurred there. Only by faith does a person grasp the truth that love occurred there. That Jesus perfectly fulfilled the definition for love which He created. That He did it so that we might know what love really is. That we might know and possess His love. That we might return that love to Him and then extend it to our spouses and kids and friends and fellow citizens.

Love bears all things. It bears every last aspect of what it is. If it does not bear even one of them, then all of them are fair game to neglect, to toss out.

On the cross, Jesus bore all things, all sins, for all people, for all time, that we might be the bearers of true love. Ash Wednesday focuses our eyes on the Lord Jesus, walking us to His cross.

Whomever you are loving today, or any day, when you find yourself pressed to hold onto one or more of the items which comprise love, I hope you can rejoice that the Lord Jesus held onto every one of them for you, put to death the ones at which you have failed and will fail, rejoice that He was resurrected from the dead to ascend to heaven, and that from there He loves to grace you with His cleansing forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation from all things which are not love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).”

The Lord Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).”

Love bears all things.


About that survey


Last week, I wrote a response to an interview on the radio program, Issues, Etc., in which the author of a new book on the transgender movement noted that the suicide rate, attempts and successes, remains high for those who take medical and surgical steps to transition.  He said that those who transition “currently don’t have good outcomes.” When he goes on to cite the 41% suicide attempt rate, he said that those who transition fall into this category.

In my response, I asked, “What survey?” A friend sent me a link to a survey, and I recalled that I had already read it, and that it is the only recent survey of this type so it likely is the survey the author had cited.

Here is the survey:

Here is the Issues, Etc., podcast:

Here is the post, with my reactions to the interview:

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The survey speaks of other, similar surveys. After citing other surveys’ statistics which show both reduced suicide rates and those which show no improvement, they write, “Data is inconsistent with respect to psychiatric morbidity post sex reassignment.” Also noted is that, because of the nature of surveying post-op trans folks, it was impossible to use proper scientific method, such as the double-blind method. Thus, when the survey in question is cited (and those like it), absolute terms should not be used.

Here is the conclusion of the survey report: “This study found substantially higher rates of overall mortality, death from cardiovascular disease and suicide, suicide attempts, and psychiatric hospitalisations in sex-reassigned transsexual individuals compared to a healthy control population. This highlights that post surgical transsexuals are a risk group that need long-term psychiatric and somatic follow-up. Even though surgery and hormonal therapy alleviates gender dysphoria, it is apparently not sufficient to remedy the high rates of morbidity and mortality found among transsexual persons. Improved care for the transsexual group after the sex reassignment should therefore be considered.”

I will now work from this comment—“Even though surgery and hormonal therapy alleviates gender dysphoria, it is apparently not sufficient to remedy the high rates of morbidity and mortality found among transsexual persons”—to demonstrate that one should not simply quote a statistic about our rates of attempted suicide and success in carrying it out.

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This report surveyed people who transitioned from 1973 to 2003. Sex reassignment began in the early part of the twentieth century, and became known across the USA when Christine (formerly George) Jorgenson returned from Denmark in 1952, where she had undergone surgery.

Jorgenson was the rare person to be public about being transsexual. In the early days of the surgery, transsexuals were forced to change their entire lives; it was part of the deal with their being qualified for surgery.

They had to create all new lives for themselves. Taking a new name, they shed their past. It was not unusual for them to have to leave family and friends, to go to a new town, to start over. Hopefully, they could pass as their desired sex and blend in, that they might find employment and housing, and that they not be exposed to physical and verbal abuse.

When looking at suicide attempt and success rates for those who have transitioned, family, social, economic, religious, and more factors must be factored into the consideration. Trans folks are not led to seeking a permanent way out through suicide only because of their internal identity struggle. Hardly. While it is impossible to quantify, one suspects that external factors might carry more weight than the internal elements.

Since the years of the survey, things have improved tremendously for us. They have a long way to go. From my experience, from conservation with dozens of trans folks, and from the many books I’ve read, it is the ongoing outside problems which create trouble for transitioned transgender folks. We reach peace with our bodies and living in our identified sex and gender, but we continue to be ostracized, emotionally battered, and concerned about our physical welfare. People say terrible things to us, give us looks which make us feel that we are carnival monsters on display, deliberately use our old names and the wrong pronouns, and on and on—none of which have to do with our having had surgery.

We are left to feel like we are freaks. We are not invited to certain family gatherings. We are asked to come to this funeral or that wedding as our birth sex. We are kicked out of our churches. We don’t get job promotions for much the same reasons as many women are overlooked. We might be fired simply because we are transgender, and given a false reason for the firing.

I have experienced some of these. Some of my oldest friends unfriended me on Facebook without saying a word to me. I have avoided some events, not wanting to be an offense to someone who might be there, who doesn’t accept me. In public, I have been started at, pointed at, and laughed at. I have been called “he” many times, and have had people continue to use masculine pronouns after I corrected them.

Despite the negatives which continue, trans folks are accepted way better than during the years of the survey, making one wonder what an up-to-date survey would say. A correlative is with the homosexual population. A similar survey of gays and lesbians from, say, the 1930s to 1960s, would look worlds different than one from even the 1980s, and not even in the same galaxy as one taken today. The better society treats we trans folks, the better it will go for us, too. And, I am confident, suicide attempt and suicide success rates would continually drop.

Do trans women and men, who have transitioned, continue to have greater struggles than the general population, which lead to attempting, even succeeding, at killing themselves? Yes. Much of their struggles are not of their making, but that of the world around them.

No one should quote this survey as if it provides a black-and-white statistic as to the ongoing problem of suicide for transitioned individuals.  It does not address external factors, it admits that proper scientific methodology was not used, and life for the transgender population in the second decade of the twenty-first century has improved greatly since the years covered by the survey.

As to how great the suicide problem is, we do not have a grasp on an accurate number, but we do know this: When we are treated in the same manner as the rest of the population, we stand a tremendously better chance of finding peace in this life.

Peace in life; it’s one thing that every single person on earth longs to possess.

“When Harry Became Sally” interview on Issues, Etc.


Issues, Etc. ( is a radio program and podcast on Lutheran Public Radio. Its host is the Reverend Todd Wilken, an ordained minister in my former church body, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I have heard the show many times, and read several of Rev. Wilken’s theological essays. I have always been in line with his theology and impressed with his writing.


On February 7, he interviewed Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, whose book was recently published, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement”. Here is the podcast:

I have listened twice to his Issues, Etc. interview. I have not read the book. While Dr. Anderson displays concern for those with gender dysphoria—and I have no reason but to believe that he truly wants to do right by all, and to help and not hurt—I found many of his comments to be one-sided and some not necessarily accurate.

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I mean this: He speaks as one all the way to the right of those who are all the way to the left.

I do not identify with the far left transgender activists and advocates. I also do not identify with those on the far right. The reason? When one gets to the end of the spectrum on these issues (on most issues?), thinking grows narrow, reduced to one’s ideology and deaf to hearing any other ideas.

As a Christian, I am theologically traditional. Politically, I am conservative. In all things, I strive to be reasonable. It is from these positions that I address everything, including my reactions to the Issues, Etc. interview.

On February 8, I posted the following to Issues, Etc.’s Facebook post for this interview.  I worked quickly, in order to get this posted.  That’s why it reads clunky in some places, and in others I wish I had said more.

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These are some of my reactions to the interview with Dr. Anderson, in which it seems that I was mentioned toward the end of the program.

In the beginning of the interview, when Dr. Anderson talks about “the meteoric rise of transgender,” he doesn’t say a word as to a key reason we might have a lot of gender dysphoria. I believe the chemicals, plasticizers, and pharmaceuticals in use, which have been found to be behind numerous ailments, are the likely culprits. I believe mine was caused by medicine my mom was given when pregnant with me, diethylstilbestrol (DES).

Then, at the end of the interview, he said that the “transgender moment” might be fleeting. While we might not continue to treat gender dysphoria as we now are with hormone therapy and surgeries, I see the root cause for most cases as not being a fleeting situation. I believe that the stuff we are putting into our bodies is what is behind the rapid rise in gender dysphoria. While no general root cause for gender dysphoria has been found, my evidence comes from looking at those illnesses and diseases which have origins that have been proven, and we have identified chemicals and plasticizers and pharmaceuticals which are behind them. (Do an internet search on DES. You will find loads of websites devoted to the harm it did over the decades it was in use.) Why not one or more upsetting the endocrine system of a person so that gender identity does not match his or her chromosomes and genitals (the suspicion regarding DES)? We are blind, even arrogant, to deny the possibility.

Dr. Anderson says that a person is either organized in a male or female pattern, and quotes our chromosomes. He neglects the many maladies of mankind which are not chromosomal. What precludes a malady to cause gender dysphoria, for it to be just as physical as the intersex conditions which are chromosomal, and those which can be seen with the eye—such as malformed genitals, and those of the androgen insensitivities family—to be just as real as, say, autism. We don’t know what causes autism, yet no one denies that it is physical, and not merely a mental illness, as gender dysphoria is seen by many.

He said that those who transition “currently don’t have good outcomes.” This statement is based on what data? There are so many people living as transitioned however far has been right for them, feeling better about themselves and being productive people. When he goes on to cite the 41% suicide attempt rate, he said that those who transition fall into this category. I have never seen a study which breaks down the statistic into those who have transitioned versus those who have gender dysphoria and have not transitioned.

Re: Walt Heyer. Heyer admits that he had been wrongly diagnosed, and when his past finally was recognized—years after he had transitioned—and then when he was properly diagnosed he was able to receive proper therapy and was able to find peace as a male. Certainly, a correct diagnosis is vital, and it can be challenging to root out the cause for one’s struggling with gender identity.

When asked whether transitioning were being driven as a new medical market, after saying that he wouldn’t view it that way, Dr. Anderson said, “I think this is largely driven by some people who are entirely well intentioned, but are extremely misguided . . . they believe that human nature and the human body is entirely plastic, entirely malleable, therefore it’s just raw material that can be assigned and reassigned at will. …” There is another viewpoint, one which I never heard in this interview. It is my viewpoint, that this terrible malady is caused by the fall into sin, that a person can treat it medically, as I have, and hate being in this spot. I do not embrace being transgender. I don’t agree with much of what many trans activists believe about this, such as our being entirely plastic and malleable. Yet, I was in a spot I had to deal with it, and no one had any help for me—including more than a dozen ministers and two therapists.

Dr. Anderson simply neglected an entire area of concern, and a vital viewpoint, and that is the impact of Original Sin upon our bodies, and that it is perfectly reasonable that gender dysphoria rises from a physical malady, a malady which is just as real and physical is that which causes things like diabetes and Alzheimer’s and you name it. He never mentioned that it could be an intersex condition which is just as real as those of the genitals.

When he talks about alternative therapies, I will keep the conversation to adults. When it comes to children, there are many other factors which come into play, especially because they are so young. For adults, I ask what alternative therapy there is. In 2013, when I was still a minister and told pastors of my gender dysphoria, I begged for help. Even by a pastor, who is a psychologist, after he and my district president talked with many experts, he told me, “There is no hospital. There is no therapy.” His exact words. This struck me as terribly as the day as infant son died, so desperate I was to find help, not to transition, and to remain in the ministry.

Rev. Scott Stiegmeyer, in his Concordia Theological Quarterly article in 2015, admitted that talk therapy is not known to be effective. I quote, “There is no form of talk therapy or psychotropic medication that can fully assuage the intense dysphoria felt by many transgender patients.”

When, toward the end of the program, Todd Wilken apparently brought me up—not using my name, but I have no idea to whom else he might have referred—he more or less quoted me, regarding my transitioning, as having said, “I have to do this. If I don’t, I will die.” That is where I was. Many who have reached out to me have reported the same, that they would either kill themselves or literally go insane. I was confident I would not kill myself, but who knows what despair might do to a person? I more feared that I was on the brink of losing my mind. That is why I attempted transitioning, to see if I could get relief from my malady, the way any person seeks healing from an illness or disease.

I hate when trans activists one-side this subject. It bothers me just as much when it is one-sided in the other direction, which is how I heard this conversation. There is a way better way to view these issues, to be scientifically logical and theologically responsible. I continue to hold my doctrine according to how I professed it when I was ordained into the LCMS ministry.

We have to do better, especially for the many Christians who are suffering. I will gladly answer any and every question, Todd Wilken, if you would be kind enough to interview me on your program.

20/happy vision

In December, when Julie took a bunch of photos to mark my recovering from face surgery, I am now glad that I removed my glasses for some of them.

On Tuesday, January 30, after having the cataract removed from my right eye, and then the surgeon put in its place a new lens, I wondered how I would see the world for the next week, as I anticipated having the same procedure on my left eye, one week later.  It certainly couldn’t be any more odd than it’s been the past four years, since the right eye first went out of focus, and then the cataract took over.  Even with glasses, the right eye could not be corrected to 20/20.  I have not been vision-happy.

The procedure proved short and pain-free.  My doctor had told me that it takes ten minutes.  It took but seven.  The pre-op procedures—more eye drops than I have had in a lifetime—took most of the time, waiting for them to do their thing.  Two hours after arriving, we were departing.

Arriving home from surgery, I knew that my right eye vision would be blurry for awhile, as the new lens settled into place. I felt the scratchy irritation of which I was warned and took the suggested acetaminophen. The nurse also advised that I immediately eat something—yes, ma’am!—so that I not experience nausea from the anesthesia, and then take a nap—gosh, I loved that nurse!

By late afternoon, my vision was clearing. By evening, I was telling Julie, “I can read this,” and “I can see that.”

I tried on my glasses. Nope, they would not work. The right eye was total fuzziness. This is the part that had given me pause; how was I going to cope for a week, with mismatched eyes. I might have to remove the right lens, which was one of the suggestions.

When I got up the day after surgery, I wondered how I would read my computer screen. For about ten years, I have had a pair of glasses just for the computer, with the prescription set for the distance between my face and the screen, because looking through either the top or bottom of my bifocals did not provide a clear view.

Getting into my morning routine, I sipped on my first cup of coffee as I loaded a web page. Headlines were easy to read. Now, to click a story and scan the smaller text.

There we go. How’s that? I blinked a few times. Wow! I could read it! With no glasses!

I closed my left eye, to test the right. The text was pretty clear, but not enough. I reversed the process. With my left eye, the text was pretty clear, but not enough. I returned to both eyes. Bingo! Clear text!

I couldn’t wait for Julie to arise, to tell her the good news. Now, I was wondering what my vision would be like out in the world, especially with reading traffic signs. We decided that as she drove to my follow-up appointment, we would compare at what point, as we neared signs, we could read them.

As we headed for the freeway, one side street after another lined our path, first Chatham, then Eastbourne, then Lesley. Onto Shady, and Autobon, and Priscilla. With each one, we called out, “Now!” And, with each one, we called out at exactly the same time.

I grew very excited. I was now thinking I didn’t need to have my left eye corrected, that my vision, with one eye more farsighted and the other more nearsighted, was close enough to 20/20 that I was good to go. Over the rest of the fifteen minute drive, I was equal parts antsy and excited to talk with the doctor.

First, with the specialist, everything showed that the eye was recovering well. We were ready for the doctor. Upon her arriving, I virtually took over the meeting. As I spoke, I stopped, saying, “Can you tell how excited I am? I am speaking so fast and too loudly.” “Yes,” she brightened. “It’s obvious.”

Onto the vision test. First, farsighted. I zipped down the lines of letters. When I got stuck, I asked, “Which line is that?” “20/20,” she replied.  “You read fine up to 20/25.”

Next, nearsighted. Once again, I rushed down the rows. When they grew fuzzy, I received the same report; I was good to 20/25.

I asked, “That seems fine to me. Is that good enough?” Smiling at how excited I was, she replied. “Yes.  We call it 20/happy.” We all laughed.

I have 20/happy vision!

I don’t need surgery next week. I can get along in the world without glasses for the first time in forty-five years. I don’t need to switch specs when I sit down at my computer. No more contact lenses, which work great when I get sweaty while running or mowing or working in the garden, but which don’t allow me to read the screen on my phone.

No more of my cool chick glasses.

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I was in such elated disbelief that I cried tears of joy.

That’s the good news—the great news! For now, I will take it and rejoice in it.  For now.

I still have the early stages of a cataract on my left eye. Most likely, in a year or two, it will cloud my vision enough that it will require addressing. When I have it repaired, I will need glasses for reading.

Until then, I have 20/happy vision, and I am indeed happy times 20!

The Day Befores

When I was a teenager and working at Todd Pharmacy, a salesman took out a pencil to note something that I thought was easy to remember.  Commenting on this to him, he simply said, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.”  He might not have said it as advice to a smart-alec teenager, but it sure was.

I am writing this for all of you who might read and say, “Yeah! That’s me, too! People always say, ‘You worry too much,’ and I argue, ‘No, it’s not worry. Because you are a worrier, you aren’t grasping what I’m trying to convey. I just have a bad case of The Day Befores.”

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The plan was to have all of my surgeries done in 2017. I knew there would likely be one more in 2018—well, two, actually, though both would be the same procedure—but, wow, after the long list of doctors and appointments last year, which had begun in 2013—in which I have done one hundred person’s shares of keeping the health insurance market healthy—I didn’t want to think past my final hospital visit in November.

Tomorrow, I will have the cataract removed from my right eye. I am scheduled to have the one in my left eye taken care of the following Tuesday. The procedures are short—ten minutes, the doctor said—and the odds are good—85%, he cited—that I will no longer need glasses for distance—and I am experiencing this thing which bugs the snot out of me.

I have a bad case of The Day Befores.

I am neither a worrier nor one who gets nervous. I attribute both of these to how the Lord formed me to be a logical and trusting person. I work to learn a thing and keep it in perspective. I do my homework.  I prepare and then rehearse things in my mind, all so that I can have confidence regarding the thing. Because of this practice, as a pastor I ably entered hospital rooms where patients and family members were in the worst way, and I confidently officiated funerals in tragedy after tragedy, and I went into all three of last year’s surgeries totally at ease.  (Yet, during both of my weddings, I was a total jitterbug.)

Regarding surgery, I give the benefit of any potential doubt to whomever I am entrusting myself. By the time the big event arrives, I know what I am getting into, I have confidence that the person to whom I am entrusting myself will do the job well, and I place myself into the Lord’s hands that, come what may, I belong to Him.

Yet . . .

Once again, on The Day Before, my mind will not rest for the ever-present thought that tomorrow will be a different day, and today already is different. Today, I began instilling (that’s the word used in the directions) two eye drops, an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, but not an antiperspirant, with the one to be instilled four times a day for another week after surgery, and the other twice a day for three weeks and, you guessed it, each next scheduled instilling will constantly be on my mind until I am done with this regimen on February 27. Tomorrow, I have to fast—no morning coffee to greet my day, so don’t screw that up, Eilers. Around 7:30, Julie and I have to depart for the surgery center.

For one week, I will have one corrected eye and one, um, old eye. How will I see? Will I be able to use my glasses, or will that be a confounding experience? I didn’t think to ask the doctor about that, but I can imagine his answer: “You’ll have to experiment.”

A week from tomorrow, my hope is to fall into the 85% category and have two farsighted eyes, only needing glasses for reading. I have required glasses for far vision since I was in tenth grade, when I recognized that I could not read what Mr. Peterson wrote on the chalkboard in biology class. I have worn contact lenses since I was twenty, and after turning forty—what we older folks call “The Bifocal Years”—I have used a combination of glasses and contacts.

Since I transitioned in 2015, my “chick glasses,” as I affectionately call them, have felt like a trademark for me, and have been complimented as often as my cool purse. I hate for them to go as to how people see me, as much as I long to see people more clearly.

When I awoke this morning, I was not surprised to recall what I had been dreaming last night. Of course, my slumbering thoughts had me in today, using the eye drops, forgetting to instill them on time, putting them into the left eye and then remembering that it’s the right eye, you goof, and trying to accurately place Xs in my if-you-record-your-drops-you-can’t-screw-this-up chart, but over and over not being able to make sense of the thing.

This morning, I got off to a good start, instilling (I am installing instilling as the word of the month) the two drops without trouble, hitting the right spot in my eye, pleased that neither burns or affects my vision, and Xing the correct spot on my chart. Step one is done; onto the rest of the day.

I keep telling myself, “You have a good day planned, and you will have fun making roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower for supper. And if it is too cold and windy to run, yesterday you hit the goal you had set for yourself for January, the most miles you’ve ever done the first month of the year. Relax. Enjoy the day!”

And yet . . .

I can’t escape that now-familiar feeling. I have a bad case of The Day Befores.

I sure will be glad when Julie and I get home from the surgery center, tomorrow. I sure will be glad when the second eye is done.  This all will finally be off my mind when I can drop the constant drops.

Then, with my new peepers, I can look forward to the rest of 2018, when, after five long years of seeing therapists and specialists, I can finally relax.

Did you hear that, teeth? No root canals for you, this year!

Did you hear that, heart? Keep ticking as nicely as you have since getting those stents in 2007!

Did you hear that, right foot big toe? The podiatrist finally has you set up with that carbon plate in your running shoe so that you experience little pain!

And, did you hear that, gender dysphoria and transitioning?  You’ve been stared down and fully addressed!

Then, it’s onto the year . . . after I get through yet another funky one of The Day Befores.

“I don’t want to talk about it!”


When the going gets tough . . .

I wonder what percentage of us are tough enough to get going, that we might work through whatever challenge we are now facing. Conversely, I am curious what number blurt out, “I don’t want to talk about it!” and walk away.

I don’t know if I want to learn the answer.

As things often seem to come in waves, this has popped up with me in many of the conversations I have been having. While most of them have been with folks who have a spouse, who does not want to talk about their spouse’s gender issues, there have been plenty of other typical areas where ignoring the situation has been the insisted upon non-solution.

What would have happened to me if I had not opened up to Julie, or, if, when I did, she had responded to my telling her that I had grown suicidal because of my gender dysphoria with the all-too-common, “I don’t want to talk about it”?

I know what has happened to a number of couples, who have been in the spot where one spouse refused to address a serious issue. For a two-in-one example, I am thinking of two couples to whom I ministered, whose young children had died. In both cases, one spouse longed to talk about their child, about the ongoing struggle over the loss, while the other spouse didn’t want it brought up. Within a couple of years, both couples divorced. In both cases, the spouse who wanted to talk told me it was because they no longer communicated. In one marriage, it was the husband who could not bear to speak of his child, and in the other it was the wife.

One of my church members, a lovely lady whom, only weeks earlier, I had finished instructing so that she could join the congregation, found herself in the hospital, in what would be a few days from death, because her stomach cancer was inoperable. It turned out that, for months, she knew something was wrong. She told me that she ignored it, that she had not wanted to talk about it. When she finally did, it was too late.

In the three years since I have been getting to know trans folks, I wish I had a pizza for every time one of them spoke of a spouse, or parents, or other loved ones, who elected not to listen to them. As if, what? As if, by not talking about it, “it” would not exist?

Isn’t that the way we often play it? If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t look at it, if we don’t face it, it doesn’t exist?

Can you think of a single thing in life that, by ignoring it, it ceases to exist? It just goes away? Remaining deaf and blind to it made the boo-boo all better?

Can you think of a worse way to harm the love others have for you than to declare that you will not talk about the thing which is so troubling them?  That you don’t want to hear it?  That, should they try to open up, you blow up?

When you are in a tough situation—take note: I did not write IF, but WHEN, because we ALL find ourselves in tough situations—do you like it when others don’t want to talk about what concerns you? When they stick their fingers in their ears, do you feel the love?

A person told me, “I don’t want to force the issue with my spouse. If we start talking, it will just make the matter worse.” I replied, “No, the matter is growing worse because you are not talking about it. By not talking, both of you are forming ideas and making decisions about things which are taking you down paths of which the other has no idea.”

I believe that, if this couple doesn’t talk, they will wind up in divorce. The one is hurting tremendously. The other, also hurting, doesn’t want to face the issue. Their silent space will grow from cleft, to crevice, to canyon, with their sides winding up so far apart that it will be impossible for them to make the trek back to each other.

I knew a man who was not good at handling problems, something I found to be true as I got to know him. Issues troubling his wife, which only turned into frustratingly short, one-sided conversations with him, resulted in things she would not bring up. Left to work out her troubles on her own, she made other plans. She left her husband and filed for divorce.

He was shocked. He should not have been.

Isn’t this often the case, that we don’t want to talk about things, not simply because we don’t want to face them, but because we feel ill-equipped to address them, which contributes to their seeming to be insurmountable? “Maybe, it will just go away,” winds up sounding pretty good.

When I was a pastor, I sat several times with all of the couples I was about to join in marriage. One of our sessions was discussing communication, and one of the topics in that chat was the handling of problems. I asserted that not only do problems not have to drive apart couples, but the addressing and solving of them will serve to drive them to each other and strengthen their bond.

Julie and I are a walking, talking example of the truth of this.

Besides our bond of love, there are other keys as to why Julie and I succeeded, which are vital to all communication, especially when issues are challenging. When I opened up to Julie, I knew these things, that she would

  • remain calm, and
  • listen to me, and
  • not quickly or unfairly judge me or the situation, and
  • care about everything I told her, and
  • have my best interest at heart.

Because I trusted each of these aspects, I was able to open up and be completely honest with Julie. If I would have doubted any of these things, I would very likely have been stifled.

Who wants to expose his heart to a person who explodes in anger?

Who dares to declare her dreams to a person who will only dash them?

Who finds that it will only be a waste of time when things always become about the other person?

It comes down to trust.

It comes down to being trustworthy.

Not only does this go for communication in relationships such as marriage and with family and friends, it also comes into play when we are sick and really should see a doctor, when we have work troubles and ought to involve the boss, and innumerable other of life’s situations. We need people to have proven themselves trustworthy so that we might trust them now, when we are in a serious situation.

When this is the case, we have a shot at succeeding and, even if we still really don’t want to talk about it, we will be able to do so.

We all could use a few laughs

Here are some things that have recently popped into my head.  As you read, please remember: Just because I have hare-brained ideas doesn’t automatically make me a dumb bunny . . . does it???


I just applied for a job in a hospital baby delivery room.  Why?  Because I like meeting new people.


My Google search informed me that they gave me 501 million results in 0.61 seconds. I showed them: I clicked on every one of them in 0.56 seconds.


There are two cannibal jokes of unknown origin that always make me laugh.  One is this: Two cannibals are standing around a huge pot, such as the one in the cartoon, below. One cannibal says, “I don’t care for my mother-in-law.”  The other replies, “Then just eat the vegetables.”

Here is the other joke:


I was inspired to come up with my own cannibal jokes.  I managed to create three!

  1. One cannibal says to another, “What’s that you’re cooking? It looks like the leader of Saudi Arabia.” The other cannibal replies, “It is. I was in the mood for a protein sheikh.”
  2. Cannibal one: “I hate vegetables.”  Cannibal two: “Then stop raiding the hospital’s ICU!”
  3. A cannibal tried starting his own religion, hoping to earn a living from member offerings.  What made him an utter failure?  He ate all of the prophets.


I wasn’t sure if I should be inoculated for my incessant idiocy, but I figured it was worth a shot.


Since I retired, I have taken over the job of cooking for the family.  I’m not saying that I am a bad cook, but every time I call the family to the dinner table, I holler, “Come and regret it!”


Enjoying an afternoon snooze on my boat, another vessel came by fast enough to make the water bounce up and down, jerking me from my sleep. I leaped to my feet, shook my fist, and hollered, “This is a no wake zone!”


If the government shutdown continues, the following will take place:

Monday. Social Security checks, which have been mailed since January 1, will be removed from bank accounts.

Tuesday. All prisons will be emptied.  Inmates will be instructed to return within one hour after the government starts back up.

Wednesday.  The views at Grand Canyon will go dark.

Thursday. Old Faithful will go quiet.

Friday.  The following will happen at Mount Rushmore:


Finally, every day the government is shut down.  All taxes will both be collected and expected to be paid.