When Stroke Struck


My dad had a massive stroke on January 4th, 2004. It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years since it happened. I was seven at the time. I didn’t recognize just how much it would impact my life. As for my dad, he was 36 at the time and relatively healthy. He could have been a few pounds lighter, but there was nothing to indicate that he would suffer such a debilitating stroke that morning. He would become paralyzed on the entire left side of his body and left with significant brain injury. The dad that came out of the stroke was someone who was nearly unrecognizable. He grew angry at times and would say things not fit to type on this blog. He was left with a fraction of the functionality he once enjoyed, and those who knew him best were left with a fraction of the man they once knew. Looking back at it, it must have been incredibly frustrating for him to realize all the things he could no longer do or struggled to due because of the stroke. I think the hardest thing for him, however, was the way in which the relationship with me and my brother fundamentally changed afterwards.

My mom could not take care of my dad and adequately raise me or my brother, so my dad moved out to Tennessee to be with his parents where they could afford full-time caretakers. He would go through several caretakers over the years. It takes a special kind of person to work with someone who’s had a stroke, especially a stroke with side effects like the ones my dad had. He was often volatile, and his mood was often subject to rapid change.

He would say things that were beyond the pale. Was this him, or was this his brain injury talking? I’m inclined to say it was more of the latter- but I suppose we’ll never truly know. Anyways, I never got to see my dad often. He would call everyday, and as I was younger at the time I’d often take those phone calls for granted. His message was always the same. He loved me, my brother, and my mom. He looked forward to the day when we’d all be together as a family again. I knew this day would never happen, but my dad stubbornly held out hope for this. I would see him at Christmas and during trips to my grandparent’s farm. He would come to Raleigh once or twice a year, and I always got the feeling he never wanted to leave. I often wonder what those plane rides back to Tennessee were like for him, as he was leaving his wife and boys behind. I wish he could have stayed at my house in Cary, North Carolina and had hired help to look after him. That way we could have at least visited him on the weekends and he could have seen us more often. I am told that this was impossible logistically, but I often doubt the veracity of such statements.

I’m not in full authority to state what his life was like in Tennessee, as I wasn’t there most of the time. However, what I saw while I was there was depressing. He’d often be sitting in the living room with his mom watching Fox News. I’m told by one of his friends that he said he’d cry when he saw a commercial on the television with a dad playing catch with their son. Hearing this broke my heart.

My dad would die quietly on a summer day in late May of 2012. His body was tired. I was 15 at the time, and as I watched my dad’s breath grow shallower and shallower, I cried out to God to ask if he could by chance stay. It was no use. It was his time to go home, and I am glad I was there when he departed this life into the next.

I often wonder what my dad’s life would have been like if he never had a stroke. I’ll never know. I do know he is perfectly whole and with the LORD. I look forward to seeing him again one day.

Until next time, dad.

My dad after coming home from the hospital.
My dad before the stroke.

What Grief Does


It’s occurred to me over time that grief is one of the most universal experiences one can endure, yet it is also the most misunderstood. They say grief is the price to pay for having loved someone, but I suppose some days the price seems unbearable. It is on the unbearable days where one has a fundamental choice to make: do I let the grief consume me or do I try my best to move on and lean into Christ and the promises He makes? We often like to refer to grief concerning someone dying, but I don’t think death is the only thing one can grieve over. The loss of something, whether it be a friendship, relationship, or marriage, is all something one can and should grieve over. Now, of course, the intensity of this grief may vary depending on the relationship dynamic and other factors, but I find it ludicrous to believe that we should simply move on and get over it. Now, you do have to move on to an extent- but let’s be clear here, there’s only one of that person for which you are grieving over. There’s only one laugh. There’s only one smile. There’s only one distinct way someone looks at you.

This whole notion that real men can’t cry or show emotion is not only wrong- it’s toxic. It’s when somebody tries to keep it buried inside and deep within them that more significant issues come out. Now, there’s only so much people share with you on a daily basis. There’s only so much someone is willing to say- especially to a stranger. But I think the mere presence someone brings- the mere ability to simply be there- is often a bigger gift than we realize.

This whole week has been emotionally draining on me. To sit here and try and act like everything is perfectly fine would be a blatant lie and disservice. However, nothing is ever going to be completely fine. This world is a broken place. I don’t need to spend a lot of time elaborating on that. It’s when we put ourselves in bubbles to try and lessen the brokenness that we often become more broken. The only answer to anyone’s brokenness is Jesus.

The Christian who comes across as perfect is deeply mistaken as to what He or She believes in. Or, at the very least, he or she is concealing a hurt that hasn’t been fully handed over to the author and maker of our souls.

We can try all we want to be flawless. We can try all we want to be perfect. But in the end, we all come across way short.

It’s funny- I think grief is one of those words that gets used, similar to “love,” that people have absolutely no idea the true meaning of.

Grief is a part of love. It is the price we pay for love. I continually remind myself of this. I also remind myself that as a follower of Christ, I do not grieve, nor should I grieve, as the world does. Grief is tough. It lasts for quite some time. I believe, for a lifetime.

But, I cling to the promises of His word and His plan. Romans 21:4 says this, “For I shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No more hospitals.

No more chronic illness or disease.

No more sons without fathers or fathers without sons.

Families, reunited.

Lovers, once again in harmony to sing to Love himself.

What a glorious promise.

What a wonderful day.

Until then, we are called to, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the [aauthor and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2.

I don’t know exactly why God allows pain or suffering in this world.

I do know this, however, that that pain and suffering produces endurance and perseverance.

I don’t know everything, but I do know that He is good, and His mercy and love endure forever.

Today is today.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.

Only today is promised.

So, we must run our race.

I Heard Your Voice Today


“Grief is a Mouse-

And chooses Wainscot in the Breast

For His shy House

And baffles quest-

Grief is a Thief- quick startled-

Pricks His Ear- report to hear

Of that Vast Dark

That swept His Being – back-

Grief is a juggler – boldest at the Play

Lest if He flinch- the eye that way

Pounce on His Bruises – One – say – or Three

Grief is a Gourmand – spare His luxury-

But Grief is Tongueless- before He’ll tell- Burn Him in the Public square –

His ashes- will

Possibly- if they refuse- How then know –

Since a Rack couldn’t coax a syllable- now

Let us play Yesterday-

I, the Girl at School-

You, the Eternity- the untold Tale-

Easing my famine

At my Lexicon –

Logarithm- had I- for Drink

‘Twas a dry Wine-

Somewhat different- must be-

Dreams ting the Sleep –

Cunning Reds of Morning

Make the Blind – leap-

Still at the Egg Life-

Chafing the Shell

When you troubled the Ellipse

And the Bird fell-

Manacles be dim- they say-

To the new Free-

Liberty- commoner-

Never could-to me-

“‘Twas my last gratitude

When I slept- at night-

“Twas the first Miracle

Let in- with Light-

Can the lark resume the Shell- Easier- for the Sky-

Wouldn’t Bonds hurt more

Than Yesterday?

Wouldn’t Dungeons sorer hate

On the Man- free- just long enough to taste- Then- dolmens new- God of the Manacor- As of the Free

Take Not my Liberty

Away from Me-

Alter! When the Hills do-

Falter! When the Sun

Question if His Glory Be the Perfect One-

Surfeit! When the Daffodil Both of the Dew-

Even as Herself- Sir- I will- of You.

– Emily Dickinson.


If you were coming in the Fall, I’d brush the summer by with half a smile, and half a spurn,

As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year,

I’d wind the months in balls- And put them each in separate Drawers,

For fear the numbers fuse-

If only Centuries, delayed, I’d count them on my Hand,

Subtracting, till my fingers


Into Van Dieman’s Land.

If certain, when this life was out-

That you’rs and mine should be–

I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind, and take Eternity-

But, now, uncertain of the length

Of this, that is between,

It goads me, like the Goblin bee-

That will not state-

its sting.” Dickinson, “(If you were coming in the fall)”


I heard your voice today. I waited seven years. It was like I remembered, but there were some notable highlights

“Call me back.” “I miss you. “I love you.” ” I miss you and my boys.

Damn you.

Every fibre of my being aches for me to be able to call you back.

I can’t even listen to all of this without sobbing.

I’m not going to listen to all of it at once.

I’ll take the tape

Rewind it

Digest it

And repeat.

I will soak in your love

Until it becomes a mantra

Oh, how you loved me. How you loved all of us. The longing in your voice rips me to shreds.

It tells me how you felt. This, I always knew. I hate you for leaving me these voicemails. I love you for leaving me these voicemails. I long for you in a place where there’s no space or time.

My bones shatter when I hear your voice

My bones are rebuilt when I hear your voice

The answering machine stops. I didn’t call you back. Why? I was a kid. I guess I always figured there’d be another tomorrow.

I loved you. I still love you. I will always love you.

Thank you for fighting as long as you did.

Thank you for not giving up until I could say goodbye.

I miss the hell out of you.

I miss the way your hand fit in mine

I miss the way you laughed

How your hair felt.

I miss all the little things that I know I can’t get back in this lifetime.

I’ll see you again

This I’m sure

I just wish it was today

But today is today

And tomorrow is tomorrow

And what’s past is past

But to hell with it all

I want you to be here

But you can’t be

But you are

So I sit in my apartment

Look out the window

See the sunrise and sunset

And wonder about your view

I bet it’s pretty great.


“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”

(View from my window).

The Stories We Tell Ourselves


It’s always been interesting to me the depths at which people will go to rationalize seemingly inane or deprived behavior. Some of the excuses people tell themselves for acting the way they do are often tied to their particular season in life. “Well, I’m in college. It’s what everybody else does. I only get to go through college once so I have to enjoy it.” It seems for every questionable action one commits, there is always a twisted self-justification of said action.

At UNC, I am witness to a lot of brokenness. I think deep down this brokenness comes from the chief pursuit of other things that aren’t God. The idea is- we’ve all been engaged in this pursuit at one point or the other. It is when we come to terms with the fact that the full search of anything but Jesus leads us astray and causes insurmountable pain, suffering, and hurt that we can truly be set free.

We are only given one life to live. It would be a tragedy to reach the end and realize that in the pursuit of all this is worldly and fleeting- we end up gaining nothing. My prayer over the past couple of weeks has been for myself and others to fully come to the realization that Jesus is everything. Friendships often fade. Money is volatile and can be lost or gained in an instant, but the LORD stands forever and will always be there to never leave us or forsake us. What a beautiful promise. What a glorious assurance. C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

I may not understand every hurt or pain in this world, but I do know that the God of the universe holds everything together in the palm of his hand. I may not understand the pain, suffering, or tragedies of this world, but I know that one day, I won’t have to anymore. In Christ, suffering is not for vain. In Christ, pain is not merely something designed to make us hurt. To fully immerse oneself in Christ’s love is to be fully free. And to be fully free in a loving creator’s arms is everything.


What I Know (The Hurt and The Healer).


As we grow up, we start to lose a sense of wonder. For me, at least, I think losing my dad at fifteen was one of those things that shattered my already fading notion that the world is some perfect place made up of fairy tales, and unicorns. The thing about growing up is that you never really feel any older. You remember going to things when you were six or seven and now you’re 22 and wonder where the time went. I grew up going to church. In fact, some of my fondest memories as a kid, besides going to Disney World religiously and the love I felt from my grandpa- were those Sunday services. Now, my mom would have to drag me to church on Sunday since I was and probably never will be a morning person, but I love her for it now more than ever. I think it’s interesting how Jesus describes the process of rebirth in the Bible. It’s interesting how Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night so he doesn’t have to feel ashamed. Christianity doesn’t tell one that one has to be perfect or without blemish. It simply requires one to make a recognition out of humility and love that we were never as perfect or as holy as we thought we were, to “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10).

C.S. Lewis once wrote- “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried really hard to be good.https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/99392-no-man-knows-how-bad-he-is-till-he-has

This whole notion that’s really popular today in a lot of circles that “we’re all very good people” so there is no hell and God must love us is simply a feel-good theology designed for maximum clicks and leverage.

It is also quite a shame that some think their salvation can be bought or paid for, as Jesus has already paid that price and made this very clear: ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes through the father except through me.” (John 14:6).https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14%3A6&version=NIV

Trying to buy your salvation via money or other goods is like trying to buy someone’s affection or true love. You can’t.

The good news is Jesus laid down His life so we could live ours in freedom and humility.

That’s perhaps why a prideful Christian is not only an oxymoron- it’s something that cannot exist in the Kingdom of God. Pride destroys relationships and builds a false sense of security. Combine this with money? Well, that’s a lethal and potent combination.

“Again, I tell you- it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” -Matthew 19:24