Skip navigation

I’m so tired of the whispers. The snatches of conversation tuned low- too low. Low enough that you know it’s something they don’t want everyone to hear. Gossip. I could tell you that I’m above talking about other people, but that’s bullshit. I’m as guilty as anyone of indulging in gossip. That’s not why I’m tired of the whispers. I’m tired because I’m foolish enough to worry that the whispers are always about me. This is an entirely self-centered view. I know that. But when the whispers start, I feel my heart sink, I feel a heaviness settle in my gut. I wonder what I did wrong. I wonder what I’m failing at now. There’s so much of this cluttering my heart, this nagging sense of personal failure. And that’s the real problem. The whispers aren’t coming from gossipy co-workers, not the ones that do that really sting. Those come from a much darker source. And given space, they settle in the heart and spread poison through every artery and vein.

There are other whispers. They’re on a different frequency than the others. They’re harder to hear, not because they’re softer, but because I’ve let myself become too familiar with their darker counter melodies. These lift my hopes instead of crushing them. They give my mind a little peace instead of chaos. When I let these settle in my heart, when I give the lighter whispers space, contentment flows through every artery and vein. Hope. Love.

There’s a Bible verse I stumbled across last week that sums up the message of the good whispers very nicely-

 “For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

 It’s the word delight that caught my attention. Not a God who hates me, or even just tolerates me, but one that DELIGHTS in me. This obviously contrasts pretty strongly with the message of those dark whispers, with my fears of worthlessness. There’s a great deal of hope in these words, and like I said at the start- I’m tired of the other whispers. But I’m also used to listening to them. I have a tin ear when it comes to listening to God’s melody. Like the poster says in the X-Files, I want to believe. But most of the time I’m too Scully and not enough Mulder. Too invested in cynical self-protection to let go and trust. Too prone to listen to the wrong whispers.

I knew I was in trouble when Toto started making sense. Not the dog, the band. And not Rosanna, the other one. You know how it goes:

It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

SIDE NOTE: In copy/pasting the above lyrics, I see for the first time that I’ve misheard the lyrics of this chorus my entire life. BLESS the rains instead of MISS the rains…MIND BLOWN. 

I was driving down the road in between Excelsior Springs and Richmond Missouri, hopping from one small midwestern burg to another until I’d completed my journey from Kansas City to my hometown, Salisbury. It was Friday, Labor Day weekend. My wife, mom and 5-month-old daughter had left ahead of me in a different car. I was by myself, in my mom’s car, struggling to find a radio station playing something that didn’t make me want to drive into the side of a tree. Africa came on some station doing a Labor Day Eighties marathon. I shrugged and turned it up. I was digging it. Singing along even, because who doesn’t sing along to this song if you chance upon it, rocketing down rural highways by yourself? Then came the following lyrics:

I seek to cure what’s deep inside/frightened of this thing that I’ve become 

And I was taken aback for a moment. I stopped singing and let those words sink in. I wasn’t frightened by this thing that I’ve become, but I wasn’t thrilled about it either. Worried, frustrated, tired. A low-grade anger burning in me like a fever when I’m at work. Exhausted and disengaged at home. And I’m not really sure how I got here.

There’s a lot of stories in the Bible where God gets someone’s attention by unusual means. Burning bushes, ragged prophets, talking donkeys, etc, etc. I don’t know what it says about me that the music of Toto became my signpost, but I know I’d be a fool to ignore it. I don’t want to stay in a state of disengagement. I don’t want an undercurrent of bitterness in my life. We all have good days and bad days. I want a sense of trust and peace to guide me through the bad instead of wallowing in a marsh of frustrated plans and dreams. I don’t want to get so accustomed to what I’ve become that I stop being scared when the reflection becomes cracked.

God speaks in the breeze, in the rocks, in the forest, in the sun and the rain. And apparently, through Toto. The band, not the dog, but maybe through the dog too for all I know. However he speaks, he speaks. I’m not always so great at listening. But driving down the road that night, for whatever reason, I did. I listened. I paused. I looked at the mirror God was putting in front of my face. I let it start to change me. The transition from where I was to what I want to become isn’t magic. But it’s beginning.


If resurrection were possible, you’d be into it, right? I mean, if something that was dead could be brought back to life, you’d at least check it out. Out of curiosity, if nothing else. Because dead things aren’t supposed to come back. Death is generally considered an ending. Pets die, loved ones die. Careers die, relationships die. And as they do, things start to die in us. Dreams die, hope dies. And we trudge forward, leaving them behind. We move on, because what else can we do? They’re dead. End of story. 

But then there’s Easter. And this Jesus guy. And a story about what happened after his death. A story that claims that after he died, he got back up. Three days after the fact, no less. This is, of course, a CRAZY story. It’s an insane possibility. But what if?  What if it’s true? And if a human being can come back from the dead, could that internal stuf be brought back to life too? What if the dead hope could be revived, if the dreams we left rotting in the ground could suddenly start pulsing with life again? 

The story of Jesus says yes. If he came back to life, then everything’s fair game for resurrection. Including the internal stuff in our hearts that we’ve written off as dead and buried. And I believe this crazy story happens to be true. I can’t prove it. But I believe it. 

These are the thoughts swirling in my head today. Thinking about Easter, thinking about Jesus, thinking about His resurrection. And I keep coming to a question: What in my life needs resurrecting? Are there things that need the Lazarus treatment, things Jesus could breath new life into? I’m feeling that the answer to that is a resounding yes. Small things, like this blog are in need of reviving. Big things, like hope and trust and authenticity. I’m feeling that now’s the time, that today’s the day. The day to listen like Lazarus for the voice of God, and do what He says- get up. Get out of the tomb. Follow His lead. And LIVE. 


So the weekend before last was Kathleen’s birthday. Being semi intelligent, I’m not going to list her age here, though if you read her blog (and if you don’t, you should) you’ll figure it out pretty quick, seeing as how her age is part of the title OF said blog. We took the actually Birthday off that Friday. Thus began a whirlwind birthday tour, starting at the Nelson-Atkins museum in Kansas City.  Currently the Nelson has an exhibit of the works of Rodin which was pretty fantastic.

From there, we zipped off to Charlie Hooper’s  in Brookside to make an appearance at a celebration for a UMKC co-worker who just moved to Oregon. We didn’t have a lot of time there, because we had tickets to a play at the Living Room Theatre at 18th and McGee. The show was an adaptation of Roger Corman cult classic Bucket of Blood. We realized later we had an accidental sculpting theme- first Rodin, creator of one of the world’s most famous sculptures (the Thinker), then a play about a wannabe beatnik who passes off corpses covered in plaster as sculptures. Pretty similiar, right?

Saturday started in a typical saturday fashion- kathleen slept in while I met with some guys at our church and did some Shoal Creek media related stuff. We rested for awhile afterwards, then went to a life celebration for Susan Pinkerton, a woman from our church who recently lost a long, long, on and off again battle with cancer. It was a sad occasion, obviously, but touching all at the same time, as such celebrations tend to go. A good moment of perspective in the middle of our weekend. After we left church, we headed down to Independence. Kathleen’s sister-in-law had bravely trekked all the way from Minnesota with three kids to visit HER sister there. we spent most of that night hanging out with them.

Sunday we played hooky from Shoal Creek in order to take in Planet Comicon in Overland Park. Believe it or not, this was my first ever comic book convention. And now I’m totally ready for another. Billy Dee Williams (lando calrissian) was the main attraction, but we never saw him. From a distance, we saw the cast of Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galtica’s Edward James Olmos. we talked to some of my favorite writers and artists, guys like Steve Seagle and Don Rosa. we went to a panel featuring Bruce Jones and the legendary Bernie Wrightson, which was great. I did some “networking” with some indie companies that hosted booths. We saw a great number of stormtroopers, Avengers, heath ledger inspired Jokers, Harlequins, a jack sparrow, a family guy chicken/boba fett, and maybe most impressive, Big Daddy and Hit Girl from Kick Ass. We got our picture by the Tardis and K-9. We wandered around for several hours and then headed home.

It was a fun weekend, if a busy one. A good weekend for connecting with the wife, and celebrating her special day. It was memorable, certainly, and i’m very thankful i have kathleen to celebrate with…

This is a general SOS for a couple that attends our church- this is what was posted earlier today, by Roy Moran:

“Candy and I met with Elisha and Kim Chirchir and heard their full story. We were moved to help them financially and thought that some of you might want to join us. If so make checks payable to Shoal Creek and include a separate note with their name, Chirchir on it. Their financial need to get Elisha back to Kenya and then back to the US with proper documents is around $5000.

I’ve include a brief version of their story below.

My name is Elisha Chirchir. In 2008, a family friend helped me come to the US through a student visa program so that I could attend college[ Park University ]. However, no one prepared me for whatever it took to live in the United States [on my own]. On my arrival, I was just 21 and after the first year or so, my uncle couldn’t afford to support me any further. I was left to fend for myself, find places to live and pay tuition fees on my own.

It didn’t take long before I ran out of money and my classes were dropped. In order for me to go back to school, I took some bad advice and made the mistake of working [ I was not allowed to do so ]. That was when problems started.

My name is Kim Chirchir. I met Elisha Chirchir at Park University. We fell for each other and made the decision to get married. So we got married and we have been together for almost three years now. I learned about his mistakes and he had to stop working. Our marriage just got approved by the US government but despite that good news, our attorney informed us that he will not be able to get his green card while in the US because he fell out of school status[visa] and then worked without authorization.

Our attorney told us that we will have to apply for a Voluntary Departure which gives him 3 months to come up with the plane ticket – est. $1600[round trip], first and second part of the green card application fees – est. $410 & $520 respectively and lastly, visa fee est. $120 and leave the country within that same time span. If the above applications are approved, he will be able to come back to America. Failure to come up with that money will force him to go back to Africa and never come back to America thus ending our marriage.

We are both devastated by this news and as we pray, we ask each one of you to look into your heart and if God leads you to help us financially, we will appreciate it, if you are unable to do so, keep us in your prayers as we go through this tough time.

We sincerely thank you with all our hearts.


Elisha & Kim Chirchir”


If any of the handful of people who read this blog feel led to help out, you can reach out to me and I’ll direct you where you need to go. Elisha also has his autobiography available for sale on Amazon- go here to purchase it.

In the meantime, please be praying for them as they scramble to gather the resources necessary to gain full time citizenship…






Or rather, what I’ve been up at Shoal Creek Community Church. First off, as always, I’m involved in media productions, links to which are listed below.  To embed video into wordpress, I’d have to upgrade my account, so you’ll have to settle for links to the videos, which I’ve put on youtube. anyway-


we did a Fear Factor month, using various existing fears as jumping off points for the message.  This week was Fear of Death. I wrote this piece, edited it,  and “directed” it, with trevor moran running the camera and some b roll via youtube thrown in. The location was generously provided by Colin and Rickie Moran, who are also the proud owners of Abigail, the dog who appears near the end. The featured actress is of course my lovely wife kathleen. The song playing in the background is “the world is a very scary place” by the Gothic Archies, brainchild of Magnetic Fields front manStephen Merritt.  A Gothic Archies song was used for each Lemony Snicket audiobook- this one goes to the third book, the Wide Window. I was listening to it one day, and the idea for the video blossomed from there. The shoot was pretty fun. I did the edit in iMovie, and that actually went pretty smoothly too. All told, I was pretty pleased with the results.

Fear redux

This wasn’t used, although we talked about using it. It’s a little b roll of trevor chasing Abigail with the camera sans sound.

heroes montage

After Fear Factor, we’ve moved onto a five parter revolving around elements of Story- using concepts of hero, villain, author, plot to talk about God’s story. Fun stuff, especially for a guy that named his blog “story etc”.  I’ve done two montages so far, one for heroes, one for villains. The backstory for this- I tried all week to edit this via iMovie on my macbook pro, but my macbook pro wasn’t having any of it- every attempt to import footage led to a freeze up. Recently a dedicated Mac was put into the so called “media triangle” at the church, complete with Final Cut Pro (and adobe premiere, though I haven’t tried that out yet), so I decided to go for that. One problem-with my UMKC hours, I couldn’t make it during the week. Friday night kathleen’s co teacher had a wedding reception, which we weren’t out of ’til midnight. the next day we had a planned trip to visit my parents. So my options were, stay up super late and edit and then go to Salisbury the next day, OR go to bed at midnight and get up super early to edit and then go from there. I took some pretzels and a couple of cokes and went for it that night. It wasn’t a tough edit- except it went to 4am. Two things with the final result- one, it occurred to me the next day that I should have put my titles in the letterboxes instead of over the footage. Not a big deal, and something I’d normally do, but I blanked. Remember the 4am thing? the other thing was time- I’ve done countless movie montages for Shoal Creek, and I know from experience that 4 and half minutes is way long, generally. But as I watched over and over again, it felt okay- not draggy, still good. But was I right, or was this just 4am me thinking it was good? i also think i heard music in the building even though I was the only person there, after all. Did i really or was it just in my head? I’ll let you be the judge yourself. Watching it after having slept, I still feel good about it. The song is, of course, Shake it off by Florence and the machine, my favorite favorite song right now. the lyrics aren’t necessarily about heroism, but there was something about the song that resonated with the topic for me.  Last story about the late night- in addition to possible sleep deprived auditory hallucinations, I also saw a kid walking by himself in a dark hooded sweater around the liberty junior high track when I drove home at 4am. Not creepy at all, right?

villains montage

Same story as heroes, only without a trip to salimsbury I was free to take my time Saturday morning after my men’s group. Having utilized titles the previous week, I decided to let this montage speak for itself. Music is of course Sympathy for the devil by the Rolling Stones, specifically a karaoke version I got from amazon’s mp3 store. After questioning how long I made the last one, I went the other way here, with a mere two minute’s worth. I almost feel like I went too short this time, though- it kind of fades too fast in my mind. I wasn’t lacking for footage- there’s more at this link (villains montage (not used)). The other one was going to be used on a special center projector, but didn’t ultimately fit. Regardless, I’m still overall pleased with how this one turned out. the Psycho ending scene gives me a chill every time, even though I saw it over and over again while editing.

The other thing I’ve been up to is joining a relatively new team at church- the Storytellers. Again, if you have to ask why I’d do such a thing, please re check the title of this blog. The primary focus of the team at the moment is doing a story that ties into the message of the day that is printed in the Sunday handout given out at the auditorium doors. It’s been tremendous so far.  and I’ve already had one published, which was exciting…click here for that.

And if you want to see what Shoal creek sunday mornings as a whole look like,   go to, and search for Shoal Creek elements, you can see entire church services, broken into each element (song, message, drama, video, etc.).

Our anniversary trip wasn’t all melancholy reflections on life and death.

Hannibal is of course known as the birthplace of samuel clemens, but apparently it’s also a haven for some of the creepiest looking antique toys the world has ever known.  Observe if you dare…

At the end of October last year, the wife and I celebrated something special- our 7th anniversary.  After careful deliberation, we opted for scenic Hannibal, Missouri for the occasion.  We were both English majors, remember, so the choice seemed apt- a weekend in Mark Twain’s boyhood hometown, the inspiration for many of his most famous works.   We stayed at a joint called LulaBelle’s, a one time house of ill repute turned bed and breakfast.









When you go to Hannibal, there’s a couple of key Samuel Clemens related spots to hit.  One is the Mark Twain museum, which was okay.the other is Mark Twain’s boyhood home.  Here, you walk through narrow hallways, looking into the preserved rooms through plexiglass walls.  The cool thing about this is that as you take this tour, you’re essentially tracing Mark Twain’s own footsteps.  Apparently, late in his life, he came back to Hannibal and walked through his old haunts and houses.   There are quotes throughout the rooms generated by this experience- thoughts of an old man, reflecting on his life, confronted by the ghosts of his childhood.   A major feeling of melancholy overcame me while I was walking through.  It made me think about what it would be like to walk in Sam Clemens shoes that trip.


In general I like going to visit my parents. There are difficult elements to those trips, but it’s usually relaxing, a little break from the normal routine. But there’s also no doubt that you see traces of yourself when you visit the house you grew up in. Little memories, some good, some bad some neutral. Little ghosts roam the halls. At this stage in my life, those ghosts are mostly friendly. They bring smiles and warmth. But if that house still stands later, and if I reach the age Mr. Clemens reached, and if I should then get a chance to visit one last time-I wonder how those little ghosts will have aged. will they still bring smiles, or will they seem bittersweet? Or all of the above?

The first thing to understand about cats is this-we don’t pick them, generally speaking. Usually they pick us. It’s true of other pets as well, I suppose, but particularly true with cats. Which is why a cat appeared on the back porch of the apartment Kathleen and I lived in. He showed up in an unoccupied flower pot, meowing insistently. After a night or so of this, we decided to reward him with a little dash of milk. We debated about letting him in the apartment. We both realized that if we let him in, he would probably be staying. We decided we were okay with that. He marched in like he owned the place, and rubbed his forehead on both of us. This instantly endeared him to Kathleen. Of course, the scientific explanation of why cats do this is simple-they do it mark things by rubbing their scent on an object. They claim something as their own, which exactly what he was doing. Kathleen named him Whiskers- Whiskers T. Sorenson Cross, specifically. Our lease forbade pets. For about a year, we worked around this by putting him out at night. We finally decided this wasn’t the honest way to go about things, so we talked to our landlord, who negotiated a one time pet deposit with us. We took Whiskers to the vet, who recommended he stay inside full time because he’d been declawed in the past (and neutered- due to lack of evidence, we’d assumed he was a she until the vet visit-oops!), and told us that he estimated Whisker’s age at about 7-8 years- another surprise. We went to PetSmart and gathered the requisite equipment-litter box, cat toys, etc, etc. Whiskers became a part of our little family. We moved- across the street, but we moved. He settled into his new space with aplomb. It wasn’t all great-being owned by a cat brings certain complications. Whiskers struggled with urinary tract infections early on. Even after giving him antibiotics for that, he still had a tendency to pee anywhere and everywhere but the litter box depending on his mood. He had hyper thyroidism, which we crazily spent the money treating with radiation therapy. But it didn’t matter. He chose us, and that’s all there was to it. He invariably slept wherever we were, starting next to our faces and then usually finishing the night at our feet. Anytime I laid down, he would plop down next to me, resting his head on my arm, purring contentedly as I rubbed his belly. He would constantly rub his scent on us, pushing his forehead insistently on our legs as we came home- just in case we forgot who belonged to who.

We knew something was wrong with him that week. He was always a sedate cat, appropriate to his age (again, an estimate, but somewhere between 10 and 12, ancient in cat years), but that week he barely moved. He was trembling. The final straw came when I picked him up and noticed he was wheezing, barely drawing in breath. We went to work, planning to the vet when we returned. When we got back and put him in his carrier, there was another forboding omen-he entered the carrier without a hint of a fight, which simply never happened. Despite all this, I didn’t really fear the worst. I thought we were looking at a return of the thyroid issue, and I was internally trying to figure out how we’d handle the money part of that equation. The verinary assistant got his weight- he was always very small, but he’d lost even more weight- down to 5 pounds. But it was the temperature reading that put a grim expression on the assistant’s face. he was almost ten degrees below normal. the vet came in and confirmed- his body was shutting down. It wasn’t the thyroid at all. It was simply time, and age, and the inevitable. He was dying, taking his last breaths laboriously. There was nothing to be done. we could put off the final moment for a week, maybe a month if we had the money. the vet assured us that it would be far, far better for us, and for Whiskers, to end it then and there. We agreed. we cried, we said our goodbyes. The vet returned and administered a syringe that would shut his brain down. we watched him fade away. one more goodbye, and we left with an empty cat carrier and tear stained faces.

Kathleen with Whiskers, at the end.

We waited a week before we went to adopt another cat. The house felt empty that week. We went to PetSmart to see the cats up for adoption. We joked on the way that if one of them were to rub his forehead on us, that would probably be the one we took. We looked at the first cat- she was a little standoffish, but friendly enough. I had an early instinct that she might be the one. The second cat was named Fido, and he was a behometh. He weighed in at around 22 pounds. We liked his personality (he didn’t like the other cats, but he got along famously with humans) but decided we probably couldn’t afford to keep him fed. We looked at a few more. One cat, on the bottom row underneath the first cat we’d visited, kept brushing against the bars of his cage. The name tag on the front of the cage had fallen, leading me to think he’d already been adopted. He was insistently pushing on the bars, waiting on us to take him out and interact. We asked the petsmart employee about him. His name was Iowa. His right eye was runny- the result of a clogged tear duct. As soon as he got out of the cage, he started rubbing his scent on us- we were being claimed yet again, though we didn’t yet realize it. Despite this omen, Kathleen was still struggling to make a decision. I told her that it was perfectly fine to wait, to sleep on it and come back the next day. I was starting to suspect what Iowa already knew- that the next day, we’d take him home. But I also knew my wife would wrestle with the decision, and we were getting closer and closer to PetSmart’s closing time. About this time, another couple came back to interact with the cats. Kathleen’s eyes went wide. She grabbed my arm forcefully when these interlopers picked Iowa up. But Iowa wasn’t having any of it. He was polite to these strangers, but not friendly-not the way he’d been with us. He’d made his decision, and that was that. And the possibility of losing him to someone else clarified Kathleen’s mind. We left the store with Iowa.

On a spectrum, I don’t think we could have found two cats more different in personality than Whiskers and Iowa. Whiskers was sedate, an older cat who regarded moving objects and cat toys as bothersome and not worth getting up for. Iowa, at nine months and still very much the kitten, regards anything that moves as his to pounce on and destroy. Whiskers was the ultimate lap cat. Iowa will curl up with us sometimes, but only when utterly exhausted. Different, but linked by one decision. They picked us. And for that, I’m very grateful to them both.

Iowa, doing his best Puss in Boots impression.

Pina, plus some assorted scraps via Redbox and Netflix.

Venues- casa di Cross, and back to our second home, the Tivoli.

And then the Oscars!

Pina is a Wim Wenders Documentary, highlighting the career of avant garde dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch by way of interviews with people who danced with her, as well as performances of stuff she’s done. It was pretty cool. Do remember that this is a documentary about an avant garde dancer, so if you’re not a fan of artsy stuff, stay far, far away. I liked it, personally.

the scraps- Jane Eyre, and Anonymous, both nominated for costume design, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, nominated for visual effects, and two best animated feature nominees, Rango and Puss N Boots.

Rango and Puss N Boots were both solid. Jane Eyre was okay, Anonymous was pretty bad, especially because it took itself SO seriously.

And then there was Transformers.

Let me say-as a kid, I loved the transformers. the cartoons, the toys, the comic book line- loved it. And I liked the first movie from a few years ago. Then there was the sequel, and everything that I kind of liked about the first one disappeared in a furious storm of everything BAD from the first being expanded to the nth degree. Ditto number three. First-if you make an action movie about giant robots, there is NO reason for said movie to run two and half hour. If you do, YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING WRONG. Second, and this again, goes for both sequels- you don’t need that much comic relief. You just don’t. Especially when you’re Michael Bay, and your advice for directing actors comedically consists of “just act as spastically as you possibly can”. It’s irritating. Third- the decepticons want to conquer the autobots. Given. they want to use Earth to rebuild Cybertron. Okay. they want to use humans as a slave work force to this effect? little puny humans? doing slave work for giant robots? What exactly would we be doing that could be helpful to creating an infrastructure designed for giant robots?

Okay, I need to stop. Summing up-I didn’t care for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, if you couldn’t tell.

Anyway, the Oscars themselves- good time. Every year, Kathleen and I go to a party hosted by the Shoal Creek drama team. Good times, good friends. Overall, I went in rooting (primarily) for the Artist, and I wasn’t disappointed. As Hugo took more and more awards, I did find myself kind of hoping for an unlikely Hugo upset, but as noted, I loved the Artist as well. They were sort of 1 and 1a on my top movies of the year list. I was hoping for viola davis as best actress, but I understand giving Streep the oscar after her long winless drought. Loved the focus group bit by Christopher Guest and company.  The two categories I really cared about came through- the fantastic flying books of mr. morris lessmore for animated short, and most importantly- muppet or man? for best song.

The only bummer of the night- Kathleen developed a migraine before the broadcast was over, ending her evening prematurely. It’s lingered, slightly improving yesterday, but nipping at her enough today to cast a shadow on her leap day trip to Columbia to visit the legendary Amy Jones. Prayers for her would be appreciated!