Passionate Listening that Avoids Volcanic Eruptions


“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

Jesus in Matthew 10

Do you find it as intriguing as alarming that Jesus taught by graphic illustration that one’s indifferent rejection or hard-hearted rebellion against a God-appointed message or messenger of Truth brings consequences that would make being consumed by a fiery volcanic eruption of hell upon our head pale by comparison. “More tolerable than Sodom and Gomorrah” does not sound a good thing nor right, does it? Volcanoes always wreck devastation wherever and whatever they even come near to touch. Honestly though, haven’t you always discovered that true Truth has a sure and prickly edge on the one side as well as a comforting, inviting touch upon the other? That is why we handle Truth with care, and why we entrust the care and keeping of truth to but few in the high calling of the role of teacher or preacher. We do not play fast and loose with the Word of God as to drop it carelessly in the lap of a novice regardless of how excited he may be for sins forgiven. “…not a novice lest he fall into condemnation incurred by the devil…”

The “good news”


My boys with Niagara in the background.

that truth brings is fabulous once we embrace the terrible gravity of the bad news of our native condition. So in this case it looks as though the volcano-type threat on the head means precisely what Jesus says by way of calling Sodom and Gomorrah alongside as His witnesses.

Just who was that Angel of the Lord, now? Who was the Captain of the Lord of Hosts? Who issued the command and then passed through Egypt that terrible first night of Passover? The message of Jesus was not only nor simply a message categorized by love: He clearly prescribed wrath as the remedy for rejection. This principle is revealed elsewhere as instruction of accountability and stewardship as taught in the saying, “To whom much is given, much is required.” We would say today, “You snooze, you lose.” (For the faint-of-heart I’m quite sure He possibly ended this gnarly topic with our comfortably familiar and light-hearted adage, “Have a good day now… Y’all come back now.” Or maybe He did not for He presided over His kingdom as a faithful Son who faithfully discharged truth to the children He instructed by never failing to speak the hard sayings.)

“You snooze, you lose, sucker,” is another way we express neglectful indifference today.

It is probably not ordinarily in our ever-flowing stream of typical thoughts that when we sit under the sound of the gospel this day, (or any day), it is to be with a reverent accountable attentiveness befitting one who has privilege to hear the direct proclamation and instruction of our Creator and Owner, upon threat of death and hell for simple indifference or disregard of the messenger, regardless how ugly he is. (Good gosh! Do they make an automated shock collar for one who tends to doze off during the sermon?) To listen carelessly or to adorn our response with the smock of indifference exposes our very life to grave danger. It is no small matter to attend to preaching adorned with “words of life and beauty as they teach faith and duty.” (Phillip P. Bliss) I suspect such truth-oriented preaching that brings such hideous consequences for ungodly indifference is more rare today than we suspect. “To the one it is an aroma of life… to the other an aroma of death…” (2 Corth 2:16) Horrible thought… though I must confess it forms a facet of the basis of my ministry to prisoners. I earnestly plead with them to receive, to choose life, to flee the wrath, but it is with a clear presentation that we tinker with matters eternal of life and death, heaven and hell. These are things eternal upon which we live, and of which Lewis stated, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” That is why Truth matters and why it matters how we respond to it.


Danger is just over the rail. It is that close. Danger is always at hand, crouching where truth and beauty reside. Amy responded appropriately to the implied threat of the guard-rail, and I did not have to tell her to GET OFF the rail. We see signs. Do we hear God?

“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” Lewis

Yet how safe we are from peril and destruction in the one Refuge so freely offered in “the only name given under heaven among men by which we MUST be saved.” And again, how naked and bare, how stripped and undone we see ourselves as we are exposed to wrath not deferred, (not propitiated), should we do as the Jews who deemed themselves unworthy of eternal life as they rejected truth in Jesus as proclaimed by Paul. Their deference was to self and tradition, and their desire was to remain slavishly in blind bondage rather than received fulfilled law in Christ by the free grace Paul preached.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” When we listen and when we purpose repentant obedience to the King’s gracious life-giving commands that proclaims a message of Divine accomplishment, we are actually actively running further into the Kingdom by Way of the road of holiness as we draw nearer, nearer to the throne of grace, from whence our Help comes. Listening is an active life-saving activity and not a spectator sport that allows you to “time-out” and sit upon the sidelines as preacher preaches. “Waiting upon the Lord” means I engage God where I am. Paul referenced personal responsibility this way:

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NASB)

“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Here is a concluding poem once known and sung by many it seems almost in another age…

Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
 Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
 Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.


Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
 Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Christ, the blessèd One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
 Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
 All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
 Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
 Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.


Phillip P. Bliss


God calls us to prepare this day to tremble before His word. In this hell of mess we witness in our world as the devastating consequences of sin advances into land and home, we have hope and there is light in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God says to not fear nor be dismayed, He will be with us and help us. Consider these Truths worthy of implementation as we listen today with a passion and an expectation that pleases the Father. The message of Heaven brings:

1. His pervasive presence.

2. His unfailing promise of a righteous cause.

3. His sure providence that accomplishes His purpose.

Careful. Better Re-Read the Entry Requirements. (This may be easier than you supposed.) But remember…there are no mulligans and no grading on the curve. 

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”Jesus

How paradoxical that you lose if you try more than believe. You lose if you work to the neglect of His work. The beauty of completeness of God in Creation as I see represented in George’s picture cannot be improved upon. It was all “very good.” In similar fashion the work of the new creation established by Christ by His labor for profit of His people is complete, “It is finished.” He entered into His rest. He sat down at the Father’s right hand “after He had made purification for sins.” Heaven and earth are one. Reconciled. All rebels are called to stack arms and sign terms of peace. We “have peace with God through Christ…” Herein we too find rest through and in Him. We bring nothing to the table but need and thirst that He alone can satisfy. “In Him we are made complete. And He is the Head over all things…” We enjoy peace; hostilities have ceased. “He has commanded all men everywhere to repent and believe.” Now how hard is that?

These principles of representation and substitution are at the heart of the gospel of peace, for therein is the imputed righteousness of Christ revealed. (That’s the one that counts!) The righteousness that sustains us in the coming Day is righteousness revealed to those who become as children in the Gospel, “from faith to faith, just as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1)

We who believe embrace the truth of Jesus’ words, “The flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.” Those who rest in Christ are beginning to understand the paradox that the harder we work to outdo the scribes and Pharisees the more of their likeness we embrace. Righteousness is not a badge of honor to be adorned and worn as we stand and primp in front of a mirror gazing upon our own beauty; it is a gift to be received as we gaze upon His beauty, His stunning and redemptive perfection. We are content to boast in the Lord. “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

I recently heard Doug Wilson say, “If you have never been accused of antinomianism you probably are not clearly preaching the gospel of free grace.” (I had basically just accused him of that, kinda-sorta, for liberty he took in some statements of “God not caring about a believer’s sin,” and he graciously gave helpful clarification at the recent 2016 Auburn Avenue Pastors’ Conference.) His defense of grace made an indelible impression upon me. I believe it true. Wilson pointed out that Paul spent an abundance of his time defending His gospel against this very charge. 

Why not close here?
Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

Spittle and Dust, Light from Darkness

“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.”John 9:1


So here is a blind man. He has never seen the faintest flicker of light in the totality of his life. Not even a shadow. Not one ray of sunshine though he stared straight into the full noonday sun. No twinkling stars, no bright and full moon. Nothing. Blackness. Darkness is his dungeon and he has ever been swallowed and imprisoned therein. He is lost as any man apart from the illumination of divine Light. 

Unbeknownst to him in his blindness the Light of the world passes by in resplendent display of eternal glory, seen by some, yet missed by most. The Glory pauses to make clay of spittle and dust. The paste is applied to flawed eyes which were purposefully created imperfectly for this most perfect moment of the glory of God revealed. Something unseen happens, but not yet. Amazed wonder must sweep the crowd as the Ancient of Days advances His purpose. This feeble, fundamental obstacle of blindness becomes the vehicle of the works of God declaring Immanuel is with us. 

Do you see how this expands? Isn’t it absolutely stunning how visible hope, light and life are freely imparted to the hopeless, to the blind, to the dead? Help Personified comes to the helpless as a great Light dawns in the midst of our fading darkness… a Light of revelation, a light of hope. 

 “What causes you to differ?” Aren’t you formed of the same stuff? The same clay? What flaws and imperfections has God built into you that scream for His touch, His power, His glory in repair? Has He purposed to pause before you, to touch you, to heal you that your imperfections might manifest His glory through your weakness as He makes you strong in the strength of His might? His power is perfected not in your strength nor by your strength but through your exposed weakened frailty. If God scooped up a handful of dirt “in the Beginning” and created Man, then isn’t it reasonable that the Lord of life may be pleased in this case to take another handful of dust turned to mud and heal sightless eyes? Or heal whatever? He is not doing something new here. His act is not without precedence. “The works that the Father does, these I do.” The process of light from darkness is His way. “Let there be light.” Need He say more, for what He says is. His word is our command. 

When we look in the mirror each morning we see reflected flaws and little imperfect irritations of our creation. Did God err? Cry to Jesus! More significantly when we stop and listen to the voice that speaks to us from the Word of God, we hear God speak of our true need and our brokenness calls for His healing touch. Fly to Jesus! I think our right response ought move toward imitation of the Centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy of You to come to me. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” I like that. The clay and spittle are optional, thank you very much… His mercy and grace and glory in His word and touch are non-optional; they are essentials. “He was born blind not for his sin, nor for his parents sin, but for the glory of God.” That’s a principle I suppose I need claim every day. What of you?

This blind man in obedient, unseeing but trusting faith responded to the command of Christ and went submissively to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. He returned seeing. After his subsequent rejection by the suspicious, hypocritical, unbelieving, religious professionals of the day, Jesus comes to him again. Jesus seeks him out. We need to learn something there. God seeks man, man in blindness cannot seek nor find that which is hidden from our eyes. “Christ is hidden too far in God for man to see Him unless the Father reveals Him.” (Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress)

Prayer: God reveal my life purpose then to me as that which is hidden with Christ in God. Show me the Son that the Son might show me the Father. Lord I come. (Col 3, Matt 11)

For the first time ever the blind man who now sees gazes upon the Light of the world, who further discloses His identity as the Son of Man. He who was blind now truly sees, he believes and he worships the King of glory. 

Our imperfections and struggles in this life call to the Light of the world. We need his touch now more than ever. We need light to see our way through this dark world as sin and stumbling stones abound and hinder. Thank God for our High Priest who understands, sympathizes, then heals and helps the downcast broken-hearted. Lord, you need not make the clay of spittle and dust, but that’s okay too. I really need you to just say the word and make me whole.

As the leper made request, “Lord, if You are willing, please heal me.”

“I am willing” and He stretched forth His hand and touched him. And he was made well. 

Photo courtesy of the modern adventurer and friend George Dobbs.  

The Advent Renewed by My Daily Walks in the Psalms

With good reason I start my day with a reading and reflection upon the Psalms:God speaks to my need and renews my vision of glory therein. A great Light appears where there was darkness. That Light is sufficient and relevant today. Whether cloud or pillar, He leads. Stand and see His salvation.
Psalms 113:3-7 (NASB)

“From the rising of the sun to its setting 

The name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is high above all nations; 

His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the LORD our God, 

Who is enthroned on high,

Who humbles Himself to behold 

The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust 

And lifts the needy from the ash heap…”


Isn’t all of life about perspective and worldview? Who do you believe? What do you believe? How do you act upon what you believe? Show me faith by works. Let’s move beyond word-faith. “Talkative.” What are you given to pursue? Do you chase trinkets or true treasure? Do you know affliction or shared blessings? God has not changed. He is “patient toward you not willing that any should perish but that all might come to repentance.” It is His kindness manifested that acts as the tentacles of love that draw you irresistibly toward the Manger to consider the Babe, and then to Behold the Man lifted high to die as One cursed of God on the Tree, whose cry of finality in death sprung the captives unfettered and Free into the Most Holy Place. We still “call His name Jesus, who saves His people from their sins.” From the guilt. From the power. From the pollution. And finally in glory, from the presence of sin. Jesus. There’s something about that name…

“No more let sins or sorrows grow.

Nor thorns infest the ground.

He comes to make His blessing known,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found.”


He speaks still. He commands as King, “Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden. Rest. I give you rest and an easy yoke… Learn. Follow. Live. Love. Dance with joy!” His sheep still hear the Voice of the Shepherd. The call shall forever ring throughout the ages, world without end until that final Day, “Adam. Where are you?” Then we shall know. “We will see Him as He is and be like Him.” Glory. Throughout all the ages to come, we shall bask in His glory and dance in His Light.
The Psalms put all these things into perspective for me and daily drives my heart to constraint of love and worship of the King as the shepherds and then as the Magi of old. “The things of the world glow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
“Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” The shepherds returned to their labors changed, full of joy and worship. What do I return too? Who has my heart? Do I worship a “what” or a “Who” or my “Self”? Or do I worship Christ the newborn King? Joy to the World! The Lord is come!
#GloryToTheNewBornKing who is birthed again through the Psalms with fresh urgency and relevancy to me in my walk through life. Today. And all days. “World without end. Amen. Amen!“
I’m afflicted. But I’m loved of God. What else matters? Nothing. Nothing at all.


“Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in Thee;Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I trust in Thee.

Psalm 143

We are the better to prepare for the day than to simply resort to repentance of the day after the fact of ill-prepared failure. Accuse me of legalism if you will but why should a new creature in Christ not early hunger and thirst after His presence in preparation for the struggles against our three-fold enemy who has risen to rush toward us with designs to crush us in mortal, spiritual combat?

Spiritual disciplines affirmed by the Carpenter of Nazareth at an introductory minimum would require “rising early, departing to a lonely place and praying there.” (Mark 1:35)

The old legalist that I am… this is my only hope. God is faithful to covenant love; God is faithful to normative principles. The Father sees in secret and subsequently rewards openly those who know their God in secret. They shall do exploits in His name.

The quality of gathering with the community of believers is limited by the preparation and condition of the heart. “We cannot give that which we do not first possess.” (Lewis) The Church alone can’t fix what one hides as perverted or broken by secret sin. If the fire of love for Jesus does not burn within the inner recesses of the breast then pretense will be the garment worn in public. The perversion of doctrine and lack of power in preaching in the contemporary pulpit can often be traced back to a mere academic pursuit that sacrifices devotional purity and worship of the King in secret. “The things my hands have handled and my eyes have seen… these things I make known to you…”

And that is the glory and joy of seeing His face even in midst of sorrow and struggle which we all know and that without honest exception. He is the Friend and Savior of sinners and I am glad. Yet He does not endorse that which is not changed and requires us to die daily to His glory. 

“When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.”

Alternate Plans: A Non-Option Cast aside by the King of Glory

But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter & said, “Get behind Me, Satan…”

The strength of Christ’ response to Peter’s proposed alternate plan demonstrates the legitimacy of the claim, “He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin…” Since the alternative was folly and death with no opportunity of life for the sheep the force of the rebuke resounds the truth to answer a fool as his folly deserves.
Our worthy high priest knew that life without death, was nonexistent. The grain must die for the fruit to be yielded. He alone had capacity to bear the fruit of perfection and the ability to crush the head of the one who owned the power of death. The King must come but He must come by blood of the cross and the crown of life bestowed by the Father of lights.

Mr. Bojangles was Really a Hero in Disguise


The power of the preconceived notions that had developed within the darkroom of my mind caused me to miss the obvious first clues. I erred as I denied what I really saw before me. The old man who greeted me simply did not fit the clinical picture that I thought I saw, and was supposed to see, even though I stared straight at him. The written information stated the old man, who pushed really hard on 90, tended to drink more than he ought. “Excessively“, the papers said.

The wiry-framed man lay dressed in scant more than mere quiet dignity as he stretched out upon the operating room table. For some undisclosed reason, it just seemed he did not fit the stereotypical hard-drinker profile. He patiently waited upon me to finish my final preparations of magical medicines, powerful potions, and to complete the connection of the required monitors that would soon assist me to render him insensible to his surroundings and asleep into the “Never-Never-Land of Propofol.”

Our conversation continued and I acknowledged with some surprise his clarity of thought and speech that exceeded my expectation for his age and supposedly perpetually inebriated condition. I gave pause once again as I also considered his glaringly contorted arms that lay outstretched in a symbolic, cross-like fashion, suspiciously covered in scars that smacked of the work of knives, many knives that marred not simply in a superficial style. Rather, his arms revealed deeply eroded, carved caverns which had been hewed out of what remained of his sparingly defined muscle layers. This noteworthy evidence in conjunction with my record that stated his tendency to be a “Mr. Bojangles” who “drinks a bit”, made me assume these scars testified a visible war record of many, many bar room brawls and knife fights of younger years.

So I asked the question that had invaded and continued to haunt my previously, biased mind… “Those look like old knife wounds on your arms… uh, what happened?”

In a surprisingly, dignified, (and I perceived an almost defiant manner), the old man answered, “They are knife scars. Most are anyway.” But he was not forthcoming to confirm the details of my suspicions that had already yielded my foregone conclusion of a guilty condemnation and the “just” reasonable consequence rendered upon the old drunk for past foolish behavior.

So I asked the question again, refusing to be satisfied with anything less than the best of the worst so I might more easily exalt myself over and above him in a self-righteous satisfaction all at his expense. And before I knew it, the trap was lightly sprung, and I found myself wading off into the deep snare a of dark history that was to flounder me in abject humility. It was as though the old gentleman himself unwittingly and carefully assisted me to tie the millstone about my neck as I insisted to the point of intrusiveness, “But how did you get so many knife wounds?”

In a gentle, almost surreal tone he answered quietly, but loud enough to resound as thunder throughout the hum and activity of the OR, which suddenly ceased as he uttered these words, “I was a POW.”

Momentarily stunned by this revelation that seemed to hang in the air near half an eternity, I finally managed a pathetic sound that was supposed to come out something like, “Uh, where, uh… where were you?”

“I was a POW in Germany for ten and a half months during WWII.” And then visions of atrocities beyond my imagination flooded my brain and burst upon my sight as this old hero and warrior who lay before me, quietly trusted me to do him good, not evil, as he drifted off to sleep. My knees were literally weakened and my body gave a visible shudder as I pondered this quiet declaration of war upon my pride and arrogance. I then briefly shared a story from my VA days of an old veteran volunteer who helped out there, and who had actually survived the Bataan Death March. This old grizzled warrior looked at me and simply said, “Now that was really a hard thing to do.”

I smiled as I looked at his scars again, and then thanked him for his superior service to our country, above and beyond anything I had ever done or conceived of doing. Then I repented to my God for my erroneous view and sinful disdain of a true hero, whom I initially identified as a simple drunk bearing marks of the consequences of riotous living. But in truth there lay before me a real-life American hero who actually bore in his body the marks of my freedom. I took excellent care of this old gentleman, my true hero, who once endured much hostility for me, (and many others), that we might continue to draw breath in a free land until this day.

God bless America. And God bless those whose hands You have trained, (and those You still train), for war that we might live in peace and liberty to know and worship Thee. And let us not forget… thank You for the right to write in English… not German, and thank you Jesus, by all means, that I did not have to learn Japanese!

Well it’s the Fourth of July in a few days. This true account seems appropriate.
My son, Stephen Paul Vining, is currently being trained in the art of war at Ft. Benning.
Please pray for him and for all others training to fight freedom’s fight.
May we never forget those who guard the line that we might live.
Pray most especially that he and the others might know
the nearness of God for their good..
July 1, 2012


My son did WHAT? He’s in the ARMY NOW!?!?

To recall a Day back in December 2011

I’m sorry. Excuse me. I really do struggle with hearing rightly these days. But I thought you said… but no, that couldn’t be… I know you didn’t just say, you couldn’t just say, my son, my baby, my Stephen, has dropped out of a “free” college education in a relatively safe environ, and joined “This man’s Army.” No, that can’t be. Pinch me. Shake me. Wake me. This nightmare seems all too real.

Remind me again, why did I swear off strong drink? I seem sense a need for something warm in my hand, that transmits its resolute way from gut to heart as it anesthetizes me with pseudo-courage in its attempt to dull my perception of loss of control. Of loss of my son. Of a heart departed. Of a home splintered by pain of applied parenting as children mature, grow. As they Leave.

O God! How the mighty, (and faint alike), have fallen! Mind spinning. “Who’s on first?” ” What’s on second?” Who’s in charge? What’s happening here? What’s that 60’s song… “War! Huh, Yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”

Wow! From whence did all these thoughts and fears awaken and arise? Are we still at war? Wars, you say? How long have we been there? Why are we there? Where is there? What did we learn from Charlie Wilson’s War? What did the Ruskies learn? Is this winnable? Is what winnable? For what are we fighting? Pseudo-peace? Where is Fort Benning? Is Georgia in the continental US? Didn’t “What’s-His-Name” make a hollow statement about ending all wars in that God-forsaken land of the Middle East? What was purported a Garden is now an Abomination of Desolations. So it seems… So it seems…The very mouth of hell itself?

(God, are You there? You are on the clock, aren’t You? Where is “There”? I need help “Here”. Remember me? And my son? The one You have used to teach me to pray? Yes. That one. That one so much as I in so many ways that I sometimes give a free pass cause I understand so well the inner turmoil.)

My son? My only son whom I have loved, yet failed so frequently and so miserably, in the “Father-School.” My great discovery of Self… some tests and tasks shall I forever be inadequate and ill-prepared for. Parenting is one… Parenting… a true OJT enterprise.

No, Stephen is not my only son, but so it seems today. Wow! Wasn’t it just several days ago when I witnessed him in the buff, being towel-dried, screaming that first cry to the heavens, as mom lay rendered insensible to the world, and to the new life just risen from her womb? But then, mom had not so chosen to intentionally miss this momentous event. She lay with belly splayed open and an ET tube sprouting from her throat, as an even greater participant in the miracle than I. She still bears the scars in her body. Yesterday, wasn’t it? So it seems. Images burned indelibly in my pea brain. Blood pressure 60ish, yeah Hespan sounds a good plan. How ’bout NOW! That is MY WIFE, this screaming boy’s fussing for. Fix her. So she can see her firstborn son. And they did, and she did. And she does.

Now fix us. Help us. Son 1 leaving? Or rather our living testament that God brought us together as husband and wife; now this image bearer, our own Stephen Paul Vining is leaving. And he bears our heart in his backpack. Does he know? Probably not. That comes with time and separation and grey hair.

Another chapter in the saga of a new life filled with exciting change, and the other continued life of unstable stability, that seeks to overcome pain of loss.