The Sweetest Duet Ever

Yesterday was my birthday. It has been a birthday tradition since my childhood that my parents would sing Happy Birthday to me on that morning. And yes, still to this day. My birthday isn’t official until I get that phone call and they sing to me.

Yesterday was the last duet.

Move over Celine and Andrea, BeBe and CeCe and anyone else you can think of. There can be no greater sound than the beautiful duet from the heart of my parents yesterday. And I’m absolutely certain that my mom sang with more volume, love and joy in her heart this time than any of the previous birthdays.

And there have been a lot of them.

I was both dreading and anticipating this duet for the past couple weeks. I knew it was coming, and I wanted to be able to listen to it and savor every note and every syllable. I also wanted to get through it without crying. I actually did!

I thank God that He gave me one more duet from them. It truly was the sweetest duet of all time, and I’ll remember it the rest of my life.

Brief Departure

I don’t know about you, but I need a little bit of a change of pace. I’m afraid my recent posts are going to drive someone to drink. Namely, me.

With that, I want to shift gears and let you know that things are getting crazy fun for Man Cave Ministries. This Saturday, we are going to be doing our first ever live video podcast. We got connected recently with an amazing organization called Operation Worship. These guys are amazing. Check out their website (after you’re done reading this) to see what they’re all about.

Anyway, they have an incredible media center in their headquarters right here in Rocklin. They invited Gary and I to come over on Tuesday, and our eyes lit up like Paris Hilton at Fort Knox. Then, they basically shoved the idea of doing a live video podcast right down our collective throats. So, not being ones to back down from playing with gadgets and technology, we accepted. So they set up a cool background, some sound effects, and let Gary take it from there. Below is the outcome of the insanity that is Gary Zelesky in front of television cameras.

So now, I hustled up and put together a You Tube page for Man Cave Ministries, (www.youtube.com/mancaveministries), and even a Twitter account, (www.twitter.com/themancave). Check it out!

Turning Point

There are moments in our lives which serve as turning points. We may or may not recognize them at the time, but eventually we look back and see the significance in those moments.

I want to share one of my turning points with you here. It was Valentine’s Day about 16 years ago.

My church was having a Valentine’s Day dinner. Of course, it was mostly for couples, but it was open to everyone. I went, despite the fact that I was neither married or even dating. At one point in the evening, they opened up the microphone for people to get up and offer some words about the person who meant the most to them. Husbands got up and waxed-poetic about their wives, and vice versa.

For me, it was an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the love I had for my parents.

I clearly had love for my parents, so that’s not what this is about. Until that time, I had been trying to run out from under their identity. I had always been “Ed and Sarah’s son”. I had done many things, gone to many places, had many great triumphs in my life. But it always bugged me that no matter where I went, they weren’t “Corey’s parents”, but I was lost in their idenity.

But it was this night that I really began to embrace the honor that it was to be identified with this extraordinary couple. I don’t recall the things I said. I am probably the only one who remembers that I even spoke that night. I just remember that that particular evening was a turning point in my life, and my relationship with my parents. We’ve never been the same since.

In the final days of my mom’s life, I am thankful that it’s not some mad scramble to think of all the things left unsaid. This isn’t a time of clearing the conscience. It’s a time of togetherness. The bond we’ve built over the past 16 years has made this time what it should be. A time of thankfulness. A time of reflection. A celebration of life. An appreciation for a life well lived.

As a soon-to-be 44 year old man, I am honored to be Ed and Sarah’s son. Long after they’ve both left this world, and even after I have, it’s my dream to be remembered and thought of as being the product of these two amazing people. I have been so blessed to know them, much less be their son.

How Should Heroes Go Out?

When we think of heroes dying the way they should, we think of soldiers dying on the battlefield, firemen rushing into burning buildings, policemen in a gunfight with lawbreakers.

What about gentle heroes?

My mom is a hero to me, and to so many. She is a prayer warrior, a loving caretaker, a gracious hostess, a selfless mother. What is the fitting way to leave this world for someone such as her?

I have no idea.

Despite having no clue as to what would be appropriate, the way she is leaving this world is certainly not how I would have chosen. She has been in constant pain and physical limitations for the past 15 years. Now, in her final days, she is being consumed by cancer.

Monday was a “good day” by her standards. I suspect her best days would be ones you and I would complain about. But her definition of a good day is definitely much more refined and mature than mine. It’s humbling.

We spent Monday talking about memories. I love hearing about her life in her own words. We spent part of the day discussing very difficult topics, as well. I’m sure these topics will end up in blog posts at some point as I continue to self-medicate by writing.

I don’t know how someone of my mom’s stature should go out. It’s against my instincts to pray she go sooner rather than later, but that would be ultimately best for her. The longer she hangs in, the likelihood of her having a painful and torturous ending are significant. I don’t want that for my mother.

So, I pray the unthinkable. I am in no hurry for my hero to leave me. But, in following her example, I need to lay aside my own agenda and want what is truly best for her.

Stage 4

That was the word from the oncologist. I knew already that there were only four stages of cancer severity, but for a few moments, I somehow lapsed into a world of denial in which the scale topped out at ten.

No, still only four.

My dad wasn’t at the hospital at the time the word came. In a stunning case of role reversal, being that he was the one to inform me Mom had cancer in the first place, I was the one who broke the updated news to him. This time, it was he who stopped in his tracks.

I’m realizing that my focus needs to shift now from my mom to my dad. It’s a bit of an unfamiliar place. My dad and I have a wonderful relationship, but it’s never been one in which we got all warm and fuzzy about our feelings. Mom has always been the go-to person on that level. But she is quickly approaching the end of her journey here, and it will be my dad and I left behind.

If I had a gun held to my head asking me which of my parents I’d choose to “go home” first, almost without hesitation, I’d say my dad. Not because I don’t love him. I do, with all my heart. I just always thought she would have the tougher time being alone than he would. Maybe that’s true. We’ll never know. But I’m seeing that her absence in his life will devastate him to a degree I never imagined.

My dad is a former San Francisco police inspector. He’s a former United States Marine. He is a man’s man. As a cop, Dad had developed the necessary skill of detaching himself from the emotion and horror of human tragedy. He could talk about the events of his days as if he were talking about the plot of a movie. My dad would have made a great poker player.

Now he is beginning to wear his heart on his sleeve. It’s something I’m not used to or prepared for, but it is encouraging at the same time. I’m encouraged that he has someone, me, who he can go to and be honest with, emotionally. I’m encouraged that he won’t bottle it in. In the days ahead, we’re going to need each other in ways we never have in our lives.

I’m seeing some wonderful things in him and their relationship, but at the same time, it’s putting my heart through the paper shredder. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it is to begin to say goodbye to the other half of yourself. I can’t begin to imagine the significance of cherishing every single syllable that comes from the other’s mouth because you just don’t know how much longer you’ll hear their voice.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be blessed enough to be married. I hope so. But I’m telling you now, I’m seeing the most profound love story play itself out to a very emotional end.

I want what they have.

But for now, Dad and I have each other. We still have Mom, and we’re going to be taking mental movies of every moment we have left as a complete family.

OK, I need to end this now and deal with it.

Women Drivers and the Human Condition

OK, before you watch this, I just want to offer this disclaimer to the women. This video was given to me by a woman. In fact, without outing her to the female community, she is a woman with some power at my church…and no, she’s not related to any of the pastors.

(quit trying to guess)

So with that, I offer you this hilarious video. We showed this in the Man Cave Wednesday night, and I don’t know what was funnier…the video, or the reactions of 200 men!

Oxymoron of the Day; Friendly Fire


I have learned through my years something which probably won’t come as any great revelation to you. I don’t share it here because I expect it is, but sometimes I think we forget this truth, and it’s worth remembering.

A sure fire barometer for me that I’m zeroing in on spiritual significance and being in the center of God’s will is sniper fire from the enemy. Snipers tend to choose spots in strategic locations, and are adept at concealing their position through camouflage. Most people hit by sniper fire never knew what hit them, or from which direction it came.

I take it as a good sign that bullets are flying my way because it tells me that I’m a threat. If I’m no threat, the enemy will simply let me wander aimlessly without a peep. Why risk getting me upset at the enemy and getting back on track when my course is so off that I’m doing him a favor as it is.

In the past week or so, I’ve found myself blindsided a couple different times. The interesting thing is, it has been by people I never would have expected.

Camouflage.

The enemy knows exactly where I’m vulnerable. I’m not going to be swayed by drugs. I’m not going to be swayed by gambling. Where I’m vulnerable is in the area of relationships. Any kind of relationships. I hate broken relationships. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings rip me up. I can hardly focus on the tasks before me when there is friction with someone I care about. And with that goes reputation. One misunderstanding that gets spread around by gossip can absolutely devastate a reputation and credibility.

I had a conversation just last week with a new friend of mine. Within the last year, his world has been rocked by betrayal in the most significant relationship two people can have. Through this, some of his other relationships took a serious hit because people didn’t want to get in the middle, or they perceived there were bigger issues than they were equipped to handle…or whatever their reasoning was. In the meantime, lives were damaged, and relationships injured almost to the point of being irreconcilable.

It’s sad that people turn against others with whom they had previously been so close. I’ve never been married, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I have seen so many divorcees whose exes have gone so far out of their way to make life miserable for their former spouses. Whether it’s withholding financial obligations, fighting over material possessions, custody, or just any other trump card one holds over the other. I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around that, and I don’t expect I ever will.

I am so thankful for the series we’re currently going through in the Man Cave. Just this week, Gary laid out five actions within the Man Cave:

  • We don’t bury our wounded in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:1)
  • We don’t ignore, but carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • We never make it all about us in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:3)
  • We never judge another in the Man Cave (Galations 6:4)
  • We do all the work in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:5)

One particular quote from last Wednesday night’s message that has stuck with me was the following:

“We don’t stab each other in the back in the Man Cave. We have each other’s backs!”

I have to tell you, that is a comforting thought. I don’t expect that 100% of the guys will be perfect on these issues, but the standard has been set. Not by any man, but by God. None of us are perfect, and none of us can cast the first stone. Each of us have needed grace in our lives, and just as much, we need to extend it.

There is no such thing as “friendly fire” in the church.

update: I want to be sure it’s clear that the two things I referred to this week as being “blindsided” are all resolved with some direct communication. All is well. It was just unneeded drama that was taken care of my much-needed communication.