Morning Musings


I’m not sure why I wake up in a better mood some days and others I don’t. I assume it has something to do with the amount of warm morning light I see, and probably the amount of restful sleep I get, too. 

But some days I wake up and I feel like I’m ready to take on the world and its issues. 

It has to help that I saw wonderful sunlight coming through my bedroom window blinds creating deep dark contrasting lines onto our dresser, right? My son stood in sunlight pouring in from my window with his bowl of Frosted Flakes. It immediately caught my attention and put me in a better mood. I snapped a photo with my phone and posted it on Instagram. 

The view from my bed.


The morning routine the last couple weeks has been nearly a ritual. I get up at 6:00am for the girls in my home that leave for morning weights and fitness. They have about five minutes or so to get what they need from the kitchen and then leave for the field house on campus. 

I’m often groggy, as are they. But by this point in the summer it’s just what it is. My six and five year olds often wake up around this time, and so I attempt to be as quiet as I can so that I don’t accidentally wake them up. My wife on the other hand is always in a deep sleep laying motionless in bed at this point in the morning (and well-after). 


It was recently the summer solstice, so the sun rises even earlier than I do right now. I can’t say that for most of the year. 

The light coming through my bedroom window.


At 8:00 or so, I begin my coffee ritual. I pour and measure my beans, grind them, and brew them using whatever method suits me for that day – Chemex, Aeropress, French press. They all have their perks.

At 8:15 the rest of the girls in my house get up and ready for their day. It’s kind of a chaotic scramble. Sounds of cereal bowls being filled, toast popping up from the toaster, the smell of the cheap Folgers coffee the girls drink fills the air. (I don’t let them touch my good stuff.) 

Before the girls leave for the morning, their dishes are placed in the dishwasher, the floor is swept, their rooms are clean. They leave at precisely 8:52am each day because that is the amount of time it takes to get to school by 9:00 without finding extra time to get into the trouble that so easily entices them. 


A little before 8:00am my wife flops herself out of our bed with a sense of bitterness because it is, once again, that time of day where she has to get out of bed and do stuff. 

She gets the boys ready for summer school, prompting them about five or ten times to put on their daytime clothes, socks, and shoes. 

The boys have been up for at least an hour and a half at this point in the morning. They’ve begged me for seconds and thirds of their morning’s cereal. I usually give in. But sometimes I don’t. 


My wife takes the boys to their summer school while I carry out the morning routine with the girls. She usually gets back right as the girls are leaving for school, at 8:52. 

The next couple hours of time are precious. They are the only part of the day in which we do not have the boys home with us. They get picked back up at 11:50, and we have to leave at 11:30 to go get them. 


One of our girls is sick in bed today. She’s not been feeling well recently. But when that happens one of us has to remain at the house. So in a way, we are trapped at home for the day. But that’s ok.

So today I decided to go outside on the front patio, to enjoy the sunlight and that wonderful morning air. I made another cup of coffee, grabbed an Annie Dillard book, my camera, and came to sit and read. 

My morning reading and second cup of coffee.


Reading authors like Annie Dillard only can last so long before I want to write something down myself. And so here I am on my phone, in my Notes app, writing. It’s ok. I find it extremely relaxing. No boys running around to account for. My wife went back to bed, as she does. And so it’s just me, my camera, my coffee, and Annie. 


I smell summer flowers. I hear so many summer sounds. Both the sounds of nature and of our industrialized modern world. The repeating melodies of songbirds mixed with the growl of motors from various lawnmowers and lawn equipment. The chirping squirrels and the beeps of people going in and out the door of the police station, which is the building adjacent to me. 

A bird on the roof.

The clouds are moving quickly today. A slight breeze keeps things cool. It’s supposed to get up to 85 degrees today. A true summer day.


A spiderweb stretches from the blue patio umbrella to the flowers to the chair, swaying in the wind, shimmering in the sunlight. 

A bird dances a half-hearted dance on the roof of my building. What is she looking for? 

A bee lands briefly on the vibrant flowers in front of me, but didn’t seem to find anything worthwhile. 

The clouds are slowly getting bigger and puffier, and the sun is being hidden more and more frequently. The patio goes from nearly too bright to just right, but both are nice in their own way.

A few of my neighbors have passed by with warm mid-morning greetings. A couple even thanked me for the “good word” I gave on Sunday at the Protestant church here on campus.

I spoke on the book of Micah this past week, filling in for the Pastor who was away giving a message at summer camp at Lake Okoboji in Iowa.


I have only read two pages of the Annie Dillard book I took off the bookshelf. But I figured this would happen. And I’m totally ok with it. 

A weird coincidence. But such is life.

Chernobyl on my mind


I have been watching HBO’s Chernobyl and have been quietly horrified by the show. Throughout the first three episodes there have been these unsettling scenes showing countless unnamed people who are affected by the disaster. Most of the time they are totally oblivious to what is going on. There’s a haunting slow motion scene of children dancing and spinning and running around as radioactive ash falls like snow all around them.

The viewer wants to yell, “No! Don’t do that! It’s radioactive!”

The show tugs on your humanity. It yanks on it, actually.

All these kids. What will happen to them?

There is a scene in the third episode with dozens of dazed people lining up in an old gymnasium, having their papers checked so they can be evacuated from their town. All these nameless people with names. All of them just going about their lives in small towns in Russia, totally upended by the disaster.

All these people. What will happen to them?


I think this show is powerful for me because it causes me to ask so many questions.

About existence.
About humanity.
About God.
About good and evil.
About the value of a human life.
About power.
About truth and lies.
About politics.
About technology.
About science and advancement.
About innocence and guilt.
About duty.
About heroism.
About pragmatism.
About history.

It’s powerful because we are drawn into specific individual lives within this story, while constantly being reminded of the sheer number of human beings that exist. The show lets us sit with the uncomfortable reality that there are a few individuals with incredible amounts of power that determine the fate of millions of people, potentially all of humanity’s existence. We are always one disaster away from living in a total wasteland of a planet.

This show is both humanizing and dehumanizing.

We are constantly being shown examples of individuals making the hard decisions, even at the cost of their own lives. We root for these people and the courage they embody in the face of a nuclear hell.

We want to believe that people are this good. But once again as I watch I think to myself:

Are people this good?
Did this really happen?
Am I that good?


I’ve always thought that the best told stories have people to root for, and often people to root against. And boy, does this show have that. There’s the constant use of the literary device of dramatic irony that this show masterfully uses; we generally know what is going on in the show because this is an actual historical event. I’m guessing most of the viewers know the basic details of what happened, but not much else.

One of the characters in the show is pregnant. My mom was pregnant with me during this disaster, granted over 5000 miles away. I was born in August of that year, so as I see pregnant women or small babies in this show it causes me to identify with them in a unique way.


There’s so much more I could still say that is on my mind about this show. I probably could write a whole post about how I think this show gives us all the elements of storytelling we were hoping for in the last season of Game of Thrones but didn’t get. Maybe the strength of this show is a bit inflated because of how much of a letdown the last couple episodes of Game of Thrones were. Game of Thrones ended this past Sunday.

And as the last few episodes of this show air, maybe I’ll write again about it with some thoughts. Or maybe some conclusions I’ve drawn from all the questions the show causes me to ask.


One of our teenagers last night had a blow up. These sorts of situations are always full of combustion, meaning, depth. It’s where the way of nature collides with the way of grace. It’s when the layers of life seem to become more obvious if I choose to notice.

After tossing everything off of the counter and kicking the trashcan across the kitchen and into the cabinets she was desperate for something else to throw in anger. She punched the freezer a few times, the fridge a couple more. And then she noticed the big wooden magnet and took it off the freezer and chucked it onto the floor while screaming at the top of her lungs.


There is one word on the wooden magnet:


When she first blew up she ripped up her school card which had her homework assignments listed on it. Later when I asked for her to come talk with me about some of her behaviors she said, “I ain’t gonna be no dummy. I have homework I need to do.” As she sat on her bed she dramatically started getting out her books and folders from her backpack.

“Shit. I don’t know my homework assignments because I tore up my card.”

I didn’t need to say a word for a lesson to be learned.


Big Wooden Desk

When I was a little, before my brother was born, my dad’s office was the bedroom next to mine. I remember waking up early, probably around 5:30 or so, to see the light in the office on. Often I’d wake up and shuffle over to my dad’s office door. I’d carefully crack open the door to see my dad sitting at his computer working on something. To me, the computer just looked like a black screen with lots of letters and words on it, and his keyboard click and clacked loudly. There was often the smell of coffee wafting through the room. A smell that I grew to associate with my dad. I would quietly walk in and ask if I could sit next to him. He would always say I could sit next to him if I was quiet. And so I would pull up an old chair and simply sit next to him as he typed away on his computer. I just wanted to be close to my dad. It didn’t matter if I knew what he was doing.

He worked at a large wooden desk that he had always had, as far I as knew. Over the years the computers changed, but the desk they sat on remained. The desk made it through moves from various homes in Nebraska to two different homes in Indiana. I have no idea the brand or even the quality, but I remember it being big. When you opened the side door of the cabinet, it had a distinctive wood smell about it on the inside. I can smell it even now as I think about it.

No matter where the desk was, my dad hung many of the same photos and art above it. A couple baby pictures of me. A poster of Pete Townshend (that always kind of creeped me out), and a photo of my dad’s dad smoking a pipe in front of a back-lit window. An iconic Seaman family photo.


I always liked being with my dad in his various offices. It’s clear even in the time before I have memories I spent a lot of time with my dad at his desk. When I went through my family photo album quite a few years ago I found a number of photos of me with him at that desk.

So it’s unsurprising to me that as an adult I’ve had a deep-seated desire to have an office of my own with a nice big, wooden desk.


Yesterday, Sarah the boys and I went out to Nebraska Furniture Mart to look at desks. There were a few that stood out to me. I went there knowing that I wanted one made of wood. Not that cheap particle board stuff that might look nice for a few minutes before it disintegrates after a couple months of use.

I looked at a number of great desks. But one stood out to me from the beginning. I remember thinking that it reminded me of my sister’s desk that she had gotten quite a few years ago. It’s a sturdy oak desk with drawers on both sides. Not too big. Not too small. Just right. The goldilocks desk.

Sarah and I determined we would not make any decisions that day and come back another time before we were to purchase it. After we returned home I texted my sister and asked her to send me a picture of her desk. Sure enough, the desk that I caught my attention at the furniture store is the same desk that my sister has.

That seems fitting for many reasons. The beds that my sons sleep on were my set of bunk beds when I was a kid. They’re sturdy Ethan Allen oak bunk beds, clearly built to last. My brother used them for much of his childhood, and then my sister used them when she moved out of the house. And now my own children have them.

Me, sitting in my bunk beds on my sixth birthday.

My sister also has the same Amish-made oak side table that my dad got us when we were kids. We both still have them (although I’ve had to glue the drawer back together because my sons are destructive forces of nature).

Sarah and I determined we’d hold off on getting the desk for now even though I’m very sure it’s the desk I want because we can’t really afford it at the moment. But when we can, we will. There’s something about that having that desk seems extremely peace-giving to me. The idea of finally having an office with a nice big wooden desk where I work and type on my computer at 5:30 am seems to complete an unfinished circle for me.


Overlapping Thoughts: Vol. One

I think I’m going to start using this blog as more of a journal, especially about things related to faith and the beyond the surface moments of life that I notice. It is pretty stream of consciousness, and for myself first and foremost, so please don’t expect it to be excellent writing. 

Continue reading “Overlapping Thoughts: Vol. One”