Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 2016 Update

I haven't written much in the past 3 years about my journey.  I have been working towards my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.  With some savings, I had decided to attempt schooling full-time to complete the degree faster.  Over the past 3 years, I took 10 courses and I accumulated a few hundred hours of clinical experience.  In the process I experienced three different types of internships, but -- sadly -- two of the internships fell short of the requirements of the Master's program at Northcentral University.  The program took longer than originally estimated and this past month I ran out of cash flow.  So, I am looking for a good website development opportunity.  If you have any web development job leads, feel free to reach out to me.

At the same time, I am discerning the formation of a men's healing prayer ministry group that might meet every 2 weeks.  We would practice healing prayers models such as Unbound and Immanuel Approach.  In the group, we would learn about these models, and when comfortable, we would practice helping one another to connect with Jesus and seeking our own healing.  If you are a male who is interesting in joining such a group, feel free to reach out to me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Review of John Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw.

I recently finished reading John Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw.  You know, I'm always discerning new material through my dual Catholic/Evangelical lens.  Lots of great material in the book.  Life changing material.  It's hard to read a book by John Eldredge and not have it affect how you pray, how you think about reality, how you see life.  This book was no different.  Please forgive me now as I speak out of both sides of my mouth, but the truth is this: I am internally conflicted.

Part of me was disturbed by the relationship/religious dichotomy which Eldredge inherits from his Evangelical culture.  When people make that distinction, the hairs on my back bristle and I get defensive.  After all, part of me says, the word "religion" is rooted in the Biblical language of covenant.  In the Latin, the word "religion" means "to bind."  It refers to any oath taken which creates permanent relational rights and obligations, such as marriage.  Or, any sacrament.  Religion should not be opposed to relationship, anymore than commitment should be opposed to love.  Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote about religion as the virtue of giving worship that is due to God.   I find myself wanting to quote James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

On the other hand, as I raise myself up as smarter than John Eldredge, I also become uncomfortable with my own smug self-righteousness at quoting scripture and tradition.  Eldredge takes straight aim at the "religious spirit."  I think such a spirit exists.  I have renounced it in my own life and immediately experienced a lifting of some sort of oppressive regime away from me.  What's the difference between a self-righteous catholic and a self-righteous evangelical?  The catholic also knows how to quote tradition (and most of them do not know how to self-righteously quote scripture).  In some ways, I am worse than the rest, because I can leverage ammunition from both scripture and tradition.  From the perspective of self-righteousness, its hard to distinguish between using the Bible (and Tradition) as a sledgehammer and encountering Jesus as the Word of God, which makes this sin of pride one of the most sinister of them all, because it does not leave behind any guilt.  However, a tell-tale sign is that one no longer feels connected to Jesus.  "I'm right!"  Yes, but when was the last time you felt yourself connected to Jesus?  "That's emotionalism!"  Are you sure it's not just pride?  "On the contrary, if I were to deny the truth, then I would be guilty of false humility, which is just pride."  And back and forth the internal conversation goes.  It's painful to admit that I am having a cognitive argument about being right apart from any sense of a connection with Jesus.

The core of John Eldredge's book is Jesus.  He wants to call attention to what the real Jesus is like and how so many in the church preach a counterfeit Jesus.  And when John says "church," he is not singling out the Catholic Church.  Oh, no.  He is also taking direct aim at his own Evangelical culture.  And so, he spends a chapter on each of the following qualities of Jesus: playful, fierce intention, extravagant generosity, disruptive honesty, scandalous freedom, cunning, humility, trueness, and beautiful.  I would encourage anyone to read Beautiful Outlaw in order to grasp John Eldredge's picture of the real Jesus.  I think he is right on the money most of the time, even if he does take it over the top in some of his negative comments toward Catholicism.

Why, John, do you seem to have such an axe to grind against the Catholic Church?  Well, he answers that question in his book.  Eldredge writes, "My mom went to Catholic school; it made her walk away from church and God. The fruit of that seems pretty clear" (p. 169).  I think Catholics need to cut Eldredge some slack, because the experience he describes here is all too common.  I think Catholics would do well not to respond to another negative emotional experience with an apologetic debate.  So, I'm basically saying in hypocritical fashion, do as I say, and not as I just did above, like when I got all hot to trot over his relationship/religious dichotomy.

What about the person who feels the call to religious life?  As in, a calling to be a priest, religious sister, or religious brother?  In this sense, religion takes on a positive connotation of making a mature gift of self to Jesus and following Him in a permanent and radical way.  John Eldredge completely misses this aspect of "religion" in his book.

I'm painfully aware of my internal contradictions some of which which I have laid bare in his blog post.  However, I  expect this window to disappear as God's healing continues to integrate me into the way he saw me before the foundation of the world.  "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from his body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)

I look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit is going to renew his Church and bring His people back together.  It is the work of the Lord and I will enjoy the ride, and how the Lord works out my own internal conflicts in the very life of the Church, bringing His healing to us all.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1st, 2014 Flooding and Levy Pictures

I took a little drive this morning and snapped some pictures of the flooding.  This first picture is Shepherd Avenue in Middlesex, between Route 28 and Mountain Avenue.  It was a steady flow of water going across the road.

According to, this was the seventh highest crest in recorded history at 34.65 feet and they never had to close the gate to South Bound Brook.  I call that an amazing triumph of engineering.

As you can see here, they did close the East street gate as a precaution.  Turns out they didn't have to.  Better safe than sorry.  The gate opened back up around 11:45 AM this morning.

I drove around behind my old West Main Street stomping grounds where we used to live.  You can see the levy holding the water back.  I remember during Hurricane Floyd looking out my backyard window at the flood waters over-topping those tracks. Today, I noticed for the first time that the levy is a number of feet higher than the freight railroad tracks.  I think that the levy would have been high enough to keep the Hurricane Floyd waters back.

Here is the new pumping station behind Jamie Fine Chemicals.  It was operating, pumping the water out of the collecting area by the Rock Machine Park and over the levy.

This interesting vehicle rode by.  I guess they were checking the tracks.

Another shot of the levy.  You can see it holding the water back on the left side.  The levy turns to the right and connects to the passenger train tracks along side Talmadge Avenue.

A shot of the freight train trestle from the levy behind West Main Street.

A shot of the passenger train bridge parallel to the raised bridge over Talmadge Avenue.  During a flood a few years ago, the water rose above that bridge and came into Bound Brook through those tracks.  This time around, the gate across the tracks is operational.  They did not need to close it this time around, because the waters did not rise enough.

Here, the Delware-Raritan Canal is overflowing into the Raritan river.

Overall, the Greek Brook Flood Control Project is an amazing feat of engineering.  There are multiple layers or protection which can be put into place, depending on the water levels.  However, that does not solve our town's antiquated sewer system.  Vosseller Avenue was closed due to some sewer issue.  I saw some water bubbling up out of the sewer.  One of these days, I'm sure that will be fixed, too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Next Chapter in My Life

I think I alluded to my healing journey in some past blog posts.  Well, it's really starting to heat up now.  I have come to the conclusion that my foray into technology and website development over the past 14 years or so has in-large been driven by the benefit (or, perhaps the illusion) of not having to rely on other people.  In web development, one can simply read books to become technically proficient.  I was the expert.  Other people came to me for help.  I solved their web problems and got paid.  If I didn't like a client or employee, I fire them or piss them off so bad that they fired me, and then I could easily get another job. And, I didn't really cared if I pissed people off, because I was goal driven and not relationship driven, which is generally the tendency for males, but nevertheless, truer for some than others.  Now, CADEC was a whole different ball of wax.  I really enjoyed working with the team at CADEC.  I really connected with the men and women there.  This was not only a reflection of my own healing and my growth in relational skills, but it was also very much a reflection of the great of men and women who make up the company called CADEC.  And, perhaps, being 350 miles away and working from home also helped me to like everyone a lot also.  You know, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and all that.

I think back to a key early defining experience at Bloomberg Financial markets back in the 1990s.  His name was Juan.  He got hired after me and was given responsilbility over the Y2K preparations which meant that he had a certain authority everyone in our team when it came to Y2K.  I was a team leader and he and I just clashed big time.  I had all kinds of nasty feelings towards him like he was treading on my turf or something.  My way of relating was that if you like me, I was loyal to you, but if you didn't like me, then I would try to "out do" you.  So, Juan and I had our battles, but I was also getting frustrated because I was beholden to programmers who wrote the computer applications that I needed and felt powerless and at their mercy.  There was also a point where I was dabbling into programming on the UNIX servers in order to find more efficient ways of doing things, but my supervisor did not approve of this "unauthorized" behavior.  So, I was frustrated all around, because I could not control the variables around my job: powerlessness.  Now, I had recently married Joanne Nerger whose father had successfully started and built his own business and that was a new paradigm for me that it was possible to make that choice to run one's own business rather than working for someone else.  So, it all came to a head, and I decided to quit and start my own business.  I quickly discovered that I could learn technology on my own and people would pay me for web work even though I had little experience.  As my experience grew and technical skill sets widened, I became more successful and I actually started to sound like (and, perhaps, even see myself as) a web development authority in the Microsoft.NET world.  The feeling of success, the ability to control many parameters in my work environment, the freedom to be able to make big technical decisions without having to be dependent upon other people, all of this felt very good.  I had power, control, and I did not have to worry too much about relationships.

My web development work successfully distracted me from any journey into my heart.  As my healing journey has picked up speed, I have begun to discover the crucial aspect of relationship, the need of the heart to give and receive joy.  I have also become acutely aware that my chosen career had nothing to do with giving or receiving joy.  And my own healing journey has lessened my need to control, because now I see my path of healing as building joy in relationship, not controlling my work environment.  Basically, all the root causes of my choice to be a web developer have disappeared.

When I pray, I always come up against what psychology calls "attachment pain," and most other people call loneliness.  Loneliness is the predominately feeling in my heart most of the time.  So, nine months ago, I was praying into this pain and asking the Lord about it, and he answered me in one word: "counselling."  Counselling, Lord?

Anyhow, this post needs to come to an end so let me shorten.  I started my path towards a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University via the Internet (  I gave 2 months notice to CADEC and my last day at CADEC was October 4.

I just came back from a wonderful conference.  It was the International Conference of the Association of Christian Therapists in Baltimore, MD, where I met all kinds of people, including Dr. Karl Lehman, his wife Rev. Charlotte Lehman (see and Dr. Jim Wilder (see, plus a lot of other really incredible people.  And, I am feeling led by the Lord into a new chapter in my life of participation in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  After my Masters degree, my plan is to seek licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of New Jersey.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Continuing to work on

Well, this is the second year that will be running for the March For Life.  I added a way to link to the "official" march websites.  I also added the ability for people who post photos onto my site to link back to their own website.

There is just so much that I could do to improve this site.  Yet, I am a father of 6, a husband, and and also a full-time employee.  At the same time, I am trying to maintain some semblance of a prayer life and get to the gym once every couple of weeks (better than nothing, ha?), and I continue learn about healing.  Very fascinated right now with  And, Joanne gave me the first 10 Lehman Live Ministry Series DVDs for Christmas (  I'd like to put together a small group this year to watch some of them together.  Contact me if you live near me and are interested.

So, where is the time to work on  Well, not much.  What I do, I give as a gift to the Blessed Mother in gratitude for her intercession before the Father.  And, I know that redemption of culture from death to life is not about us changing the world.  No, it;'s not.  It's about us getting out of the way and opening ourselves to Jesus.  It's about the mercy of Jesus.  If He wants me to work on, then He will give me the grace and open the way.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pictures from Super Storm Sandy

I took these pictures the morning after superstorm Sandy roared through.  All these pictures were taken from a simple walk around the block. The first pictures were mostly from Watchung Avenue.

The next was was on Peidmont, just around the block from Church St.

The next pictures were my backyard.