I Don’t Miss You


I don’t miss you.
I mean, I love you… but I sure as hell don’t miss you.
I’m glad you’re gone

It wasn’t always that way
Man, there was a time… a time in which I couldn’t imagine your absence
Not anymore, not by a longshot

Back then, I saw only in part
Just a glimpse
A snippet
I didn’t see all you were up to
I didn’t see all the hidden pain
I didn’t see all the darkness

Nope, you had me fooled
And even when I saw the glimpse
Even when I blew the whistle
Even when I raised the flag
You were still untouchable, invincible, omniscient, always right… always right…
And always so sure of your rightness
Absolutely sure

But then the day came
Revelation, unveiling, truth shouted from the rooftops
No longer untouchable
No longer invincible
No longer omniscient…you never were
No always right… sometimes right, maybe
Most of the time right, even

But when you were wrong
Wow, were you wrong…
And when you were wrong, you hurt people
You used them, abused them, accused them
All the while protecting yourself
Protecting your secrets
Hiding your scars
Making everything about you… in the name of someone else

But in the middle of the revelation
As the truth was being shouted from the rooftops
I still loved you
I still wanted to protect you
I still wanted to talk… to connect… to walk through it together

That was not to be
You turned your back
You made excuses
And you ran away like a coward

I loved you then
Before the revelation
After the revelation
Even now

But I sure as hell don’t miss you

Five Years, a Radio Show, and Looking Forward

Healing, TS10

Grateful. I think that’s the place to start. When I stop to take a breath, when I take a moment to ponder this path, I feel grateful. I feel other things too. I feel deeply loved. I feel fortunate. I feel purposeful. However, my predominant response is gratefulness. This Tomme Suab thing started a little over five years ago as a simple blog in which I hoped to shine some light on some of the incredible musicians with roots here in western Wisconsin. Over these five years, it’s grown into something more, something deeper.

Tomme Suab’s central focus is to help whoever engages with it to experience a deeper level of peace. You can read more about that focus here. I won’t get into all the details of how we got there from that original vision, but the process has been sweet. I started out sharing about locally-rooted artists, but eventually I was privileged to spread the word about artists from all over, connecting with folks from all over the States, as well as a few from other spots around the world. It’s crazy. I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with Converge Radio here in Eau Claire as a member of its Community Advisory Board. I’ve had the opportunity to book shows on behalf of Converge and even presented the first ever Tomme Suab Presents show a few weeks back (thank you, Jessie Smith!). And then there were those weekly TS10 playlists.

I’ve loved making mixtapes ever since I was a teenager. I still remember trying to record my favorite songs off the radio with my cassette recorder (look it up, kids). When I eventually got a dual cassette deck stereo system, I would record songs off my tapes and records (I had some sweet vinyl back in those days… you know, before all the cool kids were into that) and mix them the way I wanted. That evolved eventually into iTunes and Spotify playlists. And then finally, I began putting together weekly playlists for Tomme Suab which I shared every Monday. These playlists were called the TS10… may they rest in peace. The TS10 weekly ritual came to an end just a couple of months back.

In July, I hosted my first ever Tomme Suab Radio Hour on Converge Radio. That show began as a platform from which to launch the TS10 each week. However, before long, it only made sense to let the TS10 end and focus my playlist passions on the radio show. The Tomme Suab Radio Hour has been running strong every Wednesday at 5pm Central (with a replay on Saturday afternoons as well) on 99.9 on your western Wisconsin radio dial and streaming at Converge’s website. Doing this has been a great source of joy.

Since I’ve been so focused on the show, I have, unfortunately, neglected virtually the rest of the Tomme Suab effort. So, not much new has emerged here on the blog of late. However, that will not continue. The Radio Hour is a vital part of TS’s overall mission, but it’s not going to be all there is. The show is only a step in the ongoing evolution of Tomme Suab. There will be more writing focused on artists, provocative music, social issues, faith, and any number of other subjects which fall in line with the idea of experiencing deeper peace. Rumor has it there may even be a podcast coming up, as well as a Tomme Suab YouTube channel with some original content. Maybe you’ve noticed that the site has a new, fresher feel to it visually as well.

I’m so grateful for these past five years and the ridiculously cool experiences it’s afforded me (I was able to actually contribute to the 2018 version of Eaux Claires… more on that later). But this thing is just beginning and I’m excited to see where this path leads. I’d love for you to walk that path with me!


Merry Christmas… I Think…


Merry Christmas (whatever that means)! That “whatever that means” isn’t mean to be snarky. No, not at all. For some of us, that may be a pretty simple idea, the idea of “Merry Christmas” that is. Of course, it depends on who you talk to. Your typical American might mention Christmas trees, lights, and presents. A historian might speak of the early Catholic Church’s attempt to co-opt a pagan celebration which occurred every year around this time. Your conservative Christian-types, like me, would speak of mangers, wise men, and the birth of Jesus. The idea of “Christmas” can have a variety of connotations depending on the individual’s belief system, understanding of history, personal experience during previous holiday seasons, and so many other potential elements.

But here’s the thing, Christmas is about all these things… Yes, it is a great reminder of the miracle of God becoming a human baby boy, amid all the muck, mire, and discomfort associated with childbearing and birth. Yes, it is a cultural celebration, here in America, that is a grand conflation of celebrating the incarnation, the legend of Santa Claus, and a number of American and European traditions, most of which have nothing to do with Jesus. Yes, it is a commercial season in which many retailers’ fiscal year is either made or broken. Yes, celebrating December 25 as Jesus’ birthday is rooted in the early church’s attempt to Christianize a pagan celebration. Christmas, as we celebrate it in 21st century America, is a great conflation of Christian tradition, western cultural celebrations, and spending money.

So, what if we let it be what it is on this Christmas Eve? What if we were to just be honest that it’s a fun cultural celebration that can be a reminder of the great miracle of God becoming one of us? What if we forgot about the so-called “War on Christmas”? What if we took off all the pressure and let it be what it is?

To my Jesus-following friends, I pray that you and I will learn to celebrate the miracle of Advent every day of the year… not just on December 25, but also on January 7, and April 15, and August 21 and every other day on the calendar? I mean, that feels appropriate for those of us who have pinned our hope on Jesus. AND, I pray that we’ll be able to be present with those around us this season. That we will truly love those around us… even Uncle Steve, no matter how belligerent he gets during the turkey dinner.

To the rest of my friends, I pray strong connection between you and your loved ones. I pray for good times, rest, and sweet, sweet Christmas presents. And, I pray you’ll get along with Uncle Steve as well.

To all of us, I pray for the peace inherent in the angels’ message to the shepherds in the traditional Christmas story. It’s not a fake peace. Not a peace that comes by ignoring our differences and disagreements. I pray for shalom: genuine well-being. Peace with God, peace with others, peace within.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth!

Her Story and My Story


The reason I can write and share this is because this story no longer owns me. But it once did.

When I was a boy, I experienced several different episodes of sexual abuse. On the surface, what I experienced could be considered “mild” forms of abuse. However, their impact on me was anything but. There is one episode which stands out to me more than the others. I remember the line being crossed, of course, although I only remembered that part of the story after extensive counseling. But then my other memories of the event are seemingly random and incomplete.

For instance, I can remember I was wearing a red jacket or windbreaker, with a white zipper (I think). I remember who was in the room. I remember the room and the house. I remember there were several families gathered together at that house when it happened. However, I cannot recall which families were there. I cannot even begin to approximate an exact date for the event or how long the three of us were in that room together away from adult supervision. I think I was somewhere between eight and ten years old at the time.

At least 25 years passed before I shared this story with anyone. The only reason it ever came out was because I had a friend who loved me enough to walk with me through the memories. In that 25 years, my life was significantly, deeply impacted by that experience, as well as the other episodes I endured. In the years immediately following these events, my weight ballooned, and I developed an addiction to food. I also developed an addiction to porn. I stopped caring about schoolwork. I isolated myself in my room, behind closed doors, for most of my waking, non-school hours. I became increasingly self-absorbed. And, I lived in a constant cycle of shame and repentance.

For 25 years, I carried that secret. I told no one. I don’t know why I couldn’t tell my parents from the get-go. Maybe it was shame. Maybe I didn’t feel safe for some reason. In fact, there was no one I felt safe enough around to share this yucky part of my story. I repressed the memory and shut it out of my mind. It only came back to mind when I sought help for my addictions. As God liberated me from those things, all kinds of memories began to emerge. I can still vividly recall when I shared what I could remember of that one specific incident with that friend. After hearing what I said, he looked me in the eye, and with grace and compassion simply said, “You know you were sexually abused, right?” That was when my healing began.

Years later, I sat among a small group of men who had their own abuse stories and I openly shared what I’d experienced. In that context, with those brothers, I, along with others, experienced deep, deep healing (and I felt God’s love for me for the very first time). In the years after that, I sat in similar groups and heard more and more stories of abuse and neglect, heartbreaking stories, some of which I will never forget. Thankfully, I also continued to see God lovingly intervene and heal people left and right as we shared our stories and walked together into freedom. So, although this story once kept me in lock-down, it no longer has a hold on me, for which I am grateful beyond any words I can express.

On Thursday morning, September 27, I watched and listened to Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee in which she laid out her broken recollections of the sexual assault she experienced. She didn’t want to do this, of course, but in the end she demonstrated incredible courage and shared her story with the world. To say I admire this woman would be a gross understatement. She demonstrated sincere and beautiful heroism in my eyes.

(Important: What I’m getting into here is not about politics. It’s not about Brett Kavanaugh. This is about Dr. Ford.)

Many have come out and said, since that testimony, that Dr. Ford came across as a credible witness. There are many who have said they believe her story. I am one of those. And what I mean is not necessarily about who did what. It’s about the fact that this woman had been sexually assaulted. It was evident. As I witnessed her grace in the middle of terrible grief and discomfort, as I (as much as I could do so) looked into the eyes of a broken, yet brave woman , as I heard her trembling, but somehow still confident voice, I could not help but think of the numerous other similar stories I’d heard from other victims of sexual abuse. I’ve heard stories like hers before, shared with the same kind of courage and brokenness. My heart broke for her.

Now, let me say a little something about politics. I HATE what the politicians sitting in that hearing, listening to Dr. Ford that morning, did with her pain and grief. I HATE that Senators on both sides in that committee politicized and exploited her story. Yes, I believe that some, if not most of them had some measure of compassion for her, especially after hearing what she had to say. However, that does not, in any way, make up for how they dragged this brave, wounded woman out onto their ridiculous stage for the whole world to see. It was disgusting. It, in a very real way, minimized the pain and grief of her story.

Okay, remember when I mentioned earlier that my abuse story no longer impacts me? Well, that’s only mostly true. The events themselves have no hold on me. That’s 100% true. However, there is a related dynamic that still stings deeply: the minimization of my story. That incident I described above… well, once I saw things for what they were, I shared the story with a couple of folks who meant a lot to me, who I believed cared deeply about me. Their opinions carried significant weight in my eyes. In one case, the person I told made it clear very quickly that he didn’t want to hear about it. The other person virtually dismissed my story as just something that kids do or go through. In both these interactions, my story was minimized and invalidated, and my pain was ignored. I can say without hesitation the memories of these conversations sting more now than the actual abuse I endured. Abuse survivors need to not only be heard, but also believed. Our stories ALL have validity. Thankfully, I was blessed to have other people around me who validated my story as I walked into healing.

When I think of how painful it was to have these respected people reject my story and ignore my pain, I can only imagine how painful it has been for Dr. Ford to have people she doesn’t even know speak out to invalidate her story. Her pain has been minimized and written off. The politicians sitting in that hearing on Thursday cheapened the gravity of her testimony by making her a political pawn or target (depending on which side of the aisle they were sitting). What she needed from them, from us, is empathy. And what she’s received from so many of us and perhaps all of the politicians in that room, is anything but empathy.

I hope that somehow, through this debacle, God will break our hearts and teach us how to be human. That we would stop being Democrat or Republican in how we view her pain, but see her as the wounded, courageous person she is. That we would be willing to step into her pain in whatever way we can and, instead of rooting for or against Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, we root for truth to be revealed and for hearts that long for what’s right, not just for what benefits our political causes.

Don’t Can’t Won’t


You don’t know me.

You just don’t.

You think you do.

You’re wrong.


You have me figured out.

You’re sure about your theories.

You think you know me.

You don’t.


It would be shocking if you did.

It might take you aback.

It may spark questions.

It would. It might. It may.


If you were open…

If you could see outside your bubble…

If you would take that risk…

If… but you’re not, you can’t, you won’t.




A Glorious Love Letter

Healing, Open Mind

Whenever someone asks how long my wife Charlotte and I have been married, which happens a lot around our anniversary (June 16), I inevitably say something like “16 glorious years.” Truth be told, not all those years could be labeled “glorious.” Some were somewhat less than that.

This year, we complete year 17. When someone asks, and I provide my typical answer, at least that part “17 glorious years” will be accurate. But “glorious” … no. Now, I will say that the last ten or so have been getting closer. As God has peeled away selfishness and other crud that stood in the way of real intimacy, our marriage has become more and better than I could have ever imagined. The process has been hard, but so, so worth it.

Part of this ongoing growth of intimacy, of course, is how well we know each other. Sometimes, it’s quite annoying. I get tired of how right she is about how I can’t hold a conversation and drive at the same time. I wish she’d stop being right every once in a while. Truly though, how we know each other is an immense blessing. She knows when I’m not quite right. I know when she is, dare I say, a tinge irritable. And we know what each other needs when we’re in those spots.

I could provide many examples of how beautiful this marriage is and how intimately we know each other, but I’ll focus here on one… one that is directly related to Tomme Suab. Quite a few years ago, I was in love (I still am, really) with Over the Rhine’s Goodbye off the Roaring Lambs compilation album. If you would have asked me why, I couldn’t have told you. After all, as a child, I was taught “good music” was what was predictable and safe. Understanding the nature of music, or art overall, was never a high priority for me or for those around me.

Some time ago, Charlotte and I were discussing that particular song and she said, “I know why you like that song.” Now, this would also make sense, because Charlotte has an extensive musical background, formal education included. She mentioned something about a “step-wise” movement in the song and explained what that meant. Afterward, from time to time, she would help me understand why I was drawn to certain styles, artists, or songs.

Eventually, she made a pivotal statement which amounted to something like “you don’t listen to music the same way most people do.” She was telling me I wasn’t a casual music fan. That little statement was an epiphany for me. It started me on a journey in which I began to engage with local art and independent musicians, with her cheering me on. It led me down a path in which I became drawn to the fringe, the unpredictable, the non-mainstream. More to the point, it led me to the realization that music impacts me deeply, on an emotional level. It was the root of what has become this blog, these weekly playlists, my involvement with Blugold Radio (soon to be Verge 99.9), and even in other civic activities and efforts promoting the arts.

None of this would have ever happened had it not been for my bride. It is just one illustration of how, aside from my God, she’s the best part of me. She has my heart and to say I’m thankful for her would be a gross understatement.

I love you, Charlotte.