UPDATED: The blogs containing the chapters have been removed, as promised, so the links below will not work. I leave this post up to preserve the reason for the removal at the end of it, and also for those curious about the book itself. Hopefully, I’ll bring the whole thing to you again one day, bright and shiny and new.
ORIGINAL POST:Below is a table of contents for all the chapters. If you haven’t finished yet, you should be able to find where you left off and pick it back up. I’ll leave all the chapters up for another week or so, but after that I think it’s better to take them down, including this post. If you’ve been reading along, I’d love to hear from you. Even if it’s just a “hi.” I miss contact with the world!
Prologue – Ready: The funeral is over and it’s time to go to the cemetery, but before we get there my mother has a striking revelation to share.
Ch. 1 – Shooting: Eight years earlier, two men burst into my father’s store and immediately begin shooting.
Ch. 2 – The Call: Alone and dying, my father desperately dials 911 to get some help.
Ch. 3 – Bullets: While my brothers and I dance in the living room, oblivious, my mother receives a mysterious phone call telling her to get to the hospital immediately.
Ch. 4 – M&M’s: At the hospital, Mom crumbles and I get a whole bag of M&M’s all to myself.
Ch. 5 – Educated Guesses: My father is in critical condition and no one–not even the doctors–know if he’s going to survive. But I do.
Ch. 6 – Playing the Part: While dad struggles in the hospital, I head back to school to enjoy all the attention thrown my way.
Ch. 7 – A Suspicious Peace: Dad returns home from the hospital and I become a bullet wound cleaning expert.
Ch. 8 – Superdad: Months later, Dad is unstoppable, coaching little league, attending Sixth Grade Camp with me, and running down a guy who steals from him.
Ch. 9 – The Wrong Side of Town: On the night before 7th Grade begins, a FBI sting operation gone wrong in our neighborhood prompts Dad to grab his gun and head out on his own to track the criminals down.
Ch. 10 – A Friend in Need: When helping one friend comes at the expense of my relationship with another, I’m at a loss for what to do.
Ch. 11 – Fight: A friend turned enemy wants nothing more than to beat me to a bloody pulp. A school yard confrontation leads to big changes.
Ch. 12 – Hollywood: A reality show comes calling and Dad leaps at the chance to reenact his shooting for national television.
Ch. 13 – Talking to a Dead Man: The shooting reenactment airs on television and my eyes are opened to what Dad really went through in a whole new way.
Ch. 14 – Edited for Television: Dad’s rush to the hospital is depicted, and he talks about the shooting and what he was really afraid of in his own words.
Ch. 15 – How It Ends: How Dad knew he was going die young. Plus: The reenactment concludes with my national (embarrassing) debut.
Ch. 16 – The Nerd Herd: A move across town means a new school and new friends.
Ch. 17 – Breaching Brute Protocol: High School begins and I’m determined to make a new start, but the four bullies picking on me at once have other ideas.
Ch. 18 – Good Intentions: Sick of all the misinformation out there about my church, I’m determined to go to a friend’s church and correct her pastor. My parents have other ideas.
Ch. 19 – Sitting On a Chair with Wheels: Is God real? Is my church true? I honestly don’t know and it’s tearing me up inside. A caustic confrontation leads to Dad trying to talk me down.
Ch. 20 – Flood: Holed up in a church building late at night, my friends and I have no idea our entire town is flooding, threatening to trap us.
Ch. 21 – The Last Time: I finally get the answers I’ve been searching for, just in time for Dad and I to make peace and go on a road trip together.
Ch. 22 – Speaking in Tongues: My life as a missionary begins, but there’s a catch: I have to speak Spanish. I hate Spanish.
Ch. 23 – Bad News: Ten months into my mission, I receive a phone call from my grandfather with news I do not want.
Ch. 24 – Faithless Prayers: While waiting for confirmation that I what I know in my gut is true, I pray.
Ch. 25 – Worse Than Death: How my father died and the devastating first few moments after I found out.
Ch. 26 – To The Lord: The Mission President and his wife come to visit and console me. I’ve got a big decision to make about what to do next.
Ch. 27 – Being a Human Being: It’s the morning after and I want nothing more than to do the missionary work I’m supposed to do. But are my motives less than pure?
Ch. 28 – In the Absence of Kneeling Dragons: I return home from my mission many months early to a very different world.
Ch. 29 – The Shoulders: The house has been overrun with mourners, and I doubt very much all of them are there for the right reasons.
Ch. 30 – Speaker for the Dead: Mom has asked me to speak at Dad’s funeral, but I have no idea what to say. A forgotten recording reveals Dad’s feelings about the shooting in his own words and confuses me further as I wrestle with his contradictions.
Ch. 31 – The Eyes of a Dead Man: The day of the funeral has arrived and it’s my turn to speak.
Ch. 32 – Grounded: It’s Thanksgiving Day and I’m home. Should I stay home and not return to the mission?
Ch. 33 – Life After Death: It’s been a long week. Two moments stand out in particular, putting everything else into perspective.
Epilogue: Decades have passed. What happened to me? To my family? What’s the takeaway?
Why take it all down? Because:
I’m just going to do it. At the encouragement of my wife and a few of you, I’m changing the name of the book to The Other Side of Fear and I’m shopping it out…again. After 7 years.
The funny thing is that The Other Side of Fear is SUCH a better title and I don’t know why I never thought of it. That’s really what the book is about: what is on the other side of the worst thing thing you can imagine happening? This is such a theme in my life (and I’m sure many others). I have faced down my worst fears many times–literally the worst things I could think of–and you know what’s on other side of that? Peace. Quite honestly, it’s peace. The worst thing is never so bad as you imagine it to be, and you can never anticipate the ways you will grow and learn and change from those awful happenings. Calamity is how God operates on us. It’s how He fixes us into who we should be (but only if we allow it). And that’s a good thing. That’s what’s on the other side of fear: good things.
Maybe the syncing up of all this with the coronavirus is nothing, but it feels oddly right and clarifying. I’ve been in the house for two solid weeks now, and despite the occasional passing panic when I give into the temptation, I don’t really have any trouble centering myself. There’s a great freedom in knowing the universe will you up at any given moment and that you can take that beating and emerge victorious.
So, into the world this book goes once more. Maybe it will find a home, or maybe it won’t and I’ll get beat up again. Whatever happens, I’ve certainly got enough time on my hands to find out.