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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What's Wrong With Me?

It's not officially summer, yet somehow I have already developed a case of the summer doldrums.  (What kind of word is that?  "Doldrums."  It sounds like a flower.  Or maybe a disease.  Or perhaps a flower that causes a disease. "I caught the doldrums and, Lordy, I thought I was gonna die!") I spent the morning in the office today and then went off to have lunch with God and a friend.  Not that God isn't my friend. I just felt like some flesh and blood might be nice.  No matter.  My friend didn't show up.  God did.

So we talked.

"Excuse me, God.  I think I have the doldrums."

"Is that a flower?"

"With all due respect, Sir, you made them.  I think you would know if it were."

That's is pretty much how it went.  Me, complaining about my current state of placid soulfulness. Him, listening without so much as an occasional "Uh-huh. Tell me more." But, as I explained to Jehovah, life is good.  Everybody is healthy except an occasional puking spell by a grandchild (I'm looking at you, Liam Kelly.) Our church is doing well except that three of my best friends are moving away thanks to an eternally restless United States Air Force.  The Cubs are hovering around .500 which is a sad surprise.  I guess it's still early and I haven't written them off yet.  So I have no real reason for the doldrums.

But there they are.

Then my phone rang.  It was a funeral home.  Somebody died and they want me to do the funeral.  I don't know them, so I don't know how they know me.  Maybe I'm becoming known locally as, "Mr. Funeral?" I don't know how I feel about that.  Anyway, I said I would do the service on Friday morning.  Then, as funeral directors are apt to do, they dropped the other shoe.

"I feel that I should tell you that this family is a bit ... "

"It's alright.  This is a safe place.  Just say it."

"Eccentric.  And ..."

"Yes?"

"Belligerent."

"Oh.  Now that's probably something I would have liked to know before I agreed to this event, don't you think?"

"They did ask for you by name. Are you sure you don't know them?"

"I don't know them."

"One of them is married to his third cousin.  His name is David.  And his name is Curt. They like to dress alike.  And Curt likes to push people around.  I buried their mother and ... I think second cousin.  Yeah.  Second cousin."

"David's mother is Curt's second cousin?"

"Correct."

"David is married to Curt."

"I think you've got it."

"Do they have children?"

"Probably not."

"Anything else you think I should know?"

"Isn't that enough?"

"See you Friday."

Guys.  I can't make stuff like this up. 

That's when I noticed ... adrenaline.  Adrenaline!  My old friend!  I've missed you!  And the doldrums ... they vanished!  I just needed a good dose of eccentricity!  Have you ever noticed God seems to work best when life is its most unpredictable?  At least, that's been true in my life.  So now I am just waiting and praying for Friday.  David and Curt and the entire family will get to hear about Jesus!  And I get to live out the reason I was created in the first place.

And I'd like to thank my friend for not showing up for lunch.  It was the best lunch we never had!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hot Buttered Rob (don't ask)







(Dear Rob ... This one is for you.  It's been a couple of great years.  Thanks for all the Salmon and donuts. Now get out there and make the world safe for my grandkids...

Ron)

So I have a friend who thinks I should keep blogging.  Let's call him "Rob."  Because that is his name.  I gave this space up a few months back because, well, I guess because I've been writing here for ten years and I had said everything I could think of to say. And now, since I speak a couple of times each week in a formal setting, I pretty much pour my creative energies into that endeavor.  It doesn't always leave much juice for writing words that you really are not certain anybody is going to read.  Actually, I read a few of my own entries and, well, if I am boring you as badly as I bored me, I need to stop doing that.  Pastor's ought not bore people when they speak.  Or write.  And these last efforts ... let's just say "the juice wasn't worth the squeeze." 

And then Rob called me on it.  I told him what I just told you and he understood.  I think he did.  He didn't like, nag me or anything.  But here is the thing.  When a guy is vain enough to expect people to come and hear him speak or go to a web site and read what he writes, it only takes a little stroking to motivate him to keep going.  That's why the people in my church refrain from shouting, "AMEN!"  They know they are just encouraging me and it will go straight to me head and suddenly we are all late for the lunch line.  At least that is what I tell myself.  The other possible reasons they don't shout are worse for my self-confidence (think: ego) and so I choose not to entertain those thoughts.

Rob and I were out to dinner last weekend with our lovely wives.  We ate until we nearly put a Brazilian Steakhouse into bankruptcy.  I do not know about him but I was nearing "meat coma status."  So we did the natural thing.  We went out for donuts.  Specifically, we went to "Strange Donuts" in Kirkwood. Strange donuts is, well, strange.  I ate a simple "General Custard."  I think Rob had a double something with pixie dust on it and maybe a dash of chili powder.  That isn't impossible at Strange Donuts.  Nothing is impossible at Strange Donuts.

And that is when I noticed a t-shirt on the wall that they sell to suckers who just cannot stop spending money.  (Hello, me!) It featured this dark skinned fellow who was coated in nacho cheese.  He looked middle-eastern.  Over his head they had printed his name.  "Cheesus."  Yup.  Get it?  Cheesus?  Jesus?  It's not that funny now.  With a gut full of Brazilian food and American custard it was hilarious.  So, naturally I bought the shirt. 

I took the shirt home.

I never took it out of the bag.

I went to bed.

I woke up at 2:30AM.

I heard the still small voice of you-know-who saying ... "Really?  Really, Ron?  You just taught my people last week on the wonder and the majesty of My Name.  And now you are going to wear a shirt that says "Cheesus" next to a very poor caricature of me?  I've made better looking camels than that guy."  (Okay, He didn't exactly say that last part about the caricature and the camels.  But I'm betting He was thinking it.  Sometimes even God picks His battles?)

I apologized.  Profoundly.  I mourned my sin.

I realized I had to destroy the shirt.

I mourned my twenty dollars.

Do you see what effect Rob has on me?  He makes me more like Jesus but (sometimes) he allows me to drag myself through the muck first. He's a smart guy.  He's some kind of Colonel in the United States Air Force, for crying out loud.  He knows big multi-syllable words like "airplane," and "runway."  He studied 3D printers once and actually convinced me he could recreate my entire family tree if he just had the right printer cartridge.  Or something like that.  I may have that wrong.  But the guy holds sway over my life.

And now my friend is moving.  He's going the way of Adam Page and Alex Babbot.  The way of Tom Goble and Matthew Beeman.  The way of Michael Harris and Brant Dixon.   The way of Jake Lukens and Dan Werner.  And soon the way of Mark Amos and Josh Hunt.  There are more.  Lot's more. I just named the ones that passed through my Friday night small group. 

Rob is confusing and frustrating me right up to his last day.  He sings about the wild blue yonder but he's leaving to go to Navy War College.  (The best I can figure, it's like seminary for people who blow stuff up.)  Go figure. 

So this one is for you, Rob!  May your vapor trails be high and your 3D printers have ample juice.  And I promise that every time I have a strange donut I'll be thinking of the way you use to blow chocolate milk out of your nose.  (And now the world knows.  What are friends for?)

10-4.  Roger Wilco.  Over and out.  But most of all ... God bless, my friend.