Saturday, July 07, 2007

Phantom Vibrations of the Soul

You got a cell phone? You keep it in your pocket? You keep it on vibrate? If you answered, "yes" to all three of these questions you surely know what I am about to talk about.

Phantom vibrations. They drive me crazy. I keep my phone in my right pocket. It is always on vibrate even when the sound is on. That's 'cause when I am driving in my car I like the music loud, causing me to fail to hear the phones ringing tunes or clanging bells. You don't have to hear vibrations. And admit it, when something vibrates against you it gets your attention. The "vibrate mode" is a brilliant addition to the cell phone.

But there is a problem. Sometimes you feel it vibrating and it isn't. I mean, your leg tells you it is vibrating but when you reach for it ... nothing. No ring. No vibration. No phone call. I have mentioned this phone-nomena (I just made that up and it totally kills me...) to quite a few friends and every one of them knew precisely what I was talking about. I don't understand it. It's like you leg just decides to trick you. To make you think your phone is vibrating when it is not.

Why would my leg do that? Clueless here. Answers will be considered. Just leave them in the comment box at the end of this blog.

I had one of those experiences today. I was lying across my bed talking to God. Yes, I talk to God. Get over it. He answers when He wants to and He is quite when He doesn't want to. But I was talking to God about some things that are on my mind and I have a phantom vibration.

First it annoyed me. It distracted me from God.

Then it opened my eyes. It told me that just maybe God was teaching me something through phantom vibrations.

Sometimes it occurs to me that God wants me to do something and I do it and when I am done I feel His pleasure. That's a cool thing. And sometimes it occurs to me that God wants me to do something and I do it and when I am done I realize that it was not God at all. It was just me.

It was a phantom vibration of the soul.

There are times in life when God speaks often from His Spirit to mine. And there are times when He is very, very quiet. I rather like it when He speaks. Right now I am deeply into a period where He is quiet. And so I am listening all the more closely. He has my complete attention ... and yet He does not seem to want it. Now I am no rookie to this Christian thing. I know a lie when I hear it. And it is a lie to believe that God does not want my attention. Just because He is not speaking or I am not hearing does not mean that He wants me to turn my back on Him. No, it means He is teaching me. Through the silence. Often it seems that His silence comes when I most need His voice. I know that there is a reason for that. I have no idea what it is. I just trust that He knows what He is doing. Hey, He is God. If He is not in control ... Houston, we have a problem. And if I am going to trust Him I am going to do it every day and every moment ... unless I get careless and blow it. I have been known to do that.

Phantom vibrations of the soul are dangerous things. When I think God is "calling" me and directing me and He is not ... I can do some really strange stuff and get into some deep trouble. Fortunately, He seems to honor a trusting and seeking heart. He has never let me crash into the rocks yet. I doubt that He starts now. So I am listening. Sitting quietly and listening. He will speak when He is ready. And when He does I will have my ears turned and tuned in His direction. It is all I can do. That and wait. And time? Time I have. Nothing but time. But time is something that He made. And He can use it as He pleases.

I love God. I really, really do. I've got my hand on my "phone." I wish He would call...

A Wedding To Remember

Alas, it is done. The two are now one and at this hour should be winging their way to the left coast. I am much too foggy today to write but I thought you might enjoy a picture I captured of the very in love couple during their first dance. It was just taken on my Treo so go easy on me...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Scott and Amanda, sitting in a tree ...

Today is the day. The day of great anticipation. At 6:30 this evening I will conduct the wedding ceremony for my oldest son, Scott and his lovely fiancĂ©. I have done many, many weddings over the years. Only one other can compare in stature to this one. That was the day I gave my daughter to her knight in shining armor, Joe. It was a good move on her part. Not a bad one on his either. (And it resulted in the production of the all-impressive Elle, the world’s greatest granddaughter.) The vow that Scott is taking tonight is just as good. Just as wise. His almost bride, Amanda, is one incredible young woman. She is totally worthy of his hand. She is one of my favorite people.

The feelings a parent goes through on a day like this are so mixed that they defy my clumsy attempts to make words obey my emotions and explain themselves. I really disappoint myself in that. I desire to host nothing in the way of a pensive heart or so much as a backward glace at the years gone by. I want each of my kids to marry God's intended mate. Looks to me like one has done it, one is about to do it, and one is most certainly on the right track to do so in the future. (Just my opinion, which, by the way means absolutely nothing.)

Amanda has always been an amazing young woman in my eyes. I tease her that the first time I saw her she was upside down. And that is true. She was in a musical production. As the lights went up the first thing seen on the stage was a flood of young people with Amanda running out and doing a perfect back-flip and not missing a step as she continued on to her assigned place. I was rather taken aback. I was equally taken aback when Scott began dating her because I learned that she is as talented and intelligent as she is beautiful. I cringed with all parents when she became the captain of the cheerleading squad at her university and because she was the only one willing to "fly." You know what that means. They launched her in all sorts of convoluted directions in hopes that things would go well and the right people would be in the right spot to catch her. Over the four years of her college career I think her catchers were 100% successful. I'm really glad about that. So is Scott. I am certain that none of us are more pleased than Amanda.

This wedding has my approval X 1,000,000. It is a match made in heaven. I am used to Scott's room being empty as he moved to Chicago over a year ago. And yet there is something so definitive about saying the big "I Do." And definitive is exactly what it should be. It is meant to last until death do they part. I plan on parting long before either of them.

And so here is my cyber-toast to the young couple. The catch in my throat and the moisture in my eyes ... don't pay any attention to them. It is joy. Pure joy.

Scott and Amanda ... the greatest dream you have dreamed, the day you have longed for, the moment that always seemed just out of your grasp ... it is here! Walk to that altar with purpose and exuberance. Hold the hand of your beloved with intent and passion. Repeat your vows while contemplating their deepest meaning. And when I say, "you may kiss your bride..." Scott, kiss her like she has never been kissed before! Because the greatest days of your lives begin today. Savor every second. Memorize each moment. Drink it in like a thirst-maddened couple that has stumbled into the purest of oasis. Squeeze every moment until the last drop of bliss saturates your heart with the bold love of youth.

I know that I speak for all of your parents when I say that we love you. But I want to say it this way as well ... I love you. Both of you. And I want to tell you that in each other you are about to find out what God meant when He said ... "...and it is good."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It's All About The Words

So here I am propped up in my big cushy bed contemplating the meaning of life and it hits me. Ok, I don't really think the "entire" meaning of life just landed in my brain but part of it did. And I am going to tell you for free. So if you disagree, well, tough noogies.

Here it is. You ready?


That's it. Life is about words. If they come at you one at a time all by themselves they usualy do not mean much. But just string them together and see what happens.

Let's try an experiment. I'll give you a word and you tell yourself what you think of it. (You can't tell me 'cause I am not there. So tell yourself. consider this an interactive learning experience.) Ok, here goes ...


That didn't mean much to me. How about you? Ok, let's try it when we string some words together.

"Pass me that lovely donut covered with powdered sugar and filled with jelly."

Now there is a fine example of taking a nothing word and giving it true meaning! From "jelly" to "jelly donut" all in one sentence just by adding a few words.

Let's try another.


It's a good word but you must admit it is pretty limited. So ...

"I cannot wait to get home because that's where the love is." Or, "I wish you would go home because you are boring me and I need to take a nap."

Pretty cool, huh? Words really mean something when you string them together. As a matter-of-fact, life is all about words. My words. Your words. Words from anybody and everybody. We use them to give us meaning and purpose, to transfer knowledge and information from our brains to the brains of others.

You know what I think? I think that it is in words that we leave our greatest legacy. You bless with them or you curse with them. Maybe most harmfully of all you ignore someone when you fail to use them. But what I say, what I write, the way I use the words of my language will effect untolds amounts of people everyday. I can cheer up the grocery store clerk with them or I can make her cry. I can put them in the proper order to do good or to do bad. It is up to me and I must decide every time I open my mouth.

You know, God put some Words together too. They are indelibly inked into history and have meaning for every person to walk the planet. That means you.

God said, "I love you."

God said, "I want to adopt you."

God said, "Let's do life together and you'll have a ride you won't believe."

God said, "Don't!" when He saw us thinking about doing something that would hurt us. That's why He said things like (warning: paraphrase ahead,) dont' sleep around or kill anybody or want and steal other people's stuff.

God said, "Go for it!" when He saw us getting ready to bless and serve another person. His chest puffed out and He got the greatest smile on His face because He heard and saw you use your words to help someone who needed positive words.

So. Every word matters. There are no "free zones" where you can blast someone or gossip or slander. Nope. Every word you utter gives you an "add on" to your legacy.

Anyway, that was on my mind and I thought I would share it with you. Because I like you. Even if we have never met. I'm serious. You are God's and Iike you. And so does He.

He told me to tell you.

Chicago on Steroids

I'm not sure what happened but somewhere along the way I hit a glitch in the space/time continuum. I think it happened around 7th Ave. and 33rd St. Scott and I turned a corner and there was Madison Square Garden. It was one of those moments when all of those files stored neatly away in your mind suddenly come flying open and enter "now." All of those files were simply television. Now was... well... now. The same thing happened in Times Square, Rockefeller Center, NBC Studio's, etc., etc., etc. Yeah, my just-turned-52-year-old knees were screaming at me. The thirty or so pound back pack I was hauling didn't help but... well, I told them to shut-up and I kept walking.

For me, Manhattan is easy to explain. I grew up in the 'burbs of Chicago. Hadn't ever been to NYC until this week. There was just no need. But I went to help Scott celebrate the termination of his bachelorhood and that was a good choice. Here is what I discovered. NYC is simply Chicago on steroids. I'm suspending the internationally known rule of paragraphs for a moment and moving to bullet points...

- Those wide and clean streets you see in TV ... well, they aren't. You know the place where Matt and Katie's replacement (I miss me some Katie) stand and greet people on "the plaza?" Well, it's just a little dirty, scrungy street. With a big stack of steel railings that they set up in the mornings to separate the famous from the not famous. It was a place. That's about it.

- Times Square is insanity at its finest. Turn it off and the world’s energy problems are solved. Don't ANYBODY get in my face again and complain about my usage of fossil fuels until they TURN OFF TIMES FREAKEN SQUARE.

-In Chicago or my adopted St. Louis I can honk my horn any time I want to. It is my God given right and I believe that it is either in the Ten Commandments or the Declaration of Independence. I keep confusing the two. If I honk my horn in Manhattan it is a $350 fine. God help you if you have a coronary and fall face forward into your steering wheel setting off your cars horn. I don't know if they charge by the minute or by the offense but your "noise ordinance ticket" could well surpass your hospital bill.

- Subways? They have 'em. Where do they go? You either had to grow up in the city or have a degree in the translation of hieroglyphics to get anywhere. And they obviously let you practice for your degree on the underground subway walls. Interesting.

- You can walk to any corner in Manhattan and get anything you want to eat as long as it is a hot dog.

Ok, there's more but I'm in Chicago and I have to drag my son back to St. Lou for his impending wedding. Emma is sitting in his parking lot waiting to drive us down. Scott's being a party scrooge though and won't let me put the top down. I think it has to do with his hair. I keep trying to remind him that the BRIDE is supposed to be beautiful but he just won't listen...