Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I am not safe all by myself

Now I remember why I got married. Debbie has been gone since Sunday. Oddly, it seems like it's only been a couple of days. God gave me this woman to keep me alive. Sane. (Sort of.) Operating like a finely oiled machine.

It's not that I don't know how to take care of myself. But when she's not around things just ... I don't know. They just happen. Maybe with her here I just don't need to pay as close attention as I do when she's away. She's the one who screams "TRUCK!" when I'm driving, singing, and playing "Slug Bug" with myself. There's true value in that.

Yesterday I decided to be the good husband and take down Christmas. All alone. That means there is nobody there to hear your screams when you are de-ornamentizing and the tree falls on you. Then I decided to clean up the mess I made while I was cleaning up. The more I clean the messier it had gotten. (How DOES that happen?) So after using a dry dust mop I squirted the polishy stuff on the floor before using the special space-age mopper head to make the hard wood all shiny. And slippery too. I decided to do my best Tom Cruise-slide-across-the-floor-singer imitation. I guess I ran too fast because I slid too far. I slid into the kitchen where the floor was not nearly as slippery. After I got up it only took a little pressure to stop the bleeding on the back of my head where I fell into the edge of the cabinet counter top. I had to take another shower to get the (wee little bit) of blood out of my hair and I decided to use the shower head that is on a hose in order to really get my hair blood free. Problem is, it hurt insanely (soap in a wound kind of hurt) causing me to drop the hosed shower head. If slipped outside of the shower curtain running full blast. So I decided to dry the floor and walls with a towel wrapped around my head. Well, I didn't actually use the towel wrapped around my head. I used a different towel. You know what I mean. That's when the door bell rang. I didn't answer it. I didn't even peek. The last time my doorbell rang was Christmas morning and it was the Jehovah's Witnesses coming to read me scripture because they don't celebrate the birth of Jesus. I find that ironic. Why do they want to read me scripture if they don't celebrate the birth of Jesus?

Today has been a pretty safe day. I drove without incident. I worked out and didn't fall off the treadmill. I brought in food rather than risking using the microwave. I built a fire this evening and it even stayed in the fireplace. Well. Most of it. I had the foresight to hook up a water hose outside and purchased a fire extinguisher for inside because chimney fires and I have history. I turned the TV off and pushed my mega chair (other wise known as "My Fuzzy Buddy") over in front of the fire. I was envisioning a really awesome fire-flickering quiet time alone with God. I woke up an hour later and God had gone on back down stairs to The Man Cave where I usually meet with Him. I would have gone down to check on Him but the stairs ... well, it was dark. And Debbie's not home. Staying upstairs just seemed prudent.

(The preceding blog contains undiluted truth and is guaranteed embellishment free. And I have an empty Tylenol bottle to prove it.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Paisley's first Christmas gift EVER!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silent Monks

I had nothing to do with this. A friend sent it to me. I found it quite worth sharing. Enjoy...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 10 Best Things About Having "The Amazing Elle" Spend The Night

10 - I can act her age and get away with it.

9 - Watching her explore the ornaments on the Christmas tree.

8 - Listening to her say that she doesn't want to meet my friends only to find her in their arms 30 minutes later exposing them to "The Wisdom of Elle."

7 - Her sock hat. Only she can get away with a hat like that.

6 - Hearing her tell "local reindeer" what to tell Rudolph to tell Santa that she wants for Christmas.

5 - Telling her not to put a toy (esophagus size) bell near her mouth only to have her pretend that it's a cup and offer me a drink out of it and when I take it for the faux drink she tells me with very serious eyes that I really shouldn't put it by my mouth.

4 - Singing with her at bedtime. Only Elle can stand to hear me sing. She treats me like I'm John Mayer.

3 - Staring at her bare feet in the light of the Christmas tree. How can feet look innocent?

2 - Watching her shell peanuts at the "Texas Roadhouse" for the simple joy of throwing both shell and nut on the floor. When I asked her about it she said, "Yes! It's just like home!"

1 - "The Hug."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ms. Elle Steals The Show

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winning The Game That Matters

Can I tell you something? I stink at writing lately. I've been "going back into time" on this little web site and reading some of the stuff that God gave me to say a few years ago. I've enjoyed reliving some of those experiences. And then I read what I write today and ... phew. Stink-o. Maybe it's a dry spell. Maybe I've just run out of words. I dunno. I'm struggling. We'll have to see what the future holds. But this little post just has to be written. It isn't very eloquent. It's clumsy and sounds full of braggadocio. I don't mean it that way. I'm sorry about that. Really I am. The words just are not flowing. But it has to be written ...

I've only played in one really BIG ball game in my life. I was on the church softball team back around 1980 and we were playing for the championship of the southern baptist churches in the Chicago area. Last game. Last inning. We were up 7 - 4 over an inner city team. Looked like the suburbs were finally going to rule.

And then our one and only pitcher totally blew apart. The poor guy only had one thumb and it wasn't on his pitching hand. When he started walking people we knew we had to do something but honestly, he's the only guy we had who had thrown a strike all season. We lost the game 8 - 4. That was nearly 30 years ago and it still hurts. It's bad enough to lose a ball game. But to lose "The Mother of All Ball Games" is far worse. We had not lost a game until the championship finals. Then we crashed and burned in a way very reminiscent of most Chicago baseball.

Oh well.

That isn't what I really want to write about anyway. Not even close. You see, that game actually wasn't that big of a deal. Not in the eternal scheme of things. And it's only the eternal things that really counts.

I was on the treadmill at the gym this week when I got a text message from my youngest son. I wasn't setting any record pace so when my cell phone lit up indicating I was being looked for I didn't hesitate to pick it up and read it. It simply read he was leaving his current job and has been hired for a ministry position at his church.

That probably means a whole lot more to me than it does to you. Even those of you who know Christopher well. I mean, I raised him from a pup. And when I got this text I realized that in an extraordinary fashion God has worked a wonder in our family that I not only never dreamed he would work ... but that never even occurred to me that He might want to work. It seems that all three of our kids are now serving in a "career fashion" in ministry. I lost my balance and nearly fell off the tread mill. It isn't pride. It has nothing to do with that. It's ... shock. Brokenness. A deep sense of humble thankfulness. How did this happen? How did God reach in to our little home and move through all of the mistakes that were made by the parents and work this incredible work in the lives of our kids? I mean, all three of them were great infants/preschoolers/kids/teenagers/young adults. But ... all we did was give Him our home and try to stay out of His way. Yes, we prayed for them every day. Usually multiple times each day. We did our best to point them to Jesus and to show them integrity and faithfulness in our spiritual walk. But we just did not do that good a job.

And then the light kicked on in my brain. We really had nothing to do with it. It's God. My parents were good parents but they did not go to great lengths to make certain my brother and I were in church or taking it all too seriously. And yet we both grew up to be youth pastors and then pastors. My mom and dad would be the first to tell you that it was just "a God thing." And now I understand that. It's a God thing.

And yet it brings tears of gratefulness to my eyes. Serving God has been the greatest experience and joy of my life. I am humbled to be able to say that a lot of young men and women that walked through the youth groups God allowed me to lead are in ministry around the country these days. And that means more to me than I can possibly say.

But this. This is just off the charts. This just takes my breath away. I can't over state it. In the "ball games of life" this was the seventh game of the World Series. This was the Super Bowl. And because of God's decision, God's faithfulness, God's kindness .... we won. It's quite odd but I think that I can say if I screw up the rest of life (which I have no intention of doing) I'll be able to live with myself because ... we won our kids. They "get it." Life is about serving. Serving God by serving others. It is about loving your neighbor as you love yourself. It is about loving God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Honestly, all I can do is kneel before my Maker and say, "Thank you." Because we truly did nothing worthy of causing this. But we'll take the win. This was the game that matters

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Question Marks and a Period

Why do you think God designed the sky to be blue? Do you suppose it was to match the ocean which He intended to be deep and pure and cleansing? Could it be that God wants us to experience His depth, purity, and cleansing every time we look up or down?

Why do you suppose God made electricity? Do you suppose it is to define "Power" by splitting the sky with lightening, filling our homes with warmth, and propelling our machinery with energy? Is it possible that God wants to teach us of His strength by splitting our sky, warming our souls, and propelling us to serve Him by serving others?

Why do you suppose God created the sneeze? Do you suppose it was to cleanse our systems of impurities, quicken our pulse rates, and alert us to the dangerous of unbreathable air? What if God wants to remind us to clean our hearts of sinful desires, cause our hearts to pound as we grow to be more like Him, and become hyper-alert to the things in our environment that make us less than Christ-like?

All of life is an illustration used by God to bring us closer to Him.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Stupid Picture Chronicles #42

If I were this guys Yorkie I might be a wondering what happens when he runs out of Sushi...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Do Not Fear

"Do Not Fear" is mentioned in the bible 365 times. Could it be that God knew every day of the year we would be afrai..... nah.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I can still smell him. To me he smelled like his job. He owned his own company, a storm door and window venture based in the suburbs of Chicago. He was a simple man by nature but complex by experience. He took his 4th grade education and turned it into a self guided career that allowed him to retire on his savings and social security at the age of 62. He had a retirement house built halfway between two ozark lakes in north central Arkansas. He purchased a speed boat and thrilled his grand children by ushering them around those huge lakes filled with cobalt blue waters. He loved to work for himself using his hands and the tools he accumulated over the years. He built things that he had no right to know how to build. I have no idea how he learned to do those things. He just did.

He was a good dad. I did not realize at the time just how good he was. It was not until I became a dad myself that I realized how hard he worked to take care of and provide for his family. I can remember him going to work, always an outdoors event for my dad, when I was a small child on mornings when it was -20 degrees. He just bundled up and went. Somedays he worked 7 day a week. Whatever it took, he did.

Because he worked on the installation of storm doors and windows he smelled like caulking, lumber, aluminum, gasoline, and in the summer, sweat. He wore tall leather boots, pinstriped overalls, and sometimes a ball cap. He never complained about how hard he worked but he never hid it either. When he needed rest we all knew it because his laughter faded to crankiness. In my younger days I remember him laughing more. He loved country music including goofy ozark style "hee haw" tunes. I hated them but it always cracked me up to see him enjoy them. He bought a huge stereo cabinet complete with turntable and radio. It was about 6 feet long and made of some sort of dark hardwood. He loved that stereo. I sometimes wonder what he would think of todays Ipod culture. I think he would miss the dressiness of the wood, the beauty of the cabinetry.

My earliest memories of my dad include sitting on his lap on Sunday mornings in Detroit while he read the cartoons to me. I'm sure I bugged him until he gave in became my reader. Dad loved to drive and had impeccable taste in cars. The first one I remember was his pink and white 1957 Chevy. He eventually traded that in for a white 1964 Chevy Impala Super Sport. He had a knack for choosing a classic.

Dad was far from perfect. He seldom said, "I love you" first. But you never doubted his love. He seldom grabbed you and hugged you but if you hugged him he always hugged you back. He took me to many White Sox games at Old Comiskey Park but never one at Wrigley Field. He just didn't do the north side. I watched dad race from his garage one day to defend a friend of mine from the neighborhood bully as the bullies father screamed for him to "scratch his eyes out." Dad stood toe to toe with the man and told him that he was going to do to him whatever his boy did to my friend. And I know that he would have had the man not pulled his son away and retreated homeward with their tails between their legs. I was never prouder of my dad than I was at that moment.

I could write forever about my dad. He has been gone nearly 10 years now. I miss him more every day. I think, perhaps, that is a thing that God has planned out in order to prepare us for the coming reunion. Today I have worn his wedding ring all day long. It is all I have left of him. Except for my memories. The memories are far more valuable than the ring.

And today he would have been 90 years old. That is unfathomable. Unbelievable. And yet true. Somehow I think that he would be more of a man at 90 than I could possibly be at any age.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Size Matters

Several of us were looking at a jigsaw puzzle of the world tonight after church. It's 32 inches wide. I made some smart remark about wondering what the "scale" was between the puzzle and the real planet earth.

Teachable moment: never wonder aloud about something like that in the presence of a proud member of The United States Air Force (AKA: Adam Page.) I received the following mathematical equation on my facebook page about an hour later.

Puzzle Diameter = 32 inches
Earths Diameter at the equator 7,926.28 miles
First convert miles to feet 7926.28 X 5280 = 41,850,758.4
Then feet to inches 41850758.4 X 12 = 502,209,100.8 is earth’s diameter in inches at the equator
So the scale of the puzzle is 32/502209100.8 OR 1/15,694,034.4ths approximately

I present this to you simply because the world needs to know it ain't no big deal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude - An Open Letter To God

I own too much stuff. My closet is stuffed, my drawers are over full, my "toys" remain uncounted. And all of this is true after selling a house which required filling a huge dumpster to over flowing and moving four times in two years. I've donated to the trash man, the Good Will store, and numerous anonymous "dump your used clothes here" boxes on street corners.

And I still have too much stuff.

Those things have very little to do with my gratitude. They don''t even come into play when I think about what matters to me the most.

But I am the leper that often forgets to come back to You, The Healer, and say "Thank You." I am the dead guy that You brought back to life and I spend so much time dancing in joy that I forget to utter the all important words that You must long to hear...

I think that the simple words "thank you" mean a lot. They need to be said. Yet they roll off of my tongue almost without thought. They are mere courtesy designed to dismiss my debt.

Let me cut in front on you in traffic when I turn my blinker on and I wave "thank you."

Ring me up at the "Quick Mart" and toss a penny in from the "give a penny/take a penny" tray so that I don't get a pocket full of jingling change and I say "thank you."

Hold the door for me because I have my hands full of food or drinks from some fast food establishment and I say "thank you."

So how can it be that leaving the wonders of Heaven and dying in my place to save my eternal soul from ever lasting separation from You and never ending punishment is worthy of the same "thank you?" How is that not more important than letting me cut in, tossing me a nearly meaningless piece of change, or holding the door for me?

Whips. Thorns. Spit. Nails. Hammers. Wooden beams. Blood shed. And all I can come up with is "thank you?"

I owe you everything and I give you so little. The only thing deeper than my shame is my gratitude.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Habenero Shots

Ever wonder what would happen if you should stroll into Q-dobe just before closing, order up a "Naked Burrito" and then dare the two young adults to down a "shot" of Habanero salsa? (Habanero peppers are believed to be the second hottest pepper in the world and the hottest in the Americas.) I decided to find out. So after ordering up my dinner I asked them innocently what their hottest salsa was. They pointed out this bubbling cauldron of awful looking lumpy liquid. I told them that any Q-dobe employee worth cooking up my burrito would surely be able to chug a small cup full. They strolled up to the condiment area and told me, "No problem-o" And the popped the shots. The results are in the faces...

It was a VERY good night.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I got it at Jarod!

About 8 years ago I was propped up in bed late one night messing around on e-bay. I came across a Ferguson Jenkins autographed jersey. Fergie was one of my childhood heroes in the years when he pitched for the Cubs. I accidentally purchased it for $95.00. Yes, accidentally. Don't ask. Debbie didn't leave any lasting marks in my beating the next day. These small things in life matter. The old Cubs uniform top showed up a few days later commemorating Fergie's strike-out totals, career wins, and year elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All in his own handwriting.

The jersey occupied a lowly place in a dresser drawer for years. And then I met Jarod. He's a buddy of mine, goes to my church, and loves people. He, his wife Caitlin (pronounced "CaitLINN." She likes it when you emphasis the last syllable. Really she does.) and daughter, Lyla, have become great friends very quickly. Well I mentioned my jersey to Jarod a couple of weeks ago. He took it home with him. The guy is a total genius when it comes to woodworking. I mean G-E-N-I-U-S. And tonight he showed up at my house with this ....

Wow. I mean ... WOW. I have the coolest man-cave ever. And best of all? I got it at Jarod!

Oh, and I have to include this picture of Jarod and Adam Page. I'm pretty sure they were debating whether or not I'd notice if they hung it upside down. I tell you, I don't get no respect.

And now a word from our non-sponsor. If you are in need of cabinet making or wood working this guy is way good. His prices are way reasonable (but remember, he does have to feed his family!) Let me know if you want him and I'll connect you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

America's Most Wanted ... Elle

Having been listed featured on "America's Most Wanted" she asked me to send her response to the authorities.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Cause sometimes you feel like a nut ...

And sometimes you don't ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Skiing skill is not as important as skiing fashion

My son, Christopher, and his charming bride, Laura, are blowing off the family Thanksgiving celebration this year. They have chosen to totally disregard all family tradition and loyalty in exchange for snow. Colorado snow. At about 10,000 feet. Can you believe that?

I can. And I would totally blow them off too if I had the same opportunity that they have. It's just the way our family rolls.

Tonight I was instant messaging with Laura. She mentioned that she was wearing her ski outfit, even her goggles, while we were talking. (I assume she did not have the gloves on.) I immediately responded with, "PICTURES! PICTURES!" I never thought she would comply.

Brave girl, that Laura. This arrived in my email box moments later.

If fashion carries the day Breckenridge, Colorado is in for a major shock...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hold Me!

So I was sitting around and talking with God Monday morning before I went to the office. I told him that I felt like a "Duraflame." You know what a Duraflame is. It's one of those fake logs. A log wannabe. You put it in your fireplace and light the wrapper and it burns for about three hours all by itself. No other logs needed. You can't do that with a regular log. Regular logs need other logs. You light some kindling and then put other logs loosely around the top of the kindling and the logs catch fire and burn together. But a single log all alone? It might catch fire briefly but it won't keep burning. It needs other logs. Duraflames have wood in them but they also have waxy stuff that allows them to burn on their own. But when they burn out it's pretty ugly. They just turn to a bunch of smoldering and scorched dust on the bottom of your fireplace.

Christians are like logs. We have to burn together if we really want to burn for the glory of God. If we try to be Duraflames we will last a while. We might even make a nice flame that all those who look on will admire. But sooner or later you'll burn out. And it will be ugly.

Lately I've been a Duraflame, trying to burn all by myself. I told God that I recognized that and that I needed help finding the right logs to lean up against. Guys to be real with and burn with. About an hour later I got a call at my office. It was from a long time friend in a far away state. Actually, my friend didn't call me. His Administrative Assistant did. It seems he was wanting to set up a regularly scheduled conference call with me because he wants to be a log and not a Duraflame. Okay, she didn't phrase it that way but that's what it meant. We talked for about half an hour today. I have one log now and that's a start.

Then I was driving to a hospital today to visit and on impulse I dialed another friend up on my phone. He was driving between assignments on his job. I told him I am a Duraflame and that I want to be a log. I asked him to be a log with me. He told me that God had said the same thing to him on Monday of this week. Hmmm. God had a busy Monday. I have two logs now and that's more than a start.

And then after I finished working out at the gym today I was listening to the television above my head as I dressed. Some ESPN type guy was talking about Andre Agassi and how he has just confessed to using crystal meth and performance enhancing drugs in his tennis playing days. He retired in 2006. The ESPN type guy said that the problem in professional sports these days is that there is a difference between "Image" and "Reputation."

Now he had my attention. I sat on the bench and actually paid close attention to what he was saying. He pointed out that "image" is what people think you are. It is what you represent yourself as. It usually is not realistic when you look beneath the skin of "The Real You." On the other hand, "reputation" is who you really are. It is what you have with people who know you. People who have watched your life play out and understand your credibility ... or lack of it. He said that Andre Agassi had plenty of image and no real reputation.

I thought about being a Duraflame. "Human Duraflames" might start well but they finish lousy. They have plenty of image. They are beautiful, brightly colored, and fun to watch. Then they show their true colors and fall apart. I don't want to fall apart. Do you? I want to be a log among logs. You see, one log holds another log accountable for it's fire. For it's heat. Put several logs together, light them, and you have a mighty fine fire.

Accountability is so very important.

So I want my "log friends" to hold me. I want them to hold me accountable. I've burned out before and I don't ever want to do it again.

Andre, sorry you became the bad example. You made that choice. But perhaps something good will come of it if men ... people ... start saying to one another, "Hold me. Hold me accountable."

Just a little thing God's been reminding me about this week and thought you might like to know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stupid Picture Chronicles #41

Nobody wants to go to live in a nursing home. But if you HAVE to ... why not move into one that helps you pump up your biceps with daily work-outs? This is a nursing home I can live with! (And since when did "daily" come to mean "6 days a week?")

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It has been 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. Twenty years. How is that possible? My kids were 9, 6, and 4? They probably do not even remember it? To me it was yesterday. Okay, maybe it seems like 10 years ago. But 20? No way.

I was playing with that number today and I realized that time is messing with my head. I think it's intentional but how can you be sure? Time is, in theory, passive. It is the passing of seconds but who can hold a second in his hand in order to show you what it is? So let's switch that up a bit. Time is moments. Individual moments. A dictionary has called it "The indefinite continued passing of events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole."

What does THAT mean? It sounds to me that time is defined not as an entity in and of itself. Time is, well it is what transpires. You cannot hold time. You can "hold" or at least "observe" the passing of events. So I suppose I am good with that.

I was born in 1955. June, to be exact. That makes me 54 years old. When I was born my father had been back from World War 2 for 10 years. I was probably 5 years old before I was seriously understanding that there was a history and a future. To me history consisted of the last chocolate bar I had eaten. The future consisted of the next chocolate bar I would eat. I didn't do much thinking about WWII. But when I finally became cognizant of the fact that it existed in history, in time and space, I was sure it was an eternity ago. After all, it had been 10 years. And now it has been 20 years since that big wall came down that separated East and West Germany. 20 years since President Reagan boldly stood at the Brandenberg Gate and challenged Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."

And now it occurs to me, when I was born my father must have still felt the helmet on his head. The boots on his feet. The rifle in his hand. I know for certain that he still dreamed of the horrors he had witnessed. I don't suppose I expect anybody else to understand this, but it blows me away to realize how true this is.

I think this is all coming to mind because my dad has been gone for nearly 10 years. And I have been thinking about him a lot lately. In about 29 minutes it will be Veterans Day. My dad didn't talk much about his army years. His war years. He didn't begin to open the veil that obstructed the view of his curious sons until just before he died. Once the veil began to lift I understood why. There were horrors behind it. Bloody, evil, horrors. And he wanted to forget them. And he didn't want to infect our minds with them.

And now I find myself struggling with the concept of time. Who knows where that came from? I suppose it snuck up on me due to a variety of circumstances. All of my struggles have produced only a limited number of recognizable thoughts.

Time really does fly. Time really does not wait for any man. Individual moments seem to last for eternity while, at the same time, the whole seems to rocket by.

The meaning of all of this? I think that the meaning is that only one part of time counts. It isn't yesterday and it isn't tomorrow. It is now. What will I do with now? Because yesterday my current now was tomorrow. Tomorrow my current now will become yesterday. But even then, all I will have is ... now.

I am not sure what you can do with that. I'm even less sure that it will help you. And I am totally uncertain that you will understand where I am coming from or where I am going with all I have said. I only know that it has infected my consciousness and my heart and so I have to deal with it.

As that great theologian, Steve Miller, once said ...
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution

Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution

Maybe time is to feed the babies, shoe the children, and house the people? Maybe somebody got something right in the '70s after all. Who knew?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Scott Saves Matts LIfe!

There are still heroes among us...

Friday, November 06, 2009

The True Measure of a Successful Day

Step #1 - Stop at "The Cozy Dog"

Step #2 - Prepare your Cozy Dog

Step #3 - Consume your Cozy Dog

Step #4 - Repeat as necessary

Monday, November 02, 2009

Full Moon Monday

Today is not just a Monday. It is a full moon Monday. It was one of those days that leaves you scratching your head. Kind of like you got hit by a bus. You KNOW you got hit by a bus. But as it drives off there are no tire marks across your torso and no bruises on your body. Just makes no sense.

First I decided this was that day to honor my promise to "go extreme." Now my extreme might not be your extreme. I'm not taking up "wing walking." I'm not going to pull airplanes with my teeth. That's sissy stuff.

I joined a gym.


Not just a gym. No sir. I joined Golds Gym. Big place. Lot's of flat screen TV's to watch while you sweat. It even has this big ... and I mean BIG ... dark room. It's full of all the usual cardio equipment. Only thing is, the lights are off. Why are the lights off, you ask? Because they show MOVIES! Yes, full length movies! There's a big screen on the front wall and all day long they show a a single movie over and over and over. A new movie every day. Some are oldies like "Casa Blanca." Some are straight off the new release racks at Blockbuster. Now THAT is cool! And the hot tub is the size of a mid-sized third world country. I think we are going to get along just fiiiiiine. I don't expect to turn my "2 liters" back into a "6 pack." If I'm going to waste my time on fantasies it won't involve time at the gym.

And then I got to go back to Doctor Buttfeel today. Seems that even after his prescription 17 days ago I"m still functionally deaf. I hear the Pacific Ocean in my ears. So I call him up today about 9:30AM. He has his spiffy 3rd grade educated nursing staff call me back at 2:30 and tell me to be there at 3:15. Dude. I work in Belleville. He's in Alton. That's a 45 minute drive IF I'm already in the car, all the lights are green, and there are no school buses on the roads. So I sweet talk her into an extra 10 minutes and I hit the road.

Now this should really be a no brainer. My head sloshes when I shake it. My right ear is playing "The 1812 Overture" 24/7. I get dizzy sometimes when I drive. Disequilibrium. Not fun. so prescribe something to dry me the heck out and leave me alone. But nooooooo. They want to turn on their little key chain flash lights again and stare into my head. What's a guy to do? I drive like a crazy man and get there with 7 minutes to spare. I drank caffeine all the way there which required a stop at the little boys room and finally entered the doctors inner sanctum with 2 minutes play time. I checked-in with the pretend nurse (she gets to wear scrubs but they only give her a pen and an appointment book. This is the person you have to get through before you actually get to lay eyes on the man that went to the Alfred E. Neumann School of Medicine.)

The call my name. They weigh me. Oddly, I weighed exactly what I weighed 17 days ago. They took my blood pressure. Ditto. Same thing. Temp? A repeat. Nurse Ratchet exits. Enter Dr. Buttfeel.

"What seems to be the problem?"

Are you kidding me? We just did this. I mean I haven't even got the gum off my shoes from the last time I walked through his lobby. But in an attempt to get drugs I explain the situation once again. So he looks in my head. Yep. Fluid. Bulging ear drums.

"Welllll ... let's try another prescription of Pseudofed."

"No,let's not. I can't sleep when I take that stuff."

"True. True. Okay, let's try something else. Something with an antihistamine. Take it for 3 weeks. If that doesn't work we'll send you to an "ear, nose, throat" guy and he'll probably want to put tubes in your ears."


I sign-out. I tell them which pharmacy I use. I leave.

Later in the evening, after ruminating on the fact that on the other end of life I actually subjected 2 of my 3 kids to "tubes in their ears" and now the infamous circle of life may be getting even, I decide to go and get my medicine. I call up the appropriate Walmart pharmacy. They don't have it. After a second call they track it down for me. The bottom line?

My dear Doctor Buttfeel sent the prescription to the wrong pharmacy.

And he prescribed the wrong medication.

And he prescribed ONE DAYS WORTH. One days worth. After he told me to take it for 3 weeks.

See what I mean? It's a full moon Monday.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Injun Joe(sophine)

You have to be verrrry careful these days when you answer a knock at your door. Especially on halloween. It could be ... AN INDIAN!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The difference between silence and a whisper is to big to measure

At Towerview Baptist Church, where God has placed me as pastor, we are in the middle of an in depth study of prayer. I feel almost silly typing that. How can you "study" a conversation with the God of the universe? It ain't easy. But we are taking our time and approaching it on three levels.

Sunday morning is "Level 101." That's where we are looking at the basics of prayer. Literally the who, what, when, where, and why of prayer. On Sunday evenings we are at "Level 201" and digging into the things we can do to prepare our hearts for prayer. Things like the practice of solitude, silence, meditating on God's Word. And on Wednesday nights we are at "Level 301" and learning some of the prayer practices of the early church. For those who choose to jump in with both feet I believe that it can be life changing.

Especially for the teacher. (That's me.)

I was speaking on Sunday morning and at one particular point we were looking at "God's silence." You have probably noticed that on occasion ... okay, most of the time ... God chooses to remain pretty quiet. He doesn't seem to speak unless He has something specific He wants to say. Of course, that is not a firm rule. God doesn't have to obey rules. He's God. He can stop the world and tell us all a joke if He wants to. He just doesn't do it very often.

So anyway, there we are talking about God's propensity for frequent silence. It seems to come at the most inopportune times. For instance, God seems to often be His quietest when you want the most to hear Him. And I managed to get myself into a position where it would appear that I was about to reveal why that is so. The problem is, I have no idea. I mean, who does? God does what He wants to do when He wants to do it. But I rather sensed that those who were still awake were waiting for me to address that issue.

And that's when He spoke. Softly. Gently. Within the depths of my own spirit He pointed out something that had never occurred to me before. As I was speaking from my notes I was actually multi-tasking. I was running through a sequence of scriptures in my mind checking to see if what I thought was God's prompting was perhaps the spicy food consumed the night before. Within about 30 seconds I was convinced it was God.

I like it when God makes me look brilliant. I mean, really. I determined to teach something that was not in my notes but was impressed upon my heart. And if I got it wrong I was going to look really, really dumb. I leaned on the acrylic pulpit and referenced the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was crucified. He prayed three distinct and separate times. And the scripture makes it clear that He was asking God if He would mind changing the game plan for the next day. He was asking God if there was possibly a way to achieve His purposes without having to go to the cross.

And there is no recorded response from God. None. Zip. The Son of God asked His Father the same thing three times in the space of just a few minutes. And God said ... nothing.

Do you realize what that means?

It means it's okay to bug God. You have free reign to take the same request to Him over and over and over and over and over and ... well, you get the point. Don't be shy. Don't fear getting smacked. It's not going to happen. Jesus shows us the way.

And it means that God is often, at the moment of your greatest need ... silent. That really stinks. No, I mean really. THAT REALLY STINKS. Sometimes I just don't think I can take another breath unless God answers a particular question. Honestly? I've been asking God for an answer to something for years now. Just a simple "why" explanation would be more than enough. He has never once indicated that He was inclined to answer my prayer. I get more of a "lean not on your own understanding" feel than I do an expectancy that an answer is imminent. I just hate that. But it puts me in good company. Very good company indeed. Because once upon a time the Son of God asked His Father (whom He knew on a Face to Face basis) a question ... and His Father remained silent. Not a Word.

In an odd sort of way it makes me rather happy to read that. I mean, I don't want Jesus to have had to go through any more pain than necessary. But if God leaves His Son in the silence and He leaves me in the silence, well then I'm in the same camp as Jesus. So the company is not half bad.

Okay, the confession is that I'm not really brilliant. I just had my spirit tuned to "channel 1" (The God Channel) at that particular moment instead of "Channel 2" (the enemies channel) and God whispered what He wanted me to teach the people present in that worship center. And I have a very strong hunch that He was also communicating something to me. I'm pretty sure He was telling me not to expect an answer to my question any time soon.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tandem Sky Diving With A German Shepherd Police Dog?

Since last nights blog I've been inundated with suggestions from (usually not so) well meaning friends. They all have great ideas of what I can try on the extreme side of life. Among those I have heard today are ...
-Catching a bullet with my teeth
-Ice road trucking
-Continuing to drive my Mustang without buying new tires (this person made a good point. I gotta get on that...)
-"Dry Snorkeling" (No water outside the mask. Water inside the mask.)
-Tandem sky diving with a German Shepherd police dog

People. You are not being helpful. I want to stimulate my adrenal glands. I do not want to die. I want the exhilaration of an emotional rush. I do not want an extended stay in ICU.

Honestly, I don't think you are trying hard enough. My friends and family are some of the most creative people I know. My son-in-law write songs and tours in a band. And that's just his part time job. My brother-in-law use to be a pseudo-carnie by running games at an amusement park and he came within a hair of driving the Oscar Meyer Wiener-Mobile for a year. My own kids are all certifiably insane ... usually in a good way. My brother writes poetry for a newspaper. My wife can legally wrestle and restrain renegade teenagers. One of my daughters-in-law houses the homeless, and one of them homelesses the housed (she works for a savings and loan and she'll either kill me or laugh hysterically when she reads this.) I've been blessed to hang out with cops, Coast Guard "swabbies," a coroner, jet pilots, ex-cons, current cons, a nuclear missile repairman, mayors, national champion archers, EMT's, truck drivers, taxi drivers, a sniper, an underwater bridge pier painter, a stuffer of animal intestinal skins with Johnsonville Bratwurst, and a guy who passed his 16th kidney stone today. There is some serious talent in that bunch. And these are the best suggestions they can squeeze out of their fertile brain cells? Puh-lease.

It appears that I'm going to have to go it on my own. Chart my own course. Design my own destiny. If I'm going extreme I'm obviously going alone.

You'll all be sorry when you read my memoirs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm All Shook Up (with apologies to Elvis)

I think I need to do something extreme. Not odd. Not weird. Extreme. Some years ago our home had an invasion of mice. I set traps around the laundry room. That was normal. Then I declared war on the vermin. That was weird. Next I found myself sitting on the clothes dryer late at night waiting for the SNAP that would signal the demise (de-mice?) of the furry creatures. That was extreme. I mean, it worked so it wasn't an altogether bad plan. But I would think the traps would have done just fine without my presence. I did forego the camouflage face paint and uniform so that's one point for me.

When I took a year off from ministry in the local church I spent a lot of time reading and talking to God. "Decompressing" if you will. Pretty normal stuff. Then upon my relocation to Cleveland I took the personal challenge of throwing a ball from my ninth floor balcony into Lake Erie. The management even gave me access to the 11th floor (better known as the roof) one day so that I could try it from there. They were cheering for me. I just wanted to see if I could do it. I only had one baseball and every time I threw it and it fell short I had to descend the nine floors (I walked. We baseball players do that.) to get the ball and then nine floors back up again. All of that just to hurl the ball one more time and watch it bounce on the lawn. Yes, I finally got the ball into the lake on one bounce. Since I couldn't get it back to try again I chalked it up as a win and moved on with life. But it was a challenge. (If you keep track of these things my rotator cuff is in the lake too.)

But have you ever felt yourself "flat lining?" It's not that I'm not enjoying life. It isn't like there is nothing to accomplish. I love my job, my church, my wife. That stuff is all great. But a guy has to step aside from that once in a while and do something extreme simply for the sake of doing it. And at the moment I can't seem to find a challenge worthy of making my adrenaline pump ... my heart race ... my imagination soar. So.

It's time to shake things up.

Not sure how I'm going to do that yet. I may have to start with odd and weird. I mean, I may have to work up to extreme. Before I skied down from the continental divide in Colorado I spent a few years skiing Missouri. Missouri was my "set-up." I would have killed myself had I gone straight to the divide. And as much as I want to shake things up, if I go from boring and normal directly to extreme ... well, it could be hazardous. Probably to myself.

So here we go. I need some suggestions. The comment line is open. Help a brother out, would ya please? I need a good suggestion on how to "Go Extreme." I prefer that it not involve spilled blood (mine) or jail time. Other than that ... I'm open. Let's shake things up...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good Old Google

The number 1 google search that sent people to this blog yesterday was "Shut the door and waste me."

That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Los Angeles ... my personal travelogue

Going to L.A. is an interesting experience. Having never been there I did not really know what to expect. My knowledge of the city and southern california in general came from television. Specifically, reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies. And as we all know, TV teaches you what it wants you to believe. So what did I learn in my 5 days in "tinsel town?" A lot! But here it is whittled down into it's easiest "must know" form. Throw away the AAA Southern California guide ... and trust me. :)

-What is Los Angeles about? Easy. CARS. 10,000,000 people live in the L.A. basin and I think each one owns 5 cars. And they are all running. That might be an exaggeration but it does not feel like it when it's 10:00PM and you are still sitting in rush hour traffic. The locals call I-405 "the 4 0 5." But they pronounce it "the 4 or 5." That is because you usually do 4 or 5 mph when you drive on it. They are not exaggerating.

-Though the cars are legion the drivers are surprisingly friendly. I could not believe this one but 5 days proved that the inital act of kindness we experienced was more than a one time anomaly. If you need to change lanes and you turn on your blinker .... lo and behold ... someone lets you in! Of course, it's made easier by the fact that everybody is cruising along at 4 or 5 mph. Still, in nice midwestern St. Louis attempting to change lanes in rush hour will get your rammed or shot.

-Smog. The locals call it haze. My response? HAHAHAHAHA! I know smog when I see and smell it. The city is virtually surrounded by mountains but you really wouldn't know it unless you actually went to the edge of the city and ran into one. That's because you can't see them. Why? Because there are 2,500,000 cars all idling on the expressways at once 24 hour a day.

Do you see downtown L.A. in this picture? Of course you do! That's it in the smog. Do you see the mountains behind the city? Of course you don't! But if you could they would look like this ...

Yeah. That's a hang-glider BELOW us. So the mountains are really mountains. Big enough to jump off of.

-It is possible to stand in your 3rd floor bathroom in a 5 story hotel and actually hear the traffic outside through the ceiling fan. No, this was not a Motel 6. This was a Springhill Suites. As in Marriott. Did I mention that there are a whole lot of cars out on the roads 24/7?

-You know that "HOLLYWOOD" sign you have heard about? Well, it really is big and it really is up there above Hollywood Hills. It isn't that easy to find. You can't just stand around LA and see it. You have to look for it. I gave up and googled it to find it's location and the best places to view it. There aren't that many. And if you want to climb to it .... uh uh. The first thing you will see up there is a police helicopter buzzing you telling you to climb down. The second thing you will see is a police car and a nice man with hand-cuffs offering you a stay in "Hotel California." Well, that's what you get if you survive the rattlesnakes. How do I know that there are rattlesnakes? Because I read the signs. This is what they said ...

-If you are not going to L.A. for the beaches ... don't go to L.A. Well, there is the sunshine. And the warmth. If those things count for you, hop a plane. Just remember ... the cars out number the planes and the beaches combined.

-As crowded as the expressways are in L.A. there are a few with virtually no cars on them. These are called "Tollways." Nobody drives on the tollways. Sometimes there aren't even people in the toll booths to collect your money. But if you drive through without paying they will take a picture of your license plate and send you a bill for $55.00 so I don't recommend this practice. How do you pay when there are no toll booth attendants? Easy. They have those machines like at a car wash where you feed your dollar bill in but instead of giving you tokens it lets you drive. God help you if your dollar bill is ripped or wrinkled and there is a car behind you. Please don't ask how I know.

-Would you like to see L.A. at night? Okie dokie. Here it is...

-Always remember that your trusty GPS might know the quickest or the closest route to your destination but it does not not not take into consideration the condition or safety of the roads along your route. This is a really important thing to remember. Again, don't ask how I know.

-The very best food item in all of L.A. is called the "Pazookie" and it is served at a place called "B.J's." A Pazookie alone is worth the price of your airline ticket. And it is almost worth the drive from the airport through the city to the restaurant. Almost. A Pazookie looks like this ...

-Flight time from St. Louis to Orange County is approximately 5 hours. Oddly enough that is not as long as it takes you to drive from the far southern L.A. suburbs (like San Clemente) to the far northern L.A. suburbs (like Simi Valley) and back again. Did I mention that there is a lot of traffic in this city?

Well, that's the skinny on L.A. There is, of course, a lot more to be said but this little blog is getting long and you need your rest. So I'll shut up now.

I'm done.

Why are you still reading.

Seriously. That's all.

Sheesh. You don't give up easily, do you?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Family Is Officially Nuts

In response to Christopher and Laura's anniversary celebration video another family video was created. My daughter Kelli, her husband Joe, their two children Elle and Paisley, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Jim and Alisha felt compelled to respond. The results? Breathtaking moves worthy of a new John Travolta movie. Viewers beware! (Note: click on the video for a better picture.)

And the two ... became one

My youngest son and his bride of one year celebrated their first wedding anniversary this week. In honor of the event they made a little video to show the world just how happy they are. Welcome to Christopher and Laura's Sunday Night Dance Party!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Worship Is All About

Tonight I watched something that brought tears to my eyes. If you know me, that rarely happens. But it is not every day that you see an act of sincere worship. Worship for no reason other than to say, "God, I love you. We love you. And we hope this pleases you."

Debbie and I attended worship at Saddleback Church tonight in Lake Forest, California. I've always been curious about Saddleback. Not curious enough to fly 1,800 miles to check it out, but since we are hoteling about 30 miles from them we decided that this would be a fitting way to end our L.A. vacation.

It's an amazing little facility they have there. Unlike most mega-churches, most of it is outside. It's a weather-friendly area. We made our way into the worship center about 30 minutes before the service began. The place began to slowly fill up. I honestly don't know how full it got. As the worship band began playing and the singing began I found myself half participating and half observing. Honestly, it was an awesome experience. You could feel the energy from the worship leaders. They seemed, even early on, to be into it. Deeply.

Eventually Rick Warren spoke. I had never heard him deliver a sermon before but this one nailed me. I mean, dead in the heart. But never mind.

At the end of the evening we were invited to participate in communion as we left the room. The worship band began playing in earnest. After a few minutes Debbie and I made our way to the rear of the auditorium and found one of the tables where the communion elements were prepared. Each person served themselves and spent as much time as they desired in doing so. Debbie and I finished our private time with God and we turned back toward the stage. The room had emptied out. The worship band played on. They played as though the room were full. I stood amazed as I watched their leader dismiss most of them, one group at a time. Eventually there were about 10 musicians left on the stage. They began playing "Grace Greater Than All Our Sin." Rick Muchow, the worship leader sang quietly. I looked around the center ... the worship center that holds 3,800 people. I turned and counted. There were 30 people left in seats. Thirty. This would be the end. Everybody had gone on and were on their way to homes and restaurants. And then I saw Rick look at the 10 musicians and pat the top of his head. I'm not a musician but I knew what he meant. "Take it from the top." And they did. The soothing strings of the violins. The beauty of the flute. The single acoustic guitar. Each of them looked upward, not focused on any human being. Lost in reverence and awe. And I realized ... there is only one reason for them to still be playing. There are 30 people here. Less than one seat in every one hundred was filled. And yet they played with more heart than they had all evening. You see, they ... the worship leaders ... were worshipping. They were not leading others in worshipping. They were worshipping themselves. The could be no other reason. They played through two more worship songs before wrapping it up. They played every note and every verse to God alone. And you know what? In twenty minutes the worship center would fill again and they would start all over. They didn't seem to mind. Their spirits were connecting with The Eternal.

It was not a job for them tonight. It was not really even a ministry for them tonight. Tonight I saw raw worship. Musicians playing, singers singing, for the simple purpose of making God smile.

That touched me far more deeply than any act of service I have seen in a long, long time. Thank you, Saddleback, for reminding me of what it is all about.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Debbie Day" on Vacation '09!

Friday, October 09, 2009


Oh so much to write about! Oh so little time to write. So instead, here's my favorite vacation photo's thus far...

The famous "Hollywood" sign wasn't nearly as dramatic as I thought it would be.

Albert Einstein picked my wife's nose.

No matter where I go I still seem to be in Cleveland. (Not that this is a bad thing....)

I don't know how they knew I was coming but I appreciate they put a billboard up honoring me!

And finally, this is the bumper sticker of the week so far. Support our troops!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

When in LA ...

I didn't really WANT to rent this. I wanted the El Camino. But ... she insisted.

Chasing The Sun At 39,000 Feet

Today I got an extra 156 minutes of sunshine. That is two hours and thirty-six minutes. Debbie and I hauled ourselves aboard a 737 and the pilot made a quick climb out of “The Lou” and turned westward. It was cloudy in St. Louis. It wasn’t so cloudy at 39,000 feet. The sun was shining. To bad for us though because it was in that “hey, I think I’m going to bed now mode.” It was barely visible. I think it was over Kansas City. Or maybe Joplin. It was hard to tell. But as we roared through the sky at 500+ miles per hour I began to notice that the sun was having trouble setting. It tried. Really it did. It finally slipped below the horizon. I think that happened around Tulsa. But for the longest time it must have hovered just out of our sight. The sky glowed in hues of orange, purple, and my favorite, a rather off-beat green. Not sure what that was about. Orange and purple I understand. But green?

I digress.

The important thing is that I figure this makes me a little bit like Joshua. One day in the middle of a fierce battle the Israelites were winning but not quickly enough. And so Josh prayed and God made the sun stand still. If memory serves they got an entire extra day. I could be wrong about that. I’m back at 37,000 feet right now. Someplace between Phoenix and Orange County, Ca. So the cabin pressurization is having its way with me and I could be wrong. But if Josh bought himself an extra day he seems to have lost out to me. I got an extra two hours and thirty-six minutes. But Josh was an honest to gosh biblical figure. I'm just a lowly 21st century pastor. I figure ... let's see ... uhhhhh ... ummmm... add 3 hours for 9 years of higher education ... carry the 1 ... subtract 30 minutes for skipping "Old Testament History" that one time ... okay I figure my 2 hours and 36 minutes in todays time translates into about 9 days in biblical time. Yowzer! Take THAT prophets of old!

And now it is dark. Loud and dark.

Directly below us I am quite certain you can find glorious things like rattlesnakes, wild horses, and the occasional buffalo. Don’t forget the cactus. Lot’s of cactus.

Directly above me you can find … God. I can’t see Him any more than I can see the rattlesnakes but He is there. Oh yes, He is there. And tonight I’m really glad that He created all of those laws of physics. Things like thermodynamics or whatever it is that does battle with gravity. At the moment gravity is losing. I hope it continues to lose right up until the landing gear is settled into place, the pilot is wiping the sleepy out of is napping eyes, and we find ourselves safely nestled into a big old John Wayne size terminal at the airport named after him.

Wow. Extended sunsets. Magnificent altitudes. Rattle snakes. God. John Wayne. All in one day. This should be a vacation to remember.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Things I Learned While Circling Death Looking for A Place To Land

-Sadly enough the world would (and eventually will) go right on without me. I've been keeping my eye on FOX News and CNN during my deathbattical (I hereby copyright that word!) and it seems that my imminent demise has had a net effect of zero on the stock market, the general economy, world politics, and Chicago baseball. The price of Baked BBQ Lays decreased however due to an unexpected increase in supply.

-Spilling orange juice directly into an electrical surge protector has no consequences. Odd. Everything electrical kept right on humming. Remind me to clean that up after it dries.

-It is quite entertaining to sit near the window in my favorite chair (my fuzzy buddy) with the nozzle end of a running vacuum cleaner in my hand and suck up unsuspecting flies. Who knew that a fly could actually look startled?

-"Facebook Evangelism" does not work.

-The odds that there is anything on television worth watching is directly inverse to the amount of free time you have to watch it.

-It actually is possible to re-grout a bathroom floor when the grout is mixed with snot drippings.

-If what I've been experiencing is indeed the "Swine Flu" rather than some other kind of flu or a common head cold, it was obviously my brother-in-law Jim's fault. He gave me some chocolate covered bacon at his birthday party on Monday night at chick-Fil-A. My conspiracy hypothesis is that the chocolate was a mere "come-on" to sucker me into flu infested pig meat. And it worked like a charm.

-Thanks to my Administrative Assistant, Connie, I have discovered that I have indeed had every single symptom of the Swine Flu. Well, except for one. No government official rushed to my door offering me an IV or even a freaken Aspirin. Obama didn't even call to check on me. (Personal not to the POTUS: I'm voting along party lines next time buddy and you ain't invited to the party.)

-Nobody can hear the ringing in your ears but you. I learned that at Taco Bell. I kept telling them that the fries were done and they kept telling me that they don't make fries. So I pinched my nose and blew real hard and, wouldn't you know it, the fries weren't done after all.

-It is possible though difficult to have a quiet time alone with God when you keep seeing all of your deceased relatives and friends beckoning you to come and join them. They all looked so happy and at peace. Except for one. She owes me money.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I've had head colds/flu before but this is ridiculous

I looked in the mirror today and noticed that my headache was probably the least of my problems.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Snot Rolls Down Hill

Ahhh. I had almost forgotten. Autumn in St. Louis. My annual dance of death with The Head Cold From Hell. It started as a minor scratch in the back of my throat. No biggie. Probably just the spicy nachos I ate the night before. The next morning a head ache was added.

Today I am drowning in my own snot.

What is it about head colds? We have not yet cured cancer but major strides have been made. Many types of cancer actually can be cured and even prevented. Polio has been wiped from the face of the earth. Seen a good case of the Bubonic Plague lately? I thought not.

But the head cold rolls merrily along.

What's with that? Strep throat, left untreated, can damage your heart. So we have drugs to cure it. The head cold can't really do anything except make you wish you were dead and yet nobody can figure it out. You cans spend a fortune trying to feel better but, as dad use to say, leave it alone and it will last a week. Treat it and it will last about seven days. Dad was a genius. Why he wasted his life in a non-medical field is beyond me.

Do you realize what you can't do when you have a head cold?

You can't go to work (or your co-workers will hate you and rightfully so,) taste food, lay down flat, smell, hear clearly, keep your eyes from tearing up, think clearly, sleep in the same room with your wife if she has asthma, stand to be around yourself, or anything else that requires you to have a body. The only person willing to be around you is God and He stays on the far side of the room.

One week from tonight I'm suppose to be relaxing in lovely Southern California. So, you see, it could be worse. I'm just getting this out of the way.

By the way, I've been craving bacon all day. You don't suppose this could be the ... nah ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking This "John The Baptist Thing" Too Seriously

Today I got an email from our Baptist Associational office. The request was simple. Another pastor wants to borrow our fake guillotine. You know. The one that doesn't really work.

Now, I know I'm still relatively new at Towerview but I've been in every room, every closet, every nook and cranny. I've yet to come across a fake guillotine.

So I did what any self-respecting Baptist pastor would do. I emailed but my apologies. I explained that our guillotine was real. I added, "Go real or go home."

I mean, is that asking too much? If they don't like it ... let them eat cake!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Amazing Elle swears off graffiti

The Amazing Elle goes graffiti

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I need you to pray for my friend

I need you to pray for my friend. Again. Lots of you have prayed for my friends before. Thank you for that. I did not ask this friends permission to get you to pray but she won't mind. I didn't ask her permission to print on this blog the update she wrote on her own web site today. Again, I don't think she will mind. I didn't ask her permission to tell you what I told her either. But hey, I wrote that so she doesn't get a say-so.

I've known Dara for maybe 9 years but she and her husband, and my wife and I, have only really spent time together on I think four separate occasions. Still, you know how it is when your spirit bonds with another persons spirit right? And when two couples "click" you know what that's like too. Well, that happened to us. We were able to show Dara and Anthony kindness at a hard time in their lives nearly a decade ago. The next year it was their turn to show us kindness and they did. They introduced us to the "real Tucson," fed us fish taco's and prayed for us. I was not well when I got to Tucson. I was when I left. Who knows? Maybe it was their prayers?

Now it is our turn again. Dara has been battling cancer for a year. Have I ever mentioned that I hate cancer? Well, I do. A lot. If you've been reading this web site for only four months you know that is true. I hate Dara's cancer. So I'm printing all of this here simply so that maybe you'll take a minute and pray for her. I would be grateful. But probably not as grateful as she would be.

From Dara today ...
Thank you everybody for the cheerful greetings. If you want to know what the Snoopy dance is you have to watch the "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown" video. I can't get my feet to go as fast as his but I try.
Chemo was fine yesterday There is still a BP concern, and my port site has a sore that will not heal. The Doctor looked at it yesterday and said it was like a canker sore and could take a long time to heal because the drugs that I am on make it difficult for my body to form new blood vessels. Plus, the surgen who put the port in likely severed a blood vessel that would feed that area. SO, yuck!
Teaching is going fine, I wouldn't say better, just fine. I see the Doctor on October 2 and will look again at the reality of working. The delima I face is that there is a strong possibility that I will never be free from some form of treatment. Avastin is my miracle drug at the moment, but there is always the possibility that my body will require something else in the future. That understanding came to me this week as I remember the anniversary of my September 17th, 2008 diagnosis. The day my world went black. I have hope now, but from time to time I feel the weight of the last 12 months, and I cry.
Thank you for praying me through.
Love, Dara

And this is all I knew to tell her in response. It's not nearly enough but it's what was in my heart. And it feels right ...

Do you mind not crying alone? Because, quite honestly, I feel like crying for you. I don't want you to have to take meds for the rest of your life. I want you to do The Snoopy Dance in person! :( BUT ... we live life by God's rules ... His schedule ... His calendar. This is where I usually give my pep talk. But I think I would rather just say, Dara, sometimes life sucks and all you can do is let it, endure the sucky parts, and do your best to enjoy every moment that God give no matter how it feels. I never truly faced death in 2001 ... but it felt like it. And my life has never been the same. Yeah, I still take meds and I hate that but it is what it is. And when I finally resigned the church I loved for 23 2/3rd years after fighting for its heart and soul for the last 3 of those years I did so because my doctor told me in specific terms, "You have to quit your job or you will die." So. Again, it is what it is. I am reminded that the joy is in Jesus and in relationships. Nothing else matters much. Things like health and strength were an illusion all along. But if it all drives you to Jesus ... it's worth every bit of the pain.
If you don't let it drive you to Jesus ... well ... then it REALLY sucks.
Anyway, I don't mean for this message to be sad. Just realistic. It's tougher to find the bounce in my step now than it was pre-2001. My steps are more deliberate. More measured. More intentional. I try to make them matter more. I pray complete, utter, total healing for you. No meds, no pain, no treatments. And I deeply hope that God grants you that. If He doesn't? Then attack life with as much joy, gusto, and passion as possible anyway. Remember, these years we spend on the fallen planet are the only moments in our eternal history that we will be able to really make a difference in the cosmic battle we find ourselves locked in. So fight well, my sister. Salute your Commander-In-Chief every day. Love well.
And when it's over for us down here? THEN ... then we will dance.
You are loved in St. Louis.

That's all I've got. Will you pray for my friend?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baseball is evil and baseball is hairy so I quit

Tonight I decided to hate baseball for the next 5 months. My team stinks and they stink on purpose. 'Nuff said. But here are some pictures that influenced my decision in a back-and-forth kind of way...

These guys kept falling into the stadium which made me want to enlist and drop into ball parks more often.

Then they double-decked it which doubled my temptation.

Next my friend Gordon decided to switch from his team to my team. That was really encouraging. Thanks, Gordon!

Everybody knows that I love meetings and I guess that in baseball you can pause the game at any point and get together with the guys and meet. That almost clinched it for me. I was nearly hooked. Two meetings at once! See how happy they look?

And then I saw this guy and I realized ... I don't want to turn into him. And he's cheering for baseball. So I want to thank him for helping me to give up the game until spring training. And maybe forever. Probably not ... but maybe. I'll have to talk to the lady who cuts my hair. She gets a vote.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Heart Attacks and Brain Cramps

So today my brother ... whom I had not seen in two years ... mentioned quite casually to me that he had a heart attack 18 months ago.

Say what?

Yes indeed. My brother ... the sole remaining member of my family of origin ... had a heart attack while I was living in Cleveland and neglected to pass that word along to me. Exactly how does something like this slip your mind? Was he engrossed in the latest episode of "Family Guy?" Obviously NOT. I mean, on his own, he's obviously only a marginal "family guy" at best!

Anyway, he's alright. Of course that doesn't matter because now I have to kill him. Slowly. Painfully. It's a matter of family honor. Dad would have wanted it this way. And as a beginning of his punishment/torture I thought I would expose the latest picture I took of him (moments after he revealed this bit of news) to the world. The head below ... the sign above ... it only seems appropriate and accurate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One "BANG" too many

A third grader sat in the school gym transfixed by what he was seeing on television. He was young but somehow he sensed, he knew, that he was watching the world change. There was a "BANG" in reality as well as a "BANG" in history and a tower tumbled. Everything was hazy. Nobody was thinking clearly. Certainly nobody had a handle on how the events of this day would effect the future. For days nobody could tear their eyes from the tube. Commentators commented. Analysts analyzed. Wise men and women spoke words of wisdom. And yet a real "Humpty Dumpty" had fallen and we were all pretty certain that he could never be put back together again.

The following years proved those thoughts to be true. At the moment of the BANG it seemed as though every American was united. We linked arms and faced the future as one. But all to quickly that fell apart. Unity gave way to ugly. Bravery turned to bickering. It continues to this day.

I remember that third grader all to well because he ... was me. My "BANG" was a bullet. It tore from the sixth floor of a school book depository building in Dallas Texas, and penetrated my "tower," the brain of the President of the United States, and left him dead in the back seat of a bullet proof car that, ironically, had its top down leaving him open to the wind ... and to the wicked. I watched my teachers cry. I watched my parents sit in shock, mourning the murder of a man whom they had never met and yet trusted. He had recently, with steely eyed resolve, faced down the hated Soviet Union in what has become known as "The Cuban Missile Crises." We had walked to the edge of the annihilation of the human race and this man had led us back. He got us off the brink. And then he was murdered and then his brother was murdered and we learned never to trust again. Oh, and don't forget to hate. Hate those who don't think like you do because they are probably hating you and planning your demise.

There is a fading freshness in our country these days. In a few hours we will experience the anniversary of another "BANG." Other third graders sat in class rooms staring at televisions and thinking the same things that I thought. And by now the memory fades. Somebody emailed me a massive amount of 9/11 pictures today, shots of the Twin Towers as they collided with their fate. I admit that I was shocked all over again. I have not spent the past eight years staring at the helpless bodies of men and women leaping to their death from 100 stories in the air to avoid the torch of jet fuel and office supplies. Since that horrible day I have walked the side walks around that site. My feet have trod land that was, not too long ago, coated with dust and ash and metal. And body parts. Just like the back seat of a limousine on November 22, 1963.

For me it has been 45 years and 8 years, depending on the "BANG." I remember them both as though they were yesterday. And I mourn what happened to those people. And I mourn what has became the unfortunate and possibly inevitable results to our country. Many, many people will hurt tomorrow. Oddly, I want to be one of them. Because if I hurt it means that I remember. And I don't want to forget. I cannot afford to forget. On a day when we are torn apart by debates over health care, two wars where close friends of mine came oh so close to death, a mega-recession, and countless other things that divide us, I want to remember why it matters.

Why does it matter? It matters because, no matter what you might have been indoctrinated to believe, the United States has for many, many years been the world leader in .... goodness. Yes, goodness. We don't generally blow-up other peoples stuff unless they have already blown-up our stuff ... or seriously threatened to. Complain all you want about a "first strike" mentality. I wish we had blown the living tar out of Japan before they ever got close to Pearl Harbor. And if you have a brain you do too. Then my dad could have stayed home with his future bride and not traveled in uniform to Europe causing him to (in his own words) "go to bed every night remembering the eyes of the men I killed so that they wouldn't kill me." I hate that my dad had to live his life that way. But I'm grateful that he was willing to. We are the country that sends our soldiers to protect and liberate people that we don't even know. We send food, clothing, and medicine to take care of citizens of countries that can't take care of themselves. That is, to me, a strong definition of "goodness."

Okay, so that's how I feel on this night before 9/11/09. About a week after 9/11 I asked my family to please write down their memories of that day. I wanted to be able to read it myself and give it back to them years down the road. We tend to forget how we felt ... really truly felt ... after the passing of time. One of them actually took the time and wrote the mini-essay. I came across it after we moved. It shocked me. I realized there was pure fear in those comments. And I wonder if that fear is still there. Or has it simply been relegated into the hearts of those who visit National Cemeteries and stand over the graves of their families soldiers who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and wound up giving everything to keep us from another 9/11. I can't answer that question.

I can only hope we can find a way to stop the bickering and fighting and return to simply being good. Because honestly, I feel it slipping. And that scares me more than 11/22/63 or 9/11/01.