Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twenty-Four Years And Counting ... A Salute To One Of My Best Friends

Twenty-four years ago I encountered a stress inducing day. However, my stress was not the only thing that was induced. My wife was induced as well. She was nine months pregnant and scheduled to give birth to our third ... and last ... child. He was pre-named Christopher Tyler and the birth was a cake walk. I don't remember any of the pain whatsoever. It was a little messy though. And gross. But he was worth it.

Christopher put us through some interesting days. He was that wonderful flavor in life that you can't quite identify but you know it when it's missing. I could expose you to a long litany of things that he did that brought him close to going home to heaven earlier than planned but .... Oh what the heck ...

There was the time he got detention for telling his teacher to "put a sock in it."

Or the time he got in trouble in school and the principal made him draw a picture of himself saying "I'm sorry" and then take it home to get his mom to sign it and bring it back to him the next day. So Chris promptly went home, got in trouble and was grounded to his room. While there he faked drawing an "I'm sorry" picture for his mom. He presented it to her, totally melting her heart. He ... in his infinite wisdom ... asked her to autograph it for memories sake. She did with tears of grateful joy running down her cheeks. The next day he turned the signed picture in to the principal. He got away with it for several day until the principal, a friend of mine, mentioned "The Incident" to me. I had been out of town and was fairly sure I would have heard about this story. So I asked Debbie about it. Lights began flashing in her eyes and sirens began going off in her ears. He paid a dear price for that one.

How about the time he had his friends duck tape him to a stop sign to see what drivers would do when they came by? The first car? Yep. The police.

Or the time he and a friend made a cardboard cat with tin foil eyes and tied a string to it, leaving it laying in the middle of the street in front of our house. When the first car came by they pulled the string, jerking the cat to attention as the car came to a screeching and panicked halt. That car? Yep. A squad car.

Did I mention the time he went to work at a local golf course and ran over the golf pro with a golf cart? He informed us of the incident rather casually that evening. The golf pro was taken to the hospital after golfers lifted the cart off of him. He spent at least one night in the hospital. I'm not certain but I think he went into vinyl repair shortly thereafter.

I could go on but I think you get the drift.

Now let me tell you the most remarkable part of the story. God was working in Christopher's life from day one. Chris never puts up with "boring." He has a desire to blaze trails and do things his own way. (Did I tell you about the time he and his friends went "stag" to their high school homecoming ... in the back of a dump truck?) Today this twenty-four year old man is one of the most talented, creative, gifted, passionate people that I know. He is deeply in love with his "cutting edge" church and is learning more and more every day about his "cutting edge" God. And His Lord has honored that. Christopher is simply living out life the very same way that God built life into him. You see, God took all of these stories (as John said about Jesus at the end of his gospel, "Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contains the books that would be written.") and molded him into one of my best and most trusted friends. I love the spark in his eyes, the fire in his belly, the laughter that echoes from his mouth to my ears. We do things differently sometimes but that's because I've gotten old and crotchety and, honestly, his ways are almost always more fun. Chris use to learn from me. I think that, these days, more often than not I learn from him.

Christopher, you aren't the kind of person to read many blogs. But should you stumble across this one I just want to say, "Thank you for bringing great joy to your father's heart. I love you, son. ...Dad"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Eye Is On The Sparrow

Today was a day of great experimentation. I joined friends after church for a nice lunch of Vietnamese food. I read the menu and understood nothing. NOTHING. I could not pronounce a word. Fortunately, each entree had a number next to it and a list of the items in the dish. Even more fortunately, Connie, my Administrative Assistant had already ordered, received her food, and it looked edible. she was still sitting upright in her chair. I do take these things into consideration when placing my order. So I joined Connie and ordered #41.

It arrived quite a few minutes later. (They flew to Vietnam to get it.) It looked ... wrong. The first clue was that it was in a bowl and Connie's meal was in a dish. The second clue was that it had long clear noodles in it that looked like "tape worms." I guess that's okay. You eat it and it should be able to eat you back. The first bite told me something was severely wrong. It tasted like ... napalm. Fire. My tongue turned a lovely hue of blistered. (Yes, blistered is now officially a color.) They asked me if I liked it and I smiled and nodded a "yes" through tear filled eyes. I ate for about 5 minutes and then the manager came out with a plate, took my bowl, and told me they had given me the wrong meal.


This meal didn't look like Connie's either. There weren't any tape worms in it but I'm pretty sure I saw various parts of a sparrow. Like, oh, the claw? The beak? They tell me I'm wrong but I know a sparrow when I see it. God's not the only one who has His eye on them. And the meat had the distinct taste of bird. Don't ask me how I know this. I've lived a long full 53 years on this planet. This was a sparrow. And I ate my share. They offered to box up the rest but I knew I'd be compelled to bury it out in the yard someplace and so I just said a polite "no thank you," paid my bill and left.

Tonight some wonderful college students invited Debbie and I to supper after church. We went to a place called "White Cottage." That sounds so homey after eating lunch in Vietnam. I ordered the biggest, juiciest bacon cheeseburger I could find. I never ever eat bacon. But I wanted the pigs of the planet to know that I was not forsaking them in favor of fowl. I had them throw in an order of waffle fries for good measure. The conversation was great (i.e. insane.) The food had no beaks or claws. Just cow parts and fried vegetables grown underground. You know. American food.

My tummy is happy tonight. And a happy tummy makes for a happy me.