Tuesday, May 31, 2005
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Thursday, May 26, 2005
Memories of Dad
Let me explain.
My dad wasn’t very active the last few years of life. Due to his own lack of proper care for his physical body and a host of problems with illness, the primary memory my children have of their grandfather is dad sitting in a big lounger watching TV and occasionally waking up long enough to tease them.
My children did not get to know my dad. Oh, my dad was never the most active guy in the world (I think I know where my own lack of activity comes from!), but he didn’t sit around a lot as I remember it. Dad coached baseball, football, basketball, if it had “ball” in the title, he learned it, played it, and probably coached it. My dad cared about folks that no one else wanted. He loved kids, even his own. I once saw my dad kick a field goal from the 45 yard line (that’s a 55 yard kick, if you didn’t know!). I was in high school then, so dad was probably in his mid-40s. He could kick the ball further than the place kicker on our team.
I remember looking for dad’s vehicle to pull up at the football practice field. I don’t know if he knew that I saw him, but I looked for him to show up so I could perform for him. Dad didn’t get real excited about sports (that was mom’s job!), but you could tell when he was enjoying something. He had this infectious grin and mischievous smile that would literally light up his face. I heard that for almost 10 years after my younger brother graduated high school, dad would make his way to the practice field and sit in his car and watch the players go through their paces. For me, his watching was a comforting presence that reminded me that he was there if I needed him. Oh, I’ll admit that I didn’t “need” him as much as he would like, but it made me feel real good to know dad was there.
I miss him.
Sometimes in my work here, I think that dad is sitting in heaven, in his heavenly lounger, watching his boy perform. Oh, I’m not blindsiding running backs and quarterbacks any more, but I can’t help but think that dad is silently cheering for me. He sits there, intently studying me as I pace a classroom or teach a class or grade a paper. When I make a particularly brilliant play, he smiles that smile. Even when I don’t do so well, dad looks approvingly on his boy. I can see him, sitting there, a big glass of sweet tea on the table, a smile in his eyes, and joy in his heart. I want to make him proud, and I think he knows that.
My last words to my dad face-to-face were spoken around Easter of 2004. I don’t remember everything we discussed, but I remember putting my arm around his shoulders and looking into that face. His eyes were a bit dimmed by senility due to old age and strokes. But somewhere in those eyes I saw the place kicker kicking a field goal from the 45 yard line. I remember saying this to him, “Dad, I love you. I’ll see you later.” At his funeral in August, the pastor asked me to pray at the grave site (actually, my mother asked me to do it). As I walked away from dad’s coffin, I touched the lid and said, “I love you, dad, see you later.”
I miss him, but thank God I will see him later. If your father is alive, call him up. Tell him you appreciate him and love him. Memories are great, but I’d love to have my dad here to hug again. He’s much better off, but I need his smile. Dad, I love you. See you later.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2005
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Thursday, May 19, 2005
Some ramblings . . .
I purchased a few comics yesterday--got issue #4 of the new Black Panther and wasn't too impressed. The current writer seems to have a tendency to ignore the history of this character and "make it up" as he goes along. I'm not enjoying it much. However, issue #8 of the New Thunderbolts also came out, and I enjoyed it tremendously. It is funny to me how one writer will appeal to me in some way, while another just leaves me feeling like I wasted my time and money. I wonder why we are like that? No doubt there are comic fans out there who love what Reggie Hudlin is doing in Black Panther, but I'm not one of them. People have strange tastes, don't we?
Speaking of tastes, I was listening to Toby Mac's "Welcome to Diverse City" CD in the car yesterday, and (I can't believe I'm saying this!) I actually found some rap music I like! Yes, I sincerely believed it would never happen, but I like this stuff. No, that doesn't mean that I've converted from the "alternative" sound I love to gangsta rap, but I am a bit surprised that the crisp vocals and deep bass of Toby Mac's music could attract me. Maybe you can teach an "old dog" new tricks, huh?
Finally, I just want to say thanks to those of you who think my ramblings are worth reading. Feel free to comment or drop me an e-mail if you want to "talk" about anything on this blog! Thanks for dropping by!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
A Few Random Quotes
“Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts. But it is their strength that will decide whether the human race must relapse into that state of stupor which a deluded multitude appears today to regard as the ideal.” –Albert Einstein
“Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily; and our Lord Himself has told us that ‘he that is faithful in little will also be faithful in much.’” St. Frances de Sales
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Thursday, May 12, 2005
A frightening and sobering reality . . .
When I notice God there on the fringe of my experience (kind of hanging around like a brother who wants to be involved in everything you do), sometimes I respond with a sense of comfort (Oh good, he is there!). Other times I respond with fear (Oh no, did he see that!). Other times I am complacent (Oh, it’s just you, huh?). Still some times I am overwhelmed (Thank God you’re here!). I think of the Jews wandering in the wilderness and camped at Mt. Sinai. God showed up on the mountain, and they begged Moses to make it stop! “Don’t let God speak directly to us again, we can’t take it!” The acknowledgement of God’s presence frightened them, maybe it made them a bit uncomfortable. Maybe we respond to God in the same way. Annie Dillard addresses this problem when she says:
“It is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate a grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree.
“What have we been doing all these centuries but trying to call God back to the mountain, or, failing that, raise a peep out of anything that isn’t us? What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are they not both saying: ‘Hello?’ We spy on whales and on interstellar radio objects; we starve ourselves and pray till we’re blue.” From Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
Our fear of God’s omnipresence causes us to turn off a switch in our minds and souls that helps us to ignore this fascinating (and sometimes frightening) reality. We pretend he isn’t there. We even ignore his obvious appearances. We ignore the God of all, then we say that we didn’t know he was there. As A. W. Tozer notes:
“. . . If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where he is not, cannot even conceive of a place where he is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world? The patriarch Jacob, ‘in waste howling wilderness,’ gave the answer to that question. He saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder. ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.’ Jacob had never been for one small division of a moment outside of the circle of that all-pervading Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is ours. People do not know if God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew.” From The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
We “know it not” because we don’t like the reality that God’s omnipresence makes us face. That reality is this—when we fail and sin, he is there. When we succeed, he is there. When we need him, he is there. When we think we don’t need him, he is there. Even when we don’t want him to be, he is there.
One of my pet peeves is to hear a preacher talking about Jesus’ cry (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) from the cross and say something like, “At that point, God turned his back on Jesus because he became sin for us.” Think of the ramifications of that idea—God, the omnipresence One, turning his back on his only unique Son. God, the merciful, overlooking the sacrifice his own Son Jesus is offering. Can you imagine it? God, forsaking his Son! It sounds ridiculous because it is. God did not “turn his back on Jesus” (look in the text of the Gospels, it does not say any such thing). No, God was watching the brutal fact of it all with tears in his eyes. He did not forsake Jesus, and he does not forsake humanity. He endures when we pretend he is absent, but he is there. He loves Jesus, even when Jesus became sin for us, God lovingly watched his Son. God lovingly watches you as well. Scary, ain’t it?
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Monday, May 02, 2005
Some interesting quotes . . .
"I think that if it had been a religion that first maintained the notion that all the matter in the entire universe had once been contained in an area smaller than the point of a pin, scientists probably would have laughed at the idea." Marilyn vos Savant, The Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame holder of the Highest IQ at 230. Parade, February 4, 1996, p. 7.
"Beware of ideas others come up with for rescuing you from the river, especially if they involve dropping a heavy stone right on you." Eeyore
“There's right and there's wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around but you’re dead as a beaver hat.” John Wayne, as Davey Crockett in the movie, The Alamo.