Things Learned/Re-Learned

It’s been about a month since we returned from Turkey, and while I have often thought about what to write about the trip, and how to write it, the time to do so has escaped me. Perhaps this is a good thing, as I am one to often speak (or in this case, type) without having fully thought things through. “…Slow to speak…” (James 1) is certainly one of those things that I am working on. My initial intention was to give a daily synopsis throughout the course of the trip. However, early on it was made clear that this was not to be- we were asked specifically to not do such things so as to maintain the ‘security’ of the trip. My first thoughts regarding ‘security’ related to safety for those (including us) involved with the conference. Unfortunately, certain classes at the conference which referenced ‘security of children’ would later affirm that belief. However, it became clear over the course of the trip that these folks had a much greater security that they appeared more concerned with maintaining: security in their opportunity to continue to love and change people over time. Certain things could threaten their security as it pertained to acceptance within given cultures and communities. Their concern with being ‘outed’ seemingly had less to do with ‘safety’, and more to do with the possibility of being separated from the people they were sent to love. Pretty incredible stuff.

In an effort to honor that ‘security’, I will try to (carefully) communicate what the trip meant to me. As the title infers, there were many things that I learned on this trip, and many that I re-learned (things that I know/knew, but had somehow become lost or watered down in my life). From these things, I  hope that you are able to fill in any blanks you may have.

  • You won’t ever again catch me standing and not singing any time I am in the congregation (and not playing). It is a privilege to be able to sing to your Savior and do so at a volume that communicates your praise and acknowledgement of the grace you have been given. For a publicly professing believer to merely be present during times of song is something I am no longer able to understand. Some people do not have this opportunity, and some willingly lay it down so that perhaps others may one day have it. If I/we can cheer for a college sports team, I/we can raise our voices for the grace and redemption that comes through the cross. Surely, the latter is more worthy of praise, recognition, and excitement.
  • Along the same lines, your ability to openly share your testimony and that of the One who saved you is a privilege.    I, for one, do not take advantage of that right enough. Yes, I believe that ideally, a relationship is established before one shares with another, but even then I have failed to take advantage of opportunities to simply interject with, “Let me tell you who changed my heart.” Many, if not all of those we served either were in situations where they did not have that right, or were not able to exercise it due to the social isolation that would have resulted in such behavior. The social isolation was not the fear, but the resulting inability to have the opportunity to love others and share the Savior the only way they could: with their lives. Their every day attitudes. Their every day body language. They way they treated one another in public. The way they treated strangers or service people in public. Which leads me to…
  • It matters how believers carry themselves. This is not something that you or I am unaware of, but it is definitely one of those things that, especially in American culture, can quickly fade. The way we treat service people- waiters, they guy at Jiffy Lube, the seemingly indifferent Wal-Mart manager. The way we treat our children and/or spouses. Perhaps most importantly, the way we treat other believers. The “Grieving the Spirit” passage is followed by, what I believe, specifically grieves It: “…bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” And presumably when this occurs between believers. Each person I met treated each other with a keen awareness of this, even with those they perhaps were not in agreement with. Which reminds me…
  • While I can appreciate ‘doctrine’, it is a beautiful thing to see a common, core, belief (in the Savior)overcome what can become differences between denominations due to what, at the end of eternity, amounts to minutiae.  Trust me when I tell you that all of those who love others abroad are not of the same ilk! These were all people from different cultures, nations, denominations, and backgrounds who shared a common core belief. To have a week go by and not have a major ego struggle between those different parties over the ‘message’ or ‘ what the music should sound like’ or what order things were done in was both refreshing and humbling. Yes, there was structure. But there was also room and flexibility for things to change as needed. Room and flexibility for needs to be met as they arose.
  • There was the reminder that ‘prayer by appointment’ is simply insufficient. If the only time I talked to my wife was at 6 in the morning and for a few minutes before every meal, it is safe to say that our relationship would not pass the test of time. Our relationship, to a degree, correlates with the amount of and nature of our communication. If I speak to her briefly a few times each day about generic matters, our relationship will be just that- generic. Deeper, more intimate conversations will lead to that type of relationship. In a different but equally effective way, spontaneous, short chats that ask for and value her input or simply let her know that I care for her and am thankful for her have a profound effect on our relationship. These same principles apply to prayer and the Man to whom you pray, and the people we served there reminded me of that. They didn’t need a ‘reason’ or a set time. They stopped what they were doing and did it. In the parking lot. In the restaurant. Wherever.
  • There were some great conversations that happened between those of us who went to serve. I thank you for praying for each of us and our families. There was a great deal of encouragement, but also some opportunities for each of us to grow- meaning that there was some conflict- the impetus for growth. Each day we met and shared while the ones we served met and shared among themselves. Each of us took turns leading discussions, which in and of itself allowed us each to be out of our comfort zones. However, it  was also a reminder of how essential we each are to one another, in the sense of ‘iron sharpening iron.’ Hearing a fresh perspective was challenging and rewarding. Hearing about the things that really matter to one another was something that I am not sure we had even done before! I guess it took us going half way around the world together to make that happen, but I am thankful that it did. As a result, I would like to think that we are all closer, and that we are all more sensitive to one another.
  • Lastly, the power of nature and history was overwhelming- at least for me. On more than one occasion I actually got emotional just from some of the things we saw. The landscape. Ephesus. The tomb of St. John. The effect of the crusades. The Aegean sea. The craftsmanship in the ruins we visited. There are definitely treasures imprinted in my heart and mind as a result of having simply seen them. I thank you all for making that possible through your prayer and financial support.

Should you have questions, want more specifics, or even some pictures, I would be happy to share more with you. I just ask that you email me at aaanderson13@gmail.com . I have learned that choosing to not openly share some things can be as powerful as choosing to do so.

Advertisements

Jesus’s boys and the UPS prayer

Image

In a letter Daddy wrote me a few months ago (Yes, he still writes letters to people, insisting that they mean more than an email or a text. This is based on the idea that a hand-written letter takes more time and effort, in addition to it having been penned in your own hand.) he included the following scripture along with the suggestion that I daily pray it over my boys. He said that he had prayed it over my brothers and I for years now, referring to it as the ‘UPS’ prayer. 

13 “…I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[c] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified…”

                                                                                                         -John 17:13-19

U- Unification in God

P- Protection from the evil one

S- Sanctification by the truth (a deep and undying hunger for God’s word)

As I recall, Dad’s rationale for praying this over his sons was something along the lines of “Jesus prayed it over his ‘boys’ and you can’t pray any better than Jesus did.” Daddy wasn’t trying to portray himself as the ‘Jesus’ of our lives. Rather, he was borrowing Jesus’s prayer for his disciples and making it his own.

I was walking with my own boys a few days back and I took this picture (above). While looking at it I prayed the UPS prayer for my boys.While doing so, it occurred to me how I had always viewed Jesus’s relationships with his disciples- his ‘boys’. To be honest, I had never really viewed that relationship as one similar to a father and his boys. I suppose because of the likeness in their humanity (age, etc.), I had always foolishly viewed the relationship from the perspective of Jesus and his friends or brothers. (Aren’t I the typical man wholooks at the outside appearance” – 1 Samuel 16:7). True, Jesus was indeed a man in his mid thirties much like most of his disciples may have been (or perhaps even physically younger than his disciples). However as God in human form, Jesus was in every other way infinitely more than any of the disciples. While not an ample analogy for that infinite difference, my picture struck me as an imperfect illustration of how Jesus and his disciples would have appeared had you removed their humanity. As with Daddy, in no way am I trying to portray myself as the ‘Jesus’ figure in this picture. But my imperfect wisdom, intellect, understanding and spirituality are immeasurably more than that of either of my boys. That does not mean they are completely lacking in those things. Corban’s heart is remarkable and in many ways I envy it. I am sure any of you who are parents can relate to that feeling. 

This new perspective (for me it is new) suddenly makes a lot more of the Gospel make sense to me. Instead of picturing Jesus with his bothers and friends when I read, I now picture adult Jesus with a group of toddlers. Humanness aside, that is closer to what the disciples were, if that. It is what we all are. It’s easier to imagine the frustration Jesus may have experienced when trying to explain the things of God to anyone, including His disciples. All I have to do is imagine the frustration I’ve experienced when trying to explain to Corban the concept of yesterday, tomorrow, or next week. He just doesn’t get it. What do I find myself trying to do? Draw it out, explain it in some other way, make it relevant to something he already seems to understand. Sounds a lot like what Jesus may have been doing with parables. Similarly, it’s far easier to imagine the patience Jesus must have had to have with mankind in order to humbly entertain their arguments and opinions regarding well, anything. All I have to do is imagine an instance in which Corban tried to convince me that our appliances would work when the power was out. He just didn’t get it. He wasn’t capable.

We, in the same way, are incapable. God, in His grace, has allowed those who truly seek Him (as opposed to ‘intelligent’ people who seek answers) to see just a little bit of what is behind the curtain (Matthew 13:11). 

Don’t be Deceived

If you are as fortunate as me, you have been contacted recently (via email, no less) by some great benefactor representing a Nigerian dignitary, and offered the opportunity to become the partial heir to that dignitary’s great inheritance. Your simple role requires that you merely assist him by using some of your own hard-earned income to set up a joint account through which he can deliver his riches to you. Perhaps you have been contacted by more than one of these great dignitaries, or on behalf of them. After carefully weighing my options, I think I have decided to go with the official who offered part of the Queen of England’s payout for a little of my help- I feel the risk is far less when participating with the treasury of the United Kingdom. They’re probably insured, no?

The paragraph I just typed is, in my opinion, one of the most absurd paragraphs typed by anyone ever. What I find more absurd is that these types of scams have been happening for years and still continue to work. Forget the fact that there are all kinds of agencies that attempt to educate the public on fraudulent schemes. Use your own common sense (or am I over estimating the number of people who have that unique gift?). Why the hell would a Nigerian prince contact you, one of 311 million US citizens, and ask you to assist him in collecting on a payout exceeding millions?

My only conclusion is that people just believe what they want to believe. They reject reality, and in its place substitute their own.

A few other examples:

  • A few days ago, while on a little family outing to a frozen yogurt joint, I overheard a herd of voluptuous (use of that word is me being extremely kind) teenage girls talking about how the yogurt was “good for you because it says it is low-fat”. Sigh. My first thought was of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry became enormous after eating, in bountiful portions, what he believed was fat-free yogurt. Which leads me to one of the two reasons these young lasses were deceived. If on a weekly basis you average several  40 oz. servings of frozen anything, it is not “good for you”. Not unless you consider mass amounts of colon spackling “good for you”. Additionally, even if the frozen yogurt/custard/etc. was “good for you”, the 20 servings of heath bar/butterfinger/oreo/fudge brownie topped off with 4-6 oz of melted syrup are certainly not. It’s the same kind of logic used by ‘salad eaters’ who eat “healthy” by eating only salads, only to pile them high with fried chicken, croutons, and golf-ball-sized crumbles of blue cheese. Make no mistake- I eat all of the foodstuffs that I just listed, but I am not one who believes that doing so is somehow still good for me.
  • I don’t have a problem with anyone owning a full-size truck. Really. I used to own a Toyota Tundra and I loved that thing. The fact is, I wasn’t really using the ‘truck’ features of the truck and was commuting an hour and a half each day, and so it was impractical to own the truck. I eventually downgraded (in the fun category) to a Honda Accord, which has now become a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu that still has the retirement community plates that came on it  (I find they give it a classic feel). Man did I love that truck when I owned it though. That was, incidentally, when gas was $2.35/gallon, which, while I would argue is still a preposterous price, is chump change compared to what I paid today. My argument is this: while I take no issue with you owning a full-size truck, please stop trying to argue that you got it because it was a great deal. You are spending upwards of $100 at the pump every time you fill that thing up- if it was given to you FREE it would not have been a great deal. I fill up the (paid for) Malibu once a week for @ $40. If I was in the Tundra I would be putting at least $125/weekly into it. Not to mention the higher insurance rate or the $300 monthly payment. Just doing a quick crunch of the numbers shows that I’d be paying probably $700/month more to own that truck. While I loved that truck, the idea of paying what could amount to a monthly payment on another mortgage to own it makes me want to vomit. Drive your truck in the mud, throw dead deer in it, and have all kinds of fun with it- I will be extremely jealous. Just please don’t tell me about how “cheap” it was. You, good sir, are deceived.
  • If you have kids and they are coming home with all “A’s”, you should have some real questions for their teacher(s). In short, the chances are that if they are bringing home all “A’s” they aren’t learning anything. If you make all “A’s”, there’s a high likelihood you’re child already knew what they “learned”. Now, I am all for self-esteem and kids being proud of all A’s, and if your kids do make those types of grades (or “marks” as my Grandmama used to call them. I remember thinking, after being asked if I got ‘good marks’, “What marks are good?? I don’t want any marks!”), then you guys should all be proud… for a while. Then perhaps you should ask the teacher to give them something a bit more challenging to do. Schools are so full of high-maintenance ‘slow learners’ that drag down a classroom’s standardized test scores that teachers are more inclined than ever to neglect the student who is making all A’s. That’s where you come in, parents. Ask for a bit more challenge. Your baby will grit his or her teeth, but trust me when I tell you it will matter in the long run. At some point your ‘straight A’ child will encounter something that is initially too difficult for them (whether in school or life), and you don’t want that day to be when they are in high school. How else is perseverance fostered? Get them an ice cream and find something more difficult/challenging. It doesn’t mean you have to be a slave driver- you can and perhaps should present new challenges in a fun way. But alas, do not be deceived by the illusion created by straight A’s! Moreover, do not let your children be deceived into thinking and feeling like life will always come so easily or with so little challenge.

Happy Birthday Mama

Approximately six weeks ago, on my Daddy’s birthday, I wrote a bit about what he means to me- about how he is the Godliest man that I have ever known. I believe I made mention of the fact that it is unfortunate how I find that many have very little good to speak of their father, much less find some that would argue with my proclamation that my father is the best. Well, here we are in late February, and it is now Mama’s birthday. I now feel compelled now to write a little about my Mama. No because I am making an effort to be fair to her (since I wrote about Daddy), but because, as with Daddy, I wanted to share what it is about my Mama that I believe makes her so unique.

You may or may not have heard the expression that goes something like:

‘…a man’s brain is like a tackle box, and a woman’s brain is like a plate of spaghetti…’

This analogy is an attempt to illustrate the point that, more often than not, the way women think and behave is far more complex than the way men typically think and behave. In short, men are simpler creatures. A man’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ is typically made up of fewer levels, with far more basic or general needs making up each level.

Additionally, the tackle box vs. spaghetti analogy applies to the thinking that a male is better able to mentally compartmentalize while with females things may all ‘run together’- much like a plate of spaghetti.

I don’t pretend to know a great deal about women- at least not anymore. However, most of the ones that I have been around I believe could be described as relatively ‘moody’ or ‘mercurial’ in their temperament. Of course some are more so than others. To further complicate matters, many women (I have found), are often unable (or perhaps unwilling) to articulate why they are in a ‘bad mood’. Perhaps it is hormonal, I honestly don’t know. For all I know, the fact that these women have to or have had to live in proximity to me may be the common denominator. (Consider that last sentence my ever present self-deprecating, egocentric, slightly co-dependent statement). However, I do know that I have had this conversation with more than a handful of the women I have known in my life:

“What’s wrong? You seem to be down or in a bad mood.”

“Nothing. Nothing is wrong.”

“You sure about that? Because it doesn’t seem that way. If you’re upset let’s talk about it.”

“Well, it’s just that… I don’t know… nothing… never mind.”

“What? So you are upset or…?”

“Yeah… I guess I am a little upset.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“… I don’t know.”

I would guess that I am not the only person to have had that conversation with a woman. In fact, I have witnessed this conversation go down between other people and couples. I do not believe, however, that Mama has ever had this kind of conversation with anyone. If anything, Mama may come across as off-putting because she will just tell you, politely, if she is upset and why. Perhaps some folks don’t like to communicate that way. I, for one, find it refreshing, and it is one of the great things I admire about my Mama. You get what you see. She is as predictable and consistent as any person I have ever known, male or female, and for that reason growing up under her produced a great sense of security. I wonder how many people have grown up under a completely emotionally consistent and stable mother. I may not have agreed with what Mama thought or with her rules, but her expectations were always clear. There was never a day that I got home and thought, “I wonder if Mama is in one of her moods.” The same goes for today.

A few other reasons that my Mama is the best:

  • I have never heard my Mama engage in any gossip of any kind. If she has ever spoken to me ‘about’ someone it has been out of genuine love and/or concern and was always accompanied by the phrase “… so be praying for them.”
  • Mama never took up for us when we were wrong in order to save her self from embarrassment. She never pointed the finger at another party. If we did something at school or otherwise that we should not have done, she was not the parent up there at the school defending us and saying that someone else was responsible for what we did or didn’t do. She made us responsible for our own actions and we paid consequences.
  • Mama made us do things at the house. She had us work in and out of the house, and the expectations were clear: you do a good job the first time or you will go back as many times as it takes to complete the job. I don’t think I had many friends in High School who were doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen, etc. I am glad my mama made us do that stuff, and I am sure my wife is as well!
  • I am sure that Mama disagreed with Daddy on some things, but she never did so in public. She never showed him up in any way. Rather, she was always submissive to him. And I can guarantee you that she has never embarrassed him.
  • We always had what we needed as kids, but Mama never spoiled us. She never spoiled anyone (well, maybe the grandkids now…). Mama was frugal, which drove us a little crazy at times. However, there were lessons involving things like saving and giving. She was and is incredibly responsible with finances, and I can guarantee you that she has never ever run up a credit card. Again, maybe this sounds like not such a big deal, but it really fed into that sense of security. We weren’t really going to ever have things that we didn’t need, and as a result, we never went without the things that we needed.
  • While Mama was firm, strict, and ran a tight ship, she has been the most gracious to me in times where I needed grace in the worst way. What made this grace so special is that it was reserved by her for times when I really needed it. I never got away with anything, and in fact, I probably really ‘got it’ for almost all of the small screw ups. It’s as if she knew just the right times to show me grace though, most often during the times that I least deserved it.

A lot of the things that I praise in my Mama are not things that I would have praised at the ages of 12, 16, 18, or even 25. Fortunately, I am not quite as dumb as I was at those ages. With each year I appreciate more and more how easy my mama is. She really set the bar for what my brothers and I looked for, and found, in a woman. I think the ones we found serve as a testament to how great a job she did.

Happy birthday Mama. I love you ‘forever and ever’.

Love

A bit of a deviation from the norm for today’s blog.

Just a little trip through some of my thoughts lately:

Lately, I have been trying to read through Corinthians, and doing so set an interesting chain of thoughts in motion (or at least I found it interesting).

These sets of verses…

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A1-3&version=NIV

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+2&version=NIV

caused me to think of a friend (you know who you are), which caused me to think of this brilliant man (sadly deceased) http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/01/hitchens-201201 (This is his last piece, and if you are otherwise unfamiliar with him, this piece shows you just how brilliant this man was. I would encourage you to do a little googling if you aren’t familiar with him/his work).

This resulted in me recalling that man’s relationship with this man http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/16/my-take-an-evangelical-remembers-his-friend-hitchens/ (Another brilliant piece you should read).

How did this relationship work? “How did it even exist?”, many would ask. And by many I mean those who relate to each of the ‘sides’ represented by each of these men. I was intrigued by it as well. I started thinking about those verses in Corinthians, however, and did a little digging on the old interweb (below), and this is what I found…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xorMPrHrzNU (pay close attention to what is said by the one man regarding the other at approximately 1:27 in).

http://www.fixed-point.org/templates/theme184/pensees/Not%20An%20Ideologue.mp3 This is an amazing listen (aside from some of the stupid things the host says). Listen to how this man describes the relationship he had with the other.

So, how did the relationship work? Why did Mr. Hitchens listen to Mr. Taunton? Why did he not make it personal during debates? Why not eat him alive in debates as he had so many others? Why did he want to be stuck in a car for hours on end with this man in the waning months of his life? How is it that Mr. Taunton just happen to be the first person that Mr. Hitchens talked to after finding he had cancer?

Love. He knew that Larry Taunton loved him. Not only that, but I believe he loved Larry Taunton. In the podcast, Mr. Taunton even differentiated Mr. Hitchens from others of like mind in that “people mattered more than ideas.”

I seriously doubt that Larry Taunton is as intelligent a man as Chris Hitchens was. I also seriously doubt that he ever tried to convince Hitchens of as much. The beautiful irony is that the thing that fostered what I consider to be a beautiful relationship between two men who traveled the country battling it out in rational debates, happens to be one of the more irrational things in this universe: undeniable, unconditional love.

It’s pretty simple: Love people. We don’t have to always agree with them. We may even completely disagree with them! We can, however, love them, and in my experience, the love that we have for them speaks infinitely more than any persuasive argument on apologetics ever could.

Something(one) worth writing about

Today has inspired me to write! “Why?!”, you may be asking. Well, because today is January 12, of course. It is my Daddy’s birth day. (Fret not reader, I will not be shoveling my typical arrogant, self-absorbed drivel upon you today.)

When contemplating how I would describe Daddy, my initial thought was “the greatest, Godliest man I’ll ever know.” My very next thought was, “Yikes, that sounds a bit arrogant and presumptuous. I am sure everyone thinks that about their Daddy.” It then occurred to me that, sadly, this is not the case in the world we live in. I know a lot of folks who don’t think a whole lot about their Daddy, or don’t think much of him, and with good reason (if what they tell me about their Dad is true).

To keep from rambling, I’ll just tell you a few of the reasons I feel the way I do about my Daddy. As I wrote these reasons down, it occurred to me that none of these descriptors were exclusive to being a Daddy. Rather, they are things that make him a Godly man, and being a Godly man happens to result in being an amazing father. Interesting how that works, isn’t it? More on that later.

  • Fun/Rest: One of the more valuable lessons my Daddy taught me without ever really trying to, and I only realized it after being around some men who had no idea how to practice the art of ‘fun/rest.’ When Daddy got home from work, that was it. Occasionally he would call and check on patients, but he never came home and worked. He never worked or attended to business related matters on vacations. On weekends, he did things like yard work (until myself and two brothers were old enough), but for the most part his weekends were composed of fishing, hunting, family time, and a lot of napping. And he never had this sense of “I need to be doing something productive” about him. On Sundays he did nothing besides church related stuff. By today’s measures, this sounds like a lot of wasted time, but it wasn’t. Heck, it isn’t (he still does the same things now, if not less!). It was good for us that he had fun and rested, and it is good for my family that I know how to do the same thing.
  • Grace: My Daddy was “blessed” with the challenge of having myself be a part of his first experience of being a Daddy. I understand that I am often self-loathing and self-deprecating, but I truly was a difficult child to raise, especially as far as males go. I was extremely trying, moody, stubborn, angry, spiteful, and selfish during much of the time I lived under his roof (Yes, a-holes, this is the part where you say, “You still are!”). Seriously though, Daddy, as frustrated and as hurt as he may have been, always made an effort to communicate with me, and communicate grace to me. Oh, I never got away with anything, but there was never a doubt that I was forgiven for whatever bone-headed thing I had done, and there was never, ever a doubt that I was…
  • Love(d): Of course Daddy loved me. I’m sure that I take that for granted, but I was as sure of that as I was that the sun would rise the next day. The love that was most impressive was the deep compassion for other people. People who were not in our biological family. Anyone, and I mean anyone who knows Daddy knows he loves you. Whether you are an old friend, a patient of his, an acquaintance, it doesn’t matter; when you are with Daddy it’s immediately apparent that Daddy is far more interested in you than himself. He is, without a doubt, the easiest person on Earth to talk to or spend time with, and I believe it is because he genuinely has compassion for you and puts himself below you, whoever you are. I believe this is why so many people who barely know him or have almost nothing in common with him will listen to him, and even let him say some really tough things to them: they are 100% positive that he loves them and genuinely cares about them.
  • Consistency: This is something that I really suck at, and it becomes more apparent when i am around Daddy. For as long as I have been alive, my Daddy has gotten up before sunlight and started the day with Jesus. Much like Corban, I was an early riser, and would often interrupt him at 5:30 or so. Looking back, the most interesting part of it all is how he handled it. He didn’t stop what he was doing and tend to me, as I would probably do with Corban. He clearly told me to find something else to do. He plainly chose time with God over time with me. In some very cool, strange way, that made him a better Daddy.
  • Growth: This one is especially meaningful to me, as for as long as I have known him, Daddy has been the Godliest man I have known (yes, this includes any pastor I ever had). In spite of that moniker, he has never been content with his relationship with God. How one can be the Godliest man I ever knew at any stage in my life, yet be the person I have seen grow and change (spiritually) the most  over the course of my life is truly remarkable. I’d compare it to if Michael Jordan, who was already the best player of his time, continued to get better even as others below him peaked. Daddy was not afraid to listen, to challenge himself spiritually with tough questions about himself or perhaps why he believed what he believed. He used to be  the Deacon who was always at the church for everything and everyone (which was a great testimony, by the way). Now his church is a mile from the sanctuary in a 75-year-old general store that has been converted into a church for guys who have probably avoided (or loathed) organized church their entire life. You can wear whatever you want to wear, say whatever is on your heart, give or not give. There’s all kinds of food you can eat during “church”. Heck, you can even put a fat dip (tobacco) in if you so please. But ask anyone, church happens in that place.
  • Husband: I believe I have read some quote somewhere that says in so many words that if you want to be a good father, be a good husband. I can’t argue with that. I have never seen a man treat a woman like my Daddy treats my mother. And it has always been that way. I have never heard a raised voice (between them) in my home – and that isn’t because they avoided conflict. Oh, I am sure there was conflict . I mean, they are married. Marriage is largely defined by conflict. But they never aired their crap around us, not even passively. One thing Daddy did do around us, however, was love on Mama. Mama, ever conservative, still has to beat Daddy off of her. And there are still the remarks, often in reference to her “equipment.” Hahahahahahaha. The point is, he is not only the best Daddy, but is the best husband I have ever seen or known.

As a husband and dad, I often feel that I have many roles to fulfill. When I think or pray about them, I often find myself addressing them individually. Provider, Daddy, Husband, etc. It becomes pretty clear when trying to fulfill these roles that you can’t do everything or make everyone happy. What I believe made Daddy such a successful father (and husband, provider, etc.), was that instead of trying to fulfill all of those roles, he simply  tried to be Godly. He is living proof that Godliness is systemic. It infects every aspect of your life, much in the same way sin can. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to be “all these things”, when seeking to be Godly is all we have to do. Then “all these things” will be added unto us.

They certainly were added to Daddy.

Happy birthday Daddy. I love you. Thank you for always putting us second.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A while back I wrote about becoming older. Most of what I wrote about at the time pertained to the physical aspects of getting older: going bald, getting fat, losing coordination and the like. Here’s a little that I’ve noticed about the mental aspects of getting older.

In short: yes you do get grumpy and/or grizzled. And more impatient.

This weekend I am going to see this guy in concert (http://youtu.be/jMXXnLSRdBE). I have actually had the privilege to go to a few different concerts this year (Avett Brothers, Band of Horses to name a few), and would have been to a few more had it not been for a few killjoys (my wife and her best friend) who I was with when I last went to NYC. Before this year it had been a while. I used to go to a lot of concerts, and recall most of them being ‘fun’; I vaguely recall enjoying myself at most of them. These last few were fun as well, but it’s just… different. I can’t remember ever being happy about concerts ending, but this year I have either left early or was glad when the thing was over. I just get tired. Yes, as in I want to go to bed. I also find that I don’t have the patience to wait like I used to. I find my self wanting to tell people to just get the hell out of the way. I mean, I am 35, I don’t want to have to wait in line to use the restroom. Ridiculous. I also don’t want to wait in line for 20 minutes to buy some meal that is guaranteed to give me diarrhea. This isn’t Mother Russia. Here’s something else I am never doing again: I am never walking into an establishment and fighting through four layers of drunk singles to get a drink. I’d rather throw myself on a live grenade. A month or so ago my Dad and I went to a Falcons game. There were just way too many people, and we parked in the dreaded “Gulch”, which, when leaving the game, felt about as safe as the Gaza Strip. I feel like that used to be fun. Those types of situations used to annoy me. Now they make me fantasize of using a flamethrower to clear the room. Here’s something else I can’t deal with: minutiae. As I have been writing this I have had two teachers come in to talk to me. One gave me her itinerary for her upcoming vacation IN JUNE. As she left another came in to tell me she worked in Arizona six years ago. I don’t know either of these people. If anyone can tell me why I would care about either of these conversations I will buy them a shiny new goat. Men, please talk to your wives. I am sick of them talking to me.

I am going home.

Happy Thanksgiving.