Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Will the Real… Please Stand up.

At one time there was a game show called To Tell the Truth and with all the reboots of game shows, it may even be on again. For those unfamiliar with the premise of the show, three contestants would claim to be the same person with usually some unique or even strange profession. Four panelists would then ask questions to determine who was lying and who was telling the truth. You might be asking why in the world I would make such an obscure reference.  I was driving in the mall area and spotted multiple Santas within a couple of blocks and it reminded me of when our kids were little and they would ask how there were so many Santas and which one was the real one.

I always explained that since Santa had to take care of kids all over the world, he had lots of helpers.  We had the occasion to visit many different Santas while the kids were growing up. There was even one that we often saw  driving  around  Franklin a red convertible wearing a T-shirt and shorts that I had strong suspicions was the real one summering away from the North Pole.  Some Santas really look the part and some really act the part so it was always difficult to know if we were dealing with the real thing or not.  One Christmas season we were in Atlanta for a work conference.  We had heard that the “real Santa” was in a mall very close to the hotel where we were staying.  My wife got the kids all dressed up to have pictures made with the Jolly Old Elf himself.  When we arrived, I thought that perhaps the President or some other VIP must be close due to all the security personnel.  We waited in line in front of the door to the inner sanctum. After two or three background checks, providing finger prints and a DNA sample, we were allowed to get in line.  When we finally arrived at the door, I caught a glimpse of of Saint Nick when the door opened a little too wide.  Even I was quite excited to be that close to the “Man” only to be asked to see our reservation.  The guard at the door smiled and shook his head at our apparent naivete when I said that we didn’t have one.  If our kids had known that the hysterical laughter was aimed at us when I asked if we could get a reservation for later in the day, I’m sure they would be telling a therapist to this day how they were scarred by the humiliation they suffered that awful Christmas season.  We were informed that we would have made reservations upon conception if we had been good parents.  We could have waited in the standby line but I think I saw some adults whining to some gray haired,elderly parents. asking if this would be the year they finally  got to see Santa.  We turned about face and did the Walk of Shame past all the parents who had planned sufficiently.  We did go and visit the Santa in the mall that was attached to our hotel.  I couldn’t compare him the “supposedly” real Santa since we had in effect a restraining order filed against us and could not be within 5 city blocks.  Our Santa must have had connections to the Big Guy because the kids got everything they wanted for Christmas that year.

As I said earlier, we have had the opportunity to visit many different Santas during our kids journey through childhood with some more believable than others.  One year in particular sticks out as an experience that screams for better quality control for Santa’s helpers.  For the life of me, I can’t remember if we won last prize from a radio station or if it was a work Christmas party that was all wrong, but we were on a Christmas cruise on the Music City Queen, I think it was called.  I may not be recalling the experience accurately because it’s possible,I could be repressing some of the facts. Think the steerage class on the General Jackson and you have an inkling of how impressive it was.  The boat ride was actually OK until they brought out their version of Santa’s helper.  The North Pole Navy’s standards for the role must be quite low because “Santa” could not have weighed over 110.  Any kids who were not terrified of him found it easier to have Santa sit on their laps. I don’t know what animals had been nesting in his fake beard but it really didn’t matter because it stuck to his five o’clock shadow like Velcro.  He bore a striking resemblance to the deck hand I had seen moments before spit a wad of tobacco into the Cumberland that choked a large catfish. His chapter of elves needed to renegotiate their contract to include dental coverage so he could preserve at least two or three of the teeth he had remaining in his mouth. He attempted to give out candy canes that were definitely from the Ghost of Christmas Way Past.   Everyone on board as relieved when “Santa” disappeared and the deck hand came back.

Needless to say it would be so much better for the kids if the real Santa Claus would please stand up.  Thankfully that’s not what Christmas is all about.  There is no confusion about the real hope we have because of the gift that God sent in His Son, Jesus.

Luke 2

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before[e] them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.[f] 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:[g] 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors![h][i

Hurry Up and Have Fun! (a FMF exercise on rush)

On Fridays, I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com challenge to write for five minutes on a challenge word. I’ve pretty much given up on limiting my posts to five minutes so I’ll apologize on the front end if I get too wordy. Today’s word is rush.

I’ll just go ahead and confess that this is an area that I can sometimes be guilty of falling into, especially at this time of year. I love Christmas, always have and probably always will. I enjoy decorating the house and the tree. I would lay in bed Christmas morning until I heard our kids start to stir so that I could get up and enjoy their excitement and wonder. I love watching my loved ones open the gifts that I’ve picked out. There are many traditions that I love but the problem is that I tend rush from one to the next just to get all of them in.  It is too easy for me to fall into the trap of hurrying up to have fun.

Allow me to share a couple of short stories where I’ve let this happen.  The first is from awhile ago.  Our son was not quite 4 and our daughter was a couple of months old.  Our church was distributing Christmas baskets to those in need.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach our young son about the spirit of giving and sharing so we signed up to deliver a basket.  Our destination was literally on the other side of the railroad tracks in the poorer side of town.  We turned down the potholed dirt road beside the tracks past a row of run down shacks to the address of our delivery.  As a family, we knocked on the door.  We were greeted by a smiling elderly lady named Mrs Scruggs. She complimented our cute kids and kept thanking us.  After we left, I used the opportunity as a teaching tool for our son to explain the what and the why of doing this.  I was quite pleased that we had the chance to teach a lesson on sharing God’s love and blessings.  That is, until Christmas morning.  We already had our immediate family Christmas with just the four of us and had traveled to my parents.  I was unloading the gifts for my parents and my brother’s families when my son, in his sweet little, almost four year old voice, asked me, “I wonder what Mrs Scruggs is doing for Christmas, this morning?”   It stopped me because he taught me something.  I had been so caught up in the rush to “do good”, I forgot about her as a person the minute we crossed over the tracks.  Out of the mouths of babes.

Many years have passed.  Our kids are all grown now and I’m much older but apparently not all that much wiser because last night I had another reminder to not always be in such a rush.  Our Sunday School class hosted Room in the Inn, a ministry for the homeless in Nashville where we pick up 10 guys from the Mission, feed and house them at our church and then return them the next morning.   I had an earlier meeting at church and so didn’t get the opportunity to help much in the preparations.  We served the guys their meal and my wife and I were seated at a table with a couple of the gentlemen.  One of the fellows engaged my wife in conversation.  He shared lots of stories about his life on the streets.  I was listening but to be honest, I really didn’t hear him.  Since I didn’t get much of a chance to help in the preparations, I was thinking I needed to aid in the clean up before we headed home.  All of the other men had finished eating and left the fellowship hall.  I felt a little conspicuous for just sitting there not doing anything.  I was in a rush to “do good” but my wonderful wife was more concerned with the man at our table. Light bulb moment.  I stopped worrying so much about rushing to the next thing and began to really hear what our new friend was saying.  He wanted someone to sit and listen.  So we did.

Thank you, Kate and FMF, for the reminder about rush.  Even if I’m doing something that’s supposed to be good, I need to be more like Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet to be in His presence and less like Martha who was busy.  I’ve used it before but there is much wisdom to be gained from the chorus of the Veggie Tales song, Busy, Busy:

I’m busy, busy, dreadfully busy
You’ve no idea what I have to do.
Busy, busy, shockingly busy
Much, much too busy for you.

I need my prayer to be to not always hurry up and have fun or be in such a rush to “do good”.  Life can be so busy, especially at this time of year.  Help me to be a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and less like Martha, always worrying about doing the next thing.  Let me not be in such a rush ‘to do” Christmas, to stop and reflect on what it really means, and engage with those around me.  Help me heed the words of Jesus to Martha.

Luke 39

 39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s[n] feet and was listening to what He said.[o] 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”[p]

41 The Lord[q] answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice,[r] and it will not be taken away from her.”

For more blogs from a Christian perspective, check out  and maybe even join FiveMinuteFriday.com hosted by Kate Motaung.

Can’t Believe I Miss It

Thanksgiving’s is over and I’ve got mixed emotions about it. First, we had a really great time with everyone back home for the holiday. The house was full of laughter and warmth. We had an opportunity for a little male bonding as my son-in-law, my son, and myself repaired the folding door to the laundry closet on Thanksgiving morning.  We grunted a little ala Tim the Toolman Taylor, got to use some power tools, and even a little friendly persuasion with a hammer and a rubber mallet.  My son was apparently given the job of color commentary which mostly revolved around my age and the interesting sounds I made as I applied the aforementioned persuasion to removing the old and installing the new various parts for the door.  God gives us all different gifts but I’m not sure that sarcasm is one of those.   Wherever he got it, Ty uses that gift quite freely.  The amazing thing is, even though my age and difficulty kneeling on my injured left leg were the main topic around which the sarcasm revolved, I found that I have missed it, a little, strange as though it seems.

This blows me somewhat away because I can’t even count the amount of enamel I ground off my teeth through his teenage years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to use a little well placed sarcasm when appropriate so Ty probably came by his gift quite honestly.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree especially when it is well fertilized.  I guess it goes to prove the old adage of absence makes the heart go fonder.  As he has matured, the sarcasm has lost some of its bite and is much more good natured.   As an example, Thanksgiving morning I went out to pick up the special edition newspaper loaded with Black Friday ads.  It had been warm on Wednesday so I was barefoot but soon regretted that decision because the weather had turned much cooler.  I returned to the front door to find it locked.   There was absolutely no doubt in my mind who had done it but after Ty let me in, his fiancee said, “It wasn’t me.  It was your son.” Like I said, it was not really a surprise.  My loving son said he thought I might want to try out the new door bell we had installed a couple of days before.  I shared with him with as much “real” emotion as I could muster how much I missed hearing sarcasm at the drop of a hat.

It all tends to even out in the end though.  When he was younger, he would give me a hard time about my hair but now that I’ve got more than him, he wishes his hair were more like mine.  The other thing I can take consolation in is that many of the things he gives me a hard time about may be looming in his future because he’s got quite a few of my genes in his make up.  If he ever has children, you can be sure I will remind them of that often.  It was good to have everyone around us for Thanksgiving, sarcasm and all.

The mixed emotions come because it’s both his, his fiancee, as well as my daughter and new son-in-law’s year to spend Christmas at the other set of parent’s home.  I guess if it gets too bad I can always get a little long distance heckling and sarcasm.

For today’s verse I’ll share a little wisdom from Proverbs.

Proverbs 15

  1. A gentle answer turns away anger,
    but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

        2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive,
          but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.

        3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
          observing the wicked and the good.

       4 The tongue that heals is a tree of life,
        but a devious tongue[a] breaks the spirit.

      5 A fool despises his father’s discipline,
       but a person who accepts correction is sensible.

      6 The house of the righteous has great wealth,
       but trouble accompanies the income of the wicked.

     7 The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge,
      but not so the heart of fools.

It’s a Wonder Full Life (a FMF exercise on full)

Here it is the Friday after Thanksgiving and the prompt word from fiveminuteFriday.com is appropriately full.
I tried to pace myself but as usual didn’t stop until I was past full and approached miserable.  Taking the gastronomical aspect out of it, it was a great day to sit back and reflect on what a wonder filled life I have.  No Angel earned their wings when I came to this conclusion.

One thing my father said often when he was still alive was how we moved to Tennessee with five of us and two dogs and look what we’ve become.  Yesterday we had 33 of us at my brother’s home and we missing a nephew’s family of five. Despite the fact that I was forced to be on injured reserve for the first time for our annual  Turkey bowl flag football game, we had a great time playing games, laughing and basically just enjoying being around each other.  It’s a wonder with that many folks that we all get along so well. We are so fortunate to have had such godly parents to start the whole thing out right.

It’s a wonder that my wife has put up with me for over 33 years.  It’s a wonder that we survived the major facelift our home has under gone this past month without going crazy.  That home has been filled with love and laughter as our kids, their spouses, and fiancees have spent time celebrating with us this week. It’s a wonder that I can say even after having surgery on my leg for the torn quad tendon that it has been a pretty good year.  Finally, it’s a wonder that I have a God who knows everyone of my faults, failures,and shortcomings, and still loved me enough to give up his dearly loved Son so that I could be with Him forever.

So, all in all, this Thanksgiving I can truthfully be thankful for my wonder full life.

Ephesians 5:20

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

There Is No Joy…

This is the week of Thanksgiving and as usual preparations are being made for the big day. It’s a day to stop and reflect on all the blessings I have received and to say thanks to God for all He has done. Thanksgiving also brings with it a tradition that has no rival. I’m not talking about the turkey, the dressing, or any of the other annual holiday delicacies. I’m not even talking about watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade even after our trip to NYC last year breeds the familiarity of having been in the exact spot where it is held. Special as it is, it’s not even the gathering of friends and family together to celebrate (Even though we get Ty and his fiancee as well as the relative newlyweds from Cedar Hill). It’s not even the excitement and thrill of the chase surrounding Black Friday/ post Thanksgiving sales. No, the tradition that I want to write about today makes everything else pale in comparison.  That’s right, I’m talking about the Turkey Bowl.  The annual Thanksgiving Brawl for It All family flag football game held Thanksgiving morning on that hallowed field off Hillsboro Road.  The Detroit Lions claim to be the father of football on Thanksgiving but that’s just because they have a better television contract. The Turkey Bowl is rich with tradition and carries with it the family bragging rights for a year.

To fully comprehend everything that is the Turkey Bowl, I should probably provide a brief history of this grand game.  In it’s earliest stages, the game was actually played after the Thanksgiving meal, however the quality of play was inversely affected by the quantity of food that was ingested.  This also tended to interfere with the equally important post feast nap.  Participation was limited to the elder statesman of the family, the three sons, as well as an honorary member of the family. Due to geographical constraints, the contest had it’s humble beginnings on the road at the bottom of the hill at the home George and Betty Thompson.    The rules of two hand touch were loosely applied in these early games which due to the lack of video replay, resulted in prolonged discussions as to the effectiveness and sometime excessiveness of said touch.  The lack of traffic control, as well as the artificial surface of black top being detrimental when excessive touch occurred to knees, elbows, and faces resulted in the move to the present location.

Before landing in its present home, the game was played on a shortened field which allowed the incorporation of a new generation of players being eligible for the roster.  The brashness of these young players elevated the trash talk to new levels.  Memories of these contests are still recalled to this day.  Legendary, at least in the minds of the players,  are catches and dives the year of the Giant Leaf Pile Game are often replayed with the feats growing  in grandeur with each retelling.  As this new generation became involved in the contest and word of the Turkey Bowl grew, their friends requested to be included in the ritual.  The gender barrier was smashed around this time with wives and daughters insisting in inclusion in this annual rite of passage.  The need for a larger arena became apparent as the number of participants increased.  Which brings us to the present field configuration of the Turkey Bowl.  The larger field also necessitated improved equipment so it was purchased and the rules of flag football were once again loosely adopted. With the inclusion of belts for the flags, it was suggested to move the game prior to the gorging so the belts would better fit around the players abdomens.  The game became a victim of it’s own success.  Eventually the commissioners decided to get back to the roots of the game with only family and direct next door neighbors especially since a fourth generation of new stars have emerged.

No formal hall of records exists for the game and mostly exist only in the player ‘s minds.  A raging debate does exist as to the oldest player to participate.  The two camps are on opposing sides. George Thompson has laid claim to the title from the onset but Rick Buerger has contested this fact.  There is even an unsubstantiated claim of Mr Thompson’s participation two years after his passing to further in grain himself in the record book.

Since the game is scheduled for Thursday, I’m sorry to report that I have had to place myself on IR.  I’m not at this time announcing my retirement and hope to return to the playing field in future years.  I know that several players have returned from IR after child birth so there is hope post quad surgery repair.  But I’ll take my cue from Casey and conclude with … for somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,  the band  is playing somewhere and somewhere hearts are light; and somewhere men are laughing and somewhere children shout; but they’ll be no joy at the Turkey Bowl, for this year I must sit out.

Happy Thanksgiving to all any way.  Take time to count your blessings.

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of on body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.

BTW Tickets are still available for the big game.

It’s on Me (a FMF exercise on cost)

Today’s prompt word for the fiveminuteFriday.com challenge is cost. Many things have to be taken into account when you try to evaluate the true cost of something. The price is not always in only money but can require time and effort among other things. It is only after all these factors have been incorporated that you can determine if something is worth the cost.

As I pondered on the word, cost, I find myself running a cost benefit analysis on some of my life’s “purchases”.  I was fortunate enough before marriage to have a little more discretionary income so I was able to give my parents a cruise for their anniversary many years ago.  Remembering their surprise and emotion on Christmas morning even more so now that they are both gone, I would say totally worth it.  Investing the time, money, and head aches in having children, absolutely worth it.  Giving your kids the “lifetime” experience of being able to say they slept in a “real” stone tepee (see Anticipation May 20 for the whole story), not so worth it.  Waking early to stand in a Black Friday line to get a Furreal cat that my daughter played with for one week and then wanted out of her room because it was too freaky, definitely not worth it.  Thirty-three years of marriage to my lovely wife, 100% worth it.

Once in a while, we don’t have to be concerned about cost because someone else pays for it. One such instance was after our wedding reception.  There was tons of food available but we left several plates uneaten because we kept getting called away from eating to visit with various friends and family.  Because of this, we were both starving as we traveled to our hotel in Nashville.  We stopped at a fast food restaurant and ordered.  I had to go into the restroom to wash my hands from cleaning the decorations off our car so we could drive.  The clerk complimented my bride on our attire asking if we had been to a wedding.  Then my wife replied, “Yes, ours.”  When I tried to pay, the worker said, “It’s on me.”  The cost to us was nothing but someone still paid the price.  I can’t help but think of what Jesus did for us when I consider this.  I’ll paraphrase the anonymous quote, “He paid the debt He did not owe for a price we could not pay.”  Romans tells us that we are are sinners and what the price of that is.  If Jesus ran a cost benefit analysis, we come up on the negative side of the equation.  The most amazing thing about Him paying the cost for us is not that He suffered so terribly, it’s the fact that at anytime He had the power to say, “Father, they’re not worth it”  and it would have all been over.  Instead, when He counted the cost, He said, “It’s on Me.”

 

Romans 5:8

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

For more Christian blogs or to join in writing yourself, go to fiveminutefriday.com hosted by Kate Motaung.

 

 

Ve Are Here to Pump You Up

I think I may have discovered a fitness regime that even Hans and Franz from the old Saturday Night Live skit would be hard pressed to say was only for girly men. I’m talking about something that would make P90X look like nothing more than a Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies warm up stretch. Before I tell you about this exciting Total Body Workout, I probably need to set the stage a little bit.

For those unaware of what has been going on the home front, our house is having the equivalent of a total body make over.  To fully understand what necessitated such a total transformation, we must look back to the beginning of the neighborhood in which we live.  Like many others in this area, I’ve got some doubts in the wisdom of the original owners or the developer that thought it would be a be a great idea to phosphate strip mine the majority of the future home sites. Once they had removed everything that had any value from the dirt, they spread out the now depleted soil and started to build.  It could be just pure coincidence but a great many of the foundations of the homes in our neighborhood found this a less than stable environment.  This being said, we have now gotten to experience a second round of foundation repair. We are very pleased with our latest repair but raising  and stabilizing the foundation resulted in an unforeseen circumstance.  The supports for the floor joists in our bedroom were set up to match the sagging foundation. When the foundation was raised back to where it needed to be, those supports were, shall we say, slacking on their job.  The end result of this was that our bedroom floor had enough bounce to rival a trampoline gym.  Not only that but walking across the room rattled the handles on my dresser in a continuous loop of Jingle Bells.  Even though Christmas is rapidly approaching , I thought I should rectify the problem before the Product Safety Commission shut down our bedroom for not having safety nets up.  Now that you have the background story, you can fully appreciate the development of my exciting fitness discovery.

I had purchased a couple of house jacks and some timber to stabilize the floor.  I had also employed my great nephew (Thanks again, Peyton!) to act like the little burros that are used in mines to ferry supplies under the length of our home.  Now I was ready to begin my CB220max workout (The origin of the name will become apparent).  I also had some cinder blocks left over from previous tasks to use for bases.  The access door under the house is on the opposite side of the house from our bedroom so the CB220max exercise regime is based on transporting a couple of cinder blocks the length of the house.  I discovered, quite unintentionally because I couldn’t crawl on my injured left knee, that the way to increase the work load is to army crawl.  I know what the length of our home is but I began to wonder if somehow under the house it doubled.  Due to the aforementioned multiple supports under our home, the journey was more of a labyrinth, missing only the Minotaur to be complete. I could feel the burning in my forearms and my Fitbit want-to -be was screaming out uncle.  When I finally arrived at the next workout station, I had to perform countless head, neck, shoulder, knees and toes presses to position the support beam under the jacks.  Note: You need to keep the number of bumps on your head to under 20 to assure you are performing the exercise properly.  Sadly I learned this the hard way.  Upon completion of the countless presses, I then had to run the gauntlet of under house supports pushing the cinder blocks again since I didn’t end up using them after all.  I told my nephew to leave me and save himself but he stuck with me to the end.  I nearly cried when I saw the light from the crawl space access door but held it together for fear that Hans and or Franz would be there to call me a girly man. The CB220max had kicked me in the proverbial back side.  I dropped to the ground with places on my body hurting that I didn’t even know even had muscles. I laid on the driveway until the circling vultures began to get too close and then drug my aching body into the house.

Now that I have revealed the secret to this total body work out, I won’t be surprised to see copycat cinder block gyms pop up all over the place.  Soon to be followed by infomercials and apps touting ways to build your own CB220max gyms at home. Remember you saw it here first.

I guess, after undergoing such an exhausting endeavor, it’s important to take into account the lessons learned.  Even though we had repaired the foundation, our bedroom floor was not relying on it.  It was in essence depending only on itself for support and would have at sometime eventually failed.  Thankfully, I have a foundation that never fails in Jesus but if I don’t fully let Him hold me up, I too will eventually fall.  I know that I’ve used this verse relatively recently but it couldn’t be more appropriate,

 

Matthew 7:24-25

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.