Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Day No Dogs Will Die (sorry Mr. Peck)

I was going through some old articles I'd written looking for a quote I seemed to think was in them somewhere. I never found the quote but noticed that I was more personable then, more vulnerable. Was that a good thing or bad? I pondered. The pondering had as much success as the quote hunt. I don't want to write about myself all the time-- it's boring, its egocentric, and arrogant. Writing about yourself can easily get the subject or spotlight off the weightier matters of the kingdom, namely the King. Writing about yourself can tend to make the good, better than it is, the worse, worse than it is or go the other way and make the good, worse and the bad, good and get as confused as this sentence. A lot of things on my mind are really no one else's business or problems. Most of the time, I don't need "fixers" coming in to fix things or merciful folk showing up to sympathize. I need prayer but you only need to listen to a few sermons, play golf with me or talk to me about any thing a few minutes and you know that I need prayer without me opening heart and soul in a newsletter article. But there are times and weeks when it seems that "me"is the only thing on my heart so I guess it's better just to get it out there, maybe for the catharsis of confession or to wring out the mind of all the accumulated thoughts much like you wring out a mop of its grey slurry. So I didn't ever say much or write anything about my mother-in-law's back, my daddy's stroke, Cody the dog, or my two sons. Oh, I asked for prayer for them in prayer rooms, prayer circles and small groups but it was all on the information level. I never told you how I felt about watching my 88 year old mother-in-law struggle with a cracked back and bulging discs. You didn't see her thirty four years ago doing round offs in the living room for the grandkids. You never saw what unbelievable stamina she had for doing whatever she had to do after her husband died. Taking care of four daughters and their grandchildren, (even a set of twins,) fixing meals, and the huge Christmasses she put on. Now, instead of round-offs, its round up the walker. The daughters and grandkids are taking care of her, cleaning, cooking, driving. The contrast is gut- wrenching. ( I once had an article rejected from a magazine because I used the word "gut." I use it as often as I can now. The mag. is out of business) But you know this stuff, you've been through it and worse. I suppose that's why I never said anything much beyond info and prayer request about my daddy's stroke. It has left him legally blind and imprisoned him to some extent. He can watch a little tv and read a little. He doesn't drive so he can't check the cattle or other people's crops like he did his own crops until he retired two years ago. He was the one who rarely got sick, never stopped, and was the tall, strong, silent type of hero who was always "just there." Now he's just there in the house or the yard or the workshop, probably kinda lost. No longer the artist-farmer who used blackland prairie as his canvas, tractors and plows as brushes and living plants for paint. The rows were always the straightest when they needed to be straight. A perfect, long, slow curve to follow the terrace an eighth of a mile away when they needed to curve. His paintings were alive and were marked with the changing hues of light green to dark green; changing later to rust colored maize, golden wheat and the browns and bright white of cotton. The artist has retired and can't see so very well even the paintings of others offered on the same canvas. The contrast is gut-wrenching but you've been there in one form or another. So I also didn't bother you with too many details about my son Clay and his mission trip. I wasn't too gung-ho for this one. He's gone on them before but I felt, and was probably wrong, that this mission trip to Italy was just not the right one at this time. I felt he was just manufacturing a break from a job that isn't very rewarding and hardly pays the bills. But in this economy its a job and he has health insurance and I felt he might jeopardize it if they saw they could do without him for the two weeks he will miss since they have already had several cut-backs there. So I wasn't as encouraging as I should have been. He raised all the the money. He's got the vacation time coming. We found some angels to let us bring our dogs back here to White Bluff. He was keeping them until our house was finished. So we last talked to him while he was laid over in Newark yesterday afternoon and at 5:45 this AM I was on the computer reading headlines to make sure no plane crash was reported in Europe. Some kids go to Cancun and get drunk for a break. My kid goes on a mission trip to encourage missionaries and clean up after earthquakes, and still his dad questions it. You probably don't do that with your kids so why tell you about how goofy my parenting is? So I won't bore you with tales of my other son, my grandson's dad. He is seriously underemployed selling cars. But he hangs in, and keeps hoping customers come in, and his back aches from standing too much with bad arches. I didn't teach him how to hang in like that but he's doing what he can to provide for his family. If he whines it is to his wife and not me. I did probably teach him that. If I could snap my fingers and make things easier for the boys, I would. But they are beyond my control, unlike when they were home and I used game-boys, ice cream, spankings, car keys and wish-filled promises to get them to do what I thought was right. The contrast is, well, this one was needed. I bored you longer than with any blog I've ever written with this personal stuff. It usually doesn't take this long to bore you. I didn't even have time to tell you about the loss of Cody, my mentally handicapped little sister-in-law's Shitzshu. ( I always feel fuilty pronoucing that breed.)He's been a big part of Kim's life for nearly fifteen years. But its was his time to go this week. I can't remember a time he wasn't around their house but the next time I go I'll have to face what Kim is facing today. It's a day without____and there are a hundred of those blanks to fill in when you lose your dog-friend. But it's a dog and not a person and you try a dozen other rationalizations like that that don't work because it was a relationship of love between Kim and Cody, one that I believe was God-sent. Having it end is gut-wrenching for her and seeing it is so for the rest of us. So there, now you know what I think about when not thinking about sermons or bs (bible study), or visiting the hospital or playing golf. Now you won't have to ask and I won't need to tell you my melancholy musings . You've been through worse no doubt and have hurt far more deeply but do yourself a favor. Don't get so busy doing all that other bs to keep you from really feeling what life does to you, that you never wring the melancholy out of your mop-like mind. Go ahead, think the thoughts, sigh the sighs, let the tears come and then wipe 'em quickly before anyone sees. Tell someone what you are feeling and thinking. If for no other reason that they might remind you that there is coming a day when no dogs will die. On that day God will wrest away His own from blinding strokes, bulging discs, aching backs, bad jobs, past failures and a thousand other ______(fill in your own blank, I'm not doing all the work) people have experienced in this fallen world. And on that day, the contrast between what was and what in Christ, truly is, will no longer be gut-wrenching but soul releasing, soul refreshing, and soul finding. And what we will have found is what we sought from the beginning: Him and home. Cos

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I don't recognize my world as much anymore. The roads have changed, the old landmarks are gone, the old leaders are, well, old. Skylines have changed and nostalgic markers of what some call better days are harder to find.

You can still see the Lucas B&B sign for the old Dallas deli, but the deli is gone, Pappadeaux is there now. And these are very minor changes. I don't recognize a world where a beauty queen is vilified for saying marriage should be between a man and a woman. I thought that was normal and right. In this world I guess not. She has been called a bigot, a racist, opportunistic, a bitch, and hate-filled. Its all ok for someone to say those things about her without being bigoted and hate-filled I guess, at least in this new world I don't recognize.
 I don't recognize my world much anymore. It's a world where a beauty queen says shes a Christian and takes a stand for traditional marriage and then we find out she had nude photos made when she was 17. (Where was her mother?) She says shes not perfect but models have pictures made of themselves in swimsuits and lingerie and stuff. It's part of the business. I don't recognize that business world.
 I no longer recognize this world where "porn" is openly discussed on TV shows and joked about by comedians and talk show hosts. We don't even blink anymore let alone blush. Movies rated "X" thirty years ago are PG-13 now. Most Christians wouldn't attend an "X" rated movie, Hollywood fixed that, they are just "R' rated now. My grandparents generation had qualms about even going to the "show." We all thought that was so antiquated and silly. Maybe they recognized something coming we didn't want to see.
 A old pastor friend and I played golf late Monday evening. He asked me if I was on Facebook. No, I said. I aked him if he used Snapchat. He asked me if I  tweeted on Twitter. No, I said. I'm not sure either of us knew what we were talking about.
The Westwinds Church in Jackson, Mich. encourages its young audience to Tweet during the sermon and talk to each other in the process. They even have an associate pastor feeding ideas and questions to those tweeting during the sermon. I get flustered when I lose my place in my notes I scribbled on my sermon napkin. I haven't learned all the old secrets of communicating in this world before a new way to talk about myself is introduced. I don't recognize all the ways to connect in this world now, but I have the sense that everyone is more disconnected than ever.
We can find out what we all wore to work today on Facebook. We can invade each other's MySpace and know when we go to the mall, the gas station and what we ordered at Sonic. I can Tweet and in 140 characters help you keep up with me. We can now stay connected 24/7 and still feel alone, separate, and isolated. We don't recognize how to connect heart to heart anymore, its all device to device.
We won't recognize our world when all the machines take over, at least I'm ahead of that curve. I don't recognize my own body in this world at times. It is so much weaker. It can't pick up what it used to nor move as fast as it did even just a few years ago. My arms and legs are so small now. I can't bench press a third of what I did years ago. I can't hit a golf ball nearly as far except when its going out of bounds. It even hurts in some places now that never bothered me before. Nearly every week I ask it, who are you?
 So what can I do when so many of the old signs, landmarks, morals, and mores for living life have changed? Well, I can learn to read new signs, travel new roads, and adjust where I can to the new devices made to make my life simpler. In the weightier matters of life, the realms of faith, righteousness, justice, hope and love,  I must recognize something else when I don't recognize my world. That something else is: this world is not my home.
 As I grow closer to my true home then the old one becomes less familiar. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:20 that our citizenship is in heaven. Jesus said in John 14 he was going to His Father's house to prepare for us a room. But even as the world becomes less recognizable then Jesus should be even more real and recognizable to us. The longer we walk with Him in faith the more we can see who He is and where He is heading.
 It may be harder in coming days to recognize this world, but this world and its glories are fading. The key is to recognize the Saviour of the world and follow Him. He will slowly and gradually break the bands of this world that have a hold on us and make us ever more free to truly live.
 One day we shall see Him as He truly is, let's not be surprised.