"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Live Like We're Dying

On this cool, crisp November morning, my oldest son and I set out on an adventure across town to run in a 5K event benefiting a co-worker of mine. Will Steele suffers from a rare form of cancer - and he is waging a battle for his physical life.

I LOVE to run. I've been doing it for almost 20 years now. And as I explained to a lady at the race, I'm a runner...but not a "strategic" runner. In other words I don't set out to win race or set personal records. Rather, running is my therapy. It's my chance to be alone, to reflect on the day, to commune with the Father, or to even sing at the top of my lungs. So it was a no-brainer to make a small contribution to this great man's quest for freedom from his disease.

On the way to the race I was explaining to Elijah who Will was, how sick he was, and what the purpose of the race was. Elijah's favorite game is "Twenty Questions" - the kids is going to make a great attorney one day, because he can beat you into submission with questions. So we talked about cancer, chemotherapy, radiation...and then death and eternity. He ended his stream of questions with "Is Will going to be in Heaven?"

I tried to explain that only God determines that...but based on what I know about Will, I feel confident that God and he will continue to spend lots of time together...but that I don't think Will is ready to sign off just yet.

So we get to the race, we run our three miles, and we decided to stick around to see who won the different age groups (yes, Elijah got second in his age group; as for me...well...you know...). While we were waiting, the DJ who was playing music throughout the event played a song that had this echoing mantra of "We gotta live like we're dying."

And I got real choked up.

I am in the best shape of my life. I eat healthy to the point that folks at work make fun of my obsession with fruit. And even though I know that my body is mortal, I've been living my life like I'll be around forever. I worry more about my retirement than I do about my judgment. I worry more about getting kids to college than I do about pointing my kids toward Heaven. I worry more about navigating my way to a promotion versus navigating my salvation (with fear and trembling, Paul says).

I do not envy Will. He's young (only 33) has a beautiful wife, and three sweet little kids. And his long-term prognosis isn't good. But when you talk to him and you read his blog...HE GETS IT! And I think I get it, too.

I'm terminal. I'm dying. I just don't have a doctor speculating on when my time will come. But it's high time I start living like I'm dying.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day Reflection

I don’t know if Veteran’s Day is a day to be “celebrated,” but it’s certainly a day to be honored.

As the generations have rolled by, we have become more and more desensitized to war and to the responsibility involved in being a part of our military.

Today, in 2010, I can go to GameStop or any other retail outlet and purchase literally dozens of video games that will allow me to pretend that I’m a soldier, pilot, or sailor engaged in the throes of battle. And if I get wounded or killed…oh well, I’ll just start the game over. I can go to Blockbuster or Netflix and rent one of HUNDREDS of movies that attempts to portray the gut-wrenching and gut-spilling details of hand-to-hand combat. But as gory and emotional as those pictures can be, we can still get up, push “Stop” and “Eject,” and go on about our lives.

But today, halfway around the world, there is no “Stop” or “Eject” button. It’s not a movie, it’s not a game, and it sure isn’t fun.

Today, in 2010, parents shudder at the thought of their 16-year old son or daughter getting behind the wheel of a car and driving off into traffic. As parents, we do our best impersonation of a hovercraft as we follow our children everywhere making sure they cross every “T” and dot every “I”. As parents (and I’m the WORST at this), we enable our children’s laziness by exempting them from chores and other tasks that, a generation ago, were just part of everyday life. And when a teenager expresses interest in joining the military versus going to college, many of us wrinkle our noses, scratch our heads and think, “Really? Why would you choose to go that route?”

Yet 70 years ago, kids that same age were storming beaches, toting automatic weapons and flying airplanes with tons of explosives. Boys who were 13-years old were lying about their age just to have the opportunity to join the fight for freedom. Many of them never came home. Some of their bodies were never found. Some of them were so badly destroyed it wasn’t worth sending them home to their families to be buried. Instead, they were buried at sea. Or they were buried in mass graves. Or they were buried by foreigners in towns whose names you can’t pronounce. They never got to live the “American Dream” – never had a 401K or a house with a white picket fence. They never vacationed in the Bahamas, Cancun or Disneyworld. They never got to grow up or grow old.

The ones who did come home returned with visions burned in their memory. Visions of holding their best friend as he breathed his last; visions of the look in another man’s eyes as he was engaged in a kill-or-be-killed moment; visions of sleepless nights, exhausting marches, pain and suffering. Visions that, even today, bring tears to the eyes of a 90-year old man.

So today, in 2010, I’m tapping away on a laptop in a beautiful house with a great family and all the food I can stuff in my face. Today is Veteran’s Day…but tomorrow should be Veteran’s Day as well. And the next day…and the next day…and the next day…

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I'm Your Son

Not only is “Parenthood” one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen, it’s also a heart-wrenching look into the life long journey of being a mommy and daddy. Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, and a slew of other actors portray a family on this rollercoaster ride…and does a beautiful job of personifying the adage, “Once a parent, ALWAYS a parent.”

And no scene from the movie depicts this better than a conversation between Larry (Tom Hulce) – the youngest of four children – and his father (Jason Robards). Larry has a gambling problem that has caught up with him. He owes more than $25,000 to bookies who will kill him if he doesn’t pay up. For years, his father has saved him from one desperate situation after another. He finds himself literally pleading for his life this time as he says to his dad, “You gotta help me – I’m your SON!”

The Bible is full of great themes – faith, hope, love, community, fellowship, compassion. This past Sunday we talked about another theme – rescue. The Bible is brimming with accounts of men and women rescued by the Holy One. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and was rescued from the flood. Isaac was rescued from the hand of his own father. Joseph was rescued from countless circumstances to become the second in command of Egypt. Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Elijah, Jeremiah – all of these were rescued from certain death by the grace of God.

When Jesus came on the scene, he continued the rescue business that his Father had started more than a thousand years earlier. He laid his hands on the unlovable and preached the good news of hope to the hopeless. And even today that same message rings true for us. God is still in the rescue business.

And the greatest irony about our rescue is that it came about because God REFUSED to rescue His own. As Jesus was hanging from those rough pieces of wood he looked up to Heaven and, in a manner of speaking, cried out, “You gotta help me – I’m Your SON!” What Dad wouldn’t offer up his own body to not see his son in pain? What mother wouldn’t gladly trade places with her daughter who was entrenched in suffering. We wouldn’t dream of turning a deaf ear. The thought of turning my back, covering my ears and walking away makes my stomach turn.

Yet that’s what the Father did.

So as I sit here tonight watching my sons sleep, I try to comprehend the rescue mission that God set out on for me.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Ten Years...

Today my oldest son turns ten. It hardly seems possible that Elijah has been in my life for a decade. It just seems like yesterday that we woke up on a cold, SNOWY Saturday morning to head to Wilson N Jones Hospital for our first adventure in parenting. The years are flying by and they’ve been filled with so many great memories. And since I have an affinity for top ten lists, I figured I would share another one. So here are ten memories from ten years of my oldest son.

10. When we were in Abilene, Robin and I coached the girls’ basketball team at Abilene Christian High School. Elijah was three years old when we started doing this, and he loved all the attention from the girls. But instead of calling them the Panthers or mommy’s team, he referred to them as “Mommy’s Ladies.” So to this day Robin and I still refer to that group of girls as “Mommy’s Ladies.”
9. Elijah was maybe 18 months old as we were sitting in church on a Sunday morning. He was down on the floor driving a toy car back and forth in the pew while the sermon was taking place. The preacher was talking about the power of prayer, and the first time he said “pray” Elijah quickly looked up, tossed his car to the side, folded his hands and then bowed his head. Robin got tickled, and I got a little teary-eyed.
8. Walking through the Midway Mall in Sherman…when Elijah found a jukebox that was playing a variety of CD’s. He was just learning how to read really well, and went up to the jukebox to test his skills. Unfortunately, the CD that was visible was AC/DC’s “Back In Black.” And Elijah’s eyes went straight to Track 5…and he read (LOUDLY): “LET…ME…PUT…MY…LOVE…INTO…YOU.” Embarrassing for me, but it entertained all the ladies at the perfume counter.
7. His first picture with Santa Claus. This face is the same face that could be seen anytime a mascot or Chuck E. Cheese happened to walk by as well.
6. The time he did an awesome disappearing act at the Old Navy in Abilene. One moment he was there – the next he was gone. I ran around the store calling his name, had the manager call Mall Security and alert all of the stores in the Mall…only to find him sticking his head out of a rack of clothes that he was HIDING in.
5. I learned a lot from my little guy one day in downtown Chicago. We were walking back to the hotel we were staying in when we came upon a homeless family sitting in the streets. I grabbed some change out of my pocket, tossed it in their bucket and kept walking. Elijah asked me, “What did you do that for?” I said, “Those people don’t have a home, so I wanted to help them.” “Can I give them some of my money,” he asked? So we turned around. Elijah reached into his wallet, pulled out a $10 bill and put it in the family’s bucket. Best sermon I ever “heard.”
4. In truly one of the worst experiences of my entire life, I took Elijah AND Noah to the health department to get their annual vaccinations. This link says it all: http://chriscampbell.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_archive.html
3. When Elijah was a baby, as one of us would feed him and rock (or WALK) him to sleep, he would grab the skin on your elbow and rub it. To this day, if I’m close by and he starts to get sleepy, he STILL will grab my elbow and start rubbing it.
2. Any drive with Elijah that lasts more than 15 minutes has one thing in common: I will be asked the question, “How many more towns do we have to go through before we get to . At the age of 3, Elijah could name every city between Fort Worth and Abilene – yes, even the ghost towns of Thurber and Mingus!
1. Robin was enjoying her Demerol Cocktail the night that Elijah was born…and it was just he and I. We sat up all night together. I sang every song I could think of to him, although I kept coming back to “Bad” by U2 and The Ramones rendition of the theme from “Spiderman.” That was a special moment for me. My first night as a father – the first night of a journey. This journey has seen two more little traveling companions join the ride, and I feel blessed that THE FATHER has entrusted THIS father with those precious gifts.