Culture

He Cut Up That Car

Suzuki2It sat in our yard for years. And it drove me nuts. Tim’s pension for keeping cars long after they were of any use was the source of many an argument. If it didn’t run, I wanted it gone.

But I never imagined the old Suzuki Samurai would come to its end this way. But to hear Daniel tell the story, you’d be in stitches.

That’s right, cause they cut up that car. It became a challenge to get the pieces small enough to spread them out in dumpster all over town. And all these years later, Daniel can tell you where every piece went.

“Mom, we put the transmission in the dumpster behind the 7-11 on Liberia. And the drive train went in the one behind Osbourn Park High School…”Suzuki1

I could just imagine them, laughing all the way to their next destination. Pleased with themselves for the clever way they went about making mama happy.

They had the time of their lives, and they did it their way. Now you can lecture all you want on the rights and wrongs of what they did. But on this anniversary of what would be Tim’s 62nd birthday, I’m grateful my son has such a crazy memory of his father.

And just last week, Kelly and I were talking about that ridiculous Suzuki and how Tim and Daniel chose to dispose of its parts. And she said, with tears in her eyes, “If I had it to do over again, I’d have cut it up with them.”

Sheik Tim 8-4-01“Me too Kelly, me too.”

Cause sometimes, life needs to be a little crazy. And sometimes it’s good to challenge societal pretenses. And sometimes, it’s worth it to ignor what’s considered proper.

Tim beat to his own drum. And many times, he needed to rein it in and follow some rules. But just as many times, I needed to relax and go with the flow. If for nothing else, but to create a lasting memory in the hearts of our children.

Happy Birthday Tim. You left an impression on us that I’m grateful will never go away.

So my friends, what adventure do you need to join in on? Go ahead, throw caution to the wind, and do something crazy.

 

 

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Hey, Can We Get Some Peace Over Here?

1My brain hurts after weeks of the incessant badgering by both sides of the cultural debate going on in our country. Most of the dialogue I ignored. Especially from my more outspoken friends and followers on social media.

I don’t have answers. And I’m tired of trying to win arguments. Now, what bothers me, is probably not what you think.

I have a large family. And within that family we all share a broad range of views on every subject. And that’s always been the case. And none of the incessant streams of pro’s and con’s on facebook has ever changed any of our minds. But we’re still family, and I love the whole bunch.

But, to me, what has changed most in our country is the intolerant divide that seems to be growing between good people who simply believe different things.

I’ve spent years working under many different types of leadership. And the leaders who stand out the most are the ones who were able to unite a diverse group of people for a common goal.

I was privileged to work under African Americans who, to my amazement, garnered the respect of the most ardent racists on their teams. I also worked under women, who blew me away with their ability to get male chauvinist pigs on board with their ideas.

One of the greatest accomplishments of our great nation has been its ability to unite its people. And great leadership pulls that off in a way that makes everyone feel as though they gain something in the process.

No group of people is ever right all the time. And I understand debate is necessary in order to get all views on the table. But the goal must always be to find the best solution that keeps the people united. And when the unity begins to dissolve, great leadership adjusts and pulls everyone back together.

So this 4th of July, my prayer is for God to rise up leadership devoted to unity. Who will put aside their desire to win the argument, in favor of building a team. Who’s passion will be to settle us down, and give us some peace.

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The Love of a Boy and Girl

IMG_3631Last week I feasted at Aunt Jeanne Marie and Uncle Eugene’s dining room table. At eighty-seven, it’s a struggle for them to entertain guests. But they were delighted when I came, bringing two friends along with me. For over an hour we ate great food and drank fine wine. And as we did, the conversation became richer and richer.

Finally, I pushed my chair away from the table and declared, “This is the best.”

“No,” replied Aunt Jeanne Marie, “The love of a boy and a girl, that’s the best.” Then she turned to Uncle Eugene and tenderly tapped him on the shoulder.

The moment froze. For a few seconds, years of photographs flashed in my mind. The young bride and groom. The two of them in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Uncle Eugene so tall and handsome, usually with his arm around his stunning wife.How to get Mojo

Sitting there, I felt honored to have witnessed such a great love story.

And, once again I realized how distorted my view of love is. How too often my heart gets sucked into a Hollywood romance because the couple is young and beautiful. How I’m easily impressed by wealthy celebrities declaring unending love for one another.

But true love sat in front of me last week. And it was quiet and reserved. Deeper than anything I’ve ever experienced. And it didn’t need words. It shined through in the simplest glances. And spoke volumes in the gentle tap of a shoulder.

If we lived in a right side up world, there would be a line outside Aunt Jeanne Marie and Uncle Eugene’s door. People would come from miles in order AJM & Grandfather 1to soak in their wisdom. Talk show hosts would compete to book them on their shows.

And they would be the celebrities of the day. Their faces beaming on the cover of the magazines in the check out line. And our young men and women would clamor to be just like them.

Ahh, what a wonderful world that would be.

To Know Me is to Know My Struggle

Many years ago, I believed if I just had enough counseling I could overcome my dysfunction and be a normal person. Now don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in therapy. And when you come from severe dysfunction, sometimes it’s your only hope. But it’s not like taking a pill when you have an infection. Therapy doesn’t just make it all go away.

And who wants to get counseling when it forces you to look at yourself. For in that looking, you see all the ways you self-destruct your own life and those around you.

For most of my adult life, I’ve fought against my own dysfunction. To know me, is to know my struggle. I’m outspoken, controlling, and driven to get my own way. And I don’t struggle in silence. I tend to openly reveal my battles, and I expect others to do the same. To me, intimacy involves a deep down sharing of the wars that rage inside us. I believe it’s where I begin to understand you and you begin to understand me.

And in that understanding, deep relationships bloom. For if I know the source of your struggle, and I see you fighting against it, I can respect you. I can join you in your fight. And cheer you on to victory.

It’s true, the closer someone is, the greater they can hurt you. That’s always the risk. Let someone in, and the pain door flings wide open. But when I know your challenges, it makes it easier for me to apply grace.

On the flip side, I don’t share my struggles so other’s can use them against me. I don’t reveal them as fuel for someone to build up their own distorted view of themselves.

Over the years, many well-meaning folks have tried to fix me. I guess it goes with the territory of having a soap opera caliber life. Perhaps it makes them feel better to help a sloppy soul like mine. But their pity makes me feel worthless. I wanted friendship, but it was clear that was never their goal.

It’s so cliché to say life is not fair. But there’s no phrase that says it better. I celebrate those who had great childhoods. It’s wonderful your dad invested in you or your mom was the model for June Cleaver. Maybe you’re not a self-saboteur like me. But I’d almost bet you struggle with pride.

That’s what’s so great about Christ. He never let anyone off the hook. We all have something to own in this great big battle against sin. And our only job is to turn around and take a look at ourselves. Examine our own hearts. It’s all there waiting for us to unravel.

But there’s nothing like great friends who are willing to chug alongside us as we face the worst parts of ourselves.

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My Chugging Friends, Ginni and Dian

 

 

 

I’m Selfish – How About You?

AJM & UE

For my entire adult life, she’s never been more than a phone call away. And call her I did. She was the first to learn Daniel was arrested. The first one told Tim had cancer. Over the phone we celebrated all my life’s accomplishments. And we cried over all my challenges.

For the past 50 some years, I’ve spent hours pouring my heart out to her, knowing she’d not only understand, but also give me a perspective to help me to grow.

So it’s hard to watch Aunt Jeanne Marie struggle with dementia. It’s hard to adjust when she forgets who she’s talking to. It’s painful when she knows it. And when she gets upset, my heart aches.

Aging is hard. And to think my whole life it’s gone on around me. But in the selfishness of my youth, I’ve looked the other way. I wasn’t around as my grandparent’s aged. And both my parent’s died relatively young. So much of this journey is new to me.

But I’ve been calloused toward the aging. I’ve not noticed their struggle, or been mindful that I could possibly help.

I guess it’s human nature, or maybe it’s our youth obsessed culture. We enter this world with guns a blazing. We wail like mad at the first hint of our need. We’re like the two-year-old on the toilet when an earthquake rumbles who asks his mother, “What did I do?” We would never say it out loud, but we do think the world revolves around us.

But God has a way of pulling us back in. Of reminding us there’s a reason the weak shall inherit the earth. That deep down satisfaction comes when we give ourselves away. That self-centeredness is the fastest route to self-destruction. Aging has a way of bringing it all back around. Of teaching us how helpless we really are.

AJM & Her Girls 2I cherish my Aunt Jeanne Marie. And to me, she will always be that 30 something beauty that stepped into my life after my father died. And I don’t care if today she thinks I’m her sister Josephine, or that Uncle Eugene is Uncle Lewis. I’ll just roll with it for as long as she’s willing to talk.

For my hope lies in the truth that God is in the business of making all things new. And for those of us who put our trust in Christ, we will all get new bodies. And one day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. But in the mean time, God is preparing a place for my Aunt Jeanne Marie. A place with no more tears, no more death, and no more dying.

And to that I say, come Lord Jesus, come.