Friday, February 24, 2006

still a dad

When your children grow up and leave home, they don't...really.

I say that with a deep sense of satisfaction.

I have enjoyed having my son, Greg, live with us the last seven weeks. He is getting ready for another move in his life--this time to San Francisco. His transition included getting settled in an apartment and finding work--all goals that he accomplished. It was fun for me to help him move his things into an apartment in downtown San Francisco, huffing and puffing up the hills from the garage to his upstairs room. I simply felt proud to still be his dad!

I have really enjoyed having my daughter, Jennifer, and her two children--Milla and Owen--with us for about ten days. Jennifer lives in Texas so I don't get to see her very often but this has been a wonderful time of just "loving on" her and our incredible grandchildren! It is also a time that we have had to sit and talk and talk about the changes that are an inevitable part of all of our lives. I am glad, however, that some things remain constant. I am still her dad!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I just had a funeral for a fellow I never knew.

It was wonderful to hear all the nice things said about him by his son, his nephew, distant cousins, fellow workers, neighbors and friends. Seldom have I heard such consistently kind words said about anyone.

Chuck served in the Air Force and so at the end of the service a military guard presented the flag to his wife while a distant bugler played "Taps".

"Taps" was a song played in the Civil War that signalled the end of the day. There is alot of debate about who wrote it--most assume a fellow named Butterfield--but no argument about its place as a haunting, yet comforting sound, at day's end.

As I listened to the twenty-four notes of "Taps", I thought about the end of my day--and the end of my days--and the kinds of things people might say about me.

I hope I fare as well as Chuck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I really never get too excited about flying. I prefer it if Bev (my wife) goes with me, but this last week I traveled by myself to care for some family business.

What is worst about flying for me is the cramped space. 6'3" people were not consulted in the designing of an aircraft. I have discovered some favorite places to sit--near an exit is one (first class is another, but I can't afford that)--which allow me to stretch out my "old" knees.

On an airplane you are often seated in close proximity to someone else. Some are talkers; others are sleepers. Some are friendly; others are sullen and non-communicative. Some are small and others are not, and space can be a huge concern!

And then there is the issue of food. It is hard to be sustained by a small bag of peanuts and a soft drink ona three hour flight, but such is the meal plan for many airlines order to cut the costs ( though it still seems pretty expensive to me, considering the "benefits").

Well, my last flight, I enjoyed an exit seat, sat by four people who talked to someone else most of the way, and had a free ticket, courtesy of a friend. The food was the usual...but I like peanuts, lucky for me.

So what does this have to do with anything?

I read a book on the way home that challenged me to examine my attitute as a leader. It suggested that how I processed things would influence people around me. It is easy for me to be anxious and negative about things I imagine, including air travel. It turns out that all those worries and concerns were misplaced.

As I sat with my staff this morning I did so with a positive attitutude, challenging them in the midst of a difficult time for our church and its building program. I thought alot about what I would say to them upon my return. I think we all felt better after our meeting.

Maybe I need to travel more often...?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

chicken fried steak

Last night I did a "no no". I ate chicken fried steak.

It was really good. It was served at a local restuarant where atmosphere and ambiance are an afterthought but good, unhealthy comfort food is a high priority.

I ate with my son--we both ordered the same thing (he can afford to eat chicken fried steak; I can't!)--and I enjoyed every fattening cholestorol-laden bite of cream gravy, baked potato and corn that went along with it.

I reveled in the moments I completely ignored my diet, forgot about my diabetes, and "chowed down".

Today I feel somewhat differently about the experience. I am trying to process the residual guilt and work past the gnawing ache in my stomach from greasy food. I know better, but sometimes I just can't resist...chicken fried steak.

I was thinking about the other "achilles heel" areas of my life--areas that are troublesome, but for one reason or another, I reserve the right to indulge from time-to-time. They are--some of them--far more threatening and forboding to my spiritual health than chicken fried steak is to my physical well-being.

But once in awhile, when I am feeling careless and selfish, I will allow myself the momentary irresponsible pursuit and "enjoyment" of something that is not good for me--something that is potentially devasating to my spiritual well-being--and pay the price of guilt later. I always decide it wasn't worth it!

"Lord, when tempted to indulge my cravings for the things that are not good for me--the things that separate me from you--help me to learn to say 'no' because I realize the momentary "comfort" does not compare to the inevitable ache in my stomach."

Chicken fried steak...I can't afford the luxury!