Tuesday, June 29, 2004

In Style

My daughter Michal Kate is very aware of fashion. Thinking that this might be a disturbing trend, my wife and I try to emphasize things other than appearance as elements of our daughters' worth. One evening when she was four we were cuddling with Michal Kate and drawing attention to matters other than outward appearances. We told her how proud we were that she was sweet to her siblings and friendly to others and helpful when others needed it and thoughtful and kind and sweet and clever and funny and so much more...

"And," she said. "I'm in style!"

Oh, well. I'll keep trying.

I just can't argue with the obvious. My daughters are absolutely beautiful. Of course as their daddy I am expected to think that, but in my case it is extraordinarily accurate. I actually feel sorry for some of the other dads out there who, as they should, think their daughters are wonderful creations. I mean, it's great that they think their daughters are beautiful, but a little pathetic that they just do not understand. It is probably best that way. I mean, it works better for the common good if they just continue in their ignorance even if it is kind of sad. As for me, I'll let the rest of the world keep up the charade if it keeps the heat off my daughters until their recommended dating age of 30.

Fishing for Bobby

I had another looong visit to the doctors office today. It was a new record for me in terms of waiting; 1 hour and 50 minutes. One great thing about these visits is the time capsule of magazines available and the chance to see if the future they spoke of has become what they expected. All right, maybe it's not quite that bad.

Actually, I was reading one today that was published after September 11, 2001. It was a sort of "where are they now?" feature. One interesting person featured was chess champion Bobby Fischer. In the article we find he is now living in Japan and is openly supportive of the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11. There are many things about which I am disappointed when it comes to the United States. Current and past administrations have made some moves I would have preferred to have never seen. Culture has taken a cannonball into the crapper. Hatred of political opponents has become so vitriolic that even so-called spiritual leaders (locally and globally) lash out with venom rather than call on the Lord for national and global healing. And people like Bobby Fischer are given a pass as they openly endorse the murder of thousands of innocent people.

I cannot pretend to understand how politics has become a platform for hatred while pure evil has not. I hope that "Searching for Bobby Fischer" is now a description of how the Lord is earnestly pursuing him.

Lord, I am sorry we have abused the freedoms with which you have blessed us. Forgive our lack of concern. I am sorry we as a country have squandered the resources with which you have blessed us and taken advantage of your generous spirit by ignoring the effect of our waste on our future. I am sorry we have not honored the sacrifice of your Son but have instead kept His message close to the vest. I am sorry that we have reacted with complacency to the sacrifice and efforts of previous generations to preserve our freedoms. I am sorry that we are not encouraging families to focus on you but instead participate in making worldly impressions normal instead of unhealthy. I am sorry we focus on the delivery instead of the message. I am sorry we seek to be filled more than we do to give ourselves completely to you in worship. I am sorry we seek antiseptic ways to serve others through third party programs or even government edicts rather than touch lepers with love. I am sorry that in pointing out the foibles of others we adopt their attitudes and methods if not their stances. I am sorry for the times we assume we are superior to others simply because of social standing or education or nationality or race. I am sorry my actions alone were enough to call for the sacrifice of Christ, but thankful that He would have thought that was enough. Finally, I am thankful that my sorrow now will be overshadowed by an eternity of praise to, in and through Him.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Two wrongs won't make a right. But three lefts will.

Care Bears

I often get requests from people I know to tell them an "Addie Story." These could be people I have not seen for weeks or months but they would still want to know about Addie first. Addie is an interesting child. She is our youngest of three, which I suppose Kevin Lehman would say explains all. Anyway, she just says and does things which to us are hilarious but to a four year-old are "NOT FUNNY!"

The latest Addie story is a conversation between Addie and her 19 year-old cousin Danielle. As Addie was being held by her mom, her underwear happened to be slightly visible and Danielle commented on her Care Bear underwear mentioning that she too enjoyed the Care Bears.

"Well, I have a Care Bears Movie too," said Addie. "The next time I come to see you we can watch it, but if I forget we can just stare at my panties."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Waaamburger and French Cries

I am still struggling with this broken foot and tired of it. It has been three weeks and if you believe the doctor I am not even halfway through the healing process. Nevertheless I think the boot I am supposed to wear creates problems as well.

I am not a very good patient.

You would think I might be because I seem to be frequently injured and have had lots of practice. In the past year, stitches in my left hand, broken foot, broken hand. Otherwise in my life I have:
Broken the right arm twice
Broken the left arm once.
Been bitten seriously by a dog three times, once resulting in rabies shots in the stomach for several weeks.
Broken numerous toes.
Received stitches in my head on two separate occasions.
Hyperextended my right elbow.
Suffered two concussions.
Tore my left ACL.
Been shot in the chest with a pellet that is still in my chest.
Broken off a needle in my left big toe that is also still there.
Driven a lag screw through a finger on my left hand.
Many scrapes, bruises and black eyes.

As I look over that list it seems only appropriate for me to warn people against standing near me; at least on the left side.

Baring Your Soul?

Through an interesting (or not) twist I take the daily rag from Greenville, SC, the Greenville News. Believe it or not, they did not expend all of their energies thinking of a name for their newspaper. They still use a little bit for putting their daily efforts down in print.

The other day, I actually came across an article on blogging. The article described the phenomenon and mentioned a few blog topics the writer had found while researching his article. One such blog discussed the merits of attending church in the nude. Such an idea is intriguing and though I am glad I do not attend the First Church of the Exhibitionist Revisionists it make the mind wander.

First, the women's role issue would have probably come about much sooner.

Humble thyself, indeed.

Henceforth, all activities calling for kneeling will be cancelled.

What's that about an angel's prostate?

Song books might gain back their faded popularity.

We have suspended any future candle light services.

It'll never happen because people would not have a place to carry their checkbook, but I still wonder what the point to such a suggestion could possibly have been. I will never know however, because it suddenly occurs to me that I have spent way too much time thinking about this already and I am done.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Why? What have you heard?

One way we know summer has arrived at our house is the onset of swimming lessons. Michal Kate and Addie are six and four respectively and already I cringe at the appropriateness of chosen swim wear. But that's for another blog. I love to go and watch them transform into little fish, marveling at the patience of the instructors.

My wife was telling me about a little girl in Michal's class who needed a bathroom break in the middle of her lesson. Since my wife, Kendra, is a pro with kids and was at the time the only other adult female, the teacher asked her if she would take this little girl to the restroom while she continued with the rest of the class. More than happy to oblige, Kendra took this little girl and was waiting while she took care of nature's call. The little girl seized the opportunity.

"One question," she began as she sat deep in thought. "Just how do the babies come out?"

"That's a question for your mom," Kendra said quickly.

"Well, I already asked her and she won't tell me," the girl said.

"Well, then I won't tell you either," Kendra replied.

Kids amaze me sometimes. Sure, they are precocious and will surprise you in a million different ways, but it is amazing just how much they actually understand. For instance, that little girl understood that it was useless to ask a man how babies come out. We still haven't figured it out either. Like Carol Burnett said, it defies logic for something the size a watermelon to fit through an opening the size of a lemon. It can be explained. We can even watch. But we remain convinced of the idea that we are all watching special effects wizardry.

Even C-sections confuse us. Comedian Steven Wright once said he was born by Caesarian section. As he has grown up he has noticed no ill-effects of this method. However it does seem odd that whenever he leaves the house he has to go through a window instead of the door.

Be True to Your School

I recently discussed with a friend a column written by Cal Thomas. Mr. Thomas talked about the Christian virtues of leaving public schools behind. I never thought that anything would annoy me more than Cal's dye job and cheesy mustache, but I guess I was wrong. While I understand parents wanting to guide their kids away from flawed logic and improper interpretation of moral issues, it is absurd to think that the "Christian" thing to do is take away the potential for proper influence in those situations.

My sister kept foster children a LOT. Many of these kids were raised in crack houses and had seen horrific things. Something they had not seen, however, was a family that loved each other and prayed together and played together and experienced joy. One of my favorite memories is of a little girl from East St. Louis riding on a tractor driven by crazy Uncle Val to a pond with a bunch of Durringtons to fish and catch frogs and get as muddy as possible. It was admittedly a rather Rockwellian moment for any family, but to her it was more than that. Hopefully it was a glimmer of light in a dark world. A flash of hope saying to her that she had options beyond her upbringing. Her squeal of glee as she touched a frog might have been a precursor to other joy she had not thought possible.

The same is true in schools. There are some kids there who come from very scary homes and they long for some form of stability. When my wife was doing her student teaching she did half of her time at a school in a very rough part of town. Two murders had taken place within months of each other across the street during the year. The other half of her training was at another school district in a much more upscale part of Abilene. She was amazed at the difference between the kids at these schools. The suburban kids were rude and disdainful while the kids from the barrios were so grateful for a secure environment that they responded positively. It drove home to us the importance of being salt and light.

I am still cautious about the things to which my kids are exposed to the point I have even been called overprotective and a reject from the stone age. (I remain especially unapologetic about that after finding familiar faces on websites depicting convicted sex offenders.) But I do not think regulating those items to which our kids are exposed is a substitute for being a positive example to those around us. It is good for us to stand as firm examples of strong families to those around us rather than hide our lights under a bushel. Is it easy? No. Does it prepare our kids better for the real world? Probably. Are there exceptions to that rule? Maybe. But my mind keeps going back to another parent who allowed his Son to go into a tough world when it may have been more comfortable to stay home. I, for one am grateful for the influence that Son had.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Is this the little girl I carried?

Over the weekend I sang at a wedding like I have done a hundred times before. But this time, I took my wife and two daughters with me. Although giving pause at the lure of wedding cake, my son had a better offer. To him this could have included being thrashed repeatedly with wet noodles (not really a wedding kind of guy). My daughters on the other hand were completely enthralled with all the pageantry that only a West Texas church of Christ wedding could muster. My youngest, Addie, became so excited that her case of hiccups will forever be included on the video of the blessed event. But it was Michal Kate, my six year-old who was most taken by what took place. She actually writes well for a kindergartner, but I am sure she could not have taken notes fast enough to justify all she was soaking in. So she asked questions on the fly.

Why are they throwing flowers?

Why is preacher Mike up there?

Why are they called bridesmaids?

Why is that one pregnant?

I know these were probably valuable teaching moments but the circumstances made that difficult. But there were important lessons to be learned for children and adults alike and this was a good wedding for driving some of those lessons home.

First, for children, I believe it is important for them to see a proper union of two upstanding and popular young people when this image is becoming more and more rare. While this bride and groom were by no means peers for my daughters, there is an impression more deeply made by people on the edge of youth than there will ever be by parents in some situations. To be sure, the parents may leave the deepest impression over time, but occasional events like this are also pivotal.

Second, my wife was struck once again by the importance of praying for the future spouses of our kids. While "Somewhere in the World" had become something of a sappy wedding song me, to her it's sappiness has not detracted from the important message it conveys. The fact is, she's right. And I have prayed these prayers with renewed vigor ever since. I'll let you know how it turned out when my daughters go on their first dates in about 25 years.