This past fall I decided that I should steer clear of the Tim Tebow mania. Though I loved the story and continue to admire Tebow’s sincerity and faith both on and off the field, I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that much of our day-to-day commentary about “God’s favorite football player” was off. The way I saw it, if we weren’t careful with our words, we might start sounding like we actually believed God was intervening in order to help a corporate business which holds a professional football franchise to score more points than other such franchises.
At first I was mildly amused at the notion of God’s divine favor being poured out on a guy playing a game for a living. Americans love to be amused; we build incredible stages surrounded by ample amounts of seating to coddle our desire to be entertained. Sundays are our day of respite from our work and stress. We file into our rows, take our seats and expect to see talent, sharp performance, jumbo screens, and fog machines. Then we go home and see it again as we watch sports. And let’s be honest, Tebowmania was a great story. But then again, so was Seabiscuit, a horse (but I am unfamiliar with his religious affiliation).
We were barely seated in the restaurant and I had just laid my napkin across my lap. I looked up and smiled at the tops of five bowed heads. My privilege this day was to take the band, [a.k.a. music leaders, a.k.a. “worship team”] to lunch. You may think that all five had bent their heads in prayer. Not so much. Instead, each guy had his mobile device in hand and was either reading or thumbing a message.
Now, I assumed that they were “checking-in” or making straight their schedules for the afternoon. But I waited, and as waiter worked to find out what we would be drinking, the texting/tweeting/thumbing continued. There were peeks up and a clumsy sort of reconnecting to conversation. I was trying to get to know them and create rapport at our table. Oddly enough, throughout lunch, the devices remained at the ready; short vibrations caused the owner to give a glance, often accompanied by a grin. Around the table the fork was intermittently laid aside these young, deft fingers sent out a quick message. It was all very natural and normal for this bunch; I was the only person who was having trouble engaging. I guess I’m addicted to a bit more eye-contact. They proved to be gifted at multi-tasking; they could eat, jab at one another, answer questions I tossed onto the table, and maintain allegiance to their cell phones. I was both impressed and depressed.
Woody Allen, that great philosopher once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
I’ve always liked that one-liner from Allen. My personal application is the importance of BEING THERE. How much of life and opportunity have we wished away simply because our mind it somewhere else? I spent too much of my childhood wanting to be a grown up, and I’ve spent too much of my adulthood wishing I was a child again. I’ve worked on self-discipline of mind — Be Where You Are. (After all, we are human-beings, not human-doings.)
I wish I could say that I’m such a perfect person, so much without sin that I don’t commit an occasional breach of cell phone etiquette. I have loving family members who have corrected me when tempted to disengage because I have my device out and am checking email, texts, tweets, and anything else available from the outside world. I work at device discipline and etiquette.
Last May I was in Orlando, Florida as a part of my job (sponsoring 60+ high school seniors, tough job, but somebody has to do it). One afternoon I took some time off and met two wonderful ladies. They were once “just kids” in the church youth group (circa 1985). I was the youth pastor. Tisha and Alisa have become godly women who inspire me.
We rendezvoused for a 25 year reunion at a nice restaurant at Downtown Disney. Our lunch turned into a 3 hour conversation that was just a little bit of heaven for me. Toward the end of our time I had decided that one of life’s greatest privileges is meaningful conversation. We spoke openly about our lives and all that God has been doing in our 25 years. Our passion for God, life, and one another is mutual. Our fellowship was rich, rich, rich.
In that conversation Alisa showed us pictures of her kids. They sure are growing. And then she announced that they are expecting a third! What? I was happy, but I thought, “Wow, that’s great, but you’re how old?” By the grace of God I did not say that outloud , no insensitive outbursts… this time. — She was absolutely glowing, and that made me very happy.
Then Alisa said, “Here’s a picture of him.”
A sonogram? No. She turned the page in her picture book and said, “Here he is, we love him so much already!”
It was a photo of an infant. I took a double–take. This baby had a severe cleft-palate. The light went on and I understood. Bill and Alisa were adopting a special needs child. And these words spilled from my heart, “How beautiful.”
This weekend, the first weekend of February, 2012, Bill and Alisa are in China. They have been waiting since last May for the travel documents
that would permit them to go get their son.
I remember Alisa’s famous words to me that day. “We have prayed to be found faithful in doing God’s work. We have friends who have adopted unwanted Chinese baby girls, and then we learned about little boys with special needs. They need families too. We thought ‘if not us—then who?’”
She talked about Bill’s job in the Air Force and the kinds of medical benefits his family receives. They have viewed their assignments in life, their gifts and abilities, as a part of God’s sovereing design. As stewards of all that God has done in their lives, they want to be used as God’s instruments of love, grace, and hope.
This weekend little Mr. Hudson will join his family. After more than ten months of praying and planning for their son, Alisa will hold her son.
To God be the glory.
And by the way, Alisa was firm in the fact that she wanted his name to reflect his birthplace and unique story that is a gift from God. The name “Hudson” is from one of China’s most famous missionaries, Hudson Taylor , 1832-1905.
I actually thought about something “devotional” and / or inspirational for the New Year. But I was not devoted and / or inspired to write it.
So, I give you books! Books make great companions. What a great way to hang out with make believe people, or past presidents for that matter. I ran into a few people I didn’t like being around, but overall, books were my 2011 passion. Each book brought a particular passage of Scripture to my soul and I share the verses herein.
Three Novels (or close to) that Touched My Soul
3. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,
for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself,
because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this…Romans 14:13
This is a huge novel about family, and families can be complex; it’s a book is about life, all of it. I found the magic of The Brothers K in watching six children of Hugh and Laura Chance grow, and I fell in love with the family, not because I could relate to them, but because Duncan made me care about them. Parts of the story made me smile and parts were agonizing. Papa Hugh Chance, a ‘coulda-been’ baseball all-star and his devout Adventist wife, Laura raise six kids that couldn’t be more different. More than once I found myself becoming extremely emotional as I fought alongside members of the Chance family trying to resolve conflict. It was life, existential and moving. I found myself empathizing with each character especially when they were at odds with one another.
This story struck me as authentic, no kooky plot twists or author’s indulgent inventions. We see the four Chance boys grow up before our very eyes, watch as their characters age and become… it’s a life experience and death experience — and we see the birth of hopes and dreams, and we see death, or worse. This book is a big`ole juicy steak. Cut it up and savor each bite. This is not “book-lite” — This is book weighs in at nearly 700 pages. Who has time for that? I’m thankful that I made the time and highly recommend The Brothers K. (I’ll throw in a PG rating because I did find that many novels ought to have some kind of classification — e.g. I read Water for Elephants and enjoyed the book, but um…R!) Continue reading Soulful Books of 2011→
December, 1962 – It was cold, but we played outside anyway. Playing indoors seemed like punishment. We had a routine; we under estimated the cold and over estimated our fortitude. Running, climbing, and making up games was the good life — right up until our ears and fingers hurt too much to play on. My little brother and I would reach our breaking point and go back inside, but not to stay. Mom would rub our fingers and put her warm hands on our ears. Then she gave us another layer and let us go right back outside.
In December of 1962 I was six years old and don’t remember a whole lot. But the memories I do have are quite vivid. My dad was in a job transition. He was attending Barber College in downtown Oklahoma City. He had moved us from the oil fields of west Texas through a short layover in Kingman, Kansas. Dad, Mom, my little brother Darren and an 8 month old sister, Danyne and I all lived in a tiny duplex around 50th and Lincoln. The little place had one bedroom and that’s where we all slept. My Uncle Bob, a gregarious, 6’5″ 20 year old, slept on the couch. The small, temporary home might have had 750 sq. ft. of space. That’s a stretch.
We ate beans a lot, I liked red beans. Still do. Mom or Uncle Bob could make cornbread and we often had fried potatoes. I loved my life. My whole family got to stay together in one room and the most entertaining person I had ever met was out on the couch. My world was perfect. Continue reading A Christmas Story… gone wrong?→
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.