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Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category

There is a Biblical verse for every moment in life, so it seems. Today, I wish a verse existed that began with “Here’s the scoop…”

Working at Oklahoma Christian University, we often quote Isaiah 40:31: But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.

Other translations begin this verse with “They that wait upon The Lord…”.

As a family who believes and trusts in Him, waiting seems to be the better fit in this moment.

In a world plagued by the babel we brought upon ourselves at Babel, the interchangeable nature of words in translating our languages provides a beautiful mixture of meaning and metaphor as we try to make sense of our lives on this broken creation called The Earth.

As I made the early morning drive today from our temporary sleeping abode at my sister’s to the medical suite that has emerged at our Mom and Dad’s, a song by Switchfoot was playing on the radio:

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he’s bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside …

Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we’ve been livin with our eyes half open
Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live for so much more…

We were meant to live …

The medical experts have told us, daily, there are less than 24 hours remaining, and they’ve proved it by the level of medical and comfort care resources provided. And 24 hours later, they have re-approved the same assessment for yet another 24, and we remain as both “those who trust”, and “they that wait”.

A night or two ago, in this ever rambling week, a conversation I had with one on a blanket on the floor became a conversation among many, and ultimately a prayer I found myself offering with and on behalf of us all. We asked God to allow us to let go of our agenda, our understanding, and to rely on His timing. I’ve never wished to be in a patriarchal place in life, and yet, here we are.

In his final lucid and not so lucid conscious moments almost a week ago, our Dad proclaimed to all present for me to be “Second in Command”, and I wonder now if there is not an analogy in even those late moment words.

God is in command. We are His children. We were meant to live for so much more.

We have not lost ourselves, or each other.

And so, we trust.

And we remain “they that wait”.

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Well, I must say, Ducky Dynasty did not disappoint, once again. Tonight’s new episode featured the men taking their “yuppie, citified” wives out hunting. It brought back memories.

While the men detected perfume in the woods, I once upon a time found another set of smells pleasant to the senses. One scent was that of spent shotgun shells. If you’ve ever spent time around me and wondered what I’ve been sniffing, this might help explain some of that. I would retrieve them after he fired, and carry them in my pocket, taking an occasional whiff of the spent gunpowder.

The other scent was admittedly more innocent. It was the pure simple smell of banana Laffy Taffy, back when it was the only flavor they made. My dad would bring a pocket full of it with him when we wandered across the highway with our dog to go bird hunting. He didn’t have the Jase Robertson beard, but he had an eye for dropping the birds.

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The point was not about the birds, per say, although they were tasty, and dad clearly loved to hunt. No, the point was spending time with me. I went on to spend a few cold moments in a deer blind likely near the Robertson’s place in north Louisiana back in the early 80’s, and I’ve shot a bird or two,and a snake here or there, but hunting was not in my blood. It’s still not. Yep: I’m a Yuppie, citified, kinda guy. Is that perfume I smell?

No, I think the real point was that dad spent time with me. Just like our friend Jase, it took effort, and time. It still does. My son and my daughters have pulled me out to do a thing or two that I never really envisioned doing on my own. While I’ve enjoyed most of those moments, the real point is about making time for the kids.

Dad turns another year older Thursday. Thanks, Dad, for the memories, for the Laffy Taffy, for letting me carry that duck in my game sack, and for letting me sniff those empty shotgun shells. It made me happy happy happy. And Happy Birthday to you.

🙂

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I might possibly be the world’s most unlikely (if not boring) eclectic. How ironic is that? While my lifestyle and appearance may not show it, the selection of music in my phone’s “iLibrary” just might. I was reminded of that as we drove off yesterday with Santa Fe (aka, Eclectic, USA) in the rear view mirror and a Dixie Chicks tune playing for the start of a long drive home.

I was thinking about a myriad of things, like not stopping in at Santa Fe’s Dragon Tattoo and Body Piercing (a real place) for one last (lasting) souvenir, but I digress. I was thinking about the week. I was thinking about the lives of those we briefly encountered, if not visited at length with. I was thinking about my all too soon too be grown family, the relationships we share, and how they have been shaped by my decisions and actions. Then the song started playing…

I wished I was smarter
I wished I was stronger
I wished I loved Jesus
The way my wife does

I wish it had been easier
Instead of any longer
I wished I could have stood where you would have been proud
But that won’t happen now
That won’t happen now

There’s a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow

Think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world right now
Top of the worldI don’t have to answer any of these questions
Don’t have no God to teach me no lessons

I come home in the evening
Sit in my chair
One night they called me for supper
But I never got up
I stayed right there in my chair

There’s a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow

Think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world right now
Top of the world

I wished I’d a known you
Wished I’d a shown you
All of the things I was on the inside

I’d pretend to be sleeping
When you come in in the morning
To whisper good-bye
Go to work in the rain

I don’t know why
Don’t know why’
Cause everone’s singing
We just wanna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow

Wanna grab a hold of that little song bird
Take her for a ride to the top of the world right now

To the top of the world
To the top of the world

“What an intensely sad tune”, was my thought as the music concluded. Knowing there was likely an unpleasant experience behind the writing of it, I looked into the rear view mirror again to glimpse at my family. I’m not the perfect dad or the perfect husband. I’m not sure such exists, despite what I see in others I know and my desire to emulate their choices and outcomes. I have made mistakes. I wish I could change a few things.

“How I provide” has been one of the things I’ve thought over in the past, but I’m not sure I’d change much in that regard. I could have made more money in my career thus far, but I made a choice some time back.

There are those in this world gifted and blessed with the ability to manage certain high levels of outcome and expectation. I sometimes envy those people. I also expect and believe that there are things in their lives that are missing, and maybe things they wish could be. I am confident that my gifts and calling are to another point and purpose, and my wish and goal is to continue that exploration and pursuit.

Ephesians 4: 1-13:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Sitting back today at a roughly 1,000 foot elevation in a house with a mortgage and some older cars, I wouldn’t change much. I’ve led a fairly charmed life, in many ways, and I am grateful. If anything, I would have given more time and taken less. Thankfully, there is still time to do so, at least for today.

Cause everone’s singing
We just wanna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow

Wanna grab a hold of that little song bird
Take her for a ride to the top of the world right now

I was blessed with a brief “top of the world” experience this week. There’s no good reason for me to not repeat it every day, no matter the locale. Call it the eclectic thing to do…

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Greetings from the shores of Lake Pettijohn. As you can see here, it is a lush place. No, to be truthful, much like Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Wobegon, Lake Pettijohn is a prairie home companion of the heart and the mind, for the water is just not there. Or is it? We’ll come back to that after a few words from our sponsors.

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I drove a van load of young men down to PSCC yesterday. Prior to the blowout (on the luggage trailer, not our van, thankfully) it was a surreally quiet experience, much different from my sponsor driving past. In years gone by, this trip was filled with caffeinated young men one upping each other and making bold predictions of their planned exploits in the week to come.

Not so this year. I asked them all to buckle up, and they all promptly went to sleep. What was the difference, you might ask? I wondered that as well. My only answer was that they were tired, and more mature. You see, this was no van load of freshmen, these were seniors. They had been down this road before, and maybe they were conserving energy for the true excitement that would lie ahead. Maybe they had aged, both in place and with Grace.

The phrase “Aging in Place” is a term often used in the retirement care industry, in which I have some limited experience or exposure. It essentially means your population is getting older with you while staying in the same place over an extended period of time. In that regard, I should also talk about the run to PSCC not being my only jaunt up and down I-35 South this weekend. And yet, I have not been down this road before.

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We learned a few days ago that my Dad has cancer. The prognosis is pretty good, but the C word is the C word, and it makes you take pause in how you view your world. I spent the better part of a 24 hour window alone with my Dad in his hospital room, just us, and the team of nurses that he is of course now on a first name basis with. Them, and the good folks from Fox News, but I digress.

You see, “the cancer”, as Forrest Gump would say, is a humbling opponent. It makes you think. As my Dad and I visited Friday night and into the day Saturday, we talked about a lot of things. We talked about where he was when Kennedy was shot (that is President Kennedy, not Al boy’s good friend of the same name, but I digress again), and Reagan as well. We talked about a negative result on a medical test actually being positive, and the opposite as well. We talked about how he has led a good life, with Christian children and grandchildren to show for it. We talked about being strong. It seems that, much like the boys from the van, my dad has both aged in Place, and also in Grace. He knows who he is, and where he is going. My hope and prayer is that I, the boys from Sprinter Van 5, and many others who may follow this road can do as well. And, with no blowouts, prayerfully. If they don’t rock your world, they can certainly wake you up to the possibilities.

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So, with that, we will sign off today from the “Beautiful Shores” Lake Pettijohn. Come on in with us, the water’s Great. It is sweet, by and by….

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Actually, I do. Maybe I go to extremes to avoid going to extremes. Once upon a time, in a land not so far far away, I might have said that in reverse. Comprende?

So, as I thought on this earlier today, the words of a Billy Joel tune rattled in my head:

Call me a joker, call me a fool
Right at this moment I’m totally cool
Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife
I feel like I’m in the prime of my life
Sometimes it feels like I’m going too fast
I don’t know how long this feeling will last
Maybe it’s only tonight

Darling I don’t know why I got to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling I don’t know why I got to extremes

Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot
Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got
Maybe I’m headed over the hill
Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill
Tell me how much do you think you can take
Until the heart in you is starting to break?
Sometimes it feels like it will

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
You can be sure when I’m gone
I won’t be out there too long
Darling I don’t know why I got to extremes

Out of the darkness, into the light
Leaving the scene of the crime
Either I’m wrong or I’m perfectly right every time
Sometimes I lie awake, night after night
Coming apart at the seams
Eager to please, ready to fight
Why do I go to extremes?

And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes

I can relate, and not. I think I will keep going, especially for today. As the words to a Mandesa song related to me as I turned the key to the Jeep a few moments ago this morning Why am I waiting for tomorrow…?”“. I don’t think I am.

Darling, I think you know why.

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Adventure, we swear to you. Adventure: our story’s true. We had an adventure today. So goes a Sesame Street tune dating way back in the lives of my mountain compadres from last week. Some may have grown up singing this tune, but it’s unlikely they’d remember in this distraction filled world. Therein lies one of the reasons for taking a mountain escape. While you don’t have to watch the imbedded music video to follow our tale, it may help flavor the theme…

Luke 9:1-3: One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.

OK, we took a bit more than that in the packs on our backs, and while not much, it still felt like a ton. But, who were these 12 disciples, you might ask?

W, of Moor, our Sherpa.
D, Reigning Queen of Belchlandia, our Sherpette.
James, the one they called “Steve”.
Bing, “no trail gluten” Bingie.
Katy, of Lobsterfest fame.
Robin, the gloved one.
Leslie, the Honduran refugee.
Kyle, aka “Wild Man”.
Jordan, the crew chief.
Dawson, the “bow-ser”.
Dan, Dan, the Gadget Man.
And, yours truly, Bing Sr. Just call me the Diesel…

So, we packed in a little gear. But, who were our outfitters for this journey into the woods?

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The inspiration? #1 son, and Little Frau, despite her late arriving, father-in-law inspired, fears.
The packs and bags, along with our Sherpas? The good folks at Wilderness Expeditions. Good catching up with you, Tommie. What is 36 years between friends?
The music? The Traveling Waughberry’s, of course.
And the boots? We can’t forget the boots. Columbia Sportswear: thanks, Ma.
Last, but not least, the strength. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

It was a 5 day window unlike many I’ve lived before. It was the hardest thing I have ever done physically (successfully). No coffee. No watches or clocks. No news. No Thunder scores (mercifully). No bathing. Did I mention, no stress, other than the physical test? Thanks to some planning and permits, we were the only human feet on this mountain this week. But don’t worry: we were not alone. The moose stood her ground before yielding. The morning howls told us the coyote pack was close. So did the large cat footprints we saw a time or two. We may not have seen the mountain lion, but he no doubt was watching us. Good thing we had Wild Man with us. No self respecting predator would take such a risk as attacking with Kyle on our side.

Revelation 21:10 So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain…

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Day 1: rappelling on Mt. Shavano, and the journey to low camp on Ptarmigan. Did I mention that rapel is the French word for stepping off a perfectly good cliff?

Mt. Ptarmigan: a Ute Indian word for a bird. We learned to fly, indeed. The mountain was an hour or so drive from base camp, and the summit was a short 12 mile hike from the car. A 25 mile round trip hike over 5 days, and I thought Tommie was kidding when he inferred such a trail. As we neared the jumping off point, a sudden wind and sandstorm kicked in. Have you ever tried to lug a pack uphill with a mouth, nose, and eyes filled with sand? It is almost as if someone or something was trying to discourage us before we even started.

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Mercifully, low camp was but a few laborious miles up a road laden with sand and loose gravel. That, and a momma moose and her calf stood between us and our first night’s camp site. Thankfully, she moved on, and papa bull did not show up to root us out. After a welcomed meal, some Sunday communion time, and a lovely sundown, we called it a night.

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Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. So goes the song.

Day 2: Galatians 6:2: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.. The real work began this morning. The grade was steep. The surface was rocky. Our packs grew heavy. But, maybe you should call me the Duramax Diesel. You see, the kids are the sleek, fast sportster models. Light, colorful, and nimble on their feet, but they have no torque. Diesels are large, loud, and clunky. They put off a lot of thick smoke. The better ones have a lot of miles on them. But, when the going got tough, the old diesel got going. By the time we reached the ridge on this day, guess who was first to the top? Along the way, some of the sportsters showed great leadership in lightening the load for their “more accomplished” or “gentler” counterparts.

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I believe it was the noted philosopher Julie Andrews who crooned “Climb every mountain, ford every stream”. We didn’t know the water could be that cold…

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Day 3: high camp, 11,000+, was ours, and we rested. Solo time took on a meaning all it’s own. The summit attempt would come soon enough. Study. Song. Prayer. Some sun, to dry the boots and warm the soul. And visiting. Lots of visiting. No watches. No smart phones. No video games. Such was this day, and little more.

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Day 4: the Summit attempt. Attempt? As I learned in a conversation with the Sherpa on Day 3, the success rate for Summit attempts is only about 50/50. The reasons for such odds? Weather (ours had been impeccable this week). Physically unable hikers (our crew had made great time each day). Injuries. Quoth the Sherpa: “it can get dangerous..a woman fell on a summit last year, hit her head, and died…but, don’t worry, she was not in one of our groups”. I felt so much better…

So, we hiked up and out of camp before the dawn, day packs laden with mountain stream fed water bottles, Vienna Sausages (a true oxymoron), and rain gear. And flags. We had our flags. One small step for man. Summit attempt began at 4:45 with the hike out (after a 4:15 wake up call from the Sherpa), and touching the pole at 9:20. The air was thin, our feet were heavy, but it was all worth it. As we neared the top, I really had not thought about the view “from the other side of the mountain”. Nearing the top of the ridge, I saw #1 Son’s red windbreaker. Then, I saw the snow capped peaks of the western range behind our Continental Divide peak. And I cried. Don’t worry, I was wearing sunglasses, so no man card points were deducted until you read this just now.

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After lunch and leading us to the top across a perilous and shaky boulder field, the Sherpa and Queen D formed a ceremonial arch through which each of us passed as we stepped onto the Summit. Wild Man began leading us in a spontaneous rendition of “How Great is Our God”, and I cried again. Deduct points to your liking, if you must.

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Hebrews 12: 1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

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Day 5, and we made record time breaking down camp, loading our gear, and hiking out to the cars. Maybe we were just motivated by the thought of those “ham and cheese sandwiches” awaiting us at the bottom. Seeing the cars waiting for us across the final half mile of prairie? You guessed it. Deduct man card points again here.

So, we made it back home, with the help of Someone Greater than super Grover. This was our adventure; too bad it’s over.

Or is it? It doesn’t have to be. As the Queen of Belchlandia likes to say, or more appropriately sing:

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning.
Keep me burning till the break of day…

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I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

As mentioned yesterday, we had an adventure, and a story yet to tell. That will come, in time, but as #1 son and I hoofed our way home yesterday, a flood of tunes library memories were conjured up as the music kept me alert and winging our way back home. Mark Shultz reminded me of the Sherpa. Fleetwood Mac, courtesy of Stevie Nicks’ songwriting, reminded me of our mountain trek team.

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

The Sherpa told us on the mountaintop Wednesday how nothing can live up that high. Jesus went to the mountaintop to be close to God, but came back down to minister and to serve.

As I have been home today and dealing with the return to daily life, a landslide of sorts is in motion. I suspect my younger trek companions are feeling the same as they awoke in their own beds earlier today. Laundry, cleaning out the car, or maybe mowing the lawn was in order? Or, was there even more? A loved one’s illness? News of a family in trouble? Knowing that you go into an office full of week old tasks come Monday?

As a child, camp was always an emotional time: good emotional. Coming down off that high was always tough. This week’s mountain experience has been much the same. As an adult, coming down from the Rocky Mountain high is bittersweet, but not all that hard. I’ve been down this road before, and there are potential rewards around every turn, even at 1,000 feet above sea level.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I, I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too
I’m getting older too

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring you down, down

And If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down
Oh oh, the landslide will bring it down

Landslides can be good. Emotional landslides can bring us back to a level where the air is richer and the living is fuller. Take heart. Mountaintops are going nowhere fast. You will ascend once again. God promises just that. John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around….

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