Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
That's me on the left, taken when I was 8 months old. Small kid, big bed. Nice curtains, huh?
About the first thing I can remember in life is a sandbox. It was located in the backyard of the first house I lived in. My dad had bought a lot in Arcadia, California, a shiny post War suburb northeast of Los Angeles, and built a house. Since he was in the construction business, he was the general contractor. 618 Santa Rosa Road. 1,300 square feet, built in 1951.
Back to the sandbox. It was located in a rather strange place, sort of off to the side of the driveway in the back yard. During the summer, I remember it as no shade, burning sun. White play sand, put carefully in a circle with little brick pavers around the edge. My Dad was always neat; he liked things put carefully in their place. Some might call it anal. We teasingly called him Norville Neat. I remember that Dad used to get pretty mad when he came home and found I had spilled sand out of the box onto the driveway. He was like that; anal.
From what I can remember, I really liked that sandbox when I was little. I have vague memories of sitting in there for a long time, playing in the sand. I was an only child, and I think I spent a lot of time there, sifting sand and thinking little kid thoughts. Maybe this was the beginning of the often solitary life I lead, growing up in the Smog Belt of Southern California.
Back to today. Earlier this summer, our older girl went to church camp the same week that my wife and younger daughter took a road trip to Texas. I was completely alone at home for a week. I was quite sad for a day or two when everyone first left.
Then after a couple of days, I was surprised one morning when I woke wake up in a very quiet house, realizing I was all alone. Then suddenly, and rather strangely, I remembered playing in that sandbox, all those years ago, on Santa Rosa Road.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
One of our daughters' best friends was over "to hang" and join us for dinner. We love our girl's friends; they are so sweet, and fun, and funny, and goofy. Classic teenagers; if you could bottle their energy, you could make a zillion dollars.
We shared steak and chicken tacos, chatted about our summer vacations, and enjoyed the cool of evening. The conversation turned to college plans, as we adults are want to do. Kelly protested with the obligatory "Da-ad", when the topic turned to college thoughts. I understand, the pressure must often feel pretty tough. But it makes for good conversation.
Kelly's friend probably spent about 45 minutes on our porch, under the gathering dusk, talking about her family, her older siblings, expectations for life, and the coming Senior year at high school. We talked about plans, and dreams, and "what would you do, if you could do anything in the world"?
Buried in the midst of the conversation was a refrain, a common theme repeated several times. A phrase that caught the real sense of being 17, approaching Senior year, and unsure of what lies ahead......
"It's scary" and "I'm afraid". What will the future hold? Will it be college, junior college, city college, work? And then there are relationships; oh my!
I agree. It is scary. I would be afraid too. It is not easy to be 17 these days - and facing the expectations of peers, of parents, of siblings, and of well, our society.
It was a great conversation. I am completely thankful for these friends of our girls that come to visit, and that for even a few moments, our home is place where they feel welcome, and maybe even heard.
May we continue to listen well.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
No urban hip-hop thumpa-thump has been heard from the Ipod speaker device in one bedroom. No "Mochi Ball" ice cream treats have disappeared from our freezer late at night. No one is hogging the desktop computer in the sunroom. No one is walking around the house singing random bits of the latest hits. Loudly.
Our oldest daughter Kelly has been on a Mission Trip. But not the typical stuff. Not building homes in Mexico, or playing with American Indian kids in New Mexico, or even working in a village in Africa some where. She might be saving that for later.
Kelly spent two weeks in.....wait for it......Albania. What tha....? Albania? Yes, the birthplace of Mother Theresa, for one.
Do you even know where Albania is? Check here for more details on Kelly's amazing trip.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
A come from behind win in the 4x100 race, after the challenging French team trash-talked the US.
Note to France: Do not speak ill of your competitors prior to competition. It is just bad form. Oh, and it just fires them up.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Last week, I had the chance to hear an hour long interview that was a part of The Leadership Summit, presented via satellite at Fuller Seminary. I am not big on this stuff, particularly when it has a sort of Willowcreek-ish approach, and so I only showed up for an hour, but it was well worth the visit.
I had the opportunity to hear Brad Anderson, (pictured above) CEO of Best Buy. While I have not personally found anything amazing about shopping at Best Buy, I was impressed with Brad's approach to doing business, his sense of humor, and his compassion for his employees. Brad is also a committed follower of Jesus, who understands that his primary role at work is not necessarily to be an evangelist. He is not just another tacky Christian person, he seems very genuine. What a refreshing approach.
During the hour-long interview Brad touched for just a moment on the situation of the church in Western Europe. After our two week vacation, I listened with interest. Brad had one comment that haunted me about the influence of this history of the Christian church throughout Europe. He said, "It's (the church) everywhere in their lives, they just can't see it", referring to both the physical monuments and the historic influence of the church in European culture. But now, in modern times, the average European does not even think about faith, or God.
Guess what? It's not so different here in the USA.
I thought about these things often in both London and Paris.
Here is a sample of who Brad is:
Friday, August 01, 2008
That was the last time I flew west, home to America, after spending a number of weeks in Western and Eastern Europe. I was flying alone, single, and wondering where my life would lead me. Where I might be lead. More than 5,500 miles, from London to Los Angeles.
I remember the overriding feeling I had flying home, somewhere over southern Greenland, was of thankfulness. Thankful for an amazing journey. Thankful to be returning to a free country, after visiting with many people who, simply, were not free. Thankful for friends who supported me to go, both in prayer and financially.
Today, in almost the same place, moving in the same direction at close to the speed of sound, at the edge of the atmosphere, I am returning home with three amazing women; my wife of almost 20 years, and our two daughters, now 14 and 17. And those people I met who were not free, are free now. I would never have imagined. I am still overwhelmed with thanksgiving.
I would meet my wife four years after that last trip; my best friend forever. We would marry one year later. Less than three years later our lives would be forever changed by the slightly early arrival of Kelly. After the sadness of a miscarried child, three more years later, our home would be filled with even more noise, joy, tears, and laughter by the arrival of Heather.
All those years ago, flying so far above the planet, I could never have imagined the course my life would take; the challenges of marriage, and the constant responsibilities of parenting. Or the feeling of holding your feverish baby daughter in your arms in the hospital admitting room, wondering what would become of a 104 degree temperature and a serious infection. I had not a clue of what it mean to stand, and sit, and wonder, and wait at the bedside of dying parents. Or the feeling of near impossibility at the thought of raising teenagers. Of how to guide these young ladies into becoming not just responsible members of society, but women who might possess deep character, conviction, and a faith that is real and honest. More than two decades ago, I had no idea what this ride would be like.
Back then, I had no idea that the real meaningful work of life occurs not in momentous, magical moments of great moral victory or triumph. Hollywood often romantically teaches us that, but they have it completely wrong. What I learned is that often, great things occur at the speed of continental drift. No one would make a movie of that. Barely measurable. Almost imperceptible. Persistence is, in the end, something that matters a great deal.
And so, this next Monday, I will get up again. I will try my best to love my wife well, to care, and to let her know daily that she is, simply put, wonderful. I will listen to, and laugh with, and maybe even offer a small bit of helpful advice to the two girls we are attempting to launch into the world. They will not be with us much longer. I will breath normally, while trying to be a good Dad.
I will head to work, and do the best I know how, each day. I will try to bring excellence to my work, and try to care for those who work with me, offering them something more than just a place to go to go work.
I will persist.
Sara Groves has written a song, which came up a while ago on my IPod, here at 34,000 feet. Entitled “When It Was Over”, it is meditation on personal real stories of acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption.
My life is like that, every day.
Jesus save us from a multitude of things
Make us whole
There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope, that whispers about, the promise to wait while we’re working it out
There is a love….
A promise to wait, a promise to stay
So come with your love, and wash over us”
May Christ’s love wash over each one of you who reads this. Each day, henceforth and forever.