Monthly Archives: December 2011

Just What Kind Of Doctor Are You?!?

I have a friend that likes to ask this of me.

It’s an incredibly intrusive question – really.

My Boy & I

I don’t go up to the teller at the bank and ask:  “What kind of teller are you?”

Or the cashier at the grocery store:  “What kind of cashier are you?”

Or the lady at the counter of 7-11: “What kind of convenient store clerk are you?”

Or the guy in the white SUV next to me at the stop light: “What kind of driver are you?”
…well, there was that one time.

Or the waitress at Chili’s: “What kind of waitress are you?”

Or my boss: “What kind of…   – nevermind.”

Or my wife: “What kind of chef, educator, custodial engineer, hostess, laundry guru, chauffeur, repunzel-hair-wielding, accountant, coupon-clipper, domestic goddess are you?”

Anna & Afore-Mentioned-Wife

I mean seriously, these things are ob-vi-ous.

Just what kind of doctor am I?!?  Duh…


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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Musings


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A Conversation With My Deceased Dad

A Conversation With My Deceased Dad

Well…  You topped my Christmas tree this year.  Kimberly saw somewhere that someone used pictures of family and friends to decorate their tree and liked the idea – so we did it.  Since we think of you often we put you up top…  front & center.

It’s been eight years already, eight years today.  This one seems to have been the toughest for me.  I feel like I’ve spoken to you more this year than I did when you were alive – which makes me feel like a pretty crappy son.  But I imagine – or hope, maybe – that lots of folks have these conversations with their loved ones that have gone on.  And I imagine we all think we’re crazy.  Of course, crazy doesn’t bother me a bit – Ha!

Let me get right to what I wanted to say…

Thank You.
There’s no doubt in my mind you knew how much all three of us kids (four later on, counting Steph) loved and appreciated you.  You stepped in (no pun intended) when life went weird and always treated us as your own.  I still confuse people when I talk about my dads…  they never really know which one I’m talking about.  It would be easier if I referred to you as my step-dad I suppose, but I feel that would be incredibly disrespectful because we never were step-kids – always simply your kids.  (There was one time I referred to dad as my “real” dad…  and mom quickly asked, “Well, what’s Steve then?  Your fake dad?  Is he made of plastic?”  … so the world will just have to figure out who I’m talking about on their own.)
It had to be awkward and difficult for you too… Even if it never did seem to be an issue.  I love how you made sure we understood we just had a bigger family than most.  So – Thank you!

An Example.
Just so you know…  I don’t really remember much from before you.  Bits and pieces, maybe.  I’m sure I was old enough that I should remember more – But, my first real memory is the day you and mom woke us up while we were at dad’s house.  I remember all meeting in the living room and how weird it was to see you, mom, and dad together (I’m pretty sure their was a police officer there too – which was just as weird as you waking us up at dad’s house).  And then y’all explaining how we were going to go live with you and mom.  I really have no idea how I felt about it at the time, but it’s clear to see everything worked out just the way it was supposed to.  Your tact, your presence, your calmness about it all – well, again, just thank you.
I see so many broken homes and blended families today that are incredibly dysfunctional – where the kids are so much more grown up than the adults, where the adults yell and fight each other over trivial things…  and I thank God you guys didn’t act like that.

I have avoided regrets and live with very few of them.  Very few.  I really can think of just a couple – but one of them is that I didn’t go to your wedding in Texas.  Sure, I was working and taking off isn’t an easy thing to do.  BUT, for your wedding, surely my boss would have let me go – he was kind of a push over in many ways anyhow.  I can’t even remember why I thought it wasn’t a big enough deal to miss work…  I was just STUPID.  I had no animosity or qualm with you, the wedding, Kim & Steph…  Nothing, I just didn’t think – and I missed one of the biggest days of your life.  Sorry!  If I could go back and change it, I would in a heartbeat.

Holiday Wishes.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.  Not just because it’s December, mainly because of some advice I’d like to get from you…  Although there are certain times of the year I can’t help but think of you:

Of course December is hard… December 27.  You held on through Christmas.  Man it’s hard.  I make myself put up Christmas lights, I force myself to get in the Holiday spirit – because as much as you pretended to put on a “Bah Hum Bug” front, you always made Christmas big for us.  So I want to do it for my kids too…  But you leaving two days after Christmas makes it difficult sometimes.

Every June…  your birthday, Father’s Day.  It’s ironic to me how you were born just 2 days after Father’s Day (and so every few years your birthday was on Father’s Day) and you were such an awesome father, yet you never had children of your own.

Every Thanksgiving.  Mainly because of our last Thanksgiving together.  How you knew it was the last, and so you gathered us all together.  I suppose I learned from my mistake of missing your wedding – I wasn’t missing it.  To be honest, I didn’t really believe you when you said you thought this may be your last Thanksgiving and you weren’t sure if you’d be here for Christmas.  When you took me to your bedroom, and told me how proud of me you were.  When you explained that you wanted me to take the rocking chair that you got for your first Christmas, and how you took care of it for your entire life – and you didn’t want it ruined, or abused, but you wanted my kids to have it and enjoy it – and you knew I’d take care of it…  We have.  I cherish that little chair.  The kids have just about grown out of it, but I plan on passing it down to one of them someday.

The Chair


So, that advice I mentioned.  You were always so big into working for yourself, and insistent on being your own boss…  You did it twice – creating your own business, even when you had to work at a job, you had something independent of that.  I’ve kicked it around and have an idea or two I’d love to try (no, dad – I won’t be leaving my corporate job anytime soon; this is something I can build while working my day gig), but don’t have the experience you had.  I wish you would have shared the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship with me.  I was so proud of you when you opened the car lot…  I don’t suppose you wrote it all down step-by-step and left it lying around somewhere did you?  I bet you’d just tell me to go read so-and-so’s book too, but surely, you’ve got some great wisdom to share…

Family Update.
The kids are doing great.  Noah is 10 already – time is flying, he’s a pretty smart kid, but a bit like his daddy and going to get in trouble if he doesn’t learn when to quit joking and be serious.  Kaity, she was so tiny when you left… 8 years old now, and beautiful, and just as sweet as can be.  We had a third a few years ago – in June.  The due date was right around your birthday, so we were hoping to have her on your birthday, or Father’s Day.  She came on the 22nd, though, we named her Annabelle Stephanie Leigh – it was going to just be Annabelle Leigh, but we wanted to honor you.  She’s our wild child – full of fire…
I’ll have to let the others tell you how they’re doing.  It’s been a tough ride.

Yes – we’re still apart of that “cult.”  Although, I’m pretty sure you understand it’s not a cult anymore.  I remember when you told me, “Too many people die in the name of Jesus and God.”  My thought was (even if I couldn’t tell you at the time), “That’s more of an argument for Jesus than against Him…”  The very fact that people throughout history have thought so much about their Deity that they would willingly die for it tells me it’s pretty important.  You were always a pretty strong patriot – you always appreciated the military folks, and those that founded our nation because they thought so much about our liberty they were willing to die for it.

Trusting God is what has gotten me through these years.  I have no idea how folks do it without Him.  I can’t understand how people (as common as it is) blame Him, and walk away from Him when something like this happens…  I’ve been so grateful that He’s a big enough God that when I want to sob, and ask “WHY?”  He can handle it…  He can listen to me and not get angry with my ignorance.  Of course He understands pain and loss…

Gotta Go.
Anyhow, what’s done is done and there’s no changing it now.  You lived a short but full life…  You made a difference in at least 4 kid’s lives.  You were your own man, loved people, dreamed big.  I’ll leave all the judging up to the Judge.  

Someone (Uncle Gerry maybe?) keeps your grave looking nice – which made me proud since I don’t get to make it up there hardly ever…

The kid’s will be getting up soon…  So it’s time for me to make today the best day for them possible.  Tonight we’re going to go out to eat, stop by the church to pray, then take them, to see a cool Christmas Light display – the family that put’s it on collects food for the food bank, pretty cool deal…

Anyways, I love and miss you – and here’s one last picture – of Anna in your rocking chair…


Posted by on December 27, 2011 in My Life


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Through The Looking Glass: Acts

Finished Acts (again) today!

This time, what struck me the most was the lack of an “us against them” mentality among the early Christians…

They had church in the temple with other Jewish sects, and also in pagan temples with folks that served gods that were repulsive to Israel.  Yet, they breached their differences with tact (for the most part), and dialogue.  When the “opposing sides” got upset – be it Jew or Gentile – and demanded prison or death, the Christians kept their cool and continued to “speak the truth with love.”  Calm, cool, and collected.

And what a powerful difference they made in their world…

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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Book Reviews, Looking Glass, Musings


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Life Is So Good

Life Is So Good
In a nutshell – this is the story of a black man born in Texas in 1898.  He lived during three centuries and 2 millenia.  Because school was not an option for him, he was illiterate – for a hundred years…  But, in his old age, decided he would like to go to school – and so he did.

The powerful thing (to me) about this story is not the obvious message of “you’re never too old to learn, and change your life,” but rather the message of “no matter what life throws at you – YOU are the one that is responsible for how YOU choose to live it.”

After reading it the first time, I decided it would be mandatory reading for my kids – even though I didn’t have any at the time.  Now I do have children, and recently I assigned my 10-year-old to read it.  Judging by the dog-eared pages, he is enjoying it.  My hope is he will love it as much as I do and glean from it some life lessons that will make him a better person.  Lessons like:
People are people – Don’t hold it against them – No matter what.
When George was 10 he watched a young teenaged friend of his get lynched for something the boy didn’t do.
He witnessed – as a kid – another kid get murdered by a bunch of angry white folks for something the boy did NOT do.
George could have spent his entire life hating white people.
George could have lived his entire life justifiably angry – there were plenty of folks there that could have and should have stopped what was happening.
George could have spent his entire life upset with authority – the sheriff watched over the situation.
Instead, George listened to his father who told him:
“Some of those white folks was mean and nasty.  Some were just scared.  It doesn’t matter though.  You have no right to judge another human being.  Don’t you ever forget.”

When you don’t know what to say…  Say the wrong thing.
This isn’t really something I necessarily learned, but it is definitely something I can relate to –
Unintentionally hurting someone with foolish words and not being able to fix it.

George was 14 and working on a white family’s farm.  They had a daughter (Ashley) not too far off from his age and she would bring them lunch in the field.  Ashley was one of the first white people to speak to George simply as a person – this being the early 1900’s, in Texas, that’s a big deal.  Her being a white girl, him being a black boy, both being teenagers…  that’s a scary big deal for him.
After sometime of Ashley trying to just talk to George  she asked, “George, why don’t you ever talk to me?”
He just shrugged. So Ashe asked, “You don’t want to talk to me?”
George nodded and mumbled, “Yeah, I guess that’s it.”
Now, that wasn’t it at all…
George could tell right away that was the wrong thing to say – as she turned away with tears in her eyes.  He didn’t intend to hurt her, but he did – and he never did find a way to fix it.

When dealing with stubbornness – don’t throw stones, use sugar.
On their farm they had a faithful mule that did much of the work.  Of course, mules have a reputation as being stubborn – ol’ Blue could be one of them from time-to-time.  George tells the story of one such time in which he could not get Blue to do what needed to be done.  In a fit – the only one he admits to – George picks up a rock and throws it at the mule.  Instead of hitting Blue’s flank, he hits the mule in the eye…  George hurt the animal pretty badly and carried the regret the rest of his life.  George knew how to motivate the animal using something the animal liked – but this time he chose to throw stones instead and did far greater harm than he did good.
Surely that’s a parable everyone can understand…

The story of George Dawson

Yes... Yes it is.

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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Book Reviews


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He Made The List, He Checked It Twice… So, Bring On Christmas!

I can see it like this…

The Throne Room
God, sitting on His throne.  After years of waiting – in His lap is a scroll.
On the scroll is a checklist.  A long checklist, that reads (in part) something like this:

My To Do List:
Priority #1 – Save The World.
Become A Savior.

  • The Lineage…
    Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…  check, check, check – Jesse…
    Oh!  Need to get the whole Ruth & Boaz thing worked out – but to get a Boaz, I need a Rahab!
    Rahab – how, can I keep a Rahab alive – Ah – Spies…  Caleb and Joshua, they’ll help.
    Don’t forget the red string – Check
  • The Star…
    Planets aligned – Check
  • Gifts – we need gold & incense…
    For those kinds of gifts I need magi.
    Brilliant!  They will bring the gifts by following the star. – Check
  • Wailing in Rama… OH! I HATE this one…  Why did I put this on the list?
    Ok, so the magi will think the king will know about the baby…
    The king will get mad at the magi & act out in a fit of rage – Check
  • The Fore-runner…
    Ok, this is easier than the Rahab thing – BUT these people issues are complicated!
    Mary… she has a cousin, Elizabeth – she needs a son, wants a son, but hasn’t been able…
    I can fix that – and let’s have some fun with it –
    I want him named John and he’s going to be a weird one! – Check
  • The Mother… a virgin.
    This one’s not too hard – I just have to time it before the late 20th Century.
    Gabriel, visit Mary – Check
  • The Name: Immanuel (Me with them) – JESUS…
    Gabriel, visit Joseph – Check
  • The Town: Bethlehem…
    I think I can convince that ruler he needs to do a census – Check
  • Shepherds.
    There’s a field right close by – they usually abide over there.
    Angels, go let them know. – Check
  • Swaddling Clothes and a Manger: for the Shepherds’ sake…
    Here we go, that census works out well.  Lot’s of folks in town –
    Joseph can’t find a room…  We’ll have the innkeeper show them a stable. – Check

And on and on the list goes…  details of His birth, life, death – and beyond.

But I can just see Him – on the throne, lining it all out – and checking off the last check mark.
Excitement building all around Him…
Or maybe there’s a bit of apprehension in the air.
Maybe the angels are nervous before He says:
“Alright this is it – The fullness of time!  Earth, ready or not here I come!”

“4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” ~ Galatians 4 (KJV)

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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Musings


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Bitter or Sweet?

There is probably NO scientific merit to what I am about to post… but post it anyhow I will… and I’ll keep it short – it’s time to go look at Christmas Lights!

The other morning, as I took an orange from the fruit bowl for breakfast, I realized the super-frugal, coupon-crazy, shop-every-grocery-store-in-town-to-save-money, ultra-incredible-budget-cutting, fiscally-responsible, domestic-goddess I am married to got a great deal on oranges.  I could tell right away because the peel on my orange was paper thin – so, surely, she did not pay very much for this thing.  Against my better judgment – I ate it.  It was bitter, it was sour, it was not good.  It didn’t look bad though.  The only indication was its thin skin.  It just didn’t feel quite right, it felt too sensitive.

To test my hypothesis that a thinned skinned orange was a bitter orange, I decided to go all out and spend $0.49 of my own hard-earned money to purchase an orange from my store (an orange with thicker skin) for lunch today…  And, of course, I proved myself right – this orange felt good, and tasted sweet, it was juicy.

The Scientific Analysis:
The Bitter Orange had a diameter of 7.5 centimeters, and the skin at its thickest point was 4 millimeters.  While The Sweet Orange had a diameter of 8 centimeters, with a rind that was a robust 8 millimeters average – and a full centimeter at its thickest.

Yes…  I spent my lunch hour measuring orange rinds.
And…  I deliberately used metric measurements to make my findings feel more official (and appeal to my readers on the other side of the pond – not that I have any).

The Moral of the Story: 
Don’t be a thin-skinned-orange type of person.  Too many folks now-a-days are too sensitive, get offended way too easily, and allow themselves to become bitter and resentful.  You know these folks.  They’re the ones that just read this paragraph and unfriended me from Facebook.

Instead, make up your mind to become a thick-skinned-orange type of person.  Sweet, juicy (no, that is not a fat joke), no bitterness.  Refuse to be offended. 

Life is better this way – trust me, I’m a Doctor.


Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Musings, My Life


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The Twilight Zone – Episode 1

God works in mysterious ways is a saying as old as Adam.  He certainly does tend to move in dimensions we cannot fathom, in ways we only partially understand in hindsight.  However, there seems to be one dimension the Almighty likes to move in particular…  Let’s try to go there –

“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop…”The Twilight Zone

I’m heading home – where I belong.  After twenty years. 
Twenty years without being able to speak to my father.  Oh – how I miss him!  He was so frail when I left, I can’t imagine he has held on this long.  Yet, surely, there would have been news had he passed on.  Surely mother would have sent news!

And my mother – I know, she loves me, she wants the best for me – what God had promised her for me.  But we didn’t have to rush it.  We didn’t have to help Him along. 
Helping Him along hasn’t helped me any these twenty long years.  She should have listened to Grandmother, learned from her mistakes – especially in the “helping-the-Almighty” category.
What good is a blessing if you can’t enjoy it?  Sheesh, now I sound like my brother.

My brother.  As much as I hate to admit it, I miss him too.  But more than I miss him, I fear him. 
He has every right to hate me, to despise me, to kill me.
To kill me and take back what was rightfully his – my blessing.
My blessing, his blessing – the blessing.
For twenty years I’ve tended another man’s flocks and fields while my brother has tended what is mine.  I can only imagine the shape of the fields, he wasn’t much for the livestock and planting – but at the slaying and eating he excelled.  Maybe, perhaps, two decades have matured him.  It may be necessity has birthed in him an appreciation for the flocks and crops.
I certainly hope at the least these years have soothed his temper and indignation.  Twenty years, no doubt he too has taken a wife.  If the decades failed, the Lord is my witness, a wife will have brought a change in his life!  Alas, if both time and women have failed to calm him, my only hope is the waves of gifts I have sent ahead.

Two decades and as many wives have certainly brought a change and birthed appreciation in my own self.  Certainly an appreciation for honesty.
Ahhh!  The deceit of my father-in-law, I feel the burn my brother felt.  Even now, just yesterday – How could he!?  For him to think I stole his daughters, grandchildren, and livestock – I slaved for twenty years for all this!  They are not his, they are mine – my wives, my children, my flocks!
And for him to think I would have reason to steal his gods.  The pathetic little tokens of his – what?  Why would I need his idols?  I am certainly not nearly as devout or faithful as father and grandfather – but I cannot stoop to the level of dealing in trinket gods! 

Oh, calm yourself!  It is over with him.  He is gone, now we have a covenant, a line, a border that we will not cross except in peace.  I must leave him behind, and focus on the task ahead.  Perhaps now is as good a time as any for me to visit with the Lord again…  It has been so long.  I still remember that night in Bethel.  The dream!  The promise! 

…And my ignorant, foolish vow to Him.  My vow that if He would meet my silly list of demands I would somehow allow Him to be my God – What a FOOL!

“Oh God!  God of my father and grandfather. 
The God that made incredible promises to me when I was a young fool.
That said I would be great, that my household would be great! 

I was a fool to demand Your provision.  I am still a fool.
An unworthy fool –

You have provided for me.  You have clothed me.  You have given me a family.  You have met my foolish demands…
And here I stand alone tonight – my family divided and scattered!
A fearful fool – my brother, the brother I robbed, will meet me tomorrow…  Please God – I have no business asking, but for my wives, my children, and Your promise – let it be well when we meet him.  Don’t allow it to be war!  Don’t allow it to be stri-”  —OOF!

Arghh!  Esau!? 
Is -That – umph!
Ow! I can’t see -Is-that-you!?

Well, I’m not going to lie down and give up!  -Arghh-Ughhh-Umph

Who is this!? -Oow-Grrt-Argh- Could I have been so lost in my prayer this person crept through the trees noislessly?  Why can’t I get a good look at him?  Argh-umph

Focus on staying alive. It’s difficult to focus on much else rolling around on the forest floor.

Umph – Ouch!  Crashing against tree trunks.

Argh – I’m hitting and twisting and pushing as hard as I can, but getting no where – surely this isn’t my brother or any of his 400 men!  Grrrar-ugh- No relief.  No giving in.  No giving up.

Oh! On the ground again…  Roll to the clearing, maybe the moon will shine light on his face – argh

Uh-who cares who he is, just knock him out…

Oooogh-But he’s not, so keep going. –

Into the brook – splash-slphhh-grgglll- He’s trying to drown me.

Arghh-back out of the brook.

There a rock.  Trip him.Umph- His head – into the stone – Argh. 

How can that be?  -umph-No head is that hard…  Was that sand stone?  Ugh-

Ahhhh-ughh- I’m so tired, can’t stop.  What time is it – this seems like it’s been hours.

Is that twilight on the horizon?  It is…

The stranger says, “Let me go – the day is breaking!”

OOOOWW!!!  He just touched my thigh and my hip snapped out of joint.  OOOOWW!!!
We wrestled all night without this kind of pain!  ARGHHH!!!  This is no man…

The stranger again says, “Let me go – it’s twilight!”

“No! I will not let you go until you bless me.”

The stranger asks, “What is your name?”


“Not anymore.  No longer are you a supplanter – now your name is Israel.  As a prince you have power – with man, and with God; and you prevailed!”

“What, then, is YOUR name?”

“Why is it you would need to know my Name?  Just know that you have been blessed by the Almighty in this place.”

And just as silent and swift as the Visitor arrived – He vanished.  And with Him he took decades of pain and fear and deceit!  My heaviness is gone – carried away.

Replaced with this new pain, yes – a physical pain, in my leg.  Oh – I may never walk the same again; but the joy of knowing…

He is not just the God of my fathers Abraham and Isaac –
But –
He is now the God of Abraham, Isaac, and…  Israel!

Now, Twilight is past – it is time to return.  To my brother, mother, and father.

(Loosely taken from Genesis 27-32)


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in The Twilight Zone


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