A Matter of Perspective

Recently, while visiting a friend in the local hospital, I came upon a young couple with a tiny newborn baby in the hallway, having just seen their pediatrician.  The baby was unhappy.  I knew because I could hear him wailing from  the far end of the hallway.  As I approached, I could see the tears, the red cheeks, the scrunched face of the baby, and flashed back to when my own kids were newborns.  Then I saw the tears, the red cheeks, the scrunched face of the newborn’s mother.  She appeared to be frustrated out of her mind, and I could hear her say between sobs, “Just please stop crying!  I just wish he would stop crying!”

A woman, whom I supposed to be the mother of the new mother, was rubbing her back, comforting her by saying, “honey, he’s fine- crying is what babies do.  He’s hungry, or wet, but he’s fine.  He’s just doing the only thing he knows to do, and that’s to cry.”

As I continued past the young family on my way to the 11th floor elevator, I could only think about those days when my own children were newborns, crying, wailing, making me feel like the worst parent on the planet.  But at this point in my life, when several my friends my age are grandparents, those memories bring mixed emotions.  We are too old to have more children of our own.  And, in the not too distant future, my own kids will begin to have kids of their own, and I will become the understanding grandparent who reminds my kids that “crying is what babies do.”  And I am reminded of those close to me who do not have children of their own.

While the repetitive cries of a newborn baby can be an irritating and exhausting sound, those cries can also bring a beautiful reassurance.  The reassurance that the cycle of life continues; the hope of a son or daughter to continue the legacy you have established; or maybe, just the joy that comes when the scrunchy-faced cries at long last fade into smiles in silent, blissful sleep.

So, let ’em cry.  When they grow up and don’t need you anymore, you’ll cherish the times they did.

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Folds of Honor

Who knew that attending a Memorial Day golf tournament would be so memorable….

The Folds of Honor Foundations sponsors a fund-raising Pro-Am that raises money and awareness for children of military heroes.  Folds of Honor gives scholarships to children of veterans, many of whom have been wounded and can no longer provide for their families.

One poignant scene is burned in my mind…. As the first group rounded the 9th green, headed to the 10th tee, a bugler sounded Taps, the tune known worldwide as the tune recognizing the end of the day.  For military heroes,Taps is reserved for funerals of heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms of the United States.

Almost immediately, the sound of thousands of fans was replaced by a nervous hush.  Old and young stood wherever they were, found one of the dozens of flags along the course property, and with hands and hats over their hearts, allowed the haunting tune to take their minds to those loved ones who serve, and who have served.

As the last notes of Taps rolled around the gentle hills of Northeast Oklahoma, a chime sounded.  One….Two… Three… In the distance, a rumble could be heard.  Faint at first, we could determine neither direction nor destination.  Four…. Five….Six…. the rumble was now echoing across the course.  Seven…. Eight… We were all facing the same direction now, waiting for the rumble to reveal its purpose.  Suddenly, over the trees, we saw them…

 

WW2 era fighter planes, similar to those in the photo, flying the famed “missing wingman” formation.  Even though the engine sounds were extreme, I could almost hear the gasp from the crowd as people suddenly recognized and identified with the drama unfolding above us.  They flew directly overhead, and they were flying low.  Unexpectedly, as they passed the Clubhouse, one of the planes peeled off to the north, representing yet another loss of a military hero.  Through tears, I followed that plane until it disappeared across the horizon.  I had lost count of the tolling of the chime, but I think the chimes numbered 12.

Finally, someone let out a cheer and the entire crowd let loose with applause and appreciation for the men and women who serve our country, risking limb and life for our freedom.  Men like my dad and father-in-law; their brothers and fathers. Men and women today who serve, placing my freedom above their lives.

I hope you’ll consider supporting our military and their families by supporting the Folds of Honor Foundation.  More information about this fine organization can be found here.

I have been reminded of the brevity of life, and of the teetering frailty of what our society calls freedom.  Join me in praying for freedom, bound in peace and secured by the iron will of the men and women of the United States Military.

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Hope

Thinking of family today. This is a re-post from April 2010… I have a beautiful family! Click here to read about hope…

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I’ve decided- I’m Quitting!

ImageThat’s right, fans.  I’m quitting blogging.

Not really.  I’m just quitting blogging on this disorganized, disheveled collection of miscellany.  I am in the process of upgrading the design, clarifying the purpose, and improving the content of what I hope will become a helpful, encouraging, and entertaining collection of miscellany.

Stay tuned, friends.  Both of you.  I hope to have the new site up and running at the same old address- rebarron.com- by the end of the month.

By the way, this is expensive.  If you would pay my children’s college education expenses, I might break even on this deal.

Not really.  I’m ok.  Just quitting.  And taking a leap of faith….

Life is Good!

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The Pitfalls of Milk and Cookies

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I started out on the couch in our partially renovated living room.  I had just poured myself a small nightcap and grabbed a couple of leftover Pecan Sandies.  The name fits, by the way, when they’ve been in the cabinet since the first Bush was president.  Anyway, I had just settled with my milk and cookies and turned on OETA when I dozed off.  I woke later, around 3:30 ish, when I heard the dog barking his head off because he could smell the milk that now spilled down my shirt and my leg to the freshly cleaned carpet below.  I kindly and gently shouted at him to shut up and started after a wet towel, but thought better of it, and let Bud the dog out of his kennel so he could clean it up himself.  He wouldn’t touch the Sandie.

When Bud had his fill of the milk-flavored carpet, he crawled contentedly back in his kennel for the rest of the night.  I assume the constant licking of his teeth and dragging his tongue on the floor meant he was contented.  Anyway, I crawled down the hall to the bed, and was just about to plop in when I remembered my wet clothes.  So, in the dark of night, I silently opened the drawer and grabbed another set of clothes, which consisted of a pair of “shorts”, another pair of shorts, and a clean white T.  I had my back to the door as I changed clothes, and turned to find that my door was open into the hallway.  The same hallway where my daughter’s door was also open.  I was glad that I could hear the sweet sound of her sleeping deeply rather than the shrieks of a terrified 12-year-old.

I climbed into my bed, and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.  Now when I sleep, I am a light sleeper.  I notice every little sound, every creak, every change in my surroundings; I awaken easily and am deeply disturbed it happens.  So I was surprised to find that I had walked outside to a barn in Tennessee where I deer hunted when I was a kid.  I was there with a group of strangers, and we were building a fire in which to dry our wet clothes.  Suddenly, from the sky above us, airplanes  began falling from the sky.  Planes of all sizes- from tiny, mosquito-sized planes to huge airships that carry thousands of passengers.  They all used some kind of super landing gear, because none crashed.  They just kind of bounced up and down until they were able to open their doors and let their shaken passengers slide down the emergency chutes.  Reminded me of an Oldsmobile that my cousin in California used to drive and bounce around downtown until the Po-Pos ran him off.

I began to run at a rapid pace, fleeing the barn and the descending planes.  Off in the distance, I could hear Bud barking, as if he were saying, “Come on, Daddy, run!  I gotta go!  I gotta go!  I gotta go!”  I jumped over a fallen log and landed mid-stride right square on the edge of my bed, balanced between safety and falling a terrifying two feet to the floor.  As gracefully as a turtle in molasses, I turned to keep from falling, hoping that if anyone saw me, they would think I meant to do that.

Breathing hard and wiping the sleep from my eyes, I turned to see my sweet wife putting on her makeup.  She was using a dry, #2 brush, like those used to cut in trim work around crown molding in fancy houses.  Her paint came from a very expensive and very tiny tube. When she saw that I was up, she smiled and asked, “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes,” I lied.  “Did you?”

“I did until about 3:30, when I dreamed about bald, pasty white polar bear wearing shorts. Then I heard Bud barking so I got up and let him go outside. When he had finished, and after I put him up, I couldn’t go back to sleep.  Now, evidently, Bud has had an accident while I wasn’t looking because the carpet in front of the couch is wet.  It took me 20 minutes to clean that up.”

Grinning sheepishly, I gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and reminded her that eating before she goes to sleep can lead to some unwanted results…

 

*This story is only partially true; some of this really happened, and the rest is, well, partially not true. I’m not telling which…..

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The Young and the Daytona 500 UPDATED

It’s a Monday night and I’m watching the Daytona 500.

Normally a Sunday afternoon race, the NASCAR season opener was severely punished by Mother Nature and forced to postpone the start for about 30 hours.  Torrential rains drenched the cars, drivers, crew, and fans.  There was so much rain, that it looked like the folks in Florida might get the call to build another ark.  When they made the announcement that the race would be postponed until noon Monday, about 50,000 fans came down with the Daytona flu and called in sick.  Those are the fans with tickets; another 100,000 people began to feel really poorly around 11:00, and at 11:30, went home early, only to find out the race was postponed again to Monday night.  No, I was not one of those.  I will call in sick tomorrow,  if my sneezing, coughing, and stuffy head doesn’t get better.  That darned Daytona flu is really contagious.

How, you must wonder, can anyone stand to watch 43 cars turning left again and again, over and over, hour after hour?  Well, the way I look at it, NASCAR is a lot like a soap opera for people who don’t like soap operas.  Once you get to know the actors (drivers) and their histories, you kind of learn the story line.  Who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, drivers who you can run with, and drivers who act like my 12-year-old daughter, only not as emotionally mature.  Unlike soap operas, though, some of the drivers and teams have integrity and character.   Like the Woods Brothers team, who won last year with a young driver, Trevor Bayne, in only his 2nd NASCAR race. The Woods Brothers have been fielding teams for 30 years, and are a solid family, well respected.   Some drivers have no integrity at all, and you can read my thoughts about him here.

There’s the technical side that appeals- engines, restrictor plates, cant and camber of the tires, wedges in the springs, clean air, drafting.  Then there are the tracks where the raced are run- historic Daytona, which started on the beach; Talladega (“don’t put that off on me, Ricky bobby…”) in Alabama; Bristol, which is a lot like someone built a really big concrete bowl and decided to run a car race inside it; Martinsville; Charlotte Motor Speedway; and the historic “Brickyard”, the Indianapolis Racetrack.  There are others, but they don’t carry the history of these, well, historic tracks. Each track has a different length; different banking in the turns, and require different styles of racing.

There’s the smell; fuel and rubber and burning exhausts.  The noise generated from a single car is an unbelievably deafening 130 dB; imagine 43 cars all running at that noise level?  That’s almost as loud as my daughter’s stereo with LeCrae rockin’ the house.  And the speed!  Cars just inches from each other, running at 198 miles an hour is exhilarating!  Three wide in turn four!  Caution on the backstretch!  Two tires?  Four tires?  A splash and go!

Then there is the racing family history- Burton; Labonte; Earnhardt; Jarrett; and the King of all NASCAR… Petty.  Families that last; that stay and work together. Win together…

Me, I don’t know much about racing.  I just like it.  Not as much as this pastor, though.

I hope you get a chance to be friends with someone who likes racing, especially NASCAR racing.  Stay with it a while, and you’ll be captivated by events like this one that may end the race tonight… Juan Pablo Mantoya’s car broke under caution, and slammed into a safety truck carrying 200 gallons of jet fuel to power the helicopter engine that blows debris from the track.

More drama than a daytime soap, more fun than a made-for-tv reality show, more suspense than just watching 43 drivers going fast while turning left.  I love it!  Boogity, boogity, boogity boys- let’s go racing!

Boy, I sure don’t feel good….

UPDATE:

Following a two-hour delay, Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 more than 6 hours after the green flag dropped to start the race.  Following multiple crashes, Kenseth won on a Green-White-Checkered finish.  What is that, you may ask?  That, my friends, is one reason to watch the race all the way to the finish.

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Take the Five-Minute Challenge

The Five-Minute Challenge

I discovered this video and the challenge just a few minutes ago.  I dare you to click the link above to watch the video, and I double-dog dare you to take the challenge…. join me and a world of others who dare to make a difference through prayer!

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