Archive for category family

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.


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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Happy 25th Anniversary!

They say that “time flies when you’re having fun”.

I’m not really sure who ‘they’ are, but from where I sit, they are right.  Today, August 9, 2011, Jane and I celebrate 25 years of marriage!  In so many ways, it seems just just a short time ago when we stood at the altar at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, KY, to exchange our vows, for two lives to become one.  At the same time, our lives have been so active, so full of joy, so difficult, so fun, so challenging, that it seems hard to believe that we have crammed so much living into 25 short years.

Yet, when I look at this picture made on our wedding day, time seems to stand still.  Jane Benson, you still take my breath away.  I am so blessed, as a matter of fact, that I believe some thank-you’s are in order:

To God– Thank You!  Thank You!  THANK YOU!

To George and Frances Benson, thank you for teaching Jane about Jesus and helping her grow in the love and admonition of the Lord. You two made a beautiful little girl!

To Jane– while I would make some decisions differently (Hare Jordan, the Thunderbird, and the Perazzi shotgun come to mind), the decision to spend my life with you is a decision I’d make 1000 times over.

Finally, to all the other guys who wanted to go out with Jane and try and win her heart, just let me say…

you lose…I Win!

I love you, Jane.  Happy Anniversary!

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We finally did it.

Following what amounts to be years of thinking, talking, and otherwise speculating, we did it.  We finally broke down and became pet owners. Again.

Please understand- we are not against pets.  We love pets!  Especially others’ pets.  We love going to our friends’ homes, playing with their pets, then leaving them there.  But ever since this incident with Sam, we never thought we’d have another pet….

You know, we actually had a dog once.  In another town we lived in, we were offered- and took- a tiny and beautiful Red Labrador Retriever.  We named him Sam.  He was actually reddish-brown, and when we got him at about 9 weeks, his paws were already in adult sizes.  Those feet were huge!  We soon discovered that Sam’s appetite matched those enormous feet.  Sam would not stop eating.  He ate not only his very expensive food, but he also ate towels that fell from the clothesline.  He ate vinyl siding.  He ate the phone lines and cable lines attached to to the side of the house.  And as he ate, he grew.  At nine months, he could stand on his back legs, put his front legs on Jane’s shoulders and look over her head!  Not to say that Jane is short… she is all of 5’2, but that dog was huge!  Sam was constantly knocking our kids down, dragging them across the yard, and was generally not much fun to our family. We knew he needed a place to run, to wander, to grow.  We knew we couldn’t offer him all that he needed to make him happy.  Sam was not happy, and we were not happy paying all the repair bills.  So, Sam had to go.

We found a local man who would take Sam and promised to care for him, to give him the good life he deserved.  So we loaded up the Bronco with all of Sam’s things- his house, his vet records, leash, food, favorite toys, and we headed across town toward Sam’s new life.  Sam’s new owner was not at home, but we were given instructions to leave Sam in the kennel in the back and he would be by in a day or two to pick him up.

So, slowly, we unloaded our beautiful dog friend and all his earthly possessions and put them in a 6×20 chain link dog run.  The floor was dirt, and muddy; it was unkempt, and evidence of its previous inhabitants lay in piles in the corners.  There was no grass.  There were no toys.  There was no food or water. But, Sam needed a new home, right?

It was a sad trip back across town toward our home.  All four of us were crying.  We felt so badly for Sam, but we really felt badly for us, for we suddenly realized how we loved Sam, the enormous-footed,house-eating Lab.  But being the practical people we were, we knew what we had to do…

…turn the car around, go back to his new owner, and bring Sam home.  And along with all his earthly possessions, we joyfully loaded Sam back into the Bronco and headed home!

It was only a few days later, though, following a return visit by the phone company to install yet another connector box, that we realized Sam really did need another home.  Sam needed a place where he could run, swim, to play like the puppy he was, far from the dangers of vinyl siding poisoning or getting a piece of coax stuck in his snout.

We found a pet lover who owned quite a large  farm.  The owners met Sam and immediately fell in love with him. So Sam now lives happily ever after on a farm in North East Mississippi.

Which brings us back to Bud.  Bud is a cocky Cocker Spaniel, born on Valentine’s Day 2011.  He has captivated the four of us, and we have fallen for this beautiful pup.

But he has huge feet…

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The Aluminum Show

Thanks to the generosity of friends, my girls and I had the opportunity to attend The Aluminum Show at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center over the weekend.  It was fabulous!  If you get a chance, the stunning visuals, the dynamic dance, and the driving music make for an entertaining evening.  Here’s Madilyn inside an aluminum duct, being helped by one of the actresses.  And you can watch the promo video here.

Life is Good!

What show (or shows) have you recently seen that entertained you?

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Everyone Has a Story- What’s Yours?

This Sunday begins a new season for us at The Springs.  For two months, our church will highlight stories of some of its members.  Stories of failure, success, struggle, victory.  Real stories of real families.  The beauty is that none of the stories have seen their final chapters.  As long as we have breath in our lungs, we can re-write the outline of our lives and  write brand-new conclusions to our own stories.  Every chapter starts fresh, with new content… new direction… new hope.

Join us at The Springs as we celebrate our stories…. and yours.




What’s your story?





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