Category Archives: Holiday Post

#TBT: Three Lessons on Valentines Day

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This post goes back to February 14, 2011 when I recalled my years as a high school teacher giving advice to the guys about matters of the heart. As if I knew anything!

I’m sitting here with Budge while another Valentines Day wends towards its happy conclusion . . . at least here in the Eastern US Time Zone. Any of y’all who may read this out on the Left Coast still have time to make at least SOME last-minute plans. We’ve never been great fans of Cupid’s Day. Budge worked at a florist shop for a little over a year so if I even mention bringing her a dozen roses, I get the “withering stare.” She took a break from her diet and we had a nice supper together.

Still, not many days evoke the humorous and the serious from my memory quite like Valentines Day. I taught high school English in a rural, blue-collar high school for ten years and Valentines Day always produced a few surprises. I remember one young lad who began coming to school dressed in khakis and button down oxfords instead of his former ratty t-shirts and blue jeans with the dip can ring on the back pocket. I held him after class one day near Valentines and questioned him on the quite noticeable change in his attire. He said, “Coach, it’s the strangest thing. Ever since me and ____ started dating, she’s taken some of her check from her after school job and bought me clothes. She knows my size and everything. Does that mean she’s got it bad for me, Coach?”

Now, as an aside, please remember that this was a rural high school. Graduation was nowhere near assured for many of these students. I had several walk across the stage as first generation diploma bearers during my tenure. Also, college was somewhat of an undreamed of luxury for this hard-working community. That meant that high school romances were quite often precursors to a married life. The girls especially seemed to realize this more than the boys and they would lay claim to the best of the crop of young men by the junior prom. So that meant my young buddy’s question was not unfounded.

I smiled at him and said, “Son, learn something from me right now that’s never going to be on a test. None of those clothes, right down to those nice new ropers you’ve got on has a THING to do with you!” Seeing his quizzical expression, I continued on, “Nope, it’s ALL about her. See, you have become an ‘accessory’ now. You are just like a handbag or a bracelet. It’s your job in life to make sure SHE looks good when y’all walk down the hall or the mall together. You ever been to a jewelry store and seen all the diamonds?” He nodded. “Well, then. Think of yourself as the black velvet cloth her diamond lies on. You make her shine.” That seemed to register with him so I asked him what he’d gotten his new beauette for Valentines Day. His reply was one that would run ice water through any “attached” man’s veins.

He said, “She told me not to get her anything. She’s real easy on me like that.”

I said, “Son, tell me you got her SOMETHING — card, candy, SOMETHING!”

“No, Coach, I told you she told me not to.”

I let him in on the secret. “Son, lesson two for the day. When a girl y’all’s age says, ‘oh, don’t get me anything’ she means she’s not going to TELL you what to get her. This is the test of how well you know her. She’s going to find out now just how well you’ve been paying attention on y’all’s dates and stuff.”

He looked stricken, “But she SAID . . .” I cut him off, “Son, I know what she said and that’s just it. She’s testing you. Now you can take her at face value and not get her anything and pay the price, or you can hit up Wally World and get her a teddy bear and a cute card.”

Nodding, he asked me, “but, Coach, why didn’t she just SAY all that?”

I gave him the last lesson for the day, “Son, she’s a female. Females are smarter than us. That’s all I know.”

He did get the teddy bear and cute card and about four years later I had the pleasure of officiating at their wedding.

It’s the truth, ladies. Y’all are just smarter than us.

Love all y’all and keep those feet clean!

#TBT: A Non-Ironic Christmas Miracle

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I originally wrote this post on Christmas Day 2015. For a variety of reasons, this holiday season has been if anything worse than the season I mentioned originally, but whenever I read this post, I realize in the midst of the deepest darkness we have something to cling to if we just reach for the light.

I’ve been having a terrible holiday season. Thanksgiving was wonderful but ever since that glorious meal and day of hanging out with friends like family my mood and emotions have slowly and inexorably skidded towards a new nadir. I always write a Christmas post and honestly I had planned something even more cynical than last year’s. I feel like sandpapered bare nerves and figured I may as well take my massive (ha,ha) readership down with me.

Then, I some news rocked me back on my heels and got me to thinking beyond twinkling lights that keep blowing, decorations that never made it to the tree, and all the presents I couldn’t afford to buy this year. I got some news and it made me shut my cynical, downward spiraling mouth until I could open it in wonder and say to myself, “Damn, if that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what is.”

I’m leaving out all the names in this story because it is so highly personal to those involved. In doing so, however, I fear some may see my concern for another’s privacy as a cheap way of passing off a lie. If you believe I’m lying about this story, I pity you because you have grown more cynical and jaded than I have. I’m trying to protect the dignity of a person who doesn’t even know I exist and if you think that’s lying, I can’t help you.

This concerns the granddaughter of a precious acquaintance of mine. This sweet young lady whom I have only seen in pictures at my friend’s home is a freshman at a Midwestern college who currently attends said institution on a full scholarship. She comes from a wonderful family, had a reasonably good upbringing, got into the usual teenage mischief, but is overall a lovely young lady, if completely unremarkable in most ways. When I say she is unremarkable, I don’t mean she isn’t special or talented or she doesn’t stand out in any way, but she is much like the rest of her tribe of young college students. If I gave her name, it wouldn’t ring any bells to anyone outside her immediate family and circle of friends, I’m sure. In a very good way, she is simply average.

Several weeks ago, this wonderfully average girl was in her room studying for classes when her suite-mates announced their room was to soon become the epicenter of a spirited get-together. This lovely girl wasn’t too thrilled about having her study time interrupted by an impromptu party, but she realized those are the memory making moments of college which last so she didn’t protest much.

By-the-by, friends and acquaintances, classmates and dorm-mates began to arrive and a wonderful time of eating and listening to music, etc was had by all. Whether or not any underage drinking occurred is anyone’s guess but I can say with absolute authority the young lady in question emphatically did NOT partake of anything alcoholic, much less to extreme because her scholarship depends on an extremely high level of training and fitness and her coach does not tolerate hangovers.

So, at an appropriate hour, or maybe somewhat past, the suite-mates decide the gathering had run its course and started breaking up the festivities. Our girl walked a few friends out of the building then returned to her apartment, said goodnight to the few remaining guests and — claiming fatigue — retired to her bedroom where she changed into flannel pjs, crawled into bed, pulled the covers up and went soundly to sleep. When she awoke the next morning, she was in basically the same position, same clothes, same bed, same everything.

When she got up, she did notice she was really sore, but she didn’t think much of it because training for her sport had begun in earnest and a modicum of soreness was expected at this point in the season. When the ache went away by the next day, she didn’t give it anymore thought.

Fast-forward four or five weeks and she’s feeling a touch under the weather. Nothing terrible and she figures it might be her body adjusting to the new climate. Still, to be safe, she went to the infirmary where a very efficient nurse practitioner checked her out and took a blood sample before sending her home with an antibiotic.

Two days later, she got the call from the infirmary which would change her life and the life of her family forever. A lot of us think we’ve gotten such a call . . . this young woman did. The very efficient nurse practitioner was on the phone and basically ordered her to return to the infirmary . When she arrived at the clinic, she asked what the problem with her blood tests was. The very efficient nurse practitioner then point-blank informed this young lady all alone and miles from any of the support systems she knew and adored she was several weeks pregnant.

That was impossible she told the nurse. She absolutely couldn’t be pregnant because she was, in fact, a virgin. She didn’t even have a boyfriend! Somehow a mistake had to have occurred, but upon a thorough exam, she realized there had been no mistake. She was no longer a virgin. She WAS pregnant.

When the shock wore off enough for her to contact her family, her mother came out and along with her roommates they began to piece together what had happened. To cut a rapidly growing story somewhat short, this girl had been drugged or “roofied” at the party weeks before, stripped, raped while unconscious, then re-dressed and tucked back in bed as though nothing happened. What’s more, the roommates were certain of the culprit because he had apparently been accused of this action before.

Now, this girl and her family are solid Christians, but even so, the most staunch pro-lifers are against abortion “EXCEPT in the case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother.” OBVIOUSLY this was a case squarely in the “exception clause.” Of course she was going to have an abortion. The school even offered to pay for it for her so she wouldn’t be out any money. They would work on prosecuting the offender, but no one expected her to keep this child. It was a RAPE BABY! Everyone would understand. It was the right course of action to take.

Here’s where the story turns from anger inducing to miracle working. She said, “No.” Simple as that. NO. She wasn’t having an abortion. Furthermore, she is not giving the baby up for adoption once he or she is born. She plans to keep and raise her baby.

NOTE: The baby BOY was born in due course and is beautiful and lovely in every way and as far as I have been able to keep up, mother and child are doing well.

Obviously, to just about everyone around her this is nothing short of insane. She’s a freshman in college. How is she going to manage a baby as an unmarried single mom in school? What about her reputation? What about the father? What about the hundreds of other “What abouts” to consider? Well, she considered them and decided to have and keep her baby.

The university is working with her hand in glove. She’s being given a leave of absence until the baby arrives at which time a court ordered paternity test will take care of the question of the father. Her scholarship is safely intact. Still, nothing in her life is ever going to be the same. All the plans she had mapped out, all the hopes and dreams now have to be completely overhauled. She will endure ridicule and scorn from now on because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone. She’ll be accused of “asking for it.” Her life will be on trial even though she’s done nothing. Some people will claim she’s using the baby for monetary gain because the rapist father is the scion of a hugely prominent and wealthy family in that state.

From now on, no matter what she does, she’s going to carry a stigma. She’s going to be “That Girl,” but she’s also carrying a baby. I guess 999 of 1000 women or more would have gone with the abortion and WHO COULD BLAME THEM? To this girl, however, aborting the baby would be tantamount to blaming him (or her) for the heinous crime the father committed. She refuses to do that. The world sees a rape baby, fit for — at best — being given up for adoption.

She sees her son (or daughter) and THAT is what hit me so hard.

2000 years ago and half a world away, another lovely young lady, also completely unremarkable in most ways and also a virgin found out SHE was pregnant. She, at least, was warned by an angel, but I’m thinking it didn’t help much in the end. As soon as she began to show, tongues started flapping. Obviously she was a harlot! She must have done something to bring this on herself! Her betrothed had the right to have her killed by stoning, but he chose instead to just “put her away”, an euphemism for divorce. Another visit by another angel changed HIS mind and together they had that baby and the Apostle Luke says she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room in the local inn. They became a family right in the middle of a storm of scandal.

“The Holy Spirit?!” “Right!” “A VIRGIN!! Her?!” “Right.” That mother and her little baby were haunted by people who thought for absolute certainty they knew more than they did and weren’t afraid to spread their venom far and wide. Even today, 2000 years later, it hasn’t stopped. Scientists, philosophers, and great men of all stripes still say it couldn’t have happened. One major theory for all 20 centuries was this lovely young lady, completely unremarkable in most ways was raped by a Roman soldier, got pregnant, and tried to cover it up with the most unbelievable story possible and make herself the center of a new religion in the process because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone and refuse to believe otherwise.

By the way, spare me all the stories of the pagan roots of the Christmas celebrations — I know them, studied them, and even taught classes about them. I know, as do most thoughtful Christians, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, 1 AD so save all your science and your scorn. Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself because I’ve been there, I’ve got the scars, and I bought the t-shirt with all that cynical drivel writ large upon it and I came to realize one thing:

Christmas isn’t about a date on a calendar; it’s about a babe in a manger. It’s not about the gifts we give each other but about The Gift a loving God gave to a world dying in sin; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, to quote an adorable little cartoon guy with a red shirt and a blue blanket, “THAT’S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Love y’all, keep your feet clean, and have a very Merry Christmas.

A Non-Ironic Christmas Miracle

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https://i2.wp.com/acebos.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Pictures-Of-Merry-Christmas.jpgI’ve been having a terrible holiday season. Thanksgiving was wonderful but ever since that glorious meal and day of hanging out with friends like family my mood and emotions have slowly and inexorably skidded towards a new nadir. I always write a Christmas post and honestly I had planned something even more cynical than last year’s. I feel like sandpapered bare nerves and figured I may as well take my massive (ha,ha) readership down with me.

Then, I some news rocked me back on my heels and got me to thinking beyond twinkling lights that keep blowing, decorations that never made it to the tree, and all the presents I couldn’t afford to buy this year. I got some news and it made me shut my cynical, downward spiraling mouth until I could open it in wonder and say to myself, “Damn, if that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what is.”

I’m leaving out all the names in this story because it is so highly personal to those involved. In doing so, however, I fear some may see my concern for another’s privacy as a cheap way of passing off a lie. If you believe I’m lying about this story, I pity you because you have grown more cynical and jaded than I have. I’m trying to protect the dignity of a person who doesn’t even know I exist and if you think that’s lying, I can’t help you.

This concerns the granddaughter of a precious acquaintance of mine. This sweet young lady whom I have only seen in pictures at my friend’s home is a freshman at a Midwestern college who currently attends said institution on a full scholarship. She comes from a wonderful family, had a reasonably good upbringing, got into the usual teenage mischief, but is overall a lovely young lady, if completely unremarkable in most ways. When I say she is unremarkable, I don’t mean she isn’t special or talented or she doesn’t stand out in any way, but she is much like the rest of her tribe of young college students. If I gave her name, it wouldn’t ring any bells to anyone outside her immediate family and circle of friends, I’m sure. In a very good way, she is simply average.

Several weeks ago, this wonderfully average girl was in her room studying for classes when her suite-mates announced their room was to soon become the epicenter of a spirited get-together. This lovely girl wasn’t too thrilled about having her study time interrupted by an impromptu party, but she realized those are the memory making moments of college which last so she didn’t protest much.

By-the-by, friends and acquaintances, classmates and dorm-mates began to arrive and a wonderful time of eating and listening to music, etc was had by all. Whether or not any underage drinking occurred is anyone’s guess but I can say with absolute authority the young lady in question emphatically did NOT partake of anything alcoholic, much less to extreme because her scholarship depends on an extremely high level of training and fitness and her coach does not tolerate hangovers.

So, at an appropriate hour, or maybe somewhat past, the suite-mates decide the gathering had run its course and started breaking up the festivities. Our girl walked a few friends out of the building then returned to her apartment, said goodnight to the few remaining guests and — claiming fatigue — retired to her bedroom where she changed into flannel pjs, crawled into bed, pulled the covers up and went soundly to sleep. When she awoke the next morning, she was in basically the same position, same clothes, same bed, same everything.

When she got up, she did notice she was really sore, but she didn’t think much of it because training for her sport had begun in earnest and a modicum of soreness was expected at this point in the season. When the ache went away by the next day, she didn’t give it anymore thought.

Fast-forward four or five weeks and she’s feeling a touch under the weather. Nothing terrible and she figures it might be her body adjusting to the new climate. Still, to be safe, she went to the infirmary where a very efficient nurse practitioner checked her out and took a blood sample before sending her home with an antibiotic.

Two days later, she got the call from the infirmary which would change her life and the life of her family forever. A lot of us think we’ve gotten such a call . . . this young woman did. The very efficient nurse practitioner was on the phone and basically ordered her to return to the infirmary . When she arrived at the clinic, she asked what the problem with her blood tests was. The very efficient nurse practitioner then point-blank informed this young lady all alone and miles from any of the support systems she knew and adored she was several weeks pregnant.

That was impossible she told the nurse. She absolutely couldn’t be pregnant because she was, in fact, a virgin. She didn’t even have a boyfriend! Somehow a mistake had to have occurred, but upon a thorough exam, she realized there had been no mistake. She was no longer a virgin. She WAS pregnant.

When the shock wore off enough for her to contact her family, her mother came out and along with her roommates they began to piece together what had happened. To cut a rapidly growing story somewhat short, this girl had been drugged or “roofied” at the party weeks before, stripped, raped while unconscious, then re-dressed and tucked back in bed as though nothing happened. What’s more, the roommates were certain of the culprit because he had apparently been accused of this action before.

Now, this girl and her family are solid Christians, but even so, the most staunch pro-lifers are against abortion “EXCEPT in the case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother.” OBVIOUSLY this was a case squarely in the “exception clause.” Of course she was going to have an abortion. The school even offered to pay for it for her so she wouldn’t be out any money. They would work on prosecuting the offender, but no one expected her to keep this child. It was a RAPE BABY! Everyone would understand. It was the right course of action to take.

Here’s where the story turns from anger inducing to miracle working. She said, “No.” Simple as that. NO. She wasn’t having an abortion. Furthermore, she is not giving the baby up for adoption once he or she is born. She plans to keep and raise her baby.

Obviously, to just about everyone around her this is nothing short of insane. She’s a freshman in college. How is she going to manage a baby as an unmarried single mom in school? What about her reputation? What about the father? What about the hundreds of other “What abouts” to consider? Well, she considered them and decided to have and keep her baby.

The university is working with her hand in glove. She’s being given a leave of absence until the baby arrives at which time a court ordered paternity test will take care of the question of the father. Her scholarship is safely intact. Still, nothing in her life is ever going to be the same. All the plans she had mapped out, all the hopes and dreams now have to be completely overhauled. She will endure ridicule and scorn from now on because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone. She’ll be accused of “asking for it.” Her life will be on trial even though she’s done nothing. Some people will claim she’s using the baby for monetary gain because the rapist father is the scion of a hugely prominent and wealthy family in that state.

From now on, no matter what she does, she’s going to carry a stigma. She’s going to be “That Girl,” but she’s also carrying a baby. I guess 999 of 1000 women or more would have gone with the abortion and WHO COULD BLAME THEM? To this girl, however, aborting the baby would be tantamount to blaming him (or her) for the heinous crime the father committed. She refuses to do that. The world sees a rape baby, fit for — at best — being given up for adoption.

She sees her son (or daughter) and THAT is what hit me so hard.

2000 years ago and half a world away, another lovely young lady, also completely unremarkable in most ways and also a virgin found out SHE was pregnant. She, at least, was warned by an angel, but I’m thinking it didn’t help much in the end. As soon as she began to show, tongues started flapping. Obviously she was a harlot! She must have done something to bring this on herself! Her betrothed had the right to have her killed by stoning, but he chose instead to just “put her away”, an euphemism for divorce. Another visit by another angel changed HIS mind and together they had that baby and the Apostle Luke says she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room in the local inn. They became a family right in the middle of a storm of scandal.

“The Holy Spirit?!” “Right!” “A VIRGIN!! Her?!” “Right.” That mother and her little baby were haunted by people who thought for absolute certainty they knew more than they did and weren’t afraid to spread their venom far and wide. Even today, 2000 years later, it hasn’t stopped. Scientists, philosophers, and great men of all stripes still say it couldn’t have happened. One major theory for all 20 centuries was this lovely young lady, completely unremarkable in most ways was raped by a Roman soldier, got pregnant, and tried to cover it up with the most unbelievable story possible and make herself the center of a new religion in the process because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone and refuse to believe otherwise.

By the way, spare me all the stories of the pagan roots of the Christmas celebrations — I know them, studied them, and even taught classes about them. I know, as do most thoughtful Christians, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, 1 AD so save all your science and your scorn. Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself because I’ve been there, I’ve got the scars, and I bought the t-shirt with all that cynical drivel writ large upon it and I came to realize one thing:

Christmas isn’t about a date on a calendar; it’s about a babe in a manger. It’s not about the gifts we give each other but about The Gift a loving God gave to a world dying in sin; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, to quote an adorable little cartoon guy with a red shirt and a blue blanket, “THAT’S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Love y’all, keep your feet clean, and have a very Merry Christmas.

Why People Hate the Empty Tomb

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https://i2.wp.com/slcbc.org/media/images/articles/Easter.jpgTomorrow is Easter Sunday when Christians in non-Eastern Orthodox traditions celebrate the single most important event in the history of the universe . . . a man, dead and buried since the previous Friday . . . walked out of a borrowed tomb alive. This event, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth stands alone in the annals of time. It is a unique event that now serves as the fulcrum of how we measure time worldwide — even in officially non-Christian countries. Jews, Muslims, and other religions may have calendars they follow to schedule religious ceremonies, but all business gets conducted on the Gregorian — the Christian — calendar. Christ’s return from the dead is so powerful, it changed our calendar from BC, “Before Christ” to AD, “Anno Domini” or “In the year of Our Lord.”

As powerful as the event, as essential as the sacrifice leading up to it, and as all-important as the Man involved, to many people the empty tomb of Easter is not an object of reverence, a touchstone of faith, and a symbol of life everlasting, it is an object of derision, a touchstone of folly, and a symbol of a corpse of a rotting religion whose time has passed. Many people hate the empty tomb and everything it stands for and while some disparage the Resurrection out of ignorance of or antagonism towards the Person and message of Christ, some have much more specific reasons for their antipathy towards that bare cave in the cliffs outside Jerusalem.

One reason many hate the empty tomb is they mistake what Christians have done in the world for what Christ did on the Cross. I will not sully the memory of those who suffered under the heel of the Christian boot during the Crusades, the Inquisition, the forced conversion of Native American children and many other atrocities committed in the name of the Lamb of God. However, it is unjust of anyone to judge the Gospel based on the actions of sinners . . . and we are all sinners. Crusaders were sinners, Inquisitors were sinners, abortion clinic bombers are sinners, and, what’s more, every single person sitting on a chair or in a pew in any church in the world today is a sinner. The only One who has ever lived who was NOT a sinner died so all the sinners who came before and all who would come after could have hope their sins would not be held against them, and the people of His time killed Him for His troubles. You cannot measure the value of the Gospel using the scales of a sinner.

Another reason people hate the empty tomb is the feeling of guilt and shame acknowledging the sacrifice of the Cross and victory of the Tomb creates. People will rail at the Heavens about how they did not ask for anyone to come die for them. They feel angry at the idea of not being “good enough” for anything they may want. No one wants to feel ashamed or guilty and in our modern culture “guilt” is today reserved almost exclusively for legal proceedings while “shame” is just the product of a backward mind unwelcome in this brave new world. After all, we’re all okay. If we just tolerate and celebrate each other and embrace the diversity of sins around us, everything will be fine. We just have to get passed the false guilt Christianity via the church has bound our freedom with for centuries. We aren’t shameful or guilty as long as it is politically incorrect to equate ANY behavior with shame or guilt. We would follow a truth to avoid The Truth.

That brings up the strongest reason people hate the empty tomb. As long as “open-minded moderns” can believe Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett are correct and God truly does not exist so no tomb ever really was empty, we can go about our merry way and do what we want, when we want, as long as we want, with whomever we want and no consequences will ever weigh us down. As the Wiccan Rede says, “Do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” We can die peacefully with Bertrand Russell’s thin, reedy voice intoning in our fading hearing, “”Death is nothing to us; for that which is dissolved, is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.” As long as God is dead and the Tomb either full or fairy tale, we are the “Master of our fate; the captain of our soul.”

However, if the opposite is true and Jesus rose from the dead, they are not only guilty, but they are also in debt and facing judgement. The presence of a just and holy God who provided a way to escape eternal capital punishment through the deliberate sacrifice of Himself in the form of His Son absolutely plays havoc with their lives — inner and outer. If that God is real; if that Christ is real, then I don’t get to live any way I want. I don’t get to rob and thieve and steal whatever from whomever I please. I can’t have sex like some randy alley cat willy-nilly. Most of all, though; my life doesn’t belong to me. I owe my life, my existence to Someone else and one day, I will stand before Him to give an account of my actions.

That possibility at once terrifies and enrages every atheist I’ve ever known. The very possibility they are not in control of their precious little existences rankles at them like a rock in their shoe. Man likes to think he is top of the food chain and the pinnacle of all in the Universe for that is what the Enlightenment has taught him, but no . . . There is One; the Three in One to whom everyone from the most devout Muslim to the most strident atheist will one day bend a knee and proclaim thrice holy . . . and each of them despises the fact and by extension the Empty Tomb which gives them a way of escape from that day of wrath.

An interviewer asked the aforementioned Bertrand Russell what he would do if, after his death, he found himself standing before God. Mr. Russell replied, again in that wispy whisper of his, “Well, I’d simply say, ‘You didn’t provide me enough evidence!'” So what you are saying, Mr. Russell, is if confronted with the King and Creator of the Universe in all His power and glory, you — a mere human — would lead your defense of your miserable unbelief with “Not enough evidence?”

No, sir, I don’t believe you would. He has given us enough evidence and chief among it all is that stark, empty tomb which so many in the world hate . . . to their own peril.

Love y’all, Happy Easter, and keep those feet clean! He is risen indeed!

Great War Wednesday: The Christmas Truce of 1914

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The London Times from January 9, 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

“Had he and I but met
      By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
      Right many a nipperkin!

     “But ranged as infantry,
     And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
     And killed him in his place.

     “I shot him dead because —
     Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
     That’s clear enough; although

   “He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
   Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
   No other reason why.

    “Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half-a-crown.”

Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”

Men in their natural state show little inclination to go off and kill one another. The taboo against homicide is so ingrained within us that those who would be soldiers have to undergo desensitization to killing and interestingly enough, one key way of doing this is using violent video games, but that’s a post for another time. As a society we have labels for those who like to kill or enjoy killing or aren’t even bothered by killing. We call them psychopaths or sociopaths or simply “monsters.” Some studies of combat troops have found as many as 1 in 5 soldiers never fired their weapons during battles in which they participated. It seems despite all the sensational novels and television shows, even in the face of The Fall and our broken human natures, enough of God’s image remains within most people to cause severe distaste and discomfort when faced with taking the life of another Image-bearer of our Creator. Few events throughout history show this proclivity towards peace more clearly than the spontaneous Christmas Truce of 1914.

Ever since August, Tommy, Pierre, and Fitz had been killing one another on an industrial scale from the border of Switzerland to the English Channel. What began as a war of movement now degraded into a stagnant morass of trench warfare with misery compounded by machine gun fire. By the time Yuletide came around, men on all sides realized they had been lied to — the war certainly would NOT be over by Christmas. So it was along the Western Front as the troops hunkered down in their muddy trenches on December 24, 1914 and prepared to spend the most miserable Christmas Eve of their lives cold, damp, and utterly devoid of cheer. Then, something changed.

By most accounts, the Germans started the affair up around Ypres by singing Christmas hymns and lighting candles. As the strains of “Stille Nacht, Heil’ge Nacht” drifted across the shell-pocked moonscape of No-Man’s Land, a few adventuresome Brits climbed atop their trenches to listen and then join in. When they didn’t tumble back into the trench with holes through their heads from snipers, more soldiers climbed out of their burrows to join in the singing.

At some point, accounts say, some German lad attached a bit of white cloth to the top of a small evergreen tree, climbed out of his trench, and walked towards the British.  When he didn’t fall to an Enfield round, more of his comrades joined him. The Brits, realizing this wasn’t a ruse, climbed out and the two erstwhile enemies met in the midst of the barbed wire and shell holes between their trenches.

Their first action was to gather up the dead, some of whom had been lying unattended for weeks, and carry them back to the rear for proper burials. That grim work accomplished, the two groups began some tentative conversations and the spirit of Christmas took over from there. The troops began exchanging small gifts — the English had a surfeit of tobacco; the Germans an abundance of chocolate — so these two commodities rapidly changed hands. Some men exchanged caps or buttons or whatever trinkets seemed to interest the other party. They sang more carols together. In some places up and down the front a game or two of football — soccer for the Yanks — broke out. As the old cliche’ says, “a grand time was had by all.” Then, some hours after the festivities began, it ended. Both sides embraced and returned to their trenches with the knowledge they would soon begin the unsavory work of trying to kill one another anew.

Officers on both sides were appalled by the impromptu ceasefire. They knew actually meeting the enemy and seeing he had a regular face and neither horns nor fangs made killing said “enemy” much more difficult. Orders went up and down the chain of command. The Christmas Truce of 1914 would be the last for the duration of the war. The enlisted were threatened with court-martial or worse should any of them be so silly as to attempt such a humane action ever again. The old men who send the young men to fight and die for the wars the old men started had spoken.

Still, for a brief shining moment in the midst of Satan’s playground, the Prince of Peace reigned supreme. The joy of Christmas stopped the mouths of the artillery and silenced the bark of rifles, if only for a time, proving for anyone who cared to ponder on the topic that peace is stronger than war if only men would embrace the light.

Love y’all and Merry Christmas! Keep those feet clean during these celebrations.

Giving Thanks 2014

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https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/78/Freedom_from_Want.jpgToday is Thanksgiving Day here in America and while I want to go on record as being thankful for all the usual suspects like my precious wife, health, etc., I want to spend a little time talking about some of the things I’m thankful for that may seem a little unusual.

For instance, I’m thankful I live in a country where a police officer can do his job — even if that job means shooting and killing a suspect — and not end up going to jail for it. Killing someone is always difficult and he’ll have his own version of prison in his mind for the rest of his life and I can speak with some authority about prisons of the mind.

At the same time, I’m also thankful to live in a country where people who think a police officer SHOULD go to jail for doing his job when that job means shooting and killing a suspect can riot in the streets and burn public and private property while discharging firearms willy-nilly WITHOUT going to jail as well. Rioting, looting, and destruction of property has a long and venerated history in the United States. One of the seminal events in the founding of our nation was the destruction of an entire cargo of valuable tea by masked men called patriots.

Oh, as long as I’m talking about our founding patriots, I’m thankful to live in a country where racism is not only LEGAL, it was ensconced in our sacred Constitution of the United States for over 100 years. Thankfully, I can hate anyone I want to for their race or religion or, to quote the inimitable Oscar Wilde, “for the color of [their] hair” and they in return can hate ME for any or all of the same reasons and it’s just fine with the government.

https://i2.wp.com/images.art.com/images/products/regular/13212000/13212965.jpgAnyone who thinks I’m being facetious about this needs to realize I truly AM thankful to live in a country where the freedom to gather in mass and lose our collective s$%& over something we don’t agree with and not die is protected. For people who think this isn’t a real freedom, I have two words for you: TIANANMEN SQUARE. I’m not naive; our government kills people too, but at least it has the common decency to do so either quietly and privately or wait until they are in some other country.

Speaking of killing in other countries, I’m thankful I live in a country where I can believe in and worship God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Ganesha, Odin, Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster and be perfectly safe. People might make fun of me for being a Christian myself, but at least if I’m let’s say Presbyterian, the Southern Baptists won’t take up arms against me and my family, lay siege to my hometown, starve our congregation, and finally break into our Children’s Church and cut the precious babies’ little heads off in front of their parents before beheading the parents as well . . . on video, because — you know — Allahu Akbar!! No, those pesky Baptists might not believe like I do, and they might not speak to me in the liquor store, but at least they won’t kill me for my heretical views of Calvinism.https://i0.wp.com/www.rockwellplates.com/Site/images/SEP%20Collector%20Cards/freedom%20of%20worship.jpg

I’m thankful to live in a country where I get to start spending obscene amounts of money I don’t have to buy things I really don’t need ON SALE just as soon as I finish gorging myself on enough food to feed an entire West African village. Of course it sucks for the people working at the retail stores who have to wait on my L-tryptophan laden carcass when they would much rather be home eating their own village-worth of food with their families and other loved ones, but them’s the breaks. If you don’t want to work from 6 PM to 1 AM at the mall then get back by 5:00 AM (yeah, that’s 4 hours later) to deal with the screaming hordes, then you need to use the tons of opportunities the average wage slave has to rocket up the corporate ladder so you can be a CEO and order people away from their homes and families to work on a great holiday so you can get that awesome seven-figure bonus check! This IS America after all, you know? The LAND OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY!

Oh, on the subject of opportunity, I’m also thankful to live in a country where a man can rape a woman at a party and blame her for it, shoplift a cartload of seafood, and screech profanities from atop a table in a crowded public place WITHOUT ANY CONSEQUENCE as long as he can throw a football for a top program. Of course, he may have as his idol some politician. After all, politicians can let their dates drown in a wrecked car in cold water and go on to become “American Icons” as long as they are from the right family.https://i1.wp.com/images.art.com/images/products/regular/13212000/13212659.jpg

Finally, I’m thankful to live in a great country where half the population has the RIGHT, nay the DUTY, to be royally pissed off at the OTHER half of the population almost constantly. In other countries, they’d call these camps “insurgencies” or “rebel factions” but here they’re just the members of whatever political party is out of power at the moment. Instead of blowing up bases or marching with torches and pitchforks in the streets, we just wage wars of words every two years in November and have REALLY big fights every four years just to get the opportunity to elect people who are going to do the EXACT SAME THING as the people already holding those positions . . . they’ll just call them by another name. Maybe.

So that’s it for this year’s thankfulness. Now it’s time to get ready for my feast and the following three games of American football where I can watch guys run up and down the field for millions of dollars playing a child’s game while sitting between my two favorite people who happen to be teachers and barely make a living wage to educate our next generation. Later on, we’re going SHOPPING to line the coffers of the CEOs. After all, we all have to do our parts or they won’t get that new yacht they’ve had their eye on this year!

Love y’all, Happy Thanksgiving, and Keep those feet clean.

The terrorists have won.

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Osama bin Laden accomplished what he set out to do even though our SEALs killed him deader than John Edwards’ political career.  He was a smart man — an asshole to be sure — but an intelligent man. I don’t think he believed flying those jets into our buildings 13 years ago today would destroy America. He knew about Pearl Harbor, so I’m certain he knew he was going to royally piss us off with his nasty sucker punch. He also knew what happened to the Empire of Japan once they pissed us off, too. He wasn’t trying to destroy our country . . . even now we are much too strong for anything approaching the end of America. So what if we go flat broke? We’ve got ten giant nuclear aircraft carriers afloat with three more being built as I write this. If ten carrier task forces can’t keep the bill collecting countries away, the 2,104 mushroom makers sleeping silently beneath the Midwestern prairie or lurking 150 fathoms down in eighteen underwater states most definitely will. Bin Laden and al-Queda brethren couldn’t destroy America so instead they did something much more sinister — they destroyed our way of life.

How many times have you heard a talking head or some radio guru say “We live in a ‘Post-9-11 World?'” What they are saying  (whether they are happy about it or not is largely a function of their politics) is we went to bed on September 11, 2001 and when we woke up on September 12, 2001, the world — and especially the United States — was a radically different place. One of the jets should have taken out the Statue of Liberty because the American patron saint “Miss Liberty” was the first casualty of what we call now The Global War on Terror.

In the days, then weeks, then months following 9-11, we reacted in typical American fashion. Fifty-four Forty or Fight! Remember the Alamo! Remember Fort Sumter! Remember Custer! Remember the Maine! Over There! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember the Maddox! Bomb,bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran! We like to fight here in America. It’s what we do when people sneak attack us . . . or not, but I digress. It’s understandable why our leaders launched immediate retribution against al-Queda. As Principal Vernon so eloquently put it to John Bender, “You mess with the bull, son, you get the horns.” Still, I agree with Dan Carlin when he says we need a law against passing laws in a time of deep emotional upheaval in our country. Unfortunately, those laws don’t exist . . . so here we are.

I try to limit my posts to around 1000 words, give or take a hundred or two, but even if I stretch out this post to double the normal size, I couldn’t get in everything our government has done to destroy our liberty in the name of keeping us “safe”, so this will have to be a skimming, but I hope when it’s all done, you’ll agree with me that America may still stand and she may be the greatest country on Earth to this day, but the same cannot be said for Lady Liberty. It has gotten so bad, I firmly believe our beloved Founding Fathers would not only be unable to recognize the country they created, but they would probably be arrested for treason or — at the absolute minimum — placed high on the domestic terrorists watch list.

“Here to protect YOU from your FREEDOMS!”

For starters, they would run afoul of The U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act of 2001. In the — again, understandable — furor surrounding the 9-11 attacks, the 107th Congress handed over 225 years of work towards liberty and freedom in our country to unelected bureaucrats and government agents. The provisions of the act are nothing less than astounding. Title 1 of the act gives the FBI, CIA, and NSA a blank check to pay for DOMESTIC surveillance AND authorizes those agencies to ask for MILITARY assistance in monitoring suspicious civilians. Title 2 is one of the most odious parts of the law to anyone loving privacy and liberty. Under its provisions, government agencies — again, UNELECTED and so UNACCOUNTABLE people — can legally access your documents, tap your phone, demand your library records, and pretty much walk in your house and search it all without a court order provided you are “suspected” of being a terrorist.

Now THERE is the rub, to quote the Bard. “Suspected of being a terrorist?” First of all, who is defining what a terrorist even IS? Sure, all of us common folk think we know what a terrorist is — it’s someone like Osama bin Laden or his ilk. Terrorists are always “over there” unless they are some demented homegrown folk like Timothy McVeigh. Terrorists are obvious! Well, they are until the lawyers get involved. The Federal legal definition of terrorism includes both foreign and domestic and it runs three computer screens long at 1280×1040 resolution and the upshot of it is a terrorist is pretty much anyone someone in the government WANTS to be a terrorist. Greenpeace is a terrorist organization, for example.

The PATRIOT act and subsequent legislation has absolutely gutted the Bill of Rights, particularly the First and Fourth Amendments. In 1968, Chicago erupted in protests during the Democratic National Convention. These people gathered right outside the building housing the convention. Even today, images of Mayor Daley’s police force bludgeoning young and old, male and female alike with batons evokes a sense of the definition of police brutality. Of course, assemblies and protests like that are a relic now.

Today, if your group wanted to protest the President or some convention, you would be assigned to a “Free Speech Zone” blocks away from whomever or whatever you wanted to protest. No pictures of any beatings would surface because your protest would take place far, far away from any stray media coverage. Most likely, no one would ever know your protest occurred. Of course, the government will tell you if you protest your protesting that the whole affair was, “For your safety and protection!” Who are “we the people” supposed to be protected from?

So, the bureaucrats at the intelligence agencies and in the Department of Homeland Security don’t want us to “peacefully protest” because someone might get hurt? We can’t vote them out of office because they aren’t elected in the first place. We can’t fight them in court because any pertinent evidence we might want to introduce will quickly be redacted under the all-encompassing phrase, “for national security concerns.” Where are we headed if we can no longer “petition our government for redress of grievances” without running the risk of being labelled a terrorist? To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, if you make peaceful demonstrations impossible, you assure violent demonstrations will happen.

That’s just the First Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is an even bigger joke today. We live in a surveillance state today. Everything you do, type, create, or say on the phone is probably recorded somewhere and if you trip enough flags, it’ll get analyzed and once you get analyzed, anything can happen. If Edward Snowden’s revelations didn’t wake people up, I’m not sure what it is going to take. He produced a smoking arsenal of evidence that our government is spying on us . . . but why? Many of you may recently have switched to Facebook Messenger on your smartphones. If you have, you know of the many warnings different quarters have raised concerning potential privacy leaks. When I asked Budge if she was going to switch knowing how much information an agency could track, she said, “Why not? They already spy on us every other way.”

So, thirteen years on, Obama laughs from his watery grave at what has become of American liberty. What was once the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” is now the “Land of the Watched and the Home of the Caged.” People need not point fingers at any particular administration either. Democrats who howled about how egregiously President Bush was treating our rights have completely shut the hell up now that their man is in office. President Obama has continued, if not increased the same policies President Bush started. THAT is what people don’t understand! These laws NEVER go away! Once they are on the books, “we the people” have ceded another bit of our power over our government. We’ve given these powers to our executive, do we really think another executive is going to give them BACK?

In his speech to the American people on September 11, 2001, President Bush said, “”Today . . . our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts . . . . Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” That is where the President was wrong. The monsters hit us, so we went out to hunt them, but we failed to take Nietzsche advice, so we became monsters ourselves. Be angry at me if you will, but it does not change the fact the terrorists have won because we may not have lost our country, but we’ve lost what our country stands for.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

 

My July 4th Memory – “The Rick Camp” Game

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My Rick Camp 1978 Topps baseball card.

My Rick Camp 1978 Topps baseball card.

Independence Day isn’t grilling burgers or franks, shooting off loads of fireworks, or fun in the Sun on the water; it’s baseball. One game in particular recalls everything which makes baseball the greatest of games — a game where anything can happen on any given pitch and any player from any position can change the history of the game. I watched my game of all Independence Day games with my beloved Papa Wham on Thursday to Friday, July 4 – 5, 1985.

That night, the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets sent their aces — Dwight Gooden for the Mets, Rick Mahler for the Braves — to the mound. Instead of the advertised pitcher’s duel, they were both chased by the fourth inning. Fifteen MORE innings, THREE long rain delays, and a BUNCH of pitchers later, the game would become known in baseball lore as “The Rick Camp” Game.

By the time the final rain delay was over, the game was in the bottom of the 8th with the Braves losing 7-4, which was pretty typical for the 1980s Braves. Finally, however, the Braves’ bats came alive; they scored four times to take an 8-7 lead.

Then things started to get weird.

The Mets tied the game up in the top of the ninth by rocking famous Braves closer Gene Garber for a run. The home team failed to push anyone across in the bottom half of the frame and the free baseball began. It looked like things would be decided in “typical” extra innings when the Mets scored twice in the top of the 13th, but the Braves managed to knot the game up again when Terry Harper jacked a two run homer. Harper came to the plate TEN times in the game and managed five hits. That’s something not many baseball players can boast about.

The game went back to deadlock for the next five innings and then the Braves ran out of position players as pinch hitters. With nobody left on the bench to hit for him, and behind by a run, the Braves sent right-handed PITCHER Rick Camp, a lifetime .060 hitter, to the plate. With Camp behind in the count 0-2 — just as pitchers are supposed to be — Mets reliever Tom Gorman grooved a fastball “right down Peachtree Street” and Rick Camp sent it over the left field fence and into baseball history, tying the game.

What most people, including me, tend to forget after such a huge event is the Braves ended up LOSING the game in the next inning when the Mets got five runs in the top of the 19th. The Braves would get two back in the bottom of the inning, but Rick Camp couldn’t make the lightning strike twice and struck out to — finally, mercifully — end the game. It was 3:55 AM, July 5, six hours and ten minutes after it began.

The box score from the game took almost an entire column in the paper. Both teams used seven pitchers and combined for 46 hits. In a terrible bit of irony, Rick Camp proved a worse pitcher than hitter that fateful night, working three innings giving up 5 earned runs and going down as the losing pitcher.

The handful of remaining fans got to see the July 4th Fireworks Show start at 4:01am. Papa and I watched the entire thing; we both slept late the next morning.

Hope y’all had a great July 4th!

Love y’all; Keep those feet clean.

 

 

 

On This Rock

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la-jument-3I grew up in a Christian home and for the first 35 years of my life, give or take a year, I didn’t question my beliefs, what I’d been taught, or the basis of Christianity in general. I probably didn’t spend the total of a single day reflecting on whether or not this was true and that false or what the true purpose of life was. The weightiest discussions I had were on the relative merits of different “flavors” of Christianity like Mama’s Fundamentalist Pentecostalism versus Granny’s Southern Baptist Sunday School lessons. Even when I was a rank heathen and behaved as such, I still had a good handle on how the world worked, Who was in charge, and what the end of all things was going to be. In due time, I made a profession of faith in Christ, and figured I’d punched my ticket to Heaven when I died. Budge and I went to the church where we’d been married and worked diligently and tirelessly to further the kingdom of God on Earth.

That all changed when my Papa John died in 2007.

When Papa died, I went into a night of the soul which left me an agnostic a breath away from hard atheism. I turned on my faith. Like a company in a hostile takeover, I fired everything and everyone I ever believed in. All my ideas had to “reapply.” It was hideous having the most basic of life’s foundations essentially blown up. EVERYTHING I had been taught, everything I held as truth, and everything  I had taken for granted evaporated immediately. It’s not over, either. Ideas I held as dogma I’ve discarded and have no intention of ever picking up again. I walked away from Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism and frost will form on the hinges of Hell before I turn back.

But, I believe in Easter.

Was the Earth created in six literal days? Don’t know; don’t care. Moses part the Red Sea? Noah’s Flood was world wide? Not the faintest idea. Were Adam and Eve real people or is the Garden story an allegory? Not a clue and it makes no difference to me either way. Is there going to be a Rapture? How about a Millennial Kingdom? Pre-Trib? Mid-Trib? Post-Trib? No Trib? I. Don’t. Care. Richard Dawkins, I don’t think you’re right, but knock yourself out.

I believe in Easter.

What I KNOW and what no one in 2000+ years has been able to disprove is the Easter story. I believe in Easter because I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe no matter how messed up I am, no matter what encyclopaedic compendium of stupid things I’ve done, no matter the “good” life I miserably failed to live . . . Jesus Christ died for me . . . THE HARD WAY. I refuse to turn my back on anyone who loves me enough to endure hematodrosis, scourging, being crowned with thorns, and finally get NAILED TO A BOARD ON A POST. My Mama loved me. My Budge still loves me. I was the apple of all my grandparents’ eyes, but I know none of them loved me that much. I don’t have a friend that close. Sure, you might have someone who SAYS he or she would take a bullet for you . . . but see where they are when the shooting starts.

For three years, Jesus Christ went around tending the sick and poor and they KILLED HIM FOR IT. He actually WAS a good man and they stuck a spear in His side. NO. I won’t turn my back on that. I don’t know about all the details and doctrines anymore, if I ever did. All I know is my life is ROYALLY screwed up thanks to choices I made and choices others made for me, but Jesus didn’t care. He let them kill Him anyway just to cover all my screw ups. There was just one catch . . . He didn’t STAY dead.

If you want to make me an atheist, just show me Jesus’ body. That’s all Pilate and the Sanhedrin needed to do. When people started screaming about “He is risen!!” They could have just trundled the body out into the streets of Jerusalem and said, “Nope. Here he is and he’s still DEAD.” But they didn’t, because they couldn’t because after he died, HE GOT BACK UP.

Mohammed didn’t do that. He said if you do enough good and avoid enough evil, you get to go to Paradise. Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha didn’t do that. He said if you get your mind right, you’ll become one with the Universe and go to Nirvana. No atheist did that. They just say we’re here by chance — dumb luck — in which case I’ve got a list of people who need their luck to run out.

But Jesus said, “I’ll fix YOUR mess. I’ll take care of what YOU screwed up. I’ll let you KILL ME so YOU can live.”

I’m not turning my back on that. I may suck at being a Christian, but it’s what I am and not because Papa and Mama said so anymore. Not because I live in the South and supposedly “all y’all” are Christians. Not because “the preacher said so” or even because “the Bible said so.” I’m a Christian because He didn’t turn His back on me and I’m not going to turn my back on Him. I still believe in Easter and some days, it’s ALL I believe in, but it’s enough to get me out of bed and keep me from putting a bullet in my brain.

Love y’all, keep those feet clean, and Happy Easter.

 

 

Giving Thanks in 2013

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thanksgiving-eventAnyone who reads GB&GSF regularly knows this holiday season is incredibly difficult for me. It’s hard to believe it’s our first Thanksgiving without Mama. Mama loved to cook and she loved to eat, but the last few years, she hadn’t been able to do either. Still, instead of dwelling on the pain, I’m going to get through the day by following the advice attributed to one of one of the wisest men I’ve ever read — Dr. Seuss — who said, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” With that in mind, instead of spending the day in tears heartbroken because Mama is gone, I’m going to give thanks for the 42 Thanksgivings I was blessed to spend with her. I’m thankful for all the Thanksgiving dinners Mama cooked and when she got tired of cooking, I’m thankful for all the cooks and waitresses at Ryan’s Family Restaurant and Cracker Barrel for giving some of their holiday to wait on us and feed us.

I’m thankful for all the Thanksgiving suppers my Granny Wham made for us over the years she was with us. I’m thankful for all the times I listened to Papa Wham as he bowed his head to say the grace I still remember to this day, “Father please pardon us for all of our sins and we thank you for these and all our other many blessings in Christ’s name, amen.”

I’m thankful for my family and friends still with me. I’ve lost many of them over the years and I figure to lose many more before it’s my turn to journey across Jordan. In just a few hours, I’ll be thankful to sit down at a table FULL of food prepared by my loving “second wife” Laura and other members of her (and by adoption and extension, my) family. I’m thankful for Laura herself and her precious real husband, Cameron and my ersatz nephew Jacob.

I’m also thankful for my beloved Budge and the 17 Thanksgivings she has endured me and my sometimes stormy moods around the holidays. I could never have guessed a simple Hummer ride up a washboard mountain road would turn out to be the beginning of a much longer and sometimes stranger trip.

I’m thankful for all the men and women whose duties won’t allow them to spend a quiet day with their families — our soldiers, sailors, and airmen stationed here and across the world providing safety and security for our nation and many other nations across the globe. Also, I’m thankful for our doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who are staffing our hospitals ready to treat the various injuries and illnesses a day of overeating, overexertion, and — sometimes — overexposure to family can bring.

Finally, I’m thankful that one day I’ll get to rejoin Mama and my other loved ones around another table at a marriage supper and I’m thankful for the One who made that possible by His sacrifice that redeemed Mama, Granny, Papa, Budge, me, and so many millions more down the centuries. Our world was in a mess and without any hope, but Jesus came and by His sacrifice, set right everything Adam screwed up. I know not everyone who reads my blog believes Jesus even existed, much less lived and died to save a doomed humanity, but . . . well, He did and my life is living proof as anyone who knew me “back when” can attest to.

I’m also thankful for all of you who read my blog and who’ve encouraged me over the years. Remember I love all y’all and keep those feet clean as you “gobble til you wobble” today!

Happy Thanksgiving!