Friday, July 10, 2009

The 7th inning stretch

A friend of mine has a son heading to a state little league championship… this got me thinking about my own days around the diamond. Carson, this was written in honor of you. I hope your memories are just as fond.

“Get in some practice swings Doug! You’re up after Bruce.” My dad was the coach of our team. He was a good coach. And I was on a team that needed a good coach. The Rockwell little league was quite an impressive organization. Other teams made plans to ‘draft’ the best of the best, but unlike most of the other teams, my dad had a ‘bring in your huddled masses’ mentality. Our team had the most girls and it had most first time players. These things didn’t bother my dad too much.

I remember our first practice. The previous year was my first in the league and by the end of the year I became fairly good. I even became the alternate on the all-star team. I had improved in the off-season and was ready for the next year.

In my first season, my father was an assistant coach and we went undefeated. Our top player never struck out the entire season. Coach Reese was a great coach and his older daughter was an awesome third baseman. We easily won the league, and pretty much the entire team moved up with the Coach. I was left with the Coach’s two younger children. Coach Reese asked my dad to coach. Reluctantly, he agreed. For the record, my dad was a better coach.

Our first practice was very close to a scene from the Bad News Bears. We had 3 girls on the team and some boys who had never played a minute of ball in their life. I got my two best friends to join the team and they were pretty good: then there was Jeff Welch. Jeff Welch was literally God’s gift to baseball. This kid was that natural ultra-player. I have always been surprised that I haven’t heard his name in the pros.

It is funny when I remember the social dynamic of that first practice. I was armed with my two best friends and my dad was the coach. I knew I was a good hitter. Bruce was also pretty good with the bat and my other friend, Greg, picked up the game quickly. Immediately Jeff and I struck up a friendship: he was an odd looking kid, but he had a great smile. Jeff could throw a ball from third to first with no arc (I was good enough to play Second base). He was spectacular with the bat and he ran like a gazelle. There we were: the group of four and then there was the rest of our team.

After running through some drills, the team situation was clear. We lacked something important: talent. None the less, my dad gathered us together. His words were comforting: “We are going to have a great season: all I want you guys to do it to try to have fun. If we act like a team, we will win like one.”

As we were driving home, I lamented the situation with my dad. “Dad! We won’t win a game with that team.” My dad looked at me and said nothing but he smiled a little. I know he saw the same team I did, but my dad understood something that it took me years and years to grasp: sometimes the destination isn’t as important as the journey.

My dad began building a team. Three weeks later was our first game and we were playing one of the best teams in the league. We were trounced. Apart from 3-4 hitting from me and Jeff (two homers by Jeff, I managed one double), there was nothing to talk about. Still, my dad gathered the team. “It’s okay. You guys played a great game. That team had a lot of players we saw last season. We’ll get better! You wait and see!”… ‘wait and see’ Indeed! I was ready for a long season of being the league whipping post.

We managed to win our second game. Bruce and Greg had back to back homers in the bottom of the 7th to clinch it for us. Again my dad huddled us together: “What a great game! I am so proud of all of you! We all played better this week! You wait and see: we are going to get better!” From my perspective, the statement wasn’t really true. I personally made two errors, that cost us a run, and our outfield missed numerous pop-flies. All I could see was what we lacked.

We lost the next game making us 1 and 2, but my dad still had uplifting things to say. I have to say the losing wasn’t that bad. For me I wanted to prove I was as good as Jeff and being on a team with my two best friends was pretty great. Jeff was the better hitter, runner and fielder, but I had the better batting average.

Our fourth game was against the only undefeated team in the league: the Yankees (Isn’t that ironic). They were stacked at every position, but good fortune shown on us. Their two best players couldn’t make the game. Somehow, we managed to keep the game close. In the top of the 7th Jeff hit a base-clearing double, sending Greg, Bruce and Me home that put us ahead 5-3. We were poised to win the game. The Yankees came back and tied it, but we won in extra innings. My dad gathered us and conveyed his admiration at how we didn’t give up. We were .500 and we had only just begun.

With each game we improved, but our biggest problem was the bottom of our lineup. Our bottom three batters mustered a sub-100 batting average for the season. One of the boys (who’s dad was an assistant coach), batted 000 for the first 4 or 5 games. Still his father would yell “That’s okay Trouper! We’ll get ‘em next time!” Trouper would come into the dugout all smiles. I wasn’t as happy and my dad would give me looks reminding me to remember my good sportsmanship.

Still, with each practice and each game, we got better. By the end of the season we were one game out of first and, as fortune would have it, we were playing the league-leading Tigers. My dad’s strategy was simple: pound people with our first 4 batters, and hold on for the other 5 batters. But the Tigers had our number. We had already played them 3 times and we had lost two of three. Their coach was the most boisterous of men and his assistant was even more zealous. They had no girls, and they all looked a few years older than us.

The game started badly. Each inning the Tigers were scoring a few runs and slowly pulling away from us. By the bottom of the 7th, we were down 7 runs and we were heading to the bottom of our batting order. Our shortstop was on base but now it was time to weather the storm. The Reese siblings were up and two strike-outs later we were down to our last out and still 7 runs down.

Marry Batts was up. When I was 8, Mary was the nicest girl that I had ever met, but she was no baseball player. Still she tried with all her heart, but the pressure was on her and fear showed on her face like foreboding doom. Before her at-bat, my dad called a timeout and gathered the team together.

I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something like this: “This has been the most amazing season I have ever been a part of! I am so proud of all of you. Whether we win this game or not, I wanted you to know how much fun I have had and it has been an honor to coach all of you. Enjoy this moment because life doesn't get any better than this!” He turned to Mary and told her “Mary, when you are up there, please have fun! You try your best, but no matter what, I am very proud of you.”

Mary took a deep breath and headed to the batter’s box. Her first swing was dismal and she had that awkward smile some get when they are frustrated. My dad merely smiled and nodded and clapped his hands a couple of times. The second pitch, Mary was ready for it. She smacked it and the ball fizzled just outside of the shortstop’s reach. My dad jumped up and let the whole team know how happy he was at this hit. Hope was still alive.

We now had runners on first and second, but now it was time for Trouper. Bless his heart, but this young man had literally no baseball skills whatsoever. Everyone on our team knew it... so did everyone on the other team. I believe he was batting 059 for the year (I am not joking). The first pitch came and Trouper made some lame flail at the ball. “That’s okay Trouper! You’ll get it next time!” Trouper’s dad was also the first-base coach.

Then IT happened. ‘It’ you say? Yes IT! With two strikes, young Trouper managed to make random contact with the ball. Normally when a ball is hit, fielders know where it is going. Trouper's hit was this crazy spinning ball that sputtered somewhere between the pitcher and third base. “RUN TROUPER RUN!” the whole team was off the bench. Trouper had actually hit the ball so few times that he just kind of stood there watching it. Finally he realized he wasn’t done and he headed toward first. In the mad scramble between the pitcher and the third baseman, Trouper managed to make it just in time to first base.

I remember turning to Bruce and yelling ‘We’re gonna win!’ We were at the top of our order and we were on fire. Greg knocked in two runners, and Bruce brought in Trouper. I brought in Bruce and Greg and Jeff hit a nice homer to tie the game. According to my dad, the Tiger coach conceded the game even though we were only tied. No preplanned movie plot could have captured this moment any better.

We ended up co-champions of the Rockwell League (The Tiger coach refused to play us in a tie-breaker). But everyone on our team knew we were the champions. At the awards banquet, Mary Batts came up to my father and said “Thank you Mr. Joseph. This was the best time of my entire life.” For my father, he recounted that this was one of the greatest moment of his entire life: it was worth it for this comment alone.

We moved that fall to Florida and I never played baseball again. Still what a memory! And what a testament to a coach who believed in what no one else could see.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Time After Time

Time flies when it wants to. It seems like only yesterday when I was picking apples out of the front yard for my mom to make pies and yet now I have daughters who are as old as I was when I did this. By contrast, I can remember watching the clock in third grade and praying for a loving, kind and merciful God to move it ahead a few hours so that my daily prison sentence would be over. It was as if the clock was stuck in molasses. We are neither the keepers of time, nor are we the makers of it.

Each second is amazingly unique. In each day there are over 86,000 of them and a year possesses over 30 million. My grandmother died earlier this year and in her life she experienced over 3 billion seconds. Every one of them had some input into defining what she was.

From the seconds when she was first introduced to my grandfather to the holding of one of her many great-grandchildren, time faithfully marched on. What made my grandmother most unique and wonderful, was her ability to ‘make time’ for her family. Without fail, every year, my grandma would call me to wish me a happy birthday. She would meticulously clip articles from the Columbus Dispatch about the new freshmen prospects for the Buckeyes and send them to me (usually with mint-chocolate-ship cookies).

She would send me letters expressing how much she loved me and missed me… How proud of the man that I was becoming. In my life I have been blessed to meet many people of prominence and influence and none could compare with my grandma: she was one of the greatest people I have ever known. Until marriage, no one made me feel better than my grandma.

My grandma knew a lot about me, but she never witnessed me at my worst. She never got to see the ugly, unsavory side of her eldest grandson. She loved me and she was on my side, and even seeing these things, I am certain she still would have loved me, but her belief in me would have been shaken.

There is someone who knows every second of every life on this planet. He knows what we have done and what we haven’t. He leaped for joy in our triumphs and he mourned with the passing of our loved ones. He marveled with us at spectacular sunsets and riding impossible roller coasters. He wept as we walked away from righteous paths and rejected the truths shared to us.

Even knowing all of this HE STILL LOVES US! He yearns for fellowship with us and can’t wait to pick us up. The maker of time can’t wait for us to ‘make time’ to be with Him: He wants to be with us! He wants the best for us. He clears his schedule to make time for us. He is not bound by time, yet he constrains himself to ‘fit’ into that faithfully marching target.

God comes to us and opens the secrets of the universe: it is literally ours for the asking. He wants us to be with Him and He yearns to share His heart with us.

Got a second? Sit down and share some time with God! You won’t regret it!

God Bless

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm Not Normal

I'm not normal. I don't pretend to be, nor do I think that it is something I should desire. I am defective, imperfect, fragile, and… well… odd. If you looked at me on any given day, you might not notice it at first. I look like any other large oaf-like guy that you might run into. I might laugh, or share a quick joke. I might even share an experience much like one of your own. But make no mistake, the chinks in my armor are obvious and in the end, a schism exists between me and what is perceived as normal.

As I type this, I don't like admitting it, but it is true. Reflectively I can see how much easier it would be to be 'normal', yet that is not the path God has for my life. My likes and dislikes aren't 'the norm'. My passions and pursuits are not what many consider rational. Here I am pursuing a God of unending love, yet I fall so short in following his simplest of commandments.

Abnormality is a moniker for 'different'. What worries me a lot right now is that when I am at my church on any given Sunday, am I normal? Am I like everyone else around me? If I am, then isn't there something painfully wrong? When Christ walked the earth, His goal wasn't to bring the people to the Temple: He intended to bring the God of the Temple to the people. If we are truly following Him, then shouldn't our church be filled with both those who have fellowship with Him, AND those who are 'curious'? The pews should be a random collection of the normal and the abnormal.

Jesus tore the Temple Vail in two, He vanquished religiosity, and brought the realization that God was always tangible and in love with His creation. He was radical, magical, and far from normal. His words were electric, and His message wasn't for the normal. It was for the Tax collectors, prostitutes, orphans, widows, widowers, bikers, homosexuals, brides to be, bakers, engineers, even the lawyers and politicians. God extended His hand to liberate the masses with a reckless and compassionate love that only God possesses. I want to share His love with those who haven't experienced it. That means that I might have many un-church-like church goers in my church. PRAISE GOD! Let God's love abnormal-ize them too! There is plenty of room at God's abundant table.

As I look around my church I see like-minded people surrounding me. To them I am normal (well that may be pushing it a little, but you get my drift). I want a passion for God's people that makes me abnormal to those around me. Jesus said that a little leaven spoils the whole loaf. In His parable, he was using this as a negative. It can also be used positively. I want to be leaven to a dying world. I want to be a catalyst that spoils Satan's loaf. To do that, I can't just sit with the rest of the yeast: I must allow God to put me in the bread to create a reaction with the unleavened surroundings.

I must embrace abnormality, in the form of persecution, ruffling feathers, loving the unloved, helping without ulterior motives, moving away from my comfortable circles for the cause of Christ: The happy fool following by faith fearlessly. Lord, help me to be Your type of abnormal. Want to come with me?

God Bless

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Potential Knows No Boundaries

Well, I'm not really back: getting back into the posting has been hard when you are working around the clock.

This was written by my wife for a book titled "Children Have Strokes Too!". It is a collection of stories of children who have the challenge of CP in their lives.

My wife really captures a lot in this and the words still touch my heart. I am positing it so others can have hope, as we have, in our loving and caring Father.

God Bless

~ ===== ~

Potential Knows No Boundaries

Many verses in the Bible I have read and re-read; they became too familiar and in fact, overlooked even as they are read. Then one day my circumstances change, I read the verse and realize the enormity of it--and the fact that it was written a couple of thousand years ago, just for me on this day.

The day in question happened to be December 14, 2006. In October of that year, my then 13 month old daughter Elizabeth, had fallen and hit her head on the tile floor. We went to the ER, had a CAT scan which showed no acute injury. It did show a vaguely explained abnormality in her brain, particularly on the right side. Off to her pediatrician we went; then to the hospital for an MRI. I was fine through all of this. I knew my daughter and there was nothing wrong with her.

One day, mixed in with bills and junk mail arrived a radiology report. As I read scary words like “white matter deficiency,” “corpus callosum thinned but present,” “cystic encephalomalacia” and more, I became afraid for Elizabeth’s future.

Over the next several weeks, my husband and I noticed she walked consistently leading with her right leg and that she held her left arm bent tightly at the elbow. At her 15 month check-up I asked her pediatrician to watch her move. Two days later, on December 14th, we sat in an exam room with our ears on fire as we caught the words coming from a neurologist’s mouth. Elizabeth/cerebral palsy. In utero stroke. Abnormal. Disability. Cerebral palsy/Elizabeth. Laboring under the weight of a stack of referrals we left the neurologist. We were too stunned to ask questions beyond “What does this mean?” On the drive home we tried to look past ourselves and realize that on this same day other parents might be receiving the more devastating news of brain tumors, cancer or other life threatening illnesses.

True comfort did not come until later that day when I read in Jeremiah 1:4-5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” The Lord knew her before He formed her! In other words: before she suffered lack of oxygen to her brain. He set her apart, knowing what was going to happen. And the best part, He has plans for her future!

We went to specialist after specialist. We tested the patience of our sweet older daughter, Emily, taking her to every appointment. Elizabeth was evaluated, tested and approved for OT, PT and Early Intervention. During the evaluation phase, she tested at a 9 month old level in verbal skills (she was now 17 months old.) That apparently did not qualify her for speech therapy. We were outraged by the injustice! We went home ready to research any other options available to her for speech therapy. I went back to Jeremiah to read those verses again, seeking solace in His Word. And I found what I was looking for. I read a little further this time. In verse 6 Jeremiah says “Ah Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Of course, at this point I had to dry my tears to continue. After a call for obedience, verse 9 goes on to say “Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth…’” We decided not to pursue speech therapy on our own.

Our daughter’s potential truly knows no bounds. Her neurologist looked at a second, higher resolution MRI and told us if she had seen the scan before she met Elizabeth, her best guess would be that the child was wheel chair bound, non-verbal and unable to use her arm. Misty-eyed, she followed with “So what do I know?!”

There is more drama to her story; it includes seizures, a stay in the hospital, eye glasses and a denial of services. Elizabeth’s 3rd birthday has come and gone. She takes ballet classes, knows her colors and ABC’s and she loves to sing. And, at her last evaluation, her verbal skills were at the 5 1/2 year old level.

By Laura Joseph

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blogger Sabatical

Hello all,

It saddens me greatly to write this post. In light of a few incidences in my life, I am taking an extended blogger sabatical. My prioroties have been out of kilter and I need to get them right before I can write anything of substance on here.

Thank you for all of your support over these past months and I want it known that I love all of you very much. This choice was painfully made because I love writing on here, but unless things are right at the homefront anything I could write on here would be hollow to me. I know that God would have me do this too.

Please pray for me and my family as we try to grab a little perspective in our life.

God Bless

Monday, January 29, 2007

Knowing Gifts

This isn't my typical post but, like Milly, I write fiction from time to time and these were the two scriptures that sparked me to write this below. I was preparing to speek at our couples group on giving and thought that this story summed up a lot of things:

Luke 9:28-36 (NIV)
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
30 Two men, Moses and Elijah,
31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."
36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

Genesis 4:2-5 (NIV)

2 Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.


A young boy wanted to surprise his mother for mother’s day. So he picked up his piggy-bank, counted the money and he went to a little general store about a block from their house. After looking up and down the aisles of that store, the little boy finally found the perfect gift for her. It was a gift that was something that he had personally eyed many times and he was certain that his mother would love it too. As the old man behind the counter peered over to see the young customer he began to scowl: “You're not buying that are you?”

“I am sir”, Tommy took a deep breath and gleamed with pride.

“Well what are you going to do with it?”

“It’s for my mom!” Tommy thought it was an odd question and the clerk's facial gesture was equally perplexing.

“Oh…. Very well then. That will be $8.73 cents.”

Tommy looked down at his hard earned allowance money. He knew that this would pretty much wipe him out financially. He then thought about all of the great things his mom had done for him and how surprised she was going to be. That zeal carried him to make the purchase, as well as a candy bar for the trip home.

The clerk carefully bagged the gift and gave Tommy a once-over glance. “Make sure that she gets this!” His look was pretty intense. Enough for Tommy to stutter and look away when he replied.

“You bet sir! I know she will love it.”

He couldn’t wait to get home and wrap the present. His bike wouldn't go fast enough. He arrived home to see that his mom was gone and only his dad was in the house. Blasting through the front door, Tommy made his way up to his bedroom. He stopped by the craft room to get scissors, tape, and paper.

His dad heard the ruckus, and walked over to Tommy’s room: ‘What’s the noise about?’

“Oh hey dad! I just went up to the store and got mom her Mother’s day gift.”

“Oh! That’s great son. What did you get her!”

Tommy hesitated, he knew that his dad couldn't keep a secret from his mom so he chimed up: “Well… I can’t tell you that or it wouldn’t be a surprise! Besides, I can’t wait for mom to open this! She is going to love it!”

“Umm, yes that's true son. Well?! Carry on! I’ll leave you to your wrapping!”

Tommy had never wrapped a gift before and it turns out that it was quite a challenge. After laboring for over two hours , he finally got the paper ‘just right’: a gift made primarily of crumpled and ripped paper and a lot of tape. Tommy was proud of his first try and the gift was completely wrapped.

He also made a card and drew some great pictures of him and her on it. It was corny, but his mom liked that sort of thing.

Tommy's father was so proud of his boy that in bed that night, he shared the ‘surprise’ with his wife. She too was tickled at what a loving thoughtful boy they had raised.

Mother’s day finally came and it was off to church but all Tommy could think about was giving his mother that gift. He and his dad woke up early that morning and made her a breakfast fit for a queen. Apart from burning the toast 2 times, it was a pretty good meal for a couple of fumbling guys. The family agreed to open gifts after church because they were running so late. The mess in the kitchen would also have to wait until after church.

As they exited church, after a surprisingly long service, Tommy ran to their mini-van and hopped in the back. He was so anxious to get home and have her open the gift. I can’t wait to see her face she is going to be SO happy! His parent proudly gazed at each other: it was that look of acknowledging what a winner of a kid that they were blessed with.

The church was only 3 miles from their house so it was a very short ride. Everybody unloaded from the van and headed for the house. Tommy waited at the door for his father to open it, while mom and dad got the stroller and unpacked the twins from their safety seats. Finally, they moved inside and headed right to the family room for mom to open gifts. Both mom and dad were brimming with pride for their boy.

Dad offered his pocket knife to help cut through the layers of tape on the gift. It was like a mummy made of celephane. Make no mistake, Tommy's mom was indeed surprised as she tore away the carefully wrapped paper to reveal the ‘treasure’ that lurked inside: a Tom Sawyer handcrafted wrist rocket / slingshot. Tommy knew that his mother would love it because who wouldn’t?

To this day, the slingshot sits on the mantle above the fireplace. A gentle reminder that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.


If you have a close friend, spouse, or sibling and you made a list of three material things that they wanted, and you had them list three material things that they wanted. How close would those lists actually be?

If our desire is to give them the things that they want, we need to get a good grasp on the person: who they are, how they tick, their likes and dislikes. Knowing this can information, we can give them what they TRULY want, not what we think that they want.

How can we find out what their needs our?

Communication: Talk about goals, aspiration, likes and dislikes, and projects.

Observation: Watch what they do and like. Learn their MO so to speak

Spend Time: By spending time we get more into their thought processes

Feedback: Learn from mistakes.

Take Yourself Out: Think of them, not of what you will get or what you like… don’t buy them the gift you always wanted

Prayer: Seek God individually to assure that you are on the right track.

Take It Easy: Knowing their needs will save you time and frustration

By giving things that we think that they want rather than what hey really want, aren't we sending a message to them: that they are possibly just items on the checklist? Going through the trouble of truly figuring out what they REALLY want takes time and effort, but it does pay great dividends. First off, it actually makes the act of giving easier. Many times the perfect gift, or offering is much easier to obtain than throwing time, money, and other resources at the problem, especially at the last minute.

Now apply this to your walk with the Lord: what do we lay at the altar before God that we think He wants? I'm reminded of the scripture that says 'But we did these things in your name', and God replies 'Depart from me you workers of iniquity! I never knew you!'. That scripture is haunting to me: it's a warning that we need to know God, and in doing so, we will be able to 'give' Him what is good and appropriate.

Like Tommy though, nothing compares with a giving heart. You see, Tommy wanted to give his mom the very best of gifts. I know that is my heart too

God Bless

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All In A Day

Waking up in the dark was never pleasant to me. That annoying alarm would chime, waking me from a battle with aliens from another galaxy: they would have to wait for another night to resolve our conflict. My mom placed the clock on the other side of my room, so I would have to get out from my warm cocoon and traverse the cold, perilous, toy-laden walkway from my bed to the dresser to shut it off. School beckoned and the day was already clamoring for my appearance.

Stumbling around, I would find the light. Wow! That was bright! My day began. Clothes were easy to find. My mom provided a nice batch of them for me to put in my drawers every couple of days. Not much in the way of choices here: a white shirt, black pants, and a clip-on tie. Yep, the joys of a school uniform made for little in the way of a fashion conundrum, but the socks, you could make quite a statement with your socks! I had a pair of Ohio State dress socks. On one side was Brutus, (our Buckeye mascot), on the other, a scarlet helmet. These socks were cool and they were my favorite.

I made my way out of my room down to the kitchen: one side of my shirt still untucked, and my clip-on tie hanging in the throws because the top button of my shirt was also unbuttoned. I walked by the mirror and saw my hair. My goodness was it spooky. I looked like Wolverine, from the X-Men Comics. I thought it was great, but I knew what my mom and the nuns would say. Quickly, I made a pit-stop at the bathroom, and doused my glorious crown with some water.

On to breakfast! The cereal de jour? Peanut Butter-Cap’n Crunch of course! The greatest cereal ever made. I had my Speed-racer bowl, a spoon, and I would take the whole gallon of milk and lug it to the table. I had to make sure there was plenty of milk in the bowl for me to drink at the end of my cereal feast!

About this time, my mom would make her appearance with a brush and some bows for my sister. I was so thankful that I didn’t have long hair. Watching my mom work the knots out of her hair was painful, and I wasn’t the one who was getting it! I got spanked way more than Trish, but my sister was punished every morning. At some point my mom would look over at me and insist that I come over for a second and let her ‘fix’ my hair. I would resistively comply.

It was time to head to the bus stop. In the middle of winter, we weren’t allowed to hang out at the stop for too long. In fact, because the bus made a loop around our neighborhood, my mom would wait until she saw it before releasing us to go there. These last five minutes were always a panic in our house. ‘Have you got your lunch? Homework? Is there anything that I need to sign? Have you thought about confession?’ The normal pre-bus grilling went by without a hitch. It was on to school. Just a normal day, in the life of… well… me!

The bus ride to school was the first sign of real problems. My friend Charles asked me how I did on the math homework. ‘What math homework?’ Uh oh! I totally forgot that it was due! Quickly I scrounged in my book bag for some paper. ‘Charles, I need to look at yours!’, with hesitance he shows me his, but I couldn’t do it. If we get caught we both would get in trouble. I hand it back, and just ask to borrow his math book. I’m writing like a madman, fortunately math was easy for me. I got them done just as the bus is pulling into the parking lot. ‘Thanks Chaz for the book.’ Charles smiled, and I think he breathed a sigh that I did it without copying his. Truthfully though, part of the reason I didn’t copy his was that he wasn’t very good at math: I was no saint.

Whew! One bullet dodged. What else was heading my way? Homework! Homework! Homework! Every class, the teacher was piling more of this stuff on to our plate. Doesn’t she want us to have a life? This is going to take all afternoon! At least it was lunch and recess time! My friend Mike would trade lunch parts with me. We both would get in line and get our chocolate milk and divvy up our lunch booty. We had to hurry if we were going to make it to the ‘games’. We scarfed down our food like a pack of rabid dogs and headed for the front parking lot.

At St. Matthew’s, we had a parking lot as a play ground. On most days, there was four-square, tetherball, and a game of asphalt-soccer. On icy-days, we’d play a game of ‘ice-running’. Now this was not like hockey with skates: it was running around in our dress-shoes trying not to break our necks. Mike and I loved playing. He, and his brother Sam, had great balance. I, on the other hand, was a bit less… umm… ‘coordinated’, but it never stopped me from trying. This year, playing on the ice was particularly interesting because it was during the winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Many of us would go home after school and watch Americans like Peter Meuler’s race for our country. I think he ended up with one or two medals, but I know he struck gold once. It inspired us to go run around the ice even more. So Mike and I made our way into the running ranks. We’d use book bags to mark the corners of the ‘track’, and someone would act as the ‘officiator’ of the games. It was my turn and I was in a good heat. The pack I was running with weren’t the strongest. I figured I could take them all and make it to the next heat. Sure enough, my heart started pounding faster as the ‘official’ said ‘on your mark’. By the time he said ‘Go!’ my heart was ready to burst. A spastic flow of energy disseminated though my body: every muscle came to life in awkward beauty.

The trick in ice running was maintaining control around the corners. There were many ways to do this. Mike and Sam could do the corners with ease: their coordination allowed them to walk the line between balance and speed. I relied on my motivation. I made it through the first two corners without issue and was well ahead of the pack on the back-straight when my trouble arose. It seems that a car must have spun its wheels on the ice leaving a nearly invisible layer of sand on it. What was invisible to the eye was quite apparent to the feet. As I sloshed through the ice, all of the sudden my shoes acquired traction and it sent me flying through the air.

It is funny how time slows in moments of panic like this. I was in the air long enough to know that when I hit, it was going to hurt: I was not left disappointed. On a non-icy surface your hands will break the fall, though they may get a little scuffed in the process, it is better than hitting your noggin. On ice, you can put your hands out ahead of you, but as you hit, they will just slide out of the way, allowing for a pretty solid hit on your face. In my case, my chin took the brunt of the blow. Pain rocked my rather puny little body. I was a little dazed too.

As I regained my senses, I noticed a large crowd had gathered around me. Some looked at me like I was one of those science exhibits from COSI, others looked like they were watching a horror movie. Mike was the first through the crowd to come down and actually try to help me. It was then that I looked down and saw the problem. My shirt was drenched in blood, and my chin was hurting pretty badly. I remained pretty calm, but inside I wanted to cry, eventually the cry in me won and I literally screamed in pain. Mike did his best to comfort me as someone else ran and got one of the priests.

Father Smith quickly scurried out there, and before long, I was moved into the nurse’s office where I was given a blanket, hot chocolate, and told that my parents would be there shortly. Everybody was great to me. The principal, a lady whom I was re-introduced to every so often, was particularly nice. I finally made my way to an emergency room, where this unwilling patient was sewn back together. I believe it was fifteen stitches in my chin which required my dad to hold me still for the entire ‘operation’.

When I woke up that morning I had no idea what was in store for me on that day. Life’s many curves left me unprepared for the events that took place. God shares this with us too:

Luke 12:16-20 (NKJV)

16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?

There are many lessons here but two primarily stick out. The first is to store up treasures where they will matter. The second one is that we cannot ‘see’ the future. As we prepare for our day, we are not guaranteed it. Rich Mullins wrote a song once called ‘Live Right’:

Live like you’ll die tomorrow
Die knowing you’ll live forever… Live right!

Each day matters and the course of that day, even when we walk hand in hand with God, is not certain: our destination may be, but the path is still up in the air to us.

As my wife and I have walked though these past few weeks with the challenges of our youngest daughter, we are reminded of how precious life is and how we need to embrace each day, knowing that God is in charge. Our mundane tasks are merely stepping stones along this journey. Each moment should be seized, not just accepted: to the Glory and Honor of our God and Creator. God has poured His life into us, let us revel in its wonder!

In my older days, I still cringe on ice thinking of those spills, but that little slip didn’t phase me: I even bumped my chin a few more times, and up to that point of pain, it was still very fun. I want to greet each day with that kind of zeal!

God Bless

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A bad week

Hello all,

I am betting that a few of you have noticed that I haven’t been on any blogs recently. We have had a very bad week in our house, and would love your prayers.

Let me start a while back. A few months ago, when our youngest was learning to walk, she had a hard fall, so we took her to the emergency room.

Though she seemed fine, they thought it would be a good idea to perform a CT-scan on her. They found that there was no damage from the fall, but that her ventricles were asymmetric (these are two regions in the brain where blood flows). Essentially, we had no idea what they were talking about, but they recommended that we follow up with our pediatrician. The pediatrician took a look at her and thought that it would be a good idea to have an MRI done on her.

I can tell you that to do an MRI on a 13-month old child, they need to knock her out. It was a low point to watch them put the oxygen mask on your little girl and cart her off. My heart was very low that day.

The MRI returned and we found out some news that caused our spirits to drop a little: our little girl had a stroke during the pregnancy. They didn’t show me the MRI, but the doctor said that she seemed to be fine, so there was no need to worry too much about it: after all, she was walking and was ahead of the normal timetable on most of her developmental elements.

Over the next couple of months, we noticed that she favored her right side significantly over her left, so at her 15-month checkup we pointed this out to our pediatrician. She told us that she wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t pointed it out, but now that we did, that it would be a good idea for us to see a neurologist to have a closer look at her.

Last Thursday, we went and the neurologist diagnosed our little angel with mild Cerebral Palsy. For the first time, I saw the MRI and the extent of the damage from the stroke. It was extensive. Fortunately for us, it was limited to the white matter of the brain, not the grey matter, so no cognitive facilities were affected. The neurologist was wonderful about explaining all of this to us, and assured us that occupational therapy should handle almost all of the issues she has. We were very fortunate that it wasn’t worse, but for safety we have to now schedule a visit with a Neural Surgeon to have her ventricles looked at; we had to bring her in for an EEG (which turned out great by the way). And we are having a MRE done in a couple of months.

Still to hear someone say that your little girl is not ‘perfect’ is so hard. God is so wonderful though: through this he has prepared my wife an I for this. We have had the support of family, friends and our church.

This past Sunday, I was at church for my older daughter’s musical, I was feeling a little sick, but felt well enough to get through the program. By the end of the night, my abdomen was hurting so much that I was buckled over in pain. We went home, and I tried to rest for a few hours, but the pain worsened. It was on to the Emergency room for me!

I have had kidney stones before so I thought maybe this was another stone-attack. I was so confident that this is what it was that I told my wife to stay at home I drove myself to the hospital. It turned out that it was my appendix and I had to have an appendectomy. I was made comfortable with pain killers and awaited surgery.

Again, our family, church, friends, and coworkers were wonderful, I felt bad for the guy in the room with me because of the steady stream of pastors, friends, and family that visited during this time. We are so blessed to have people like this around us.

Two days later, I am home now, I am week, sore and pretty much just lounging around. My forced vacation will pretty much keep me hanging around the house for the most part for next couple of weeks. If you think of it, lift up a prayer for our house. This is quite an additional load during the holidays.

In the new year I will be back in swing, but for now I am going to crawl back into bed and get some more rest.

God Bless

Monday, December 11, 2006

When Analogies Go Bad

Okay WOMD friends, I don't normally do this, but anyone who has been forced to write a silly paper (like in Highschool) should enjoy this link greatly.

Top-25 Bad Analogies

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Number 3 was my favorite, though almost all of them were pretty great. What was your favorite?

God Bless

Friday, December 08, 2006

Home For Dinner

The back of my neck was dripping with perspiration, but the rest of me was quite chilly. It was 5:30pm on a cold Friday night in the middle of a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, and dinner waited for me at home. The sun had already gone down and I was hunkering down for the journey. Walking home from Bruce’s house was a bit of a haul in the middle of winter, but I really didn’t mind it that much.

With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, and that ever pleasant ‘crunch crunch crunch’ of my boots breaking the top layer, I reveled in each step. I don’t exactly understand why this is, but snow seems to damp out ambient sound. Not even the dogs around the neighborhood ventured out on cold nights like this. I could hear cars ‘woosh’ from a distant highway, but it seemed that all other life faded quietly away: it was just me, the occasional auto, and my trekking boots.

The smell of freshly burning timber also permeated the walk home. I loved that smell as well as taking in the deep breaths of that really cold air. I was alone to think about my coming weekend and dream about the arrival of Christmas. Wow was this nice!

In Ohio, really cold wasn’t when it was overcast. Really cold was when the sky was crystal clear. In the night, you could see every star. I would look up mesmerized by the menagerie of little lights. I will fly to them some day, I pondered boldly to myself.

Our house sat squarely on the corner of Cherry Bottom Road and Nob Hill. It was the first house on the street and it was a grand house that my father designed and built. He crafted the house, but my mom made it a home. I could always see it for a few blocks before actually getting to it. Reflectively, I love it as much now as I did then. The white brick and black roof were beautiful against the snow-filled fields behind them.

I’d walk up the driveway past the piles of snow that my dad and I had shoveled, to our front door. My walk was over, and I was really ready for it to be. By the end of the journey, my nose was running, my feet were a little numb and soggy and my ears as well the tip of my nose hurt a tad from the cold. Shivering and weariness replaced the great joy that I had at the start of this trip.

The front porch light flips on as the front door swiftly swings open… hmmm… this can’t be good. “Where were you young man?” My loving mother asked with a look of concern that told me all I needed to know. Think Doug think!

“I was at Bruce’s but I got here as soon as I could mom!” Kind of true, but I certainly could have played a few less games of Stratego, Monopoly, Tripoli, or whatever Bruce and my game de jour was.

“I was worried sick about you! I was just about to grab Trish and get in the car and start looking for you”.

“Sorry mom, but it really was a beautiful night!” My best smile came forward. My cheeks ached a little, but I had to maintain it. I wasn’t lying here: the night was wonderful. Now for my mom’s moment of truth: Spanking / Grounding / or the loving stern look. Smile Doug, just keep smiling.

“No matter! Come on in, and get warm”. Stern look with hugs! YES! My mom rocked. After the virtual eternity of unshedding from all of the winter layers, it was time to move into the welcoming abode.

Our home was lit for Christmas, and there was the inviting smell of something wonderfully cooked coming from the kitchen. I couldn’t wait to get some of whatever that was. The rich smells of freshly cooked chicken, buttery rolls, cinnamon, chocolate, and other spices had hypnotized me.

My dad wasn’t home yet, but I knew he’d be soon. “Doug, can you help set the table, please?” Mom was in the kitchen, busy concocting something as brilliant as any blueprint to a maniacal contraption. She was a cook among cooks.

“You got it mom!” My sister and I carefully set each place. All the time my nose would catch whiffs of what was to come. Dinner was so close now and my stomach let me know.

I heard the garage door opening and I knew my dad was on his way in. My sister charged to the back door where he was going to come in. She beat me, as she usually did, and we waited for him to enter. With his entry into the household, dinner wasn’t far behind! “Hey Daddy!” Great! He’s home! Let’s eat to celebrate! With a smattering of hugs and kisses, we would go to pray and eat at the table. Love and joy surrounded us in this place.

Our journey through life will take us to some wonderful places, but like walking home on a cold winter night, we are not designed to stay out here indefinitely. As we ‘walk on’, our final home may very well be in our sights, but we are still not there yet. Through prayer, praise and worship, we may rest a spell, in the arms of our loving father, but we still must leave this warm cozy place and sojourn on, completing the walk.

Have you ever entered into worship and were swept a million miles away? Or were in a service praising with hundred of others, yet in your mind, you were the only one there? It is in these times of heartfelt worship that we can embrace the goodness of God and come before His throne. As much as God loves us, and we love being there with Him, He still knows our purpose on earth, and we, in human form, were also not designed to reside with him indefinitely. He will lovingly lead us back into the fray of reality, with the promise that it won’t be too much longer: keep up the pace! Soon we will be of a form that can reside with Him forever.

I can’t wait for the day those doors swing open and our heavenly father will tell me “I’ve been waiting for you, young man!” With a smattering of hugs and kisses, we will go to praise and eat at His table, while love and joy surrounds us all in His place.

God Bless

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Endless Parade

The end of September was when it all began for me as a child. Entrenched in the middle of reading, multiplication tables, and state capitals, there was really only one thing constantly on my mind: the next few months would be a parade of holidays (and not so holy-days) and the opening ceremony was my birthday.

September 22nd, was the launch date for what would fuel the next few months of fall. Each 'event' would keep me for the next couple of weeks until the next big event occured. It was a simple and wonderful progression: Birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. As the adrenaline rush was fading from one event, the anticipation of the next would take over.

My sister, who's birthday fell on the week before Thanksgiving, didn't have that nice even spacing. Yep, I had it good, and I knew it. My mom, who was the middle child of a large family, made sure our Birthdays were pretty awesome. I believe this was the result of her own birthday being no big deal in her childhood. Both my and my sister's birthdays were not just days but events.

I had no idea what an ordeal this was until I had my own kids. Now I am ever thankful for my mom's efforts towards my great memories. We try to do the same for our girls.

Sometimes I think that my Christianity is the same way as this chain of holidays. It seems as if I am merely clinging on until the next 'filling': from the words of a sermon, or, a great praise song. They hold me for the next few days and then I look forward to the next filling. There is something inately wrong in this:

John 4:11-14 (New King James Version)

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?

12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,

14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Doesn't this imply our life in Christ will be ever abundant: full of zest and zeal? Our walk with God is ever-changing but God is ever-stable and His Word, as well as God Himself are available to us every our, every minute, of every day. Yet, sometime I wait for someone else to feed it to me. What is wrong with me?

It is great that I find such release in hearing about Him, or laboring for His causes, but the problem here is what will happen when people aren't able to 'feed' me or when events aren't 'fullfilling'. What will sustain me in those times of dryness that we all experience? I would love to believe it is the word that dwells in me, but I would rather know that this is the case.

My wife and I are in a busy season of our life, and things like prayer, and reading His word, and praising, are things that sometimes must be forced into our schedule, but God is still faithful. I am thankful for his fidelity, love and support. Even when I am not looking, He always is. I feel like He has put so many things in my life to remind me that He is watching out for me, and that he is merely a prayer away.

In this time of holiday madness, please think to take time and thank the creator of the universe, for taking time out to make life special, unique, and wonderful. In doing so, drink from His rich and ever-flowing cup and be quenched.

God Bless

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Evangelism: (Part V: The final chapter... for now)

Never Alone

Elijah’s journey takes an interesting turn in I Kings 19. In an amazing reversal of fortune, we find our brave prophet running for his life from Jezebel. Isn’t this the man who just one chapter earlier brought down fire from the heavens and sat with kings and delivered God’s words? Surely he can’t be afraid!?

God knew his heart and saw what was going on. Elijah was fed and led by an angel to a cave awaiting the presence of God to pass by him (not to pass him by). God allowed fires and earthquakes to occur, yet His presence wasn’t in these things. Then a gentle whispering breeze passed by and there, standing before Elijah, was the very presence of God.

In this moment Elijah suddenly develops a backbone:

1 Kings 19:14

14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

Isn’t it ironic that Elijah would fear the woman Jezebel yet fearlessly proclaims to the Lord that he felt alone, scared, even abandoned? With the sovereignty that only He possesses, God replies:

1 Kings 19:17,18

17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Weariness tempered with frustration can bring us to some very low moments in our walk: but God is ever lovingly present. When I was in Israel, the job I was working on was a total nightmare. I was pushing 100 hour weeks for months on end, and in spite of this, the project was getting worse, not better. At the homefront, my wife and I had taken in one of her 16 year old cousins who was a bit of a challenge. I would call home to hear the frustration in my wife’s voice and would pine to be home to help. All the while, my two year-old was maturing with each conversation we had on the phone: I was missing all of it and here I am sitting in the land of “Milk and Honey!” These were truly trying times.

It was through this that I could understand best Elijah’s pleading with God, “am I alone, betrayed or abandoned?” This same message was sent by John the Baptist to Jesus. Sitting in a prison, with death looming, he sent a follower to ask Jesus if He indeed was the Christ. Jesus knew that wasn’t John’s real question: he wanted to know if he was following truth or a sham; if the labor of his hands was with purpose; and was he alone? Jesus’ reply was swift and he lovingly told John's apprentice to tell John what he had observed: the proof was in what He did, not what anyone said about him. With this knowledge, I believe that John faced death with the bravery that Stephan showed in the book of Acts.

As I took inventory of the life I was living in Israel, it struck me one day: what was my purpose? Was it to make an amusement ride? I prayed to God: “I am alone in Your chosen land?” I pleaded with Him: “I have let you lead my steps, and I am not feeling the love right now! Please help me because I am falling.” God’s answer was lovingly and swiftly quickened to my heart and I felt more comforted than I had felt in a long time. My life had closed in around me, yet God was still there. All I needed to do was to look up and see the chariots of fire that surround me, and wait for God’s lead. God merely said to me: "Wait on me, and see!".

I waited and that week some amazing things happened. One of my coworkers, who separated from his wife and whom I was passively counseling, attended synagogue for the first time since he was married. He also reconciled with his wife and moved back in.

The young man at the front desk of my hotel, whom I would often strike up conversations with, had talked to his Rabbi who told him that he needed to listen to his American friend (me), because his understanding of the Torah was ‘exciting’ and deep (isn't that a hoot). As a result, he asked for my advice on faith, and on his coming marriage. What a turn of events! He even went as far as to ask me about who Jesus really was.

Out of the blue, another coworker asked me about my faith and wanted to know why I had so much of it. It was in this time that I realized that many of the tares planted by my former employer were pulled up, and a different perspective of Judeo-Christians was being established.
These events weren't mind-blowing tranformations, but they were signs that God was stirring things in the people around me. God is in charge, and He needed me to trust in Him, and Him alone. I was so far from my wife, family and church, that I couldn't rely on them like I do at home. I had to walk in the faith that God was with me and ordering my steps.

I would be misleading to imply that my message here is that fruit is always realized. Many times, the seeds we plant fail to grow at all, and other times they are as mighty cedars that sprout long after we have moved on. It is not a shock to God, that life makes us tired and weary, but God hasn’t left our side. We may stumble, and run in fear, but God draws us to Him and says wait for my presence. Trials and tribulations will go on around us, but where ever we meet God is a time of peace and renewal.

God Bless

Quick Sidenote: Weekend Fisher has a great exclaimation point for this article. You might want to check it out: The Beatitudes: water in the desert of life

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Evangelism (Part IV)

Good, Better, Best God.

Daniel 6:19-21 (NIV)

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den.

20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

21 Daniel answered, "O king, live forever!

King Darius makes and interesting statement here: “has your God, whom you serve…” We can assume from this passage that Darius didn’t serve this God. Daniel was in an interesting pickle here.

He could correct Darius and say something like: “Umm king?! I ‘serve’ the One True God!” or he could let this miracle speak for itself. Daniel chose the latter and in verse 26 and 27, we find Darius’ response.

26 "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.

27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."

Darius still didn’t really get it. In verse 26, it is translated ‘he {God} is the living God’ it could also be translated ‘he is a living God.’ I contend that this is a better translation because if Darius saw God as ‘the’ one true God, I believe there would be record of his conversion.

Still Daniel prospered, and was able to share his faith with many: including Darius. Also that day, Darius opened the door for Daniel to share the truth of God that couldn’t be shut.

I think that some Christians would cringe at Daniel’s approach here. After all, He didn’t put Darius in his place and set him straight that there was only one God and all others were imposters. Here is my theology question for the day: are we, as Christians, polytheistic or monotheistic?

This is a conundrum for us. We believe that there is one true God. We see Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as ‘Extensions’ of our one true God. We are monotheistic.

Yet God says this in Exodus:

Exodus 20: 2, 3

2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

This may ruffle a few theological feathers, but this clearly implies there are other ‘gods’. So what does monotheism really mean or imply? There are lots of theories on this, and it really comes down to this simple statement: nothing compares with the One True God. The little-g god’s can’t hold a candle to the greatness, majesty, and ability, of the Lord, Our God.

I’m sure some of you reading this are now thinking: ‘That’s all and good but what does this have to do with evangelism?’ It occurred to me that I don’t need to disprove the gods of other religions to validate that I serve the One True God. Remember Elijah taking on the prophets of Baal.

I Kings 18 36-38

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.

37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

Elijah didn’t have to prove that Baal wasn’t a real god (though he felt free to poke fun at them), he only needed to show that his God: ‘The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel’, was greater, and in doing so, made the existence of Baal a moot point.

How do we show the greatness of our God today? Does God fire down thunderbolts at our call? Not too often. The important point of this is in verse 36. “I have done these things at your command”.

The short of it is to let God worry about that and just follow His lead.

In life, the humanists, atheists, and agnostics are fully aware of how their ‘god’ is working out for them. We don’t need to point this out, or dwell on it. Sharing God’s love in a relatable way: in the face of their bitterness and distrust of our motives, is a great choice here. God is not worried about being dethroned, and we need not take offense or even be challenged by the rallying of the little-g gods. God doesn't need an advocate or apeasement because He is in charge.

We need to convey to them in a tangible manner, how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is there for them: He loves, and yearns to have fellowship with them. When they have experienced the presence of the One True God, nothing else will compare.

Again I come back again to pointing to the scriptures and allowing the seeker to find not man’s answers but God’s.

God Bless

Evangelism (Part III)

The Practical, Loving God (continued)

Before I get too far, I failed to point to the scriptural basis for the previous post. I strongly believe that God rewards seekers, so pointing people who are seeking is by far one of the best tools we have in witnessing:

Matthew 7: 7-12 (NIV)

7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Verse 12 embodies the true intent of the law and this is exposed not only here, but also throughout the journey of the Israelites. I believe King David saw this and wrote:

Psalms 31:7 (NIV)

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

Jesus makes some important points here:

1) God loves us more than a father loves his children
2) God rewards the seeker
3) God wants peace among the people around you
4) God wants us to ask

The message hasn’t changed from the Genesis to Revelation. Our God is wonderful, loving, and practical. His laws are as well.

Okay on to my next post.

God Bless

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Evangelism (Part II)

The Practical, Loving God

In my brief experience, most Israelis aren’t very religious, but they can’t run from the religiosity that is around them. They know many stories in the bible, and are aware that they, as Jews, are unique. They even believe that there is something ‘special’ about where they live. The ties cannot be broken between the Christians and Jews and this provides a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel.

There is a subtle difference between talking to Muslims and Jews that will affect your ability to ‘relate’ to them. Consider Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. If they were on a map that was a timeline, the roads would start with all three of them together. Sometime within Abraham’s life there is a branch in the road, which Muslims traveled on: this branch had many more inputs and sources on it, so the scenery of the Muslim road changed dramatically from that of the Judean and Christian one. Muslims do embrace some of the Christian teachings through Jesus, who they recognize as a ‘good prophet’, but they are selective in this.

The Christian/Judean road continues up to Jesus and here is what is interesting: with the Jewish road, it essentially stagnates. Before 67 AD, Jews and Christians even worshiped in the same temple. After the fall of the temple in 70AD, there have been no more prophets in the Jewish faith, only interpretations of what has already been written. In essence Judaism is a subset of Christianity.

This is why, like my Jewish friends, I can say that my God is ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. I cannot say this with my Muslim friends because there is only a loose bond of commonality.

I have commented on this before, and I want to reiterate an important point to me: to touch Israel is to touch Christianity. During World War II, many Christians took a view that eliminating the Jewish race was not really their problem: since they, themselves were not Jewish, it was of little matter to them. When the Jews were scourged, we, as Christians, were also scourged.

I found that to have a meaningful dialog, you must recognize the Jesus within the Old Testament. The New Testament is virtually meaningless to Israelis, but rest assured, God’s scarlet thread is available throughout His Testament.

What many Israelis have witnessed in their own life is the traditional failure of religiosity. Unfortunately, there is an excellent example for Israelis of this failure: Hassidic Jews. Hassidic Jews are easily recognized because they usually wear a black suit, have a black top hat, and have long beards, and curly locks which are draped in their hat. They have odd practices to us gentiles: they have specific prayer times, like Muslims, they have strict dietary laws, and other rules that totally govern their life. They make a lot of children. I am generalizing here, but for the most part, they seem pretty miserable.

Hassidic Jews seem to grovel before their God, and their laws are crippling to their way of life. For instance: they cannot use a traditional elevator on Shabbat (What we call the Sabath: from sundown-Friday to sun-up, Sunday Morning), because they aren’t allowed to press the buttons on the elevator. The solution for this is that they set all of the elevators to stop on every floor and open automatically.

Talking to people who have personally witnessed this type of behavior opens a sea of opportunities. Take the basic laws found in Exodus 20 and ask the question: did a loving God make these laws? The reflex-answer is yes. Who do these laws benefit: God, man or no one? Again, man is the clear answer here because the laws are extremely practical. The Ten Commandments are the framework for peaceful coexistence with man and God.

If God is loving, and His law is both beneficial and practical, why would He require his faithful to be miserable and grovel before Him? Sight the Old Testament Covenant that goes something like this: ‘I will be your God and you will be My people.’ There is no mention there of traditions, or of miserable existence. Again God remains practical. Even laws about not eating pork were a great idea before refrigeration: these laws protected people from health issues, allowed people to govern their behavior, and coexist with each other.

For whatever reason, this really hit home with a lot of my friends in Israel. I encouraged them to read the books of the Prophets (portions of the Old Testament), and see for themselves. I believe that God’s own words will turn hearts better than any junk that I can come up with. Through all of this, I made it a point to never isolate Christianity from Judaism, and most of the Israelis were amazed that I knew a lot about their customs and their writings. I believe that this helped to establish some bonds that will result in their salvation.

Next Post will focus on a different way to look at other people's God's.

God Bless

Evangelism: (Part I)

A little different approach

Quoting scripture about the fact that we should witness is easy: applying that scripture to our lives is a little tougher. A few years ago, I was working on a job-site in Israel and the opportunity to sprinkle some seed was all around, but I have to tell you, that in the environment that I was in, it seemed nearly impossible. Here were some of the factors that were weighing in against me:

The contractor that hired me to work on the job was a self-proclaimed Christian, who set the tone on the site by lying, cheating, and eventually going bankrupt. He would often tell the Israeli co-workers that he was a Christian so he wouldn’t drink, or work on Sunday (Saturday, is their day off), etc. His ‘witness’ left a very bad taste in the mouths of my fellow workers. I cringed at many of his statements, and I prayed that they would see him as the confused man that he turned out to be.

Where I was outside of Tel Aviv, most of the people I had come in contact with were, at best, agnostics. Within the Jewish communities, many went to synagogues as children, but had long since left temple attendance. There was a small faction of orthodox Jews in the workplace, but most Israelis had great disdain for them because of things like they wouldn’t serve in the military like the rest of the Israeli citizens. The Arab workers were a mix of atheists, Muslims, and Christians. The Arab Christians were of the Greek Orthodox variety, and spoke almost no English. I was alone in a strange land, with no real support of friends, family, churches, even missionaries. I felt like God was telling me: "Okay Doug! You believe in Me, but now you are going to have to trust in Me too!"

To me, witnessing takes on two parts: the most important is following God’s lead and going where He calls us to go. Doing this takes knowledge of how God works, who God is, and how He motivates us. Life is an open opportunity, so we need to be prepared to listen to God’s calling on a moment’s notice. The second is in making the Gospel tangible to humanity. The first part leads us out of our comfort zone and requires us to have faith that God will guide us. The latter part draws upon our own experiences to relate to the human condition. Balancing these two is always a bit of a trick. In a foreign land, this was even more of an issue.

I might write a book on my experiences in Israel some day, but for now I wanted to talk about a couple of approaches I used to open up the Gospel to atheists, agnostics, and other-faith friends. Firstly, I wanted point out that these people are my friends: they opened their homes, and made me very welcome. I am thankful for their graciousness and courtesy. They helped to make a very bad year in my life a lot better. I still keep in touch with many of them, and seeds continue to be planted.

I have a couple more posts planned here, so bear with me. The next will be on using the Practicality of a loving God to witness. I will then want to post about what I like to call the Good, better, best God.

God Bless

Monday, September 18, 2006

Enter The Dorkman: Book Review

It is finally out, and I couldn’t resist getting my own copy of Dorkman. Before I go any further, I must say up front that I am not the audience for this book: it was clearly intended for teenagers. The book was written by the fine folks who run The Realm of Possibility blog (Rich Pearce And Ken Story). Their site counted down the days until it was published and so did I. The premise of the story made me cringe some, because I worried that it may hit a little too close to home, but in the end, I am really glad I put my hesitations aside.

Junior High/Middle School was a challenging for most of us, and this book deals with issues that all children are affected by. The social ladder is tough in elementary school, but come middle school, where genders begin to mix and external influences seem to weigh heavier than parental ones, we witness some of the meaner moments in our brief existence here on the planet. Dorkman is a narrative that circles around this social class dynamic.

Cole, the narrator and hero of the book, faces a challenge that will literally shake his world. The setup is simple, but the ramifications of the actions taken in the book make for a great read. Cole has acquired an unwanted friend named Gordon ‘Dorkman’ Dorfmueller. Everywhere he turns, Gordon is there following him like a lost puppy. Gordon is the social pariah, while Cole is rising through the ranks of popularity. A kid like ‘Dorkman’ would trounce his position, and Cole didn’t want that.

Adding to the pickle, Cole was pursuing the love of his life, Ashley Knudson, a golden-locked beauty that was probably one of the most dreamed about girls in his school: she was in his grips, if he played his cards right. Dorkman could ruin everything and Cole’s entire world was turning upside down on him. Cole’s situation was addressed by his friends who had the ‘solutions’ that would solve Cole’s ‘problem’. Cole is now torn between what he wants, and what is right.

The book is very well written, I literally couldn’t put it down, though at times I really wanted to. The subject matter really touched some nerves with me and made me realize how much I've grown in the last twenty plus years. Like many people, I was both like Cole, and Dorkman, so identifying was easy, though painful at times. The language, and some of the situations in the book might raise a few parent’s eyebrows, but it is worth tolerating a few explicative phrases to embrace the message as a whole.

I love how Pearce and Story have balanced the battle between theory and practice. Woven into this story is the idea that right and wrong have clear delineation, and sometimes we must pay a price for what we believe. You follow Cole, treading through these matters of the heart, and really relate with the dilemma that he is in, while at the same time wanting to shout in his ear ‘NO! Don’t do it!’ I laughed at times and hung my head in shame remembering events in my life where I had failed, like Cole. All the time, a strong Christian message quietly pulses through the storyline.

If you have young teenagers, I would highly recommend reading Dorkman, then giving the book to your child. The conversations from the book will be well worth the time. The gospel is subtly infused into the pages, while some parents may object to some of the book’s content: this is why I would recommend reading it first before giving it to your child. Still, the story is heartfelt, and the character development is also excellent, and I must say that it was 4 or so hours well spent. Dorkman puts some tangibility to matters where not acting upon what is right is wrong too. I also believe it will make for some meaningful conversations between you and your children.

If you want to read more about Dorkman or how to order your own copies, go to Dorkmancometh. Dorkman will soon be available through Amazon, just click over to the sight above to get ordering information.

God Bless

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Welcome Back

The dark clouds gathered: they loomed on the horizon with foreboding certainty. I could always feel it in my bones as my heart was dropping. The harsh reality of life was approaching: mid August arrived too quickly. Playing in the walnut tree in the back yard, the reality that summer break was nearing its end and school was calling its wayward citizens back, hit me hard. Opening day snuck up on me, much like it did every year.

Every minute left in my summer became more and more precious. How could I maximize my remaining time of freedom? The usual suspects came to mind: stay up longer. Yes! If I stay up just two more hours a night, it is like getting an extra day out of summer every 8 days. After about 3 days, my zombie walk forced me into taking mid-day naps. Drats! What else? My bank had some money in it so it was time to pamper myself with a glut of comic books, model airplanes, and army men.

There was always the play-up my sadness to my mom plan, (don’t even waste your time with dad because he would just laugh). Maybe, if I moped just enough while behaving like an angel, she might take us to King’s Island, Cedar point, or maybe even a Red’s game. It rarely worked, but it was always worth a shot.

For two months, I had lived carelessly: wasting my days with mindless day-dreaming, playing games, sleeping-in, and riding my bike around the neighborhood in dizzying circles. What was I thinking? Well, perhaps ‘thinking’ is not the best choice of word: little thought went into these months. I avoided thinking of time entirely, let alone thinking about sitting and being tortured with books, multiplication charts, and the migration patterns of little birds. I don’t know if I dreaded the beginning of school or the end of summer more.

Isn’t it funny how life imitates our childhood? There comes a point when people realize that their time on this earth is nearing an end, or it is at least finite. They scramble to fill their remaining days with things: New cars, vacations to exotic locals, new hairstyles, tummy-tucks, or Botox™. Every action intended to maximize their enjoyment or to put off the inevitable mortality. There is this mad dash to do all of the things that they wanted to do or should have done with the previous years of their lives.

We all know what we are avoiding: the unknown. It is not knowing what is on the other side that scares the tar out of us. So we stock up on what we know, what we can tangibly appreciate and chase. Do we fear the end of time or the beginning of eternity? Meanwhile, God stands and waits for us to realize that He is truthful and His promises of a life ever after are more than hollow words:

Paul said it this way in Colossians:

Colossians 1:11-13 (NIV)

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

It is the dominion of darkness that we grasp with our purposeful little fingers: holding on and wishing for it to never stop. Yet here is God with a life free from the clutches of this world, freely giving it to all who will receive it.

A measure of faith is all that is required: both faith in God’s promises, and in knowing that God is. There is no need of more. The problem is that it is a big step. Are you ready to take that leap? Barring Jesus’ return, the end of our days on earth is inevitable, but it not the closing curtain. It is merely the beginning of a glorious transformed life. And for the record, school was never near as horrible as I imagined it.

God Bless

Saturday, August 05, 2006


The staple items of most boys growing up in the Midwest suburbs were comic books and trading cards. I was no exception. My room was full of both. From my Daredevil comics to the rookie card of Archie Griffon, my collections were vast and growing. My friends and I made rules for trading: some of them were practical, while others were quite odd. Marvel comics were top, so to trade a Spider Man (Marvel) for a DC comic like Superman, would require a 2 for 1 trade.

Similar rules applied for trading cards. Topps cards were, well, tops. Sometimes Wonder Bread™ would put cards in their packages. These cards were kind of cool because they were 3-D, this was the only card that was a 1 for 1 trade for Topps. Hostess also used to put cards in their cartons of Ho Ho’s™ and Ding Dong’s™: they were cards that we wouldn't bother trading, because they had to be hand-cut. All-pro and rookie cards were all the highest rated cards. Then there were the wildcards: Wacky Packs™ were really popular with us, and then there were the Battlestar Galactica and the Six Million Dollar Man trading cards. All of these added a wrinkle to our trading experience.

We had block buster trades which may include multiple comics, some trading cards and an intangible like marbles or a balsa-wood glider. We even had occasions when a trade was misrepresented and we could bring the trade before our friends and let them decide if someone was cheated in the transaction. At the end of the day, our collections flourished, and that lame cardboard that they called bubblegum in the card packs was eventually chewed by all. It was our own small economic system, and we all loved it as much as the collections themselves.

There was something really pleasing about building your collections. There were a couple of our friends whose parents would just buy entire cartons of trading cards. These children had no need of trading because they already had all the cards available. They really missed out on something special. That’s not to say we were a little jealous of them: after all, it was work to inventory your cards and figure out what you were missing. It took time to figure out a trade worthy of obtaining a Mean Joe Green, or Pete Rose, still, the possibilities were dazzling and the opportunities were there and available.

Collections are a part of life and how we handle them can have dramatic effect on our quality of life. What do we collect in our heart? What do we treasure? What heirlooms do we clutch with all that we are? What do we trade off to attain what we perceive to be greater things? What value do we put on family? What do we put off to obtain ‘stuff’? What do we deem off-limits and protect with all our very life?

Solomon understood this. A man who had it all as far as worldly collections goes: money, castles, temples, horses, and let’s not forget the women. Looking reflectively, here is what the great collector says:

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (NIV)

2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

Wow! Now there is satisfaction! At the end of the long journey, Solomon looked back, and saw that these pursuits were ‘meaningless’. What about collecting worldly wisdom? Surely he would speak well of such endeavors:

Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 (NIV)

13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Strike 2! He goes on to show that the pursuit of riches, wealth, wisdom, advancement, and pleasure are all meaningless. At the twilight of his life, the folly of these endeavors was crystal clear to him. Interestingly enough, in the middle of this commentary, he writes the verses made famous by The Birds, summarized as everything in its due season (turn turn turn).

In chapter six, it all comes to a head. Solomon asks the defining question:

Ecclesiastes 6:12 (NIV)

12 For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

There is a point to this gloom. Solomon, had to paint the picture for mankind to make the case for God. He intentionally left an important phrase out of his ‘meaningless’ mantra. Here it is: ‘compared to God's’. Chapter 8 makes it a little clearer:

Ecclesiastes 8:16,17 (NIV)

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night- 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

Solomon saw God in his glory and realized that our lives that are so incredibly important to us, are like a grain of sand on the beach compared to Gods. Our pursuit should be after Him, and in doing so be fulfilled in Him. Maybe Jesus said it a little more eloquently:

Matthew 6: 19, 20 (NIV)

19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Reflectively, these questions can be overwhelming, yet understanding them helps us to figure out what our true priorities are. God looks at our lives and He knows our needs and wants. Every item that we hide in our heart or mind, He has already assessed and has lovingly made a plan to help us deal with or equip us to attain these items.

What are we collecting? In the grand scheme of things is it really important? Is one million Terry Bradshaw rookie trading cards worth one soul? Only we can answer these questions.

God Bless

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My Home Owner's Association

Hello WOMD Friends,

Okay, this is not one of my normal posts. Recently I got a letter from our Home Owner's Association. The letter had a list of proposed ammendments to our charter that were, in my opinion, absurd and simply unreasonable. It is like they wanted a police state in our neighborhood, this sparked my idea.

There is a song by Flemming and John about writing letters in your head, and this is mine. This is basically the letter that I wanted to send all the home owners in our neighborhood in response to this offensive epistle. For obvious reasons and the pleas of my wife, I opted against sending it (my wife really laughed, but I know she wouldn't have wanted me to send it). This is basically a dead letter, but I figured why let it go completely obscure? I am posting it here for your veiwing pleasure. Please forgive me if it is too over the top, but that was obviously my intent.

Dear Fellow White Sands Citizens

After receiving the letter from T.H., I felt that I needed to write a letter of my own. Based on her concerns, it is clear to me that we need to take action in our neighborhood. After all, we wouldn’t want people thinking ill of each other. I have decided to add a couple more things to this list that will better send the message that she eloquently stated in her letter.

Let’s start with animals: it was suggested that we limit the breeds of allowable dogs in the interest of safety. I also think that all dogs should be leashed at all times: even when they are sleeping and indoors. Since we all know that breed limiting may be considered partisan, I would propose that we ban all dogs from the neighborhood. Also, since cat scratch fever is not just a horrible cover song performed by Molly Hatchet, but rather a real and dangerous thing, we should go ahead and ban cats too. While we are at it, it is a fact that avian flu is carried by birds so let’s ban parrots, parakeets, and the like as well. After all, it is all in the interest of safety.

Our property value is at stake here, and so, by golly, we need to take some action to maximize the home values. I suggest that we not allow any cars in our neighborhood that are older than 5 years. This will give our neighborhood that rich feeling. Also, any car that has a physical blemish, like a door ding, broken tail light, or is made by Buick, must be parked in the garage. We don’t want to send the wrong message to prospective buyers out there. Motorcycles are strictly forbidden. Also any car that’s base model costs less than $15,000 is prohibited. It is also a know fact that black, silver, and white are the colors of dignitaries. Only these three color types will be permissible.

In addition we need a dress code, especially for our children. Any boy playing in our neighborhood should be required to wear white cotton shorts or pants, a button-down shirt, and a cardigan or sweater-vest. Girls will wear dresses of at least knee length and covered shoulders, and have bows and frilly things in their hair. Speaking of hair, girl’s hair must be long and boy’s hair must be short. Shoes need to be worn at all times, even if the child is playing in the sprinklers. Now that I think of it, it is really dangerous to have kids under five playing at all in their front yards, so if your children are in the front yard, they should be on leashes, with a collar to identify their owner. We need to send the message that we really care about our kids.

Adults also must dress accordingly, men should wear at least a sports jacket and top-hat at all times, even when mowing their yard or cleaning their pool. Ladies must wear dresses and carry parasols to shade them from that harsh Florida environment.

Also we want to send the message that we are classy here, so at Halloween, we need to make a rule that the minimum candy that can be given to a child is a full-sized candy bar: no more of those lame-o Smarties or chintzy candy corn. We should probably give king-sized bars, but I’ll leave that up to you, after all, this isn’t some communist dictatorship telling us what to do. Also all costumes worn by our children on Halloween need to be handmade, and a sheet with two holes in it for eyes doesn’t count. All costumes must be approved by the appointed homeowner’s committee. If you want to be rich, it starts with dressing the part.

No holidays will be recognized in our neighborhood by any outside decorations. Outside adornments should be strictly forbidden.

Shopping at certain stores in our area may send a negative message as well, so no longer will you be allowed to shop at any store that has ‘mart’, ‘club’, ‘warehouse’ or ‘discount’ in their name. The HOA will have to get together and make a list of approved and forbidden stores.

All homes must be immaculate: inside and out. We should make a law that we can come into any home on the block and ‘critique’ its appearance. If they don’t clean up their mess, then we have an appointed maid service come in and do it for them at their expense. This same logic should apply to the outside of the homes too.

No flags of any kind should be flown in the neighborhood, and cars may not have bumper stickers or vanity plates because all of these send the wrong message. No wait! I think we need to come up with our own neighborhood flag that the citizens of White Sands can hang with pride and that sends the message that we are united and not dysfunctional people under the rule of a Gestapo-like police agency.

This is a lot of rules to add, so we will probably need to begin a neighborhood watch to assure that all of our neighbors are in loving compliance with all rules. It will need to be a 24 hour watch, so each household will be required to have someone volunteer once every 3 weeks for a day. A day is made up of 24 hours so families may want to split the day into two, twelve-hour shifts. And before anyone asks: children under five may not volunteer for this duty since we will need to provide them with an armed semi-automatic gun to fulfill their duties.

Since we are now implementing a neighborhood watch, we will also need to add a guard-tower to our neighborhood. Lesser places put up a little ‘hut’ in the front of their street. This is about as foreboding as a baby kitten at a WWE smack-down fest. We are better than that! We should put up a ten-foot barrier complete with barbed-wire, search lights, trained attack dogs, surveillance cameras, and warning sirens. This will send the message that we are safety-minded and care about the little people living in our neighborhood. All cars entering and exiting our street will need to be searched. This may be a little extreme, but we can’t be too safe can we?

Though we have no crossing streets, we should also put up a stop light in the middle so that we can let the children cross the street safely. The light should change every sixty seconds so that no pedestrians have to wait too long to cross. In the future maybe we should consider building a bridge over the street for little ones to cross: we just can’t be too safe.

We should also install speakers all through the neighborhood and it should have tracks that say things like ‘White Sands citizens are better because they comply with all rules set out by the grand emperors of the Home Owner’s Association (HOA).’, ‘We love White Sands and we keep our lives hygienically sterile’, ‘All White Sands citizens love the HOA and are happy to assist in following the rules.’, ‘We’re not snooty, we just have class!’ and ‘It’s an honor to be a White Sands citizen and people like us.’.

I hope that I have made my point very clear here. My wife and I are on a much-needed vacation during this next meeting of the HOA. If you are like me and think that these new proposals are ludicrous, and make you feel like you are in Nazi Germany than in a real neighborhood, I hope that you will vote against these ammendments. It is ridiculous finger-pointing policies like these that make enemies of neighbors.

Please consider this letter our household’s votes against changing the rules that govern our street.