It Grew Back!

best-balding-clippers

So, you know that I have been a “shave-headed” pastor for quite some time. Frankly, as early as high school, the dreaded “widow’s peak” was showing up. As a high school actor, I tended to play the older roles. As a college actor, I played a pretty wide variety of roles, but they included some older guys and one or two really old guys. I could grow my hair out, comb in back to accentuate that ever-increasing widow’s peak and pull off a relatively convincing Educational Theater old guy!  

Later, after we were married, I was standing in front of the nearly full-length mirror that was on the inside of our bedroom closet door one morning, tying my tie. The other closet door (The doors were hinged and not sliders and BOTH doors had mirrors on the inside) happened to be in exactly the right spot that allowed me a clear view of the back of my head- a place guys don’t see very often! Honey? I said. “Yes?” I have a pretty big…bald spot!” “Yes.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” Pause. “Would it have helped?!” Good point! 

That started a growing acceptance of male-pattern baldness. I began to get my hair cut shorter and shorter because I REFUSED to do the ill-fated “comb-over”! Eventually, in about 2004, I went to full-out shaved head and haven’t looked back since! 

On the other hand, I have had facial hair, of some sort, my whole adult life. That is, until chemo and radiation! The radiation, target as it was to my neck, made all the beard hair that grew there (and drove me crazy!) fall out. And I do mean ALL. The chemo made the rest of my facial hair, including my eyebrows, slowly fall out. I kept slowly trimming away more and more of the facial hair until I finally shaved the last of it off. There I was- no hair on my head or face and no eyebrows. (I even lost a lot of body fair…and I had a LOT to lose!) 

The upside to losing the eyebrows was that, for my entire life (no exaggeration), my eyebrows were so light that they were hard to even see. So, losing them wasn’t much of a big deal. The lack of facial hair was WAY more noticeable. But I have now gone 3½ months without chemo- hard to believe but it’s true. My last “dose” was on October 17. And apparently my body has been trying to heal and return to some sense of normalcy with the absence of the regular infusion of poison into it. About a month ago, hair started to grow back- my beard, mustache and eyebrows all started to “peek out through the snow”! The growth was slow- nearly glacial. But it WAS happening.  

And then, almost overnight, it started REALLY coming back. The beard came back fast, full and in some parts of my face darker while we were in Orlando. (Maybe all that good Florida sun!) I went from not having to shave and having a BIT of a 5 o’clock shadow to needing to trim down the “Duck Dynasty” look in about 10 days! Not gonna lie- I am glad to have facial hair again, even if it’s only temporary…until we have to start the inevitable chemo again.  

But the big surprise has been the eyebrows! They not only have come back in full and strong- they have come back in NOTICEABLY darker. NOTICEABLY. They are literally darker than they have EVER been…in my entire life. I suddenly have eyebrows that some women pay big bucks to get. I mean, I’m starting to lean just a BIT toward the whole “Groucho Marx paint them on with a black grease pencil”! 

In the midst of the uncertainty of the cancer diagnosis and treatment- it DOES hang over you, like a fog, no matter WHAT you do- it has made me chuckle a bit and marvel a lot about the regrowth of hair! I’m not naïve enough to think it will all fall out again here before too long. But I’m enjoying it while it’s here! 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

10,000 Hours

10000-hours-chris-cheney

In his 2008 book Outliers, writer Malcolm Gladwell posited the concept that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. That has since been a kind of standard that many hold to. (Although, a more recent study out of Princeton University says that is simply not true…or at least more complicated than that!) I have read the basic concept behind both Gladwell’s approach and Princeton’s rebuttal. I get both sides of the equation…and think that the reality lies somewhere between them! 

But I DO understand, and agree with, the basic principle behind Gladwell’s argument- practice makes perfect. The truth behind that has been on my mind recently. It got there (My mind, that is) because of a phone conversation I had. A gentleman called me from out of the blue. He had attended a funeral I recently officiated. He had some very nice, very complimentary things to say. And in the context of our conversation, he said something that really stood out, “This was clearly not your first rodeo!”  

First of all, that expression immediately caught my attention because it’s one I use OFTEN! But it also made me think of Gladwell’s 10,000-hour concept. How much DOES practice and repetition impact the quality of the final product? I would argue- quite a bit! 

For example, the funeral we were talking about. I recently shared in a blog that I have performed somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 funerals. Figure that the funeral and burial ceremonies, combined, take about an hour. Add to that about an hour of conversation with the family ahead of time. Then add another hour of combined conversation with funeral directors, musicians, singers, Scripture readers and tech folk. Then add another two hours of writing and related “prep” for the funeral itself. That brings you to a total of about 5 hours spent on any given funeral- give or take. Multiple that by 250 funerals and that means I have spent roughly 1,250 hours of my career on funerals- a FAR cry from 10,000 hours, but still…a LOT of time!  

Then there are worship services. It’s harder to figure out, but conservative math would say I have spent about 4,000 hours actually LEADING worship in my career. Again, a far cry from 10,000 hours but nothing to sneeze at.  

Ok- what about ministry in general? Well, 21 years in the ministry- 3 years “half-time” and 18 years “full-time”. That works out to somewhere around 58,000 hours. That number blows 10,000 right out of the water.  

I could also try to break down the other two things that would make the most sense here- playing the drums and acting/speaking in front of people. I started performing in front of people in First Grade and I started playing the drums when I was 10 years old. So, both of those areas would have large number attached to them.  

What’s the point? The point is that- Princeton is right. If you don’t have the inherent aptitude or giftedness for something, practice will only take you so far. But Gladwell is also right- if you DO have some natural giftedness in something, practice is going to pay huge dividends and is essential to long-term success. That means two things have to happen for you to succeed at something: 1. you have to identify where your gifts and graces lie and 2. you have to be the answer to the question “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice! 

What are you gifted in? What are you passionate about? Identify it/them. (And don’t give me that horse hockey that you are good at NOTHING! I’m NOT buying what you’re selling!) And then, commit to getting better at it! Practice. Read all you can about it. Find people who are good at it and get them to help you/mentor you. Put in the work. “Overnight successes” are almost NEVER actually overnight. They are folks who kept their shoulder to the plow and just kept pushing forward, day after day. If there is a mistake to be made in the ministry, I have made it. Sometimes multiple times. But every time, the mistake made me a little stronger. A little “better”. Keep pushing. Stick with it. You can do it! 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

To Get What You’ve Never Had, You Have to be Willing to Do What You’ve Never Done

church and technology Yesterday, I had a very brief, but interesting, interchange with someone at church that reminds me A. how far things have come in the 21 years we’ve been in the ministry and B. How awesome technology can be! We livestream the sermon every week on Facebook- been doing it for about 14 months now. We livestream the 8AM sermon- the first of the day. That is a practical choice- it fits with our “schedule” for the morning AND, if there were any technical issues, we have two more shots at it before the morning is over!
The brief interchange I mentioned earlier is a direct outgrowth of the livestreaming. The wife of our Worship Director came up to me after the 8AM service and said, “My cousin in Arizona watch your sermon on Facebook this morning. She watches it every week!” I assured her that was a really cool thing. She agreed! We both walked away happy!
Think about that for a moment- at basically 9AM, she tells me that a relative who lives about 1,500 miles away watched a sermon I JUST finished preaching about 10 minutes prior to that conversation. The cousin had watched it AND been in contact to SAY that she watched it- from that far away in that short of a time!
There was a time in the pretty recent past when that would have been impossible for the VAST majority of churches. Only those with HUGE budgets and TV contracts would have even had a hope of doing something like that. And even then, it probably still wouldn’t have happened THAT fast! But here we are, having a “parishioner” who is 1,500 MILES away worship with us IN REAL TIME and letting us know that they are doing it.
So, the uptick is that we can not only continue to strive to reach more and more people in our immediate geographical area through inviting them IN and/or reaching OUT to them- we can reach out to…virtually…anybody. We are no longer limited by what we can do through “brick and mortar”. We are limited only by our imagination. Things like livestreaming on Facebook don’t cost us a cent. (Unless you count the tripod I bought, which seems like a stretch!) Along with livestreaming worship, we have livestreamed funerals for people who couldn’t be there in person. And we just started an online Bible Study through a Facebook page that is a “trial balloon” that is A. intended to be the next step in our fairly new Young Adult/Young Family Ministries and B. the first step in a greater presence of online Bible Study opportunities. Again, the costs are minimal and the possibilities are endless!
If your church is already taking advantage of the opportunities that technology offers to your ministries, keep up the good work. If your church ISN’T doing it yet…why not? The two biggest arguments most churches have fall into 1 of 2 categories- 1. cost or 2. “I don’t like technology”. #1 is a non-sequitur- the cost is so negligible that the argument holds no water. As to #2- if you will excuse my bluntness for a moment- who cares if you like technology or not? Seriously. You are NOT your target audience- you’re already “in”. So, what you or I may like and $1 will buy any size drink at McDonalds. The American Christian Church is dying because too many people in too many churches have the “I would rather see the church die than change” mentality. And sadly, many of those folks are in luck!
Step out in faith. Try something new. Be willing to stretch and grow. Be willing to think outside the box. Build the ministries of your church around the notion that, to get what you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do what you’ve never done.
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

A Fresh Start: Mary Magdalene

Fresh Start Mary Magdalene

My name is rather common. Mark is a very common first name and Harris is an equally common last name. But just HOW common, you ask? Well…! I was born in the local hospital of my home town. With about 24 hours of my birth, there was not one but TWO other babies born in the SAME hospital with the SAME first and last name as me! One had the same MIDDLE name as me as well, while the other had my dad’s first name as his middle name! Three. In TWO days. In the SAME hospital! Although I had heard stories, I knew something was up in 6th Grade when I was playing in a basketball game. My coach called out my name before the game. I ran over to see what he wanted…and found another Mark Harris standing there, wondering why the opposing coach had called HIM over! During the “bad days” of growing up, I swore that I had been switched at birth and that, one day, my “real parents” would come for me! 

 

A new day, a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh. But “resolutions” don’t last and “plans” can be hollow. Over 4 weeks, we are preparing for a TRULY “new day” as we walk through A Fresh Start. We have been looking at 4 Bible characters- 2 Old Testament and 2 New Testament- who got a chance to start over again. They got a new lease on life- thanks to the transformative power of God, Who offers that same power to us! The first week, we looked at an Old Testament guy named Gideon who had to overcome fear and uncertainty to do what God was calling Him to do. Week 2, we looked at an Old Testament woman named Esther who found favor with the king and used that as an opportunity to not only gain a fresh start for herself…but for her people as well! Today, we jump to the New Testament and look at a woman who is often misunderstood but clearly as major player in the story of Jesus- Mary Magdalene. 

 

Luke 8:1-3 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. 

 

So, today, we look at Mary- St. Mary Magdalene- literally “Mary the Magdalene”…sometimes simply called “the Magdalene”. What do we know about her/ Well, she was a Jewish woman who traveled with Jesus as one of His followers. Both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Mark say seven demons were driven out of her. Within the four Gospels, she’s named at least 12 times- more than most of the disciples. But she is most prominently featured in the crucifixion and resurrection narrative. Among the followers of Jesus, she is the ONLY one specified by name as a witness to the crucifixion, the burial AND the resurrection. All four Gospels say she was a witness to the empty tomb and that she was, either alone or as part of a group of women, the first to testify to the resurrection. Over and over, Mary Magdalene’s name is placed first in lists of specifically named women. Being named first AND being named by all 4 Gospels historically indicates her importance among the followers of Jesus. And yet, the name Mary Magdalene doesn’t appear in any other book of the New Testament. 

The truth is, Mary was an incredibly common name in the Ancient Near Eastern world. Historically, three primary “Marys” are identified from the New Testament- 

The Virgin Mary- mother of Christ, Mary of Bethany- the sister of Martha and Lazarus and Mary Magdalene. But there’s also Mary- the mother of James and Mary Salome. Mary Magdalene is almost always distinguished from other Marys by adding the title “the Magdalene”. But what exactly does that mean? Some interpret it to mean “the woman from Magdala”- a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. That’s a logical assumption. Others see it as less about where she was from and more as a title. “Magdalene” in Hebrew is “Migdal” and in Aramaic is “Magdala”. In both languages, it means “tower” or “fortress”. 

To further complicate her story, around 591 AD, Pope Gregory I preached what has become a very influential sermon in which he identified Mary Magdalene not only as the anonymous sinner with the perfume who anointed Jesus feet with her hair in Luke’s gospel, but also as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. In addition, Gregory morphed the seven demons driven from her into the seven deadly sins, and so Mary Magdalene began to be condemned not only for lust but for pride, covetousness and the others as well. Gregory’s interpretation has historically come to be known as the “composite Magdalene”. Then there’s the Dan Brown novel The DaVinci Code, which makes the claim that Mary Magdalene was the ACTUAL “Holy Grail”- that which carried the actual blood of Jesus…as His wife and mother of His child(ren). But none of those claims are found in any of the four Gospels. 

So, again- who IS Mary Magdalene. All we know for sure is that she was an extremely troubled woman who was possessed by not one but seven demons. We know she was “put in her right mind” by Jesus. And we know that she went on to become a VERY prominent figure in His ministry, death and resurrection. And that, for my money, is MORE than enough to know! She was a woman who had been dismissed by society. Call it demon possession. Call it mental illness. Call it whatever you want. But we all know there is a terrible stigma attached to those designations today. It was even worse in the Ancient Near Eastern world. And it was EVEN worse if you were a woman. The deck was stacked against her. Her life had nowhere to go but down. Until, that is, Jesus stepped in. Then…everything changed. She was given a fresh start.  

 

What are the things that have you mired in a societal stigma? What do other people think of you that has you feeling like there is no real hope for joy looking forward? The truth is, many more of us struggle with that we would let on. The world judges us by SO many things. From financial issues to educational shortcomings, from health concerns to learning disabilities, from addictions to spiritual battles, there are LOTS of ways that we are dismissed by society. But then the cross happened. Jesus came along to show us a new way, to offer us a fresh start. He offers to wipe the slate clean, put us “in our right mind” and provide a place at His feet- learning, growing, thriving.  

Whatever your struggles might be, they are not a death sentence. There IS another way. And that way runs directly through the cross of Calvary. Without Christmas, there is no Jesus. But without the cross- and Easter- there is no Christ. The cross is a symbol of hope, renewal and new life. It’s no accident that Mary Magdalene is most prominently featured at the cross and beyond. It is there that she truly received her fresh start. And it is there that we also can receive ours, as well.  

Come to the cross. Come to the tomb. See the nail-pierced hands. See the stone rolled away. See the tomb empty. See Jesus- alive and well. Experience firsthand the fresh start that can be had- available literally to ANYBODY who is willing to reach out and receive it. And then- do it. Reach out. Accept. Don’t doubt but believe. And receive the new beginning that you so desperately want and Jesus offers fully and without reservation. 

Verses 1 and 4!

clockA pastor friend of mine told me once that the sanctuary of his church had a LARGE clock in it. It was in a prominent spot, right along the side where everyone could see it, and was a memorial gift, given in the name of a former patriarch of the church. For those of you who don’t know, a clock in the sanctuary is a dangerous thing to feature so prominently. The folks in the pews tend to focus on the clock instead of the worship. They begin to time the services and complain if they go even a few minutes long. The focus slowly switches from being all about God to being all about getting to lunch on time. So…he MOVED the clock to the back of the room, where no one could see it without craning their necks. To help them move away from that focus on time, he spent hours writing a sermon about slowing down, about taking time, about focusing on what was important. He labored and labored over that sermon, until he felt it was nearly perfect. Then…he delivered it! He felt that the people in the pews were hanging on every word. He felt that they were very invested in the message. He felt that he had truly reached them with his thoughts of slowing down and taking time to be holy. To put the period on that sentence, he had chosen just that hymn, Take Time To Be Holy, to end the service. He finished preaching, said “amen”, and sat down with a great sense of satisfaction- job well done! It was at that moment his worship leader stood up, stepped to the microphone, and announced, “due to the time, we will sing Take Time To Be Holy…verses 1 and 4″! Sometimes, you JUST…CAN’T…WIN!!
Now, let me confess that I am OFTEN bound to the clock! So, where is YOUR focus? Does the clock dictate what you do? Are you so bound by your calendar that you miss much of…life? There is a HUGE difference between the important and the urgent. SOMETIMES they are the same thing, but usually they are NOT! The urgent will always pull at you, insisting that you give all your attention to it. Meanwhile, the important is sitting on the sideline, being neglected. The urgent might be the phone ringing, the deadline looming, the people demanding your time- any number of things. The important might be your faith, your family, your health- any number of things. The key is to sort out those two lists- know the difference between them. The more stroke you give the urgent, the more it will demand. Likewise, the more you ignore the important, the deeper the hole gets. Today, take time to be holy (ALL the verses)! Weigh the urgent things- if they truly need your attention, give it. But make sure you take time for the important things in your life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my phone is ringing, someone’s at the door, and I have an appointment in 3 minutes!

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

“Where Should We Eat Today?”

restaurants

Today, we draw near to the close of “vacation-themed” blogs. In fact, today might be the last day! (I AM, however, making NO promises! You just NEVER know what is going to pop into my dope cranium!) One thing I haven’t talked much about yet is food- how did we EAT on the trip? To be honest, we went into the trip with very little in the way of a “plan” for food. But we quickly established a pattern that worked really well for us! 

The first day we were there, last Monday, was “let’s figure out what we’re doing” day. My wife suggested that we go out and get some groceries- there was a full kitchen in the unit. So, after sleeping in LATE (Remember, we didn’t set our bags down in the resort until 2AM Eastern time, so sleeping in was a no-brainer!) So, we set out for a grocery store. There was a little neighborhood “Mom and Pop” store nearby. The prices were a bit high, so we just bought a few things to get us started. We went back to the resort and ate a bit of what we brought back with us.  

Later in the day, we went BACK out to a Super Walmart and did a better job of stocking up for the week. We also picked up a rotisserie chicken and some potato salad from their deli for dinner. We went back, ate, unpacked groceries and settled in for the night. 

From there, we had a very predictable pattern to food every day. We would sleep until we got up. (And if you are like us, “sleeping in” is simply nowhere CLOSE to as late as it once was! “Sleeping in” looks less like 11AM these days and a WHOLE lot more like 7:30 or 8AM…if we’re lucky! About 10:30AM-ish, we would have breakfast. That often looked like a couple of poached eggs and some gluten-free toast for me and some yogurt with granola and some gluten-free toast for my wife. Then, whatever for the next few hours. (But NOT much!)  

About 2:30PM-ish, we would head out for a late lunch/early dinner. From a combination of Christmas and Pastor Appreciation month, we had accumulated several restaurant gift cards. So, I would look online and see what was in the vicinity that we had a gift card for. We didn’t do that EVERY day, but we did it MOST days! We would go to that restaurant and either pay nothing for the meal or very little. And then…back to the resort! 

And that was our pattern every day- a very inexpensive breakfast in our unit from groceries we had bought and a very inexpensive lunch/dinner out, compliments of a gift card! The resort was free, thanks to the generous “gifting” of the former parishioners. The meals were VERY cheap, thanks to having the kitchen in our unit AND the generosity of other parishioners.  

Yes, we had to pay for air fare and the rental car. But given the length and nature of the vacation, we were TRULY blessed with the overall low cost of getting away! The truth is that my wife and I are relatively simple folk who don’t ask for much and don’t need much to be satisfied. So, this “time away” was really JUST what the doctor ordered! 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

The Travel is NOT the Easy Part!

Business Trip Struggles

Over the past few days, we’ve been looking at our recent trip to Orlando- thanks to the “gifting” of a week at a time-share resort by former parishioners. Today, we focus on the travel itself. It was…interesting. Our story begins on Sunday, January 14. After a full, “typical”, morning at church, we had lunch with family who were in town for my Father-in-Law’s funeral the day before.  

When we got home, we had about 45 minutes to pack. So, A. get to packing and B. no nap! By about 2PM, we were on the road to the local airport, which is about 45 minutes away. We got there in plenty of time, got the van into long-term parking and headed into the terminal. This is a small airport (And when I say “small”, I mean SMALL!), so getting our bag checked and our boarding passes printed was no big whoop. We breezed through TSA with no problems and headed to our gate. And there, at our gate, was my wife’s sister and her family! They had the flight out right before us! So, we visited with them for few minutes before they boarded their flight. 

When the time came, we boarded our flight. But after everyone was on, they had to de-ice the plane. It was an interesting thing to watch from inside the plane. It also delayed take-off by about 40 minutes. But we finally were “wheels up” and headed to our lay-over in Chicago. But because of the de-icing, we were late landing in Chi-town. And frankly, our lay-over wasn’t all that long to begin with. So, the second we got off the play, we started the mad dash to our next gate, hoping to NOT miss our connecting flight. But the truth is, due to my physical condition, my “mad dash” ain’t what it used to be! But we did our best and, in the end, made it to the correct gate LITERALLY 2 minutes before they started boarding. Once on the plane…they had to de-ice. (Sound familiar?!) So, we were again a good 45 minutes late getting in the air.  

Flying from Chicago to Orlando has you crossing from Central Time to Eastern Time. So, before we ever touched back down, we lost another hour. Once on the ground, we headed to the carousels to retrieve our checked bag. Fortunately, it came pretty quickly and we were about to move on. From there, we had to figure out where to catch a shuttle to the off-site car rental place to pick up our reserved car. We finally got there, where we stood in line for quite a while. Waiting our turn. Finally, however, we had the keys to our Chevy Cruze and were driving to the resort, which was about 25 minutes away.  

We found it with no problem and checked in. We were exhausted and hoped that our unit was close and easy to get to. Fortunately, both things were true. It was basically just around the corner from the Main Lobby, on the first floor and close to where we parked. In the end, we set our bags down in our unit at 2AM Monday morning! A LONG day! 

It took me about 48 hours to recover from the travel day. But by Wednesday morning, I was feeling pretty human again! The rest of the week was relaxing and…great! 

Then came the trip back. It began at 3AM Eastern Time, Sunday the 21st. We were packed and checking out of the resort by 3:45AM. From there, it was back to the car rental place to turn the car back in. That went pretty simply. Then, it was on the shuttle and to the airport. I was somewhat surprised how many people were in line at the American Airlines counter at that time of the morning! But we made it through pretty quickly and headed to TSA. Security was quite a bit tighter coming home that going out, but again we made it through relatively easily and relatively quickly. Then it was get to the gate and wait! 

The plane took off on time. We flew above a rather dense cloud cover the ENTIRE way between Orlando and Chicago. Once we got near O’Hare, the plane started slowing and dropping in altitude. But then, we sped up and gained altitude! Turns out, they were bringing us in too close to the plane in front of us, so they waved us off on the first try. We had to gain altitude, fly out, turn, fly back, lose altitude and try again! It was SO foggy that you literally couldn’t see the ground until we were less than a minute away from wheels on the ground! Again, the delay in landing caused a FAST walk (AS fast as I could manage!) through the terminal to our next gate. Again, we made it about 2 minutes before they started boarding! The rest of the trip was easy, fast and uneventful. We pulled into our driveway about 12:30 Sunday afternoon. I started back to work the next morning and performed a funeral on Tuesday. I am, quite frankly, still recovering from Travel Day #2! 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Continually Dealing With the “New Norm”

Airspace-Americas-Europe-Africa

So, a couple of days ago, I shared about the fact that a couple of former parishioners “gifted” us with a week at a timeshare in Orlando. We just got back on Sunday. One of the things I haven’t touched on yet regarding that trip is what ELSE was happening in that same basic timeframe and how it impacted us. 

Back several months ago, my wife and I started the process of putting together a group from the church to be part of a larger, multi-church group to go to the Holy Land. We were supposed to lead a group several years ago…and then 9-11 happened. The trip was cancelled. Several years later, this opportunity came up and we jumped at the chance to go.  

But then, this pesky “cancer thing” reared its ugly head. And we talked about it and decided that, as much as we wanted to go, it was simply not going to happen for us…again. So, we talked to a member of the team from church that had already committed to going about becoming the new leader of the group. We stepped out. She stepped in. And the planning continued.  

And, as it turned, their trip and our trip overlapped somewhat. And while my wife and I lamented not being able to go, we never stopped believing it was the right idea. And so, we as a congregation prayed over them the last Sunday before they left. And then we followed them on Facebook as they started their journey. We continued to follow them while we started ours. Then, they finished their journey while we were still on ours. This coming Sunday will be the first one where we are all back together! 

Our travel was a LITTLE grueling. (We will cover that tomorrow!) But it was NOTHING like theirs! NOTHING like it! And yet, we both saw the toll it took on me. We traveled on Sunday, January 14. And it took me until Tuesday, January 16 before I was starting to feel a little more like a…human…again. And that’s with OUR traveling, which was a LITTLE grueling.  

What’s the point of today’s blog? The point is that we got a reminder of our “new norm”. The “old” me would have not even flinched a little bit over something as insignificant as travel. But the “new” me has to be mindful of…everything. The travel down to Orlando took me 36 hours to recover from. And the travel HOME from Orlando? Well, given that I A. went back to work Monday after traveling Sunday and B. performed a funeral yesterday, I am STILL not done measuring how much recovery time was needed from the return trip. Why? Because I’m not there yet!  

As much as we have tried not to let it impact our daily lives too much, the cancer simply takes a toll. If you have it, remember- you are NOT alone. If you live with someone who has it, you are not alone. Don’t simply give in to the “new norm”. But don’t ignore it, either. Refuse to give up, but be willing to adapt. Both will, in the end, serve you well. 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

No Theme Parks For Us!

disney-streaming-banned

Why do you go to Orlando? For that matter, why does ANYBODY go to Orlando? The Magic Kingdom, right? Disney, Baby! The entirety of the local economy hinges on its proximity to The Happiest Place on Earth. So, if you GO to Orlando, you are GOING to Disney World. QED- “quod erat demonstrandum” in Latin, “what was to be demonstrated” in English. It’s a no-brainer, frankly. 

Unless, that is, you are me and my wife! As I shared yesterday, we JUST got back from a week in Orlando. (See 1/22/18 blog) You could LITERALLY hit the edge of Disney World AND Sea World with a rock from the main gate of the resort we stayed in. Literally! And yet, we never once set foot in either of those places, or any other theme park for that matter, last week. In fact, the closest we got, short of driving by more than once, was to go to a Disney-themed gift shop, looking for something to bring back for our sons.  

It was really kind of weird. There were young families EVERYWHRERE! You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a kid wearing Mickey ears. (I found myself remembering the Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr. quote from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “We are pilgrims in an unholy land.”) Now, don’t misunderstand- there is NOTHING wrong with going to Disney World. Nothing at all. It is NOT “an unholy land”. It’s a very EXPENSIVE land, but NOT unholy!  

It’s just that this trip was SO not about theme parks. It was about getting away and doing…nothing. And when I say “nothing”, I mean nothing. We LOVE the ocean. And while we all know that Orlando is in the middle of the state, the Gulf of Mexico is only about a 60-minute drive from where we were. (I did read a review of Orlando that included the complaint, “I couldn’t see the ocean from my hotel room!” Yeah- unless your hotel was SO tall that you could see that far away!) But we didn’t even drive to the ocean while we were there. Not once. Why? NOT why we were there! 

Never have my wife and I traveled that far, to such a place as Orlando, Florida, to do nothing. But when the opportunity presents itself, and the resort is SO beautiful, and all you have to do is get there, how can you NOT go?! So, we packed about as light as two people could pack for a week. We shared a bag between us. And we stayed “in” most of the time. We left the resort once/day, to run to the store and to have one meal “out”. The only other time we even left the room every day was to go for a walk on the grounds of the resort. Even though there was a hard freeze (literally) in the area one night, we also saw temperatures in the low 70’s more than once. So, an afternoon walk was really nice. Somewhere along the way, we would find a sunny place to stop and sit for a bit. And then we would walk back to the room.  

We slept in. We sat out on our private screened-in porch. We played cards. We read. We talked. We watched movies. Like I said, we did nothing! And it was the best thing we could have done! We stepped “out of time” for a few days and focused on us. And it was GREAT. We haven’t been able to do that very much since my diagnosis, so a week of it was “good medicine”! 

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Our Own “Make a Wish” Opportunity!

Vistana

My wife and I are truly blessed! Several weeks ago, a couple who are former parishioners showed up at church one Sunday morning. It had been about 5½ years since we had seen them. We had stayed connected on Facebook, but NOT “Face-to-Face Book”! He had been the bass guitar player for our Praise Band at the last church we served. (We “found” each other thr0ough Craigslist- an unexpected place to make church band connections!)  

He had Facebook messaged me on a Saturday, asking, “Are you pitching tomorrow?” That meant, “Are you reaching?” I assured him I was…and thought nothing more of it! These days, people “check in” with me all the time, seeing how I’m doing and wondering if I’m still able to “do my job”. So, I just assumed it was another of those types of connections. But the next morning, I found out differently! 

It was about 11AM, which meant we were about halfway through the third of three morning worship services. I was preaching (for the third time!), when all of a sudden, I realized that the couple I mentioned were sitting in the pews! And when you suddenly realize that a FORMER parishioner, from a FORMER church, is sitting in your CURRENT pews, there is this overwhelming sense of “One on these things is NOT like the others”! Seeing them in church is normal. Seeing them in THIS church is NOT! So, it takes a second to put the pieces together. We had a (brief) reunion that morning and it was GREAT to see them! But they weren’t done yet! 

A little bit after that weekend, they contacted me and said that they wanted to “gift” us a week at one of them Vacation Time Share options! We were blown away by the generous offer! That led to a conversation that led us all the way to…Orlando, Florida! And we JUST returned from that sunny destination yesterday! Yep, that right- we MISSED a Sunday at church! I KNOW- hard to believe! But we did! We flew out a week ago yesterday, late afternoon, and flew back in yesterday.  

The next few days in this space will undoubtedly be devoted to stories that grow out of our week away. So, come back every day for “Orlando Stories”! It was REALLY good for us to “step out of the stream” for several days, truly get away and simple…be. We are SO grateful to the couple who made this happen and SO grateful to a congregation this is supportive of such a thing!  

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Who Is He…Really?

Jesus_Christ

Two cars are waiting at a stoplight, one behind the other. The light turns green, but the man in front doesn’t notice it. The woman in the car behind him begins pounding on her steering wheel and yelling at the man to move. The man doesn’t move. The woman continues ranting and raving at the man, pounding on her steering wheel and blowing the horn. Finally, as the light turns yellow, she shares an unfriendly hand gesture with him and screams profanity at him as she drives around him. The next thing she knows, she is being pulled over by a police officer, who promptly arrests her, puts her in the patrol car and takes her to jail, where she is fingerprinted, photographed, searched, booked and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman comes, opens the cell door and escorts her back to the booking desk where her personal effects are waiting. He hands her her things and says, “I’m sorry for this mistake. But I was you blowing your horn, cussing and generally going crazy. Then I noticed the “What Would Jesus Do” bumper sticker, the “Follow Me to Sunday School” bumper sticker, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. So, naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.”
What does the word “passion” mean to you? Does it have different meanings in different contexts? Dictionary.com says that “passion” is: the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces; intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; ardent affection; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; an object of desire or deep interest; and the sufferings of Jesus Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death. Intense feelings, ardent affection, strong desire, and the suffering of Jesus Christ. What an interesting mix.
People have always been divided on the issue of who Jesus really is. Remember the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ? Now, I am not going to use this space to either defend OR criticize Mel Gibson for some of his more public actions- that’s another topic for another time. Instead, let’s focus on what, for me, is one of the most powerful, impactful movies I have ever seen. It is a movie that I think everyone should see, but I have seen it twice (once during its original theatrical release and again last year with the Confirmation class) and both times left it thinking, “That movie sincerely changed me…and I’m not sure I will ever watch it again.” If you’ve seen the movie, you’re probably aware of just how radically different people’s responses were to it. Once reviewer said, “What Gibson has provided for me for the first time in my life is a visceral idea of what The Passion consisted of.” Another said, “The Passion is simply fabulous. It’s emotionally wrenching because it is brutally honest about the violence of Jesus’ death.” While still another said, “The holier than thou passion pummels its audience with action film cuts, slasher film makeup and two bit theology.” Pretty different responses to the same movie, but that’s just another day at the races for a topic as controversial as Jesus Christ- there’s bound to be a wide variety of responses. The movie’s controversial… Jesus is controversial. There’s bound to be a wide response to the question of who He is.
Some see Him as a great teacher…and nothing else. They reserve a spot for him among the greatest teachers in history, but see no divinity in Him- he IS man…He is just NOT God. Others believe Jesus thought some pretty strange things about Himself and taught some strange things about who He was, and so He must have been deluded. Then there’s a third group of people who think the Bible is a reliable account of who Jesus is. They think that Jesus reunited humanity with God by suffering, dying and rising again in our place. To Hindus, Jesus is a holy man…among other holy men. To Muslims, Jesus is a prophet of God. To atheists, there is no God, so Jesus is just the punchline of a joke. So…Political rebel, gentle teacher, wild-eyed prophet, carpenter’s son, Son of God- we’ve flipped over all the cards, would the mystery guest please stand up and reveal His true identity? I wrote a Classic Rock musical a few years ago called Free Ride: the Life and Times of Jesus Christ. I combined the Bible and about 40 Classic Rock Songs to tell the story of Jesus. And in this scene, where Jesus asks the disciples who He is, I used the song Who Are You (think CSI theme song) by The Who to ask the question. This kind of discussion has been going on since Jesus showed up; it’s nothing new. In fact, in today’s Scripture, Jesus brings it up Himself. And when He does, we are given some possible options.
Mark 8:27-29– “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi and on the way he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
“Who are You, really?”- a question we’ve all asked of God, of Jesus, in our lives. “I know who I WANT You to be…but who are you REALLY?” In today’s Scripture, Jesus asks the question, and the response is that some people say he is John the Baptist- a great prophet who called people back to God and was put to death. Maybe John the Baptist has been resurrected or maybe he didn’t really die. Other people felt he was Elijah, an Old Testament prophet who DIDN’T die, but instead went directly into God’s presence. Maybe God’s sent him back to help a new generation return to God. Still others say He’s a prophet ministering to the people of Israel in the name of God.
Jesus patiently hears them out…but isn’t satisfied with what they say. He responds, “But YOU… who do YOU say I am?” These guys have been with Jesus for three years- they’ve watched him teach, heal, drive out demons, even raise people from the dead- and after all that,
Jesus asks them what they think? Well, duh…what do You THINK they think? Peter answers for the group (no surprise there!)- “You are the Christ.”
Christ is a Greek word that transliterates the word “Messiah”, which points to the anointed one- a political picture. It is the person anointed to be the King of Israel, and at this particular time in Israel’s history they are desperately looking for the king promised by God who would destroy Israel’s enemies and establish an eternal kingdom. It wasn’t solely a political picture though- Israel was a religious nation and they understood that their prosperity couldn’t be separated from a right relationship with God. So Peter is saying that Jesus is the leader, the one they all had been expecting, the one who was coming to change everything. This image of the Messiah, the Christ, was planted, through centuries of longing, in the hearts of the people of Israel, and it eventually flourished and grew in Peter’s heart through the longing he experienced. I mentioned a minute ago, “Well, duh…what do You THINK they think?” But the reality is that Jesus had good cause to question them. Because not too long after that discussion, Peter, The Rock, strongly distances himself from Jesus, denying even knowing Him.
We all have such differing opinions. Don’t believe me? Think about a movie you really like. Then think about conversations you’ve had about that movie with others who think it’s the worst movie ever made. We were talking to our college-aged nephew at Christmas and Gone With the Wind came up. (My wife and I like that movie very much.) Our nephew said, “Oh, I hate that movie. It’s so boring! And it’s like, what, 6 hours long?!” Now think about when you have disagreed with…yourself! The first time I watched the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, I thought to myself, “Well, there’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back!” Then, for some yet unknown reason, I watched it again…and got it! Now it’s on my top-ten list!
The bottom line this morning is this: Jesus was one of three things, period- He was clinically insane, He was a bold-faced liar…or He the only begotten Son of God, sent to save us from our sin and offer us an eternity with Him. I mentioned that Peter completely denied Jesus 3 times just before the Crucifixion. But a few months later, we find Peter standing in front of thousands saying Jesus is the Lord and the Christ. Years later, Peter is willing to face crucifixion, even then not feeling worthy to die like Jesus but instead asking, begging to be hung upside down on the cross. He’s had years to forget these crazy ideas and stories and get on with his life, but he’s still willing to die for the message, for Jesus. He believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And that’s what I believe. But the question this morning is, “what do you believe?” Who is Jesus, really?
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

Rocky Mountain High

denver

It was the summer of 1999- merely months away from the impending chaos and terror of Y2K. (And we all know how THAT brought about the end of the world as we know it!) It was my 2nd mission trip and I was taking 14 people (including my wife and older son) to Denver, Colorado. We drove a 15-passenger van (with 10 people and a LOT of stuff!) and a Pontiac Sunfire (with 4 people and a little stuff!) from the St. Louis area. It always amazes me just how long it seems to take to get through Kansas, east to west. I swear we drove for 3 days within the Kansas borders!
I was the only person out of the bunch who had been to Colorado, and I kept telling the group just how amazing the Rocky Mountains are. What I FAILED to mention was that the Rockies are NOT on the eastern edge of the state! The group somehow imagined that the moment we crossed from Kansas into Colorado…the Rockies would just magically crop up! The reality is that eastern Colorado looks a WHOLE lot like western Kansas! But after some more driving, the Rockies begin to show up…and MAN are they spectacular!
We got to Denver and found the hotel we were staying in. (Imagine, on last year’s mission trip we stayed in a cabin in the middle of the woods. This year we’re in a hotel!) My son and I roomed with 2 other boys- my wife with 3 girls. Everyone else spread out to other rooms. Our mission work was going to be done in a church in a neighborhood of Denver called Barnum. Located in the area known as West Denver, the neighborhood’s northern boundary is the Sixth Avenue Freeway, its eastern boundary is Federal Boulevard, its southern Boundary is Alameda Avenue, and its western boundary is Perry Street. The reason it’s called Barnum is that P.T. Barnum purchased this 760-acre site in 1882 and used it as an off-season winter home for his circus. During the day, we did repair work at the church- re-plastering basement walls, painting an entryway, etc. In the evening, we did what the church REALLY wanted done! The church was an older white congregation that sat in the middle of what was now an almost exclusively Hispanic neighborhood- “white flight” had driven the former residents away, but the church remained. And although the wanted to reach out to the community around them…they didn’t know how. They never ventured outside the walls of the church (except to get in and out of their cars), and the residents of the neighborhood never ventured in. So we would clean up after working all day and host a Vacation Bible School in the evening. The neighborhood kids would come in at dinnertime and we started the evening by feeding them! Then we would spend the next 90 minutes knee-deep in games, crafts, lessons, songs, skits…you name it, we did it! Then all the kids would go home and we would start it all up again the next day!
On the first night, there was one girl who was supposed o be picked up by her parents and they hadn’t come yet. She seemed a bit worried, so we tried to help her, but she didn’t seem to speak English. Well…I don’t mean to brag, but I took TWO WHOLE YEARS of “Espanol”, so I stepped in to save the day. I wanted to find out what he telephone number was so that I could call her house and see if someone was coming for her. So NATURALLY I said to her, “Que es el nombre de telephono?” Naturally! The only problem was that, while I WANTED to ask her what her number was, what I ACTUALLY asked her was, “What is the name of your telephone?” (Oops!) The poor girl kept looking at me, not understanding what I was asking. Then, to add insult to my injury, she said, “Do you want to know my telephone number?” I was laughed at in two different languages that night! In addition to the work at the church, we visited the towns of Estes Park and Boulder, we toured the Denver Mint, and of course we wandered around Rocky Mountain National Park (or, as I like to call it…heaven on Earth)!
When we drove away from the Barnum neighborhood for the last time, the kids who wouldn’t talk to us when we first showed up chased us around the block, crying and begging us to stay! There were more than a few tears INSIDE the van as well! There is power in the building of relationships. The physical building we did was important and welcomed, but the relational and spiritual building that was done was far more lasting and impactful. That’s the beauty of mission work- you go thinking you are going to swing a hammer, or man a paint brush, or handle a broom, or fold some clothes…and somehow through those acts change others. But what you find is that the physical labor leads to meaningful exchanges with others, and those exchanges lead to change all right- but often YOU are the one who is changed! Have you ever been on a mission trip? If you have, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t…go on one. Find one that…fits…and jump in. It may be an afternoon at a local food pantry. It may be a day at a homeless shelter. It may be a few days or a week “out of town”, doing work for others. But whatever it is, wherever it is, commit to it. Jump in. Get busy. And fully expect God to show up in a major way! You will NOT be disappointed!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

Superboy to the Rescue!

superman 2

I have admitted many times in this space to being a geek. I have also admitted to being a comic book geek. What I have NOT yet admitted to is being…ready?…
SUPERBOY! When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be Superman when I grew up! (Come to think of it…I STILL think that would be pretty cool! But then, of course, I haven’t grown up yet!) So…I made a Superboy costume! (I mean, come on, you can’t be SuperMAN when you’re 8 years old. THAT would be silly! Don’t be ridiculous!) First, I took a pair of white Long Johns (Long Handles, Thermal Underwear, call them what you want!), drew the Superman…excuse me…SuperBOY log on the chest, and put them on. Now, mind you, this was in the middle of SUMMER, in southern Illinois, when the temperature is 112 in the shade and the humidity is 1000%! So here I am, in thermal underwear in July…but I’m NOT done yet! Next, I add shorts to the outfit, on top of the thermal underwear. Then, I add those LONG white tube socks with the colored band around the top that were popular in the late 60’s and 70’s. I pull them ALL THE WAY UP to my knees. So, white thermal underwear, cut-off blue jean shorts, and long tube socks. (I was truly a fashion faux pas!) BUT…I still wasn’t done, because what would Superboy be without a cape?! I pinned a bath towel to my shoulders after drawing the Superman logo on it as well (I got in trouble for that one, as I recall)! There…the costume is complete! BUT…I can’t reveal my secret identity, so…I add a pair of jeans and a shirt over the top of that, to hide my costume until I “really needed it”! Two layers of clothes (one a set of thermal underwear) AND a full size bath towel under my shirt…I MUST have been completely insane! (Insert your own joke here!) I loved that suit. (In fact, I wonder if I have a pair of thermal underwear that I could…never mind!)
Looking back, I see that I often retreated into that world of imagination as a way of dealing with a somewhat volatile home life. When things got less than pleasant, I could always fall back on Superman, Batman, Lois Lane and the rest of the people who inhabit the world of 8-year old make-believe. That imagination life led to a love of theater and acting- being someone else is sometimes a great place to be! And while I still have that love- I enjoy superhero movies, I continue to perform in front of audiences, I still greatly appreciate a good performance by an actor or actress- I find that when I was able to stop trying to be someone else and was able to simply be who I am, things changed radically for me. I had spent my life trying to be who I wasn’t, who I thought others wanted me to be. And I was never really happy, never really…satisfied. Then I realized that I couldn’t be what I wanted to be for others if I couldn’t first be true to who I really was. And when that “thaw” began…it went quickly! The funky little “soul patch” facial hair showed up. The hair went from trimmed short to completely shaved. And the earring showed up. And as that “phase” of my life has unfolded, I have come to realize that there will ALWAYS be people who want you to be something you’re not…and they’re not going to be terribly happy if you fail to give them that “version” of you. After years of trying to please those people, I now say, “This is me. Take it or leave it.” And I have found that not only has it been a very healthy change for me, but it has opened up many in my church to the understanding that we need to not simply judge people by their appearance, but look beyond their appearance to who they REALLY are. So it seems that DUMPING the superhero costume had the most heroic affect on others.
Do you let others see who you REALLY are…or are you hiding behind your own Superboy costume? If you are often “putting a mask on” for the benefit of others, I encourage you to cast that mask aside, be who you really are, and let people see the real you. If they are truly your friends, they will appreciate the change. And if they DON’T appreciate the change…maybe they weren’t really your friends in the first place. Either way, YOU will be happier being yourself! Try it…let me know how it goes! I’ll pray for you!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

A Free…House?!

Ranch House

God is amazing! Let me just say that right up front! NOW…let me offer just one of many reasons why! I was 35 years old, making the HUGE decision to abandon a career I had worked hard to develop to go into…the ministry? I would have NEVER, in a gazillion years, imagined that prospect had you asked me. Who in their right mind would go into the ministry? (I STILL ask myself that some days!) We were living in our hometown in Southern Illinois. My wife was teaching, my then-only son was in 5th grade, I was going to seminary in St. Louis full-time and serving a church in Illinois, 40 minutes from our house, “part time”. I put “part time” in quotes because the reality is this- if you are a part-time pastor, generally only the PAY is part-time- he work is more like full time! So, going to school full-time, serving a church basically full-time, and commuting to EVERY bit of it! 5th grade was the last year my son’s school had, so he would have to go to a new school the following year. We decided it was time to move to the community where our church was, so he could get into the school district there in anticipation of ministering there “full-time” after graduation. Only problem, United Methodist don’t provide parsonages (homes for pastors and their families) to part-time clergy. So…we had no place to live. We decided we would have to rent something in that town until I was full-time, at which time we would have a parsonage to live in. BUT…I was a full-time student, only getting half-time pay, and my wife would have to quit her job when we moved. Hmmm…on the horns of a dilemma!
Then, a pastor friend said, “Where are you going to live?” My response? “Good question…but God will provide!” We continued to pray about the situation. Meanwhile, God was working on that pastor friend. About a week later, he called me and told me that he had found us a house, in that town…rent-free! When I regained consciousness, I asked for some clarification. Turns out, there was another, much smaller United Methodist church in that same town. They owned a church parsonage but had a part-time minister who didn’t need/want to live in it. So, it sat vacant. They heard about us and offered to let us live there rent-free- all we had to pay were the utilities. They were happy to be helping someone AND have someone living in the house so that it wasn’t vacant. We were ECSTATIC to have a nice roomy house, only 10 minutes from the church, five minutes from the new teaching job my wife got, and only five minutes from a major interstate that would take me into St. Louis and the seminary…AND FREE!
During the years I was in that community, we developed a deeper relationship with the members of that little church. Even after we moved out of their house, a year later, and into MY church’s parsonage, I continued to preach for them periodically- special services and times when their pastor was gone. They were (and I’m SURE still are) an incredibly generous and loving bunch of folks who clearly serve God and others.
My family was incredibly blessed by the generosity of what was, at the time, total strangers. (“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers…” can you tell me where THAT quote is from?) They simply didn’t have to do what they did- but they DID it…out of the goodness of their hearts and with a Biblical imperative to help others. Here are two things I know: 1. God will, and DOES, bless us. Your blessing may not be in the form of a free house…but God blesses you! Look for it, expect it, and appreciate it. 2. God uses use to bless others. You may NOT have a free house to give, but you have been uniquely gifted by God to be a blessing to those around you. Be open to that fact, and how God might use you in that capacity. If you feel that pulling on your life…go with it. Let go and follow through with what you feel God calling you to do. No matter WHAT yo do for others, you will truly receive more blessing that you give!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

Prayer Stones

Prayer Stones

Years ago, the church we first served undertook a project. Each person in attendance received a red glass “stone” (the kind you’d buy at a craft store). It was to represent ONE sincere prayer they had. They were invited to put this “Prayer Stone” somewhere they would see it regularly- their dresser, their desk at work, the dashboard of their car, their pocket, their purse, etc. Every time they saw it, they would be reminded to pray for that ONE thing. And WHEN their prayer was answered, they were invited to bring their stone back and place it on the altar as a visual acknowledgment of answered prayer. They were welcome to share the details with me- or they were free to remain completely anonymous. Whether I know the details or not…God does! When stones came back, they were pointed out (and shared, if appropriate) during worship. Then they were placed in a glass container on the altar. We originally envisioned this as a “one-shot” deal- get a stone, pray, return it…end of story. But God had other plans!
As the stones began returning, people began asking if they could have another stone for another prayer. I had some “leftovers” in my office, so I willingly obliged. As more and more people requested more and more stones, I had to go and buy more! And the stones just kept on coming! That ministry has now been going strong for 20 years and has been planted in all 3 churches we have served!
Do YOU believe God ALWAYS answers prayer? I do! I also believe that often God doesn’t answer prayer the way WE want. But I find, looking back with the luxury of hindsight, that God’s solution is always MUCH better than the one I dreamed up! What prayer is on YOUR heart today? Perhaps you could use a Prayer Stone. There is absolutely NOTHING magical about a hunk of red glass- it’s just a placeholder, a reminder to daily turn to the One who made you and pray for Divine Intervention! God is good, all the time!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

Abra and Dabra

doves

have mentioned before that I used to make my living as a magician and juggler. What I DIDN’T tell you is that I faked my way into it in the first place! My undergrad degree is in acting, and one of the first things you are taught as an actor is this: when a director asks you if you can do something…say “yes”! It doesn’t really matter whether or not you can ACTUALLY do it! If he says, “Can you ride a horse?”, your response is a resounding, “YES!”….And then you go out and learn how to ride a horse! Well, when I was near the end of my Junior year of college, K-Mart opened a fledgling restaurant chain called Abra-K-Dabra. The idea was simple- pizza, sandwiches, salads, etc., with live magic throughout the day. I wanted IN on that! So, I went to apply. The guy talking applications (who turned out to be the manage of the location I worked at) said, “Do you do magic?” My response? “Of course!”…It was a bold-faced LIE! I had dabbled with one or two magic tricks that EVERY kid does, and I was a performer, but I had NEVER really combined those two things! So, he hired me on the spot! And I set out to become a magician!
Now, fast-forward about 3 years. I am out of college, working as an actor and as the Business Manager of a theater in St. Louis. I am also trying to develop a legit magic act. Someone offered to sell me a pair of doves. I thought to myself, “Self…doves…magic…hmmm! I think I could make something of that!” I knew NOTHING about doves or how to train them for magic- I only knew they looked COOL when they appeared from out of nowhere! So, I bought them and their cage, took them home and named them Abra and Dabra. (Hey! I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed!) David Copperfield, watch out! Now, you must understand- the internet was still nestled snugly in Al Gore’s head for most of us regular citizens at that time. I couldn’t simply get on line and Google “how to train doves” like I can now! So I…played around…with how to train them. But because I REALLY had no clue what I was doing, there was simply NOT much training going on! The birds couldn’t do magic…but they COULD coo! And BOY, did they! They didn’t care what time it was- they just KNEW when it was sunup. And if you are thinking, “Well, why didn’t you just covere their cage?”, I made be an idiot but I’m NO fool! I covered their cage with everything except 3 yards of concrete- nothing worked! I put them everywhere in the house I could think of, including one night in the CLOSET, thinking it would be dark enough to satisfy them so I could get some sleep. NOTHING worked!
In the middle of all this, I was engaged to be married, and I made the mistake of telling my “intended” about this revolting development. She didn’t really have a great fondness for birds to begin with, and the thought of 1. living with them and 2. having to hear them coo did NOT sit well! I kept assuring her it would NOT be a problem…meanwhile wondering how in the world it was NOT gonna to be a problem! Well, we got married, went on a brief honeymoon, and came back to live together in the apartment. The first morning…”Coo! Coo!” Second morning…”Coo! Coo!” Third morning…”Coo! Coo!” (See a pattern developing?) By the fourth morning, I received an ultimatum…”me or the birds…you pick!” Let’s see, a lifetime with an incredible, beautiful, awesome woman…or these 2 birds which had brought me nothing but less money and sleeplessness…hmmm…is this a TRICK question?! THAT VERY DAY I found a new home for them, actually GIVING them away to ensure they wouldn’t be in the apartment one more night. I had the best sleep I had in WEEKS that night AND I am still married to that incredible, beautiful, awesome woman! I think I made the right choice…what do you think?!
I often deal with people who are in the middle of (or sadly in the aftermath of) a fractured relationship. And I’m not just talking marriages, although the statistics aren’t all that great in that department these days. All sorts of relationships get strained, stretched and sometimes broken all the time. Friends, work relations, people in your church, neighbors, even family members are often at odds. And I feel like a common thread throughout many of these strained relationships is an unwillingness to “meet in the middle”. How often have you been in a relationship where you came to a crossroads – a disagreement about something perhaps – and there were two choices: one of you bend, or the relationship breaks. What did you do? Were you willing to bend? Was the other person? Or did that relationship suffer perhaps irreparable damage? Now, don’t misunderstand me- you can’t/shouldn’t be the one to “give” EVERY time this comes up. But you SHOULD be willing to be that person at least 50% of the time. I find may people aren’t willing to do that. They want it their way…period. Sadly, I find a lot of those people end up being rather lonely, as well.
You may be asking yourself, “How do I know when to “give” and when NOT to?” Ask yourself thos, “Is THIS a hill I’m willing to die on?” In other words (to use language I use when I do pre-marital counseling), is this a deal-breaker? You know what I mean- which is more important in THIS particular situation…coming to a consensus…or winning? Are you in the middle of a situation like this right now? If so, search yourself. Ask yourself the questions we’ve looked. Decide which hills you are willing to die on. And make the BEST decision for the relationship…for everyone involved. Let me know how things turn out!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

Cheerwine

cheerwine

The year was 1988- July to be exact. I had been in the ministry a grand whopping total of 11 months. And I was going on my FIRST mision trip. Not only was I GOING on my first mission trip- I was LEADING the mission trip! (Talk about the blind leading the blind!) Six of us (3 adults and 3 youth) piled into a van early on a Saturday morning and drove to North Carolina. That night, we slept on the floor of a United Methodist Church in Ashville, North Carolina. (In the middle of the night, a FIFTY-strong high choir came in and joined us!) The next morning, Sunday, we drove to Camp McCall, just outside Bostic, North Carolina. There, we joined 44 other people from churches around the country. We spent that day getting settled, getting acclimated, and being assigned to work teams. The teams consisted of 5 youth and 2 adults, and you were intentionally NOT put with anyone who can with you. The next morning – Monday – each team got their work assignment and tool list for the day. They went to the tool shed, checked out what they needed, and headed out into the hills of southern North Carolina. My group was AWESOME! We spent the week rebuilding porches, sealing house trailer roofs, framing walls and hanging doors. I grew close to my team…I grew close to everyone in the camp that week. AND…I was introduced to a product that would turn out to be nectar of the gods! That product is…(drum roll please!)…Cheerwine!
Cheerwine is primarily unique to North Carolina (although you can buy it online and at specialty stores around the country). It is, first off, NOT wine. It is not alcohol of any kind. It is a soft drink,,,a cherry soft drink. And it is awesome! The woman who was my “partner” that week introduced it to me. We were on the way back to camp after a hard day’s work when she (she was from North Carolina, by the way) said to me, “Ya’ll ever had Cheerwine?” “I’m sorry?” “Cheerwine.” “Cheerwine?” Cheerwine.” It was quickly denigrading into a bad Abbott and Costello bit before I understood what Cheerwin was. We stopped at a convenience store along the way, where I bought my first…Cheerwine. I was hot, and it was COLD…and delicious! I guzzled the first one in moments and bought a second. I think I drank eight of them that week! Since then, I have ordered it online twice and had one of the youth who went with me on that trip, who is now a grown man, bring me back a case. I still have that FIRST empty glass bottle, from that convenience store, sitting on a shelf in my office. In it is a nail from the porch I helped rebuild that summer.
I have fond memories of that trip. (And of the Cheewine!) Mission trips have helped shaped my ministry, my faith, my life. I have been on six of them and am currently planning number seven, which will happen this summer. I will, over the next few months, write about the other five I have been on, and will share number seven with you when it is in the history books. But let me say, right here, right now, that to go somewhere specifically to help other people is one of the best things you can ever do. You leave thinking you are going to give to others. But you come back realizing you have received MUCH more than you gave!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

 

A Fresh Start: Esther

Fresh Start EstherI have shared before that, when I was younger…I was a geek! I know, I know, hard to imagine, right? I mean, look at me know and you think, “No way! You are too cool for school!” But it’s true! And when I was in 8th Grade, I decided it was time for a fresh start. We had a school dance coming up and I was tired of the way I dressed. I was tired of my sleeveless sweater vests and corduroys- “hand-me-downs” from my brother. It was time for a change. So, I did what any self-respecting 8th Grade boy would have done in that circumstance- I told my mom!! And…she actually DID something about it! She went out and bought me new clothes! Now I can think of FEW things I hate worse than shopping, and that didn’t just start- I always hated shopping…especially clothes shopping. So, my mom saved BOTH of us a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth by simply going out by herself and shopping FOR me. Thanks, Mom! And the outcome? Kapow! Picture if you will, and be jealous if you must- a pair of powder-blue polyester pants, complete with bell bottoms. Add to that stunning foundation a blue quiana shirt with palm trees and sun glasses all over it. Let me assure you- NO quianas were spared in the making of that shirt! Top it off with brown “earth” shoes- complete with crepe soles- AND a white belt. Kinda gets your motor running…doesn’t it? Make no mistake- I didn’t THINK I was “all that and a bag of chips”…I WAS! I left the house looking like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever! I had a new strut to my walk, I am here to tell you! However, once I got to the dance and got around “the ladies”, I quickly realized that it was going to take a LOT more than a flashy outfit to make a silk purse out THIS sow’s ear! The “fresh start” became more of a “false start”!
A new day, a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh. But “resolutions” don’t last and “plans” can be hollow. Over 4 weeks, we are preparing for a TRULY “new day” as we walk through A Fresh Start. We are looking at 4 Bible characters- 2 Old Testament and 2 New Testament- who got a chance to start over again. They got a new lease on life- thanks to the transformative power of God, Who offers that same power to us! Last week, we looked at an Old Testament guy who had to overcome fear and uncertainty to do what God was calling Him to do. Today, we look at an Old Testament woman who found favor with the king and used that as an opportunity to not only gain a fresh start for herself…but for her people as well!
Esther 2:5-9 Now there was, in the citadel of Susa, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin named Mordecai who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with the king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
So, kind of an odd Scripture. Very sexist. Very patristic: male-dominated. Hard to see how a fresh start grows out of that reading. But Esther’s “fresh start” really comes from the WHOLE of the story and is not captured in one simple, short reading. But here’s the thumbnail of Esther’s “Paul Harvey rest of the story”. Xerxes is the king of Persia and Vashti is his queen. She refused to do what is expected of her and so Xerxes begins looking for a new queen. Many beautiful young women were brought before Xerxes and, out of them, he chose Hadassah- Esther- to be his queen. Esther’s uncle- Mordecai- learns of a plot to kill the king and has the conspirators brought to justice.
This made the king’s Prime Minister- Haman- angry: he didn’t like someone else getting in good with the king. So, he convinced the king issue an order saying that it was OK to take the possessions of the Jewish people and kill them. Further, the Jewish people weren’t allowed to legally defend themselves- they had to simply “take it”. The king didn’t realize that this would impact Queen Esther, who was also Jewish. Uncle Mordecai convinced Esther that she was the only one who could save her people. But she’s wasn’t allowed to come before the king unless he invited her to do so.
Despite that fact, she took a chance and asked for an audience with the king. He agreed. She came to him and invited both him and Haman to a banquet in the king’s honor. He agreed. At the banquet, she invited the king and Haman to dine with her the next night as well. The was so take with her, he readily agreed.
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And, apparently, that’s true, because the next night, at the second banquet, she risked her life by revealing that she, too, was Jewish and that Hamn’s plan would have HER put to death as well. The king was outraged and ordered Haman to be hanged from the very gallows he had constructed to have Uncle Mordecai put to death on. Mordecai is named the new Prime Minister and the issued a decree that the Jewish people could defend themselves sand their property by any means necessary. The “catchphrase” of Esther’s story is that she was put in the position she’s in “for just such a time as this”. A Jewish exile, hauled from her native land and made a member of the Persian king’s harem, becomes no less than the queen and saves her people from extermination. She received a fresh start in the midst of what seemed like terribly circumstances. All of her difficulties where preparing her for just such a time as this.
Maybe you find yourself in a less than enviable position right now. Maybe you are facing some major struggle that is threatening to upend your entire life. Not gonna lie- when June started, I could NOT, in my wildest imagination, have been ready to wrap my head around the news we were about to receive about my health.
On Thursday, June 8, we found out that my thyroid and ALL of the surrounding lymph nodes were necrotic- a fancy term meaning “dead”. The next day, the term “Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer” was first introduced to us. The words “Stage 4” and “terminal” were quickly added to the front end.
Since then, we have faced a myriad of testing and treatments that have left me with a myriad of OTHER health issues deal with. And if that wasn’t enough, on Tuesday, September 12, we had to have my in-law’s dog, who had become OUR dog- Nessie put to sleep. 32 days later- Saturday. October 14- we had to have our other dog, Zoey, put to sleep/ Then, on Thursday, December 14, my wife’s dad Hank died at the local nursing home. We held his Memorial Service yesterday.
On the one hand, you find yourself thinking, “What MORE could possibly happen”. But you’re afraid to say it out loud because we’ve already SEEN what more could happen. On the other hand, in the midst of all the major struggles that have upended our lives, we have seen God move in powerful ways- in OUR lives and in the life of the church, as well as the lives of others. We truly believe that we were placed here for just such a time as this. Aledo gave us a fresh start.
In the midst of difficulty, what fresh start do YOU need? What situation is God calling you to rise above “for just such a time as this”? It doesn’t mean that your struggles don’t matter. It doesn’t mean that God CAUSED your difficult situation. But it DOES mean that God specializes in finding your “reason for being”. What IS that for you? What is your reason for being? Whatever the answer to that question is- you were placed here for JUST such a time as this.
We were made to glorify God. And while that’s pretty easy when you’re “putting in the sort grass”, it has a MUCH greater impact on those around you when you are able to face your giants and keep your faith intact, to keep going when the going gets tough. You were MADE for just such a time as this. And that fact provides you with the fresh start that only God can offer/ Success is NOT the final word. Failure is NOT the fatal blow. It’s the courage to continue that counts.

We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Hot Tub Baptisms!

hot tubI recently wrote about baptism, which made me think- I have done some interesting things in my time, but not many of them compare to the unusual nature of…The Hot Tub Baptisms! I was teaching the Confirmation class (this is a several-week class for youth around 8th grade that is intended to prepare them for membership in the church. Since the intended end result of Confirmation is membership, and baptism is a requirement for membership in my faith tradition, kids who have NOT been baptized prior to Confirmation are baptized that day.), and there were 2 kids, a brother and sister to be exact, who had not been baptized. They came to me one day with their mom and expressed the desire to be baptized by immersion- dunking COMPLETELY underwater. The “norm” in United Methodist circles is sprinkling (drizzling water from a fount). We are not AGAINST full immersion…we just aren’t usually set up for it! But I was determined to help this family achieve their goal! Fortunately, the Worship Director at the church we were serving at the time came to the rescue (she had a kid in that same Confirmation class). She volunteered the use of her family’s hot tub! My first thought was, “A hot tub?! Doesn’t seem very…sacred!” But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I talked with the family about it, and they thought it was a great idea, so we picked a date!
The next step was to get some “supplies” for the event. We had NO robes that could be worn in that setting, so I went to the nearby Baptist church, talked with the pastor, and borrowed three robes- one for each of the kids and one for me. I was ready! Then, the big day arrived. I drove to our Worship Director’s house. Once everyone was there, the kids and I went to separate rooms and changed into the robes (I wore a swimsuit under mine!), and then headed out to the hot tub. It stood on a “finger” of ground that jutted out into a lake, and had a deck above it which overlooked it- it really was a rather idyllic setting! The sun was just starting to set across the lake, the day was clear and comfortable- things really couldn’t have been better. I greeted those who had come to witness the event (they were gathered on the deck with still and video cameras), stepped into the hot tub, and invited the first kid, the girl, in. After reading the liturgy that accompanies such an act, I put my left hand on the back of her head and my right hand on her back. I invited her to lean back against me and I lowered her beneath the surface of the water. When she came back up out of the water, her expression- peaceful, refreshed, somehow…transformed- really moved me. I had to blink back a tear or two and regain my composure before I could move on to her brother. I submerged him and saw a similar expression on HIS face when he rose from the water. I had the pleasure and honor of baptizing another Confirmand in that same hot tub the next year, as well. They are events I will never forget.
I’m often struck by our adherence to tradition. Now…don’t misunderstand, there are MANY traditions that are good ones- my family AND church participate in many of them. There are also, however, traditions that are ONLY traditions because “we’ve always done it that way”, and no other reason whatsoever! It seems to me that if there is NO other reason to continue a tradition other than it is “comfortable and familiar”, then perhaps it’s time to revisit that tradition and imagine what it might mean to try something different. Imagine where we would be if those who came before us had always simply adhered to the status quo. Imagine if they had not dared to dream a different dream, not dared to see things from a new perspective. Not ONE of us would be the person we are today if that had happened. Today- do 2 things for me: take a moment and thank God for the folks who dared to break the mold, AND look at your own life. What are the areas where you are rather… entrenched? Which “ruts” might you need to examine and re-imagine? How could you embrace new things in a positive way to not only impact your own life but to also impact the world for the better? Think of what COULD BE…if we all did that!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The “Bug Man”

pest control guyWhen I was a kid, we had radiant heat in our house. There are different varieties of radiant heat, but OUR radiant heat consisted of water pipes running through the ceiling of our ranch-style home. The fuel oil-fed furnace would heat the water, which would then be pumped into the pipes and circulated throughout the house. (At the time, I could have cared LESS what kind of heat we had, but looking back on with the experience of living in several houses with differing types of heating systems, it was the quietest, cleanest, most efficient heat I have every had!) My dad (a retired design engineer) built the house and designed the system himself. He decided to also run pipes through the floor of the garage to heat it as well. It didn’t keep the garage “toasty” during the winter, but it was warmer than outside and, with the floor the warmest part, the dogs LOVED it in the winter!
The problems began when my dad hired a guy to come out and spray for termites. The guy had been to our house before, so he was a “known” commodity…or so we thought! He came out, looked around, and gave my dad an estimate. His estimate included drilling into the garage floor, where it met the foundation of the house, so he could treat that area as well. My dad CLEARLY told him about the pipes buried in the floor. The guy assured my dad it would be no problem! Famous last words! He came out during the day during the week (makes sense), which was when my dad was at work (also makes sense). So…the guy came out, did what he did, and left. (You can just SMELL what’s coming, can’t you?!) It didn’t take long for the problem to arise. My dad pretty quickly realized that the guy had drilled RIGHT THROUGH one of the water pipes buried in the garage floor! Now, I am NO plumbing expert, but I’m PRETTY sure that a water pipe with a hole drill through it is not a terribly effective water pipe!
My dad was NOT a happy camper, and he called the guy to…voice his displeasure! Here’s the frustrating part- after ALL the discussion about the pipes in the garage floor PRIOR to any work being done, the guy tried “plausible deniability”! He claimed it wasn’t his fault and he wasn’t responsible for any damages. Well, my dad wasn’t having ANY of that, and so he and the pest control guy had what a school superintendent friend of mine likes to call a “come to Jesus” moment! I wasn’t privy to the actual conversation, but I believe the words “litigate”, “lawyer” and “sue you back to the Stone Age” were mentioned! Suddenly, the pest control guy had an epiphany and decided that, PERHAPS, he WAS at fault…somewhat! So…they met in the middle. The guy gave up a Saturday (as did my dad, I might add!), and they chipped up the floor, exposed the pipe, repaired it and patched the concrete- all better! (As an aside- I was about 10 years old when this happened. When that house was sold, about 20 years later, I saw that patch, still clearly visible on the garage floor!)
Sometimes…stuff happens. That’s just a regular part of life. We are, after all, marvelously HUMAN, and therefore accidents are going to happen. It’s how we react to them that is the key. If you are the one who caused the accident…own up to it. Admit that it happened, take responsibility, and do your best to correct it. It’s amazing how much more positively people will respond if you start off that way, right up front. On the other hand, if you are on the RECEIVING end of the accident… try and show some compassion. Remember the times YOU messed up and how grateful YOU were when others showed you some grace. It doesn’t mean let people walk on you- it simply means put the event in perspective. Your physical, mental AND spiritual health will be so much better if you approach life with just such a positive attitude! SO…moral of the story…don’t trust the pest control guy! No…wait…that wasn’t it…oh yeah…it’s treat others the way you would want to be treated! (A MUCH better moral, especially if you are a member of the pest control business!)
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!