Monday, December 21, 2009

Maybe there is a Merry Christmas somewhere

I was worried about how Christmas would go with my youngest daughter, Alicia, her new husband Buddy, and son Evan. We joined them for dinner on the 20th as we were headed out to New England. We bought Evan a Tinkertoy set which he opened after a wonderful dinner of stuffed shells Alicia had prepared (one of my all time favorites). The tinkertoys were a little different than I remembered, and had a few additional parts. The good part though, was that Evan (who is seven) dove right in and started making cars.

I guess part of Christmas is reliving Christmas as a child sees it. It is bright shiny and beautiful filled with beautiful sounds and smells. Best of all it has wrapping paper and surprises! I wonder if we looked at all of life that way it wouldn't bless us all and take some of the "bah humbug" out of life in general.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Well I am beginning to understand why people get depressed on holidays. We barely survived Thanksgiving by joining my son, Nate at a restaurant, now we get to figure out how to do Christmas! My youngest daughter Alicia has a step-son, Evan who is seven. They get to split him half-days with his Mom. I certainly haven't figured out my role in this. We have decided to get him a Tinker-toy set for Christmas, but honestly I still feel a little uncomfortable about it. I can see this has always been a tough time for Sue and I, coming from enormously different expectations.

She just mentioned the thought of going upt to New England for Christmas, and frankly the thought terrifies me. I guess I feel like a third wheel when Sue is with her family. Oh, well. With Nate moving out just before Sue's Dad passed away, we really haven't been able to have the time to figure out where we go from here. I guess I'm afraid if we went North that would never, ever get resolved.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Looking for grateful children!

I guess we live in an odd age, where our children view their accomplishments as their own, and their failings as someone elses fault. I have been reading "How People Grow" by Cloud and Townsend. One of the very freeing things it covered in the book was that living in a sinful world, we would end up being sinners. We are responsible for our sin, but we have a God who is ready to forgive us.

When I was a young man, my parents bought me my first bike for my birthday. It was a heavy 26" Columbia with no extra gears -- that was uncommon in those days. I had many skinned knees and many good times on that bike. In fact it may have saved my life. One Saturday morning my Dad sent me off to a local market for a pack of cigarettes. I had to cross US 5, a four lane highway. As I started across a car jumped the light -- the next thing I remembered was laying on the roadbank stunned. My bike was junk, but other than a mild concussion I was uninjured.

Somehow I think all of lif is like learning to ride that bike. We are bound to make mistakes. Only we can decide if we will learn from them. The journey to holiness definitely has some bumps and scrapes. If we are defined by our jobs, our education, our children's success, and not by the fact that we are Children of the Most High God, we are always bound to be dissapointed. We won't always get the recognition we deserve; our education may bind us up rather than opening us up to the wonder around us; and the sacrifices we make for our children may not lead them to treat us with any respect.

Perhaps its a graduate school in humility. Perhaps no one would enter the school intentionally, but the benefits are great.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where have all the heroes gone?

This weekend I went to the funeral of my father-in-law, Ray Petrofsky. Ray was 87. During WWII he was a navigator on B-24s. His brother Al reminded us that he had made forty missions! In addition to his military honors, he truly was a hero. He said that the only blood he shed was to give a transfusion to his gunner who was badly wounded. The pilot set up the shunt. It is hard to believe the courage and self sacrifice of the greatest generation.

I'm on the leading edge of the boomers, looking for the sky to fall. I hope we can all learn about individual caring and self sacrifice. When courage is mandated, it is only fear of man. When we run forward for the love of our comrades, not thinking of the price we may pay, that is truly courage.

The wake and funeral service also showed me how important and fragile relationship is. When as family and friends we can grieve the loss of loved ones, and celebrate their entry into eternal life, we are stronger and more resilient.

Blessed be the Lord who gives us strength in troubled times

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life's little challenges

My cousin Jim lost his only son (and child) to an accident at sea a couple of weeks ago. Michael was 22 and had graduated from college a year ago. He was never found. The memorial service was last Saturday. My brother Tom became a grandpa this week, as Tom II and Beth Anne gave him Aiden. He sounds pretty happy -- almost incoherently so. Lots of talk about running up to help and how he got to hold the baby.

It is such a poignant time of beginnings and endings. I have been so blessed with my children. I don't know if we understand each other, but we do try to communicate. Their lives seem to be so much more complicated.

Cassie is in Los Angeles with Travis and two Vietnamese pot bellied pigs. Their life is driven by an ever changing entertainment environment. Alicia just got married to Buddy this summer, and also has a seven year-old step son in her life. Nate is just about to move to Alleluia Community, an interdenominational covenanted community.

Where does that leave Sue and I. I guess spending a lot of time in prayer. I am so grateful that I have been able to see my children grow up and start their lives. There were bumps and fits and starts, but all and all it was a growing experience for all of us. We are incredibly blessed. I hope to slowly understand what this living thing is all about.

I have been chasing my whole life for meaning, when meaning was sitting quietly waiting for me to slow down. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A day in the cave

As David learned compassion in his time in the cave at Adullam, our little tragedies and inconveniences teach us about our ability to forgive and move on in our lives. Life is bigger than our hurts, but sometimes it takes a while to figure that out.

Nearly five years ago when I had a brain stem stroke, I gained some things and lost some things. I am not as agile as I was. My balance is not as I would like. Through rehab and the wonderful folks there I slowly learned how to get around and became stronger. My (primary) right hand grip strength was 35 psi (75-80 is normal) after my stroke, and 120 psi after rehab--took some work though.

It took a while for me to get my head on straight. From June of 2005 to December of 2007 I drafted and completed my doctoral dissertation. That helped on my future mental tasks.

What I gained was a true appreciation for the blessing each day was to me. My emotions were also much more available to me which was a blessing to both me and my wife, although I still have some trouble trying to figure out what to do with them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes Toto there is life after OZ

I'm beginning to think that what is important is not spoken of or understood, and what is not important is bandied about wildly, with even less understanding. Without relationships, life becomes meaningless. We all desire to be connected. We only have only one little problem -- we are not connected to ourselves. Nothing in our well structured educational path (I should know as I have 23 years of post-secondary education!) teaches to understand who we are or what we are about.

There is only one place that gives us a clue, Holy Scripture. It is an ongoing transformational conversation if you give it a chance and listen to it ".. Be still and know that I am God".