Thursday, May 28, 2009

Keep Your Head on the Phone

Owen, my Grandson, is a very helpful young fellow. He is always giving Papa and Nana (my wife and I) instructions about how to do something properly. For example, when you are talking on the cell phone, he will tell you "Keep your head on the phone, Papa."

I have a feeling that this is something passed along from the wise instruction of his parents.

This week I have been keeping my head on the phone. Life, work, troubles, and daily challenges have had me on the phone for literally hours each day. I am not a phone person. I find them helpful at times but often a huge time distraction and honestly a big waste of time and energy. There are times when being on the phone comes with the job and cannot be avoided.

Owen is right. There are times when we you must "keep your head on the phone." I am glad every week is not like this one.

Vacation is coming soon. I will not have my head on the phone then - yahoo!!

Sorry the phone is ringing - time to put my head on the phone, again!

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finding My Place

A few years ago my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to California. We drove Pacific Coast Highway 1 - saw the beauty of the Pacific again and again from different vantage points along the way. We visited Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica - I was in Beach Boy heaven! What an amazing trip!

My wife lived her teen years in So Cal. Her Father was a Vice-Prez at Pepperdine University. She recalled her Saturday's going to Huntington Beach - the sun, the ocean, sights and sounds. We decided to go by and see the home where she lived during those years. We found the subdivision in the hills overlooking L.A. and located the street. I remember the look in her eye when she recognised the street - "It's right down this street - on the right - the last house." We drove down the street and found the house. Then came the shocking reality: it was not the last house on the street. As far as you could see in the hills and on the horizon were houses. To put it mildly, things had changed just a bit in 25 years. Hundreds of homes covered the hills with avenues and streets winding their way in every direction. The house itself was also very different. The new owners had added a second story and changed the landscaping so that the home of my wife's adolescent memories was barely identifiable.

This is the story of life in a snapshot. Things change and we sometimes lose our place.

We go to Florida pretty often these days. My dear Mother-in-law lives there in an assisted living center for people with Alzheimer's. She enjoys our visits but doesn't remember them. We laugh and talk about the past and sometimes get sad. Life has changed and she has lost her place. We expect that one day we will visit and she will not know us.

Being human is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. We experience so many amazing things in this life but we also sometimes lose our place. We even ask ourselves "Where do I belong now?"

Fredrick Buechner's book Longing for Home speaks to our longings when he says:
"No matter how much the world shatters us to pieces, we carry inside us a vision of wholeness that we sense is our true home and that beckons to us. "

Mother Teresa had this wonderful line she often repeated; "All the way to heaven is heaven."
She was reminding us that we must live now - enjoy now - know that now, where ever we are we are in our place and to live abundantly now.

I have found my place. Here. Now. And so I will live now, not just hope to live later.
All the way to heaven is heaven.

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thinking About Mom's

Mom's day - what a day! We celebrated by having all the little babies with their parents on stage at church as we prayed for them! It was beautiful chaos!

My clever Grandson, Owen, got up on Mom's day with a plan. He told his Mom, (my daughter), "Mom, it's your day to celebrate! Let's put the slip 'n slide out in the back yard!" Just what Mom wanted for Mom's day!

The demands on women are way over the top. If I listed my top ten hardest working human beings I have ever known, 8 out of 10 would be women. My Mom married my Dad on a Sunday afternoon and the next morning they were both working in the cotton fields in Central Texas. It was the depression but they were very blessed because they both had jobs. They worked 6 days a week and their combined weekly income was $15. Wow - party like its the 1930's! When I would wake up in the mornings my Mom would be up working and singing old hymns with her squeaky voice - when I went to bed at night she was still up working! Despite the challenges of raising 6 children and working from "can to can't" she was a very happy person.

When I was applying for Grad School years ago I went through a two day period of psychological testing and evaluation. I guess they were trying to "weed out" the crazies - I have no idea how I made it through such a screening. One of the tests was the old Rorschach Inkblot test - you know, "look at these shapes and tell us what you see." One of my buddies told me ahead of time not to say, "It looks like my Mother..." I was so nervous that every blot looked like my Mom but I never said so.

When I listen to people in therapy sessions, Mother's do come up on occasion. Mom's seem to get more blame than is fair. They are human beings just like the rest of us. There are some horrible Mom's and a few really amazing ones - most are just normal human beings trying their best.

My Mom was a genuinely good person and a thoughtful Mom - my wife and daughter are both good Mom's - I have been blessed by the women in my life and I am better for it!

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Births and Graduations

Births and graduations - these are of course, major passageways in life. I watched as the Senior class rose to be introduced and the church applauded and we prayed for them - one of our largest Senior classes ever - I remember them as babies. Several of them were students in my wife's Kindergarten class - so much talent - what a joy to see them grow and flourish!

The next day I held one of our newest babies in my arms - Luke. Handsome boy! Proud parents! Joy filled grandparents! They are at the starting line while others have reached a major milestone - life is filled with such meaningful moments!

Our hopes and dreams for our children - they inspire us to sacrifice, work long hours, stand on a hot soccer field to see our kid kick the ball - at their baptism, their marriage, their graduation our heart swells with joy!

On Sunday we will have 50 plus little babies on stage front and center with their parents and we will pray and ask God's blessing - we have such high hopes. What will these little ones become?

There is that old fable about a baby Tiger that ends up being raised in a herd of goats. The little Tiger had known nothing else. So he walked like a goat, ate like goat, butted heads with other goats, and even learned to "bleat" like a goat. Then one day the goats were in an open field and a huge adult Tiger came out of the forest and roared and all the goats ran for cover except one. The young Tiger who had been raised as a goat was spellbound. In the Tiger's roar he heard something that he had longed for all his life. In that moment was born the possibility of his actually being a tiger.

What we hope and dream for our kids is that they will hear the roar - that they will know who they truly are and who they are meant to be.

Births and Graduations - my hopes are high!

Just thinking, Steve