Off the top of my head… things I remember about my folks growing up:
We used to sit around the table and cook steak in the fondue pot. I would always want the orange tipped skewers.
My dad made this wooden case that accompanied a baseball game where you had to keep scorecards with old school players…
We would sit around playing Intellivision (before Nintendo)… we would play a football game, and B-17 bomber… Then when Nintendo happened it was a lot of Zelda and Metroid.
My mom would be at all the sports games doing her special hex on the opponent among other antics. Seemed to work though–she still puts the hex on tennis opponents to this day 😉
Pop out in the shop making whatever was next, like a wrestling ring for my figures, and blaring Kingsmen, or Oak Ridge Boys, or Jesus Christ Superstar, or the Gaithers…
Playing wiffle ball in the backyard at Campus House… used an old wooded basketball backboard that had the strike zone painted on it. Home run derby was the usual game.
Me and Jodi using a tape recorder to record conversations and our stunning renditions of whatever the popular songs were: likely some Tiffany and Bangles involved. And we would hit those runs!
Mom and Dad both playing all the church softball. They were good too! I spent many days growing up at the old Lattimore softball field–I was the king of cup ball in that sand pit. And ate a thousand air heads.
One time Daddy (Pop) tore his achilles trying to stretch out a triple. He was in a full length leg cast for several weeks.
We walked to the GW swimming pool through about 8-10 inches of snow one year for my bday party.
My dad worked 3rd shift most of the time growing up. He would sleep while we were at school, but then would always be at practice. Every single one.
We would go down to Gaffney most every week to see Herman and Billie, granddaddy and granny–my dad’s folks. And we’d spend many Sundays at Mawmaw’s house in Lattimore–making sugar butter biscuits with Aunt Jewel… and likely catching up on the week’s drama from Young and the Restless.
So much time playing Little League baseball, basketball, and football.
I’m sure I could continue with a pretty long list… and I will add to these memories as I go along in an attempt to compile some type of coherent narrative as a part of my memory project. Of course, the overall support and constant advocacy from my folks is what stands out. I can name individual memories, but the No Matter What kind of love that they have always demonstrated and given to us is such an integral part of who I am.
This was the first broadway musical type record that I listened to. Growing up my dad would play it often. He had the 33rpm record album. We would also watch the movie version once in a while.
I love Phantom as well, but I’d have to agree with N.T. Wright that this is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best work.
The Rock Opera gives interesting perspectives on Judas and Pilate and especially Herod and Mary Magdalene… and of course Jesus.
The music is phenomenal and the lyrics penetrating and evocative. The song Gethsemane is especially poignant to me, as it makes you feel the emotional and physical torment Jesus experienced during those hours of his life.
I’ve been able to see it once live, and Sam and I were supposed to see it in 2020, but… well… you know.
It’s a solid choice to spin during Holy Week.
Or you may be able to dial up the NBC? special with John Legend and Sara Bareilles. Unexpectedly I actually thoroughly enjoyed that presentation of JC Superstar.
It is what it is: I was curious about the etymology. It’s a circular kind of thing, but can’t say it isn’t what it is I guess. This is part of me trying to reckon with possibilities and cope.
Avetts Red Rocks 2021: We have tickets for the Sunday show. It times up perfectly with our western trip we have planned for July. BUT… covid looks likely to continue to wreak havoc on the ability of Red Rocks to open fully. 2022… here we come?
Crest High School Football: had to check on the squad. Announcing a game today at noon–that’s right Saturday at noon. Another covid thing. It’ll be after my second dose, so hopefully I won’t say anything too crazy on the mic if the effects start to hit.
Revised Common Lectionary: Staple on the search list. First thing I click each morning. Daily Readings have been good for me.
The Doors of Stone: have to check once in a while to see if Rothfuss is any closer to releasing the third book of KingKiller Chronicles. It’s only been a decade since the last release. *eye roll*
The Leftovers: This show y’all. Phenomenal. I was searching this to see about the book that it’s based on. I ordered it. We’ll see if it is as good as the show.
March Madness 2021: Had to get my streaming capabilities set up. Glad there are tourney games back on today. Sad for Ohio St. and my guy, but the tourney has been fun to watch.
Paul Jackson: bassist for the Headhunters and with Herbie Hancock on many albums. He moved on to the next life a week or so ago. Worth a listen this weekend if you’re not familiar.
Sleep Number Bed: Always looking for the best mattress ever.
The Voice: it hasn’t been coming on on Tuesdays so we had to find out what was up. Sydney loves this show the most. She follows along and builds her own team with the app. I enjoy the blind auditions and the banter with Blake and the other judges. And I like watching it with Sydney.
Moderna Second Dose: coming up in about 2 hours. checking on those side effects and getting my mind right for what to expect. Grateful for the medicine, but I’d be ok with just a sore arm if you please.
Days til July 4: Counting down to when we head towards Bozeman!!!
Spiral dynamics: I was curious. Didn’t get too far down this hole though.
Set your mind on things above: working on it. Relying on scripture and prayer and the prayers of others to get me through this season of trial. If I showed current google searches it would have a lot to do with what to expect from a colonoscopy. I’m trying to remain positive. I’ll be ok. One way or the other. Sometimes I am able to rest in the positive, and other times not so much. But it’s ok. Things above.
He worked at Timken. It was my understanding that whatever he did with ball bearings, he was one of a very few people who could do it. I know he worked so hard, and that all that shaved metal etc took a toll on him. I know he worked, but when… because it seemed like he had all of the time for us.
Hours and hours and hours… he would take us over to the cages at GWU and throw us hundreds of pitches. We would stand out in front of his welding shop at home and hit pea gravel with a broom handle for hours or forever.
One of the things that made a huge impact on me, on all of us, was the way he calculated batting averages in Little League. He was our coach of course! But the way he averaged us out was based on contact. If we put the ball in play it went down as a hit in the book. He encouraged us to take our swings and make contact! So I think I “hit” like .950 or so my 6th grade year.
Don’t misunderstand, this wasn’t just a tactic to make us feel good about ourselves. We were dang good. Maybe we rigged the draft a few years, but hey, what are you gonna do? But we kicked tail. Like 42-2 kind of stuff in Little League. We only lost a few games in my last couple of years with the mighty RED SOX. Champs!
Ansel, coaching 3rd and giving us the delay steal sign almost every time we got on. Aggressive. And he’d wave us around 3rd to score, windmilling that arm of his, with that eager and ecstatic look on his face, side stepping all the way down the line with us on many occasions. Hand over his mouth 🙂
He was an encourager! He was my first second dad. I’ve had many second dads along the way, but he was the first as we grew up neighbors. He was our advocate!
Ansel Harmon. A shining Light for sure. Not a perfect man, but damn, we gotta get off of this trend thinking that those humans exist. But even after his passing from this age, the ripples that he created in my life, and the lives of many of my teammates and others, are still fanning out through our own journeys and being shared with our kids. Ripples created by pea gravel hit with broom handles.
Thank you for all you meant to me Ansel. Rest easy my friend and mentor! And I’ll see you waving me around 3rd into glory one of these days.
All of these fathers with their bald spots Pull to the car line dropping kids off The sons and daughters of their parents wounds Parents of their own
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, and step into the light I step back into the light
Sometimes my mind feels like a valley So I take it to the bar Fill it up like an ocean To drown my troubles in Just to find out what good swimmers they are
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, and step into the light I step back into the light
When my dreams feel like a rusty rail That I slapped on a coat of paint As the layers cracked and chipped and failed This wretched lie is all that remains
It’d make some sense, if some was made to me Sometimes I don’t see love in anything And just when I surrender to my shadow I snap out of it, yeah, I snap out of it And I step into the light I step back into the light I step into the light I step back into the light
One, is that I’m grateful that Paul displays his vulnerability. He admits his anxiety. He’s a real human. That means a lot to me.
Two… well, two examples of what I mean here. The first is watching Iowa basketball in their final tournament game. Garza at the end of the game was filled with emotion at the finality of his career at Iowa. He went from player to player and then finally a glance up at his dad in the stands and a lasting, knowing hug from his head coach.
The second example is from Sam’s tennis match. During the singles match Sam was in a grind. He ended up winning a hard fought match. The moment that struck me—almost to tears, though, was during an amazing back and forth point, Sam made a great shot to set up the winner at the net. A smash.
From across the way, on a different set of courts, his doubles partner, JP, was watching the point and after the winner yawped out “yeah Sam!!!”
The knowing connections. The mutual respect. The days spent grinding and sweating and losing and winning and training some more. The days that yield the trust and admiration and communion.
It’s what I see in the way Paul talks about Timothy and Epaphroditus. He knows. He has seen them grow and mature. They’re his guys. Yeah. I get that.
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon. Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.” Philippians 2:19-30 NRSV
We have a few mantras within our family. Remember Who You Are is one that was passed on to us by pop, my dad. He always said that to us whenever we would go out. A new one that we stumbled on this past Christmas is BeLive. I bought a sign, on purpose, with the word on it–still paid full price even though the second ‘e’ was missing. But we have turned it into something to remind us to be present. To be live. I’ll likely write more on these phrases in posts to come, but for today I will return to one that has become a bit dormant.
I love you, no matter what. No. Matter. What. That was a mantra that I would say to the kids quite often. It springs out of the great worry of my life. One that reviving the phrase now is targeted at, honestly. But I get ahead of myself…
Those words blossomed in our home. And they spilled over into the community of folks that frequented our home. My sister made a beautiful framed piece with those words. My brother in law spent a lot of his time and energy and money in order to craft the letters that spelled out No Matter What so that we could put them in our yard. I love you, no matter what. It was quite a meaningful slogan for us.
But then… it really was right around the time that my bro in law was working on the letters. Late 2017 and into early 2018. Things fell apart. The community of folks that we belonged to fractured. The unthinkable really. Turns out our seemingly vibrant collection of saints wasn’t immune to human frailty. Sarah and I were devastated. Broken. It seems that no matter what maybe wasn’t as real as I had imagined.
And don’t misunderstand. Most of the reckoning came from my own reflection and introspection. I don’t know that I will ever fully understand how things unfolded as they did, and so quickly. How friends we thought were so close really weren’t after all. I have spent a great deal of time over the past years examining my own role. My own perceptions. Motivations. Shortcomings. Some of the things were out of our control. Others, seemingly, weren’t. And for those relationships, I have long questioned my own commitment to No Matter What.
So, after a few attempts at humor as our friend Matt packed up to move to Stoneshire, we rearranged the letters no more and put them aside the building. Jumbled. Dormant. I still feel a good amount of sorrow about this splintering. About all my mistakes.
But, it’s time, I think, to revive the phrase No Matter What. A Resurrection.
I find myself now pretty knotted up. Tense. Fearful. I’ve written some about my gut issues the last few months, and the long anticipated doc visits and probable scopes are upon me. And I am having a hard time shaking the nerves. The sense of impending doom.
I had a book recommended to me yesterday after I had put up an Instagram poll and when I looked up the book I found the author was dealing with the cancer I hope I don’t have. And then I saw a story about a 43 year old man that died–though his obituary where his wife called him ‘dead sexy‘ did make me smile a bit.
I wish I could shake this stuff off. I wish I wasn’t so weak. I believe that when I am weak He is strong and all that. I really do. I know that suffering brings sharpening. But I don’t like it. And I don’t like the fact that I can’t master these fears. It feels like a lack of self-control. A piece of the fruit I have never had much success digesting.
And I admit I feel guilty. I feel guilty feeling a sense of anxiety over what I am only imagining at this point. Because I know folks are really and truly suffering. I feel guilty when my symptoms don’t match how bad things could be. How can I be glad about someone else having it worse than me? I surely am a sinner. And I don’t mean that in a self defeating or deflating kind of way. I say it in a self recognition need for grace and mercy and forgiveness kind of way.
So. No Matter What. A driving force, as I said, behind the phrase… a driving force for the creation of this online journal was to stay as connected to my family as I could. As I can. For them to know me. To know that I know them. I see them. They are a part of me.
But I lost my faith in that phrase. I lost my faith in the meaning. In my ability to fulfill that mantra. But it isn’t up to me. It just is. It. Just. IS.
I apologize to Sarah and Sam and Sydney and Isaac. I’m sorry for not believing that you love me no matter what. If I get a bad diagnosis now or in the future. I’m sorry for the unhealthy grip I have on life, even though it is driven by my desire to not see you sad or suffering. But I know You will love me through it all and through to the other side. And you know you will receive that same love from me. NO MATTER WHAT. Even as I struggle with fear. I am scared. Even as I experience weakness and react in ways I wish I didn’t. You love me. NO MATTER WHAT. I know that you do.
And I know that Good wins. I know that the Christ has set us all free. That Grace is. That Hope is. That losing life is the way to gain it. Letting go. “Be more involved with life and less attached to it.” Saw that on the insta today. I know that if the worst things that my fickle and feeble mind can imagine come to pass, that the Christ is. That our Hope is sustained. That Grace is life giving. Eternally.
So… please pray for me. Battling through a difficult Sunday emotionally and mentally and ending up realizing how I can rest in No Matter What doesn’t mean that I am not still weak. I will likely still experience the floods of anxiety as I go in for tests and await results. God I wish I didn’t. I long to be set free from that. So I do covet your prayers, as they say.
But more than anything, please pray that I can find real and true rest in the No Matter What Love that I receive from my family. That is created and freely given by our Maker. Perhaps a person I resonate with the most is the guy in scripture who says “I believe, please help me in my unbelief.”
Yesterday I went into Syd’s room to get her Broncos hat out of her closet. She needed it at the tennis courts where she is learning to play tennis–with the aid of her little brother/coach/trainer Isaac. During this past year, she also taught herself how to play guitar. She’s a thinker–guess she comes by it honestly. Also, she’s 14. Either way, I saw these lyrics she had written and framed with a picture she had taken on her wall. And for today’s Music Monday, I got her permission to post the picture and the lyrics here:
Unless a single grain falls and dies… lose your life to gain your life. It is for this reason that I come to this hour. To be lifted up. Lifted up like the snake on the pole in the desert. Lifted up. On an executioner’s cross. Unless a grain falls and dies… but when it does it bears much fruit.
The ruler of the world driven out, and ALL people drawn to me. When I am lifted up. Lose to gain.
Whoever serves me must follow me. Dang it. Why’d they have to add that line in there? 😉
Ahh the letting go. The facing up to the enemy of death. The faith that we will go through and come out the other side.
Resurrection. Life. Eternal.
Jeremiah says the covenant is now written on our hearts. And I believe that. I feel the draw. The calling forth. The Psalmist writes of crushed bones rejoicing. Of the restoration of the joy of salvation.
Letting go. Trusting in Goodness. Believing in the One. Unity. Union.
I know it. I do. I believe that letting go and losing to gain and dying and being lifted up… I believe that is the path. But I really do struggle with taking the next step on that path sometimes. Or all the times. With following the One. Bearing my own cross. I struggle.
So I take great respite from the words of John that say when Jesus came to this hour. He came to his hour. He knew it was his time. But John says he was “troubled.”
Troubled. In his soul. Our great high priest! So I guess the Christ does know how I feel.
Lord, please grant me the courage to let go. The strength to lose my life so that I may gain it. To Believe in the Ultimate Reality of Grace and Love and Hope. Of the Christ.