Driver’s Education and Discipleship

Posted July 29, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s that time of year when I see cars going the speed limit, stopping at stop signs, using their turn signals, and obeying all traffic laws. On the back of most of those vehicles in bold, proclaim-it letters two words are inscribed: Student Driver.

Pre-Driver’s License young folk carefully navigate the streets and conditions as their weathered instructor sits in the front passenger seat. Back in the old days there used to be at least two other heads visible in the backseat awaiting their turns. That was when many of the school systems had a teacher on staff who taught Driver’s Education as a course…for a grade even! Can you imagine someone missing out on being the Class Valedictorian because she got a B in Driver’s Ed. She new Quantum Physics like the back of her hand, but she couldn’t steer a Crown Victoria for anything!

I marvel at the well-disciplined students who keep the tires between the white lines and keep their composure. The money their parents are shelling out is going to be worth it, as it develops a new driver who will know how to keep our roads safe.

But something happens a few weeks after the driving lessons have ended, the license is in the wallet, and the car is under the graduated student’s control. The pedal now goes to the metal, stop signs have become a suggestion, and speed limits irrelevant.

There is a difference between being an educated driver and being a disciple. An educated driver knows all the information, what the road signs mean and what it means to obey them, and what safe driving entails. A disciple, however, incorporates all of that knowledge and understanding into a basic belief system that is guided by that information and training.

In other words, there are a multitude of educated drivers who drive like they’re demon-possessed. Last week, a BMW driver in front of me on a crowded highway did more weaving than my grandmother used to do. I cringe when I see Mario Andretti (Showing my age with that name from the past!) approaching me from behind, obviously late for dinner.

I can’t resist using the same analogy for someone who knows about Jesus and someone who is a disciple of Jesus. We all know of a few people who have been thoroughly informed about the life, mission, and purpose of Christ– can probably even recite obscure passages from the books of Habbakuk and Obadiah– and yet they don’t follow Jesus. They’re used to being the one in the lead, not following in the footsteps.

Not that anyone of us is perfect! Far from it, but being a disciple of Jesus is having that basic belief system that guides you. It’s being grounded in Him and anchored to Him. It’s having the mind of Christ and such a submissive nature that the Holy Spirit leads us.

Let’s get real here! Many of us took the driver’s education course our churches offered that was called Sunday School or Church School, or even Awana Club on Wednesday nights. We learned what the right things to do are and what actions would get us in trouble.

And then we got our license…our freedom…and became our own driving force! It’s how other people were driving their lives and we didn’t want to miss out on the fun. “WWJD” got changed to “What Would Jesus Drive?”, and the answer had been “whatever I tell Him to!”

When Culture Is Deaf To Conviction

Posted July 24, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

Our culture seems to be infatuated with the idea of rushing to judgment. Or, perhaps better stated, misunderstanding the reason behind an action or ritual to the point of throwing verbal venom at the person or persons.

When I don’t understand the background of a person, it’s conveniently easy to misinterpret his actions. I heard a simple example of this a couple of years ago during a Sunday morning message given by a missionary who was working with young people in a European country. He had brought a group of teenagers from that country to the States for a tour. One of their stops was at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. The teens were unfamiliar with baseball and American customs. When the national anthem was played and people around them stood, they stayed seated, not out of disrespect but confusion. Several people around them interpreted their sitting as being unpatriotic but, in truth, it was cultural confusion.

That episode is a small example of how people endeared to a belief can too quickly be ready to blast someone who is rubbing them the wrong way. The larger issue that seems to be occurring more often is a disregard toward a person’s convictions because they have been judged to be a faint sign of a cultural movement or ideology such as critical race theory, “woke culture”, anti-vaccination, ultra-conservative, progressive liberal, or racism. There is an increasing speed to label because of one word, one moment, one video from ten years ago. It’s like a major league baseball player thinking it’s a fastball coming and it ends up being a change-up. Patience is a virtue, especially when we’re pondering someone’s core beliefs.

Churches have joined in the fray. A pastor’s Sunday message is now just as likely to cause consternation and examination as it stimulates deep thought and reflection. History has told us stories such as the clergyman John Huss, who were executed because of the troubles their expressed beliefs created. Huss, burned at the stake in 1415, had emphasized that Christ is the Head of the church, not the pope and that the scriptures are the supreme source of truth for the follower of Jesus to adhere to. As he was being led to his execution, his condemners dressed him in his full priestly garments, marched him to the cathedral, and stripped them off one by one until he was naked. History is punctuated with examples of preachers being cast out, ostracized, and scorched because of their convictions.

The difference between the Reformation Movement and today is true convictions often never get a hearing because of the reactiveness of our culture. In fact, it seems to me that many are afraid to say row rite anything of substance because they believe they will be misinterpreted. It’s cultural paranoia from a multitude of angles.

Sadly, churches have been invested with the truth of God and the gospel of Christ but are being challenged about their agendas and ultimate purpose. A fog machine has pumped its haze in front of the Cross to pollute the clarity of its meaning. Good-intentioned purveyors of the Gospel have been verbally brutalized. They’ve been “John Huss-ed” by fire-breathing critics who have decided they don’t need to hear anything further before giving their verdict.

Before Huss was burned at the stake he was given one more chance to change what he had been preaching and writing. He refused, and as he prayed, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death. I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies.” As the flames engulfed him, he was heard to be reciting the Psalms. Today perhaps our prayer is, “Lord, I pray for the strength to stay true to my beliefs and convictions longer than the brevity of people’s willingness to hear!”

Is My Middle School Camper A Reflection of How Jesus Was?

Posted July 21, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve come to church camp and filled the role of middle school camp pastor. I know it’s been a good, long while since I was using the TV show “Let’s Make A Deal!” as an example and the students looked completely clueless as to what I was talking about.

The thing is…middle schoolers haven’t changed…really. They haven’t evolved into some new form of early adolescents that still needs to be defined and named. They’re still the same as the kids I grew up with back at Williamstown (WV) Junior High and South Zanesville (OH) Junior High. Oh, there’s subtle differences, like with technology and communication alternatives, but at their core, the kids are still the same kids.

Some of them display the need to be recognized and draw attention to themselves, and others like to hide in their shells. Many of them are as hyper as squirrels on steroids. Some of them have reached maturity long before their peers and others may still be reaching for it when they’re in their twenties. There are the same insecurities, fears, doubts, and frustrations as there has always been.

This week we’re talking about Jesus to them, his parables, stories about Him, miraculous things He did. The excitement is in having kids discover who Jesus is, but the danger is in creating this picture of Jesus that they can’t relate to, or end up seeing as just another one of The Avengers, a Superman with many episodes. I need to keep reminding myself that Jesus, long ago as it was, passed through adolescence Himself. He had once been twelve and then thirteen. It’s probably hard for some people to admit it, but Jesus went through puberty just like my campers are going through.

So how are my middle school camper a reflection of Jesus?

We’re stressing the idea this week of respecting one another and what that looks like. Respect is one characteristic that Jesus conveyed on those He encountered. Those who His culture cast to the side as void of worth, Jesus drew close to Him and treated them as valued and loved. Today many “arriving teenagers” have taken their cues from the adult world around them that there is a tiered-system that people are fitted into that conveys their importance or minimizes their essentialness. The kid at school who nobody picks as their partner for an activity has come to understand that he is and unnecessary part of his educational community.

The thing is, Jesus would have sat down with that kid and eaten lunch with him…maybe offered him some of His grapes or figs. On several occasions He told His followers that those who want to be first in God’s kingdom need to go to the back of the line and experience servanthood. That’s a hard thing for middle school kids to put into practice. They understand it, but being a reflection of Jesus in the midst of their peer group is faced with a certain level of anxiety and dread.

And yet, that’s how Jesus was, an adolescent who treated everyone with respect and worth. That’s what I’m praying for my camp kids this week. It has merit, and yet the challenges incorporated into it between clearer as our camp week goes along. The kids who are more of a handful become more difficult to love. the kids who demand attention become the ones that are prone to be ignored. The immature cause the rolling of eyes and the testing of patience in the more mature.

Having a young adolescent be a reflection of Jesus is a hard, hard, really hard thing to happen…but, Wow!, it’s a goal worthy to be strived for!

Living in The Tensions of Faith

Posted July 17, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

The ways of God are sometimes as clear as a mud puddle in the midst of a path. When someone tells me they can see what God is doing, I pause and ponder. The ways of the Lord are His ways, affected by the cries of His people, applauded by their praise, but often mysteriously confusing.

Some followers of Jesus probably disagree with me on those words. I have no problem with that. The solid foundation of their faith may be as firm as my late grandfather’s jawbones, set and unchanging. For me, however, I wrestle with the different directions the Almighty can travel. It’s the tensions of the faith journey.

For example, fervent pleas of prayer are offered up for different people afflicted with devastating illnesses. Some end up with people surrounding their hospital bed for their final moments of life, while others recover, experience healing, and become living witnesses to the power of prayer and the touch of God’s hand upon their lives. Why are both ends of the spectrum the results?

Why are followers of Jesus divided into a multitude of camps in regards to what are the most important elements of being a person of faith. Some emphasize the amount of water used in baptism and when baptism should occur; some emphasize the leading of the Holy Spirit and others never even mention the Spirit; and some emphasize the preaching of the Word while others “wait for a word from the Lord.”

Why are we called to live by faith and not by sight, but also called to see what God is doing around us? Why did Jesus call an assortment of common folk to be His lead disciples, but we become enamored when a celebrity of some kind becomes a Christian and is treated like he instantly has all the answers about faith? Why does it seem that some people are always living in pain– relationally, emotionally, mentally, physically– and others never seem to have any hint of unrest?

Why do some people become followers of Jesus, passionate and enthusiastic, but then fall away as quickly as the leaves dropping from the front yard maple tree in mid-October?

Why does God seem so close one moment and a distant cloud the next? Why do I seem to hear His whisper one day and experience the silence of God the next?

By this time some of you might have elevated me to the top of your prayer list and are sighing deeply in your wondering. But some of you are understanding the tensions of faith that I’m talking about.

And here’s the thing! If I, or we, had everything figured out and following Jesus was as clear as the lenses in my glass frames (that were wiped off with a cloth this morning), we would depend on God less and go our own way more. Kinda like a child who has matured from childhood and adolescence and no longer needed his parents’ supervision and help. You know what I mean? That point in life when one’s parents become more like advisors who we talk to a couple of times each week when we’re wondering what they think about a situation.

If faith didn’t have any tension in the mix we might become complacent and self-absorbed.

So I’ll continue to wonder why one person succumbs to cancer and another goes into remission? Or why one follower feels the closeness of God while another follower is wondering if He’s even there? I’ll live in the tension and the uncertainty of there really being a right answer. I’ve always enjoyed mysteries and, like an Agatha Christie novel, the answers to the mystery become clear…at the end.

Bowties, Neckties, and No Ties

Posted July 12, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

My life could be broken down into different chapters, according to the flow of the story. For example, I could break it down into pre-school, school, graduate school, career, and retirement. Or I could go childhood, adolescence, husband, father, grandfather. Or Reds fan, Tigers follower, Rockies attender, and Cubs fanatic.

There are numerous storylines for my life book, but one that stands out on a Monday morning, as I reflect on the previous Sunday is the chapters that could be titled Bowties, Neckties, and No Ties. Three diverse periods experienced in my childhood, youth and adult years, and later adulthood.

When my family attended Central Baptist Church in Winchester, Kentucky during my first few years on this earth a bowtie was snapped onto my white buttoned-down shirt every Sunday. In fact, it was the same bowtie every week because I only had the one. Three-year-olds don’t need a tie display case to choose this week’s outfit completion. One was always enough. If I would have opened up a Christmas present and discovered that a new bowtie with a nicely-crafted new plaid design was included…I would have broken down into a kicking and screaming fit of tears and agony. A bowtie was simply my parented mandate for Sunday church. My brother had one, too! Come to think of it, my bowtie was probably a hand-me-down from Charlie, four and a half years my senior. Most of the things I possessed during those first few years were hand-me-downs. It was our version of garage sale purchases. If it was good enough for the oldest, and it didn’t have too many mustard stains on it, it was suitable for the youngest.

A bowtie symbolized my early life and the life of my family. We were churched people…Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night dinner and activities. I never was able to watch Walt Disney on Sunday night because our pastor had another sermon to get off his chest.

Sometime around the fourth grade my bowtie, well-weathered and beginning to droop like Alfred Hitchcock’s jaws, was replaced by a clipped-on striped necktie. It was the next step toward fashion maturity. Bowties were for young kids, but neckties were for boys inching toward manhood. Besides that, I was now a Junior Usher at First Baptist Church in Williamstown, West Virginia. Ushers always, always, always wore neckties to go with their blazers and buttoned-down dress shirts. After a few months of passing out bulletins to the arriving worshippers and making adults feel guilty if they didn’t put something in the passing offering plate, my wardrobe expanded to two clip-ons to diversify my selection.

A couple of years later I made the big jump to learning how to tie a necktie. My dad stood behind me and patiently showed me the twists, turns, and loops as we stood in front of the hallway mirror. To this day a mirror is required for me to tie a necktie. For me to accomplish a neatly-looking necktie without a mirror is on the same work scale with trying to complete my tax return. Every Sunday for a few decades I tied one of the fifty or so neckties that hung on a rack in my closet. Stripes, plaids, plains, bright-colored, and even one with Mickey Mouse and another with a wolf. Sunday church was always a tied event. Since I was the pastor I had to set the example. In the ’90’s, most men in a Sunday worship gathering followed that example. Neckties were a sign of the orderliness of our worship. They were the expected look of “putting on our Sunday best”. We were attempting to look handsome before God. Nowadays the only times I wear a necktie are when I’m officiating at a wedding, conducting a funeral, or sitting at a table for two celebrating our wedding anniversary.

Somewhere in the first few years of the twenty-first century I jumped on the Ferrari of No Tie. The open collar look or the polo started becoming options. My tie rack got moved to the end of the clothes rack in my closet. Some pastors even started keeping their shirttails out. My mom’s hands would have started quivering if she had seen that. That, however, became the cool look, the appearance that indicated this place of worship was not uptight and boring. People could come right from Starbucks to church. In fact, some of those hip churches started replacing Folger’s with Starbucks. You can’t hand your shirttail out and serve your grandparent’s brew! It would turn people away from Jesus! So in the last several years I’ve gone to not wearing a necktie or bowtie, but still looking dressed up enough that I wouldn’t be seen as a disappointment to my parents.

Will there be a fourth chapter in my apparel autobiography? Will there suddenly be an emergence of those cowboy bow ties that Roy Rogers used to wear? I’d be okay with that. Or maybe a neck tie that has some unique image or design that makes people stop and say “Wow!” The Wow Factor is always good for someone closing in on 70.

Just one thing I will never do. No skinny jeans! I have a hard enough time right now getting my pants on!

Yes, No, and Not Yet

Posted July 11, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

One of my best pastor friends through the years has been Chuck Moore. Several years ago in one of our numerous lunch conversations that included our other pastor friend, Tom Bayes, I remember Chuck saying these words in regards to figuring out the will of God. “Sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says not yet.”

I didn’t fully comprehend the wise depth of those words when he spoke them, but I have thought them multiple times since. And now that I’m semi-retired I ponder them even more, because making decisions as a retiree are more difficult. They become less dependent on financial matters, relocating, and position and become more focused on the leadings of the Lord and leaning on the Lord.

For example, how much longer does God desire for me to coach middle and high school basketball? How much longer does he want me to be a substitute teacher, knowing that each of the last few years that has resulted in a long-term teaching gig of two months or more? How much time does he desire that I commit to writing? What kinds of tools and training events does He want me to incorporate into the writing? What does He want me to write? How much does He prefer that I rest and seek renewal? What does He want me to offer younger folk in regards to the wisdom of experience? How long does He desire that I offer my preaching services to the small church I travel almost an hour to?

Some of those questions can’t be answered with Chuck’s three options, but many can. There are timeline-connected decisions that seek His guidance. There are possible new directions that are in need of His answer. And there are certain activities and involvements that need His hinting as to whether they need to drop off the schedule or proceed further on down the road with.

Being retired, although my wife reminds me I have not grasped the full meaning of that term, has an openness to it. It’s like being in the midst of a vast, open field where I have a variety of options as to which direction I go. There aren’t any trails to indicate the right way. In fact, maybe there are several right ways. Maybe direction is now based more on talent and personality traits, not job descriptions and wants. Since just about any direction is a possibility, maybe I need to have my hearing checked to my tendency to not hear the “Nos!” and “Not Yet!”

Finally, I have a sense of certainty that is reassuring. It’s that God is still speaking to me, guiding me, and not done with me yet. His involvement in the direction of my life is not restricted to a period of time when I was filling a certain position, and had a weekly schedule punctuated with meetings and job description-connected responsibilities. He still has a leash around my life, although perhaps it has a bit of a bungee stretch to it.

The Blame Game

Posted July 10, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

Blame is as old as the hills. It goes back to Adam and Eve, the clueless guy blaming his fall on the woman, and she in turn pointing her finger at the serpent. If the snake had any fingers he would have pointed at the fruit on the tree. Finger-pointing is kinda like finger-painting, trying to make a mess of what is clear to the casual observer.

Taking responsibility is becoming an extinct sign of maturity. Scripture tells us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In other words, not a single one of us is perfect and worthy to be in the presence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God. But, just like those who tried to build a tower all the way to the heavens in Babel, we want to believe in our infallibility and capability to do anything and be anyone. Taking the blame for mistakes knocks that self-made tower down and causes us to admit who we really are.

None of us like doing that!

And so finger-pointing and excuse-creating have become the norms. Each one of us encounters it a multitude of times each day in our dealings with the world and the situations of our routines. Higher gas prices are cramping our budget because of something that has happened thousands of miles away from us. Notice the subtle finger-pointing in that statement, as opposed to the idea of the fact that I have become so accustomed to the consumption of fuel in my vehicle that I don’t even think about the idea of reducing the number of miles I drive.

Elected officials in Washington working together doesn’t make for dramatic headlines. Progress on policies doesn’t seem to be a page turner. Better to blame those on the other side of the aisle because they’re going to blame their opponents.

Personal injury lawyers are making a mint with all of the “blame games” going on. It’s dangled in front of the audience like a luxury life preserver. Someone must be to blame…at some time…somewhere…if I think about it long enough.

Not following the rules that were agreed upon has been translated into meaning that the rules are unfair. A defeated club basketball team had its coach and parents attacking the referees because it was the people wearing the stripes that were to blame for the fact that their players couldn’t make a left-handed layup.

Our personal debt made as a result of our own decisions is someone else’s fault. Our broken relationships are the fault of too many demands at work, or cross words that were shouted because of disagreements, or because of feuding extended families.

The game of blame is like a winter storm. It blankets everyone, but we have been led to believe it can be shoveled away. It almost like I expect there to always be a Jesus to take the blame upon himself. His crucifixion on Golgotha offered us the possibility of redemption, of a clearing of the slate, but some of us missed the connection between Jesus atoning for our sins and our confession of our sins. We’re like the criminal who gets excused from his offense but instead of the changing of his ways he goes out and commits the same crime again.

Finger-pointing is our nature. Maybe today we’ll remember what my mom used to say to me. When you point your finger at someone there’s four others pointing back at you.

Flying Thoughts

Posted July 9, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

My wife and I returned from a trip back to Ohio to see family last night. Now, today, after three different flights and a delay, we will need to extend grace to one another as we grouse and groan about our latest plane experiences. I had thought about driving the 1,300 miles from Colorado Springs to the southern tip of Ohio, but the realization that 1,300 miles would be followed a few days later with 1,300 miles back…and the rising cost of gas…made me head to Travelocity to check out air fares.

…And begin the questioning of my wisdom and the way airlines do things. I mean, why have 9 different seating groups when it’s a hodgepodge of overly impatient people lining up in the aisle? Just an idea, but why not board those who have window seats first so Harry in the aisle seat doesn’t have to get back up and move into the aisle out Larry can get to his seat. Or, even more cumbersome, Harry and Gary in the aisle and middle seats have to both get up and move so leisuring Larry can get to the window?

…And am I getting wider or is my economy seat getting narrower? Is the diminishing width of the economy seats a conspired airline plan to get me to upgrade? Notice how people in economy have to walk through the first class and business class seating areas before we get to our sliver of cushion. We walk past the smug looks and passengers enjoying their first glass of wine to get to the result of our budget-consciousness.

…And after figuring out what the plane fare will be, do airlines really need to THEN put an extra “seat cost” on to it? It’s like a Jeopardy game board…”I’ll take 21A for $59.” Shouldn’t people in an Exit Row who are going to be asked to take the initial steps in saving their fellow passengers in an emergency landing…shouldn’t they receive a stipend for their service– kinda like being in the military– instead of paying more, simply because they have extra legroom?

…And, here’s an idea from a teacher that will never fly (Sorry for the pun!). What if a test was given to all of the passengers right after the safety instructions are given? Those who flunk the test would be “held back” for the next flight or, better yet, the highest scores would go to those front row seats in first-class!

…And finally, the 13 high school students who caused a flight to the Bahamas to be delayed until the next day because they were refusing to wear masks (Or at least a couple of them were, depending on who you believe!), why not make them sit back by the lavatories and made to watch Teletubbies episodes the whole flight? That would stimulate some obedience! You may, however, have to give additional instruction to the Exit Row passengers about guarding the doors from people trying to escape.

The Women of Wyngate

Posted July 7, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

They were rocking and waiting for us, the women of Wyngate, a senior independent living complex where my dad resided for the final four years of his life. My sister and I had scheduled a visit for Wednesday night at 6:00 on the front porch. COVID had severely altered the visiting policies and possibilities at Wyngate. Visitors met residents out front, not inside. So with the temperature hovering close to ninety accompanied by a blanket of humidity, we visited the six ladies, all who had long since lost sight of 80 in their rearview mirrors.

They were special to my dad, a gentleman and a gentle man. They were blessings to our family because of how they made each day he lived there a gift. Pops came close to reaching ninety, crossing over to eternity four months shy of it. Growing old is punctuated with aches, wrinkles, and a calendar that resembles a Bingo game card with all the doctor visits noted on it. But advancing in age is made tolerable when you have traveling companions who are walking, ever so slowly, alongside you.

My dad made the Wyngate women laugh and smile. They were encouraged by his compliments and words of concern, and he is still missed even though its been three and a half years since he moved on.

Norma, now the Wyngate matriarch at 101, took my hand and pulled me into a hug. She had been the one who had caused me to blush one time when she mentioned the possibility of getting a bikini and going topless. I was speechless, but I noticed my dad in the background slapping his leg at the amusement of it all.

Bonnie, his across-the-hallway neighbor, looked as strong as ever with her distinctive voice. I was taken aback by a comment about her recent 90th birthday. Bonnie could still be mistaken for a bank loan officer, helping a customer acquire a car loan. I remember her being the checklist person whenever there was a fire drill, making sure that everybody was present and accounted for. Bonnie brought order to any hint of disorder. She watched out for my dad and he her.

Barb, a woman of grace, displayed her warm smile once again. She felt honored by our visit, not realizing that we were the ones who felt privileged to be able to visit. Seeing Virginia was like having a visit with one of my aunts, her warmth filtering into our souls. The two of them were characteristic of the Wyngate spirit, welcoming and hospitable.

And then there was Phoebe, deaf and delightful. I can’t understand how someone who isn’t catching much of the conversation can be so pleasant, but that’s Phoebe. She has that comforting element to her personality.

Finally, there’s Robin, the Wyngate manager, who thought so highly of my dad, and he of her. She always made him feel valued, listening to the wisdom of his suggestions and the homespun humor in his stories. All of them are the salt of the earth in a place populated with people on low-salt diets. Thank you, Lord, for the women of Wyngate!

The $45 Haircut

Posted July 1, 2021 by wordsfromww
Categories: Uncategorized

My son got a haircut yesterday. It wasn’t a difficult GQ-styled ‘do, but rather “Zip-zip-zip-snip…okay you’re done!” He added a tip into the cost and forked over 2 Jacksons and a Lincoln…$45! Just as gas has risen like an Elon Musk rocket, barbershops have raised their prices.

When my barber, Ms. Darla, moved out of state, I was at a loss. I was always willing to pay Darla a good sum because she knew me and knew my hair. When I lost a wager a couple of years ago because a boy on my basketball team had accomplished what I said he couldn’t, and the promise was that I’d have my head shaved, Ms. Darla was the one who came to our team banquet and buzzed me. Without a doubt, I wasn’t going to entrust the job of shaving off my hair to a high school freshman boy. I’d still be bleeding!

A barber or hair stylist needs to be someone I can relate to, laugh with, tell stories to and hear stores from. There needs to be that relationship. Like Floyd on The Andy Griffith Show. Floyd usually did a little bit of snipping and cutting, but mostly he jaw-jacked with his customers.

My Uncle Millard was a real-life Floyd back in Paintsville, Kentucky. His barber shop was across the street from the Johnson County Courthouse. It seemed like there were always men sitting on the benches or the three-foot wall on the edge of the courthouse lawn. My uncle would join them and talk the latest local news and politics. Once in a while he’d even give someone a haircut, but he almost always “Floyd-ed” the person he was trimming with conversation and opinions.

In my growing up years I always had Mr. Morris at Morris Barber Shop in Ironton, Ohio, cut my hair. He knew what my parents expected, and even if I suggested a new cut where the hair length would, in my opinion, make me look cool and appealing to the young ladies, he would give me the parental mandate haircut that gave me that conservative, Baptist, “normal” appearance that would not cause the church deacons to raise their eyebrows over. Mr. Morris cut the hair of Irontonians for several generations. He knew the latest Ironton High School athletics news, as well as how the Reds did the previous night against the hated Pirates. A haircut in his place was like an audible version of the local newspaper, but with commentary added.

Thus, I cringed when my son said he paid $45 for a haircut from an anonymous woman with a razor. Knowing how rapid the turnover is in the company-owned hair salons these days, he will never have the same person invading his scalp. It will always be someone who doesn’t know him or his hair. The only consistent element that will be the same each time…is the price! It makes me want to let my hair grow out and put it in a braid. What would the deacons say to that?

Except my daughter now cuts it for free, and she knows my head and what’s inside my head!