Archive for May 2014

The Hushing of Honesty

May 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 31, 2014

 

                                       

 

The media was all over the Donald Sterling story. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have been, but Rome wasn’t built in a day…and an eighty year old man’s racism wasn’t created in a secretly recorded comment.

The whole situation is sad. Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper left me shaking my head. For once Sterling didn’t need to hire someone to dig a hole. He was doing it deeper all by himself.

What disturbed me was actually the criticism that was leveled towards Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for comments he made that were honest and heart-felt. Cuban who gets as much camera time during games as Jerry Jones does for the Dallas Cowboys, shared how he felt. Unlike some people, I don’t think that Cuban “is all that”, as they say, but in this situation I appreciated his honest sharing. His choice of images might not have been the greatest, but he was admitting that he prejudges certain people by their appearance, or by their appearance in certain situations.

The media was all over his comments like sweat on foreheads of a July afternoon in Georgia. In blasting Cuban’s comments honesty dug a deep hole and disappeared for a while.

In essence, what the situation had taught us is that it is dangerous to be honest. It is easier to be shallow and unrevealing. If I keep my true feelings and thoughts hidden life will be easy, uncomplicated, and…meaningless!

I take this situation into the church, where it is easy…oh so easy…to not be honest! In a place where we talk about the priority of grace and forgiveness it seems that honesty is threatening.

Honesty reveals the deep darknesses of our heart, and we are incredibly uncomfortable with that.

And so we take communion with the saints while we harbor bitterness towards the one who is passing the tray; and we struggle with prejudices while we preach love and acceptance. We shy away from honesty about our struggles because we fear other people of the faith will hold our inner battles against us.

Sadly, it is more convenient for the fellowship of believers to hush the honesty and focus on the irrelevant, to ignore the elephant in the room because there’s a fly on the screen of the window.

                                        

Jesus In the Trunk

May 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 30, 2014

 

                                    

 

      The trunk of my car is used for transporting various things. At the moment I have a dirty sweatshirt crammed to one side, a bag of weed and feed, and a dozen orange cones for use at basketball practice.

At other times it carries our suitcases on the way to the airport, or my golf clubs for any infrequent trips to the golf course. Once in a while when soda pop has been on sale I’ve even filled the trunk with cases of pop. (Since I haven’t had a can of pop for two weeks now that event may very well be a thing of the past!)

Trunks are useful, but they don’t control the car. They are in the back…except for some Volkswagens. They bring up the rear!

Once when I was growing up we had a group of young people go to the Drive-In Movie Theater. Since admission was paid on the basis of “visible” people in the car a couple of teens hid in the trunk until we got to our parking spot. It was dishonest, but we felt it was kind of a “grey dishonesty.” Wrong, but we justified it by how much the theater charged for popcorn.

Riding in the trunk got our friends in, but they also had no say in where we were going to park, and even when we were going to free them from the tomb they were trapped in. When we did let them out…they didn’t go back in!

I think I’m guilty…and possibly most of you who are reading this are guilty…of putting Jesus in the trunk. He’s back there with the car jack- only to be called on in an emergency.

BUT he’s in the car! He’s with us, just not in control of us.

In Luke 18 we read the story of Jesus being engaged in a conversation by a rich ruler. The dialogue focused on the requirements for inheriting eternal life, and after some back and forth discussion the man walked away, as it says in the scripture, “…sad, because he was a man of great wealth.” (Luke 18:23, NIV)

It’s right after that Jesus talked about the difficulty of a rich person entering the kingdom of God. The point, however, was not so much about rich people. The point was that it’s difficult to surrender our agendas, our control, and our lives to the Lord.

Putting Jesus in the trunk allows us to say that he is with us, that “I’m a Christian.” Unfortunately, that name has become so watered down that it doesn’t mean that much. It may not help that much, but I refer to myself as a follower of Jesus because it indicates that he is out in front, not tailing along behind with the suitcases.

Surrender is hard! Stubbornness is easy! Yielding makes us grind our teeth. Dictating keeps things uncomplicated.

Where is Jesus riding in your life? If he’s in the trunk, let him out from under the “weed and feed” and at least sit in the car!

Pop Fast Update and Finish

May 25, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               May 25, 2014

 

                                  

 

Today is Day 9 of my 7 Day Pop Fast!

Yes, my week without soda pop ended, but I’ve continued to fast from it. It’s more like a routine now. I’m sure I’ll have a can of pop sometime, but what has happened in the past “week plus” is that I’m feeling better. I don’t ache when I get up in the morning nearly as much as I used to. I played basketball yesterday and felt good! I’ve been drinking a lot more water. Perhaps I’ve even lost a couple of pounds…I don’t know…I don’t hover around the scale like its a lottery number that’s about to be revealed.

When I turned sixty on May 5 I felt sixty-five. I just didn’t feel good! I realized that i was whining a lot to myself, like that’s going to help.

I’m not saying that soda abstinence is the answer to all of life’s ills, but I have been thinking more about what I eat and drink. I even let my McDonald’s coupons expire without using them!

I friend of mine wrote me that he had given up soda for Lent this year. He said the first few days were the hardest, but then he didn’t feel the urge nearly as much after that. So…perhaps I’ll keep chugging the bottled water and got for a few more days without an Orange Crush in my hand.

 

Pop Fast Hump Day

May 20, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     May 20, 2014

 

                                      

 

It’s the fourth day of my week-long fasting from drinking soda pop. I’m still alive! In fact, my body did not ache when I woke up this morning. I doubt that I can give credit to my unsoda-ed life for that. It may just be the one day this month when my knees and joints did’t feel like The Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when I woke up. Whatever…I’ll take it!

The past three days I’ve also cut down on the amount of sugar I’ve put in my coffee. Since I drank it without doing Larry from the Three Stooges facial contortions I’m going to keep limiting the sugar packets.

Why am I doing this? I’ve asked myself that question several times during the past few days, especially as I’m passing a Pepsi vending machine. I’m trying to be strong! I did have a dream last night about a Coke being poured into an ice-filled glass, hearing the fizz, and seeing myself floating on one of the ice cubes with sunglasses on.

I thought if I blogged about it once more it would make things easier, but now I’m thinking about an A&W frosty mug in my hand.

Pray that the images of an orange being crushed won’t await me in my sleep tonight.

I need to go by and see my dentist soon to pay off our balance, but I’m afraid I’ll call her Dr. Pepper if I see her this week…so I think I’ll wait!

I’ve learned that eliminating elevated amounts of sugared beverages if a little tough, but today is “hump day.” I assume that I’ll be sliding towards the celebration of a fluid finish line.

But “hump day” could also mean that I’m about to plummet to a sugar-depleted depression!

Optimistically I’m choosing the first option!

The Pop-Fast

May 17, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 17, 2014

 

                                              

 

To be honest I’ve already cut back in recent weeks!

But I’m going cold turkey for a week. No soda pop, soda water, Coke, water with sugared fizz…whatever the term is that you use to describe that can in your hand that you just popped the top on.

A week doesn’t seem like much…when you are on Hour #1 of Day #1!

Day #4 in the evening when my wife has just popped some popcorn is a different matter. I was raised with the idea that popcorn could not be eaten without having a cold Pepsi at the same time. It’s the difference between eating a plain hot dog, or a dog with mustard, ketchup, and relish on it.

Hot dogs…there’s another item that I probably need to fast from!

In recent weeks I’ve been thinking more about what I eat and drink. I have a coupon for a free chicken salad at Chick-fil-A to be used this month. I think about that each day at lunch time. It would be a lot healthier for me to have for lunch than some other choices.

What did I proceed to do last week? Used a “buy a Whopper, get one free” coupon one day. Take a year off my lifespan right there! I did get the “Satisfries!” They are “less bad” for you! Notice the terminology we use to justify our bad choices.

The next day I did Panda Express. For some reason Panda seems healthier than Burger King. I’m not sure it is, but I rationalized, and I was hungry when I was rationalizing.

I did penance the next morning and had yogurt with a “cutie”…the orange kind, noy my wife!

Choices! I make them every day. Some days the choice that helps the health of my body is easy. Other days I’m humming the McDonald’s jingle more and more as lunch approaches.

Back to “the pop!” I’m laying off!

I know that it will be a item on sale this coming Memorial Day weekend at the supermarket. I’m even laying off filling my shopping cart with eight cartons each time I go. My daughters remember a Thanksgiving weekend when pop was on sale at K-Mart and I went about ten times during the weekend and got five cartons each time.

I’m going on a “pop-on-sale fast” as well!

I heard one of those statistics on how much sugar we put in our bodies, and the fact that in a few years one out of every three children will end up being diabetic. Perhaps I heard it wrong. It WAS in the midst of the promoting of a new “Wake Up” kind of documentary film. It did, however, catch my ear.

I’ll start with pop. The test for me is whether I can stop putting sugar in my coffee. When I started drinking coffee back in seminary during a semester I was taking Hebrew (An agonizing experience that resulted with my learning how to drink coffee much more than knowing the Hebrew alphabet) I retrieved from my memory bank how a person drinks coffee. My parents drank it each morning with cream and sugar. Thus, that’s how I began drinking it. Perhaps I should go back to drinking Folger’s black. It’s a fairly weak coffee experience anyway!

This week, however, I’m pushing the Sprite to the side. A benefit will be a reduction in the bill when Carol and I go out to eat. I’m so used to getting a Coke or a Sprite that I have barely noticed that most restaurants now secretly take you for two and a half to three dollars. Good Lord! Sheltered Bill still thinks that’s how much a beer is in a restaurant.

For those who are wondering, I dislike beer as much as I love soda pop! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Baptist, the son of Baptists, a Baptist minister, or because I simply abhor its taste. 

If you see me in the next few days and I’m looking ragged you’ll know why. I’m coming off a “sugared lifestyle.”

But one question! If I’m fasting from soda pop is it okay to drink something different out of my Coca-Cola glasses, A&W mug, or Orange Crush tumbler?

Driving Miss Reagan

May 13, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 13, 2014

 

                                         “Driving Miss Reagan”

 

It started as soon as I entered the house through her front door.

“Granddad, I’m having waffles for breakfast.” (I won’t pepper my writing with her pronunciation, but breakfast comes from her lips sounding like “bweckfust.”)

I had volunteered for this chauffeuring duty, filling in for Miss Reagan’s dad, also my son-in-law, who was working out of town for a few days. Driving my three year old granddaughter around for a few minutes each morning sounded great.

For a three year old, Reagan can talk more than a stumping politician. Her “l’s” and “r’s” still sound like “w’s”. Last week when I showed her a scratch on my arm she asked, “Did it bweed?”

Without her older brother to share chat time with she is all out…constant…dizzying chatter!

“Granddad, would you cawwy my waffle…and be very careful, because if the wind gets it I will not be happy!”

     “Yes ma’am!”

      The twelve minute car ride to her other grandmother’s house has more topics of conversation than Time magazine has articles each issue.

“Granddad, do you like fire twucks?” 

      “Sure…it’s good to have a fire truck when there is a fire that is burning.”

      “I was in a fire when we stayed at a hotel.”

       “Oh…really!”

      “It was scawy!”

       “I can imagine!”

       “I wike wooking out windows. Do you wike wooking out windows?”

       “Yes. Windows are good.”

       “Does Grammy like windows?”

       “I suppose. We haven’t really had much conversation about it.”

      From behind my driver’s seat I can hear her taking a long sip of apple juice from her sippy cup, ending with a faint “ahhh” sound of satisfaction.

“Granddad, there’s a Chick-fil-A!”

      “Yes, there it is! Maybe we’ll go there for dinner this week. I think I’ll get a chicken salad.”

      “Noooooo….not chicken sawad! You’re siwwy, Granddad!”

      “Why is chicken salad silly?”

      “You have to get chicken strwips!”

      “Is that what you get?”
“Yes, with honey barbecue sauce and waffle fwies!”

      “Oh…okay!”

      “Do you like to dweam, Granddad?”

      “Sure…I guess I do. You mean when I’m sweeping…I mean, sleeping?”
“Yes, I dweam about Puggles and wearing new shoes and cotton candy.”

      “Oh…that’s nice. Are all those in the same dream?”

      “Noooooo…….Granddad, don’t be siwwy!”

      Being silly is a necessary element of a grandfather’s conversation with his three year old backseat passenger. The journey ends and Miss Reagan dances an original step in front of me to her “Nana” Hodges’ house.

I ring the doorbell and she bangs on the door. Nana greets her and Reagan is ready for the next conversation.

Granddad gets back in the car and leaves younger than I was fifteen minutes before!

Mother’s Day Without Mom

May 11, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 11, 2014

 

                                    “Mother’s Day Without Mom”

 

     This is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever experienced without a mom on this side of Glory. Mom passed to the other side last September, the day after Labor Day. So today I’m in a new place just as she is. I’m walking through it with a mixture of grief and gratitude, a strange mixture…kind of like putting ketchup on top of your peanut butter, you’re not sure if it’s good or bad!

The last two Mother’s Day with Mom were grief in process. Her health had declined to the point that she wasn’t able to carry on a conversation. Calling here on the phone was a painful experience with me being in Colorado and her in Ohio. Her health difficulties had reduced her verbal capabilities to a bare minimum…and my mom was always one to be vocal!

I would send her flowers for Mother’s Day. It was the best I could do for her. She loved the floral arrangements and foliage plants that FTD would deliver…once they were able to find the house! That’s another story for another day!

I remember my mom for who she was before her afflictions took her health away. On this Mother’s Day I remember with a grateful heart the stories, the influence, and even “the look!”

“The look” could stop a freight train. It was convicting! I remember that look one afternoon when I was about ten. Mom had told me that I could go to the park in Williamstown, West Virginia where we lived, but that I could not cross the main street in town to go to the little grocery store. Back in those days before aluminum soda cans a kid could find empty pop bottles and return them to the store for three cents a piece. Two pop bottles could net me a Pay Day or Mallo Cup. But on this day my mom had explicitly forbidden me to cross that main street.

“No problem!”, I thought! What she doesn’t know won’t hurt…me! I made the journey and was munching on my Pay Day on the way back across the street when in the distance I saw a car coming that looked like our family car. I sprinted back into the park and hid behind a trash can until I was sure she had passed. Finally I raised up…and there she was…sitting there, and giving me “the look!” I was toast!

Besides the look, however, my mom would care for us. My brother and I always got new underwear for Christmas, just in case we were in an accident and they had to cut away our blue jeans. It was important to have intact pairs of “Towncraft tighty whities” on.

She could cook! And the thing is, she would cook dinner each night after working a full day at J.C. Penney’s. Not packaged meals, mind you! Home-cooked masterpieces…skillet cornbread… green beans that I didn’t appreciate back then, but now miss greatly…fried chicken…squash casserole…need I go on?

My mom had a certain scent. It’s hard to explain that, but it stayed in the nostrils of your memory. Recently I traveled back to Ohio to help my dad get some things taken care of in preparation for his move to a new senior adult independent living complex he’s moving into. Going from his three bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment has made these past few months a time of sorting for him. What will he take? What will he leave behind? What will he give away? My oldest daughter, Kecia, asked me to bring back a few specific items that she remembers about my parents’ house. A couple of the things she requested were some of MaMaw Wolfe’s dish towels and hot pads. Why? Because they have MaMaw’s scent that is special. When we would travel home to see my parents “the scent” would be a comfort, a welcoming, almost like entering a room with bread baking in the oven.

I’m grateful for “the look”, “the caring”, “the smells”, and “the scent.” Although Mom is gone, those things will stay with me…and on this different kind of Mother’s Day they make me happy!