Posted tagged ‘conversation’

Darla Time

March 7, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     March 6, 2017


I got my hair cut on Saturday. Not an earth shattering event, I know, but one that I enjoy because of the person who cuts it for me.

Her name is Darla. I’ve known her for eighteen years and she always makes me laugh. I was her pastor for years and years, and there are just some people who you will always be close to even when your positional relationship with them changes.

Darla has a heart of gold. A couple of weeks ago a man that we both knew passed away. His daughter called Darla and asked if she could fix her mom’s hair. Darla, who works a ton of hours, made time to take that “worry” off of the grieving widow…hair that was showing the effects of sudden loss!

When I enter her shop, Locals Barbers, she greets me with a hug and asks me how I’m doing? Sometime in the first thirty seconds laughter erupts from each one of us! She plops me down in her chair and makes some comment about my hair or eye glasses, or the level of my tiredness. Her shop serves a free beer to its customers, but Darla knows that I hate beer so she offers to have one of her assistants go next door to Smashburger and get me a Coke.

Commence the chatter and conversation. With Darla there is no shortage of conversation. She flows one story into the next, always with a background of scissor snipping. She is my “Floyd!”, accomplishing her task while telling current day Mayberry stories.

I marvel at the importance that Darla places on fairness. She is the advocate for the mistreated, the balancer of the uneven. Her sense of fairness has cost her over the years. People who have looked to win or be right regardless of who gets hurt have turned their backs on her. They despise her emphasis on fairness. A previous employer was taking advantage of his employees so she stood in the gap for them. It cost her, but she can now look back at that situation knowing that she did the right thing.

So now I sit in her chair, laugh, listen, and talk as she sculptures my hair look. It is a time of pampering and levity that I am blessed to be the focus for.

We meet Jesus in different people. Darla has her limitations and challenges, but I see the reflection of Jesus coming through her. “Darla time” is always a time for being blessed.


February 4, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      February 4, 2017


My dad has had a January to forget. Two weeks in the hospital…one week home…and then back in the hospital for another week. He loved the nurses, but disliked the meatloaf.

So I had the opportunity to fly in for a few days and be with him. My dad turns 89 in about four months. He’s no spring chicken! In fact, his spring sprung a while ago. The times I’m able to come back to the southern tip of Ohio from the elevation of Colorado are special, deeply personal, and filled with shared stories.

Yesterday I walked with him down to the dining room of his senior adult apartment complex. A slow walk, but a steady walk. When he arrived he made the rounds, giving a hug to each of the women who, I swear, all initiated the embrace. He shook the hands of each man before setting down at a table with two of his peers, Leo and Dale. It was Dad’s first meal taken in the midst of the gathered “white hairs”, and it brought a sense of exhilaration to the 25 or so. He is loved and appreciated, always ready to give a warm word of greeting and an engaging question.

Then it was back to his apartment to sit and talk. Three days earlier I had “grandbaby-sat” for a two year old. Now I was “Dad-sitting” a man who was almost twenty-six when I was born!

We shared stories about teaching, his military service, Kentucky basketball, and all the nice nurses who cared for him at the hospital. Our conversation wound its way through the many rooms of our lives, one door leading towards the next one on the other side of the story.

I told him stories from my recent three-week teaching stint and the one student that I sent to have a chat with the assistant principal, and he told me about the student who he had a difficult  time with when he was student teaching high school agricultural science.

We got on the topic of security guards at schools, banks, and other places, and he recalled the pre-security days at the Social Security Administration office he managed…the times when an irate citizen had to be calmed down simply with words, not a Taser gun!

We have a way in our culture of devaluing our older folks, minimizing their relevance and becoming deaf to their voices. Thankfully I’ve come to the point of seeing how treasured my life is because of the father I have. The occasions of “Dad-sitting” are dwindling, shared moments waning, and I breathe each one of them in as if they are my last sip on water in a long journey.

Tomorrow I’ll watch the Super Bowl with Dad. I can’t remember the last Super Bowl we watched together! It may actually be the first time we’ll share the moment. The game will become secondary to just being together. I’m sure we’ll laugh at some of the commercials and take bathroom breaks while Lady GaGa is being a spectacle. We’ll talk about the Cleveland Browns of the 60’s, the Ironton High School Fighting Tigers, and recall when my big brother came back from an away game that the Williamstown High School football team had played on a Friday night and said to Dad, “Look Dad! Real mud!”

We will simply sit and enjoy the moment. The depth of life is made from moments like these.

Coffee With Jesus…Fifth Cup

July 19, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    July 19, 2014




I brought a clean coffee cup with me today to drink some java with Jesus. I have a heavy population of coffee cups in my life. Today’s mug-of-the-day features a Far Side cartoon on the outside that reminds me of the funnier side of life.

“I like your coffee mug,” Jesus says as we sit down.

‘It’s a Far Side cartoon!”

“Yes…I can see that!”

“And you like it?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because Far Sides can sometimes be a little…what’s the word…borderline irreverent.”

“That’s two words, and I usually laugh out loud at Far Sides, or, what’s the term? LOL!”

“OMG! Jesus using social media terms!”

“Excuse me, Billy Dean! But people take themselves too seriously too often. Perhaps there needs to be more LOL moments in people’s lives. The last time we chatted we talked about what makes your soul sing. My guess is that laughter is music for your soul.”

“Yes, usually! Not laughter at the expense of someone else, but laughter that comes out of life moments.”

“Far Side moments, so to speak.”

“Exactly! Moments that give me a glimpse that I’m still child-like.”

“Being reminded that you are a child of God.”

“I don’t want to say I’m totally sure on this one, but I’d like to think God has a sense of humor.”

“Why would you think he doesn’t?”

“Because he’s God!”

“He created aardvarks, didn’t he?”

“Good point.”

“…and prune juice!”

“Another good point. But prune juice is good for you.”

“But prune juice is disgusting…even to me.”

“But it shows that God has a sense of humor?”

“Hey, there’s a lot of jokes related to prune juice.”

“As long as you’re not the one drinking it!” I look down at my coffee mixture. I would never have thought that I’d be talking to Jesus about Far Side cartoons and prune juice.

“Remember when I asked that question back a few cups of coffee ago…how is it with your soul?” I give a nod of recognition. “A soul that echoes that it is well is a soul that allows itself to laugh.”

“Let me understand this a little bit, because you’re not necessarily talking about an audible chuckle or uncontrollable laughter.”

“Sometimes they emerge in those ways, but I’m talking about when you allow the presence of the Holy to delight you. Does that ever happen?”

“To use an analogy, kind of like when a Far Side cartoon grabs you for a moment. It’s a brief experience in…surprise.”

“Ahhh…surprise! That’s an interesting word to use to describe it. There was a book written a number of years ago entitled Surprised By Joy.”

“C.S. Lewis.”

“Yes. It seems that our conversation has brought us back a ways to some of the experiences of his life.”

“It’s quicker to summarize a far Side cartoon than a book, Jesus.”

“Perhaps the laughter of the soul is not so much about quickness as it is about contemplation.”

“Kind of like a cup of coffee, not to be gulped, but rather sipped.”

“Or a fine glass of water that’s been turned into wine!”

“As opposed to a glass of prune juice that you want to get down as quickly as possible.”

“A disturbing image for the mind, Bill!”



Coffee With Jesus…Fourth Cup

July 16, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        July 15, 2014




I look at Jesus for a second before returning my focus to the refilled cup in front of me. “It feels funny to be drinking coffee in front of the Son of Man while you remain caffeine free.”

“I don’t mind. I’m not a big coffee drinker. Probably goes back to the brief time I spent drinking Egyptian coffee. That brew could put hair on the Holy Ghost!”

“Does the Holy Spirit have hair?”

“It was simply an expression of exaggeration, Bill. I have been known to think big.”

“I guess so.”

“Think of the feeding of the 5,000. Why twelve baskets of leftovers…ever ask yourself that question?”

“Because of the twelves tribes of Israel?”

“Some think that, but I simply wanted to over-do it because the people, to begin with, couldn’t imagine God supplying their needs…let alone having stuff leftover.”

“So…back to this joy thing we were talking about…you asked me why I desired a joyous soul?”

“Yes, I believe I did say something like that.”

“I guess I struggling to find an answer. Is it because that’s what we were always taught in Sunday School…you know the song, “The joy of the Lord is my strength…”

“Yes, I’m familiar with it. Although when your congregation sings it my teeth chatter.”

“Why so?”

“They are a little rhythm impaired on the clapping.

“Jesus, we’re Baptists. Anything resembling dancing or music with a beat, we’re a little off…like a toddler trying to walk.”

“Let me ask you this. Do you think having a joyous soul is like eating fruits and vegetables- something that you’re told to to because it’s healthy?”

“No…I don’t think so.”

“So…going back to the question…why do you desire a joyous soul?”

“I was just asking you to help me figure that out. You’re the know-it-all at this table.”

“You’re the one who can begin to discover the answer.”

“I think…I think it was part of God’s design in our creation. I think he wants me to live out of a soul that is joyous. Even though I often wonder why he allows certain things to occur and other things to not be I don’t believe he desires for us to live out of a bitter or sorrowful soul.”

“Is it something you have to convince yourself of each day? In other words, it isn’t natural for you to know that your soul is joyous?”

“That’s a tough question, but “yes”, I think I have to convince myself each day. Perhaps it’s because the cynicism of the world has invaded my soul and weakened it to my desire for the things of God.”

“Fallenness leaves bruises, cuts, and wounds.”

“That’s for sure.”

“There’s another song that comes to mind…and your congregation actually sings it well. Some of the words include “Then sings my soul…how great thou art!”

“Yes, that’s a great hymn that seems to draw in the whole of me.”

“Perhaps, like music, desiring a joyous soul is comparable to finding that new song that your “whole” self can sing.”

“Does this mean learning to play the guitar?”

“No…no! I’m using music only as an analogy. It’s about what causes your soul to sing.”

“A topic for another cup?”

“Yes. You sip, I’ll observe.”


Coffee With Jesus…Third Cup

July 11, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   July 11, 2014


                                       “Coffee With Jesus…Third Cup”



“Why not? Helps the pain get swallowed.”

“Let’s talk about joy.”

The shift startles me for a moment. The look I give Jesus reveals my surprise.

“It’s okay to experience joy, you know.”

“I know…I know, it’s just that it doesn’t rise to the surface of conversation very often. There always seems to be a problem to focus on, a difficulty to voice concern about, someone’s disgruntlement.”

“Well…let’s talk about joy!”

“I don’t know where to start.”

“How do you experience joy? Let’s start with that.”

“All you can eat jumbo shrimp.”

“Come on! You can do better than that.”

“How so?”

“That’s a craving you have produced by your taste buds. Let’s get to joy.”

“Jesus, you make it so difficult.”

“…when you prefer it to be easy?”

I pause. “Yes, probably so.”

“Most of life is spent “taking it easy”, so to speak.”

“What brings me joy…my kids, my grandkids, my wife, and even a 93 year old man named Rex.”

“What about them brings you joy?”

“The things they say, the things they do.”

“Don’t other people their ages say and do the same things?”

“I’m sure they do.”

“So perhaps the things they say and do are a ripple effect of what brings you joy. The joy comes from the relationships you have with them.”

“I suppose so.”

“Could it be that the relational joy you experience with them might simply be a delightful shadow of the joy your soul experiences when it is conversing with our heavenly father?”

“I’ll have to take a sip of coffee and think about that one.”

“Understand what I’m saying. My father created you and everyone else to be relational. The delight you experience when your grandkids make you chuckle is a small expression…and experience…of the joy that echoes out of your intimacy with God.”

“Then why don’t people talk about that more? Why do most of my conversations, especially in church, deal with solving problems, budget demands, and people’s warped view on life?”

“You live in a world of pessimists who, given the choice…to use a Biblical phrase, would choose to return to Egypt rather than go forward into a promised future.”

“Because they were familiar with Egypt.”

“ For some people history looks more glorious the further away you travel from it.”

“So how do I help others focus more on joy than sorrow?”

“This isn’t another “how to” problem to add to the agenda.”

“Okay, how should I phrase the question then?”

“Ahhh…another “how to” question rephrased slightly!”

“Sorry…it comes from living in a age of manuals, and “Dummy Guides.”

“Let me encourage you to begin with you!”

“How so…I mean, explain!”

“Instead of worrying about others, which as a pastor you’re ingrained to do, what about yourself? Why would you desire a joyous soul?”



Coffee With Jesus…Second Cup

July 10, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 10, 2014




I stare at the coffee that has been altered with a dose of cream and two sugars. I admit to myself that I prefer my cup of coffee to be this color rather than the original pouring of brew.

“You’re right!” I whisper across the table to Jesus. “When it comes to coffee I don’t think of it in any other way than with the add-ins…the disguises, as you say.”

“How easy it is for that to be interpreted as the norm. Likewise it is easy…perhaps inevitable, for things of the soul to get mixed in with the distractions of life to the point where a person can’t distinguish between the two.”

“Help me understand!”

“For instance, on the sleeve of your coffee cup there is an advertisement for a kind of tea. The woman who is promoting the tea, it says, is inviting people to take a few moments to pause and reflect each day. Notice that there is even a web site to go to. Do you see the name of the web site?”


“So suddenly drinking a cup of tea gets equated with the caring of your soul.”

“Perhaps it’s some powerful tea.”

“And many people will believe it. As they sip it they will assume that it is satisfying their souls.”

“I sometimes feel that way about church on Sunday.”

“Say a little more.”

“Don’t get me wrong! It’s not bad, but sometimes…many times…my soul doesn’t get touched, poked, or breathed into.”

“Aren’t you the pastor?”

“Yes! Sad, isn’t it?”

“Why do you think that is?”

“Back to the interrogation questions again, are we?”

“Just helping you discover again.”

“I think…I think it’s perhaps because we confuse the cream for the coffee. It’s getting back to that idea of knowing what the essence of something is and what are the disguises.”

“Keep going.”

“Come on! You’re Jesus! I’m just telling you what you already know.”

“And I appreciate it.”

“So most of the things that I lead the congregation in doing in worship dance around the King…without ever dancing with the King. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.”

“I love your use of images to explain what is hard to verbalize. Staying with that image, perhaps dancing with the King is too intimidating because the dancer is afraid she will step on the King’s toes.”

“Dancing from a distance.”

“Dancing around the purpose, without dancing with the purpose.”

“I often feel guilty because…I’m leading the dancing around the purpose.”

“That’s quite a burden to shoulder.”

“And you know about carrying burdens.”

“Let me suggest that you let me carry that one, also.”

“I’m not very good about surrendering.”

“Not many people are.”



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.”


      “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!”


      “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!