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Friday, April 12, 2019

Assembly Required?

My instructions could not have been more clear.  What is it with people?  Can we only listen to short fragments?  Social Media.  Blame it on Social Media.  Well, excuse me for using complex sentence structure in my verbal communications!  Lesson learned.

I should go back….

The gift for a one-year-old was exceedingly expensive.  While a shared expense with other family members, make no mistake that as her grandparents we were on the hot seat to pick up the exceeding part.  Yet criticism without a solution does not deliver change.  Not having any better ideas, I agreed with one major stipulation.  We could buy this playset as long as I was NOT required to take part in the construction of said playset.

***

I arrived at our daughter’s house Tuesday evening and found an oversized wood pallet buckling under sealed boxes.  My hope, no make that my expectation, that my son-in-law would have everything laid out and organized was gone.

Cloaking a level of frustration, I greeted everyone and jumped into the “let’s get this S--- over with” mode I know so well.  This is when the abandonment began.  My son-in-law left for the airport to pick up a coworker.  Shortly after, my daughter departed for work.  No, I am not making this up.  

Our workforce had dwindled to the one who specifically forbade himself from construction, and my soon to be one-year-old granddaughter held by my wife.   This was not getting off to a good start.  I’ve been trying to think of how it could be worse, but it eludes.  This could be poor imagination on my part.  

After we unpacked and sorted the lumber from the first two of five boxes, my son-in-law arrived with Bobby.  They appeared ready for action and an extra set of hands would be helpful. I pointed out the weak labeling system on the lumber and other obvious challenges.  

Not knowing what do next, we consulted the directions.  No sense in making things worse by assembling the things wrong right out of the shoot.  Getting started and realizing that all the parts needed for construction were not there would be a disaster.  

The desired outcome
Oh wait, after another half hour of sorting screws by size that is exactly what happened.  Entire sets of screws or bolts were not there.  Not as in “Batteries Not Included” not there, but as in “this bag should hold 3,164 screws, bolts and nuts of various sizes, but Glenda was out sick today so we did our best” not there.

The question now was whether to wing it and improvise or regroup locate the missing hardware.  Under protest by my wife, we decided not to go ahead.  I was sure we would not get far and only compound the problem.

I saw this as an opening or answered prayer.  Circumstances finished my job for the day!  I went home and told them to call me when the store or manufacturer sent ALL the parts.  Abrupt?  Maybe, but I was supposed to be there.

This assembly appears beyond our extensive backgrounds and experience with Tinker Toys and Legos. In no way do I look forward to resuming construction.  But, the near $1,000 price tag for professional assembly is ridiculous.  A wise investment but outrageous just the same.

Some skeptics out there might be thinking, “Oh, he’s just being silly.  I’m sure he’d be disappointed if they assembled it without him.”  Let me say that you could not be more wrong.  The only way this becomes a salvageable gift, one I won’t regret taking part in for the balance of my days, is if somebody other than me gets the “thrill” of putting it together.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Dad's Reward

Several months ago I became a grandfather for the first time.  It was beautiful, a miracle, life altering…and so on and so on.  She has blessed our lives in so many ways that it is impossible to describe with justice.  Most things in life are overrated.  Being a grandfather is NOT one of them.

But I do have a problem.  My wife and kids are suckers for t-shirts.  They gave me my first “Grandpa” shirt which reads “Only the Best Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”

While I am more than confident this is correct of yours truly, I am equally as certain that a bunch of crappy dads get promoted to grandpa as well.  If one were shooting for accuracy it might read “Only Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”  They may not sell quite as many t-shirts, but my family to would want one.

Bad dads, good dads, all dads become granddads when one of their children has a kid.  It is such a crisis that there are so many shattered families.  Those granddads often get locked outside of this child’s inner circle.  I suppose they may not know the joy they are missing, but that does not make it any less tragic.

So, during this Thanksgiving Day week, I am beyond thankful.  Blessed that my family is close and we get to ride this wave together.  Any other way in unimaginable.  As for the shirt?  My humble self will not be wearing it in public.

But let’s not bury the lead here gang.  I am in the Best Dad category if there EVER was one!


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Good Stuff

It is different for everyone.  We often fail to look for it.  Too busy, too tired, too lazy.

I discovered mine recently.  Yes, I found the good stuff.  The things that matter.  

Money can’t buy them.  There is no set number of things that matter to someone and they change with time.  I am not even sure how to find them.  They just sort of show up and you think to yourself this is cool or oh my, when did you get here? or this is special; pay attention.

The good stuff is a flawless sunset, time with my granddaughter, having dinner with family, screened in porches, rocking chairs, college football and the warm hand of God on your shoulder as you bless a meal while sitting alone in a restaurant.

The good stuff can’t be created.  The same location or situation can be duplicated, but it takes a separate element to generate the goosebumps you feel the first time.  It is a God thing.

The good stuff gets missed when we are going through life’s motions in cruise control.  Too busy moving from thing to thing to slow down and look around.  I regret that the past several years calcified me.  My optics saw things on a scale of 1-7 rather than 1-10+.  Too much gray and not enough white.

I have had plenty of moments of great joy and happiness.  The problem is that I moved through them with my eye on NEXT so these moments peaked at a 7.  The Good Stuff only has a chance of happening if you can forget about the Next Stuff long enough to feel it.  Long enough to let the Good Stuff rise above the trees or break through the clouds.

O’ Lord, please help me linger and look deeper this Holiday Season!


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, November 2, 2018

Make Your Life Better

If I could guarantee to make your life better, would you let me?  Well, not me exactly, but would you follow some advice and give it a shot for 30 days?  

During a recent commute to work, I was listening to a sermon given by Rev. Paul Rasmussen, Senior Pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  I highly recommend you watch or listen to the message.  

There was one phrase that made me immediately hit the pause button.  It was one of those “I have got to hear that again.”  “Did I hear that right?” moments.  I’ve backed it up and listened to it at least a dozen times since then.  Someone had finally explained something I have never been able to find the words for.

The statement was this:

“It [reading the Bible] will make your life better; it will make you better at your life.”

I am not sure if this is his original thought or the concept of someone who influenced him, but it does not matter.  Whoever said this for the first time is not at all worried about who gets the credit.  Not seeking credit is a sign of true humility, but true humility deserves space to unpack in another chapter on another day.

Let me be clear about one thing.  I do not read scripture day and night.  I do not read scripture daily when life gets in the way or I’m not being intentional about doing so.

What I do know and my proof that this profound statement is true comes from my confession.  When I am not in God’s Word my life gets messy.  Most will never notice it, but I do not like who I am when my day doesn’t start with bible study.  Without it my life resembles the words of the Apostle Paul from Romans 7:15. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.”  [NLT]

I think the meat of the statement lies in the “make you better at life” part.  What that means to me is that we would be much more prepared to deal with life’s adversities having consistently spent time in God’s Word.  We can panic or we can turn to God for help.  No, God’s not going to pay the rent.  God is going to provide understanding, hope, friends, and peace.  And with those, the solution for hardship is more easily found

The truth is that the better we are at dealing with the rough patches of our lives, the better our life will be.  I contend the only way to get there is to get intimate with God and His Word.  

30 days isn’t going to do it or create the depth that we all wish we had, but you will feel different.  Each year my life gets better.  I attribute this to God making me better at doing life and that makes life more fun.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bad Compliments

You may not know this, but we are all pretty clueless.  The only way to avoid this is to be nonverbal.  Never speak and you’ll be fine.

Pay attention as others speak to strangers and you’ll quickly understand what I’m suggesting.  The conversations spiral downward with the passage of time as they fill space to “be polite”.  At some point a disjointed phrase will be uttered.  If we would only quit while we’re ahead or better yet, never get started at all.

I was at the return counter at Lowe’s a few weeks ago when the cashier called a manager for help with a customer.  No issues or friction between the two ladies just a simple override or something.  Within minutes an older gal in an electric wheelchair motored over.  She unhooked a banana colored plastic chain and wheeled through.  Then came a quick 180 degree spin and a hook of the chain back at home.  Some managerial master keystrokes were entered which allowed the return to move along.

Once things were back in shape, the manager reversed her previous course.  Spinning, almost dancing, with the chain and latch.  It was a thing of pure beauty.

The customer, observing the amazing pirouette, said “I’m impressed.  I don’t think even I could do that.”

“I’ve been doing this awhile” came a sarcastic reply from the manager.

Right then it hit me.  I did all I can to choke back a laugh.  Wait.  Was that a compliment?  Of course you couldn’t do that.  Really?  Was she saying she couldn’t do that right now or after a lifetime in a wheelchair?  Without the circumstances added to the statement it sounded like she didn’t think she could do that right now.  I wanted to say, “Come on, give it a whirl.  How do you know if you don’t try?”

To be fair, she didn’t mean any harm by it and remains clueless to this day of what she said.  She meant it as a compliment.  Nice try.  Sort of like “You look nice today” or “Have you lost some weight?”  Meant to be kind, but could be mistaken as “You look a heck of a lot better than you normally do”  and “You’re fat, but I want to encourage you to keep trying.”

Maybe just a simple Thank You would have been a little better received?

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace