We saw the toddler boy with his parents waiting to board a tour of Mayan ruins in Mexico. That’s not normally where you’d take a toddler on vacation, but he was too little to care. Besides, it was his parent’s vacation.
The toddler was clinging to his parents, no one else. The mother even told a well-meaning worker trying to help them off the bus that he never, ever went to strangers.
Two hours later, standing a distance from the Chichen Izu ruins, the toddler pitter patted away from his parents right up to my wife, Janet. He looked up at her and held up his arms to be picked up.
She simply said, “Awe”, reached down and scooped him up in her arms. The little boy looked at her closely, then laid his head on her shoulder in peaceful contentment. Continue reading A Child’s Wisdom
Over dinner my youngest daughter, Jessica, said she has the STAAR English test, a standardized, mandated test in Texas schools. She’s nervous about having to write about some randomly assigned topic in just 45 minutes of time.
Long story short, I agreed to do the same. She quickly picked out a random topic: Should you ALWAYS tell the truth?
I was thinking puppy dogs or butterflies, but she picked a hard one.
— The STAAR test begins. The teacher gives instructions, and then turns the 45-minute hour glass over. Alright class, your test starts, NOW! —
Should you ALWAYS tell the truth? Continue reading To Tell The Truth
(This is based on a true story told to me by a Chief Juvenile Probation Officer.)
~~He knelt down on his knees, looked up at Jesus on the cross, and shook his fist. “I hate you”, he said loudly, “I hate you.” He said it over and over. Soon he was screaming with every fiber of his being. Louder and louder, with more and more pent-up emotions streaming out of his voice. “I hate you! I HATE you! I HATE YOU!”~~
The boy had suffered emotional and verbal abuse from his mother since his birth. When his father was around, which wasn’t a lot, it was always the same song, second verse. He could count on one hand the times a physical beating for some slight or imagined offense hadn’t followed a visit with his father. Continue reading I Hate You, But Not Really
The lady blurted out to the Walmart Customer Service worker, “I’m the one you called a few minutes ago about the purse!”
I was waiting in line and glanced at her. The worker asked her to describe the purse. She did, and was told to wait just a minute while the worker went to the back office.
She was casually dressed in blue jeans, flip flops and a bright, pink Fight Breast Cancer t-shirt. Her hair was about half an inch long over her entire head. In fact, I wasn’t sure if she was being treated for cancer, or just wearing her hair short. She waited with an anxious, lip chewing expression on her face. A minute later, the Walmart worker came out holding a small red change purse.
Continue reading Little or Lot Faithful
At church, a boy about seven years old was baptized. As is custom before a baptism at our church, the media team shows a video of each person talking about their life, why they chose to believe, and why they want to be baptized.
In the boy’s video, he spoke sincerely, and his contagious smile was memorable because he had lost both front teeth. He said several times in the video that he wanted to be “babatized” and talked about how he wanted someone special from out-of-town to “babatize” him.
Turns out, the special person was the boy’s godfather, a young man in his late twenties who could easily pass for a military soldier. Where we go to church, immersion is the mode of baptism, which means going completely under water from head to toe, or maybe if you’re seven years old, getting dunked. Continue reading The Best Babatism Ever
While pushing a grocery buggy with a squeaky, lop-sided wheel through the store, a happy dance suddenly rises from the marrow of my bones. Blue Bell’s on sale!
Feeling tears of joy well up in my eyes, I stand hopelessly in front of the double glass doors completely mesmerized by the gold and brown rim half gallons of ice cream. Salivating like Pavlov’s dog, I narrow in on Southern Blackberry Cobbler, but just before I reach for it, I see Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough out of my peripheral vision, and there’s Moo-Llennium Crunch above that!
Those made me second guess myself, and fight, and I mean fight, to walk away from it all like a good boy should. But like a fly caught in a spider’s web, both feet stick to the floor as people pass me on both sides of the aisle. Continue reading Blue Bell Blues
In church I was probably the least prepared person there, and most likely, the one who needed to be there the most. The preacher started talking about togetherness, belonging, unity, community.
Somehow, someway, sometimes something will hit you right between the eyes and just smack across the brow. Today it smacked me. Community.
I looked around. A few rows over sat a young couple who are privately grieving a miscarriage and wondering when, if ever, will they have a child. They hurt. Only those who’ve been there know how hard it is to say goodbye before you say hello. Community.
Continue reading Heart of Community
Stillborn — that’s what the doctor said, but to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended family, you very much lived! Thank you so much for entering our lives, even if ever so briefly. It is sweet, yet bitter, to miss and love you so much at the same time. Goodbye seems impossible before hello.
Your mother knows you better than anyone. She loved…no, she loves you dearly, Emmitt! You made her really sick those first few months. She was miserable in the mornings, and certain smells, like baking brownies, made her really nauseous. By the third trimester though, she was talking about how much you moved and how hard you kicked. We knew you were there because sometimes your mommy would let us put a hand on her tummy and feel you move. You would roll and stretch big, then give a hard kick just for good measure! I think you got all that energy from your daddy.
Continue reading Dear Emmitt
Problems knock on everyone’s door. If not today, tomorrow. Troubles come. Troubles go. Some work out. Some don’t. Some people crater in the storm, some thrive, others just survive. Eventually the valleys, tunnels, the dark roads all reach an end, and in the end, there’s relief.
Still, it may seem impossible to get through. The mountains look too high. The valleys are too dark and deep. The water is over your head and you’re quickly losing strength. Energy fades. Determination wanes. Encouragement leaves. Continue reading It’ll Be Alright
In the brevity of a moment there are seconds, when noticed, that mysteriously blink. Those blinks are where the essence of life is lived. It is in the mystique of those brief seconds when everything can, and does, change. Although those seconds may be understood, they are never adequately explained.
It’s the seconds between a baby in the womb, and the first breath of life. It’s the seconds between a mindless, carefree drive in the car, and an explosion of the air bag. Continue reading The In-Between Seconds