I don’t know about your town, but in mine the main grocery store has become a very large employer of special needs folks. The spoiled rich kids call these people “specials” for short and because they have enough wealth to not have to understand things like life on planet Earth. Given that I was the spoiled rich kid too, I was embarrassingly uncomfortable when I saw this hiring trend. But over the last year or so, I have come full circle with such force that I am often dizzy. I didn’t do it by choice. It took the Word of God. But I think I now see what Jesus meant when He said, So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit…Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Despite what the world often tells us, the goal is not homogeneity–the goal is the glorifying God our Father through building the Kingdom of Heaven as proclaimed by the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.
Here’s another thing. As an adult, I still produce the thought, “I just am uncomfortable because I don’t know how to act around them.” H- has never evidenced that she has of yet had that thought. Don’t misread me. It’s not that she has “acted” perfectly around all people, it’s that she just acts. H- is a child. Jesus also said, truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
My point: Our problem is we do not readily discern between child-like, dogmatic, immovable, and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ and NOT child-like, dogmatic faith in the things that we build on this foundation. But the distinction is real. And now is a good time to start making it. Jesus also said, therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock
Now for some fun. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this display just now at the store. Transformers will always have a special place in me because my helicopter was the first transformer in the first movie. But that place just got smaller and more remote. Could they get it more wrong? When I need a recommendation for which razor-maker is doing the best these days at ensuring I don’t accidentally bleed-out next time I shave, it will only and ever be accepted from man-flesh. Sorry, Prime.
“Yes,” I am aware that I am a hypocrite. But “no,” that is not going to deter me from changing my wicked ways and speaking truth to power (that’s right, ladies, you are powerful).
I cannot remember precisely when it began for me, but if I give it a thought, it was probably when I first headed from little pink house-Lenexa to the Rocky Mountains to ski as a teenager. It may have been the drastic difference in how you appeared on the mountain versus how you appeared in the restaurants, that is, the change from puffy snow-pants to form-fitting leggings.
Or maybe it was the cheerleaders’ underskirt attire during cold-weather events. Aren’t cheerleaders the rightful leaders when it comes to fashion?
Whatever it was, as a young man I wasn’t going to say “no”–if you weren’t. More form-fitting clothing, more of the time, I said!
But now, after two or so years of all y’all–no matter how short, tall, fat, or thin–wearing nothing except leggings, I’m telling you it is time to put your pants back on.
Oh, and here’s a tip for the next time this trend surfaces: I maybe could have lasted for a few more months if you wouldn’t have started wearing leggings that have massive patches of fabric missing around your not-naughty bits.
Here’s the tru tru. I have a daughter. As you know, I cannot fight every battle and win the war. So help a brother out! She deserves better from you.
Not sure the reason, I found myself standing in the kitchen, holding the Krusteaz Belgian waffle mix box. (H- adorably calls said mix ‘sugar’.) She was finishing her waffles at the nearby table. That’s the reason! I was putting the box back on top of the refrigerator. Beside it, I also keep the cereal and–my favorite non-perishable treat–the Nutty Bars up there. Like her ol’ man, H- too had experienced love at first sight with Little Debbie’s delectable wafers.
“But you can’t give me the peanut butter and chocolate bars for snack time,” H- declared out of the blue.
I turned to look at her. She turned to look at me.
“Oh yeah?” I asked, carefully dividing my attention between the waffle iron and H-‘s mind.
“Why can’t you have them at snack time?”
“Because some kids are allergic to peanut butter.”
“Don’t they eat lunch with you too? How can you have Nutty Bars at lunch, but not at snack time?”
“At snack time the kids sit at the same table as us and they can smell the peanut butter,” she answered steadfastly.
This smelling problem being news to me, I resumed my inquiry with, “Okay, so what do they do at lunch?”
“They sit at the peanut butter table. There are not very many of them.”
“Ha. The ‘peanut butter table?’ What’s that?”
“That’s the table where you can’t have peanut butter.”
“So the poor kids who can’t have peanut butter have to sit all by themselves?”
“No,” she corrected. “They just sit at the peanut butter table. Anyone can sit at the peanut butter table as long as they don’t have peanut butter.”
“So there is no peanut butter at the peanut butter table?” I asked.
You know, you’re walking through the grocery store and need to buy some V8, which you have coded “special drink”, for yourself and your daughter. So you’re walking through the store and as you’re about to check out you remember you need some more special drink. Terribly disappointed, you discover that their stock is out of the economy-sized jug. Like any self-respecting American man, you apply your fickle-as-a-woman’s-mood frugality to the situation and decide to just buy another brand than buy the kick-a-man-while-he’s-down regular-sized, overpriced jug. Having tried the store brand once before and finding it less than pleasing to your palette, you move on to Campbell’s tomato juice.
Days later, you find yourself studying Koine Greek in an effort to get right with God. Realizing it’s almost bedtime, and so time for a glass of that glorious act-of-vegetable-eating replacing special drink, you move to the fridge. “Ah!” you exclaim as you open it and remember you get to test what Campbell’s has to offer to the people. “Will it be bad?” you cringe. “Could it be better?” you hope. Excitement builds. Scanning the label to discover just how many servings of vegetables you’re about to ingest, you shrug off the creeping doubt that this red elixir is no equivalent to special drink. Pouring the beverage into your cup, you again fight away thoughts such as, “You know, V8 really isn’t just tomatoes, and this seems like it is just tomatoes.”
Then you sniff it. Then you stop your practiced chugging and conclude that, in fact, Campbell’s tomato juice is tomato juice, and not special at all.
Oh well. Only 16 days until the now open jug can be thrown away guilt free. 16. Guilt-filled. Days.
As I mentioned a few posts back, for most of my adult life pizza delivery always has received a nod as lucrative part-time work. As I recently developed a need for part-time work, I decided to test the theory. A shop nearby had a sign in the window, so I applied, got the job, and can formally report the rumors are true. It’s good money per hour. The trouble is Americans are trained to view dinnertime as only a three-ish hour window. That said, my new goal is to train you all to think dinnertime is all day. Wish me luck.
Only slightly changing gears, I found myself adding some pepperoni to a sandwich yesterday at home, and I realized that if I were giving the Sermon on the Mount, or perhaps it’s safer to say, if Jesus was here today and gave that sermon, he could easily have substituted the word “pepperoni” for “salt” when he declared, “You are the salt of the earth,” without losing much theological ground. Just sayin’. I can’t think of the last time I added salt to anything. But my fridge hasn’t been without a red Hormel pepperoni bag in over a year. Sandwiches, salads, burgers, and of course pizza just wouldn’t be the same without pepperoni. White gold was soooo yesterday. Red gold is where it’s at. Can I get an amen?
I wonder if it would improve waffles. Anyone able to report?
By the way, did you know that Oprah eats dinner every meal? It’s true! I swear it!
One person presents/reads/speaks uninterrupted for up to twenty minutes on any topic of their choosing. Up to thirteen other people listen while they eat dinner. (We do spaghetti). Then those thirteen folks (even the women) each take a turn at responding–also uninterrupted–for up to ten minutes. Then we break for dessert. Then the speaker gets a ten minute follow-up window, after which the others get their own up-to-five minute responses. That’s the Mark Twain Listening Club.
With the enthusiasm of some friends, I began the Mark Twain Listening Club (MTLC) over two years ago. We meet twice a month (give or take) and while talking for twenty minutes or ten minutes seems daunting, it does not take much thought to realize that it isn’t about talking, but listening. You share for up to ten minutes and listen for one hundred thirty. Now, what, I wonder, do you suppose happens when people listen to each other? I’ll tell you. Empathy. Understanding. Fun. Friendship. And witty witticism’s.
Last dinner a friend wanted to talk about manifesting reality. She had recently watched What The Bleep Do We Know? She loved the ideas presented within that film but was a bit nervous that she would be ostracized for misunderstanding them or oversimplifying them. But when one of her conclusions or take-aways or bottoms lines was “Consequently, if I’m manifesting my reality, and for example trying to make a new friend, then I don’t have to focus on their negative qualities. Instead, I can choose to direct my attention towards the positive qualities,” you can’t help but want to be closer to someone with such heart. Even her husband, the scientist, couldn’t find fault with the argument.
Naturally, the phenomenon known as The Secret, not to mention a certain more ancient book, was introduced during the pursuant discussion. While it is impossible to recreate the power of the moment, when one friend had his turn and asked, “What the bleep is the secret?”, I couldn’t help but think that there is no social setting that fosters such simple creativity than table dinners of this nature.
You know what the neatest thing about the Mark Twain Listening Club dinners is? I chose the goofy name to pay tribute to Mark Twain because I got the idea from his autobiography (and women attendees weren’t allowed to speak in his day). But about a year into it, someone pointed out the acronym could also be “More Tender Loving Care.”
I started this in my head about fifteen times and always discard it because it is too much about me. How to proceed, then?
I shut you down big time earlier this year, as you know. Believe me when I say (again) how embarrassed I am for that.
I can’t promise that I’ll believe this tomorrow, but special for today let me say that I think your life has proven that despite your being the younger brother, you lead the way in exemplifying the best qualities a man can possess, especially when measured against a certain “know-it-all who can’t keep his trap shut.” See? What is the problem?
I’m proud of you. I love you. The last two visits have been very nice. H- seems very nice. Hold her like a butterfly.
PS – I’m so excited for the speech come April. You are not going to regret your decision. (You should be nervous enough to consider if maybe you should pick someone else, but not so nervous that you do more than consider it. Part of the reason I’m struggling now is I can’t say a lot that I’m saving for that more appropriate setting.)
PPS – I need the next month to go by slow; the fast-approaching trip to Copper is having the opposite effect, no thanks to you.
But what is it?
Not just bread and cheese and sauce, no. This meal fit for God himself is so much more.
It is the sound of the loveliest doorbell. It is the acceptable apology for the mealtime “oops!” It is the welcoming party when the vacation ends.
It is the taste of summertime birthdays. It is the texture of picking which movie to watch first. It is the height of soda can towers.
It is the singing clock’s twelve chimes reminding all that Friday is gone. It is the placing of a small hand into a big one. It is the compromise between parents and children.
It is soda’s groom.
It is breakfast. It is lunch. It is dinner. It is the substance of every moment in between.
It is nourishment. And as nourishment, it is life itself.
Is it worthy of worship, this pizza?
Yes. An unapologetic, unabashed, unable to understand yes.
“All aboard!” he yelled in his best train conductor voice. She loved riding on the front of the shopping cart as they made their way through the grocery store.
“All aboard!” she mimicked, smiling and grabbing hold. “Faster daddy!”
It was Wednesday night. They were buying enough supplies to last them for the coming week. Racing through the produce section, skipping past the deli on the right, and taking a hard left with a little too much speed, they made it to the back of the store in record time, narrowly avoiding a collision with the lobster tank.
“Let’s see. What do we need H-? I think we need lunch meat for my lunches, bread-”
“Milk, daddy? We need milk, right daddy?”
“That’s right, but that’s all the way on the other side. What else do we need before then?”
“Yep, cereal,” he answered.
Passing the Pepsi shrine, he turned down the breakfast aisle. They were alone. With one big shove he jumped onto the back of the cart as they cruised towards the off-brand bags.
Beaming with joy, she could only ask, “What are you doing, daddy? What are you doing?”
“Oh, just having fun. Errrrrrt!” he sounded, halting prematurely at the sight of pancake mix. “I think we need pancake mix too.”
“Yep. What’s this? Look here H-. It says we can make 130 pancakes out of just this one bag. That’s a lot of pancakes, huh?”
“A lot of pancakes?”
“Yes, a lot of pancakes. Can you eat 130 pancakes?”
“No, that’s silly,” she said, laughing.
“Yeah, me neither. Do you believe this bag has enough mix to make 130 pancakes?”
“What do you say we put Krusteaz to the test this weekend?”
“Your friends like pancakes right?”
“Yeah, your friends. What do you say we invite all of them over for breakfast on Saturday, and see if we can really make 130 pancakes?”
The special operations warriors segregated themselves from the rest of the soldiers in the DFAC. “Deefak” is how everyone referred to the dining facility–the chow hall. After only a matter of days in-country, it became apparent to all how to distinguish those who worked inside “the fence” from those who worked outside “the fence”. These men worked outside the fence. They weren’t necessarily more dedicated, or smarter, but they had always wanted to do what they were doing and happened to be good at it. And they were dedicated. And they were smart.
On the ceiling of the DFAC hung flags. There were flags of the different nations of the world that were in the coalition of forces, and flags of the 50 states.
Suddenly, after a break in the conversation, one of the men spoke up.
“Hatu. Huh, where’s that country? It sounds familiar, but I can’t seem to place it. South America? Africa?” he asked.
“Definitely Africa,” chimed in one of the men more respected for his book knowledge.
“I don’t know,” said another.
“It doesn’t have an African ring to it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in South America,” challenged a third.
Without the internet at their fingertips, the hard men were left with all the nuances of communication to determine who to believe–conviction in the voice, the tone of voice, facial expressions, and look of the eyes. Lastly, all waited to see if somebody would wager that they were correct. No one was so bold.
At last, all eyes found themselves gazing at the flag, trying to look for clues. The stocky mustached reader finally broke the silence.
“Hatu. Ha. Morons. It’s not Hatu, it’s Utah. You just read it from the back side of the flag.”
In all caps, it was an easy mistake we suppose, but one that silenced this proud group of men for some time.