Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quiet Afternoon

Joyce has her earphones on, so she can hear the radio without interrupting my preparation of tomorrow's Sunday school lesson. (I think she's listening to a Christian radio station.)

She snorted a little laugh, so I just had to ask:

Bob: What's so funny?

Joyce: There'll be all colors in heaven, but no one will be blue.

Bob: Yeah, somehow I always knew those Smurfs were gonna burn in hell.

(But Joyce didn't laugh. Maybe, with her earphones stuck in her ears and all, she just didn't hear me. Or ... then again ... maybe she did.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just James

Our second son was Just James.

The story of how he became "Just James" begins prior to his birth. Joyce and her sister were pregnant at the same time, and of course, during one of their visits, the topic of baby names came up. Joyce informed her sister that if we had another boy we'd use the maiden names of the two grandmothers and dub him "James Martin". Joyce's sister immediately protested, "You can't use 'James', I already spoke to Grandpa James and got permission to name my son James."

Well, needless to say (since our James was due in August and hers in November) Joyce failed to see the compelling force of this argument. And as luck would have it, both children were boys -- our son James Martin and his cousin James Gerald. (And oddly enough, Grandpa James never did get around to calling and chewing us out for stealing the name he'd deeded to Joyce's sister.)

Thereafter, whenever we'd gather with Joyce's side of the family, to avoid confusion, we'd add the middle name in referring to our respective Jameses. But in a few years we learned that this compromise wasn't acceptable to all the parties involved. Our three-year-old James protested vehemently: "I'm not James Martin. I'm just 'James'!" Being the insensitive lout I am (though, to quote John Cleese, "I got bettah"), I replied to the most tender-hearted of my boys: "Ohhh! Well, I'm so glad to meet you, Just James. Does anyone call you 'James the Just'?"

The poor child was incensed that his own father would mock him, but being just three, he could only counter with: "Nooooo! Not 'Just James' -- just 'James'!" I'm now ashamed to admit, I found his response hilarious ... until I noticed tears of frustration trickling down his red cheeks. Fortunately, James has long-since forgiven my parenting and nowadays even finds the "Just James" story funny.

How time flies. That little boy I taunted is now married. I'd always told James that the Lord was preparing a good wife for him and that she was worth waiting for. God was under no obligation to keep my promise, but He really outdid Himself in creating James's charming bride Amber. Today James and Amber celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

But sadly they won't be having an evening out to celebrate this joyous event, since today also marks the twenty-second day since James deployed to Afghanistan. So to James and Amber (as you both read this from a half a world apart) I offer one word of encouragement: "The same all-wise loving God who united you, will bring you back together. Never again will you be just James or just Amber."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Releasing the Kraken Weiner

Our son Andy married a very imaginative and funny lady, as evidenced by this dainty dish she set before our granddaughter...

... though I rather doubt the darling three-year-old fully grasps the scope of her mommy's kraken sense of humor...

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Ran Into Lin

Yesterday the TRE arrived at Victory Station just in time to make the connection with the light rail. I walked briskly to the beckoning Green Line and took my place opposite the open doors. As I turned around to face the passengers still entering the west-facing doors Lin walked in. I spoke first, "Morning Lin!"

Lin (tapping his cane against the pole that ran ceiling to floor, then stepping in next to me) replied, "Who's that?"

I answered, "It's Bob."

"Oh, hi Bob. So you usually take the early train?"

"Yeah ... then I guess that means you usually catch a later train?"

"Uh huh, but that's because I'm always on the morning conference call to get the report what IT systems have quit working during the night."

"So you missed the IT meeting this morning?"

"No, not very much. Whatever disasters have occurred will still be there when I get to work."

"Yeah, trouble does have a way of being there whenever you feel up to it."

Lin lamented, "... and especially when you don't."

I ruminated, "Life was so much simpler way back when. I remember back when I joined IT -- you and William shared a cube. Back then James was showing me the ropes, so I tended to tag along with him a lot. I'd observed that you and William seemed attached at the hip. One day I saw William without you, so I (being the smart ass I am) asked, 'Where's Tweedle-dee?' William didn't even hesitate. He fired back, 'Where's Beevis?'"

"No Bob, I don't think I've ever heard that story. But it sounds just like William."

The train pulled up to the Akard Street Station and we stepped off. Lin successfully negotiated his way between a tree and a bench to get to the main sidewalk. I stayed at his right side and informed him, "It looks like we'll be crossing Akard street first."

When we got to the corner Lin passed to the left of the large concrete pillar ... barely, so I had to stop and step behind him. As Lin stepped into the street he spoke to the empty space on his right, "So Bob, {something inaudible}."

I quickened my step, resumed my spot on Lin's right and said, "Sorry Lin, you'll have to repeat that. You know, we make quite a team ... a blind guy trying to carry on a conversation with a deaf guy."

Lin smiled and repeated his query, "So what keeps you busy these days?"

I gave him a brief rundown of what I've been working on recently, all the while marveling how gracefully Lin navigated the crosswalk, the curb and various obstacles along the sidewalk. Finally (just as we arrived at the front door of the building) I just had to comment, "That's amazing how skillfully you sidestep all those dog turds."

Lin laughed, "Hand of God!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Proverb Thirty Two

The sermon today was a continuation in our study of the Book of Acts: chapter 27 -- the first part of the Apostle Paul's trip from Jerusalem as a prisoner of Rome, ending with their shipwreck on the Island of Malta. The pastor pointed out that Paul at the beginning of the chapter had no credibility with the centurion who was charged with delivering him to Rome, but by the end (as Paul's prediction of disaster came true) the crew was following Paul's instructions. The reason for their change of attitude toward Paul can be found in verse 25: "Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told."

Paul's faith in the One who has proven Himself faithful ultimately gives Paul credibility. Our challenge is to be people of faith -- and in the end God will give us whatever credibility we need to accomplish what he's called us to do.

The pastor then took the contrary position: "Of course, you're probably saying to yourself: 'I'm no Paul. I don't have the Paul's faith or gifts.' I mean, don't you ladies find the Proverb 31 woman a bit intimidating. And if there's a Proverb 31 woman, why isn't there a Proverb 32 man? It just doesn't seem fair that women are supposed to live up to the lofty example of womanly perfection in Proverb 31, but there's no Proverb 32."

At this point, my pretty bride leaned toward me and whispered: "He's wrong -- there is a Proverb-thirty-two man."

I whispered back, "There isn't even a Proverb 32; how can there be a Proverb 32 man?"

So Joyce immediately turned the pages of her Bible to prove me wrong. And sure enough, she was right and, yes, ... I was wrong.

Proverb 30:2 "Surely I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Outward Bound

The folks who don't know him see him as one of those steely warriors in an "Army Strong" advertisement. His beautiful bride sees him as that striking young man who (less than a year ago) was anxiously standing at the end of the aisle in the chapel and who (just last week) was smiling so broadly when the sonogram revealed their backstroking beanie baby. Joyce and I will always see him as that determined four-year-old in the lime green baseball cap running away to "the house with the rotten pumpkin that's drawn on" or as that fortunate yet unfortunate first-grader. But starting today we won't see him, not for quite awhile anyway.

(Photo Update)