Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale, MS

Just a short post today.  We skipped date night tonight and are heading down to Clarksdale, Mississippi today for the Juke Joint Festival.  The best part, we get to spend the evening having fun with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  They are driving up to go to the festival and invited us to meet them.  I’m very excited as we don’t get to see them nearly often enough.

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pizzaI love traditions.  I have some personal traditions that I try to follow annually and there are others that we celebrate as a family.  Traditions help establish our family’s culture and tie us together.  We’ve also tried some traditions that just didn’t seem to take.  Here are some of my favorites and a few that just didn’t work.

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Friday Night Date Night

date_nightFriday night’s around our house is date night.  It makes for a convenient time for my wife and I to get away from everything and spend some time together.  We try to go to dinner and do some shopping, even if it is just window shopping.  Sometimes we’ll do a movie or something else.  Lots of times we end up doing some errands to keep our weekend emptier.

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What? A Weekend Post

It may come as a surprise to some of you that my schedule is vastly different on the weekend than it is during the week.  That means that I’m not generally active on either facebook or blogs during the weekend.  (Not sure I’d call my presence active during the week, but hopefully you get the point.)  In any case, I knew that the weekend would be the more difficult time for me to post, so I’m glad that I actually did get to post today, even if it took me until after eleven o’clock to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Roads Diverged

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” begins the famous poem by Frost.  I know Frost was speaking of choosing a road “less traveled” and what difference that had made in his life, but I cannot help but be drawn into the application within the image of the poem.  Frost pondered two roads, but from his perspective, they were not equal.  It was clear that one was less often chosen than the other and on that one he set his foot.  My roads today are not so clear.

I imagine it is easy to choose between two roads when one is plastered with “Hazard” signs or with “Detour” markers.  When one choice is clearly labeled as trouble, it is simplicity itself to choose the other.  Or even, as I suspect the case with Frost, one road promises a better vantage or a clearer view, that choice too is, perhaps not easy, but somewhat obvious.  Surely the road with the better view is steeper and harder to travel, but the ultimate advantages far outweigh the initial difficulties.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…” I stood glaring in frustration because neither promised benefits nor warned of danger.  Clearly, from this vantage point they are not equal, but neither are their final destinations.  “I must’ve taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque,” said Bugs Bunny.  I don’t want this to be my Albuquerque, and yet, I have no map to define the “right” turn.  Oh for an hour alone with the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament.  Which fork in this road is correct?

These are the occasions when my faith is tested the greatest.  These are the times when I feel most like a deist, or agnostic, or even atheist*.  I have a distinct and strong feeling that the outcome of this choice is important. The screaming voices of my past and present conflict within my skull making the choice difficult and existence miserable until I know the outcome.  They war with each other pointing to the good and bad of each path.

“You are a rebel, always have been.  You have such a hard time following authority it is no wonder you want to choose that path.  That is what you do when confronted with authority, you rebel.  Even when obeying is the best course for everyone involved, you stiffen up and bristle against the legitimate leading of God through the normal authority.  And you make everything worse for everyone in the end.”  (Says one voice)

“True, but in this case it is out of a desire for protection and security for your loved ones.  You want what is best and you want to prevent further harm.  The authority is wrong because of their inflexibility.  They don’t really know and they don’t really care.  They are simply operating out of a strict adherence to the rules.  Your desire is for protecting and nurturing.”  (Says the other voice)

“Of course, but that’s just it, the decision of the authority is exactly what is needed in this case.  Surely it doesn’t fit the strict aspect of the rules, but the results will be exactly what is needed and what is necessary.  It will be difficult, but that is what is needed.  The best way to protect and nurture is to prepare.  And doing what the authority says is a great chance to eliminate bad attitudes, bad characteristics, and prepare for life.  Maybe the authority doesn’t care, but God can still use them and work His plan.”  (The first replies)

“Really the key here is that the authority is usurping your authority.  You granted the authority the right to make decisions, but this one is stupid and it doesn’t and shouldn’t be so inflexible.  The solution is not as severe as the authority is demanding.  God can work everything out without this severity and there isn’t a need for anyone to suffer anything.” (The second responds)

Now, which of these voices is the proverbial light angel and which is the dark angel?  And therein lies the conundrum.  And the answer is not forthcoming.  “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1).  So how to make a decision that seems to have a weightiness to its impact and yet is not a clear choice between right and wrong.

“Two roads diverged in a wood….”  How far down the road must we travel before we know if it is the wrong road and is that too far to turn back?  And this, perhaps is crux of the decision.  One choice cannot be revoked.  To take that step is to seal the decision.  Once that road is chosen, it cannot be undone.  So, therefore, we choose the other.  And hope for the best.  And rely on the ability to change our choice should we need to.  Hopefully we will know if it is right or if we should change before it is too late.


*- For what it is worth, I could never become an atheist.  At least not until I learn to spell it correctly and not athiest.  Thankfully, spell check exists and corrects me every time.  Equally thankfully, God is easier to spell.

The Way Of Things

So, yesterday my eldest child, my 18-year old daughter, left the nest.  She returned to South Carolina to begin getting her life established and prepare for her October wedding.  So many thoughts and ideas in my head, I don’t know how long it will take for everything to sort out, but writing helps.  Maybe.

Yesterday evening was numb.  That’s the only word I can think to use because I know I felt, I know I ached, I know I gushed, but I don’t know how much of it really sunk in.  The world was passing by.  My daughter’s bags and boxes were being loaded by her fiancé and brother.  She was gathering last minute stuff.  My wife was crying.  My youngest and her friends were crying.  My younger son was being silly and tossing out smart remarks (at 14, that is how he deals with things).  My older son was being tough and strong (until his sister hugged him goodbye).  It was there, it was real, but it was surreal, too.  I was there, but the numbness took me away from there.  I did almost cry.  I thought I would, but then my wife began crying and I “had to be strong”.  Yeah, guy-macho-stuff, whatever, but that’s what happened.

I, of course, don’t mean to detract from my daughter.  She is beautiful and she is ready for this.  Or, well, she isn’t any more ready than any of us were.  She’s young and, in many ways, naïve.  But she is ready to go.  I’m sure she will do fine.  She has much to learn, but so did we all.  She has a good foundation and a great fiancé.  We don’t always agree, but we don’t have to.  She will be fine, and if not, she is strong and we are still here for her.  I don’t mean to impress that our tears and concerns are because of her bolting away in anger and frustration.  Not at all.  She wants to spread her wings and we want her to be our baby girl.  That is the way of things.  We reluctantly let go of the child we knew and she spreads her wings and learns that flying is great, but much more work than she knew. 🙂  That is the way of things.

Today, though, somewhere between the alarm and work, the numbness wore off and has given way to raw.  Again, the only way I can describe it.  I am trying to avoid people and be overly gracious when I can’t.  If for no other reason, for the simple fact that the people I deal with don’t deserve to be handed their heads when I rip them off.  And the rawness is like the exposed nerves of an open wound, laying there, ready to lash out at the slightest provocation.  So, I hold myself in check.  It isn’t anyone’s fault, and no one deserves the overreaction that is hiding under the surface.  So I bite my tongue and hold my breath.  Better this way for everyone.

As I think on it, maybe the switch from numbness to raw was when I listened to “our song” this morning.  Since she was little, Lydia’s “song” has been Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle.  I listened to that this morning, among others, and I cried.  Finally, at work, among cubicles filled with co-workers, I had “my private” time and cried.  Went through four or five tissues before the song finished, and my nose is still runny.  Fortunately, it is allergy season.  But I think I can trace the raw back to then.  Funny how that works.  I think I can “analyze” it too.  I’ve been told I’m better than average at analyzing things, but I rarely turn that back towards me.  I don’t like the results, normally, but this time seems decent enough.

I think at its core, I don’t want my baby to grow up.  I mean, I definitely want her to grow up and lead her own life, but part of me wants to still be daddy that can do everything.  Part of me wants the toddling diapered waddle coming around the corner when I get home.  Part of me still wants that tiny hand reaching out to grab mine.  Part of me wants the pigtails and glittering eyes telling of the softball game.  Part of me wants the spunky pre-teen professing that she should be allowed to play baseball, “because she can do it better than most of the boys”.  Part of me wants to still be daddy.

But…  but part of me wants to watch her make her own way.  Part of me wants to walk her, in her radiant beauty, down the aisle.  Part of me wants to visit her new home and see how she decorates it to her own tastes.  Part of me wants to wait with anticipation for the first news of her own kids.  Part of me wants to hold a crying new grandchild.  Part of me wants to grow old and watch the cycle continue for another generation.  Part of me wants to move on and be dad/grandpa.

“Time heals all wounds,” they say.  I don’t know if that is really true, but I know that with time this one will diminish and life will go on.  Our family will adjust to the changes, and eventually we will do this again (and again, and again).  This, of course, is the way of things.


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