My vision for a week of “Grandparent Camp” with our two older grandsons was classic. I envisioned five days of enrichment, grandparent bonding, and life lessons shared together. We were introduced to the concept of grandparent camp by long-time friends. Their grandchildren experienced a week of extended Bible school, arts and crafts, swimming in the pool and visits to local museums all presided over by their grandparents. Their grandchildren were perfect. Our first day of grandparent camp included an hour and twenty minutes in time-out. I needed the break. It was a time of testing limits and pushing boundaries while their parents were out of town for a week. The grandparents who take on grandparent camp should not also keep working everyday. Coordinating Meals on Wheels, conducting meetings, preparing for a wedding, dealing with a work crew and a host of other demands kept intruding on my camp experience.
The boys learned to adjust to their grandparents, mostly. They made it to a movie, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and the Oklahoma Aquarium without incident. They practiced their piano lessons, ate their meals at a variety of locations, went to Meet the Teacher Night at school and took at least one bath. Overall they said they enjoyed the week. I, on the other hand, needed a nap.
All of this reminded me of the number of grandparents in our community who have the full-time responsibility of raising their grandchildren. They do not have the luxury of turning the children back over to the parents. The parents are rarely in the picture, or are so caught-up in their own personal issues that the grandparent is the only hope for their child. Some of these grandparents were not all that successful in parenting the first time around. How many single grandparents do you know who are raising grandchildren; grandparents who are still working and trying to do it right this time? How can your family and our church help these grandparents? I suspect they might like for someone like you and me to listen to their stories and offer a prayer.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Visit with a grandparent. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
There was a time when church ball teams were a league of their own. Baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball kept the church sports fans fit and busy. The church leagues were tough, emotional and highly competitive. I came across a trophy from our church’s champion baseball team of 1937. Those were the days when Tulsa church leagues played teams from all churches and were divided into two divisions that mirrored the American and National leagues. There was even a playoff series between the league champions. In 1939 our church team won it all for the Red Church League. This particular trophy lists the names of the players and their positions, plus someone had etched on it the proud record: “Won 36, Lost 8; Won playoff in 4 straight.” Our men’s baseball team won the championship again in 1941 and 1943 before World War 2 intruded too deeply into the roster. At least two from that roster went on to become ministers—one as a Tulsa pastor and the other as a missionary to Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Digging deeply into a cabinet, I discovered a team ball from 1981. This was the year our women’s softball team won the Tulsa Baptist Associational League championship. The ball was signed by all of the players noting their positions on the team. This team played together for many years before merging into our co-ed softball team. Our church’s last sports team, formed in 2002, played in a non-church league. This was our adult co-ed indoor soccer team. Times have really changed. The church leagues are fading. Church sponsored children and youth sports ministries are leaving less time for the adult leagues. Were you ever on a church team?
I find that the men and women who were part of a church team almost always have a bond with each other that lasts for decades. They encouraged one another, they stood up for one another, they consoled each other in times of defeat, they celebrated the victories together and they fought through personal pain so everyone on the team might win. They played their position, they were faithful to each other, and sacrificed themselves so everyone else would succeed.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Play ball. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
“Every scar has a story,” she said, “tell me about yours.” So I did. She was pointing to my right forearm which bears a thick large scar. I told her about my near fatal car accident some 45 years ago. I hit a mountain, propelling my right elbow through the windshield, severing two of the three major nerves that control my hand and wrist. The scar she was pointing to was the unhappy result of a debate between my surgeons. The three other surgical incisions on my hand and arm are delicate thin-lined scars. The plastic surgeon did those. The orthopedic surgeon wanted to sew the 5-inch incision with one continuous piece of thread, like stitching a seam. Today they would probably use something like superglue and scotch tape to fix me up. A few weeks later when the cast and stitches were removed, the large incision opened revealing a large gash. The wound had healed down deep, but lay all exposed. Over time the gash filled with scar tissue.
Every scar has a story. Most are not pretty or pleasant. How many scars do you have? A scar is a wound that has healed. My first scar came when I was a toddler. I fell on the empty milk bottles outside the front door. I cut my left palm and wrist on the glass. Surviving childhood without a scar is one definition of a miracle.
I remember as a teenager going on a church visit to a home where a girl my age stood in the shadows of the hallway. Her parents pulled her out to meet us. She had survived catching fire as a little girl. Her face was melted. She had only patches for hair. Pain filled every fiber of the room. Scars mark us and remind us. The personal conversation about my scars brought the old hymn to mind, “Place Your Hand in the Nail Scarred Hand.” It’s an invitation for us to share our scars with Christ. Every scar has a story, even the scars you cannot see.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Embrace the scars. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
When Pope Francis said recently, “If someone is gay and has good will, who am I to judge?” my thought was, “Because you are the Pope and that’s what Popes do?” Then I thought that just maybe this Pope was stirring up the Roman Catholic Church for the good. Much is being made of his breaking with the trappings and traditions of his office. His personal mission seems to call the Church, its leaders and its people, to renounce materialism, duplicity and callousness. “Who am I to judge?” shines a big spotlight on all Christians everywhere.
Popes have the final word on Catholic doctrine, faith and practice. Popes have always decided who gets in and who does not. Pope Francis is intentionally moving the conversation from theological theory to personal relationship. He is seeking to dismantle the walls of separation between their spiritual leaders and ordinary people. Historically, the Protestant Movement protested the extremities of papal power, corruption, and manipulation. Baptists, in particular, are of the Free Church Movement, which sought to distance adherents even further from the Roman Catholic model by promoting congregational autonomy, believers’ baptism, the priesthood of all believers, and the separation of governments from religious entanglements.
“Who am I to judge?” points the world back to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). If all people are sinners, who am I to judge? Jesus stated it this way, “Do not judge or you too will be judged . . . Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3) Judging others belittles them, stereotypes them, and demeans them. Judging others feeds our sinful pride, self-righteousness and ego. The spotlight is shining on Christians today. How about your heart? Is it right with God.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Live in the light. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
July 24, 2013
Another prince of England was born this week. This royal baby, like most princes, will hopefully be king one day. He has a long way to go. His great-grandmother seems intent on serving as Queen until her death. By the way, her mother lived to be 105. His grandfather Charles has been a king-in-waiting for 64 years. By the way, his father is 92. The youngest prince’s own father is now 31. The new baby seems to have had a typical royal hospital birth, with thousands of curious people waiting outside. Not like my typical hospital birth story where my father waited in a room down the hall. But the new prince and I seem to be running parallel lives. I was born in the same hospital where my mother had been born. The new prince was born in the same hospital as his father. And his grandfather Charles and I share the same birth date.
Do you know your birth story? Everyone seems to have one. Sometimes the story is about the mother’s labor and delivery. Sometimes it’s about an unusual circumstance or place. Other times the birth story is fairly ordinary or routine but the naming process is highlighted. What was happening in your family when you were born? Some birth stories involve words like unexpected or premature. Some involve mad dashes or crazy relatives or medical emergencies. When our first daughter was about to be born, Corky came into the delivery room. Corky was a high school and college friend married to one of Dorothy’s best friends. He was the on-call obstetrician that day. Awkward is the word that comes to mind. But we soon got over it—there was a baby to be born and an excited doctor who was anxious to call his wife and tell her the news of our new baby.
Birth stories shape us and our names can define us. Firstborns get all the pictures and new clothes. Good luck if you come in fourth. And the middle child is always passed over by “the baby.” Nicknames are a sort of renaming of who you are to highlight your personality, or because it seemed funny at the time. Do you know the meaning of your name? The biblical way of naming was to bless the child with a name that would hopefully define character, future or vocation. Much time and speculation goes into the naming of our children. Some names are given to our children to honor others. This young prince will have multiple names and titles, some of which will change throughout his life. But like his forbearers, he will be called his “first” name.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Love who you are. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.