The Three Frustrated Magi

Brynli with parentsBrynliBrynli and DadNew Brynli

All the signs pointed to an impending birth. Letters and utterances reinforced the medical prophecies that a child was to be born the week of March 30, 2014. Three aged sages, Magi’s of the north compared notes and decided that it was time to make the long journey south to the birthplace of this special child. How wise were these Sages? With a combined age of 204 years between them, no one could deny they were masters of long journeys.

Following the on-Star of the east, they made their way bearing gifts not by camel but by horsepower. With occasional stops to rest their weary horses, they refreshed at numerous corrals (Golden), gardens (Olive) and Arches of Gold (McDonalds). It was at these places of repose that they excitedly spoke of the child that was to come. Great hope rested on this child that would find favor among three generations.

The arrival had to be timed just right. Arrive too early, they might get lost in the event; late and they could miss the birth altogether. Daily they studied the weather and writ of texts, and planned their journey accordingly. Fruitful stops at family, friends, and points of interest made the journey varied and enjoyable.

As they neared their final destination in the Sunshine State, son and wife who was great with child met them from afar. A celebration meal had been prepared. But alas, they had come t0o early. The one for whom they had made the journey, had not arrived. As the feast commenced the news was good, the forthcoming child would be a girl. She would be known by the name Brynli and she would be prized among all her people.

Prayers, blessings, and gifts were bestowed upon the son and daughter as the magi (grandparents and father (me)) returned to their homeland. It was with sadness they would learn it would be another five days before the medical prophesies would be fulfilled.

While there may be some similarities between another birth which occurred 2000 years ago and this one, one thing is certain. I’m confident those magi’s didn’t have their mother frequently asking with a heavy Bostonian accent, “How much fathuh till we get they-uh?”
I might have missed the birth of my granddaughter, but sometimes the journey (spending time with those you love in this case my Mom and Dad) is as meaningful as the destination.

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No, I Don’t Want to Be Your Sweat Gland

In my lifetime I have seen trends that have been inane, funny and even downright disturbing; the pet rock, leisure suits, and most social media to name a few. But one thing I don’t recall in my childhood (which I believe has mushroomed out of control) is cologne or perfume inspired by famous people. I don’t recall as a child walking into my local store and seeing Captain Kangaroo body spray, or Phyllis Diller hair glitter. No, we celebrated our own diversity and individuality and we liked it that way. Besides didn’t every eight year old boy have hair like Phyllis Diller?

At my local retailer this past week while searching for cologne, I reached a saturation point. The sales attendant was friendly enough but was too persistent. “What are you looking for,” she asked. Oh I just want something that smells ruggedly appealing. The list of fragrances she offered me sounded like the attendance roster at the Country Music Awards and Oscars combined. Thank you but no, I don’t want to smell like Tim McGraw’s sweat glands. Oh, and Usher’s armpit is out of the question too! If I absolutely have to smell like a famous star, then let it be Paul Newman’s microwave popcorn. That’s it!

Advertisers are sneaky. I see every product known to man creeping onto clothes, handbags, and hats but I’m not falling for it. If I were meant to wear something on my bumper, I would have been born a car. I would advocate one designer not make a maternity shirt. I can’t help it. I have to shout out “boy” or “girl” when I see a woman with a big rounded belly wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word “Guess” on it. Funny, they always stare. I know some people freely choose to look like an overhead bi-plane with a flapping advertisement banner behind it, but not me. When people see me, I want them to see dignified, plain, and smelling fresh.

This week an older woman in church hugged me and said, “You smell really good, what do you call what you’re wearing?” I said, “Clean.” Boy that sure sounds a lot better than saying, Justin Timberlake.

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The Far Fetched Fashionista

I want to go on record and admit that I am no catalog model. That is unless you’re talking about inserting me in a Tractor Supply flyer under saddle accessories. I’m well aware God parlays His talents and blessings to all of us differently. I’m glad He values the heart the most, because the rest of me needs an overhaul. I once told a young woman that God gave me two choices in life. She asked, “What were they?”. I said, “I could either be very handsome or very rich.” Puzzled she blurted out, “What did you choose?” I didn’t bother giving her an answer, what was the point?

My wife is always trying to improve how I look. I tell her trying to do anything with me would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But as my greatest critic, it is her influence that determines what I should and should not wear. She calls my bathing suit the “Speed-DON’T” because the Speedo for me will NEVER, NEVER do. I won’t argue that point. Proof is in the highly coincidental occurrence that each time we go to our local public pool, within minutes we always end up swimming alone. While I may not be the epitome of a “fashionista,” or the astute purveyor of glam, I am cognizant of what looks bad!

As I watch people at local stores, I fear the icy winter blast of the past four months has addled or frozen more than a few brain cells on what is and what is not “proper” attire. Shopping tonight at the grocery store, a couple with two small children in tow were walking towards me on my aisle. I’m not passing judgment, in fact as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, All I want is “Just the Facts,” So I’ll give them to you. The woman was a mere 15 pounds from achieving (DMV) Department of Motor Vehicle status. For me that is not an issue. However, if one is as horizontally and vertically challenged as this, choose the correct type of fabrics, accouterments, and/or tarps, to minimize your curves. Case in point, I don’t wear anything green lest I look like a pool table or the Irish version of the Kool Aide Man. I don’t wear banded shirts because I’ll look like a swollen can of refrigerator biscuits. But the get-up this woman chose to wear tonight left me without words. She sported a casual t-shirt that was tucked into skin tight jeans, but that’s where her normal ended. The pants she wore sported so many gaping holes, it gave the impression she barely survived the Hindenburg disaster. Her ripped and frayed attire was further enhanced by wearing the smallest pink sequined tutu. The micro ballerina skirt unabashedly made her look like the lead dancer in the Disney classic, Fantasia. I know this was her fashion choice because her partner and children were neat, well groomed, and intact.

Despite the multi-colored fashion statement, she never once exhibited a smidgen of embarrassment for how she was dressed. I’ve heard over and over again opinions people offer on how to improve America, but after today I have my own suggestion. How about we give out mirrors!

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The Appalachian Rock Salt Miracle

If it’s a true bargain, I’m going to buy it even if I don’t need it. It was early Spring in eastern Kentucky and I was walking out of a dollar store. I saw it sitting all by itself on the shelf. It was a large plastic container of rock salt. I wrestled with whether I needed it since I had not bought any all season. Yet the price was too good to pass up. “Maybe it will come in handy”, I thought as I placed it in my cart (buggy). I’m always proud of a good “find”, this particular deal was 70% off.

I paid for my things and promptly placed the large plastic jug in my car trunk. My wife hates clutter, and my trunk always had something that seemed to roll around that I didn’t need. Maybe today though I could appease her with my bargain hunting prowess. “Who knows”, I thought to myself, “We may need it sometime.” The rock salt only sat in the car trunk for about a week. It was then the miracle occurred.

Pastoring three churches miles apart from each other meant a lot of road to cover. We had finished our morning service at one church and was now eating our sandwiches as we drove quickly to our afternoon service 65 miles away. The ride this day was beautiful. Hints of Spring was in the air. Though the roads earlier in the day had been covered in black ice, thankfully by afternoon, the sun had warmed the roads and it was smooth sailing….that is until now.

Traveling our mountain road, we came to a curve where it had been carved out of rock ledges. The sides were tall. The sun hadn’t had a chance to remain long on the road to cast its warmth. The shadows had created a surface as slick as petroleum jelly. Driving at 60 miles per hour we entered the carved canyon on a curve. As we rounded the bend, without warning we met certain disaster. Ahead of us, a car had met the same ice patch as we with disastrous results. Why the police officers had not stationed anyone at the beginning of the curve was beyond me. A mere 100 yards ahead of us, an ambulance crew was loading up the victims of this car wreck. As I stepped on the brakes, I learned instantly, ice had made them useless.

It’s customary when you face a life or death situation to have a myriad amount of things running through your mind. I could have thought of my short life and how close I was to buying the farm. I could of had thoughts of innocent lives being wiped out in the ambulance, or even us. But oddly that’s not what went through my mind. I’m sorry to say that my first thoughts were, “Holy Mackerel, my insurance rates are now going to skyrocket.” Setting that selfish thought aside, I now had a split second to make up my mind what I was going to do. Seeing the panic in the eyes of the ambulance crew as I careened towards them, I had a choice. Hit them and their occupants, or turn sharply down a snow-covered embankment and risk going off a ledge and hitting a house.

I chose to take my chances with the embankment. As the car lurched over the hill, we traveled about 50 feet before we stopped suddenly in the snow; it was deeper than we thought. It was then I remembered my bargain container of rock salt. With no chance to calm my shaky legs, I popped the trunk, jumped out of the car, and ran back up the hill to the road. Quickly I began a wide sweep of spreading the rock salt. It was none to soon. Coming around the corner just as I was finishing dumping the contents, a tractor trailer rig at a high rate of speed came around the bend. He too saw the same thing I had, an ambulance being loaded. He slammed on his brakes and I watched as he started to skid. That is until he came to the patch of rock salt I had just spread. His tires catching the salt, he came to a stop a mere 50 yards from impact.

I missed church that afternoon, but it didn’t matter to me. I received my blessing for the day and then some. God spoke to me in the most dramatic way. He became both my Rock and Rock Salt of my salvation. That plastic container sure was a bargain.

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