The Talk

I recall the day I had to call on all my reserves to make ‘THE’ phone call. It’s the one most men have had to make at least one time in their life. It was in February 1984 and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was going to ask a man who I’d only met once to marry his daughter. My father-in-law was not a big man, in fact he was short in stature. It didn’t matter because as I dialed the number with a shaky finger, he might as well have been King Kong.

The conversation was short and to the point. I was calling to ask if I could marry his youngest daughter. Since he had been robbed of a son by having two girls, my wife was his tomboy. When he wanted to take his motorcycle out for a spin, or take a flight in his Cessna, it was his ‘little girl’ who always accompanied him. If he was under a car working, it was she who stood above and handed him the requested tool. She was the quintessential ‘daddy’s girl’ and I knew it. As we began to talk, he asked me questions along the lines of my present job, my future plans, etc. He finished the conversation by telling me he wasn’t surprised that I asked for her hand in marriage. I mean who wouldn’t want a beautiful blond girl with curls who loved pick up trucks and country music?

Fast forward 27 years and I had this same conversation with my daughters suitor. The exception to his approach as opposed to mine was he used less words. I think he knew it was a formality of a foregone conclusion. The similarities were striking. He no doubt had the same trembling dialing finger, and he also married a pickup loving country girl.

One day a husband and wife were sharing their feelings about their daughter. Their child had been spending far too much time with a ‘less than ideal’ boyfriend. In fact their fear was the relationship was getting too serious. The daughter had called the night before and had told them they were coming over the next day to talk with them about something important. This bit of news alarmed them as they sat up talking into the wee hours of the morning running through the scenarios. Marriage was the only plausible reason for their visit and it made them shudder. Despite their daughters affections for the lad, he appeared to be lazy, undisciplined and rudderless.

Before their arrival the mother said, “Do whatever you can to talk some sense into this boy. I don’t want him marrying our daughter. When they arrived the father invited the young man into his study for a personal conversation. The mother kept their daughter distracted in the kitchen.

Uncomfortable from the start, the Dad started to ply the boy with questions. “It appears you’re here because you’d like to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage, is that correct?” The young man nodded. The father then asked, Do you have a career? To which the young man said, “Yes, I work for Wendy’s as a janitor.” Trying to maintain his calm the father said, “That’s not much of a salary to support my daughter!” To which the boy responded, “Don’t worry, God will provide.” The questions now came in rapid fire, “Your car is very old, how will you buy another? What happens if their daughter got pregnant and she had to leave the workforce, could they make it? Each and every time the patent answer was the same, the boy would say “God will provide.”

After twenty minutes of getting nowhere, he dismissed the young man. The mother immediately entered the room. Anxious to know whether he’d been successful at talking the boy out of marriage, she blurted out, “Did you talk any sense into him? Is he going to marry our daughter?” to which the husband responded, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is he’s marrying our daughter.” Instantly she said, “then what can possibly be the good news?” To which he responded, “He thinks I’m God.”

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The Perpetual High School

With age comes less peer pressure; or at least it should. It doesn’t matter if everyone in your neighborhood has a pool, your desire to acquire one evaporates when you look at your self in the mirror wearing a bathing suit. At my age there is less emphasis placed on being hip. Besides I’m closer in age to hip replacement than hip anyway.

When Facebook first came out, it was all the rage. Everyone it seemed wanted to attach themselves to a medium that allowed you to attend (via computer) your high school reunion in your bathrobe. The craze got bigger. Soon we found ourselves bombarded with game requests, advertising, friend requests, selfies, and group invitations. The onslaught of more and more information made me long for a mountain cabin retreat off the grid.

As I logged in each day, I read posts from friends telling me everything and I mean everything. I’ve learned individuals bathroom habits, daily food intakes, dog maladies, and vacations I’ll never afford. My computer screen has become a modern wall of graffiti and half of it I don’t even understand. Despite being out of high school for thirty years, I recognize sadly that a handful of acquaintances still hold onto latent jealousies and insecurities I thought had been left in the sandbox of childhood. Besides for me, getting whacked by a little sandbox shovel and pail still smarts.

My life has been quite the journey. However one thing is sure, I am always going to choose to travel the happier route. I love this quote from an unknown source, “If it wasn’t for the optimist, the pessimist would never know how happy he wasn’t.”

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

The unknown author of this story never mentioned Facebook, so I assume he’d label it part of the small stuff. Because of this, I am retiring from Facebook and will follow his advice.

If you would like to remain in touch, please visit or follow me at my website:
It will here that I will announce the completion of my long awaited book sometime later this the year.

God Bless you my friends and remember, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

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The Toothbrush Observation

Each and every day I come in contact with individuals who fall in the class of the ‘glass is half empty’ category. They aren’t happy, their job stinks, and they don’t have what they want. While I can agree there is enough misery to go around, I also understand that a good attitude is a choice. I was lying in bed the other night thinking what job would be the absolute worst? By analyzing this thought, I could then be thankful for mine. So what is the worst job? It would have to be the toothbrush. Think about it for a minute when you want to focus on your own misfortunes. You stand around all day waiting for someone to get your bristles up, then two or three times a day you get pasted whether you like it or not. I’m sure you can think of other observations I might have missed.

I want people to be more positive about their life, so I’m going to share with you the following story. I’m hoping it redirects your thoughts to being more grateful and thankful that this incident didn’t happen to you.

A man and his wife are awoken at 3 o’clock in the morning by a knock on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a stranger is asking for a push.
“Not a chance” says the husband — “It’s three o’clock in the morning!” He closes the door and returns to bed.
“Who was it?” asks his wife.

“Just a stranger asking for a push” he answers.
“Did you help him? she asks.
“No I didn’t — it’s three in the morning”

“Well you’ve got a short memory” says his wife, “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down on holiday and those two guys helped us?. I think you should help him.”
The man does as he is told and returns to the front door and calls out into the dark “Hello — are you still there?”

“Yes”, comes the answer.
“Do you still want a push?” calls out the husband.
“Yes please!” comes the reply from the dark.
“Where are you?” asks the husband
“Over here on the swing” the man replies.

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Call It What It Is

Some years ago when our children were small, we would occasionally find a small pile of wet pajamas next to the hamper on the floor. Invariably we would ask why they were wet and the answer they would give was, “I sweated a lot last night.” Finally tangible proof of global warming.

Thirty years ago an amusing public service announcement played on the radio with the closing statement, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Back then I thought that was spot on, yet now I’m beginning to question that premise. I know no one wants to be seen as weak or devoid of willpower and that’s why our culture today makes up phrases and euphemisms that make our poor choices less egregious.

I’m a big guy so when I shop for clothes, I have to go to a store that caters to wooly mammoths. Apparently women’s egos bruise easier than men because while I go to “Big” and Tall Stores, they go to “Plus Size” stores. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a women’s store with this faux pax. I drove to a Big and Tall men’s store in Kentucky one time, and it sat next door to Blimpie’s sandwich shop. Nothing buoys the ego like buying a pair of pants with the image of a dirigible going through your head. And I do find it a bit disconcerting as a Pastor I wear clothes in “three X.” I feel apprehensive because didn’t that acronym at one time mean no clothes instead of big clothes? No wonder I’m more confused the older I get. Let’s call things the way they were originally defined.

This week in Hollywood, two famous couples announced their relationship was ending. You and I would call it the same way country singer Tammy Wynette would, “D-i-v-o-r-c-e.” Except each coined a new phrase that is as ridiculous as it is lame. Instead of using words like, “On the Rocks, or Legal Separation,” these couples used flowery terminology that is a trending phenomena among celebrities. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her singer husband announced they were going through a “conscious uncoupling.” Not to be outdone, Country Singer Jewel and her husband of 16 years announced they were embarking on a “tender undoing.” What’s next, the definition ‘extended marital safari?’

Call me old fashioned, but I long for a time when the term, ‘ a man of his word’ meant something. Bad meant terrible and good meant wholesome. As a Pastor, when it comes to preaching the Word, I cannot soften the message to pop culture standards. While it might sound smooth with less guilt, I doubt God would be pleased if I described His stone tablets He gave at Mt. Sinai as the “Ten Propositions.”

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