Friday, January 30, 2009

For Want of Wit: 1

I know what you're thinking. This could be a reeeaaaallly long post. But don't worry. I promise not to divulge all my stupidity at once...I shall regulate the dose to minimize side-effects. Even then, I'll spare you any consequential stupidity and focus only on those incidents which someone, somewhere, might find entertaining.

Snow in Chattanooga is rare, so when it does fall, life comes to a stand the most literal sense. At first, all of us transplanted northerners who were attending school there were disappointed. "What do you mean everything is closed?! It's only a couple inches!! We have the day off and no place to go!" Little did we know this presented us with unlimited opportunities.

However, being the resourceful, adventurous people we were, it didn't take long for a scheme to form. Though I don't remember being part of the planning, I was fortunate enough to participate in its execution!

One of the northern dudes just happened to own a jeep, another just happened to have an inflated innertube, while another had a long and sturdy rope. After dark, we tied the innertube to the back of the jeep and pulled each other around the streets of Chattanooga. Yep...the streets! No one was on them! No ONE! Not even police officers! It was some of the most fun I've ever had...even though I ended up in the ER.

How? you ask. Well...thanks for caring.

At one point, we hit a fairly large bump in the road and I went airborne, landing on my face. The impact was stunning, but I assured everyone I was unharmed and had my wits about me. All were relieved until they saw blood streaming down my face! Because I was freezing cold, I didn't realize that the impact had split open my forehead just above my right eyebrow.

A couple hours and about 14 stitches later I really was fine. That is, until the next morning when I saw myself in the mirror. I worried for weeks about permanent damage to my face (feel free to abstain from sarcastic remarks here). In the end, all I have to show for it is a tiny scar which only shows itself when I get a sunburn.

The moral: Stupid = Fun

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back to The Future Again

As I contemplate the future - of our nation, of The Church, of pop Christianity, of my children - I am reminded of Calvin's "What of It?" remarks, in which he encourages us to look confidently to and find our hope in Christ, who is seated at the Father's right! I've quoted this before, but it's good stuff...worth repeating.

Jesus is at the right hand of God in this nature which He assumed with us...He is always ready to stretch out to us His hand, and we must be certain that, although we suffer for a time, the end of it will be for our salvation. That is what must be understood when His Ascension is spoken of. Thus, since He has gone up there, and is in heaven for us, let us note that we need not fear to be in this world.

It is true that we are subject to so much misery that our condition is pitiable, [but] we look to our Head Who is already in heaven, and say, “Although I am weak, there is Jesus Christ Who is powerful enough to make me stand upright.

Although I am feeble, there is Jesus Christ who is my strength.

Although I am full of miseries, Jesus Christ is in immortal glory and what He has will some time be given to me and I shall partake of all His benefits.

“Yes, the devil is called the prince of this world. But what of it? Jesus Christ holds him in check; for He is King of heaven and earth.

There are devils above us in the air who make war against us. But what of it? Jesus Christ rules above, having entire control of the battle. Thus, we need not doubt that He gives us the victory.

I am here subject to many changes, which may cause me to lose courage. But what of it? The Son of God is my Head, Who is exempt from all change. I must, then, take confidence in Him.”

Let us live what we confess! Christ the King will perform his will in, through, because of and in spite of who the president of the United States is. Let us not think for a moment that we are wiser than the One who sets up all rulers and authorities. Let us not forget the way in which He accomplished His will for His people through the likes of Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, David and Paul!

You know, He's not surprised or caught off-guard about what to do! And He is more than able to enact His own will for all the peoples of the earth. Trust Him! Do not be afraid!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back to The Future

In the midst of all the negative talk and fear about where we're headed because Obama is our president, here is a worthwhile post from a former colleague on the Christian's hope for the future (don't read that as the American's hope...they are NOT one and the same, you know!).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Luther on The Estate of Marriage

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason, takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? 0 you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.”

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “0 God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers. Or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? 0 how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hillbilly Haiku

Guy Clark has quickly climbed the ladder of my all-time favorite musicians, passing, among others, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and John Gorka. In fact, he is currently vying for the #1 spot which has been solidly occupied by Lyle Lovett for nearly 2 decades!

Guy's gravelly voice, folksey style and crisp, acoustic sound appeal to my musical tastes, while the vivid portraits he paints through his lyrics satisfy my literary tastes. When he proclaims, "There ain't no money in poetry" he surely knows whereof he speaks, because this man is a GEN-U-WINE poet!

From the homey images of childhood in Watermelon Dream, to the profound metaphors in Hands, to the honest and tender love of Magnolia Wind, to the gratitude for Stuff That Works, Mr. Clark's expressions are winsome, witty and wise.

If you don't know this artist, get to know him! If you want to start with a single album, I recommend The Americana Master Series. But if you prefer to purchase individual songs, my top 10 suggestions are:

Magnolia Wind
Sis Draper
A Little of Both
Black Diamond Strings
Stuff That Works
The Cape
Baby Took a Limo to Memphis
Immigrant Eyes
Watermelon Dream

I haven't found a song of his yet that I don't like, but these 10 make me happy every time I hear them and also demonstrate his versatility. ENJOY!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good News / Hard News

Our primary prayer on my brother's behalf has been graciously answered. Jeffrey recently assured my parents that he is at peace with Christ and he wanted all his siblings to know. Thanks be to God.

The week following Christmas was an eventful one during which Jeffrey was hospitalized and received a great deal of new information.

1 - First of all, the cancer is so pervasive in both hips that the replacements they hoped would ease his pain are not an option.

2 - Because the hips cannot be replaced, they hospitalized him for 3 days to try and get his pain under control. The morphine has been replaced by Lidocaine patches, and a combination of other pain killers. Though he received substantial relief while in the hospital, the last few days at home have been tough.

3 - He "graduated" from a cane to a wheeled walker, which is his constant companion. Knowing him, he'll avoid the wheelchair as long as he possibly can.

4 - The chemo has been largely ineffective and will be discontinued in favor of a new, experimental drug whose side effects are significant, but which sometimes works where chemo has failed.

5 - For the first time since his diagnosis in late August, Jeffrey asked for a prognosis. He was told he has about 3 months of life left. Those 12 weeks have quickly dwindled to 11. Though it seems morbid, it's impossible not to count. He gave me this news on Sunday and in response to my tears, I saw him cry for the first time. It's heartbreaking. Although I think he has known his day was drawing near (based on the sentimental and lasting gifts he bought his wife and children for Christmas), there's something powerful about a definitive time-frame being set forth.

As you might expect, we are all overwhelmed at times by a full range of emotions. The sense of sadness grows as the decay of death becomes daily more visible, yet we can't help but be thankful that he has expressed his trust in Christ.

We covet your prayers.

For Jeffrey: That he would continue to bear up under severe pain; that the docs will find the right combination and dosages that will offer him some relief; that he would find increasing peace and rest rather than despair in the face of death; that he would trust the Lord for his boys' futures; that the Lord might see fit to heal him through the Tarceva or through extraordinary means.

For his wife, Dawnn: That she would have the physical, mental and emotional strength to continue her loving and faithful care of Jeff; that she would have wisdom and patience with the children.

For my parents: That they may find consolation in their deep grief; that they would be a blessing and a source of strength and comfort for Jeffrey & Dawnn; that they would hold fast to Christ and continue to champion his faithfulness as they have through various other trials.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Eve at The Waggoners

This picture about sums it up: We're Crazy.

We are so very thankful for a blessed Christmas Eve at my parents' home. All 6 of their children along with their spouses, 20 of 23 grandchildren, 1 of 2 great-grandchildren, plus Daddy's mom, his brother Rick, and his sister Riesa, were there!! What a crowd!

As is always true at Waggoner gatherings, there was an abundance of feasting on fabulous fare and plenty of laughter to go around...Pam makes sure of that.

My parents don't do the whole gift giving thing every year, but this year, after we stuffed our bellies, we gathered around the tree (or more accurately, we filled up the room which housed the tree) and then Daddy had a heart-to-heart with us.

After expounding briefly on the blessings for both the giver and receiver of gifts, he began with Sherre, the eldest, and moved down to Jeffrey, the baby, verbalizing specific ways each of us has been a unique gift to him and Mom. It was beautiful and sweet.

Dad proceeded to explain why they had chosen a particular gift for each of their children this year. He reminded us that the strong and sometimes destructive stormy winds are the same winds that elicit beautiful music from a wind chime. Their desire is for each of us to remember that lesson when the inevitable storms arise, and their hope is that the chimes they gave each of us will serve as a reminder when the winds blow and we hear the melodic sounds. It was moving and meaningful.

Our whole family believes (though it's not really spoken yet) that unless something extraordinary takes place, we were spending our last Christmas with Jeffrey. Daddy and Mother found a way, without being morose, to make this evening special and memorable for all of us.

Nephew, Ryan, is a self-taught musical prodigy (like his mother Pam) and is also a consummate entertainer (like his mother Pam)! He led us in a few carols, then after displaying his vocal and guitar prowess, he performed "Police Never Die" a satirical rendition of "Felix Navidad." There's nothing like a little music and comedy to lighten the heart! (I make him sound like an arrogant, limelight-seeking, stage-hog, but he's actually a sweet, humble, servant of the Lord and we BEG him to entertain us!)

Jeffrey, in spite of being barely able to walk down the stairs, stayed with us for about 5 hours. That was a HUGE blessing and a definite answer to prayer.

Thanks be to God for an evening filled with good gifts, as tokens of his Great Gift, The Word Made Flesh.

Sherre's Family
(minus Jessica & Jocelyn)

Pam's Family

Lori's Family

Vicki's Family

Richard's Family
(minus Courtney, Lawrence and Tommy)

Jeffrey's Family

Grandma, Uncle Rick & Aunt Riesa

Maricia's Family

Police Never Die

The men modeling their new jammie pants

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Mother Lode

As you can see from the pictures below, Riesa was quite satisfied with her Christmas! She was like a little kid opening her gifts! She'd get all excited, clap, rub her hands together gleefully and give a silly, hearty laugh before shaking each one right near her ear. It was like having a little kid in the house again.
She was her usual dramatic self when opening her gifts.

The "cell phone" was a big hit. She carries it in her pocket and pulls it out everytime I use mine and her conversations usually last longer than mine do!

We fed her TV addiction by getting her an HD/DVD combo which she has already figured out how to use.

This thing never leaves her side! She didn't ASK for this, but she kept confiscating MY calculators, so I decided to get her her own! With her eyesight trouble, this one is perfect.

"I'm so sweet!" are the words which usually accompany this gesture. She means that she's really happy!

Julian ended up being with us too, which added to everyone's fun! There's nothing quite like the wonder of a young child at Christmastime (well, almost nothing...watching the fully-grown Steve Shaffer open his black leather Harley jacket was almost as entertaining!). Julian enjoyed watching Aunt Riesa open her gifts, almost as much as he enjoyed opening his own. The only thing he WANTED (Power Rangers), he didn't get from us. We gave him cowboy, knight and Indian costumes with the accompanying weapons. He wasn't quite sure what to think, but he's a very imaginative pretender, so I know they'll get plenty of use over the next couple years. He loved the cap gun, which I let him shoot IN THE HOUSE (much to my boys' consternation)!!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!