Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Funny Story

My friend Shannon sent me this story a few months ago and every once in a while, all the guys at my work have to pull it out, read it and get hysterical.
I've done a bit of editing and hope you too, get a laugh out of it.


Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest.
The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser. The effects of the taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety....??
Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home.
I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button.
I was disappointed.
I learned, however, that if I pushed the button AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I'd get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs. AWESOME!!!
(Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave. )
Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right? There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target.
I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat.
But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?
So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and taser in another.
The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant;
a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control;
a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water.
Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries. All the while I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5'long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference; pretty cute really and (loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself, 'no possible way!'

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best...

I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, 'don't do it stupid,' reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn't hurt all that bad.
I decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it.
I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and . . HOLY MOTHER OF GOD........WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION ....... WHAT THE HECK!!!
I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs.
The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to 'mug' yourself with a taser, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor.. A three second burst would be considered conservative? IT HURT LIKE HELL!!! A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape.
My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was. My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling. Apparently I pooped on myself, but was too numb to know for sure and my sense of smell was gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came from my hair.

P.S. My wife loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!'
If you think education is difficult, try being stupid.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Is Not My Heaven

A literal place which is more real that the city you and I live in.
A source of healing from Jae's death.
However,..when she first was taken there, I was full of dismay.
She simply would not fit in with my idea of what Heaven was like.

Although I did not think so at the time, our culture's attempts to describe Heaven through art, songs and sermons had left an imprint on my imagination that can only be described as "unholy".
Thank you Lord,..that I've been able to get a more biblical perspective through my own research and by reading of great theologians and authors.

I used to feel like a traitor.
Growing up and hearing about it, I secretly did not want to go.
Most of my desire to go to Heaven stemmed from the fact that I had to go somewhere when I died, and hell seemed much worse.
So I sang about Heaven.
I testified that I had a home there.
I dreamed of meeting my loved ones there someday,
but the reality is
I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for the place.

The thought of going there was actually pretty terrifying.
It seemed
and there was no escaping no end to it.
In fact,...
it seemed a lot like this video.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kendra's Wedding Gift

Best Friends:
Lauren, Kendra and Jae

One of the things which was hard about the loss of Jae was that we had to endure watching normal activities of teenager life pass without her being a part. All of her friends enjoyed homecoming games, proms, graduation ceremonies and other happy teenager milestones while our family was left with only our imagination, our regrets, our grief and a longing for our lives to be a part of the normalcy that others enjoyed.

What would have been a huge moment for Jae happened this past Sunday. I've dreaded anticipated it for a long time but we found a way to make Jae a part of it.
Back in 1987, Jae, Kendra Huffman and Lauren Burton were all dropped into the church nursery within three months of each other. They were best friends throughout their entire lives, even though they often grew apart or became involved in activities which took them different directions. Without a real plan to do so, they remained "intentional" friends. They remembered each other's birthdays, exchanged gifts for Christmas and ran to join each other if one needed a "friend therapy" session.

Jae was a collector of pigs. Don't ask me why, but she loved stuffed ones, glass ones, paintings of pigs, photos of pigs, pig calenders, pig slippers, pig costumes, pig tails, etc. Growing up, some of the best pig-gifts Jae received were from Kendra or Lauren.

Kendra is getting married.
Jae is supposed to be involved doing the things that best friends do for brides.
Instead, there were other good friends hosting the shower and attending to Kendra.
I longed for Kendra's best friend with all of my heart and soul.

The last gift Kendra opened was from us.
I don't know if you can see the detail, but the picture is one of a very calm serene country pond with a little pink pig running wide open and leaping off of the dock into the water.

Kendra honey, I believe Jae is celebrating with you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pride, Politics and Prayer

I try to not talk much about politics on this blog, not because I don't want to polarize or offend, but mostly because I deeply value different opinions than my own.
Friends with different views on our culture and theology have broadened my view of others and have assisted me in clarifying what I believe. Many of them have challenged me to either practice what I preach or shut up. There have been times when I've had to do both.

These past few days, I've been filled with disbelief as I have watched national events play out on TV. How could Americans,..neighbors,..friends,.... see the same set of circumstances so differently? I am glad for the "lion-type/game-changer" personalities out there in the America who can articulate various points of view. Rush Limbaugh, Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and a host of others. I love their passion and I am again challenged/frustrated/encouraged when I hear them present opinions.

But here is just one of Becky's opinion about politics:
To align religion with politics is lashing ourselves to a cart that is heading for doom. Politics are necessary and provide America with the processes of order that we all need and cherish, but I think we are in danger when we consider "our" way as God's way.

Pride in anyone is detestable to God, His children or not.

That said, I also believe that the media and government are places of intense spiritual battles. The entire Old Testament reveals hundreds of stories that prove God cares deeply about the direction of the country.
II Chronicles 7:14 reminds us that God hears the prayers of the people and will indeed heal our land. We say we believe "He can", but we wonder if "He will".

Is that Faith?
I'm not sure it is.

There's more in that verse that we need to do besides pray, but the point is that He gives the promise to "His people". He doesn't expect anything from the people who aren't "His",..they don't know His goodness.
I bet God grieves that we prefer living in spiritual poverty rather than wrestling in prayer and getting His promises.

Let's not give up on our country. I don't want to get to Heaven and see the big picture to realize that Satan won, not because of politics, but because of a lack of prayer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Ponders

Easter Past:
**The Easter of 1989. Jae and Casey were dressed alike in frilly pink frocks. Bonnets, white gloves and ruffles on their panties.

**Hunting eggs in our living room in 1999. I had the video recorder on Abby as she was in her little nightgown hunting the hidden eggs in our living room. She suddenly stopped, looked directly at me/the camera and asked if I had seen the Easter bunny.
I told her "Yes".
She drawled with the sweetest smile "Wuz he wearin a tie?"

**Hearing Ralph sob in the living room in 2004 as I put out the three Easter baskets of candy. Jae had been gone only days, and I dazedly wondered what the rules were for moments like this.

Easter Present:
**Singing the traditional Easter songs in our service. Feeling sorry for my friends who only attend church on Easter because those are the only songs they ever get to sing.

**Missing all the family members who were not sitting around our family feast table. All are alive somewhere,...some here on Earth, some in Heaven.

**Contemplating the true meaning of the Resurrection. It means so much more to me now and I wonder if I ever could/would have understood these truths had I not been torn asunder by death.

Easter Future:
**Jesus told His disciples (Matt 26) that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the day when He took it with all of us in His Father's Kingdom.
I can hardly wait for that supper.
What in the world will that moment be like?

** Wondering if in Heaven, we will be able to "see" into the past so we can witness our salvation with our own eyes. I have a crazy imagination. In my feeble little mind, I wonder if there could be something akin to a "Heavenly movie night":

Playing tonight at the Gold City amphitheater:
David meets and beats Goliath!
David will be present to answer questions
Tomorrow night's showing:
The true story of the Passion of the Christ
Worship service to follow.

**Singing with a Heavenly choir, all in one voice. A song that I've never heard, but will know perfectly.
I'm from a family of singers. A loud and harmonious Heavenly choir plumb excites me.

All Hail King Jesus!
All Hail Immanuel!
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Bright Morning Star!
And throughout eternity I'll sing your praises
and I'll reign with you throughout eternity.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Fine cuisine at the "Fish and Pig" restaurant.
Above- EverThird prays before they perform

Below- Steve playing bass in the 35 mph wind gusts!

If I was a real camerawoman, I would pace the battery life of my camera.
I have about 50 photos of the waterballon slingshot contest.
but only the three photos above of Everthird.
Dang it.

In our lives, we tend to want to see immediate results and answers to our prayers. Personally, I am not always good at the long-term praying thing. I pray for a while and then either forget, lose my passion or give up on my request.
And when I DO pray, I tend to have a good idea about how God should respond.
Oh I say that I want Him to surprise me, but do I really expect it?

The most memorable prayer that I have ever prayed was at the side of Jae's casket in the funeral home. It was early on Friday I think, and I drove to the funeral home and told the director that I wanted to be uninterrupted with her.
DeWayne personally closed the door behind me and sat in a chair on the other side to prevent anyone from entering.

Most of those last mother-daughter moments will never be shared, but I often speak publicly about my prayer there by her side. To be honest, I've written this very paragraph 50 times trying to describe those moments, but just can't find the words to convey the moment. Let me just say, that I cried out for God to bring good out of the bitter circumstances we now faced. I also begged to see the good now, here on Earth, and not have to wait until "all things are revealed" in eternity.

I am grateful that God has answered my prayer many times over.
Countless times in fact.
I will remain confused and disagreeable about God's plan for a short life for Jae, but at least He loves me enough to constantly attach good things to her name.
My mother's heart is grateful.

In my wildest dreams, I couldn't have imagined this weekend.
Here's a short summary of a long story:
It began with a heartfelt lesson in March 2004 in a tiny back room of our small church.
I created the lesson for Jae, Casey, Ralph and myself, but I taught it to about 8 teenagers, 2 of which were mine.
Less than 24 hours later one of them, Jae Lynn, is in Heaven.
Without realizing it, the theology of that lesson prepared me for the worst days of my life.
It kept me sane through the coming months.
It sustains me still.
3 years later, I wrote the experience into a post on this blog.
Months after that, I happened to click onto Youth Specialties blog on the very day where they asked for memorable moments of youth ministry.
Feeling sure they were looking for food-fight moments, I sent them my post anyway.
My friends at YS considered the moment relevant indeed.
They created it into a "video story".
It was used at three national conferences to encourage thousands of youth pastors and leaders across the nation.
One of those youth pastors, Shannon Lovelady from Georgia, looks for me and finds me in Nashville. He tells me he wants to bring his band (EverThird) to perform a free personal concert for my small group of teens.
Now it's Monday and I just spent the weekend with the members of EverThird ( Shannon, Mike, Andrew, Nick and Wesley) interact with the members from our church and especially our small youth group.
They gave a concert and played their hearts out to probably the coldest tiniest crowd they have ever played for. But I know it's because they really play for the Most High God and not anyone else.
When they pulled out of our parking lot, they left behind a small group of Southern Baptist teens, parents and church members who are worn out, encouraged and inspired to want more from God.
Then the band sends a text message to me saying they are grateful for what our church did for them!

Jae Lynn,.....honey.
I wish you were here to see all of this.
I'm so grateful that I still get to speak your name and I feel incredibly blessed when I see how God puts Himself into all your influences.
I look so forward to seeing Him face to face like you do, but until then I will rest in the knowledge that He has remembered my cry.
I love you more than ever and will be there in the morning.