Friday, November 30, 2012

as told by david henry

We’re getting pretty tight
Today, by way of variety, I’m letting my grandson, David, write the post. But you’ll have to allow for the fact that he’s only 13-months.
DATELINE VALRICO – Another epic day with my grandparents. Here’s a pic of me with grandaddy. He’s pretty cool for an old dude.
Grandaddy is funny about this “nap” thing. He keeps trying, day after day. He’s like, “It’s nap-time, David,” and I’m all, “Yo, gramps, this aint no kindergarten!” Hey, what can I say, I’m from Connecticut (it’s not like my parents let me watch The Sopranos!).
But I really do like him. Every time he introduces me to someone new I hold on extra tight and nuzzle my face into his neck. He seems to think that’s a big deal because he smiles a lot and then sometime he wipes his eyes.
Tackle Grandmama
REBEKAH: Grandma Rebekah cracks me up. I like to tackle her when she’s not expecting it. She goes down pretty easy, you know. But she’s all smiles, and she tells the best stories. She said she can’t wait to tell me some extra-good stories about my mama.
When Grandma says goodnight she puts her hand on my head and she prays for me; I don’t know why, but my heart feels so good and so peaceful when she does that.
IMG_2688SCOUT: That dog sure puts up with a lot! I tried putting her leash on for about half an hour this afternoon. All she did was sigh, get up, move across the room, lie down, look over at me, and sigh again. Then she rolls her eyes.
Scout stays as still and as quiet as she can to pretend she’s invisible. But then I find her again. She must have moved at least a gazillion times.
Sidewalks are the best!
WALKS: Grandaddy takes me for lots of walks. I just figured out this walking thing and I can’t get enough of it. Do you know how cool it is to listen to the sound of your own feet going up and down the hallway? Fifty times? It’s the best!
And the grands have sidewalks on their street. I’m going to ask my daddy to build me one. Sidewalks are so much fun!
Later Grandaddy took me to see the great-grandparents in Sarasota. They’re even funnier than grandaddy.
I learned a new game in Sarasota. I made it up. It’s called “Run through the house with both hands in the air while squealing.” Grandaddy said I reminded him of someone called “E.T.”
WORN OUT: What I don’t understand is why Grandma and Grandaddy look so tired all the time? It’s like they can’t keep up or something?
So tomorrow I might consider taking one of those naps they keep talking about. Just to keep things fair. It’s the least I can do.
so much to do and so little time…
But I am having so much fun. I really love it here, and it’s wonderful to know how much love there is in this house. The week’s going to be over before I get half the things done I had planned.
Wait, I know what I can do, I could trade in some of those naps for more fun stuff. That’s right, and I’ll get up earlier too….

Thursday, November 29, 2012

sometimes it's all just that good

The Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Waiting for Grandmama to come home
I especially like this photograph because – for once – I stumbled across the image with camera in hand. David has been increasingly fascinated with Scout Labradoodle, so he followed her to the front window to see what could possibly be so interesting. It’s easy to tell from the scratch marks on the trunk and the bent blind slat that this is Scout’s favorite place to watch the world go by.
Earlier in the afternoon David had discovered the leash, and spent a minute or so trying to put the collar around Scout’s head. When that didn’t work he took it to the front door and made “let’s go for a walk together” noises.
Point being, our grandson is totally at home here. The dog; the people; the house; the love – it’s all good so far as he’s concerned.
David is one happy baby!
SECURE: I’m struck by the sense of acceptance and security David is projecting. He’s 100% comfortable and “at home” with us. All I can think is that the dozens of Skype sessions over the past few months formed the basis of a positive and familiar relationship. Then there’s the other aspect of the equation, the fact that this is a home grounded in love and drenched in peace. So of course David feels at home here; anyone would.
So I indulged my grandson and let Scout come along for the walk. It was then that I had my “moment” of delicious transcendence. Pushing a stroller, with my grandson looking over his shoulder at me and grinning; Scout Labradoodle trotting alongside, enjoying her walk; a cool 60-degrees breezing into my face; the following verse from my morning Bible-reading imprinted on my heart:
The Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Sometimes it’s all just that good.
a good reflection on our home
UNCONDITIONAL: We talked a little about God’s unconditional love at my men’s meeting in the evening. And I couldn’t help but think about David, about how I have loved him – completely – from the moment he was just a little peanut on the sonogram.
And I think about how he’s been toddling over to me and leaning into my leg, hugging me and smiling up at my face; how he wills me to pick him up and let him snuggle his forehead into my neck and tell him how much I love him.
And I am overwhelmed by the power and the beauty of such belonging and such love, and I am reduced to sighs and tears…
How great a love…
And when I do, that’s when I begin to catch an inkling of how God feels about his children… and I am grateful.
Just grateful – DEREK
The Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

trying for beautiful feet: SPIRIT-FM (90.5)

My radio spot aired yesterday
his morning I’m taking a break from the grandparent anecdotes to share a link to my SPIRIT-FM 90.5 interview that ran Tuesday morning from 11:34 through noon (to listen, click on this link).
I was nervous about the airing for a number of reasons. First, 26-minutes is a long time to be on the radio. Next, several thousand people were likely listening. Finally, the interview was 100% “off-the-cuff” (and – as you can see – my sleeves were partially rolled up!).
Fortunately, David Henry decided it was OK to play quietly in his playpen during my time-slot. So I did get to listen without interruption. But I paced obsessively. I had a hot cup of tea in one hand that I never touched, and I must have lapped the sofa in the family room a minimum fifty times.
CONTENT: The main body of the interview was about my new-ish book 10 Life-charged Words. I answered a series of questions about men’s spirituality, the content of the book, and the role of Christian men in contemporary culture.
Then, a couple of minutes from the end, I was given the opportunity to talk about my Advent book, In My Heart I Carry A Star: stories for Advent.
All in all, I am more than pleased. Most importantly, I didn’t bomb. Then, a good number of times, I actually said something quite interesting. Not too many hesitations, very little “blah, blah, blah,” only the occasional appearance of a “you know,” and not one “foot in mouth” moment.
SPIRIT-FM in TampaSo, I’d like to invite you to do two things:
  1. Give the interview a listen (I really believe you’ll enjoy).
  2. Write a comment – at the radio site – so the folk at SPIRIT-FM will know that people actually listened. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll ask me back.
Peace and blessings – DEREK
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

a day in the life of a curious child

How David became Scout’s new BFF
et’s cut to the chase here. I’m exhausted; and I probably will be through next Sunday afternoon. Consequently, squeezing out blog posts is going to be hit-or-miss at best.
But it’s all good. My reason for being bone-weary is 13-months old and beyond cute. He is, of course, our grandson, David Henry. His parents are two-days into a seven-day cruise and we get to be grandparents literally 24/7.
Oh, and this also happens to be the first time he’s been away from his parents for more than a short evening out.
It’s all fun and games with grandmama
AWESOME: But I have to admit David is one wonderful cutie-patootie. So I’ll simply share a few pics from the first day and include a little commentary to move us on to the next image.
First, as you can see from the opening picture, Scout Labradoodle is a big fan. She’s three times David’s size but gentle and patient beyond our dreams. Scout mostly stays prone and still, and pretends to be invisible. But mealtimes are providing foraging opportunities previously unimagined. Mostly it’s all about spillage, but David does slip his new friend the occasional bonus.
Maybe if I push this one here…?
MICRO-FUN: There are many ways to measure and predict intelligence. But for me there’s no better gauge than curiosity when it comes to babies. David has been a problem solver from day one and he loves to figure things out. So when he heard our microwave go “beep” he grabbed Mr. Elephant and the two of them trucked on over to take a look for themselves.
David doesn’t have the finger push strength to activate any of the buttons, but he routinely tries every one on the keypad just to make sure. Mr. Elephant looks disappointed.
“Look, another curve in the path. I wonder what’s around this corner?”
LIMO-RIDE: David got a little fussy after nap-time so we took a long walk with the stroller (a behemoth so big, by the way, that it will not fit in the trunk of my mid-sized car!).
I thought he’d maybe settle back into sleepy-land. But no, absolutely everything fascinates him. There’s this whole huge world out there, and he just drinks it all in. It’s kind of the same approach I’ve been advertising in a lot of my writing and speaking lately, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I pray and I pray and I pray that David never allows the vacuous dullness that defines so much of our culture to seep in and take his curiosity away.
I pray and I pray and I pray that David never allows the vacuous dullness that defines so much of our culture to seep in and take his curiosity away.
STORY: Finally – and after a dozen more adventures comprising blocks, and shapes, and playing ball in the long hallway, and toddling faster and faster around the great living/dinning/kitchen circle that’s fascinated him since he first discovered the endless loop last Thursday afternoon… and so much more – it was time for an entertaining bath and then story-time with Grandmama Rebekah.
Story-time with Grandmama
And you can guess how story-time with Grandmama Rebekah goes. There’s the book, there are the words, there are pictures… and then there are the fascinating embellishments that Rebekah manages to work, seamlessly, into the narrative. And, like all children, he was riveted with interest until he slipped into the land of Nod, where Winken and Blinken were waiting for him too.
Good night, sweet boy, and rest well for the adventures of tomorrow – Grandaddy Derek

Monday, November 26, 2012

two weddings...

Sunset at the beach – Ruskin
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This weekend I attended two weddings. Two simple ceremonies designed to launch the beginnings of a new family in the context of blessing, promise, encouragement, and committed love.
People show up, in part, because weddings are festive and fun; they come because they love their friends; they come for the good food; they come for the entertainment. But mostly, I’m more and more convinced, they show up because they believe in the story.
WHY? It’s a curious thing, this enthusiasm for weddings, when we consider that so many marriages today go belly up. Commitments fail; love proves imperfect; faithfulness is set aside; vows are ignored; what is promised with such passion and intensity goes by the wayside; relationships are broken; people are broken; families crumble.
Yet still people come. They dress in their finest, they celebrate, and they are genuinely enthusiastic. People who are struggling in their own marriage, some stuck in a pattern of failing, the terminally single, and those who have been divorced several times; yet still they pat the couple on the back and tell them how wonderful marriage is and then they pray, with all sincerity, that this time, and for these young people, the future will be bright.
STORY: I’m convinced that the reason people keep showing up at weddings – and with such a positive spirit – is because (even if they don’t know that they do) they believe in the story.
I’m convinced that the reason people keep showing up at weddings – and with such a positive spirit – is because (even if they don’t know that they do) they believe in the story.
The story of love is beautiful…
The story of love is beautiful, and it is rooted in the truth that when a family is constructed around mutual respect, generosity, service to one-another, kindness, gentleness, and the practice of Christ-like love, then the result can be a slice of heaven on earth.
All of these people – folk who carry all kinds of battle-scars and who know firsthand the pain of broken relationships – continue to show up at weddings because they believe that the story itself is more compelling than the mess people so often make of it.
And at both these weddings these people heard the good news – if they could receive it – that this good story is not some made-up fairytale, but a promise and a possibility that each one of us can enter into. It’s nothing less than the Greatest Story Ever Told.
BLESSINGS: So Saturday night, after the sun melted into the western reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Rebekah and I looked around at so many of the people we know and love, and we could say with confidence that the testimony of their faithful lives confirms that the story we all love so much really is true.
So joy and promise to you, Melissa and Wade, and to Katie and Arthur too. Stand firm in the promises you made, love one another like crazy, and believe with all your heart.
Melissa and Wade

Thursday, November 22, 2012

notes and pics of thanks

Sarah, Lindsay and Jordan doing windows!
Today, traditionally, is preparation day here at Maul Hall. Some years ago, due to overlapping commitments, we celebrated our family feast on Friday, the day afterThanksgiving. The reasons may have gone away, but the tradition continues. Consequently, we have one more day to get ready for tomorrow’s deluge of family, friends, and gratitude.
Tuesday I drove to Orlando to pick up three of our nieces for the coveted, “Aunt Bekah Work-Camp” experience. This year Sarah got to join her older cousins and pitched in like a trooper. It’s a mixture, of course, of fun and helping-out, and it’s a joy to have the girls on board.
Rebekah teaching marbles
MORE LOANER KIDS! Then, to give the festive atmosphere more variety, Micah and Liam Black spent the afternoon with us too. So, while the girls cleaned windows and polished silver, Rebekah offered a marbles workshop, consulted in block-building, and supervised some kind of a NASCAR event in the back hallway. I was in charge of golf in the garden, snacks, and then (wish I’d thought of this earlier) raking in the side yard.
But it was my morning experience that gave me pause. I’ll share more about this when the project comes on-line, but the short-story is I had an opportunity to share an important message with the community and I fear that I fell far short.
Don Ashley filming me
NEWS: Let me explain. The Osprey Observer newspaper is running an article on my new-ish book, 10 Life-Charged Words: real faith for men(Upper Room Books, 2012). The editor asked me to come in for a video interview to support the story. The video is supposed to be about what it’s like to be a “local author.”
The videographer, Don Ashley, does excellent work, and he obviously knows what he’s doing. But I felt my presentation was stuck in a stiff, “preachy” mode, and the last thing I want to do is to come off as one more overly pious Christian putting another brick in the growing wall between this broken world and the Good News that will heal.
We’ll just have to see how it looks when he’s finished editing.
Best pic of the day: Liam helping welcome our first Christmas packages!
JOY: I guess what’s good is how conscious I’m becoming of the need to articulate the truth about what it means to follow Jesus. Today, the official THANKSGIVING DAY, I’m grateful for so much, and it’s all because of God’s great mercy, grace and love.