For Remember When Wednesday, I happened across this post from April 9, 2006. The the local high school prom that year was at the historic Pella Opera House. The theme was, appropriately, The Phantom of the Opera. I was asked to don the Phantom costume and haunt the prom goers as they arrived. Taylor attended prom that year with her friend, Walker.
On Remember When Wednesdays, I look back at a post from the past and publish it again for newer readers. Having posted about the topic of grief and loss this morning, I thought it apropos to share this memory which I published back in January of 2008 (and which still makes me laugh whenever I think of it)…
He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” John 11:11 (TM)
When my Grandma Golly died, the girls were only 3 or 4 years old. Our nephews, Sam and Sol, were the same ages. The entire family had been at the funeral home for the long hours of visitation. There had been a steady stream of visitors, friends and family throughout the evening to share in our grief.
Like most toddlers, the reason for the occasion was lost on the girls and their male cousins who took the opportunity to run around the funeral home playing together. Late that evening, all was quiet in the visitation room as most everyone but family and a few dear friends had departed.
My nephew Solomon, ripping around the room in a playful fury, stopped short right in front of the casket. He looked at the lifeless body of his great grandmother lying before him. He looked at his wrist (where there was no watch), and then shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear…
“IT’S TIME FOR GRANDMA TO WAKE UP!”
…If you only have faith as a little child.
On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back a post from the past and re-post it for newer readers. Tonight our beloved Cubs make their first trip to the Postseason since 2008. That year, Wendy and I made a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field early in the season to celebrate my birthday and our hopes were high. It was perhaps apt that I called the post “You gotta have heart.” The Cubs fell short that year and it’s been a long dry spell since. Hope springs eternal. Perhaps this year things will be different.
Here is my post from early in the season 2008…
My wife and I have looked forward to the coming of spring and the beginning of another season for the Chicago Cubs. We’ve watched their first three games, and our hopes are high. It’s a new season. The slate is clean. This could be our year.
Opening day was a heartbreaker, as our beloved Cubbies raised our spirits on the wings of a Kosuke Fukudome three-run dinger to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth only to dash them to the ground when they gave up the winning run in the tenth.
The second game was nine innings of frustration as our boys were one-step short, one swing behind, one bobbled-ball late through all nine innings.
That’s okay. I turned to Wendy and consoled her. “It’s a long season,” I assured her.
“Good thing,” she said.
“Yeah. Good thing,” I repeated, assuring myself.
We’re good that way – Cubs fans. You’ve got to keep your chin up. You’ve got to put a positive spin on ball four. Optimism is required on the resume. So is thick skin. It takes character to be a fan of Chicago’s Northsiders.
In preparation for the season I watched Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball. It’s a good history of the game if you like an East Coast perspective. Sure, there’s the occasional mention of a Midwest club. There’s the passing nod to Hall-of-Famers from the fly-over states. There’s the off-hand mention that St. Louis or Minnesota won a World Series or two. But mostly it’s about teams from New York and Boston.
Early on the documentary did mention the 1908 Chicago Cubs’ World Series winning, double-play threesome of Tinker to Evers to Chance and then promptly brought in a snooty commentator to explain that they really weren’t that good. The Cubs are barely mentioned in the rest of the marathon East Coast love-fest.
Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge that the Yankees are the winningest club in baseball. I admit that the story of the Dodgers, the signing of Jackie Robinson and their heartbreaking departure for Los Angeles is compelling. I will capitulate that the Curse of the Bambino and the Red Sox eighty-six year World Series drought is a great yarn.
Yet, the eighty-six year suffering of Boston fans pales in comparison to the Wrigley Field faithful who, this year, celebrate…or is it mourn…an entire century with an empty trophy case. Boston’s storied Royal Rooters have nothing on the indomitable spirit of the Bleacher Bums. Boston survived the Bambino’s curse, but Cubs fans are gutting out an unholy trinity of curses (the goat, the black cat, and the Bartman ball).
Mention that you are a Cubs fan and you receive responses that vary from pity on one end (“Awwww, look at the loveable loooooser!”) to outright gleeful condemnation on the other (“Are you serious?! Dude, I’d show you how many World Series the Cardinals have won but I don’t have enough fingers! Ha, ha, ha, ha!). That’s just part of the program.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Does that make Cubs fans comparable to Superman or Popeye juiced on HGH? You know that’s not true. What is true is that what hasn’t killed us has given us heart. Our boys of summer have given us a cardio workout like no other team in the Major Leagues. Our hearts have regularly been pounding off the rate charts only to be stopped short just this side of cardiac arrest. 2003, 1998, 1989, 1984, 1969…talk about a baseball fan’s aerobic workout.
“You Gotta Have Heart – miles and miles and miles of heart,” goes Broadway tune goes in Damn Yankees! Yankees?! What do they know? The Yankees don’t need heart. Ask George Steinbrenner.
For my money (and, granted, it’s no where near what Steinbrenner has), I’ll give the award for the most heart to the Chicago Cubs faithful. In fact, think about that – the Cubs’ faith-ful. That’s what being a Cubs’ fan requires – faith. At the root of a Cubs’ fan’s heartsworn loyalty is unwavering faith.
The Good Book says that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for.”
We get that.
The third game of the opening series was a winner. Ramirez homered. Dempster settled down into a solid outing. Wood got his first save in his new role as Closer. The “W” flag was raised above Wrigley Field for the first time this year as the Cubs’ faith-ful sang “Go Cubs, Go!”.
Yep. I believe this is the year.
On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back at a post from yesteryear and re-blog one for newer readers. In almost 10 years of blogging I’ve had two blog posts that have gone viral. This was the first and it happened back in August of 2011 when WordPress reblogged this post on their “Freshly Pressed” page.
Speaking of life changes. There is, perhaps, no bigger change in life than the ones you make during adolesence. I recently found my Jr. High and High School I.D.s in an old album. Check out the righteous mullet I had going my Junior year! The only problem was that my hair was so curly when it grew out that I couldn’t get it to hang straight down the way it was supposed to. True story: When my mullet was at its longest I went to the bank one day. I opened the door for an elderly gentleman who was shuffling slowly into the bank at the same time. “Why thank you young lady,” he said to me. I got my hair cut that afternoon and never looked back. C’est la vie.
On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back at a post from yesteryear and re-blog one for newer readers. This past week Wendy and I have been watching Taylor apply for jobs and assisting as we may. It’s an exciting time as she ends one stretch of her journey and begins another.
I originally posted the following in August 2008. It was actually a repost from Taylor’s blog when she was at another crossroad in her life journey, and things took an unexpected turn. Come to think of it, life has taken a number of unexpected turns since then. C’est la vie.
Dear friends, family, associates, and fans of Jesus,
There comes a time in life when high school seniors must choose the next step in life and, as many of you know, my choice was to attend the University of Iowa this fall. I was registered for classes, rooming with my best friend, and buying laundry detergent for the first time; I had everything ready to roll. After returning home from my mission trip to Romania (thank you everyone for all your prayers and support) my parents heard from my youth pastors that they had been praying, and wanted me to go to the Desperation Conference in Colorado Springs. So I headed out on the glorious twelve-hour bus drive. It’s really quite funny how just when you think you have life planned out, God shows up and says, “Just kidding!” and messes everything up (but I guess it’s in a good way). While at the conference, I had the chance to hear someone talk about YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School, and immediately I felt God tugging at my heart to be a part of this team. After many restless nights, visiting Iowa City again, and lots of prayer, God made it very clear that this is what He wants me to do. God sometimes asks us to do things that require making uncomfortable adjustments, and for me, this is one of them. However, at the same time, I’m excited to watch my faith soar and let Him use me on the mission field once again.
On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back at a post from yesteryear and re-blog one for newer readers. This was originally posted in September 2013 shortly after Wendy’s sister, Suzanna, came to live with us. Today, Wendy and I take Suzanna to UNI and she begins a new stretch of her life journey. Suzanna is ready to launch and I couldn’t be more proud of her…
I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles. 2 Corinthians 7:4 (NLT)
Late this summer Wendy and I were blessed to have Wendy’s youngest sibling, Suzanna, come and live with us. Suzanna is attending her final year of high school here at the local public high school and getting involved in some of the artistic exploits she loves and are available to her in our wonderful little community. Last night was parent teacher conferences and we headed over to check in with Suzanna’s teachers. I must admit that it was a bit surreal returning to the high school. Madison graduated three years ago and I thought I was finished. But, you never know where the path will lead and what adventures lie ahead of us on the journey.
Having a teenager back in the house has prompted this father to a lot of personal reflection in the past few weeks. It has brought back a lot of memories, and even made me wax a little nostalgic for the days when Taylor and Madison buzzed back and forth in front of my home office and argued in the bathroom as they got ready for school in the mornings. It has been so quiet here on the 2nd floor of Vander Well Manor for so long.
As I read Paul’s words (above) I thought of Taylor and Madison who are grown and have struck out on their own respective paths. I have such confidence in them, am so proud of them, and am so encouraged to see the amazing women they have become. I thought of our sister, Suzanna, and the glowing comments we heard from teachers last night at parent teacher conferences. I am blown away by her courage to take a step of faith, enter a new community, attend a new school, and stretch herself in almost every way. She is proving herself to be such a capable, intelligent, articulate young woman in so many ways. We are blessed to share this time of life with her.
I have always believed that job one for a parent, starting day one, is to work yourself out of a job by raising children who can capably and successfully strike out on their own faith journey, make their own way in this world, and have their own positive influence on the lives of others. To watch it actually happen is the source of tremendous encouragement, pride, and joy.
On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back at a post from yesteryear and re-blog one for newer readers. This was originally posted in August, 2006. Note to reader: If you read my previous post today, I would like to point out that I have actually gotten somewhat better at this!
Yesterday Wendy and I headed to Des Moines in my new company car. I was low on gas, but the car’s computer told me I had 58 miles left. I did the mental calculations to figure out if I needed to stop before we got to the Doctor’s office and then kept my eye on the odometer. As we trucked down University Wendy asked if we needed to get gas. “Nope, we’ll make it!” I answered. The computer told me so.
As we got off the exit at 22nd street in West Des Moines I had 10 miles left and a half-mile to the doctor’s office.
That’s when I ran out of gas.
Don’t trust the computer – trust your wife when she tells you to stop! 🙂
On “Remember When” Wednesdays I like to look back at some great posts of yesteryear and re-blog them for newer subscribers. This was originally posted in July, 2007.
Wendy’s four-month-old laptop crashed last Friday. The past ten days have been some of the busiest for Wendy’s job and the loss of the computer was agonizing. We took the laptop back to the Greek Squad on Friday and they immediately started the process of trying to recover the data off the hard drives. It would be a process of days to get the lap top back and even then Wendy would have to restore all of her software, all of her settings and rebuild her on-line life from scratch. Needless to say, she was angry, frustrated and depressed all weekend.
The situation only got worse on Monday when the Geek Squad called to inform her that they needed her “restoration disks”. Just an hour earlier I had left for meetings in Des Moines. Bad timing. This meant that she would have to drive to Des Moines and personally wait for up to five hours for the computer’s system to be restored so she could take it home. Wendy reluctantly took her book and found herself sitting on a bench outside of the Jordan Creek Mall reading as she waited.
A girl approached Wendy and asked to use her phone. Wendy obliged. Upon completion of the call the girl commented on Wendy’s tattoos. A conversation started. Wendy felt that still, small voice in her heart telling her this was not an ordinary conversation. This was a divine appointment. Seemingly, for no reason, the girl started to share the intimate details of her life to Wendy.
The girl had been abandoned by her parents and lived in a series of foster homes and orphanages. Wendy knows abandonment. She could relate. The girl had been adopted. Wendy knows what it’s like to be adopted and to live in a family with adopted children. The girls adopted parents raised her in the Open Bible Church. Wendy was raised in the Open Bible Church. The girl had run from her family. She ran from God. Her life was a mess. Wendy knows about running from God. She knows mess. She also knows God’s presence in mess.
Wendy didn’t need to mention God. The girl raised the subject. Seeing “Rev. 21:5” tattooed on Wendy’s shoulder, the girl asked about the verse and then asked “Are you a Christian?”
The discussion continued. Wendy silently prayed that the computer guys wouldn’t call her to pick up her computer until after this conversation was over. The two sat on that bench for a long time. The girl inexplicably poured out her heart to a stranger whom she met on a park bench outside of a mall. Wendy listened, related, and loved, reminding her that no matter where she runs in life – God does not let go. God has a plan for her life, and He won’t let go of her – even as she tries to let go of Him. The divine appointment ended with a hug, and with Wendy’s promise to pray for her. The girl walked away.
Within ten minutes her phone rang. The computer was ready.