Last week, my parents visited us over the weekend. Their stay was extended by a vehicular malfunction. My dad returned home, car fixed and a shiny new repair bill under his arm, and wrote this. I don’t know if he meant for me to publish it. We’ll see.
We took a little trip in our Mercury auto
Out through the farm byways of Minnesota
Crossed the border into South Dakota
To visit the chief poet at Claims Poetica (more…)
My dad has a knack for finding spiritual application to sometimes odd news reports. This new development still has me scratching my head — though not, perhaps, as much as the image of Ananias and Sapphira on Facebook.
— by Paul Willingham
Back in the 80s when I was in business in South Dakota, I attended a 2 day marketing seminar for CPAs. One of the things that the instructor stressed was that you needed to be able to identify, as much as possible, the personality of your client or potential client. He pointed out that each person has these visible personality traits that, when identified, would help tailor the sales pitch to “sell” or close the deal. Some might call it manipulation but that’s a discussion for another time.
After explaining that each one of us fit more or less into one of four groups, he explained how to identify and pigeon hole a person by being sensitive to these visible traits. Before we broke for lunch that first day, he had assessed each of the participants. What was worse, he shared those assessments with the class and we all were surprised, chagrined and perhaps embarrassed at how accurate he was. One of our assignments was to go out to the Mall after supper, people watch, and then try to identify which one of the four groups passersby belonged to. It was surprising to me how much you could tell about a person by paying attention and looking for the telltale traits. (more…)
Day 4 – 12 Days of Community
My dad does not officially blog. Every now and again we like to cut him loose from the comment box and give him a guest spot. Though he has no blog of his own (I like to think of him as sort of a Blogger Emeritus), I’m featuring him for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Community we’re celebrating at High Calling Blogs. Dad previously posted for us on keeping performance in perspective and stepping out from behind the mask. He writes for us again today.
:: :: :: :: ::
by Paul Willingham
As I drove home from church on a recent Sunday, I noted that one of the billboards along Highway 7 had been updated with a new message. In true billboard fashion it only contained eight words so that we could read, process and absorb the message before we blew past it at highway speed. The sponsor is a huge nationally known shopping center here in the Twin Cities. The eight words “FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF ALL OVER AGAIN”.
My dad posts again to round out the series of the past week. His thoughts here relate to the Legends post from earlier in the week, so we’ll call it Part 1.5. If you missed Dad’s earlier guest spot, you can pick it up here.
Meanwhile, Delilah is just dying to cut Samson’s hair, so I’ll be back in Judges 16 this week if you care to join me.
by Paul Willingham
Rambo and Homer. Hmmmm! Superman and Casper Milquetoast. Babe Ruth and Casey (at the Bat). Sgt. York and Sgt. Bilko. The James Gang and the Apple Dumpling Gang. Rambo I know, having watched “First Blood” several times. Rambo II and Rambo III fell sort of flat, as most sequels do. I know who Homer Simpson is but have never watched even 5 minutes of “The Simpsons”. But I digress. My TV/movie viewing preferences are not germane here. What you were really saying as one wag put it long ago, we want to be legends but we only end up being “legends in our own mind”.
When I was in college, an annual event was the “Speech Banquet”. After the meal, the program consisted of speeches by several students. The speakers (mostly male students as they were pursuing careers as preachers) on the program were selected by the Speech Professor. I agreed to serve as toastmaster for the event and thus escaped preparing and delivering a speech. Following years of tradition established by those who had gone before me, plus my own idea of what an emcee does, I introduced the various speakers with a short and what I hoped was a good joke (a good joke being defined as one that folks actually laugh at).
I introduced one of the students (We’ll call him Bob) as follows: Bob had a date with his long-time girl friend. When he arrived at the door and rang her bell, she appeared at the door and greeted him with the question that every male dreads. “Bob, do you notice any thing different about me?”
I had an unexpected and pleasant surprise in my inbox this morning: a guest post from my dad, reflecting on some of the discussion we’ve had here the last few days. I know, I promised Part 3 on confession and self-disclosure today. It’s still coming. Consider this Part 2.5. You can pick up Part 1 and Part 2 to get up to speed.
When I think of what’s made me what I am today, it’s one part my dad, one part my mom, one part being beat up by my brother, one part having a girly older sister, one part reading a lot of books, one part being pursued for years by the love of my life, one part . . . well, a whole lot of parts God worked together to come up with a little something called me. But I was highly blessed to have a mom and dad who taught me the good stuff from day one and lived it out where I could see it.
So I’m happy to break my dad out of the comment box for you today. Ignore his flattery (he’s my dad, what do you expect?) and just move straight to the meat of it.
by Paul Willingham
Fascinating discussion. You have the uncanny ability to take mundane things like pocket lint and Show and Tell and make us think. It is interesting that you posted on this subject this week. Yesterday, I started putting into words something that came to me in the car and it sort of ties into what you are discussing here. My opening lines were going to be the words of an old hymn that popped into my head while driving to Grandpa’s last week.
Today I experienced one of the scariest moments of my short career.
I am a physical therapist, and part of my current job involves working in a nursing home. I’ve been working with an elderly woman who had a stroke several months ago. She should have died, but her stubborn will kept her heart beating. The first couple of months were spent lying in bed, so when she came to us she was very weak and dependent on everyone to take care of her.
But with the help of physical, occupational, and speech therapies, she quickly began to make a comeback. Now, three months later, she is still quite dependent on others, but is able to sit up, transfer, and walk.
Actually, she doesn’t really walk.
She kind of springs out of her chair and takes off at a dead walk-sprint. (Before her stroke, she was the kind of woman who constantly ran at full speed.)
But her balance isn’t great and she is still weak. So I try to always have a hold of her gait belt when we’re doing stuff. That’s the purpose of the belt – I hold on so my patient doesn’t fall.
Today we were walking. Or more accurately, she was speed walking and I was trying to hold onto her with one hand and pull her wheelchair behind me with the other. She eventually tired out and was ready to sit and rest for a few minutes. So I one-handedly reached down to put the brakes on her wheelchair so she could sit safely.
That’s when things got scary. It happened before either one of us knew what was going on.
Which is usually how it goes. Older people don’t even realize they’re falling until they’re already on the ground.
Suddenly, my patient was taking a nose-dive forward. Straight down into her walker, which would only slightly break her fall before hitting the hard floor. Thank goodness for my hand on her belt. I yanked her backwards from behind her wheelchair and she just barely landed in her seat. Thank goodness for locked brakes.
She was (understandably) startled and began crying out that she couldn’t get herself back into her chair. So I did my best to lift her up far enough into the seat so she could get herself in the rest of the way.
I sat down as well.
This woman also has severe short-term memory deficits. So after a few breaths she asks, “Where do you want me to go?” I’m pretty sure she had already forgotten about her near-smack experience with the floor.
I said, “Let’s just rest here for a few more minutes.” I still needed to sit.
After a while we both got up and finished our walk and all was well. But had I let go of that belt for just the brief second I needed to reach across to the brake, the story would have ended differently.
What if God let go of us every time we fell? What if He turned His back on us every once in a while and missed catching us?
Our spiritual growth is sequential. As baby Christians, God often holds us and carries us so we can see and experience Him up close. As we grow, we learn to walk on our spiritual legs. But the difference with our spiritual mobility compared to physical mobility is that we never walk independently. No matter how “big” we get, we still need God to hold onto us. For when we stumble.
That’s a promise. We will stumble. No matter how much of a spiritual giant someone may appear, even they will stumble. And even fall.
Sometimes it hurts. We might stub a toe or bump a knee. Sometimes we fall and it hurts so badly we’re not sure we are ever going to be able to walk again. But God always has His hand on us. We never fall so hard that He can’t break our fall.
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:9-10).
There is no place we can go where God isn’t holding onto us.
And maybe we should embrace a lack of short-term memory. Sometimes it’s ok to sit down, take a break, and recover a bit. But it does no good to sit and dwell on our mistakes and punish ourselves repeatedly for stumbling. Maybe we should be more like my patient – forget about the near disaster we just about landed in and ask instead, “Where do you want me to go?”
Our destination won’t come to us. We have to walk to it. Even if it’s one baby step at a time.
I’m traveling this weekend for Grandpa’s 101st birthday. Thought this would be a great time for Isaac to put up his guest post. Isaac is an 8th grader who sometimes exhibits insight beyond his years. He’s starting to learn to see the way God speaks through the sometimes ordinary things of life. Encourage him and comment him up, would you please? — Lyla
Heyheyhey, it’s me, Isaac, you know, Lyla’s son? Of course you have no clue who I am. Well, She told me I could do a guest post, and well I guess that’s what I’m doing. I have nothing else to do anyway… it’s a friday night and I don’t have a girlfriend ;).
:: <— heh heh, I’m taking after my mom already…
Last Christmas we (my mom, my little brother JP, and I) were in Minneapolis to visit relatives. The second (I think) day we were up there, my mom and I went to a theater to see the newly released movie Valkyrie. (Great movie.) Well, we got in there about 5 minutes before the movie and we got one of the last remaining seats. She turned to me and asked. “Is it alright if I sit with you?”
I looked around and jokingly told her, “Don’t worry, Mom, I don’t know anyone here,” so we sat down and waited for the movie to start.
Well, I’ve gotten to thinking, is that the same way with Jesus? Him asking, “Can I shine through now?” and us answering the typical response, “Not now, there are people here I know, I don’t want them to know. I want to be ‘cool’,” and He goes back to waiting.
Mark 8:34-38 says:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Instead of brushing Him back, we should respond with, “Yes God, whatever you need me to do for you know what the best thing to do is.”
So there’s my story, and my lesson, and even the :: between thoughts, so I guess this concludes my 15 minutes of fame that never was ;).