How are you? I Own A F$#&ing Coat

He sat across from me in the booth. We were half way through breakfast. James asked, "So, how are you?" I paused. I reflected. I realized. It had been 20 degrees for 2 weeks straight. The trivialities of my life flashed before my eyes. Earlier in the week I attended a memorial for a friend, Chriss. He died at 40. He won the cancer lottery. A rare and highly lethal cancer he'd beaten once, came back. He never complained. He radiated hope and optimism regardless of the pitch of … [Read more...]

Are You In Danger of Being Understood?

"I don't feel safe," Izzy said. The court appointed agent looked around and told her, "This looks like a pretty safe place to me." Izzy was at her mom's house.  She's at the beginning of a court negotiated recovery like what Tiger Woods is using to clear his record.   Izzy is working through addiction issues.  Her family is working through their issues with her addiction. Safe did not mean safe.  It meant understood -- or not judged.   The problem with being an addict  is that your behaviors … [Read more...]

Can You Get Better By Grace?

T The blood drained from my face.  I felt ashamed. I thought she was texting.   I snarled, "Is that related to what we're working on now?"   Michelle looked up.  Taken aback and off balance, she replied , "I'm taking notes on what you're saying so I can remember later.  I didn't want to take down the presentation I'm projecting to take notes."   I apologized. Michelle said, "It's okay."   "No, it's not," I replied.   I apologized again.   "It's fine."   Again, I said, "No, it's not."   … [Read more...]

You Think You’re Present Until This Happens

Embed from Getty Images I start each day with a thimble full of patience.  The thimble was empty. We decided the day would be TV free for the girls - we have twin 5 year olds.   Instead we'd listen to music, sort out the Legos and the playroom and review language and letters.   The kids were good all day.   Yes, they fought with each other from time to time.  Other than the occasional scream or whine, they were good.  But the sounds never stopped.  I learned how much we've relied … [Read more...]

Change Is Gonna Come

I read the quote nearly every day.  It dangles at the bottom of his emails.   Each time I read it, I feel a flush of regret of the inertia in the past and present; the dread of a future where the truth of the quote compounds with interest. The quote reads:    "Every day you don’t do something, it makes it less likely that you will ever do something." What gets in the way of the doing something is either a lack of clarity of purpose or a lack of faith.  Some may be uncomfortable with the … [Read more...]

Here’s What You Can Control

Embed from Getty Images Ellie's face turned maroon.  "I'm angry!," she screeched.  She was playing a board game with her twin four year old sister, Evie. Ellie gets intense.  I'd never seen her this irate.  Why was she angry?  No other reason than her sister was ahead of her on the board.   That was deemed unfair.  I calmed her down.  She resumed playing. The girls proceeded to butcher the game.  I resisted my urge to control and correct.  I let them play on, refereeing only … [Read more...]

Lighting Matches on a Windy 4th of July

I closed the last book. They sat there awkwardly. Some looked at me blankly. Others' minds and bodies wandered off.  Mrs. Bush said, "What do we say?" The class mumbled, "Thank you ... ," not quite in unison or unanimity. "What dooo we saayy?!,"  Mrs. Bush repeated with greater expectations. The kids screamed, "THANK YOU!" I was the "Mystery Reader" for Evie's class. She's one of my twin 4 year olds.  I read 3 books ... two too many for the attention span of ten 4 year olds. They tuned in and … [Read more...]

Are You Leading Learners? Sink or swim

Embed from Getty Images Ellie stood at the side of the pool.  "I want my floaties!"  I told her she wasn't getting her floaties.  I needed her to be brave.  She melted down like a Bomb Pop in the Texas summer sun.  I walked to the edge where she stood.  I encouraged her to just let me hold her in the water.  She got in cautiously. I floated her around, holding her by her bathing suit.  I encouraged her.  She relaxed.  I told her to put her face in the water as she swam.  "No.  I'm … [Read more...]

Today Is A Good Day for No Words

Reid said, "I normally don't have a loss for words."   I replied awkwardly, looking for something to say.   "Today's a good day for no words."  Reid was at the Peace Rally the night before.  He drove out of the parking garage, where one of the snipers was setup, 25 minutes before the assault on the police and protesters began. It's the day after five police officers were killed in Dallas.  My wife, Jen, and I were at the noon prayer vigil at Thanks-giving Square in downtown Dallas.  This is … [Read more...]

Are You Free? The Captivity of Choice

I spent 2 days in Huntsville.  Standing on concrete.  Hands through the bars that secure 7'x9' rooms containing two bunks, a small seat and a steel toilet.  I heard stories from men in their  20s  through their 80s.  Black, latino, white. All putting their faith ... possibly in blind desperation ... in God.  A Vietnam vet who claims innocence.  A recurring petty criminal.   A man who made a mistake in judgement and is desperate to restore what is probably already lost. I sat in the mess hall. … [Read more...]