Monday, December 27, 2010

Finishing in Faith

Here is a provocative admonition from Christian psychologists, Dr. Archibald Hart, for all of us with Type A temperaments.
God is a God of NOT finishing the faith--in this life. Let me explain.
We will all die with things left unfinished. God’s people had not taken Canaan when Moses died. Paul’s mission to the Gentiles had not been fulfilled when he died. Even Jesus (!), by design, left things unfinished… for his disciples to complete.
God is a God of people who do not finish the faith--in this life. Therefore, we finish our lives in faith.

The Ultimate (Birthday) Gift
My daughter, Annie, celebrated her birthday December 16. Beforehand she had a strange request for her birthday—a doorbell.
Finally, I asked her, “Annie, why do you want a doorbell?”
“To put on my bedroom door.”
“Why do you want to put a doorbell on your bedroom door?”
“Because Timothy likes doorbells. If I put a doorbell on my bedroom door, he will ring it instead of bursting in.”
Brilliant, I thought. Unfortunately, Timothy overheard our conversation and found a hole in Annie’s theory.
“I can still annoy you,” he said. “All I have to do is keep ringing the bell—ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding….”
Having heard him ring our doorbells incessantly in times past, I think he has a point.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. I mentioned this in Facebook this morning. Last night, our family passed LAND OF LIGHTS, near Athens, on hwy. 31. Our daughter, Haleigh, 17, starting crying out, “Look! Let’s stop! Let’s stop! Please, let’s stop!” We did. We waited for half an hour until it opened. It cost $20 for our car. At first, I thought we had wasted our money, but the light trail was endless. I was amazed at the amount of lights and the creativity of the displays. Our family gives LAND OF LIGHTS six thumbs up.
2. My favorite six weeks of the year are about to end. The new year cranks up fast and furious. One thing that helps me adjust: the NFL playoffs.
3. Saturday night’s loss notwithstanding, Jason Garrett has made me a believer. He is the perfect fit for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones had better sign him.
4. My most serendipitous gift was not given to me at Christmas. We stopped by a convenience store to ask for directions. The store had an Indiana Jones hat, just like we have been look for the past several months. Perfect!
5. I desire great blessings for you in 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hidden Warfare

Remember the anthrax scare shortly after 9/11?

George W. Bush writes in his new book, DECISION POINTS, about an event that took place in that context a little over one month after 9/11. He and members of his team traveled to Shanghai, China for an economic summit. They spent the night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and the next morning squeezed into a blue tent designed to protect national security briefings from electronic surveillance. Inside the tent were the President, Secretary of State Colin Powell,  National Security Advisor Condi Rice, White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, and the CIA briefer.

They were able to participate in a video conference with Vice President Dick Cheney, who was in a special booth at an event in New York City. Cheney told the team, “Mr. President, one of the bio-detectors went off at the White House. They found traces of botulinum toxin. The chances are we've all been exposed.”

Botulinum toxin is one of the world's most poisonous substances. President Bush and his team remained silent. Finally, Powell asked, “What's the time of exposure?” He was mentally attempting to calculate if his exposure had been recent enough, and the amount of toxins sufficient enough, to kill him and everyone else who had been in the White House.

The only way to know if there would be survivors was to take the substance found and apply it to mice in an FBI lab. If the mice died within 24 hours, the humans would know their death would shortly come. If the mice remained alive, President Bush and his team would know that their exposure was minimum and they would be fine.

President Bush and members of his team went to their meetings that day, awaiting results. The next day, national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, received word that her deputy was on the phone. She and everyone else knew the call would tell her the results of the lab experiment.

Can you imagine what went through their minds as they waited for Rice to complete her call? Fortunately, the word was the mice were very much alive. Still, this was life in the new world of global terrorism and biological warfare.

When I read the president's account, I could not help but think about another global war. Like the terrorists, much of the work is done by figures that remain hidden. Paul writes Ephesians chapter six: 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. NIV

I respect the devil and his minions, as they seek to sabotage the work of God and destroy all Christians. To not do so would mean failure. 

My prayer is that we are diligent in our participation against the devil and his schemes in this all too real war.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. As you know, Don Meredith died recently. Consequently, I have read several articles about him. One was written by a fellow named Bob Greene.

He tells about watching a movie that earned only $19,348 at the box office. That movie was called THE OPEN ROAD. What captured my attention was the fact that the movie was written by Don Meredith’s son, Michael.

The movie stars some well-known actors including Academy Award winners Jeff Bridges and Mary Steenburgen. It also included Justin Timberlake, in a major role.

Greene caught my attention describing the movie. He summarized the plot as being about a charismatic, retired major league baseball player nicknamed “Lone Star” (he’s from Texas) and the distant relationship he had with his son, who was struggling on the Minor League circuit.

Timberlake plays the son; his mother is dangerously ill and facing surgery. She insists that her son find his dad, by now long divorced from his mom, before she will agree to undergo the operation.

The son must travel to Columbus, Ohio to find his father at a card show. His arrival surprises his dad, who agrees, at last, to accompany the son back to Texas and the mother’s bedside.

The problem is, is some ways, the father is the child and the child is the father. “Lone Star” is a funny, appealing man (to one adoring fan, he breezily says, "Number 11 in your program, Number One in your heart"), but he is also a self-centered individual, who long ago learned how to manipulate life to get his away. Passively and aggressively, “Lone Star” sabotages the journey to the point that his arrival is seriously in doubt.

It is at this point the movie reaches it climax. “Lone Star” creatively escapes from his son at an airport and hides away in a hotel in Memphis. The son tracks him down. A scuffle ensues. Father and son wrestle to exhaustion, both physical and emotional.

It is at this point that the son tearfully asks, “Why didn’t you ever love us?”

“Lone Star”, wiped out, moans out an answer.

When I heard it, the light bulb switched on in mind. “Lone Star’s” answer is the reason for much of the brokenness I have seen in families, marriages, and church relationships in my thirty years of ministry.

When asked by his son, “Why didn’t you ever love us?”, “Lone Star” answers, “I did. I just loved myself more.”

I found THE OPEN ROAD on instant streaming on NETFLIX. I watched this movie, which was quite good, because of my fascination with Don Meredith and the fact that he inspired the character of “Lone Star.” (The movie, however, was not biographical or autobiographical.) I was blessed with a profound insight into human behavior, which was encapsulated in a single sentence.

2. Good news. I found out the MLB NETWORK is making Game 7 of the 1960 World Series on DVD.

3. Matt Flynn, you made Tyler proud last night against New England. Well done.

4. I took the plunge and bought the computer software DELICIOUS LIBRARY to organize my books. Here’s to hoping it works.

5. I am so sorry, Lesa Landers Monday, that you have been diagnosed with cancer. My prayer is, with God’s help, you conquer it. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Power-Walking Smoking or Smokey Power-Walking

I have observed a woman in our neighborhood over the past few years. She's probably in her late 50s or early 60s. She looks like she's in pretty good shape. She has little or no body fat. She's always walking, fiercely moving in her effort to exercise. She's very forceful and intense in her pursuit. Clearly, she is very energetic.

There's only one problem. I have never seen her without a cigarette in her hand!

All these good thoughts and intentions, yet the smoking works 100% counter to her goal. I have heard doctors say it is better to NOT exercise and not smoke than to exercise and smoke.

Smoking and exercise are two mutually exclusive goals. They are at war with one another.

When Jesus said—"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28).—he was not trying to rob people of a good time. He was trying to help people enjoy life.

A man who says he wants to live the good life, and then contemplates and engages in behaviors that welcome sexual images, thoughts, and fantasies about women, who are not his wife, is seeking to fulfill two mutually exclusive goals. He is like the woman in my neighborhood who exercises and smokes at the same time.

I’ve never known a person addicted to pornography to say, “Wow, I am content.”

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, is only trying to help.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. I checked out (from our public library) George Bush’s new book DECISION POINTS a couple of weeks ago. When one of the newspapers, critical to his presidential policy, came out with a review stating that Bush’s book is the best memoir written by a president since Grant, I figured I needed to take a look. (Grant’s memoirs are said to join Julius Caesar’s as history’s best from military leaders.)
            I must confess: I planned on skimming Bush’s work because I had other books I had planned on reading. However, Bush’s has been so captivating I have not been able to put it down. I am about halfway through.
            My favorite story occurred on 9/11. Bush called his parents late in the day to see how they were doing. He tracked them down in a small town in Wisconsin.             
            “What are you doing there?” he asked his parents.
            “You grounded our plane, son,” replied his witty, sharp-tongued mother.

2. Does anybody have the MLB NETWORK and a DVD recorder? If so, would you record the following for me this Wednesday, December 15?

7:00 p.m.
MLB Network Special
Bob Costas joins other panel members Bill Mazeroski,
Dick Groat and Bobby Richardson to discuss a recently
unearthed copy of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series

If you are willing, I’ll supply the DVD!

I think they are going to show the actual game, which was played a week or so after I was born. BTW, if you don’t like the time, they will repeat it at midnight. I look forward to hearing from you!

3. My doctor tells me that since I have turned 50, it is time to schedule my first colonoscopy. I wonder why they don’t call it a “roto-rooter-me”?

4. Speaking of physicals, my physician told me he would like for me to begin a low-fat diet. I asked Judy what a low-fat diet was. She jumped all over that opportunity.
            She explained what it means and informed me she was ready for me to begin one. That’s right—drink skim milk, eliminate red meat, and I think start eating paper.
            I informed her everything checked out good in my physical except for the triglycerides, which were a little high. Then Judy played her trump card—she said she needed to get on a low-fat diet also. Stay tuned.

5. I know nothing that can give a parent more joy than the baptism of a child. Coming from a faith tradition where people make their own decisions about baptism, it thrilled me to baptize second daughter, Abby, last Wednesday evening.
            She has been pondering this for quite a while. Last Tuesday night we read and discussed Romans chapters 1-6. I filmed our study with my iPhone—in case she has any questions in the future concerning how much she knew about what she was doing. (I got this from my dad, who taped our study with an audio recorder when I was ten, which reinforced my belief years later that I knew exactly what I was doing.)
            Last week was definitely a good week. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deer Slayer Wannabe

I had a great Thanksgiving and an interesting time, and I want to tell you about that in exquisite detail. I want you to feel, emotionally, what I went through on my hunting trip.  I grew up duck hunting, squirrel hunting, and doing a little bit of dove hunting. I never did much deer hunting – only a handful of times, and only once did I see a deer, take a shot, and missed.  One day some of us were talking about our deer-hunting experiences, and I shared mine.

Mike Warner is one of our new elders, and not only that, he preached here for almost 30 years. Mike heard me say this, and he said, “We’ve got property and I’ll take you there, and you’ll get a deer.”  How could I turn down an offer like that?  Not only that, he offered to take Timothy and me.

I thought this would be great.  This will be a great father and son experience, and I appreciated Mike’s generosity. 

He had told me virtually everyone who has ever gone there, has killed a deer, with only one or two exceptions. Even his granddaughter killed one and I don’t even know if she could yet when she killed it. That’s the kind of experiences people have had. 

So, we went the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I was concerned. I wanted to make sure I knew all the rules and the laws. For example, was it ok to shoot a doe? (It was— the doe population was too large.) Mike informed about other important details and then he said, “There’s a buck that’s got 10 points, that runs around our property. Don’t shoot him; he’s kind of like a family pet.”

I asked him, “Mike, I’m not very good at counting points, you know. I’m not very experienced at this. Is there any way I can distinguish which buck this is?” 

He said, “Yeah, he’s got a collar on.” 

I said, “Ok, I can get that. I can remember that.” 

We arrived on Mike’s property near Lampasas and it feelt like one of those game preserves you take kids on in your car so they can see the animals. We were surrounded by deer.  Mike said, “Well, here you go. You want to go ahead and get you one?” 

Meanwhile, I’m starting to feel a little guilty. I can envision myself traveling home and having my three girls ask me, “Daddy, did you get a deer?” 

“Yeah, I did.” 

“Well, how’d you kill him?” 

“I just rolled down the window and a doe stuck her head inside the pick up and I ….”

No! I felt like I needed to sacrifice and toil. I needed to sit in a blind somewhere for a long time—and pay a price. 

I told Mike, “No, Mike, I don’t want to do this. It’s too easy.”  So, he took me out to a blind, in a great area. You could see far and wide.  It was Friday afternoon. Timothy and I sat in the blind for a couple of hours. Timothy is seven, but he was doing great. 

We didn’t see anything and then finally, when the sun was behind the trees and it was beginning to get dark, we saw some at a distance.  Does started coming out of a distant tree line. They came and stood in front of it.  It seemed like they were a long way away, but I got my scope out and I debated in my mind—do I take a shot? It looked like the deer were about 300 yards away. (Later on, I measured it out and it was around 220.) The distance seemed too far away. However, I could not help thinking if this is the only deer I saw, and if I did not take a shot, I would feel guilty. I decided to shoot and just do the best I could. 

Considering all of the variables involved, I was actually pretty calm as I aimed. I pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Now, I’m not an experienced deer hunter, but I know I did not hit that deer. I’m sure if I were anywhere close, that deer would have taken off.  Not only did that doe not take off, she stood up even higher. I could have sworn she started preening. She did everything short of taking her hoof, licking it, smooth her hair, pull out a mirror, put on her makeup, and powder her nose.

I’m telling you, she psyched me out.  That doe was so confident; I just knew she knew she was too far away for me to hurt her. I decided not to take another shot. Timothy and I saw nothing else that day. 

The next morning, (Sat) morning, around 6:30 – we were out before the sun was up. It was cold—in the 20s—and I liked it. I had often hunted ducks and squirrels in that kind of weather. We sat out in the blind in the cold weather.  Timothy had a sleeping bag; he slept for a couple of hours.

We sat in the blind for 2, 2 ½, maybe 3 hours, and we did not see a thing. By then Mike was feeling awfully bad. He called me on my cell phone and told me was going to walk around the perimeter of the tree line to try to scare some deer up for us. 

Mike did everything short of getting a pot and pan and crying out, “Hey deer! Yeha! Come on!”

Lo and behold, Timothy looked and said, “Dad, look, there’s a good buck.” It was—a beautiful ten point buck.

He said, “Dad, aren’t you going to shoot it?”  I said, “Timothy, I can’t. That’s the family pet. That’s Bucky.” 

He said, “Dad, how do you know it’s the family pet?”  I said, “He’s got a collar. See that pink collar?”

Timothy asked, “Why’s he wearing a pink collar?”  I said, “I don’t know. (Mike Warner hates to see men wearing pink!) I don’t know; I’m totally confused, but we just can’t shoot him.” 

Wouldn’t you know it? Bucky took about fifteen minutes as he paraded in front of us. I think he knew I could not shoot them. Finally, Bucky paused in distance-he might have even waved at me-and then he entered inside the forest, and that was it. We did not see anymore.

Now, I’ll have to confess to you, there was a period of time, when I was in that blind, when I prayed. I said, “Lord, I would never ask for you help me kill a deer for myself, but you know, Mike Warner has gone to a lot of trouble, Lord, to try to make this happen. He invested a lot of time. Timothy’s been good; I think it would be a memorable experience for him if I killed a deer. Judy and the three girls have sacrificed – they let us go stay in the Town & Country Motorsport in Lampasas, Texas. They might even be envious of us for getting to stay in such a wonderful, luxurious motor inn.  I would love to bring them back a deer and let them see that all of their investment of time and money proved worthwhile.”

So, so I laid it before the Lord—“… ask and ye shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you…”

But guess what the Lord answered? “NO!”

Saturday afternoon, as we were getting back, I shared with Mike my “disillusionment”. (I am speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course.)  After all, the next morning, I was preaching on Matthew 7:7-12—“Ask and it shall be given to you….” But Mike said something that knocked me right out of my spiritual stupor.  I said, “Mike, the Lord says ‘ask and it shall be given to you, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you….’ Mike, I prayed about this. What shall I tell the people?”

Mike looked at me and said, “You think those deer weren’t praying too?”

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. When I was in high school, my dad took me to visit Don Meredith’s parents one wintry, Saturday afternoon. Daddy knew them because my grandparents had property that bordered Mr. and Mrs. Meredith’s property a few miles outside of Mt. Vernon (Texas.) My grandparents and Don’s parents were friends.
            Mr. Meredith had seen me play quarterback in our game against Mt. Vernon, was very complimentary, and invited my dad and me to visit him sometime. As I recall, we stayed for an hour or two. Of course, this was during Don’s heyday with Monday Night Football and television movies, so he was not there. However, Don’s parents were delightful hosts—simply kind and gracious people.
            As it neared the hour to leave, Mr. Meredith asked if I would like to see the scrapbooks Don’s mother had made for Don during his high school years. Of course, I said, yes. He brought them out and then, unbelievably, he suggested I take them home and bring them back the next time I was nearby.
            I still cannot believe the Meredith’s generosity. I am also grateful for their trust in me. I am happy to report I returned them through my dad, safe and sound.
            I also remember being fascinated by Don’s high school career. He truly was an All-American boy with a variety of interests. Not only was he a legendary athlete, he participated in a variety of activities including Vo-Ag (one team he was on won a state championship) and drama.
            I truly enjoyed going through Don’s scrapbooks. Although, I never got to meet Don, I feel like I got to know him.
            Today, I got word that Don Meredith passed away at age 72. I had suspected this day would soon come.
            Don Meredith was my first quarterback hero. My earliest football memories are of my dad and I watching him play on TV for the Dallas Cowboys. Rest in peace Don, we will miss you.

2. It's better to die living than to live afraid.

3. It’s my fault Dallas has been losing. Every time I have not watched—they’ve won.

4. Congratulations, TCU. We’re proud of you.

5. Congratulations Haleigh Edge and Brandon Mosely for being named ROTARY CLUB’s Students of the Year for ETCA.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Death Angel

            I came across this nugget from the pen* of the late Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal, FIRST THINGS. 
            Dr. Joseph Mengele was a Nazi war criminal.  You may have heard of him.  He was known as the "Angel of Death."  For years, at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Mengele tortured prisoners. He cruelly performed "scientific" experiments upon them. Many died from Mengele’s torment.
            After World War Two, Mengele fled to Argentina.  During the early 90s, the new democratic government in Argentina opened up their previously sealed files on the Nazis, who had fled to Argentina. Guess how Dr. Mengele made his living in Argentina? As a doctor who performed abortions.
            Does this subliminally speak to us about the nature and practice of abortion?

*Source: FIRST THINGS, March 2009 issue, p. 66.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. Read Buster Olney’s, HOW LUCKY YOU CAN BE; THE STORY OF COACH DON MEYER a couple of weeks ago. It is the story of Don Meyer, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history. Meyer lost a leg in a horrific automobile accident in 2008. During that ordeal, he was discovered to have cancer. In 2009, ESPN awarded him the Jimmy V (Valvano) award for courage.
            I found the book interesting because Meyer coached for 25 years at David Lipscomb University (now Lipscomb University)—my mother’s alma mater.
            The book reads quickly. Olney, who is now employed by ESPN, has a reputation for being a strong sport’s journalist. Still, he is an admitted admirer of Myer, who he got to know when Olney was working for the NASHVILLE BANNER back in the late eighties.
            I suspect because Olney is a journalist, Meyer’s Christian faith is treated from a respectful distance. Olney summarizes Meyer’s devotion to God and the impact of the church in his life, rather than celebrate it. For this reason, any secular person would feel comfortable reading this book.
            On a personal level, I enjoyed reading behind-the-scene stories about Meyer’s relationships with other coaches. He is highly respected in the coaching world, even though he has not gained the notoriety others have.
            I also was fascinated in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the most glorious moment of Meyer’s coaching career—receiving the Jimmy V award. Olney takes you onstage, backstage, and in the audience. In a celebrity driven culture, it is neat to read of celebrities being impacted in such a positive way by a courageous, Christian coach.
            I definitely give this book a thumbs-up. 

2. Do I really want to preach REVELATION in 2011?

3. Kellen Moore, quarterback of the Boise State Broncos—you have been glorious the past two seasons. It was not your fault your team lost.

4. Taking my son, Timothy, deer hunting last Friday and Saturday reminded me how much I enjoyed hunting growing up. Thanks, Mike Warner, for showing us a good time. I told my church about our adventures. I may need to blog on it sometime. I can say this, though--the Deer world is still safe from Mark Edge.

5. Judy finally gave me permission to show the 1953 version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL Thursday night to our family. The kids survived. I love that movie. 

Monday, November 22, 2010


Take a glass. Put it in a bowl. Take a water pitcher. Fill it with water. Pour water from the pitcher into the glass until the glass overflows with water. Let the over flow fill the bowl. Drink water until your thirst is quenched. If you drain the glass and are still thirsty, fill it again from the pitcher.

After your thirst is quenched, pour water from the overflow (in the bowl) into the glass. Chances are, the overflow will not satisfy like that first drink did from the pitcher.

The gap between having a need and satisfying it can be great. Meeting that need can be a very fulfilling experience—maybe even a very happy one.

Once that need is met, the gap between satisfying a need and receiving emotional blessing is small, maybe even miniscule. You can keep drinking water from the overflow, but it is not going to be an immensely fulfilling experience. (Filling, yes, but not FULfilling.) It will not add greatly to your happiness. It may even create discomfort.

Ever hear that you are supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day? I have rarely tried to do so, when it was not an experience of discipline--even suffering. Some days, I could not even attempt it, unless, I knew I was going to be near a bathroom. My body, after glass three, would say, “Enough of this.” I would feel bloated. Not a good thing.

Now, on a hot summer day, after mowing, I might drink four glasses of water. I needed that much to meet a need. And, oh, did it feel good. Once that need was met, satisfaction dwindled.

You may own one home. If it keeps you dry and comfortable, that need is satisfied and you can’t do much better. Donald Trump owns a few homes—maybe five or ten. Donald Trump is not five or ten times more happy than you.

You may need a billion dollars in the bank, and you may have a billion dollars in the bank. Bill Gates has $55 billion in the bank. I assure you, Bill Gates is not $55 billion happier than you.

Here is my point. Jesus promised us that God would take care of our basic needs and to not worry about them. Most of us, when we worry, are not worried about basic needs; they are being met. Instead, we are worrying about the overflow of blessings God provides.

We are not worrying about getting the drink of water from the glass. That is being provided. We are worrying about the overflow of water in the bowl. 

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. Dallas Cowboys, I hardly known ye.

2. As I posted on Facebook, the weekend before Thanksgiving begins my favorite six-week period of the year.

3. I saw Edmund Morris last night on C-Span. I cannot wait to read COLONEL ROOSEVELT. I was a senior in high school when he published the first volume of the Roosevelt trilogy. Now I am fifty. Amazing.

4. Way to go ETCA girls’ basketball team. You are undefeated. Samantha Phillips, you are an amazing player.

5. Congratulations to the ETCA girls volleyball team for your awards. Parental pride: my oldest daughter, Haleigh, was named first team all-state.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventure with the Clock

Douglas Southall Freeman wrote two Pulitzer Prize winning works on the lives of Robert E. Lee and George Washington. Today, they are still considered the definitive biographies of these extraordinary Americans. Freeman was also the award-winning Editor for several decades of a major newspaper, the RICHMOND (VA) NEWS LEADER. Add to these responsibilities, two daily radio broadcasts, memberships to various boards and civic organizations, as well as, church and other extracurricular activities, and one must ask—how did Freeman do it?

            Part of the answer is found in the biography of Freeman written by his grandson, David E. Johnson. Johnson’s work included the typical daily schedule in Freeman’s later years, as witnessed by a writer from TIME magazine. Johnson called this chapter “Adventure with the Clock.” Here is the schedule:

2:30 A.M. Awake.

2:30-2:44 Dress, shave, devotional.

2:45 Downstairs to kitchen.

2:45-3:08 Prepare and eat breakfast, walk to car.

3:08-3:25 Drive to RICHMOND NEWS LEADER office.

3:25-3:29 Park, walk into building, up to office.

3:30 At desk, Associate Press wires in hand.

3:31-7:58 Read wire dispatches and morning paper, write editorials, mark items for index.

7:58-8:00 Walk to WRNL studio.

8:00-8:15 Broadcast.

8:15-8:17 Walk back to office.

8:17-8:32 Morning staff meeting.

8:32-11:58 Attend to duties of editor. Answer mail, receive visitors, attend meetings, check first edition of paper, block and set editorials. (In his later years, Freeman would, at times, take a brief nap at 11:00 A.M.)

11:58-12:00 Walk to WRNL studio.

12:00-12:15 Broadcast.

12:15-12:17 Walk back to office.

12:17-12:30 Complete last details of day ad prepare for next day. Walk to car.

12:30-12:47 Drive home.

12:48-2:00 Lunch with his wife, Inez, work in the garden, walk the grounds. A less structured time.

2:00-2:30 Nap.

2:30-6:30 Work in study on historical projects.

6:30-8:45 Dinner; evening with family.

8:45 Retire for the evening.

         I have known a number of people who have slept the same amount of hours per night as Freeman, but few have been so focused. Johnson’s book entitled DOUGLAS SOUTHALL FREEMAN, is a fascinating read of a marvelous historian, as well as, one of this nation’s most influential leaders in the media. Freeman died over fifty years ago, but his influence lives on.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. After what happened to the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns, and with TCU probably not even receiving a shot at the National Title, I refuse to become emotionally attached to a Texas team this football season. I cannot take the pain.

2. Jerry Jones is a nice George Steinbrenner.

3. At last, it feels like autumn.

4. No one wants to fulfill someone else’s vision.

5. Finally, and most importantly, the older I get, the more I love my wife.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Preparing for Launch

            Last Thursday evening, I took Haleigh on a trip to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. She and I had never taken a trip together before.
            Her sister, Abby, and I have (one of the few things Abby experienced before Haleigh.) A few years ago, I took Abby to Houston, to NASA, for a workshop for Homeschool kids.
            Haleigh was going primarily to try out for Harding’s volleyball team on Friday afternoon. Haleigh was going to stay with Kelli Mott, one of our Shiloh Road graduates, in one of the girls’ dorms. We arrived so late on Thursday night that Haleigh missed the dorm curfew. She had to stay with me at the local Hampton Inn.
            Friday morning, I dropped Haleigh off at the dorm, and with the exception of taking her to the tryout, saw very little of her. She attended some of Kelli’s classes and met some of Kelli’s friends.
            On the way up, I told Haleigh that one of my parents’ strengths was to never be overbearing. I can only remember them visiting me at college a handful of times, but each time they did, they made sure to give me space and not make me feel I had to entertain them every moment of the weekend. (Franklin Roosevelt’s mom moved into an apartment with him at Harvard. Egad!)  I told Haleigh I want to do the same for my kids.
            Friday, I met with someone from the financial aid office, dropped by and visited my old Argentina teammate, Bill Richardson, and I checked out the Harding campus. (It had been eleven years since I had been there.)
            Friday night, one of Kelli’s roommates managed to scrounge up a ticket for Haleigh to join several of them for a performance of the musical THROROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. I know this will sound sad for some of you, but I arrived at my hotel room Friday evening, at six o’clock, and never left the room. For me, it was actually bliss. Living in a family of six, I cannot remember the last time I had so much time to myself in peace and quiet.
            I had stuck into the Suburban a couple of sacks of books I picked up at the Doctors’ wives’ book sale on Thursday. I spent the entire evening working through the sacks. I had so much fun—I never turned the TV on. I went to sleep about eleven and got me a good night’s sleep.
            We left for home on Saturday morning. On the way back, we stopped in Little Rock at the Bill Clinton Presidential Museum.
            In Friday’s tryout, Haleigh had sprained her ankle during a volleyball game with other high school students and the Harding volleyball team, but she did not tell anyone until she told me on Saturday morning. I asked her if she would rather drive on home, but she said she would rather tour the museums. This is the first president Haleigh can remember, so she wanted to see the exhibits. She put on her boots and toughed it out.
            (That night, Judy about pinched my ears off when she saw Haleigh’s ankle; it had swollen to the size of an orange. Don’t tell her basketball coach about this.)
            While in Little Rock, Haleigh and I had lunch at a classy restaurant. Then it was back on the road.
            Haleigh and I had a total of twelve hours in the Suburban together. We talked a lot, listened to a lot of music, she slept some, and we listened to Drew Brees' new book on CD. (Her choice—I had brought it to listen to when she was asleep.)
            I felt interesting emotions Friday on the Harding campus. Even though it has been thirty years since I was an undergraduate, I can still remember those days clearly. Now I am watching my oldest preparing to launch the second phase of her life. This seems real, and this seems right.
            Driving home, a voice in my mind put words to my feelings. For a long time, I have been thinking about Haleigh launching into a new phase of her life. Saturday evening, that voice told me I was launching into a new phase as well.

The Luckiest Man on Earth
            Incidentally, on the aforementioned Friday evening, I had a chance to read from my recently purchased copy of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathan Eig. I had always heard about the famous speech Gehrig made as a dying man, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this Earth…” I had never read the extensive context to that story.
            Gehrig began the 1939 season playing horribly. Everyone noticed this in spring training. Gehrig himself thought he would play himself out of it. Instead, he grew worse.
            A few games into the season, Gehrig made a routine play at first to make the third out of an inning. When he arrived at the bench, several players congratulated him for his play.
            That night, Gehrig grew more and more disturbed. Had it come to this? Had his quality of play fallen so low that his teammates felt compelled to compliment him so profusely for a normal play?
            The next morning, Gehrig approached his manager, Joe McCartney, and asked to remain on the bench, “for the good of the team.”
            That afternoon, Lou Gehrig missed his first ballgame since 1925. The story was national news.
            Of course, as you know, Gehrig traveled a few days later to the Mayo Clinic, where he was diagnosed with the disease that would later bear his name. The New York Yankees organized a special day honoring him. The ceremony took place between games of a doubleheader with the Washington Senators.
            The Yankees brought in old teammates including Babe Ruth. Gifts were showered upon Gehrig, including one from the archrival, New York Giants.
            Finally, all the speeches were made and the throng that filled Yankee stadium began calling upon Gehrig to speak. But he was too overcome. Overwhelmed by kindness, Gehrig stood to the side, weeping.
            After it became obvious Gehrig was unable to respond, workers began to dismantle the microphones at home plate. Then Joe McCarthy walked over to Gehrig. Whispering in his ear, the manager gently coaxed him to say a few words.
            That was when Gehrig strode to the microphones, and, head down, uttered these words, “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” What I did not realize was that he went on to offer a brief, gracious speech, thanking various groups and individuals, before saying his final words, “So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.
            I’ve got to tell you, I was crying reading this account. You talk about feeling silly. Here I am, in a hotel room, reading about something that occurred over seventy years ago, and I am crying like it is happening in real time! (Who knows, maybe my emotion was a “Freudian” response to Haleigh’s visit at Harding.)
            Good stuff from Jonathon Eig.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. Here’s what I want for Christmas: a TCU vs. Oregon matchup for the National Championship—an awesome defense versus an incredible offense.

2. I am happy with the Ranger season, but I can’t get out of my mind what happened to the Mavs. They came so close to defeating the Heat. They’ve never been back to the Finals again.

3. Haleigh and I have listened to almost four CDs of Drew Brees’ new book, COMING BACK STRONGER. So far, we have both been struck by Brees’ faith in God. Neither of us knew his faith was as extensive as it is. Tyndale House, which published the book, is a religious publishing company. This is a religious book.
            It is also inspiring. He has faced much adversity. I was glad Haleigh got to listen to it before she arrived to her tryout. I think it put her in a good and realistic frame of mind.
            We cannot wait to finish the book.

4. I think it is naïve to believe we will ever have bipartisanship in our Federal government. And this may be a good thing.

5. I tried something called Ethiopian coffee last Saturday. I found it to have a decent taste with no coffee bitterness. Not bad.