Thursday, September 20, 2007

Coffee with a Cream Chaser

As you all know, my son Aaron is now in Clarksville, Tennessee, at Master's Commission. Here is a video of their initiation. Each student apparently has one of him or her doing this: swallowing a scoop of coffee grounds followed by a dry creamer chaser, and then throwing up! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, college life!

Click on the link to see the video. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Announcement

Somehow it seems appropriate. There is a crispness in the evening air. The slightest whisper of color has already begun to softly kiss the leaves of the Bradford pears. The Dogwoods will follow, then the hills will come alive with the firey oranges and reds, yellows and golds of autumn in full-spectrum. The view will be spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring. Perhaps this is God's apology for ending summer all too quickly. I rather believe, though, that it is yet one more example of His magnificent grace that eases us into another season, one that has the potential to be too harsh to bear were it not for some joie de vivre in the transition.

To many, autumn is a time of ending. Ending summer, warm days, carefree lifestyles, vacations. One might miss the glory of autumn altogether and only dread the coming of winter, when life seems to stand still and frozen. I have likened my own life these last few weeks and months to such a time of ending as I have wrestled with this thing called "empty nest syndrome." How suitable it seems that my youngest child would go off to college at this time of year, when leaves begin to fall and the earth appears to die. It is, indeed, the end of a season of my own life, and just as the falling leaves and cooler air declare a change has come, so do the remnants of boyhood my son has left behind: a nearly-empty bedroom with only a few posters still clinging to the walls, a basket of worn-out clothing in the corner, and a paintball gun perched upon the corner of his desk. Poignant reminders of a vibrant youth who has embarked upon his manhood.

For days, weeks on end I've only dreaded the winter and almost missed the autumn entirely. I've not trusted God to make the transition for me, just as he transitions the seasons of nature in such splendor and magnitude. Already, even before the departure of my son, the transition was underway. Some months ago, through a series of circumstances none of us predicted, my brother and his wife came to stay with us, along with their two-year-old daughter, my niece Anna. Our home was suddenly overflowing with giggles and tea cups; away with you, you fear of lonliness; no time to lament some future grief.

My son has adjusted well to his new life away at school, and he makes me proud. Autumn is not an ending for us, either--only a change, and no doubt we'll both have many adjustments to make in the transition. He'll have new responsibilities, new friends, new opportunities; I might use his room for a workout room! He'll come home at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we'll have loads of stories to tell each other. There will be fervor in the transition.

And lest I plunge into dread of winter all over again, I need only look to the God of the Universe whose timing is perfect and whose love is immeasureable. For just as a small child finds delight in gleefully dancing through piles of damp colored leaves, I find it hilarioulsy wonderful that my eldest son and daughter-in-law have decided to move back to this area from North Carolina. We had dinner with them this evening and they presented me with a small gift. How delightful! Knowing I have a passion for Ebay, they gave me the largest "Ebay for Dummies" book I have even seen, but as my son pointed out, it was only a cover, for there was another tell-tale gift wrapped in tissue inside the bag. I gingerly unwrapped the packaging to find a small rectangular teddy bear photo frame in lovely pastel colors playfully announcing, "Grandma and Grandpa's Little Angel."

So as autumn is a transitional time of year, this is a transitional season of my life. God has sent me children and grandchildren, not to take the place of my own two cherished sons, but to fill the void that their having grown up and created adult lives of their own has left behind. And just as the seasons are perpetual, winter will give us pause, and spring will come again. In it I will see trees and flowers bloom, hear birds sing, and hold my first grandchild for the very first time. Aaron will come home from college for the summer and we will all go on as God intended.

Have a blessed day.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Tar has come to stay with us. He is my aunt and uncle's dog, but circumstances have caused him to relocate. My dear uncle passed away not too long ago, and my aunt's ill health for some months past had made it impossible for her to care for Tar any longer prior to her own recent home-going. One doesn't just abandon family, so we brought Tar home.

Tar is actually Tar, Jr., Tar for short. Like Tar, Sr. (my aunt and uncle's previous canine companion, though unrelated) he is a black lab mix. He is very gentle (generally) and user-friendly, although in his old age (just turned 12) he is quite set in his ways. For instance, he is so accustomed to having "bites" of people food at every meal, one can hardly deny him. He will steadfastly stand at the edge of the table very patiently waiting. He knows not to beg until he hears the words "Want a bite?" at which time he nearly leaps for whatever morsel one might be dangling between finger and thumb. Though he eats dry dog food, it must be fresh. He will not eat leftover food; indeed, he would apparently rather starve.

Tar is most content these days to lie down and rest, but does like to be near one of his people. Unless he is sound asleep, he will follow his people hither and thither, then again lie down at their feet. He enjoys a good rub and a scratch behind the ears, but if no one is near, he will happily scratch his own back by rolling around on the carpet, all 4 paws in the air, growling with glee all the while! A little treat will warrant a "shake-a-paw," and he loves to go outside whenever the door is opened (though he'll quickly come back in).

After having lived all but the most recent 6 months of his life with my very sedentary aunt and uncle and seldom ever encountering a human of the toddler persuasion, it must have been quite a shock to him when Anna (my 2-year-old niece) came to stay with us. He was bit finicky and jittery when she first arrived, never having had to deal with anything that moved as quickly as a 2-year-old. Soon, though, he became her protector and guardian as Labs are apt to do. Anna can now play with him, comb his tail, and lie on his belly without his so much as flinching. She once even stepped on him in her efforts to climb over the girth of his midsection, yet he took it all in stride.

Still, Tar is quick to come to Anna's rescue at the slightest risk of danger. He has been known to intervene with a snarling low growl as her father tickles her. Apparently, Tar views this as a confrontation and is prepared to attack; Anna's father (my brother) views this as an opportunity to instigate hilarious trouble. His sense of humor is rather wry.

We do feel very safe with Tar around, however. The bare hint of an unfamiliar presence near our property will set Tar in ready mode. Again, the low snarling growl, as if to say, "Beware!" followed by very grown-up barking until whatever predator that threated us has turned away.

There must still be some puppy in Tar somewhere. He loves to play and has a whole dishpan full of toys of all sorts, balls, pull toys, rags, and other rubbery things. Tug-of-War is surely his favorite game. It makes him look quite vicious as he growls and snarls and drools, but we all know he is really very gentle and doesn't have a chance of winning. It is quite funny to see this 80-pound dog sitting on my brother's lap and laughing, though!

Yes, Tar is a good old dog, and we're glad we adopted him. He's all the more precious to us now that Aunt Loraine has gone home to be with the Lord. We hope Tar will be with us for many more years but he may follow her soon, as Labs tend to have a shorter lifespan than some other dog breeds. When he does, though, we know Aunt Loraine will be thrilled to see "her baby" again.

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How To Take Your Son To College

A bittersweet lament, sung to the tune of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Paul Simon, circa 1975

You just clean out his space, Grace

Pack up his gear, Dear

You just get in the van, Jan

And get your son gone.

Drive on out to his school, Jewel

(Cry inside as you go, Flo)

One last hug and a kiss, Miss

And get your son gone.

Drop him off at his crib, Lib

Let your boy become a man, Fran

Drive back home all alone, Joan

And get your son gone...

Get your son gone...

Get your son gone...................

Have a blessed day!