Mom and Dad

March 28, 2009

Two Foxes :: 

1) My mom.

She is right most of the time. On the one hand, when I go to her for relationship advice, she asks questions like, “Do you think she was thinking this?” and I have to say, “Mom, for me to even guess at that is counterproductive.” On the other hand, she knows intuitively when something is amiss, when I’m too nonchalant, not excited enough. She likes to say that “It shouldn’t be work in the beginning. It should just be fun. Plenty of time to work at it later on.” So simple and so true. My sweet mom.

My mom is an ace at hospitality. She loves cooking for people. She’s told me that is one of her outlets for creativity.

Birthdays and holidays are always a big deal. For Valentine’s Day, she bought me a leather chair and ottoman at an estate sale. My parents, my older sister, and my nieces came to visit me and brought it.

She’s always thinking about other people. She’s both unselfish and generous, to the degree that I want to protect her so that people don’t take advantage.

I love how fiercely she loves my two sisters and me. I have never doubted that love. parents

2) My dad.

He used to scrape the ice off our windshields so we could drive straight to school without waiting on the defroster.

My dad and I went to Haiti together, and it was a blessing to see one another in a different context. He got to see me when I feel most alive—traveling and serving. He told me how proud he was to see me work so hard and take charge and keep a sense of humor. We got into an argument—our arguments are more discussions than antagonistic—when I talked about buying some Cuban cigars. He thought that might offend some people in our group. However, that conversation led to another conversation in which we agreed not to doubt one another’s sincerity in faith matters anymore.


My dad is a rock. He can be so silly and quirky too. He takes really good care of things. I’ve only ever seen him use one riding lawnmower. He bought it used and has used it over 24 years! He always does what he says he will do. He’s a man of his word. I like making him laugh until he cries. He can be mischievous: he was always pulling April Fool’s pranks.

Despite those gags, I trust him. I remember reading Wild at Heart in high school and thinking, “Gosh, what are my father wounds?” The only thing I could come up with is that I wish he’d taught me to take risks. I’ve had to teach myself, but that doesn’t leave very much room for complaint. A Christlike attribute of his: He has the humility to say, “I’m sorry,” and “I don’t know.” I’ve never lost respect for him for saying either.


I get embarrassed at Christmas because my parents are so generous. When we all would go back to school after Christmas and everyone was discussing their presents, I never wanted to say anything because it was always a conversation stopper. I thought our family would seem materialistic.

One time I was listening to my parents go back and forth accusing each other of snoring. I started laughing. They both turned to me and said, “What?” “You both snore!” I said. They always wanted me to come in and kiss them goodnight when I got home. That’s how I knew. 


I’m proud of my parents. If you want to make your dad or mom cry, tell them you’re proud of them. Works every time.

Foxes from the last several days: 

· I talked to a good friend from Nashville on Sunday night. How strange it is to know someone your whole life yet only brush the surface. Each one of us is a mystery. Each one of us is created Imago Dei—in the image of God. I’ve known her my whole life, yet “for who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” We surprise each other, we surprise ourselves. Our minds and bodies both make us human. Together they contain the galaxies of our souls. What a simple pleasure to make forays into someone else’s galaxy!

· This friend and I are both writing children’s books. Mine is entitled “Grabbling.” I drew from a story that my grandmother tells about fishing with her hands in Mulberry Creek. When I read the first draft to her, she just laughed and laughed—one of my favorite sounds. Putting the story down on paper and thinking about it brings me great pleasure. Also, the prospect of receiving Rachel’s book in the mail to read for the first time. E-mail, cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter are poor substitutes for receiving a package in the mail.


· I spoke briefly with my friend John tonight. He and I haven’t talked since Christmas. When I think back over a sequence of minute events over the past two weeks that led to our conversation, I remember that I no longer believe in coincidence. We needed to talk, simple as that. Some of my stories and scars may give him hope. Thick trees and cool grass and bright flowers put down roots in the scorched places of our hearts. Ash feeds the soil. Our suffering feeds our own sanctification and can even be a catalyst for healing in other people’s lives.

· A tiny garden snake on the sidewalk in front of the house.

· A pedal falling off my bike and Lindsay coming to pick me up.

· Listening to my friends Aron Wright and Daniel Ellsworth play the WDVX’s Blue Plate Special.

· Eating the last of Justin’s candy cigarettes.


March 10, 2009

“Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
…who satisfies your desires with good things 
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103. 2, 5)

I met with my spiritual director tonight, and he asked me to compare the way I am feeling, the state of my heart, to a season. 

“Spring,” I said. “I feel so hopeful, confident, exuberant.”

“And you know what to do?”

“Yes. Give thanks.”

Here’s is a list of 35 things for which I am thankful:

1) Bradford Pear trees blooming on Henley Street

2) Marvel candy sticks at Halloween and the Lucky Strikes and Mustang boxes of candy cigarettes sold at dirty gas stations across the country. World Candy Co.= good candy cigarettes; Necco=garbage.

3) Coffee as black and strong as you get it

4) Taking a shower and washing off all the sunscreen, sweat, and sand after a day at the beach. Wearing a linen shirt that night to counteract the inevitable sunburn

5) A Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1 English Claro

6) My niece Emery asking to ride on my shoulders

7) Daisy, Patrick and Caroline’s puppy, a Malinois and Great Dane mix from Young-Williams Animal Center

eight)  the pulse of a wild trout on the tip of my Scott 6-weight

9) my cool-down walk after a long run

10) orange juice with as much pulp as possible

11) salmon nigiri

12) a small basket of buffalo chicken tenders and fries at McDougal’s in Nashville

13) making my dad laugh so hard he cries

14) bending over to hug my mom

15) my best friend Hunter Harris and 22 years of collective memory

16) haircuts

17) a slow shave with a straight razor

18) gingko leaves turning lemon-yellow in autumn

19) 10-year-old Laphroaig

20) Sundays

21) eating lunch at Grandmother’s house then taking a nap

22) poetry

23) riding my bicycle down a steep hill without a helmet on

24) pepperoni pizza

25) fine pens

26) funny hats

27) Big Creek, Idaho

28) my sisters Elizabeth and Laura

29) a tea called Lapsang Souchong

30) cutting up fallen trees with a chainsaw

31) bad actions movies with Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzeneggar or any kung fu movie

32) weddings

33) clean bathrooms

34) Roald Dahl books

35) Wilson McCoy’s laugh

Praise be to God for all that He has done for us and all that He will continue to do.