Hitting Home
August 30, 2017

PoliceLights Prw

 

Last night a 15 year old African American kid was murdered in his home by another 15 year old friend. I’m not sure what started it, as details will emerge eventually, but it ended in murder.

I see this all the time on television. You do too. Newscasters reporting the murder of teenagers by other teenagers. Mostly gang related, but not always. We shake our heads and say “tsk, tsk” or “how awful” then turn the channel because we are tired of bad news.

This was different. This was my neighbor. His yard connects with mine. He walked past my house on the way to school, or to play basketball. But I didn’t really know him.

We’d nod and say “hi”, or sometimes just nod. We’d had issues in the past, some problems in the neighborhood that were associated with him. The police knew him. I had talked with him. But I didn’t know him. I mean I never invested my time to get to really know him.

And for the first time, instead of saying “this is awful”, I am saying “this has to stop”. I have worked with teens for over 30 years. I have seen very troubled youths, confused youths, but usually very angry youths. White kids, black kids, rich kids, poor kids, male, female, and those trying to figure out what they are. Confused.

Suicide is the number three killer of teens. Murder is number one. The kids are killing each other. It has to stop.

It’s not a gun issue. It’s a heart issue.

I wonder if I would have presented Christ to him if he’d still be alive? Would he have made better decisions? I wonder if I would have even mentioned the freedom that comes from knowing Christ personally if it would have made a difference? What if I had prayed more than I did or if I stopped him along his walk, if it would have made a difference?

People ask if I’m afraid in this neighborhood. No. It just reinforced something I already knew. This is my missions field. This is where I am to be. To bring hope and light to a dark part of the world.

While others may sit in their ivory towers, I am not permitted to do so. I see troubled teens all the time. Suicidal teens. Angry teens. And hopeless teens. Teens without hope. And how can I not bring Christ? I can’t. I have to bring Him to a dying world, a dying generation of teens who feel that death is better than life.PoliceLights PrwSomewhere a mother is crying because her son is dead. Not just somewhere, but next door.

 

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Merely Mortal
July 26, 2016

IMG_4449

 

It’s been a strange couple weeks. Not “strange” as it being odd, but “strange” in being eye opening. So maybe the word shouldn’t be “strange”, but instead, “enlightening”.

First, since it’s been awhile, I have a new granddaughter, Selah Hope, who I absolutely adore. I now have three grandchildren, two granddaughters and a grandson, whom I love in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me to love. It’s like loving your kids, only different. A lot different. Hard to explain it, but its like God opens up a new part of your heart to have these little munchkins inhabit. Beyond words.

With that being said, two weeks ago Bonnie, my wife of 31 years, was hospitalized with chest pains. I was called to where she works and told she was having pain. Now my wife is a daughter of a nurse, and unless you’re dying, you don’t go to the hospital. I tell you, it was the scariest thing I’d been through. She was pale and weak. So off to the hospital we go.

They ran tests, labs, x-rays, CT Scans, the works. They decided to keep her overnight for observation. My wife, to say the least, is a very poor patient. She was in the hospital bed with a gown, refusing to take off her pink scrubs from work, and wearing her tennis shoes! I told her to take her pants off and stay in bed and she tells me there is no need for that. She believed that there was no reason for her to be in the hospital, and that the Lord had her there to pray for people. That, in a nutshell, is my wife.

It was discovered that she had a leaky valve in her heart, and that she has to wear a heart monitor for a month. Now, it’s been over 90 degrees for a week and a half and will continue to be that way, and we are helping my daughter and son-in-law move into a new home. She had no intention of  doing this heart monitor thing, however, our doctor is the sweetest woman we know, so she wouldn’t fight her. So here we are with that.

Last week, the young Princess (that’s what I call Selah), was running a fever of 101.8. She was three weeks old and the doctor told my daughter to take her to the ER. So it’s 2 in the morning, and Jo Jo, Selah, and I are in the ER. They ran tests, took blood, and I admit, was horrible to watch. The poor thing was poked and prodded, and trying to get blood from a three week old was very, well, trying.

They could find nothing wrong, but decided that they needed her to go to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, and by ambulance as her fever wasn’t coming down, and a three week old shouldn’t be having a fever. So I go home to be with the Princess (Haniah, Selah’s three year old sister) while mom and dad go to Pittsburgh. It was a crazy week.

They took tests, x-rays, couldn’t get blood so tried a vein in her head, and the nurses said that Selah was one tough girl. They were testing for meningitis and other things. She was hospitalized 4 days and mom and day got to stay at Ronald McDonald House, which is a fantastic place that parents utilize to stay close to their kids while they’re hospitalized. I will not rush by the donation requests for the Ronald McDonald House at my local McDonalds anymore..

Needless to say, all came back well, and it was a virus. Thank God for that.

These two incidents brought me face to face with the blunt reality that we are all mortal. We have a beginning and an end. From my wife to my granddaughter, thoughts of the reality of the end of life smacked me in the face. What would I do if something happened to Bonnie? Or Selah? Or, actually, anyone in my family. Are we ready for this?

I’m 60 and realize that things happen as we get older. This past month also saw my blood pressure getting out of control, and have been monitoring it closely with slight adjustments to meds. I’ve been walking nearly every day, but that is no guarantee, although helpful. of a longer life. Bonnie’s Uncle Ron, who is the most fit man in his age group (early 70’s) that I know, was hospitalized with a blood clot. It could have killed him.

There will come a day of reckoning for all of us. Some sooner than others. It is with this thought in mind that I wonder if I’m doing enough for God. I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I know God loves me no matter what I do, but what do I do that shows God how much I love Him? Do I love my fellow man and woman? Do I care at all for the poor? Am I self-centered or Christ-centered?

As I reflect on these, I realize that all that matters is that at the end, Christ will say ‘well done, My good and faithful servant’. My goal now, is to make sure that all I do is for Him, not for me.

I’m finding that it is hard to do. I’m finding that I am merely mortal, and it’s God’s grace alone that compels me to do good. To serve. To love.

I think I woke up.

Idiot Wind (5 Hot Dogs? Really?)
July 12, 2013

July 12, 2013

“Idiot Wind (5 Hot Dogs? Really?)

(Notice that all my blog’s names included in “Walking to 199” are song titles. “Idiot Wind” is a great Dylan song.)

Ok, let’s confess this and get it over with. I am an idiot.

Those of you that know me may agree, but those of you that don’t, well, you’re in for a treat.

I had one of those days where I really did good. I exercised, did weights, watched my diet all day at work, was really pumped to go home and keep it up.  Bonnie, Luke, and Amanda said that we should take a walk in the park.

Excellent! Did another two miles in the evening, and it’s 7:30 and we decide lets go to the Hermitage Hot Dog Hut. I love hot dogs, and they’re so healthy. (That was sarcasm, in case you were wondering. I live for sarcasm).

My rule is: Burgers? Only one. Sandwiches? One. Hot dogs? Three, because they’re small. So we go and order, and I decide that I really am hungry so I’ll order four. Notice how I broke the rule? Wait, it gets better.

We order, Bonnie wants two. Luke wants four. I want four. Amanda wants chicken, so she’s not part of this equation. They have a special if you order twelve hot dogs, then you can get it cheaper along with fries and a drink. So, without hesitation, I said, “Bring us twelve. Fix five up Luke’s way and five up my way”. Five. Seriously, I did. All of a sudden I’m thinking I’m Joey Chestnut. I’ve NEVER eaten five hot dogs at one meal.

So along with the fries, I had five hot dogs. Oh, did I mention they were CHEESE hot dogs? I didn’t think I did. Yeah, five. But the Diet Pepsi helped.

I was so sick last night. It did not go well, if you know what I mean. I was so angry at me. I can’t believe I did that. All that work for naught. So I woke up this morning and killed it at the gym. Came home and weighed myself. I am 264.2

I want to break 264, which has been my nemesis for weeks, and if it wasn’t for the Joey Chestnut imitation, I’d be in the low 260’s. But I’m not. So, today again was good. I am ready to enjoy the evening. I will do my best, with God’s help, to eat appropriately.

I’m getting the exercise down pretty good now, but the eating creeps up on me. I realize that when I am famished, or extremely hungry, all the rules are thrown out the window. I don’t think straight. So, the key will be for me not to get famished.

I am not discouraged, just disappointed in me. But I will not quit. I will not be defeated. The Lord says that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. It’s back on the horse again. It’s a lifestyle. I will screw up. I will make mistakes. But I will overcome the mistakes and the screw ups.

I got this.