All posts in I Remember…

Lessons from The Garage

13315589_10208253948338211_1695274950127848744_nToday, I changed the belts on my ’98 4-Runner. To say that in so few words doesn’t really give justice to the whole ordeal. I mean, the YouTube video guy said he did it in about 45 minutes. My brother said it should take about 20 minutes. Well, it only took me about FOUR hours, but I got it done! 

I used to work on cars a lot with my Dad and brother – a loooonnng time ago, and I’m a bit out of practice. But I actually ended up enjoying the experience in the end. Yes, I saved about $250 by doing it myself, but it was more than that. Even though Dad passed away over 5 years ago, it was like he was right there with me today. 

The memories were so real… him telling me where to shine the light (turns out – not in the trees)… raking through my scattered assortment of sockets and wrenches, trying to find the one I just had… washing my greasy hands with Gojo and Lava soap, wondering if they will ever come clean again… missing his knowledge of how to do just about anything.

But, the greatest memory of all was somewhere in the middle, when I got really discouraged. I couldn’t find a couple of bolts that I needed to loosen to put slack in one of the belts. My arms were all scraped up from working in close quarters around the fan blade that I had to remove. It just…wasn’t going well. That $250 price was looking pretty good right then and, well – I wanted to quit. 

I just sat on the garage floor, frustrated and tired… and then God started to bring to my mind all the projects my brother and I had helped Dad with over the years. I remembered that they rarely went perfectly and I remembered my dad’s tenacity – he just didn’t quit. He couldn’t afford to and he wasn’t going to let his family down, even in the small things. It wasn’t in his nature. When something had to be done, he pushed through.

And so did I. It took another 2 hours and I think I made up some new cuss words (just kidding, Mom!), but I got it done. And the car runs and everything!

Next time, I’ll probably shell out the money to have somebody else do it, but I think God carried me through this project today to remind me of a principle that Dad and his generation held onto with both hands – whether it’s cars, or relationships, or governments – when things are broken, you work together and fix them. Never give up.

Lessons from Screwdrivering

12747883_10207463894147350_3918153922244560210_oToday, Landon picked up the biggest screwdriver he could find and helped me reassemble the piano keyboard. It was fitting for a couple of reasons: 1) he was the one who poured a bottle of water into it last week and the one most thankful that it still works, and 2) it reminded me of a picture of me and my dad trying out my screwdrivering skills when I was about his age.

I’ve been thinking about that picture a lot today. Dad went home to heaven 5 years and 1 month ago today, and we all still miss him so much. He played many roles in life and we were all molded and impacted by his presence as a father growing up. So, we know the void when that strong presence changed to memories.

We found out last night that the father in another one of our dojo families, Ted Vliet, passed away from cancer. We hurt so badly along with them and, while we rejoice that he is in the presence of Christ, right now…there is pain. We will pray for them, pray with them, bring them meals and hug them tightly – as we have done with the Rylands family since Tom went home just last year. The cultural expression is that “we lost [these men]”, but we know they are not lost at all – they have been truly found, in Heaven.

Well, this started out as another cute kid photo, but my heart has been heavy today and somehow I’ve come here. I’ll end with this thought… I have been working on a longer post about “Finishing Well” in life and I have an ever growing and changing list of attributes – things we should strive for to live a Godly and honorable life. As I look at the lives of these great men who have gone ahead of us and finished well, I think we can narrow it down to two basic principles that Jesus taught us sum up everything in life: Love God. Love People. 

Everything else flows out of those two pillars. Our prayer is that we would deeply love our Father in Heaven and those people God has placed in our lives, while we have them. Remember – the thing about finishing well is that we never know when we’ll be finished, so finish today well. Love y’all.


I recently read that Will Smith is producing a movie called Monster Hunter. It’s a comedy about a child psychologist with the ability to see the monsters that hide in kids’ closets and under their beds. On his latest case, he encounters a particularly formidable opponent. Sounds interesting…hate to have that job, though.

Recently, Merritt, our 7-year-old has taken to pulling back the shower curtain before she uses the restroom in our upstairs bathroom. This drives Penny a little crazy, so she asked her why. She said, “I just wanted to make sure there was nobody in there.”

Merritt — I’m right there with you.

Occasionally, when I’m here by myself, I check closets, doors, under the bed and, yes, even behind the shower curtain, once in a while. It’s funny how I’ve grown up my whole life like that and my fears of the bogey man still surface once in a while.

Not counting Jaws, I can only remember seeing one horror movie my whole life, He Knows You’re Alone. I saw it when I was in high school in the early 1980s at Kay Meyer’s house with a bunch of other folks. Bit of trivia: it was Tom Hanks’ first movie…minor role.

It was about this lovelorn psycho guy that gets dumped by his fiancée, snaps and then starts killing brides-to-be all over the place — with this big knife. There was a lot of jumping out from secret hiding places, sneaking up behind people and the like.

There was this scene (minor spoiler — like anyone’s going to see that movie these days) where this girl came home to her empty house — or so she thought. Before it was all over, yep, her head was at the bottom of the fish tank with her neon tetras and guppies nibbling on the bottom of where her neck used to be.

Listen to me when I say this — never ask “Is someone there?” — just start screaming, swinging and running all at the same time. Of COURSE someone is there…or if you’re wrong, the worst is that you just got a good workout.

Then there was this victim in a movie theater that the killer stabbed through the seat timed just right with a scary, screamy moment in the movie (that they were watching in the movie). I still size up folks sitting behind me in a movie theater…and lean forward a little.

Even in college, I was in the shower in my dorm room one day and I freaked out when I saw the shadow of this hand coming up over the shower curtain. You guessed it — my own hand. Shouldn’t have told my roommate, though. Next day he really scared the the fool out of me…

Then, when we were kids, my dad used to tell us stories about this John’s Island Bigfoot of the Marsh sort of the creature that the locals called “Plat’ Eyes” because it was supposed to have really big eyes, the size of small plates…or something. Anyway, so my younger brother, Mark, and I go out shrimping one night when we were maybe 11 and 14 respectively. We’re out in the Kiawah River casting the shrimp net in the shallow water. It’s dark and we’ve got these lights on the sides of the little boat we’re in. We’re scanning the marsh 20 feet away every now and then, keeping an eye out for ole’ Plat’ Eyes…just in case.

But Plat’ Eyes was sneaky, just like in the movies — he attacks from the rear…or so it seemed. In reality, it was a school of dolphins surfacing loudly behind us that enabled us to set the world record for the highest vertical distance ever jumped by two white kids in a boat on the Kiawah River. We later determined that we may have also set records for audio decibel levels produced by human vocal chords, but we never really called in either one, so I guess we’ll never know.