Monday, August 26, 2013

Anybody Want a PB&J?

Well, it's the first day of school here in the thriving metropolis of Lewisville! At my house, the first day of school looks entirely different than it has for many, many years. Today is the first time in a long time, that I don't have a student in my house that's grumpily rolling out of bed, anticipating (dreading) what the first day of school holds in store.

It's kind of quiet around here.

This is probably going to take some getting used to. My kids started school when they were two years old. Their mother is a Montessori Teacher and she loaded them into the car on several first days of school. We were truly blessed that, in their early years, the kids just went to school with Mom. And that was good for Teresa, too. She didn't have to dread the first day of kindergarten and the first day of 1st Grade. She had her kids with her.  It sure made things easier for Teresa, which in turn, made things easier for me.

For the past couple of years, Teresa has been leaving the house early and that has left me with the surly teenage girl who stayed up way too late and really wasn't much of a conversationalist in the morning. Those of you who know me, know that I never gave up. It was actually kind of fun trying to engage her in banter in the early morning!

Jentry was never late. She got herself out of bed. She managed to be ready to leave on time.....usually with very kind neighbors who provided rides for years. But, she certainly didn't make time to prepare her lunch and she decidedly was not going to eat from the school cafeteria. So, that left lunch responsibilities with dear old Dad.

Peanut Butter and Jelly! Day after day, week after week. I suppose I should have and could have done better. Oh, I tricked up the "sides" on occasion. We experimented with Pop Tarts, Granola Bars, cookies, and every kind of chip ever produced. When times were good, I would throw some pistachios in. But, for the most part, I found lunch preparation to be a beating.....a real pain....a true inconvenience to have to pack this non-communicative teenager's lunch every morning of the week.

This morning, she's 686 Miles AWAY from here. She's actually starting her second week of school. Today, she will have lunch in the school cafeteria. And it is one "high-tone" cafeteria. There are three different water coolers alone.....each with a different kind of FRUIT floating in it. There's a Sundae Bar, for crying out loud! At least six flavors of ice cream and ALL the toppings. The dessert table is ridiculous! There are burgers, chicken strips, pizza, and even real food! Today, she will have dozens of choices for lunch. And if none of that sounds good, she can go downstairs in the Student Center and enjoy the fare from a number of Fast Food places on Campus. Good grief! But one thing is for sure. She will not have to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that her Dad grudgingly prepared.

It's kind of quiet around here. And on this first day of school, I'm thinking about my kids and wondering how the time flew by so quickly.

Did I mention that this Empty Nest thing is probably going take some getting used to?  My kids will never understand what this feels like until they one day experience it for themselves. They truly have no idea! Tucker's been gone for over 18 months and he would never believe how many times I think of him during the day. Jentry's gone for the first time and it's only been a couple of weeks. She cannot fathom how hard it was for me to drive away from that campus....while at the same time being so excited and happy for her! Neither of them will ever fully comprehend the love of a parent until they leave one of their own kids in another place, hundreds of miles away. We've now done it twice. And, trust me, it wasn't any easier the second time.

I only wish the best for all kids and their parents on this First Day of School! But today, I'm thinking mostly about my two kids, and what they might have for lunch... as I sit here in the quiet....finishing this peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dreads....They Ain't For Everybody!

I'm not sure there has been enough attention given to the fact that it's almost impossible to find a REAL Barber Shop nowadays. Oh the sign says Barber Shop out front. But inside, there's a bunch of 20-somethings with purple hair and paper clips in their eyebrows who have a "stylist" license. They claim they have one dude with a Barber License just in case someone comes in wanting a shave. But it's always his "day off" when you ask about him and you come to wonder if he really exists.

Tucker and I used to go to Jim's Today's Hair several years ago. He had been cutting hair in Lewisville since before WWII. If at all possible, we stayed out of his chair. He talked non-stop until you felt like your ears were bleeding and never really got past the Kennedy assassination.

Then one day, I wandered into Jim's and got a real shocker. I had discovered Barber Shop Gold. Jim had sold out to Al and Desmond and that resulted in Tucker and I enjoying some of the most entertaining Saturday afternoons we ever experienced.

I asked Al what kind of response he was getting from Jim's regulars. He said that "many of them open the door, see me and Des, and just turn and walk away....that we ain't all EVOLVED yet." Al and Desmond adorned their walls with pictures of famous black athletes going all the way back to Jesse Owens. The first time I took Tuck in I told him to look at the pictures and inquire as to where the picture of Larry Bird was. Tuck did as I suggested and they nearly fell to the floor laughing.

This was a real Barber Shop! Insults, arguments, debates, jokes, criticisms, and sports talk abound. No one is safe and apparently any topic is open for discussion.

Tucker was first in the chair one day. He has his mom's hair and it's so thick you can't separate his hair to find his scalp. That's the only resentment I have toward the kid. As I settled into Al's chair I mentioned that Tuck get his thick hair from me. Al laughed and said, "Kev, your hair's so thin I can see what you're thinking!" Can you believe he said that to a paying customer?

Al went on to explain that as a professional Barber, his job was to not only cut hair, but to make me a "self-aware" man. Al thinks that the the lack of self-awareness is one of the greatest plagues on our society.

Shoe arrived at the exact same conclusion just a few weeks ago when commenting on the Blog. Shoe surmises that my "shtick" about being surrounded by idiots has a certain plausibility, but that people really aren't that stupid. He believes that the root of the problem stems from a complete, total, 100% lack of self-awareness. All in all people are just clueless to themselves and to everything that's going on around them.

I suppose those websites dedicated to "pictures from WalMart" support Shoe's hypothesis. Do these people actually get dressed, look in the mirror, and think, "yea, this works?"

Yesterday, Teresa and I were in a very crowded parking lot and were stuck behind two older, portly women walking right down the middle of the aisle with three cars stacked in behind them! Clueless to their surroundings. A complete lack of awareness!

Tucker used to joke that he was going to let his hair grow out and twist it into dreadlocks. I mentioned it to Al one day and without hesitation, Al said, "They ain't for everybody."

I think Al's words of wisdom could be applied to almost everyone on the planet.

Just fill in the blank. Thousands of pursuits apply. We were driving in downtown Nashville last Sunday night with the windows down listening to the live music emanating from the taverns. We heard this noise that sounded something akin to a wildebeest in heat singing, "Stand By Your Man!"

From dreadlocks, to spandex, to bow-ties, to stages.......they just ain't for everybody! Just ask Al!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Intentional Versus Good Intentions

Friday's Bonus was thrown together with little premeditation or intention and I'm fairly certain that my intended message did not come across as I would have premeditated it. (You English Majors diagram that sentence!)

Fear not, though! Shoe and I spent about four hours on it Saturday afternoon! If only, we could have taped this scholarly conversation and broadcast it on youtube, so that you could all see two egomaniacs engaged in the highest form of "square-rootin!" It was GLORIOUS! I just wish I could remember what we said!

Here's the bottom line on Friday's Post. I purposely used the words "intentional" and "premeditated" as synonyms. I believe they mean the same thing. I think any dictionary or thesaurus will support my stance. Thus, the title referring to premeditation and the post referring to intentionality accomplished what I intended.

At the end of the day, both these words evoke an immediate NEGATIVE response. It's just hard not to hear the word "murder" in your head when someone says "premeditated." In the same way, football fans hear the word "grounding" when someone says the word "intentional." Both negative things. Albeit, one more negative than the other.

On Friday, the question that was plaguing me was "Am I living my life INTENTIONALLY?"

Teens take SAT Prep Classes because they intend to score well. Parents put away money on a monthly basis because they intend to pay for college. Employees contribute to 401(k) plans because they intend to retire.

Blah! Blah! Blah! I'm now as bored with this as you are!

The challenge that faces me is how to be INTENTIONAL in my daily walk? Is it possible to be intentional in worship? Am I intentional in my prayer life? What does being intentional look like when I am serving others?

What about health? Intention in diet. Intention in exercise. Intention in rest. Intention in recreation.

In Randy Travis's sophomore album, he croons in one of his songs, "And I here tell, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions....."

I am not trying to create a "semantics" discussion. I am afraid, however, that "good intentions" have gotten such a bad rap that I've forgotten the need to live life intentionally.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Premeditated Is A Bad Word! Right?

A conversation with a long-time friend this morning planted a thought in my head and it's going to drive me batty until I get something down in here. Why else would I be typing this post when all I want to do is lie under a ceiling fan and try not to move?

This dude (a clever, anonymous nickname escapes me) had participated in a program earlier in the summer and was expressing some frustrations in dealing with these folks. Said "program" shall go unnamed as I am acquainted with its Director and I know dozens of people who have experience with it.

Here was his bottom line.....He said, "Kevin, the whole process had no INTENTIONALITY."

It had no what? Evidently, it had no intentionality. From the top of the organization all the way down to volunteers who willingly give up their time, money, and talents....they have no idea of what their intended purpose truly is.

Other than summing up the first 48 years of my life, this idea of intentionality has been bouncing off the walls of my scary brain all day long. As a matter of fact, I found it necessary to call three more people and get their responses as to what being intentional looks like. I would share what they said. But that would mean I actually listened to them. Why would I take note? Readers of this Blog are fully aware that I'm much better with the problem than I am the solution.

I do, however, think the question is worthy of consideration. Where in this post-modern Age, do we see or experience any real intentionality?

Education? Maybe. But there's an awful lot of talk about Educators at the primary and secondary level "teaching to a test" that says the child is "smart" and that the school deserves to be Exemplary instead of just Recognized.

Sports? Maybe. On some levels. But in Youth Sorts the intention is certainly not to WIN. We are all well aware that even the winless teams get a big trophy and get huge praise for simply participating.

Work? Maybe. But anyone with Supervisory experience will tell you that they are hiring these same kids who have always been rewarded for participating and often quit jobs when they do not receive raises and promotions based on their 100% attendance record.

Church? Maybe. But once again, that 100% attendance record comes into play. Real intention is seldom defined or seen.

Politics? Not even worthy of a Maybe!

Oil Can (not sure I've ever mentioned him) says that he prefers the word "premeditated" instead of intentional. He's big on Purpose and Premeditation in utilizing tools to accomplish goals with an intentional strategy. He once tried to drive a nail into a piece of wood with an IPhone to prove his point. The intended result was to get the nail into the wood. The lack of premeditation caused him to employ a tool that was not designed for that purpose. That's a $499 mistake...depending on the billing plan!

I'm trying to remember that last time I was INTENTIONAL. I think I know. But, I've avoided Marathon talk for 27 Posts now. I shan't bore you with it now.

Stay tuned. Purpose and Intentionality are certainly going to get some more play in here.