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Off The Tracks

Do ever feel as if your life has come off the tracks?

Right now, there are hints of derailment going on at our home. First, my wife, Rochelle pulled her Achilles and is in the third week of a six week confinement to a boot and crutches. Second, her mother, who was here to help with our kids, had to be rushed to the ER with a rapid heart beat. And third, Saturday night, our garage door literally came off the tracks. It took me and two of my neighbors and hour and a half to eventually pull the door down and we about had to nearly break the door to get it down.

My mom used to say of tough times, “When it rains it pours.” That seems true this summer. This spring we had a fabulous summer planned for the family, and at each turn more and more of it seems to be coming off the tracks. Sadly, our eldest daughter, Malia, keeps asking her mom, “When are we going to the beach?”

Nevertheless, we are striving to not complain too much. Even in the difficult times, Ro and I feel as if we’ve been very blessed. We continually talk with our girls about forming a “toughness groove” — a mental attitude that can take whatever life dishes out without whining or complaining. Well now is the time for us to use our toughness groove, pray that everyone heals well, and get the failing things of life back on track.

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. As I was playing with my daughters earlier I realized that they are what makes me a father, and they are the reason I want to be a good father. Chris Rock once said that father’s of daughters have one job: “to keep their daughters off the pole.” Obviously there is a little more to it than that, but certainly not any less. Being a father is a sacred trust. I’m learning how to be a better disciple of Jesus through discipling my kids.

This father’s day I’m also learning how deeply I am indebted to my own father, even though we have not lived in the same place since I was 13, I am grateful for all that he has taught me. As my recently deceased favorite journalist once said, “The older I get the smarter my father gets.”

Today I’m also mindful of the millions of Americans with my skin tone who — for one reason or another — never knew their fathers. It is a plague that is killing our country and slowly relegating blacks to a permanent underclass. (Helen Andrews has a wonderful article about the subject here.)

So to all the good fathers out there: Happy Father’s Day. You are an inspiration to me and you are doing the most important work that can be done.

Felt Board Basics

This Sunday I’m beginning a sermon series entitled, Felt Board Basics: Rediscovering the Tales Told to Jesus. The impetus for the series comes from reading Old Testament Bible stories to my two young daughters, Malia and Katharine. Indeed, these are the same stories that shaped a young boy named Jesus who couldn’t get enough of hanging around the temple. Sadly, other than sitting in Old Testament survey classes in graduate school, I had not heard some of these stories (Jonah, Neduchadnezzer, Abraham and Issac, etc…) in many years. As I read these stories to my daughters and listen to their interpretation of their meanings, I’m amazed at how deep and challenging the narratives are. And it shocks me how and when the echoes of these stories resound in the life and teachings of Jesus.

I remember my faithful Bible teachers as a child placing figures on felt board and bringing the stories to life. I am grateful to those women. Now I’m grateful to my girls for showing me the life in those stories.

It appears to me that familiarity breeds familiarity, but not necessarily understanding. That’s what has happened to the great stories of God’s faithful, reluctantly faithful, and unfaithful people chronicled in the Old Testament. My hope is to reclaim the very stories that informed the mission and ministry of a young boy in Nazareth named Jesus. If you’re in Houston, come by and join us!

It’s Official!

The number of celebrities that think my kids are cute is growing. Now, all readers of this blog (the 5 of you) know how beautiful my girls are, but now it’s official: Hollywood celebrities think they’re beautiful too.

First, a few years ago in the Continental President’s Club at LAX, I found myself sitting next to Dave Foley debating whether to watch the hockey or basketball playoffs. When he saw my daughter, Malia, he went on and on about how beautiful she was. I already knew Malia was beautiful, so I wanted to ask Dave what it was like working with Tiffani Theissen during her guest appearance of NewsRadio or what having Lauren Graham on Celebrity Poker Showdown was like. But, no, he was taken with Malia.

Second, last week while dining at Marmalade Cafe in Malibi, Dennis Haybert, star of The Unit and AllState commericials –not to mention Pedro Cerrano from Major League–stopped US and began talking about how beautiful Malia and Katharine are. He looked at me, smiled and said, “You have beautiful daughters.”

The verdict is in. My girls are beautiful. But I think we knew that already.

Loving Day

I was away teaching and enjoying the Pepperdine Bible Lectures last week, so I am remiss that I missed a special occasion. Last Friday, Mildred Loving, 68, passed away. Mildred Loving, born Mildred Jeter, began dating her husband, Richard Loving, when she was just 11 years old and Richard was 17. In the early years of their marriage, Mildred and Richard were arrested several times together. The reason? Mildred was black and Richard was white. And in 1958 it was illegal for them to be married in the state of Virginia. Apparently, Virginia has not always been for lovers.

Threatened with years of imprisonment, the Loving’s changed history when they challenged the Constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws and in 1967 won the day when the Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. From that day forward, every state, including those in the south which had laws forbidding it, were required to recognize interracial marriage.

Mildred has lived a quiet life since Richard’s death in a car wreck in 1975. Not one for the spotlight, Mildred said of her life, “I never wanted to be a hero, just a bride. It wasn’t my doing, it was God’s work.”

Each June 12th, couples across America celebrate “Loving Day” which celebrates the legalization of interracial marriage.

So for marriages like mine and kids with mocha colored skin and long, curly hair I say to Mildred and Richard, “Thank you for Loving.”


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