Archive for February, 2005

Much ado…About Something!

Posted: February 28, 2005 in Everything

Tonight I am standing in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. Tomorrow morning she will be admitted to the hospital for breast cancer surgery. These are the times when faith’s rubber meets life’s road and we find out whether or not we have spent our lives building a strong house of faith, or whether we’ve been constructing a house of cards.

I don’t have any clever alliteration or witty turns of phrases for you tonight; I just have a request.

Pray!

Pray for the doctors. Pray for the nurses. Pray for the patient. Pray for her care-givers. Pray that the cancer hasn’t spread.

Pray for a miracle!

No matter who you are, or where you’re from, take a second and pray!

The Evangelism Question

Posted: February 22, 2005 in Everything

Evangelism has become a dirty word. It’s the spiritual equivalent to a four-letter word. Christians–by and large–don’t like to do evangelism, and non-Christians don’t like evangelism done to them.

I guess that’s the problem. Evangelism often feels like some kind of medieval torture that hurts and distorts both participants. I suppose the main reason for this is the church’s historic approach to evangelism; door-knocking, street preaching–which is more like street shouting, hellfire and brimstone. The Spanish Conquistadors came to the New Land, marched natives to the river at gun point and gave them a great option: Be baptized into Jesus, or be drowned. Either way, you were going under the water.

I’ve often wondered, “If the good news is good, why does it so often come in bad presentations?”

I remember being in elementary school in Mississippi and having Jehovah’s Witnesses ring our doorbell early on Saturday mornings. I didn’t care what they had witnessed; I just wanted to sleep! Sure enough, my dad would invite them in, begin a discussion about Biblical interpretation, get angered, and eventually kick them out. In that case, I don’t think evangelism was spiritually beneficial for my dad or the door-knockers.

I always figured the “Witnesses” weren’t very good at evangelism, because they would be back in the same neighborhood the next week, knocking on the same doors and getting the same results.

The issue–at least from my vantage point–is that evangelizers (if that is a word), are so determined to see results that we often jump toward the fastest, easiest, most convenient way to teach people what we believe rather than enter into long-term spiritual conversations in which we embody the nature and spirit of God–at least to the best of our human capability. We are often so eager to share faith that we forget about the experience of faith–both for ourselves and for others.

Brian McLaren puts it this way in his book, More Ready Than You Realize. “I suppose we faith-sharers need faith–faith that God is working in the the person’s life from many different directions; faith that it is not all up to me and that it does not all depend on this one friendship; faith that God will not give up on the person: faith that God’s Spirit is so pervasive that even after desire recedes, it will resurge again.”

Valentine’s Love

Posted: February 15, 2005 in Everything

Yesterday was the easiest Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had. There was no pressure to come up with an expensive–or at least, creative–gift. There was no tedious process of going to a restaurant, saying, “Palmer, party of two, non-smoking” and then waiting 50 minutes for a table, there was absolutely no Valentine’s Day hype.

The reason? About a month ago, Rochelle asked me if I wanted to go with her to MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). MOPS meets one Monday night a month at a local church. Each meeting, they have an activity, a speaker, and child care is provided. Seeing how this month’s MOPS meeting landed on Valentine’s Day, they decided to invite the dads to join them for barbecue and a speaker. They called it MOPS and POPS.

It was perfect. I didn’t have to do anything but show up (just like my wedding)!

Sure enough, we ate barbecue, listened to one wife tell way too many “bedroom secrets” as we watched a uncomfortable playing of “The Newlywed Game”, and listened to a couple speak about communication in marriage. The only draw back; they weren’t great communicators (Rochelle had to explain to me what they were meaning to say).

The upside of the night was the dancing. I love dancing! Well, rather I love the idea of dancing. I don’t really dance. I did last night though. First of we learned some new country dance. I wasn’t all that impressed. But next we learned how to jitterbug. Man, now that’s an aerobic exercise! Rochelle and I had seen people do it before, but never learned. We still need some practice, but I think we’ll eventually get it.

As we were leaving, I thought about how fortunate I am that Rochelle takes being Malia’s mother so seriously. Being a mother is serious business, and Rochelle is intentional about the kind of life she is creating and participating in for herself and for our daughter.

It is the great failure of our society that women who mother full-time are not more greatly rewarded. When Rochelle was working as the adolescent therapist at a mental hospital while we were living in McAllen, she was voted ‘Clinician of the Year.’ She doesn’t have to stay home–she’s got skills. She chooses to stay home so that we are afforded the opportunity to be the primary care-givers for our daughter.

So I was thinking last night about the limited nature of Valentine’s Day. What if next Valentine’s Day all of us not only expressed the love we feel toward our spouse or significant other, but also celebrated the love they give. What if Valentine’s Day became about being loved, and encouraged us to love more deeply?

Well, maybe that’s a little much for one day. Perhaps we need another day for that; another day to thank the ones around us for loving the other ones around us.

I think I could celebrate that…as long as we get to jitterbug!

Cancer-Quest

Posted: February 10, 2005 in Everything

If every man needs a quest then I’m in luck, because now I have a new one! Earlier this week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Just a few years back, both my grandmother and grandfather passed away from cancer, also. It is a horrible disease. Being that I live in Houston, TX, which is the home of MD Anderson Cancer Center, I am both fortunate that the people I know who encounter this nightmare have the best care in the world available to them, and unfortunate to see people suffer through both disease and treatment–though some of there stories are among the most inspiring you’ll ever hear. MD Anderson has one of the greatest mottos ever: “Making Cancer History.”

I hope the good women and men that work at Anderson do make cancer history. You see, it’s not just that my mother-in-law has cancer, but her mother died from breast cancer at about the same age my mother-in-law is now. It doesn’t stop there, either. Not only did my wife’s grandmother die from breast cancer, but so did her two sister and their mother. That’s right, four breast cancer deaths in two generations and a breast cancer diagnosis in a third generation.

It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to realize that my wife, Rochelle, is the fourth generation of women in this family, and my daughter Malia is the fifth. I am glad that there are people whose goal in life “making cancer history”. I want to help them, I now have a quest, a new place to bend my attention and incline my ear. The quest: To do whatever I can to aid and help the people who are dedicated to treating and ending cancer.

Would you join me?

Would you make a donation to The Cancer Research and Prevention Center. I actually heard about the center from Phil Gordon, co-host of Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown. For your donation, you can receive one of Phil’s books on poker. So there you go, you can join the quest to prevent cancer and learn how to make more money at the poker table so you can give more money to help prevent cancer. It’s a win-win situation. That is except for cancer; for cancer it’s lose-lose.

Later…

Posted: February 1, 2005 in Everything

I’m sorry that my blogging has been so slow. I’ve had a hectic schedule, and now both daughter and wife are sick. So I’m playing nurse this week and handling work during the baby’s nap hours and late hours.

I hope everyone at your home is doing well.