A Day in the Life…
My second cup of coffee is moments away from becoming empty as I sit looking out on my backyard where the leaves are falling and we are hearing our second train of the morning going through downtown. We love the sound of trains, especially on a morning like this one. It’s the LORD’s day, and because it is so, we are resting from our labors, looking forward to worship with God’s people.
After a long week, my mind is tired, my zeal is lacking, and now, my coffee is empty. But fortunately for me, my wife is filling my cup.
Now, on to the deeper things in life: breakfast!
If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Heidi took the Saturn in to have the tires rotated on Friday at Discount Tires. I’ve been using Discount Tires since I lived in Roswell, NM, back in May 2013. Back then, as I was driving back to Roswell one late evening, one of the tires that I got with the car began to disintegrate. I had to change it and limp back to a friends parents home to spend the evening. The next day is when I began my foray into the abusive relationship that one has with Discount Tires.
You know this relationship if you are a customer. They treat you so nicely and promise you free tire rotations and balancing, and even throw in free coffee and water while you wait. You buy their tires because they are sold at a “discount?” and you are promised things like “60,000 miles” of pain free driving.
November 1990. Twenty five years ago, the Holy Spirit moved in my life, replaced my heart of stone, gave me a heart of flesh and led me to the Savior. It was 25 years ago that God’s rich and unfathomable grace, was poured into my life and I was rescued from Satan and the kingdom of darkness, and brought into the Kingdom of Light.
Up until that point, I had been a child of the world, living for myself, pursuing satisfaction of the flesh and loving the life of debauchery. By His grace, after hearing the gospel through my cousin Hank, a Missouri Synod preacher in Wichita Falls and Tommy Nelson at Denton Bible Church, I trusted in Christ for my salvation.
I remember the night clearly. I worked all day at the newspaper and got off around 11 p.m. I rushed home, grabbed a bite to eat and headed up to my room in the house I rented with a photographer from the paper at 1801 Pearl Avenue. I never saw my roommate, so it was pretty much like living alone. I sat down at the table I used for my desk in my room and begin doing what I had done every night for the previous two weeks, I read the Bible. The words were alive to me like never before.
In our attempt to add more curb appeal to our home, in order to sell it, I decided to paint the master bedroom, and eventually the living room. Neither room has had the joy of getting a new coat of paint in some time.
In any DIY job, there is always a learning process and the door pictured has been my learning process. What have I learned when it comes to painting such a complex door? Contractor, contractor, contractor. Hire someone. Especially given that the room has at least three coats of paint on every wall, door and window. I tried just sanding portions of the trim, and the last coat flaked off, meaning I needed to scrape off the last coat. So I’m scraping, scraping, and scraping some more. It is going to take a lot longer than I anticipated.
The interesting point about the door, after having sanded it, is that Heidi really likes it as it is. I can see her point. It has a real antique look to it. Just from a labor point of view, it would be truly easy to go with the antique look. But we are trying to sell the house, therefore I will paint it. That means, I have to sand it as well.
Hopefully, and prayerfully, my labors will not be in vain and there will be some buyer who loves the color I picked out for the room, and who won’t pay attention to too much detail. It won’t be a perfect job. But my hope is that when I finish, the job will be well done.
It was the first time in my life that I had a room all my own. It was the room with the window above the door. For the seven years prior, I had to share a room with either one or two of my brothers. So you can see that the house we moved to on Kimberly Lane in Houston back in the late 1960s was extremely special.
I crouched down behind the barrier to catch my breath and spotted another victim. He was probably 10 years old, and he was working his way through the barriers on the second level. I could see him through the mesh and he was an easy target.
I lifted my gun up to my eye, put the site right on the boy’s vest and fired. The red laser hit him twice, setting off the vest indicating a hit.
I jumped back down behind my barrier and waited. I needed to play this game just a tad bit smarter than the rest of those in the game, since I was clearly the largest one in the room. Even though the vests were the same size, it was a lot easier for a 12 year old to hide than a 250 lb., 50 year old. After all, my bones ached just crouching down.
I spotted another target. Jumped up, sited in, zap! Another hit. I got another, and another.
OK, I took a personality test on line and found out that I’m blue, as opposed to yellow, white or red. I’m not sure what those other colors mean, but here is what the testers said about blue:
Congratulations, Timothy, you are a BLUE personality. The Core Motivation that drives you through life is “Intimacy”. It is important to note that this does not mean sexual intimacy. BLUES need connection – the sharing of rich, deep emotions that bind people together. As a BLUE, you will often sacrifice a great deal of time, effort, and/or personal convenience to develop and maintain meaningful relationships throughout your life.
BLUES seek opportunities to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated, especially by their partner. Everything you do as a BLUE has to be quality-based, or you won’t do it at all. You are incredibly loyal to friends, employers, employees, and above all to your significant other. Whatever or whomever you commit to is your sole (and soul) focus. As a BLUE, you love to serve and will give freely of yourself in order to nurture the lives of others.
BLUES have distinct preferences and are the most controlling of the four personalities, although they may not acknowledge (or even realize) the fact. Your code of ethics is remarkably strong and you expect others (not only your partner and those closest to you, but everyone) to live honest, committed lives as well. You enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation with your partner as well as remembering special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries).
I wonder, for those of you who know me, does that describe me? Or is that description so general and broad that it would apply to anyone who wants it to be true, sort of like a horoscope? You know how horoscopes are, they are so general that we can make anything we want out of them.
[Note to my readers: the following is an incident that occurred back in the winter of 1984. I neither condone the actions, attitudes or events herein. This is merely what happened, as a part of my life, especially the part which Christ redeemed me from… you can read part 1 here.]
I looked at James who was in the back seat with me and yelled at him to get Richard to stop. We were heading down Gaslight Boulevard at ridiculous speeds trying to outrun a Lufkin Police Officer in Richard’s 1966 Delta 88. I looked back and could see that the officer had made the turn and we were a good half mile out in front of him. That didn’t bring a lot of comfort and I really wanted Richard just to pull over and take it like a man. I shouted a few more times. He kept repeating the only words his brain could latch onto: “I just can’t!”
“James, do something!”
[Note to my readers: the following is an incident that occurred back in the winter of 1984. I neither condone the actions, attitudes or events herein. This is merely what happened, as a part of my life, especially the part which Christ redeemed me from…]
My face was covered with fire ants, a cop had a foot on my wrists which were behind my back and was I glad to be alive, except for the part in which I was “about to be arrested,” and “those damn fire ants.”
“Officer! There are fire ants on my face.” I was trying to get his attention as he conversed with his fellow officers, who were busy arresting my three buddies, Richard, James, and Byron. Apparently, out of the 22 officers who moments before had had their guns drawn, safeties off, and pointed in our direction, they just couldn’t find four pair of handcuffs between the 22 of them. This is why one officer had his foot of my wrists and seemed perfectly content to let the fire ants camp out on my face and neck.
I felt my vest vibrate and saw the white flash that accompanies being hit. Someone across the vast range had hit me from a distance. I could see them hiding behind one of the multiple shields placed around the room. I ducked behind a shield as well and noticed that Joey was at my side. He had been there the entire time, just like I told him to do. We were in battle and we needed to stick together.
I took the boys over to College Station on Tuesday in order to bowl for Andy’s birthday. Once the boys found out that there was a laser tag arena, that is all they wanted to play. I was somewhat skeptical, never having played before. I wanted to bowl. Just given my size alone guarantees at least 2 strikes per game. I also love to bowl. Between golf and bowling, I always score about the same, which isn’t good, but at least I’m consistent.
It was just a simple map of the ranch, although the names of every thing on the ranch were a bit odd. There was the Blue Creek Fortress instead of Pop’s house, the cottage was called the guard shack, the road out front didn’t head to Brenham or Navasota, but to Rivendale or the Shire. The barn was Baby Sister’s Keep, the ponds were Lake Pleasant for the front one, and Poison Lake for the back one. Mount Doom rested on the back part of the property just about the same location as my father’s burn pile. And every grouping of trees had some mystical, elven sounding name. There was Myrkwood Forrest, Elven Woods, Samwise Garden and one area of trees with the warning: Trolls Hideout.
Yes, you could say that I’ve been burned by the spirit of the Christmas party spirit. Please note the non-capitalization of the word “spirit.” That is intentional because as I review my recent Christmas party adventures, and ones even farther back than this, I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas parties, and more broadly the celebration of Christmas itself, is not good for my spiritual well being and rarely involves the Holy Spirit.
I’m not saying it is bad for your spiritual well being. Just that I don’t think it’s good for mine. So given that stipulation and the fact that this is my blog, I’m completely and totally right on this subject… for the moment. I could change my mind with new evidence, but given the case before us, this is my position right now. (Nothing like taking a strong stand in the shifting sands of such a deep and important subject).
Who Am I?
I was raised in a Christian Science home and became one when I turned 21. However I confess that I never could reconcile life to the claims that those in CS were making. There were always these miracles taking place, but never real honest miracles. Lots of miraculous cures for the common cold and such. Most of the testimonies given by those in CS were of the nature that the giver was on “death’s door” and then they prayed, and were healed. Given that death’s door can be so subjective, I take it that most of these women giving these testimonies were getting over their menstrual cramps.
When I was 9, my family had a major car accident that left my mother paralyzed for life. I remember praying over her body as she laid on the side of the road, just as we were taught to pray as Christian Scientist, but she didn’t get up. She never would walk again even though she refused medical treatment as was the common practice, and would go to a special hospital for Christian Scientist where the nurses prayed for healings. My take from it: if the god of Christian Science wouldn’t answer the prayers of a 9-year-old boy, then he was no god at all. Read The Accident here.
I just came back from feeding the horse, Birthday Girl. Since moving back to my Dad’s ranchette, Blue Creek Ranch, it’s become sort of a ritual with us. We both go out, get on the golf cart, hunt down Birthday girl, bring her back, and feed her. It’s a simple and easy routine that keeps us going across the place almost every night.
There was a report out on ABC News Radio that says middle age doesn’t start until one reached the age of 55! This means I haven’t reached middle age yet.
Therefore, to all of my congregants, namely Dave and Marie, who gave me such a hard time when I turned 40, back years ago, I respond: Ha! I am NOT middle aged! I won’t be for another 4 years!!! (Does this sound like I have issues?)
The good news for Dave and Marie: you are not old age yet! That will not happen for years, since neither of you are in your 70s yet. Of course, Dave, it will hit you much sooner than it will for the lovely Marie. But the good news yet is that you have yet to hit it according to the new study.
Written October 6, 1993 concerning the events in July 1970.
My mother was lying on the wooden board and the car was no longer making that screaming noise it did when I ran for help. The smell of burning rubber was still in the air. All around me was the commotion of ambulance drivers and state troopers checking out the scene. The paramedics were attending two of my brothers, but I could tell they would be all right. It was my mother who looked the worst. I went over to my mother and tried to clear the tears from my eyes.
“Mom, can you get up?” She just laid there and for a moment and I thought she didn’t hear me.
“Mom? Are you ok?” I asked.
“No” was her reply. That really scared me because I had never heard my mother say things were not OK. That was not like her at all. All my short life she always tried to be positive, but not now.
I tried to heal her like we had been taught in church. I though very clearly “Mommy is created in God’s image and likeness. She is not hurt, she is OK.” I said it over and over, but my mother just lay there on the stretcher.
“Mommy you are made in God’s image and likeness and you are OK,” I told her.
She said thanks, but kept on lying there. I didn’t know why. In church they told us that when we were sick or hurt that if we held to the truth we would be OK. But my mother wasn’t OK. Why did she not get up? It must have been some sort of failure on my part, because she continued to lie there on the side of the road.
I tried not to cry but I couldn’t help it. Tears welled up in my eyes and I knew I wasn’t supposed to cry. But my mother was still hurt. I wanted to hug her but they told me not to touch her.
Another ambulance came down the road and hit the breaks when the driver realized she was passing the accident. She tried to pull over and when she did, the ambulance flipped upside down, just as our own car had done.
We were traveling up to see Granny get married and on the way we took the wrong road. As was the habit of our family, whenever we got lost or took the wrong road, Dad or Mom would say “we’re taking a short cut. It’s longer, but bumpier.” This always seemed to make things better.
So on our “short cut” we were trying to make it to Highway 59. We had gone through Trinity, Texas, and as we did, I remember pointing out the hospital. Why I would do such a thing was beyond me. We didn’t believe there was a need for hospitals. After all, we were Christian Scientist and Christian Scientists know the truth. Hospitals are merely recognitions of error, and since we had the truth, we never acknowledged error.
I was sitting in the front seat in between my mother, who was driving and my father. David was in the back seat and Scooter and John were in the back, back seat of our 1969 Pontiac Station Wagon.
As we drove down the highway, I was playing copilot for Mom. Every speed limit sign we would pass, I would announce the speed so my mother would not drive too fast or slow. I had just told her the speed limit was 70 mph.
The hot Texas sun had melted the tar that was holding down the road. When we hit the freshly paved road, it was similar to driving on marbles and the rocks began pounding the bottom of the car. It was loud.
“Velda, pull over,” my father yelled.
As she began to pull over, the front wheels dropped off the road. There was no shoulder to the road leaving an 18-inch drop. The car slid sideways and began to roll. I remember seeing a white fence just before I shut my eyes. The white fence turned on its side and we began pounding down the road. I thought it would never stop.
I could hear glass breaking and the sound of metal slamming against the pavement.
When I opened my eyes, the windshield was folded in and was only inches from my chest. One look at my mother and I knew she was hurt and that I should not touch her.
The car was screaming. The speedometer read 120 mph, but we were not moving. The car had landed in a ditch and the tires weren’t touching the ground. I didn’t know what to do. Mom was not moving, and neither was Dad. Why? Dad was supposed to take care of things, but he wasn’t doing anything at all.
I tried to move, but couldn’t. David was already out of the car. He seemed to be the only one awake other than myself. I released my seatbelt and climbed over my father.
“Dad, help,” we said. “We’ve got to get dad out.” We both grabbed a hold of his arm and pulled. Our hope was that if we could get him out of the car, he would wake up and tell us what to do. That had always been Dad’s role. He was the commander, the captain of our family. Yet, he wouldn’t wake up and because of his seatbelt, we couldn’t pull him free.
The seatbelts had been my idea. Mom had taught me that it was the rules to wear the seatbelts. That being the case, I made sure everyone had on their seatbelts when we got in the car. Now it seemed the seatbelt was working against us.
“We need to go for help,” David said. After looking at Scooter and John, who were both laying in a ditch. I knew that it was up to David and me. I didn’t know what to do. Providentially there were two houses right there where the car came to a stop. David ran for one, and I ran for the other. By now, I was in tears. I was scared like I had never been before. For some reason, David was cool and calm and at this point, he was calling the shots. David took the house on the right and I took the one on the left.
I ran as hard as my 9-year-old legs could and fell upon the door. I pounded hard as I could, but no one would answer. “Please help,” I cried. “Somebody please help.” But there was no one home. I began to panic. What if there was no one to help? What then? That fear was monstrous.
David had more success than I did. His house held a family. The father ran out and was heading towards our car. I couldn’t look. The man’s son came and took my hand and asked if I needed anything. He took me inside their home and gave me some water. I cried, even though I knew I should not, the tears came uncontrollably. I didn’t understand. I knew that I was supposed to be a little man but I couldn’t help it. The boy held my hand and said everything would be all right. But somehow, I knew it wouldn’t be.
His brother came in and told me my father wanted me outside.
I went back to the car. It was rumpled. The hood was smashed and the roof was pointed. The engine was no longer running and I could here my little brother, John, crying as he lay in the ditch. It was OK for him to cry, but I was older and wasn’t supposed to cry. I tried to be like Dad. Scooter was next to him holding a bandage to his ear. There was blood everywhere.
My father was now awake.
“Timmy, where is Stokely?” my father yelled at me.
“He’s not with us.”
“Timmy, where is he?” he shouted.
“He didn’t come with us. We left him with the Stouts.”
“Are you sure?” Why didn’t he believe me? Didn’t he remember that just a few hours ago, we dropped Stokely off with the Stouts? Stokely was the baby. Less than a year old, and my parents felt it would be better if he was left at home for the wedding.
“Are you sure?” my father yelled again. I told him I was sure and that he didn’t come with us.
Then I saw Mom.
Her body was lifeless as she lay on a board that the ambulance men had placed her on. I knew she was hurt. That is when I began to pray. In Sunday school, they taught us how to pray and how to heal and I knew God would listen to me if I prayed. But she just lay there and wouldn’t get up.
They finally loaded Mom, John and Scooter into an ambulance. I wanted to ride with them, but they wouldn’t let me. They closed the door and I felt like my family was leaving me behind.
John thought his back was hurt and Scooter almost lost an ear. Both of them had been thrown out the back window when the car rolled. Only David, Dad and I were uninjured.
A stranger took us to the hospital we had passed not 30 minutes before and left us in the waiting room. Dad immediately headed for the emergency room, leaving David and I alone.
I felt very scared and alone so I prayed some more that mommy and Scooter and John would all be OK. I asked David if he was scared and he said yes. But he didn’t feel like talking much. He never did. He was the quiet one and now he was even quieter than usual. I tried to get him to say something encouraging, but he wouldn’t. I wanted someone to just hold me and tell me everything would be all right. But no one did.
It seemed like I was in that waiting room for hours. Dad was with Mom, and Scooter was having his ears sewn up. John had to be X-rayed; because they thought his back might be injured. And Mom was undergoing all kinds of things I didn’t understand.
Dad finally came out to use the phone. I asked him how Mom was doing, but he didn’t know and had to call Granny and tell her we wouldn’t be there in time for the wedding.
I can remember him telling Uncle Bill that Granny should go on with the wedding, we wouldn’t be there, because he didn’t know how serious mother’s injuries were.
Then Dad left and went back to be with Mom, leaving David and me alone in the waiting room. Why did he have to leave us alone there? Why couldn’t we be with Mommy too? Why did he have to leave? I had all these questions, but there was no one who could answer them and no one to try.
There was a fish tank in the waiting room and I liked fish tanks. But this one didn’t seem to have the magic effects that most fish tanks do. So I just sat next to David and waited. It was an eternity.
After what seemed like an eternity and then some, my Uncle Bill came up from Houston to help. He was one of my favorite uncles and I was hoping that he would offer some encouraging words as well. But he didn’t.
We drove back out to the site of the wreck and I asked him if we could look for my glasses. They were a brand new pair. I had only had glasses for a couple of months and I thought they made me special, because not everyone got to wear glasses and I did. Now they were gone.
We stopped where we had the wreck and Uncle Bill began walking the site. He found that a construction sign that was intended to warn us had been knocked over. He pulled out his camera and began taking pictures. We walked the site again. All the while, I was trying to find my glasses.
He then drove us to where the car was kept.
“Maybe we can find my glasses here,” I said optimistically.
“Boy, give it up,” he said with the tone of disgust. “We’re not going to find your glasses. They’re not important.”
Maybe not, but they were to me.
We drove back to the hospital in silence. And then back to Houston where we spent the night in Pops’ house. Pops was a Christian Scientist as well and I really like Pops. But he wasn’t there. We were left to their dark house alone, with Grandma. I didn’t sleep very well and the next day they finally told us that my mother would probably never walk again. That was difficult to take, especially in view of our belief system. She should be healed by now, but she wasn’t. I didn’t know it at the time, but from that moment on, I don’t think I really believed in Christian Science anymore.
And then came the silence. Since the accident was an event full of error, and we were to deny error, we denied the existence of that error even though so many things in our lives screamed of its existence. That day became known as “the accident.” And it was never openly acknowledge.
Yet with every treatment that Mom underwent, with every new setback, the reality of that accident shouted its reality. It would not go away, no matter how many prayers, how many times we tried to “correct” our thinking, the accident lived with us.
That hot-summer day in June, God did hear my prayers. But I believe the answer was “no.” His very character would not let Him answer my request positively. To do so, would have allowed me to believe the very lie I had been taught in Sunday school. That being the case, and out of His love for me, He said “no.”
So I praise God that the answer to my prayer that day was no, even though my mother lived in a wheel chair for the second 35 years of her life. I don’t mean that in a spiteful way. I did pray that Jesus would heal my mother, I just didn’t want Christian Science to heal my mother. I wanted her to see Christian Science as it really is and see their leader as she truly was, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Christian Science is not of God, it is of Satan.
That day was a dark day in my life and still haunts me from time to time. I truly believe that God was in control on that day, and the He is still sovereign. What seemed like a tragic event so long ago, amidst the smell of burning rubber, broken glass, and a crumpled car, was God’s sovereign plan being unfolded in my life. And today, I am a Christian because of His sovereign plan, not a Christian Scientist. Amen and amen.
UPDATE: Just an explanatory note for those who don’t understand Christian Science. In Christian Science something is bad or sinful only as long as the “thought” of something bad and sinful continues to exist. Therefore the idea was to quit thinking about the “accident” and healing would quickly follow. This is why we never spoke of the “accident” and did our best to make it not real by not thinking about it. But the realness of it, lived with us every day and it was quite obvious that the truths of Christian Science, were lies.
Taken from 1967 or 1968… based on my brother’s appearance of age. I think John was about 3 at the time this was taken so that would be 1967. We were at Six Flags, or Astroworld, or something like that. I’m the second boy from the left, win the blue and white shirt. I can see how Joey looks a lot like me from this shot.
These pictures are of a friend’s son. I have to say, I’m glad I’m a pastor when I look at the pictures, given that I’m afraid fo heights. Regardless, I wanted to share them with you since they are such interesting shots. I’m glad there are men like my friend’s son, who is willing to climb these bridges to make sure they are safe. I’m told the man loves this sort of thing. He also inspects the bridges from under the water well, so his job is full of adventure. I rate what he does up there with the men who inspect high-power lines from a helicopter. Those jobs have to be some of the most dangerous in the world.
Not sure which bridge he is on, but I’m told he was over the Hudson River in New York. Let’s pray he stays safe.
It wasn’t much, but enough to get me excited all over again about the game of golf. I took the boys golfing yesterday (they just ride in the cart, mess up the sand bunkers and run alongside the cart as I head down the fairway.) Given that the boys were with me, I knew I wouldn’t golf well. Add 10 to 15 strokes when I take both boys. But I have to take them if I want to go. So…
Also, it was Monday. I’m always tired on Monday and wasn’t hitting the ball well. But on hole number 9… I had a minor break through. Three successive shots in a row to reach the green in three! I was pumped! It was so sweet to have a sweet drive and two perfect follow-up shots. When I say perfect, I mean perfect. My third shot was 135 yards off the green, and I planted the ball on the green 15 feet away from the hole and it rolled to within 5 feet.
YES, the birdie was within reach… and then the par… sadly, I ended up with a bogey. But it was still a great hole. To have a great hole, everything must come together, and it’s been a while since I have had this happen. Hopefully, the next time, I can bring the putting game back in line and actually get the birdie. What fun!