Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Well, the good news is that it appears we've sold Mom's house. The bad news is that it appears we've sold Mom's house. I did not spend that much time in the house...barely a year and a half after coming home from the Army in 1970. But for my younger two siblings, the house represents a significant chunk of their childhood.

Yesterday, the irony of selling the house was brought home to me (so to speak). I was waiting for a sub-contractor to arrive and look at some small repairs that will need to be done very soon. I had eaten lunch and this guy wasn't due by until nearly 2 PM. Since the house is bereft of furniture, and since I value naps more than my AARP card, there was little to keep me from stretching out on the living room carpet and grasping a few zzzz's. But as I lay there, the memories from the past 39 years began to seep into my brain - specifically, the family stuff that had occurred in that very room.

The room shares space with a dining room, in fact my feet were in the dining room while my head was clearly in the living room. Every year, there would be at least two magnificent meals served there - Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mom would spend hours whupping up home cooking at its finest; then when we all sat down to eat, she would either serve us continually or hold the ever-present grandbaby in her lap. She would grab a bite here and there, but her joy was always service.

The room was also Ground Zero for opening Christmas presents after the aforementioned meal. Who will ever forget my parents' aluminum tree with the color wheel...the one they used even into the 21st century? Or the night Brett, Blake, Drew, and Casey ALL got remote-controlled emergency-response vehicles? It sounded like Ground Zero! I also remember it as the place where Mom and I had long talks about her failing health, what that meant for the family, and about her longing to be with Dad again.

And all these memories came flooding through my consciousness as I pondered whether I should ease into a nap. I could have easily succombed to all of it and cried my eyes out. But these were all happy memories, unblemished by sadness or permanent good-byes. And after a few minutes, I drifted off to sleep.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hoping America Can Hang On

Sadly, Obama is worse than we all feared. Fred Thompson has called him "arrogant, naive, and inept". That pretty well sums it up.

So he allows his appointee to label vets, pro-lifers, and folks who believe in end-time prophecy as domestic terrorists. This coming from someone who is reluctant to use the term "terrorist" for Taliban and al-Queda types.

And what is scarier is that his approval rate is hanging in there at 60% or so. Maybe this is what we get for watering-down our educational system for the past few decades...a generation of non-thinkers who make up their minds based upon whether someone is attractive.

I'm praying that the nation survives the next 3 years and 265 days or so. By then, even the silly people should have seen enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The day I made the paper

Little did I know when I awoke that March morning in 1968 that the events of that day would result in a front-page story in the Abilene Reporter-News entitled, "Yes, Upside-down Driving Can Get Expensive". It was the ides of March so I shoulda known. I was going to get one more morning class at ACU out of the way, pick up Carole, and head home for spring break.

I had some free time since we weren't going to leave until mid-afternoon. So I decided to take care of something that had been bugging me for several weeks. The dashboard lights were out on my '62 Chevy Bel-Air and I thought I'd replace them. I enlisted the help of my roommate, Terry, and we got started. My car was in the dorm parking lot. Now getting to dash lights can be problematic. The way I did it was to hang my legs over the top of the front seat and lower my head down until it rested on the brake pedal.

I swapped out good lights for bad and pulled out the light switch. Terry told me that the dash lights still weren't working. That's when good ole Terry uttered some fateful words, "Why don't we start the car and see if that helps?" So I took my right hand and pushed back on the clutch pedal, and then reached up and started the engine with my left hand. When I let up on the clutch, my right shoulder pushed the accelerator to the floor. Unfortunately, I had not put the car in neutral before we started this comedy routine. The car was in low gear.

The vehicle took flight. The car was parked angled-in to a median. Across the median were other cars parked parallel to the median. Poor Terry hung on for dear life, because he had been standing next to the open right door, with one foot on the car frame and the other on the ground. With acrid smoke filling the air from the rubber burning off my rear tires, my sweet little Chevy roared over the median and started the process of plowing into a VW Bug parked on the other side of the median. All this time, I'm upside down, knowing something terribly wrong is happening. I pressed the back of my head on the brake pedal and pushed down as hard as I could. Eventually, the eternity of those five seconds was over. I backed up my car over the median and returned it to its original location. Terry and I literally picked up the Bug (hey, we both had a lot of adrenalin pumping) and put it back next to the median. It was badly smashed on the driver's side.

I left a note in the windshield telling the owner how to find me. I figured I didn't have enough space on the note to explain how it had all happened. Later that day, I had to tell Mom and Dad the whole story. Dad was not pleased. A month or so later, my journalism teacher overheard me telling the story of the flying Chevy to a friend and asked for permission to write an article about it. Since his 2nd job was as a reporter for the Abilene paper, it was no surprise when the story appeared a couple of days later. And the headline was indeed, "Yes, Upside-down Driving Can Get Expensive." And it seems like he won some sort of award in a contest for feature stories in Texas.

Amazingly, Carole was sympathetic that day and, to her everlasting credit, married me four years later. The VW got repaired, paid for by the befuddled insurance company. The color returned to Terry's face about 3 weeks later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Times Have Changed

This morning I was cruising on I-20 with my usual load of students. The girls immediately behind me were enthralled by the carpet of bluebonnets alongside the road and were wondering about bluebonnet seeds. I started to speak up and tell them that the seeds were about the size of BB's and just about as hard. But I held up when I realized that kids today probably don't know much about BB's. Sure was different in the '50's when I was a Culver Street urchin.

I think every household was home to at least one BB gun back then. Of course, there was no government watchdog to bark loudly about all the inherent dangers to having this weapon around the house. In retrospect, these things shouldn't have been allowed in the hands of anyone under 21, but back then Moms everywhere would just say, "Be careful...that thing could put somebody's eye out."

This was so typical of the laissez faire attitude of parents back then. Crime was almost non-existent. And kiddoes getting hurt with frightful Christmas toys was extremely common and to be expected. Parents just patched you up and sent you out the back door for more fun and deathly games. "Billy, grab that Daisy BB gun and see if you can shoot this can off my head!"

Another example of how carefree times were occurred during my summers on Culver Street. We lived 2 blocks from the railroad tracks, and I spent hours there nearly every day except Sunday. Again, in retrospect, this was crazy to the max. I chatted up winos and hobos on a daily basis. I would crouch in the trestle over Samuell Blvd. as a fast freight blew past at over 60 mph...just inches from my fairly empty head. There was another trestle a mile away that crossed another track, with a drop of about 70 feet to the rails below. One day, my older brother decided we would cross the trestle by walking on the rails. This particular trestle didn't have the steel sides to it. It was just bare track. Charlie went first and made it. I couldn't afford to be cowardly or indecisive in his presence, of course, so I started out. I remember vividly concentrating only on the rails, but I could easily see the track way down below using my peripheral vision. I guess God had plans for me and I somehow made it.

If there's any good to come from my parents' transition to heaven (other than the obvious), it's that they never knew about the winos or the hobos or the trestle trek. Here's what scares me, though. What haven't our 3 kids told us about??

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It Ain't about the Easter Bunny

He is risen.

Satan loses.

Doubt is erased.

Hope becomes reality.

His hands are healed.

Sin's reign becomes temporary.

He punches our ticket.

The pearly gates swing open.

Free at last!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

How I Met My Queen

Well, not much in the way of bloggie ideas tonight, so I might as well tell you how I met the love of my life.

I shared a sophomore English class at ACU with a Dallas girl named Carolyn Bullard. We had become acquainted because she was in my freshman English class the previous year. So, in October of 1967, I'm walking through the ACU post office and there stands Carolyn with this beautiful, tall girl. I don't remember much other than I immediately sized her up as uncatchable, meaning "not in a thousand years would someone that pretty go out with me".

But there were underlying issues. Carolyn and Carole had gone to Dallas Christian together. Carolyn had been valdectorian and Carole had missed being salutatorian by 22/100's of a point. They were good friends. And, they would be needing rides back to Big D and I had a car. But there's more to the story.

Carole's grandmother had been one of my Sunday School teachers during my primary years. She liked me and had a world of respect for my parents. She must've been praying that God and circumstances would bring us together. Also, Carole and I have determined that we had crossed paths before that fateful day in the P.O. It turns out that she had come to a couple of VBS's at my church...and, of course, we were the same age. Could we have sat next to our future spouse in that room and not known it? One of the first things I want to do in heaven is go to the video library and check out "Tim Perkins, The Early Years", and see the tape of us in the same class. Did I notice her? Did she pester me, in sort of a harbinger of things to come? (Just kiddin', dear.)

God moves in mysterious ways and I love it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Worship Leader

Here's a quote from someone named Patrick Mead:

If you are going to hire a second minister, make it a worship minister, NOT a youth minister. Youth ministers are wonderful and useful, but they should be your fourth hire, not your second. The first can be either a great preacher/pastor or a great worship leader. Whichever one you hire first, hire the other one second. Your third hire should be a children’s minister. THEN you hire a youth minister. It is amazing to me how few congregations know that. By hiring in the wrong order, you strangle your growth potential and increase the odds that some will leave by the back door. A lot of the glue of a church centers around the worship experience. It is one area that should never be economized, placed on the back burner, or ignored. That said, the best worship in the world won’t help anyone if you don’t move it out of the building and into the lives of the people. A good worship minister will find creative ways to do that.

I could not agree more. There's an old line heard frequently in church buildings that "you only get out of church what you put into it." That's one of those platitudes that seems like everyone would accept, but inherently has flaws. I think our Sunday worship is an oasis where thirsty Christians come to be filled. If the worship leader is gifted and enthusiastic, he can almost single-handedly empower the masses to take on the devil for another 7 days. Such is the power of Christian music handled correctly.

Of course, the converse is true. If Chad Higgins of Highland Oaks is out sick and they ask me to take his place, everyone will leave the church totally defeated and probably 45 minutes early.

Terry Rush, the brilliant minister from Tulsa, responded to the above quote by saying he felt the children's minister was the most important hire, followed by the worship leader, the youth minister, and then the preaching minister. He said his reason for making the preacher #4 was because there are so many good ones.

Makes for interesting conversation, eh?