Thursday, September 30, 2010


Miss Cee: "MOM!!!! When were you born?"

Moi: "July 9!!"

Miss Cee: "No, I mean WHEN!!!!!!!"

Moi: "I think it was a Tuesday."

Miss Cee: "No, Mommy."

Ben: "OK, Cec, Mom was born in 1700."

Miss Cee: "Really? Where is that page? I have to fill stuff in on my Timeline book for school."

Ben: "OH-HO! heh-heh"

Miss Cee: "These are all 19s..."

Ben: "OK, maybe it was really, when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock...see here, this little guy with the funny hat?"

Miss Cee: "Well, Mommy doesn't wear a hat like that..."

Ben: "Yeah, but I think she likes rock."

Miss Cee: Is THAT on the timeline?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Tenth Inning...with John Daniel

John, Ben, and their Esteemed Sire have just returned from the Cubs-Brewers game in Milwaukee...they are tired, but still smiling. "Cubs Win!!!"

John: "But only by one point."

Ben: "John, a win is a win."

Dad: "Still a W, buddy, just remember that."

So, how was your first Major League Baseball game experience, Mr. John Daniel, part-time reluctant film reviewer and full-time Cubs and Bears fan???

John: "Well, it was fun, but Mom..."


John: "There were a LOT of DRUNK people up there!"

Well, that's bound to happen at an evening game in Milwaukee, you know, buddy, they don't call it Suds City for nothing....

"Huh? Well, anyway, when one of the Cubs got a home run I was jumping up and down and cheering and clapping."

Sounds reasonable...

John: "But not everyone was..."

Well, Little Man, remember, you were in Enemy Territory...

John: "No, it wasn't just that...this guy was really...I think Dad calls it 'sheets to the wind' or something...just really too many beers...and he was gettin' mad at me and saying a lot of bad words at me..."

Hmmm, not cool...

John: "But it may have partly been because when we won I started cheering and pointing at him."

Um, did DAD know you were doing that?

[ignoring the foregoing question]- "Well, the other guy was telling me the Bears would never make it to the Super Bowl again...and he kept saying the F-bomb..."

Oh, lovely! Probably because you were proudly wearing your Bears hoodie up there in PackerLand, huh?!

John: "Well, he was just *shrug* giving me lip because he doesn't know who the best team is..."

Well, you know, when anyone starts Giving You Lip, it's time to mind your Ps and Qs...

John: "Peas?"

Another Matter of Definition

Here we are again, gentle readers, back again at 9-11. The ninth anniversary of the most significant attack on American soil in my own humble lifetime, and probably in most of yours.

Far from being the galvanizing force it was in its immediate aftermath, 9-11 this year is fraught with discord...those attacks were not an innoculation against fractiousness in our society; if anything, nine years on, they seem to have served as an injection of continuing upheaval. Just check out all the hoo-haw chronicled in the headlines of the last few weeks...the virtual firestorm surrounding efforts to establish a Muslim 'Cordoba' community center in close proximity to Ground Zero, the literally incendiary plans of Rev. Terry Jones to burn copies of the Quran, the warnings of reprisals against deployed American troops...the dominoes keep falling.

[I have been plenty exercised about the afore-mentioned Muslim center and have sputtered away considerably at the trusty keyboard here, but have spared you the unsatisfactory results (be glad). Far better that I direct you to a well-wrought column by Charles Krauthammer on this subject...if I can find it, I will post the relevant link here shortly.]

But today, this news item snagged my attention:

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (Sept. 11) -- The victims of Flight 93 are an inspiration and all who visit the rural field where they died on Sept. 11, 2001, will now "see how a scar in the earth has healed," first lady Michelle Obama said Saturday at a memorial service at the crash site honoring the 40 passengers and crew who died.

Former first lady Laura Bush joined Obama in rural western Pennsylvania, marking a rare joint public speaking appearance by two first ladies. Obama thanked her predecessor for helping the country through the difficult days following the attacks...Future generations would come to the site, she said, to "see how a scar in the earth has healed."

"It is truly my prayer today that all who come here will be filled with hope," she said."

Well, now, I must say, hope was not the first thought that came to my mind when our family happened by the clear, low-tech sign announcing the site of the Flight 93 this summer. Nope. We were driving home from our week in Washington,DC, our family vacation destination this past summer. Shanksville, as its name might suggest, is small town, rolling, green rural Pennsylvania. I doubt that many noticed they were driving through it prior to 2001, and I can testify that two months ago as we drove through, it would be easy to miss the white painted sign. But, Mr. H. slowed our vehicle and pulled over to the side of the two land road for a few minutes so we could read and remember...and explain to the younger Hollidays who were 10, 7, 4 and 1, respectively, when that rural field became an unplanned landing site.

Chalk it up to my more melancholy temper, but hope was not the emotion that sent a few tears trailing down my cheeks. It was sorrow for the death and destruction to which this site bore testimony. And awe at the selfless courage that drove victimized air passengers to thwart the evil scheme of evildoers. And anger.

Not having the ability to read the intent of Mrs. Obama or her speechwriter, I can only speculate that her reference to "hope" was meant as appreciation for the valor if the Flight 93 passengers. But, such virtues do not spring forth in a vacuum. A quick perusal of transcripts from cell phone calls of those passengers made minutes before impact makes it clear that many of them were drawing on a Source outside themselves to overcome what others had 'meant for evil.' If anyone needs a refresher, check out Let's Roll, by Todd Beamer. There's nothing unclear about what Rock he was standing on. His hope had a Source.

Hope IS important; I agree with Mrs. Obama on that. But let's be clear about how we define it--because it makes a difference. Without the real source, it's just empty rhetoric, devoid of the power so desperately needed. Real hope only comes from the Lord.

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God"
Psalm 146:5

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"I don't want to, that's why."

How many times have I said this, heard this, or rued this inflexible statement? Too many times to count. Of course, when it's coming out of my own mouth, it's merely a matter of asserting my own prerogative...and, well, I’m Right.

When I hear it as a response to a parental suggestion I’ve made, it elicits no joy.
And, when it is the case-closed, closed-mind refrain I hear after putting far more thought, prayer, wisdom, and heart into my appeal than the nay-sayer can ever imagine...well, that's an even darker shade of disappointment.

As parents, how clearly we see the diametrically opposed consequences to the yea or the nay response our children hand down! How much we desire, out of pure unselfish love for them, that our own would trust our counsel –-at least now and then--and how much quicker we seem to feel the sting of their folly than they do themselves.

A short time ago I was sitting, partially benumbed, watching an installment of "Teen Mom," on MTV...right down there on the list with "Toddlers and Tiaras" when it comes to the nadir of media culture...only worse, because these programs chronicle what happens in real lives after the real ‘unexpected bundles’ arrive into nests of arrested development.
Unlike T&T, which is mind-bending because it documents the ‘unusual’ ambitions of Pageant Parents, “Teen Mom” features no tongue-in-cheek connection between the camera and the just is what it is and, sometimes, it’s hard to watch.

If I have, at times, despaired at how difficult it is for a child of mine to trust my instincts and wisdom, (despite the fact that I offer them infrequently now), I can only conclude it must be "Game Over" for those of my generation who wake up one fine day to find that their life seasons have been telescoped on overdrive, and that their teen son or daughter is about to present them with a prototype of the next generation.

New life-always a blessing, and undeniably a burden in some sense; but the proportions of those two ingredients vary widely from situation to situation . As the years go by and I witness this scenario play out in the lives of more friends, I realize how much of life is held together by tightly stretched heartstrings...

Which is why, a few minutes ago, my own heart unexpectedly glowed with thanks…

Earlier this week, “because I don’t want to” was the expected but still discouraging reply I received after prayerfully encouraging Mr. J (also known to moonlight in this space as a reluctant film reviewer) to go to Heartbeat on Wednesday night.

“Heartbeat” is the junior high/middle school youth group at our church…meeting Wednesday evenings to focus on the Stuff That Matters in Life, by means of teaching, discipleship, fun, fellowship, missions, and of course, snacking….

Heartbeat is to youth ministry what rich compost is to a garden….potent fertilizer with proven results…no guaranteed yield, of course, but the recipe is, most certainly, Tried and True. Heartbeat was the ministry context from which two of our offspring launched into their first missions trips…spiritual reference points for them both; in particular, for our daughter who was baptized in a Kentucky river on one such trip.

Like so many things in life, Heartbeat is an Opportunity Gift which requires a bit of courage to open…first of all, there are those indistinct voices of discouragement buzzing around reminding the Not-Kid/Not-Yet-Adult prospect that this evening may not be ‘cool.’ And of course, there may be no real likelihood of a fast-food stop on the way; the odds are good, they surmise, that they won’t know a living soul there, and if so, it will the kind of person who is sure to step on their very last nerve.

So, um, no thanks, Mom, I don’t want to go to Heartbeat…or anything else you suggest today, either. And, by the way, I’m not your little kid anymore so I’m exercising my ‘No’…and I hope you get it!

But, undeterred, I pulled my mom-guts together and pressed on, employing the Father Factor for the full-court press.

One often doesn’t get quick feedback from these episodes…sometimes you really never do know what happens. In this case, Mr. J., as we were enroute last night, bore more than a passing resemblance to Eeyore…a familiar alter-ego. Nor did the return trip show any signs of a happy metamorphosis.

“Because I don’t want to to, that’s why,” echoed in my mind as my few tentative inquiries went unanswered.

But tonight, when it was no longer even on my mind, I chanced by his room after tucking Miss Cee in for the night and found him still awake.

Checking in on him, I heard a deeper-than-it-used-to-be voice murmur, “Mom, I’m glad I went to Heartbeat last night.”