Monday, March 31, 2014

HIMYM: Farewell!


The series finale of How I Met Your Mother airs tonight on CBS, and I will go ahead and confess upfront that there will be tears at the Jones' residence.  We have been fans of the show for a very long time, and have watched most of the first 8 seasons over and over again in syndication. I dearly love this show and these characters. And tonight we say goodbye. It won't be easy.

But I do realize that there are those among you who have not watched much of HIMYM, or who are just getting into it because of all the hoopla over the wedding last week and the finale tonight. And if that is true for you, then I am guessing you don't see what all the fuss is about. You see, HIMYM has been the rarest of TV shows- 9 years with the same cast, the same writers, the same director and the same story line. It has more continuity than any show I have ever watched. Just this past week I watched the pilot immediately after watching the most recent episode, and they feel completely connected- 206 shows later. Plus (as I have written here before) HIMYM has always rewarded faithful viewers with inside jokes and references. And nowhere has that been more evident than in this final season. Every show has been a treat for those of us who have watched faithfully, full of little things that let us know the writers remember us. It is brilliant. And it makes HIMYM my favorite show ever. Sorry, Seinfeld.

So as we say farewell, HIMYMers will remember the classic moments that will stay with us long after the show is gone. We will always suit up, always give high fives and never forget to be legen...wait for it!- dary. We will fear the cockamouse while believing that Nessie is a gentle creature, and that Sasquatch is very real. We will continue to search old music stores for vintage Robin Sparkles vinyls. We will treasure last words and understand the importance of being there when friends are hurting- even if it means dancing Christmas lights set to AC/CD music. We will occasionally hum Bang, Bang, Bangity Bang and Marshall Vs. the Machines. And I, for one, will have Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit as my default ringtone. We'll remember that we have indeed met Ted, that nothing good happens after 2 am, that new is NOT always better and that most anything can be "the dream." We will remember the crazy eyes and that there is a "hot/crazy scale." We will still be expecting one more slap to finish off the bet. We will remember that nothing is more romantic than stealing a blue French horn for a girl the first night you go out, throwing 3 parties in 3 days just to see her again, or making it rain (by doing a rain dance!) so you can get together with her again. And most of all, we will remember that nothing we do in life is legendary unless our friends are there to see it. To call this show a comedy is to miss out on the many dramatic moments and life lessons that have been offered up along the way. To not see it as a comedy is to miss 9 years of hilarity. HIMYM is the complete package.

My family has fallen in love with Ted. Marshall, Barney, Robin, Lilly and now The Mother. We will miss Ranjit, Carl the Bartender, Wendy the Waitress and even Patrice. We will even wonder what could have been for Ted and Victoria. We will miss so many things. I wish everyone could have been on this ride as long as we have. There may well be sadness tonight, as this show has never dodged reality. But any tragedy or dramatic twists will be within the context of the last 9 seasons. For Mother Lovers everywhere, it will be the end we need. But please...PLEASE...don't let tonight be your first time watching. You'll be cheating the series and yourself. The finale will have some mystery to it, but I do know this much. At the very end, we will hear future Ted look at his two teenage children (Luke & Penny) in the year 2030 and say, "And that, kids, is the story of how I met your mother." And we'll all say farewell...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Just As I Am

Thanks so much for all the kind thoughts expressed and prayers lifted after yesterday's post. Because of people like you, I experience real grace and forgiveness every day.

I have come to the realization that anyone who thinks that USAmerica is a Christian society is fooling themselves. I am not the first to say this; others have long held that we are a non-Christian country. They point to things like illegal wars, legalized abortion, R-rated movies and sexual immorality as signs that we have abandoned God. I am not going to discuss or even consider any of those points today. You see, I think we are beyond being non-Christian. I think we are Anti-Christian at the core of our culture, and here's why- we don't really believe in grace.

Grace is at the heart of Christianity. Every other religion in the world is based on people trying to "earn" their way into the presence of their god. It's all about what you can do, about living your life by the religious law. Christianity is based on what Jesus has already done for us. If we confess, repent, and bow to Jesus as Lord and Savior, then our sins are forever forgiven. And this is true everyday of our lives. With Jesus, whatever we have done in our past, be it good or evil, is irrelevant to God today. It in only NOW that we are in the presence of God. And it is now, because of grace, that we are forgiven- yet again.

The culture we live in, however, has very little concept of grace. People who fail, people who sin, and people who make mistakes that have tragic consequences are people to be condemned and reminded of what they have done for the rest of their lives. They may confess and repent, but there will be no grace. They may even receive a second chance, but there will be no grace- because we will always remember. We love to remind people how they have failed and how we have "forgiven" them. In our society, you are never free of your transgressions. With Jesus, we are free everyday- "and he who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Stop me if you have heard this before, but I am a sinner, and unless Jesus is reading this today, so are you! As the brilliant theologian and musician Michael Card wrote, "I belong to Jesus, and I realize that He loves me- a ragamuffin like me!- just as I am and not as I should be." Confess your sins to your neighbors and see how many of them would love you "just as you are." We, as a culture, are all about people getting what they deserve. And Jesus, as a Savior, is all about people NEVER getting what they deserve! No matter what our sin may be. Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel "The sinners to whom Jesus directed his messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves up to the gift that was offered them. On the other hand, the self-righteous placed their trust in the works of the Law and closed their hearts to the message of grace." Grace defines my relationship with Christ, but I cannot find it many places in our culture. Even our churches often reject those who are considered to be "notorious sinners"- when that is EXACTLY the group Jesus hung out with. If we find grace, the "tent pole" of our faith, to be a foreign concept, how can we be anything but Anti-Christian? Not the kind where we are persecuted- the kind where we just don't get it!

I have come to grips with the fact that the world I live in will continue to punish and seek revenge against me when I fail and when I fall. Society will continue to remind me of my sins long after I confess and repent of them. And you know what? WHO CARES!!! Because I walk everyday with a Savior who loves me just as I am...and what could be better than that?

Because of Jesus,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Shout Out!


This edition of the Saturday Shout Outs! is unusual for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's a singular shout. Just one- and it's a prayer request. And the second unusual thing is that the prayer request is for me and my family.

Life is getting interesting this week.The baseball season opens tomorrow night, and you know I love baseball. So that's good. How I Met Your Mother ends on Monday, and that's bad. And then there is this. This coming Wednesday, April 2nd, is a huge day in our lives. Those of you who know my story are aware that for the past 7 years I have been living under a set of restrictions that (among other things) have limited my ability to travel and to see people I miss and love. This coming Wednesday morning I will stand before a Judge in Waycross, GA in the hopes that all of that can finally be put behind us. There is very little way of predicting an outcome. I have done all I could do for 7 years in the hopes that when the day arrived I would be set free from my restrictions. There is no reason it shouldn't go our way. But if I have learned anything from this experience it is that the justice system is not always logical. If the Judge decides not to release me, I will still have 3 years of probation left to serve. And I can do that. In the end, it is all up to the Judge. 

But fortunately, we believe that there is a higher power than the Judge who loves us and cares for us- and his name is Jesus! So for the next few days I do covet your prayers. We ask that you pray that the Judge would have wisdom and compassion. I feel I have learned my lessons, served enough time and been sufficiently punished. There has been so much grace given to me by friends and family I know and love; now it's our hope that the court will do the same. But it's also not just about me! Marilyn and Will have spent 7 years suffering gracefully while my situation screwed up plans and caused them to forgo things they otherwise would have done. I missed much of Will's high school experience. Marilyn has had to bear the financial burden and do all the late night pick-ups and shuttles. The end of my restrictions will mean freedom for them as well. 

So if you are so inclined, please pray for myself and my family. Pray for the Judge. And pray that we will return to Tampa on Wednesday evening with a new freedom and chance to begin to live life our way again. And if you'd like, you can also send an email to me at Youthguy07@aol.com by Monday just saying how you know me, that you know of my offense, that I'm a nice guy with a great family and that you are in favor of me being done with probation. We will print them and take them with us to court as character references. I can tell you in advance that I have felt the support of so many of you these past years, and I know I will feel it Wednesday. Thanks for listening and for your prayers. 

Because of Jesus,

Friday, March 28, 2014

30/30: Five Friends I'd Love To See Today

Sometimes I look at the list of prompts I put together for this 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge and I think to myself, "What were you thinking?" Today is one one of those days. Here's the prompt I wrote back in December to write about today: 5 Friends You Wish You Could See Today -Five people you love and miss that you would kill to be able to see TODAY. And why them? I have struggled all week with this ridiculous request. There are dozens of people I want to see for a variety of reasons. Limiting the list to 5 was not only impossible, it was unfair both to myself and to a lot of people I care about. So, in true Todd Willis/Jocelyn Sessions Ward (2 people I'd love to see today!) fashion, I'm cheating! I'm changing the rules to make this more fun for me. Instead of 5 people, I have chosen 5 groups of people I'd love to spend time with on this Friday. There will still be mention of some specific names, but please don't think that means those who are not mentioned by name are any less important to me. So here is my list. I didn't include the wonderful Twitter family I have yet to meet at all, and I can't believe this list doesn't include Terri Johnson Harris, Beth Edgerton Bell, Marshall Ratledge, Darek Newby, Kathryn Burris and the rest of my old New Garden Friends youth group. Hey about that- now it does include them!  Judge me for cheating if you must. 

  1. The Old Gang- Having Carl and Steve Semmler here last weekend reminded me of how much I miss the company of our group of friends from the 1980s in NC. While they were here I heard from other members of the "gang," like Denise May Langley, Beth Vestal McGalliard, Tammy Doggett Foster and Donna Haynes Myers. We told old stories about many others, including Alan Brown & Tim Vail. We struggled with our memories as we tried to recall who had dated whom and piece together our various beach trips and weddings. It was a blast. And now I want to see each and every one of those old friends- today! Or at least soon. I hope. Very soon...
  2. Quaker Lake Buddies- While there is some crossover between group #1 and this group, there is still a whole new list of people I need to see. When thinking of 5 people this week this names of Neal & Susie Thomas were always near the top of my list. I love and miss them both so much. I want to see my dear friends Boom-Boom, Teddy and Leigh Ann, as well as pretty much everyone else I ever served on staff with at QLC. I want to see some of the old camper crew- people like Jay Osborne, Laura Wheeler, David Fields, Jodi Coble, Jay Wilkins and Cynthia Davis and so many more. I was always at my best when I was at QLC. Just thinking about spending a day with all of those folks again makes me smile!
  3. Springfield Friends Meeting- It's been almost 20 years since we left High Point and moved to Kissimmee, but there are so many old friends at SFM who still feel like family. One of the names on my 5 person list all week long was Millie Simmons. I miss so much just sitting and talking with Millie. And I owe her a hug- or two. I'd love to eat some Pizza Inn with Jeremy Godwin, Ken Hill, Todd Farlow, Danny MecCorquodale and Jamie Robinson. I want to see my old pal Woodhead and sit and laugh with Kelly Allen Olmeda and Heather & Keri. There are long conversations to be had with Ashley Goad and Marie Allen Duke. And I really, really, REALLY want to go to dinner and a show with Butch & Barbara Moran. I could go on and on...
  4. The Kissimmee Krewe- It's been less than a year since our big reunion, but I am ready to see these wonderful people again- and the others who couldn't join us as well!  I already mentioned Todd and Jocelyn, and if you know me at all you know that Teresa Reep Tysinger is always near the top of my "I miss you" list. But there are so many others- too many to list. I'll just say that I wish I could buy Dr. Jill a chocolate cobbler and sit and talk abut life with Nate, Ben, Amber, Lauren, Adam, Josh, SarahConnor and Hamp. Great people and great times. It would be a blast to see them ALL today!
  5. Marilyn's Family- I have not been able to travel and see much of my wife's family over these past 7 years, and I do miss them very much. her Mom and sister Carol have come down a few times, but I also miss seeing her Dad, her sister Linda and the rest of the extended family very much. Today would be a great day for a visit.
My duty is fulfilled and this prompt is completed, WHEW! And once again I am reminded how blessed I am to have known so many wonderful people and have so may old friends. This list is very incomplete. I'm going to need a longer day...

Because of Jesus,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Moment With the King

Linda Petty, the wife of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, passed away earlier this week in Level Cross, NC after a long battle with cancer. She was 72. On this Throwback Thursday I want to share a couple memories I have of the Petty family as my small tribute to Linda.

Growing up in North Carolina in the 1960s and 70s meant that you knew about a lot about 2 kings. The first was Elvis. The second was Richard Petty. With 200 career victories, Petty ruled NASCAR in ways that few other sports have ever been dominated by an individual or team. Now before we go on, I have to make a true confession that may well get my official Tar Heel card revoked- I have never been a NASCAR fan (Go ahead and throw things at the screen- I'll wait...). But in stock car racing mad NC, the best driver was indeed the king. At that, for many years, was Richard. So everyone knew OF him. But I got to know the family through a series of events that had nothing to do with racing. They had to do with summer camp.

Sometime around 1980 the Petty's youngest daughter, Rebecca, and a group of her friends were campers for a week at Quaker Lake Camp, where I was working. Linda and Rebecca's older brother Kyle (who by then was beginning his own racing career) brought her to registration, stirring up quite a buzz among the racing fans and passing out Petty-blue STP hats to the staff. Rebecca had a great time and came back a couple of more summers, and each time there was more excitement. They even brought one of the race cars down so everyone could get a close look. On several of those occasions I was working the registration table or helping out at check-in and had some great conversations with Mrs. Petty. She was a sweet, down-to-earth woman who loved her children and asked for no special treatment. I also met Richard on one such occasion. It was an honor.

Fast forward to the early 1990s. I was working as the youth pastor at Springfield Friends Meeting in High Point, NC.  Marilyn and I were eating dinner at the Bamboo Gardens Chinese Restaurant in Archdale, which is a short drive from the Petty compound in Level Cross. We already eating when in walked the King and his wife- Richard wearing his trademark cowboy hat and smiling at everyone. As they were being escorted to their booth they passed our table, and Linda stopped, looked at me and said, "Didn't you work at Quaker Lake when our daughter went there?" When I responded "yes" she and Richard stopped and chatted for a minute about how much Rebecca had loved camp and caught me up on what she was up to as an adult. It was a fun and friendly visit. They were seated and that was the end of it for them- but for us the fun was just starting! The restaurant was quite crowded, and as we peered around the room it seemed everyone was starring at us. They all knew who the Pettys were. But WHO were these people that the King had stopped to visit? They just knew we had be famous too! The buzz continued for quite a while. I've always wondered how disappointed those folks would have been to find out it was a lowly youth pastor and his wife just out enjoying some egg drop soup...

So that's my story of the night I rubbed elbows with royalty. My thoughts and prayers are with the Petty family as they mourn the loss of their wife, mother and grandmother. I know she will be missed, Rest in peace, Linda.

Because of Jesus,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thank You, World Vision



So Christianity has found itself another controversy this week that once again threatens to poke a hole in the fabric of the Church. There has been great gnashing of teeth and tearing of sackcloth over the venerable parachurch organization, World Vision, and its hiring policies. My response? I'd just like to say thanks...

  • Thank you, World Vision, for being Jesus with skin to thousands upon thousands of children over the years and around the world.
  • Thank you, World Vision, for believing that when Jesus told us to "feed his sheep" (John 21: 15-19) he meant it to be both spiritual and literal.
  • Thank you, World Vision, for leading the charge in taking care of widows and orphans around the world- because scripture (James 1:27) commands us to do just that! 
  • Thank you, World Vision, for believing that everyone deserves a chance at a better life because the love of God whose name is Jesus came for EVERYONE!
  • Thank you, World Vision, for taking both the Great Commandment (love God, love one another) and the Great Commission (go to all nations and tell the Good news) literally.
  • Thank you, World Vision, for pushing us all to believe that Matthew 25: 31-46 is an important passage of scripture, one that is to be lived out in our daily lives. We are to feed the hungry. visit the sick and clothe the naked because that IS what Jesus would do. Your efforts have helped make "the least of these" around the world real people to those of us with abundance, and have reminded us that sometimes those in need live next door.


And finally, as someone who spent 28 years in youth ministry, I say thank you World Vision for your wonderful programs like the 30 Hour Famine and One Life Revolution (with Youth Specialties) that have exposed thousands of teenagers to a little taste of what it is like to be hungry, impoverished and alone. Because of you, entire generations of youth group kids have known what it means to "Let It Growl!" You helped teach us that the world can be changed by loving one person at a time. You will continue to have my support, my prayers and my contributions. You have made a difference in our churches and in our world. And it is my hope that you will continue to do what you do- loving people in the name of Jesus. Nothing matters more than that.

Because of Jesus,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#DangerDays: M.J. Salvatore's Story

Today's #DangerDays guest post comes from M.J. Salvatore, another of my Twitter friends. He 's a great guy, and you can find him most every Tuesday night at 10 PM sharing wisdom and grace with the People of the Second Chance (#POTSClive). You can follow him on Twitter @MJ_Salvatore_

When Carl had asked me to do a guest post a while back, I didn't think March would creep up as quickly as it did. And here we are, in the last full week of it already! Time really does fly.

When I thought about what to write about, it dawned on me that I really haven't been as vulnerable as I normally am, but that I do have a lot to say. Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time journaling and trying to just gain clarity from what The Lord wanted to show me. I have removed social media distractions such as Facebook since January and from time to time, go on a twitter or instagram hiatus.

I am calling this post for #DangerDays "Walk in Freedom." I am doing this for a number of reasons. The first being that, since the spring of 2011, The Lord has drastically been restoring the broken pieces of my heart. I graduated college in the Fall of 2010 and up until that point, had absolutely NO security in who I was, let alone WHOSE I was. Sure, I knew The Lord, but in a drastic moment of hurt and betrayal, decided to pursue the world instead. I'm sure some of you reading have been there before, maybe some of you haven't. Regardless, it all came down to a CHOICE. I chose to walk away and also wear a mask, as if it all was okay and that I had it all together. Unfortunately, between experiencing the whole "college scene," along with some wrongful choice in people, it seemed as though I was on a constant downward spiral from 2009 until that spring after graduation.

I remember moving back home and having all of the materialistic things taken away. No more car, apartment, "friends," no more partying and now having to drink alone in my room and exit the house just to smoke. What a life right? Don't get me wrong, some of the people I met helped me as I tried to navigate my way through some of life's toughest experiences, but for whatever reason, The Lord removed me from that area. My attitude was terrible and in returning home, I was forced to confront everything I completely had "left behind." I say left behind, but in all actuality, just buried deep and ignored, numbing the pain and hurt with all the wrong things.

I was depressed, anxiety ridden, feeling guilty, shameful, emotionally distraught, all of it. Not to mention I was not in the best shape physically either. Just the icing on the cake I had already eaten too much of haha. It wasn't until that spring of 2011 where I heard The Lord speak ever to clearly. He said: "MJ, WHAT are you doing?"

In that moment I experienced a sense of conviction like never before. In that moment, I was presented with another CHOICE. CHOOSE to really listen to The Lord, or ignore like I had so many times before. I decided to pour out the rest of my alcohol and slowly began cutting back on the smoking and attempted to start exercising again. In the three years that have followed, I had to make a constant number of choices. Those choices all involved pursuing The Lord. And let me tell you what, He was always right there, just waiting for me, with His unconditionally loving arms wide open, to welcome me back. Not judging, but simply embracing. I wrote earlier that I am calling this post "Walk in Freedom" and the other reason is that The Lord has redeemed. SO MUCH.

I am currently on my way to being in the best shape I have been in ever and have found a healthy lifestyle that is best for me. Remember when I said I had "friends?" Well, The Lord provided REAL people. And others had to go. Not that they didn't teach me things, but some people are only meant for seasons. Once you realize that, it makes all the difference. And the best friends I have now, are ones who love unconditionally and we are running together. I am also plugged into a wonderful spirit-filled church that I love and have mentors who are leading and encouraging and empowering me along the way.

Remember when I also said that I fell into that college scene? I was able to redeem my old university for myself by taking part in their pre-college entry program for incoming freshmen known as Equip. I was able to serve as a mentor, chaplain, residence assistant, tutor, residence director, student life coordinator and more. I was able to heal so much through this process and found an age group I love. I have worked with the program since 2010 and took part in it ONE last summer in 2013. It completely changed my life and The Lord allowed for so much growth and heart change.

My heart has been moved over this year though, striving to want more. I want to take all of the hurt I have experienced and turn it around to build up this upcoming generation. At the end of the day I just want to encourage people. Even though I am only 25 years old, I want to make an impact on this world and generation. As men, we have an opportunity to set the standard, to break generational curses and to truly be the men God has called us to be. We need to move past fear and doubt and worry and just make major moves. I have high hopes and prayers that I will be able to connect with everyone I've "met" via social media who have truly impacted my life. Just to huge them and let them know how much they've inspired me.

One major reason for this heart change has been an organization that is so close to my heart and that is People of the Second Chance. If you don't know about them, go here right now: www.secondchance.org. You won't be sorry. I have also found such a fond appreciation for the Word and all it has to offer. Sometimes I wish I could come face to face with 2009 MJ and just say: "You're gonna be fine, brother." But now, that is what The Lord tells me.

All that being said, choosing The Lord comes down to a choice. But it's not a one time choice. It's a moment by moment, daily reoccurrence. So I ask you, is The Lord speaking? Are you listening? Take a leap and don't be afraid of where The Lord takes you. Give Psalm 103 a read and REST in it.

#BreakEveryChain

-MJ 

Monday, March 24, 2014

HIMYM Memories: Days of Future Past

Our friends Robin and Barney get married tonight- and it will not go smoothly. Like so many other things about the wonderfully layered world of How I Met Your Mother, we know this because we we have seen the future. We know that Barney is going to freak out and wonder if he has chosen the correct "tie" to wear forever. We know that Robin is going to ask to see Ted. We can assume that Ted, who at this point has still not met the Mother (although we have) will be torn as he watches the love of his life ("There is no Top 5, Robin. There's a top one. And it's you!") marry one of his best friends. HIMYM is a show about old friends telling old stories. But along the way faithful viewers have also learned much about the futures of our 5 friends.

We know that Ted will meet the Mother, have two kids, and that as yet undetermined events will somehow cloud their future. We know Marshall and Lilly will live in Italy for a while and have a another child- a daughter named Daisy. Marshall will be come a Judge (Judge Fudge!). We know that Robin and Barney will continue to live large and legendary lives. And we know that these friends will continue to gather on a regular basis to attend Robots verses Wrestlers. We have seen enough of their lives going forward that we wish we were going to be able to share the future with them in the ame way we have shared so much of their pasts.

And that is part of what makes next week's finale feel like a sad occasion. As with all things HIMYM, it will be funny. It will be touching. It will be surprising. But there will also be sadness as we let go of these fictional friends forever. No more wonderful catchphrases (see chart at bottom). No more evenings at McLaren's. No chance of ever seeing Ted with blonde hair ("Pulling. It. OFF!") or the cockamouse again. No more Swarley or chances to be "lawyered." For faithful viewers, Monday nights will now have a huge, gaping hole that will be hard to fill. I know it's JUST a TV show. But I will miss it.

At the end of the very first episode, after we learn how Ted met Robin and immediately fell in love, Ted says to his two teenage children in the year 2030 "and that, kids, is the story of how I met your Aunt Robin." While his kids could see that this was going to be a very long story, we could see the future from the very beginning. And now we are at the end. Enjoy the wedding, Mother Lovers. And treasure the memories these 9 season have given us.  How many of these catchphrases can you use in context in daily conversation? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kissing Frogs

My Dad was a little league football coach for many years in the 1970's and 80's. Before many of the games he coached he would deliver the following pep talk to his 8-11 year old players: Football is supposed to be fun. And the best way to have fun on a football field is to hit somebody. So get out there- and HIT somebody!!!"

Jesus gave similar pep talks. He told his disciples and followers over and over again that God is love, and that our main task is to help people connect to that love. He wanted the lost and the lonely- the ragamuffins- to know that the grace and forgiveness of God was meant for them. He left little doubt as to the best way for us to do that- get out there and LOVE somebody!!! But too often we try to make God's love and power an intellectual exercise. It is much easier to talk about than to demonstrate. Witness the following account from Lois Cheney's classic 1969 devotional book God Is No Fool:

A woman came from seeing a religious movie. She was moved by it. She thought of the technicolor wonders of God. She mused on the stereophonic destruction of evil.  All the way home she thought and thought. Before she fell asleep she told her husband about the movie, and said, "It really made you think."

A young man went to church after a long, too long absence. The minister spoke of the Love of God and the Grace of God. The young man was troubled and he was stirred. That evening, as he kissed his girlfriend good-night, he told her about the sermon and said, "It really made you think."

A grown man read his Bible everyday. He read of the Love of God, the Need for God, the Hope of God and the Promises of God. He would read late into the night. At breakfast he would tell his wife why he had stayed up so late. He would tell her about the wonders of scripture, and he would say, "It really makes you think."

Could it be that the loneliest book in the Bible
is the book called "ACTS?"

Jesus told us to take care of one another, to love one another, to feed the hungry, to give hope to the hopeless and offer grace and forgiveness to our neighbors. When asked, "Who is my neighbor?" he told the parable of The Good Samaritan, which illustrated that everyone is our neighbor. To do these things, we have to "get out there and hit someone!" We have to SHOW people God's love, not just tell them about it. Now I don't know about you, but it seems to me like there are a lot of folks in this world who are not easy to love. They are not yet princes; they are still frogs. Yet Jesus calls on us to love them as they are, not as we wish they were, because that is the love He offers us. We are all frogs until we experience the love and grace that Jesus brings us. 

So what is our task as Christians? It's simple. We are called to kiss frogs! Now get out there and KISS someone! Have a blessed Sunday...

Because of Jesus,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

True Friendship

Carl, Marilyn and Steve
I have been blessed in my life to have lots of wonderful friends. I grew up with with a group of people who changed my life and made me so much of (the good parts) of who I am today. Two of those friends, Steve and Carl Semmler, have been visiting this week and it has been so wonderful to catch up with them. During their stay we have heard from many others who were a part of that "family" and the laughs and smiles we have been sharing have been multiplied. That's how friendship is. There are unexplainable bonds with undeniable power, and when you have those types of friendships you KNOW that they are always with you- even when they aren't!

The blessings of great friendships has continued throughout my life, and one of the joys of the past few says has been sharing stories of some of best friends that Carl and Steve have never me with 2 of my oldest friends. They got to meet Lisa Jewett yesterday. They have heard many tales of Jerry Hanbery, Teresa Tysinger and other people who have been and still are such important parts of my life. They've renewed their friendship with Marilyn and gotten to spend some time with Will. We've remembered old friends and great stories together, and tried to remember others that have slipped away over the years. It has been a wonderful combination of sharing the old and the new and feeling like our connection to one another has really never changed. I am reminded of this anonymous quote: True friendship is not about being inseparable. It's being separated and NOTHING CHANGES. 

Carl flies out today and Steve tomorrow, and we will miss them when they are gone. But one of the great joys of true friendship is the knowledge that there is always more to come. There will be mores stories. There will be more adventures. There will be more times when we will need each other to lean on. With great friends there will always be more. And this morning, for the amazing gift that is true friendship, I give thanks. Have a blessed Saturday my friends!

Because of Jesus,

Friday, March 21, 2014

30/30: First 10 I-Pod Shuffle Songs

Today's 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge prompt is a simple one. I just set my I-pod to "shuffle" and list the first 10 songs. Simple, easy, and perfect for a Friday about to spent sight-seeing with friends here in Tampa. So enjoy your day. Here's how I started mine...

  1. National Brotherhood Week- Tom Lehrer
  2. Desperado- The Eagles
  3. Old Dan's Records- Gordon Lightfoot
  4. Ordinary Love - U2
  5. Feelin' Stronger Every Day- Chicago
  6. The Logical Song -  Supertramp
  7. Can't Fight This Feelin' Anymore- REO Speedwagon
  8. It's Still Rock & Roll To Me- Billy Joel
  9. Hungry - Paul Revere & The Raiders
  10. Band On The Run - Paul MCartney & Wings
And yes. I know. I'm OLD!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Facing Bench


Today's Throwback Thursday post comes from my early years as a youth leader. It was first published on this blog in 2009 during my very first month of blogging. I'm too busy having fun with my friends Steve and Carl Semmler to write anything new today!

New Garden Friends Meeting was (and still is) a very distinctive place, even amongst the somewhat peculiar people known as Quakers. It sits across the street from a Quaker college (Guilford) and next door to a large Quaker retirement community (Friends Homes). It is very difficult to say that anything in the "norm" among Friends, but for the most part Quaker meetings and churches are divided into two categories- programmed (pastors, choirs, sermons and other elements of protestant worship) and unprogrammed (no pastor, no music, silent worship broken by people speaking from leading of the Spirit). New Garden was both, choosing to call itself "semi-programed." Among the elements of tradition Quaker worship that New Garden had preserved was the facing bench. In early Quaker worship, there was no pastor to sit "up front" and preside over the Meeting for Worship, so elders would sit there, facing the gathered worship community. They would, among other things, end worship when they sensed it was time by simply standing and shaking hands. New Garden ended worship in that same manner.


One Sunday during my time as youth leader at New Garden I found myself sitting on the facing bench. It was a very special Sunday, because we were introducing the new President of Guilford College, Bill Rogers, and his wife Beverly. Bill Rogers had come to Guilford from Harvard and was a distinguished educator. Beverly was an elegant and dignified woman who looked the part of a college president's wife- a bit stuffy! As people gathered for worship I introduced myself to them and we all took our seats on the facing bench. I sat next to Beverly, who asked me how often I had to sit up front like this, and I replied "not very often." Another moment passed before she leaned over and said to me "You know what I hate about sitting up front like this? You can't pick your nose!" She immediately returned to sitting up straight and looking quite dignified, leaving me to stifle a loud laugh and try to pretend I was having a coughing fit. I thought I was going to fall off the facing bench! She never even smiled. After worship she thanked me for helping make her first Sunday at New Garden a memorable one, and that was all that was said.


I was reminded that day that God can use anyone or anything to inspire us. Some inspire us to greater faith, some to to greater accomplishments, and still others to greater learning. Bev Rogers reminded me that Sunday morning that God also inspires us to great laughter and greater joy, even in the midst of dignity and seriousness. Thank you Bev. And may God grant us all a good laugh everyday as a blessing and a Holy moment!

Because of Jesus,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Best of Friends

Two of my best friends from my teenage years (and beyond!) arrive in Tampa tonight for a long weekend. It is amazing how many stories from my years in youth group at New Garden Friends Meeting, in high school at Western Guilford, Myrtle Beach, my freshman year in college at Lenoir Rhyne, a month-long cross country road trip and at Quaker Lake Camp begin and end with either Steve or Carl Semmler- or both! Their family was my family, and my family was their's. With them and through them I became part of a fellowship of friends back in the early 1980s that still very much looks out for each other today, if only from a distance. The group was ever changing with friends of friends coming and going, but the dynamics remained the same. I lost touch with some of them over time, but they were never far from my thoughts and prayers. And we have recently reconnected with many of them through Facebook. The picture below was taken in May of 2006 at my Dad's memorial service in Greensboro. I can look at this picture and see so many of the people I love. Even more were at the actual service but missed the photo. They showed up because Marilyn and I needed them and because my dad was a part of their lives too. They have always been there for me, no matter what. Because of the circumstances in my life, it was the last time I saw any of those amazing people. That changes tonight. I hope it will change even more in the next few months. The words below the picture are from an anonymous writer in a journal I was once given as a gift, but they say so much of what I am feeling. I will add only one thing. Many of those you see pictured have been part of my life since the early 1970s, including Carl and Steve. They have not left normal sized footprints. The ones they have left in my life are more Sasquatch sized- if he was doing the Monster Mash! I love you guys.




Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance.They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom, and make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. Some people stay in our lives a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#DangerDays: "Im Not Worthy!"

Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar of Wayne's World fame would often greet their heroes by falling to their knees and chanting, "We're not worthy!  We're not worthy!"  I am afraid that far too often we greet opportunities to be part of the #DangerDays with that same reaction. We feel too small, too fragile and unworthy of being used by God to make a difference in the world we live in. In fact, this is one of Satan's best tools. He reminds us of our faults and our weaknesses and convinces us that we are losers and failures who cannot possibly be of use to God. I know I have felt that way before, and I suspect you have too.  Jesus says, "Come.  Follow me." And we respond with, "I'm not worthy..."

Lois Cheney captures our doubts about our worthiness to serve the Savior in her classic 1969 devotional book God Is No Fool. One of my favorite passages, read on Youth Sundays by dozens of students over the years, reminds us that we walk the same path as so many others who doubted they had anything to offer God. Listen to her words:

Moses said, "Oh come on now! Be sensible! I'm a terrible speaker. They'd never listen to me." And God said, "Oh for crying out loud! OK, I'll use your brother to help with the speaking." And Moses led God's people out of disintegration.

Jonah said, "Oh come on now! Be sensible! Not me! I'm not the type." And after a rather unexpected vacation in a fish, just thinking things over, he talked to God's people and led them God's way- even though he wasn't happy about it.

And Zacharias said, "Oh come on now! Be sensible! Not me! My wife and I are too old to have any kids." And God said, "Oh shut up!" And he did shut up- for nine months. And John was born, and the way for the Christ opened up.

And I heard a child say
"I can't serve God, I'm too young."

And I heard a boy say
"I can't serve God, I'm not good enough."

And I heard a woman say
"I can't serve God I'm not skilled enough."

And I heard a man say
"I can't serve God I'm not pure enough."

I wonder if God ever gets any new problems...

Monday, March 17, 2014

#HIMYM Memories: Artifacts


After tonight there are only 2 more Monday nights with new episodes of my TV obsession, How I Met Your Mother. For these three Mondays I will be sharing some HIMYM memories here on my blog as my way of paying tribute to a truly great show. Today I want to remember some items- artifacts if you will- that have played an important role in the 9 year history of the show. This is in no way meant to be an exclusive list. These are just a few of my favorites...

*  The Yellow Umbrella - This came to be the symbol of hope for Ted as his love life ebbed and flowed over the history of the show, because it represented the Mother. It was her umbrella, which Ted "borrowed" from a St. Patrick's Day party in 2008, only to return it to her accidentally while on a date with her roommate. Even as I write this, Ted knows known of this. But we do. Thus the brilliance of the show.


*  The Playbook - Barney's elaborate collection of amazing schemes and gimmicks designed to help him pick up women. My personal favorite- The Weekend at Barney's, where he reenacts the movie Weekend at Bernie's and meets women while pretending to be dead. He burned the playbook after becoming engaged to Robin, but he recreated it from memory and passed it on to a couple of hopeless young men a few weeks ago. The episode where he tricks everyone in the gang with The Scuba Diver is also a favorite! 

*  The Swords- When Ted and Marshall first moved into their apartment in Manhattan they bought swords to hand on the wall. Those swords became part of two epic sword fights. Marshall and Ted dueled to see who would get the apartment after Lilly and Marshall got married. It ended when Lilly walked in and was wounded. Later in the series we discover that Lilly and Robin also go into a duel as a joke, in which Lilly hilariously misquoted The Princess Bride and cut an expensive dress in half.


*  Marshall's Fiero - Marshall's car from high school played an integral role in the early years of the show. The episode in which the car dies just short of 200,000 miles gives us stories of Marshall and Ted becoming best friends over a road trip in a blizzard while in college, and of Robin and Lilly bonding over staging a break in to the car to cover up spilled food. And Barney trying to learn to drive. But the best part was the tale of how a cassette tape of The Proclaimers singing I Wanna Be the Man (500 Miles) was stuck in the car's tape player and for years had been the only song you could hear. The Fiero died that day, but its 
memory lives on in that song!

*The Red Cowboy Boots - Ted gets talked into buying ugly red cowboy boots by a hot salesgirl. They make various appearances over the years, most notably an episode where Ted wears them everywhere and insists on telling everyone that he is "pulling them off." The boots are eventually destroyed in a fiery blaze by Ted's crazy "last girlfriend" before he meets the Mother - Jeanette.

* The Pineapple- In season 1, episode 10 Ted gets very drunk and cannot remember the events of the night before when he wake up. With the help of the gang and Carl the Bartender he pieces the story together- with one exception. There was a pineapple on his nightstand. On a show that meticulously follows up on every loose end, we still do not know where that pineapple came from. It had been mentioned, but it is a mystery not even The Mosby Boys can solve. Maybe in the finale... 

*  Puzzles - The "Bar" that Barney and Ted open in the apartment on a couple of occasions when they on the outs with McLaren's, their usual home away from home. They had great hopes and dreams for the place. Why Puzzles? That's the puzzle...


* The Blue French Horn - For me, this artifact from the very first episode has always symbolized the very heart of How I Met Your Mother. Ted meets Robin and immediately begins to fall in love. They have dinner at a place called Carmichaels's, where a blue French horn hands over the mantle. Robin mentions how much she loves it. Later in the episode Ted is returning to to Robin's apartment (after ruining everything by blurting out "I think I love you" on a first date) and he stops by the restaurant and steals her the blue French horn. It becomes the symbol of his undying love for Robin- which is still in place even now, as she prepares to marry Barney and he is about to finally meet the Mother. Later, as her part of their romantic relationship is ending, Robin laments "but you stole me a blue French horn." Ted responds, "I would have stolen you a whole orchestra." And he would have...

So there's my list, although I could go on and on. What did I miss, HIMYM fans? Three shows to go. Three more Mondays of great television. Let me know if I you'll be watching with me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When College Basketball Was Special (A Rant)

1982 National Champs- Perkins, Black, Jordan, Doherty & Worthy
There was a time- a long ago, far away time now- when there was no sport in our nation that could rival college basketball. At least as a kid growing up in North Carolina that was sure how it seemed to me. The rivalries, the competition, the drama, the strategy- it was amazing to be a fan. As mentioned here many times, I was primarily a fan of the UNC Tar Heels, but I also always cheered for other Atlantic Coast Conference teams any time they weren't playing my Heels. And back in the days of my youth there was nothing more exciting than the ACC Tournament. Tickets were harder to get than those for the NCAA Final Four. That same tournament will conclude in my hometown of Greensboro today, but it is just not he same anymore. The women's tournament was held last weekend and Notre Dame won the championship. Notre Dame is in the ACC? And this week teams like Syracuse and Pittsburgh were competing for the men's title. Next year Louisville joins the league as well. And I don't like it. Not one little bit. Those are supposed to be Big East teams- and we HATE Big East teams. But those changes are just the tip of an iceberg that began forming many years ago. So if you will allow me, I'd like to rant a bit about all of the changes in college hoops in the past 40 years and how they have ruined the game for me. I know I'm an old man yelling Get off my lawn! to a world that really doesn't care, but so be it. I'm still gonna yell. Here are some things I really miss about the old days...

  • The ACC Tournament Meant Something - It is hard to remember now, but there was a time when the ACC was the ONLY league with a conference tournament. Equally hard to remember is that only one team from each conference received a bid to the NCAA tourny. That bid went to the ACC tounament champion. not the regular season champs. So if you wanted to keep playing, you had to win. And there were years when 2 or 3 of the 10 best teams in the country were from the league, and only one of them played into March. Now that was pressure! And it made for great basketball. Perhaps the greatest college game ever played was the 1974 ACC title game in which NC State beat Maryland 103-100 in overtime. NC State went on to win the national championship. The third best team in the country went to the NIT. Amazing drama.
  • Players Stayed With Their Teams - While there have been players turning pro early for many years, the trend of players going to the NBA straight from high school and later the ridiculous "one and done" is a fairly recent one. In the old days you knew the players and the teams. Even the greatest players- Larry Bird, Bill Walton, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and so many others- stayed three or four years. You watched them grow and improve. Plus you got to watch great players play with other great players more frequently- and thus the teams were better. Can you imagine any scenario today where James Worthy (a junior) and Sam Perkins (a sophomore) would have still been at UNC to play with freshman Michael Jordan in 1982 and win a national championship together? All were first round draft picks. The older guys would have been in the NBA before MJ ever got there.
  • Teams Stayed With Their Conferences - I realize it's mostly about football and all about money, but I really hate all of the conference realignment and the break-ups of so many traditional rivalries. I hate that Maryland is leaving the conference. And the new additions do not excite me. Of course, I'm so old school that I still think of Florida State as an ACC "outsider" and wish South Carolina would come back! 
  • And I Knew Everything - I could tell you players on every team in the nation. I could tell you who the top recruits were and where they were headed. And when the NCAA tournament started I picked with some sense of knowledge. I was still wrong, but I felt like I knew what I was doing. Now I might as well use a dartboard. I very rarely get excited anymore- unless UNC and Duke are playing.
  • TV Games Mattered - Growing up in NC in an era before ESPN the only college games we saw were ACC games on the Jefferson Pilot ACC Network (What's happening, Holly Farms!). There would be one, maybe 2 games a week. The broadcast team of Jim Thacker & Billy Packer did every game, and because the ACC was so deep and so talented in those days every game mattered. The ratings for those local broadcasts often beat network programming in a day and time when we only got 3 channels. Now I can watch Podunk State play Whatsamatta U. every night on 3 different channels. It's just too much.
  • No shot clock. College basketball used to be so much about strategy and exploiting weaknesses in the other team. The shot clock ruined so much of that. I loved seeing Carolina go four corners. I loved the year (1968) a NC State team with NO talent held the ball the entire game and beat a good Duke team 12-10 in the semifinals. I remember Villanova milking the clock and beating an unbeatable Georgetown team for a national championship. That was the last game played without a shot clock. The clock made the game faster and more about who has the best recruits. If I wanted to watch the NBA, I would. And I don't!
  • Players Could Actually Shoot - I expect to see a repeat of the 12-10 score any day now, because that's how bad the shooting has become in college hoops. Take away the dunks and some teams would have a hard time scoring. In the past even average players had better mid-range jump shots than today's stars. The 3-point shot helps with scoring averages, but most of the guys shoot around 33% on those. Carolina used to shoot 70% as a team- for the season- on a regular basis. No more. And players could actually make free throws! I miss when all non-shooting fouls in the bonus were 1 and 1, because it put a premium on great free throw shooters. Plus it changed strategy at the end of games, The famous 1983 NC State team of the late Jimmy V would have never survived past the second round of the NCCA tourny under today's rules. I would love to see them go back to an emphasis on good shooting and great passing. Learn to throw a bounce pass, people!
  • Dean Smith Was Constantly Changing the Game- About 75% of the things you see teams and coaches do in games today (changing defenses, foul line huddles, acknowledging assists with a point, multiple substitutions, saving timeouts until the end of the game) were innovations of the great Dean Smith at UNC. He will never get all the credit he deserves as a coach and for recruiting Charlie (Great!) Scott to be the first African-American player at a southern university. The man changed the game. It's just not the same without him on the sidelines.
  • Refs Could Call All the Fouls -  College basketball used to actually be a non-contact sport. Fouls were fouls. Players played defense by moving their feet and having quick hands, not by banging bodies all over the floor, Now if they called all the "fouls" the games would take 4 hours and all the players would foul out. The ACC held on to old school basketball longer than most, but eventually getting bullied by the Big East and the Big Ten in the tournament caught up with them too.
  • There Was A Single Standard For Greatness- John Wooden and UCLA dominated college basketball from the mid 60s until the mid 70s. They were always the team to beat. Their players graduated, they were brilliant passers and shooters, and their famous 2-2-1 full court zone press just wore teams out. You always knew that the NCAA championship went through Westwood. And they were so good and so classy that you didn't mind. 
  • And the ACC Was Always There - How good was the "classic" ACC over the years? This good: between 1962 and 2005 the ACC was represented in the final four 33 times by 7 different teams, including national championships for UNC (3), NC State (2), Duke (4) and Maryland. That's the ACC I knew and loved and remember. And while the new version of the league may end up being that kind of dominant, it will not be the same. Not for me.
I feel better now. And I feel better at least knowing a REAL ACC team will take home the championship and get the league's automatic bid today. But the truth is this- in the 70s,  80s and 90s I would have been glued to my TV for the ACC Championship game no matter who was playing. Today I may watch. but only so I can cheer for UVA to beat Dook. The old passion is gone. I try not be stuck in the past. But that's a past I truly miss.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Never Hopeless

I have a good friend who often tells me that I am hopeless. This friend means it as a compliment, and she uses in a way that is not uncommon in our society. At one point this week I found myself telling people that I am a hopeless optimist. The idea behind the phrase is that no matter what, I will always be optimistic about life situations. But the more I think about it the less I like that wording. You see, I am actually very seldom hopeless. In fact, despite all the evidence and the circumstances of the world around me, I am constantly hope-filled. And this week was a great example of why.

I was reminded this week that I have friends who love me in ways and for reasons I can never understand. I received good news that supported my belief that the darkness can never over come the Light. I saw a light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel for the first time in quite a while. And most importantly, I was showered with grace and reminded that Jesus is the source of hope, a shining symbol of the way God loves us. If we have faith, we are never hopeless. Things will still get dark. Things will still be painful. But there will always be hope. Always. 

This morning I found myself singing the great Third Day song, Don't Give Up Hope.  I wrote a bible study based on that song a couple of years ago, so I know it inside and out.  Take a look at the first verse and the chorus.  You will understand why it came to my mind...


This world just keeps on getting crazier and crazier everyday
You're so afraid 
Sometimes it feels like it's chasing your sanity away
And you start to break
Let me help you find your way

Don't give up faith
Don't give up hope
There's always something better
Waiting around the corner
Don't give up now
Please, don't let go
What can feel like the ending
Could just be the beginning
Don't give up hope

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. No evil, no frustration and no pain can separate us from his love and grace. While there will always be days that will test our faith, they should never defeat us, because we are promised that God will never forsake us. The sun will still shine. Our friends will still love us. And if we look for them, we can see that there are blessings beyond measure to be found in our lives everyday. So today let us be careful not to give in or give up- because with Jesus we are never hopeless. God is still in control. Don't give up faith! And if you need a little kick in the butt today, play the video. You will be inspired. Have a blessed Saturday!



Because of Jesus,

Friday, March 14, 2014

30/30: A Table For 10


Today's 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge prompt is a classic- 10 people, living or dead, that I would like to have dinner with today. This is a time honored question, and I will attempt to do it justice. I have chosen to include only people I have never actually met. And I have to remember, it's not just about who I would like to spend time with, but how they would interact together. We do NOT want a repeat of the Griswold family Christmas dinner! Marilyn and Will would be there, of course, but they don't take up any of the invitations. There are just so many choices...but here we go!

  1. Jesus - An obvious choice I know, but I would love to sit and talk with my LORD and savior for a couple of hours and see what we know that is truth and what are the things we just think we know. It would be amazing. Plus, if we ever run out of wine...he's our man!
  2. John Lennon - He could talk about the Beatles, the rotten state of music today, the 60s peace movement, explain the deal with Yoko, clear up the Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds/LSD debate and make peace with Jesus about who was really more popular in 1966.
  3. Gilda Radner - Maybe my favorite all-time SNL cast member and from all reports one of the sweetest, funniest women who ever lived. So many things I'd love to ask her, but it would be worth the invite just to hear her do a little Emily Litella or Roseanne Roseannadanna
  4. David Letterman - He could ask all the right questions and keep the conversation flowing. And also, just because. He's Dave!
  5. Jennifer Aniston - Do I really have to explain this one? It is my dinner party after all. And if she turns down the invite her chair could be filled by my very first celebrity crush, Olivia Newton-John. :)
  6. Gandhi - I'd love to pick his brain about our current world and how we do more to work for peace, both in relationships and in world politics. He and Jesus could talk about their frustration over the behavior of modern Christians. And I think he and Lennon might break into Give Peace a Chance...
  7. Neil Patrick Harris - NPH could delight us with stories of Broadway, Doogie Howser and my current favorite TV show all time, How I Met Your Mother! Plus if things got slow the dude can really sing and dance!
  8. Brian Wilson - The musical genius behind the Beach Boys is someone I have always wanted to spend time with. So many stories, so many people he met along the way. And the music. I have so many questions about the music. I think Brian is still a vegetarian, so we'd have to plan the menu accordingly. But I'm certain he would accompany Lennon and Gandhi on the piano. I feel a celebrity jam session coming on.
  9. Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. - Another person I know would who have such interesting thoughts on the state of our world today, particularly in the area of race relations and non-violence. Plus I could sit and talk about the 60s for hours. And can you imagine a forum on pacifism with him, Jesus, Gandhi and Lennon? Wow...
  10. Bill & Hillary Clinton - OK, so I cheated and invited 11. You aren't really surprised, are you? I am not a fan of politicians in general, but President Clinton is the only politician in recent history who actually makes me WANT to listen to what he has to say- a brilliant speaker who offers real insight into the world. Plus he could play saxophone in the jam session. Hillary is so unique. She's a woman of great power and prestige who has also survived so many trials and tribulations in her life. I want the both of them because I think they offer an unique perspective on the dynamics of not only world current events, but also on relationships. They may understand "for better or for worse" better than any couple alive.
So that's my list. George Fox, the original Quaker, would have made the list but he would have just made everyone else uncomfortable. A very intense fellow and prone to 2 hour sermons. I would have loved to invite Bill Murray, but from what I hear he would have never sent in his RSVP. Steve Martin would also be high on my list because he is such a Renaissance man, but his banjo playing might drown out the conversation. One weird choice I seriously considered? Eva Braun. What was it like being married to Hitler? But I'm happy with my list. Everyone's is different. I'd love to hear yours.
And the menu? I would leave that up to my good friend Teresa Reep Tysinger. She's a great chef, knows how to vary a menu and keep it healthy, and would make certain there was something amazing for dessert. Plus if I had NPH to dinner and didn't invite her I'd be a dead man! So that's the deal. Let's eat!!!