Friday, May 22, 2015

Ants

Watching a two year old figure out the world can be pretty entertaining sometimes. There are hard times, of course, but some of the situations are downright hilarious. Take my little man's relationship with ants, for instance. The weather wasn't heating up for very long before those familiar ant hills appeared in our back yard. Little buddy was fascinated.

I could see the toddlers wheels turning. "How did this pile of dirt get here? I didn't put that there. This must be a trick." The first time he saw an ant crawl out of there, he immediately backed up. "What is this mystical, miniature being? There is no way that one of those could have moved all this dirt." The first time he saw me kick an ant pile and all the ants scatter? Pure chaos. "There's a million of them! We're being invaded!" He took off for safety immediately, otherwise known as Mama.

You more senior parents out there already know what huge mistake that was. Little man immediately took to using whatever objects were available to destory every ant hill he encountered. This was especially difficult becaus we were trying to impart to him how ants would hurt him. You could see the indecision gripping him. He would run up to the ant pile with ball in hand, ready to do battle. He would stop about two feet away and look back at me as if asking,"Are we going to war today or running for our lives?" I felt for him. No toddler warrior can work in this kind of environment.

We have managed to strike a balance in our relationship with ants now. We have adopted the same relationship with them that we use for strangers. That is, you are nice but wary. Thus, walking across our back yard with him is punctuated by stopping multiple times so he can wave at each ant hill and yell at the top of his lungs,"Hey, ants!" He will then stoop down to inspect each pile before moving on to the next one. 

As icing on the cake, he has even figured out that each hill is the ants' home. Unfortunately, this has presented him with an entirely new set of problems. We are now at the stage where finding an ant outside of an ant hill is the equivalant of seeing a missing child when an amber alert is going on. He starts screaming,"Oh no! Ant, ant, ant!" I've even overheard him sternly telling a solitary ant marching across our driveway that it needed to go home immediately. Fortunately, I haven't witnessed any rescue attempts as of yet. We all know how well that would go. Toddler warrior would return and unleash Hiroshima on the ant population of greater Berkeley County. Our family just doesn't roll like that.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Communion Meditation 5/15/15

I had written a meditation that I took to church with every intention of delivering. Holy Spirit changed that during Sunday School and the following is an approximation of what I said. The communion meditation that some of you may have seen posted earlier today will be reposted later this month when I use it.

This week's events in Berkeley County, notably the shooting of Lieutenant Rogers, have prompted me to change what I'm going to say today. I'll start today by reading 1 Peter 5:7:

Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.

The ICU rooms at MUSC are all designed the same. Each room has a desk sitting outside the room with a computer. There is a window into the room that allows you a view of the patient. Having spent many hours in the ICU's of MUSC during residency, I am very familiar with those desks. Physicians typically sit there and enter orders while trying to oversee the, sometimes chaotic, scene unfolding in the room.

You find out a lot about yourself at those desks. I know I did. As an ICU physician, your job is to essentially wait for catastrophic things to happen and then you are expected to fix it. The truth is that you learn a lot about your limits while sitting at those desks. You are witness to great feats of teamwork and hard work sometimes, which are incredibly rewarding. You are also witness to situations that you are simply unable to change. Physicians don't like to talk about it much, but there are quite a few situations where we simply have no control or idea of what is going on.

On those nights sitting at those desks outside those rooms where Lieutenant Rogers is now being cared for, 1 Peter 5:7 got me through. I take great comfort today knowing that those walls have heard that verse repeated countless times. I have said it over and over again late at night when I was the lone physician sitting there trying to do my best to help patients, just like the ICU team is doing now for Lieutenant Rogers.

The reason that 1 Peter 5:7 can get you through situations like that is because of what Christ did on the Cross for us. Today, we commemorate what Christ did and how that gives us power now. We remember that 1 Peter 5:7 still applies, whether you are Lieutenant Rogers and his family or the physician trying your best to take care of him. We should remember that power every day in our daily lives.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Communion Meditation

In our church, people rotate giving a short meditation before communion each week. People typically do this for one month at a time and then rotate. It is my turn this month, and these are my thoughts I shared today in our communion meditation.

As many of you know, today is Mother's Day. For those of you that have forgotten, its quite honestly too late for me to help you. Might as well enjoy the service now because you once walk out of those doors...it ain't gonna be pretty my friend.

Mother's Day is a special holiday for me. Sure, I always celebrated it with my mom growing up, and we would do nice things for her. But my perspective has changed over the past two and a half years as my wife has become a mother.

There's a whole new level appreciation for the fact that her work really never ends. You can hear it in my son's reply to almost any question around the house. Want to eat now, son? Momma? Want to take your bath now, son. Momma? Scared in the middle of the night and need someone to sleep on a half deflated air mattress next to your bed. Momma?

It's the only job that never ends, has no rules, and pays nothing, and God knew what he was doing when he put my wife and all of your wives and moms in that role. I know my job this morning is to get you ready for our time of communion, but the whole purpose of this day should already be doing that.

Today we celebrate the people in our lives that give all of themselves every day to make sure we are taken care of. They ignore their own personal wants and needs and think about their families before themselves. As we have been learning about in Sunday School the past few weeks, "Jesus spoke of that." Jesus gave His all so that we could be sons and daughters of God. Today, we think all mothers for being living, breathing examples of that kind of sacrifice every day in our lives.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Communion Meditation 5/3/15

In our church, people rotate giving a short meditation before communion each week. People typically do this for one month at a time and then rotate. It is my turn this month, and these are my thoughts I shared today in our communion meditation. 

There's several different degrees to the word different. That may not be quite so obvious at first, but let me give you an example. My wife says that I'm "different" sometimes. All the wives know what I'm talking about here. That meaning is usually somewhat funny and in jest. Husbands , quite honestly, tend to think the same thing about their wives. Youth, some of you might call people at your school "different." They don't blend in. Don't look like you. Maybe you don't quite understand them. Likely, everyone pressures them to not be different. This kind of different can have a little more of an edge to it, especially when you're a teenager and simply worried about fitting in.

Then, there's Jesus' brand of different. That's the whole "I'm going to allow myself to be hung a Cross to save you even though I'm blameless" different. That's a whole 'nother level of different. Yet, that is what we're called to. In an American culture and even church culture that is placing more and more emphasize on blending in and not being different, Jesus says no. Jesus asks us to be different, demands it from us even.

We see this in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

What Christ did on the cross, what we commemorate now around this table, was different. Whoever puts their hope in worldly things, in being just like everyone else, will perish, but for those of us that come around this table this morning, being different is the key to life. Let us remember that our lives should reflect that.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Toddler Nap Dibs

Naps on the weekend are a sacred time in any household with kids. There is a very limited time during daylight hours where a child is sleeping, and the parents are free to do whatever they want. Our weekend nap time routine has a fairly predictable pattern. We usually spend about thirty minutes to an hour frantically getting tasks done that would be impossible if little man was awake. We then spend whatever time remains relaxing.

The interesting part of this routine is when the toddler awakens. As those familiar sounds begin to emerge from his room, an almost primal situation occurs. His mother and I look at each other like two opponents ready to do battle. As I said, there are only a precious few minutes of relaxation available. For the person who must go get the awakening toddler, this time is cut short and also usually punctuated by a wet diaper, cries for juice, and a generally very cranky toddler.

We have developed a system similar to the childhood tradition of calling dibs. The basics go something like this. The parent that is able to yell first that the other parent is coming gets to remain seated. For example, if my wife is able to get out,"Your father is coming" first, then I have to go. You might think that you could just say this before the toddler awakens, but we have ground rules to prevent this. If you yell prematurely and awaken the toddler, then you're up sweetheart.

It makes for some pretty interesting routines during nap time. You never want to be too far from the stairs because if you are, then you can't hear him stirring in time. We also have a baby monitor still in his room, so I've adopted the strategy of turning the volume way down so only I can hear it. That drew some complaints early on.

As you can imagine, I lose these battles a lot, so I've adopted a plan to salvage the situation and gain some parenting status points. Every time I go up the stairs I say,"Daddy's here. Momma left." You can imagine how that goes.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm Really Proud (If I Was Your Dad That Is)

Little buddy had one of those moments at his cousin's softball game this past week. It's one of those moments as a parent where you want to burst with pride and crawl under a rock at the same time. Every parent has had one of these moments. Maybe your kid tied his shoes for the first time...and then tied his friends shoes together. You get the drift.

Little man was running around in front of the bleachers when he saw a little girl about his age. He walked up and gave her the patented wave and very loud,"Hi!" that has earned him many other girlfriends. They were soon playing together and having a good time. Then, the little girl's mother made a deadly mistake.

They were playing near a sign, and the little girl's mother asked her to point to the T. As the little girl struggled, I watched my son try to contain himself. To his credit, he waited a good five second before sticking his grubby little finger over the correct letter and loudly yelling,"T!" 

In case any of you were wondering if two year old girls have already developed the laser like stare when they're angry, the answer is yes. That little girl gave Garrison a look that could kill. Unfortunately, her mother didn't help her much. She promptly yells out," Thats OK! Find the S!" There was no hesitation this time. Little man immediately found and loudly proclaimed his discovery of the letter S. As if unleashing a torrent of pent up knowledge, he then began going down the letters in rapid fire yelling out each one.

The poor little girl, at this point, had no choice but to change tactics and run interference. She threw herself between little man and the sign and wouldn't let him see any of the letters. This didn't bother him in the slightest. Several inches taller than her, he simply got up on his toes, reached over her, and kept going. 

Fortunately, the little girl's mother separated them at this point, otherwise little buddy probably would have been on the receiving end of his first slap from a girl. I will say that I don't think he really understood what was going on. After the little girl was dragged to the other side of the bleachers, he kept going up to her trying to get her to come back for more spelling. After a few holes burned through his forehead by her gaze, he finally dropped it.

You might ask where I was during all of this? Well, I was standing off to the side about 10 feet away rolling with laughter with other members of our family. Our general strategy was to enjoy the moment and then simply pretend to not know whose child he was if things went south quickly. Nothing will build your parent street cred like grabbing the unruly, show off toddler and loudly proclaiming that you're going to go find their mother. Dad of the year? You betcha.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Award Shows


Glitter and glam surround
Carpet, the color of redemption,
Mistakenly placed,
Ushering those without need.
Normality escapes.
We are transported while
Art is parsed.
Snippets performed, though sometimes
Shell games are played.
And then a moment of clarity
Cuts through the veil of pretentiousness
And false importance.
A truth spoken or
Transcendent talent shines.
There are moments of intense clarity
In this constant cry for ego.
They are redemptive.
Perhaps the opening flooring
Should be like that of Dorothy.
The fake reality of riches
Versus the glory of humility.
Few are deserving.