Monday, December 29, 2014

A Gift From Josh

Two of my Christmas weary daughters came by early Friday morning to collapse on the couch. They were heading out into the, "it's a jungle out there," store return lines. They said they needed to rest up beforehand.

Last Friday, the evening before school vacation, they had taken the whole gang of nieces and nephews on their annual trip to the Dollar store.
"The aunts" do this after they each teach early morning seminary and seven periods of high school classes. After lunch one directs the winter pep assembly and the other one the blood drive. Then they finish up 150 report cards before last bell, and on their way home pick up a carload of kids for an evening of fun.

"The aunts" are the go-to for this yearly sibling and parent gift purchase.  It was their idea, even.  Apparently everybody looks forward to this special holiday event.  I think there's even a wrapping party held at the aunt's house afterwards.

First everyone is provided with enough money to buy a gift for everyone else in the family. Then all of them, from age six to seventeen, are turned loose in the store to buy 7 gifts each. (One sister's on a mission this Christmas so she's not on the list.) Still, that's close to 50 gifts and in many cases considerable guidance is needed.

It must be great fun and I'm very glad I'm not invited.  Glad too that I'm not shopping at the Dollar Tree when they're all in there.

Anyway, we got to talking about the just passed holiday, reliving highlights and counting many blessings. We came to the subject of gifts and one daughter said brightly, "Oh look Ma. See what we got from Josh." I could tell from her tone and expression that the gift was special to them, whatever it was. The aunts aren't usually included in the dollar store gift extravaganza since they provide the funds for it.  So Josh's gift was unexpected.
But before I can tell you about why his gift was special, I have to tell you a little about Josh.
You see, Joshua is in Jr. High.  That means he's in the 12 to 14 year old age bracket.  Boys in that group are also in a special and separate category of human being. Sometimes really special.

To give you an example, just recently these same daughters stopped by on their way home from school.  We were talking about how their days went. Sometimes I get wistful and miss it. They kindly remind me of the hard parts.

Suddenly their father emerged from his man cave to excitedly interupt us with an amazing news story he thought we just couldn't miss and wouldn't believe.
Seems there was a 13 year old boy somewhere who was locked out of his house accidentally. This boy thought it would be a good idea to climb on the roof and go down the chimney to get inside. After all, it makes sense. He got stuck, naturally, but thank goodness was able to reach the cell phone in his pocket and manage a call to the fire department. The nice firemen couldn't pull him out either from above or below so had to demolish the entire chimney to extricate him. (Try to explain that to the homeowners insurance people.)
This whole episode made a big splash on the nightly news.

"Can you believe that crazy kid?" Larry exclaimed with a shake of his head.

The three of us, all veteran Jr. High teachers with many years in combat, just looked at each other.
Finally Kelley said what we were all thinking,  "Sure Dad. We get it. What's so hard to believe?"

This made me remember a story about Christ when he was a young boy. I intended to think hard about that story someday, to search for the lesson, but I was always in the middle of dealing with some 14 year old kid when I was remembered it.  So I always put it off.  I decided to think some now.

First let me testify of a truth of which I am absolutely sure.
Christ never committed a sin.
He was blameless every day of his life.

Second, the scriptures don't say much about Christ's childhood. We do know that he waxed strong. That he grew in stature and wisdom.
We know too that as a young boy he was found in the temple, teaching those who taught.
It's this story I meant to think hard about.
I meant to think about Jesus but ended up thinking mostly about Mary and Joseph and their parenting skills.
Jesus went to the temple.  Seems his mother and earthly father didn't know this. They had been looking all over for him, sorrowing. Read Luke to get the whole story.

Well, we've been counseled to "liken the scriptures to our own lives." And I've looked for a few children myself, worried sick. After I finally found them safe and my heart settled down and my blood pressure returned to normal, boy did they get in big trouble too!  I recall shouting stuff like, "What in the world were you thinking!!??  What have you got to say for yourself, mister!!? You're not allowed outside the door for the rest of your life!!!"
Was this Mary and Joseph's response? Did Mary ever shout? It doesn't say much in the scriptures about that. But the scripture makes it seem like Mary may have been perplexed a bit about what her response should be.  I'm not sure.  Read Luke for the whole story. See what you think.
Anyway, I know that Christ never sinned. But it sounds like he might have done a kid thing.  I'm not sure again.  His explanation was that he was about his father's business and they shouldn't have worried. Read Luke for the whole story.  Does this mean something about the stuff 14 year old boys do not being sins?  Are they about their father's business?  Is growing up part of waxing strong?  Are they growing in stature and wisdom?  Should we take these things into consideration?
There's a lot to think about here. I plan to ponder.

Anyway, back to Josh's gift to his aunts. Kelley pulled 2 rumpled dollar bills from her wallet. "They're for 44 oz diet limeades at Sonic during "Happy Hour." Drinks are 89 cents then.  Josh says he knows how we count on them when things get tough.  He wanted to be sure we had the money for the next one when we needed it."

I could tell his gift truly meant a great deal to both of them. They were touched that he understood their lives and wanted to help.
Josh knew. It was one of the gifts they'll remember most this Christmas.

Do you think that boy might be gaining in wisdom as he grows in stature? Is he starting to show signs of waxing strong?  I plan to ponder.

Merry Christmas, Josh.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

One Great Big Challenge

I was in a little spell of annoyance at my eternal companion a while ago.
It was one of those days when eternity seems like a really, really, long time.
You may know the ones.

Anyway, just by accident I ran across something Dr. Gerald Lund said.
He once commented very wisely,
"Chances are you either married your biggest challenge or gave birth to it."

That made me chuckle. So I went to share with Larry who by this time needed a smile.
Well, instead of smiling, he laughed out loud. Then he quipped, "I'll bet that guy's got a wife!"
He was dead serious. And for the life of me I can't understand why.

That got me to thinking of one of my favorite books written decades ago by Robert Fulghum. At around that same time there was a popular show called "The Loveboat" on network television.
Back in the day there were only four network channels and we called that TV.  Can you imagine?

Well, this show was about a luxury oceanliner whose nickname came about because of all the perfect hair, always sunset, dozen roses romance that floated along with the ship. On every cruise.

Well, Mr. Fulghum had some wise counsel himself.
He said,  "Don't forget. The love boat always leaks."
Indeed.

So here's to everybody out there rowing along life's way in a leaky boat.
Keep bailing.
After 50 years of being married there's at least one thing I know.
Tomorrow is a different day and I might like him better then.