From my journal of Wednesday, December 31, 1997.
In my morning radio program “Phone Call from the Pastor” (Lifesongs 89.1 New Orleans), I told this:
This is a message to a young mother of two boys I saw at McDonald’s on Airline Highway yesterday. Your boys are perhaps 2 and 3-1/2. You say they were born 18 months apart. “They’re killing you,” I told you facetiously. “I hope you survive until they’re grown.” But what I thought was, “I hope they survive.”
Their behavior is suicidal. They are well on their way to becoming society’s worst nightmare. They are out of control.
You kept giving orders to the older one–sit down, be quiet, turn around, eat your lunch–and he kept ignoring and defying you. There was fire in the little guy’s eyes. He really did look like a miniature devil.
My heart went out to you. My wife and I raised two little boys who were three years apart. I know they can be very trying, especially on Mom. So, what I’m about to suggest to you comes from some experience with this subject.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
Preachers log a lot of miles on their cars.
Most preachers tend to drive aggressively.
I’m a preacher. My little Camry, one year old this month, shows over 37,000 miles.
I work hard at driving well, but sometimes I wish someone riding with me would point out something I’m doing wrong or a bad habit I’ve fallen into, if they spot such.
Recently, on three occasions recently I found myself riding with pastors as we drove to their churches.
In each case, I did unto them as I want someone to do unto me. That is, I helped the pastor with his driving. (smiley-face goes here)
“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
My dad was an enigma. From his youth, he was clearly someone special, otherwise my teenage mama-to-be would never have been drawn to him and her daddy, a shrewd judge of character, would not have consented for her to marry him.
The eldest of what would eventually be an even dozen children, Carl McKeever was intelligent, possessed with excellent common sense, strong in body, and handsome in appearance. But he had a temper which he could not always control and developed a fondness for drink. His mouth was foul, particularly when with his friends, and he had a mean streak in him.
And yet, people were drawn to him.
We still have the hand-scribbled note on a piece of brown paper torn off from a grocery bag apparently, where Grandpa Virge Kilgore consented for Carl J. McKeever, age 21, to marry Lois Jane Kilgore, 17.
So, they must have seen something there.
“Now, it came to pass that when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:1-3).
Let’s talk about the offspring of the Lord’s shepherd, those sweet little lambs birthed into his beloved family in order to enrich their lives, to bless the church and to provide a fresh palette on which the preacher and his lady can demonstrate all it means to grow up in the fear and nurture of the Lord.
Those little monsters who terrorize the congregation with their out-of-control behavior.
Those darling babies and toddlers who are smothered by the loving attention of the entire congregation, and for whom teenage girls compete as babysitters.
Those juvenile delinquents who run up and down the aisles of the church and treat the sacred buildings as their own personal playroom.
Those teenagers who look so angelic on Sunday and test their parents’ patience during the week, the subject of ten thousand stories in deacons’ homes, who exasperate the seniors in the church hoping for a little peace and quiet this Sunday.
They put the gray hairs in their preacher-dad’s head and the great stories into his sermons. They put the the lines in their mom’s brow and the thrill into her heart.
They occupy the major portion of their parents’ prayers day and night.
God bless ’em. We love our PKs. Our preachers’ kids.
“I’ve got a secret!” –Popular television game show of the 1960s and 1970s.
Recently, a man I know wrote of the secrets his family was harboring as they struggled to deal with an addictive, out-of-control relative.
“You know how the family gets ready to host a guest and the house is clean and in order and nothing out of place? The guest is impressed. He wishes his house could be this neat and organized with nothing out of place.”
“But what he doesn’t know is that there is one room where you have stored all the junk and clutter. If he were to open the door to that room, he would be amazed.”
That, he said, is how things are for a family that tries to keep up an image when they are about to come apart.
They push things back into that private room, whose door they dare not open.
It’s about family secrets.
Everyone has them, he said.
I started this article on Monday, February 2, 2015, but never finished it. Today, Friday, October 2, 2015, I found it and decided to finish it.
We had my wife’s funeral today. She would have loved almost everything about it.
And may have, for all I know.
We have no idea what the “dead in Christ” know about what goes on here.
I’ve been home from the funeral 4 hours and had a nap, and am ready to live again, I suppose. (Note: Blogging is a form of therapy for me, clearly.)
On the final page of Vanity Fair’s October 2015 issue, Whoopi Goldberg is interviewed. The questions are generic, sort of here’s-how-to-interview-anyone. So, I thought I’d give it a try and answer them myself. (At the end, I added a few more.) Here goes….
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in the place God put me, doing the work He gave me. It doesn’t get any better than this. Likewise, the best definition of hell on earth is to be out of His will.
What is your greatest fear?
Just that very thing: being out of his will. I fear nothing so much as disappointing Him. That could happen to any of us. None of us is immune to temptation. That keeps me on my knees every day.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Abraham Lincoln. I’ve been to his birthplace, the restored “New Salem” where he lived as a young man, to his hometown of Springfield, his burial place, and in Washington, D.C., to Ford Theatre and the house where he died. I own many books on Lincoln.
Which living person do you most admire?
My friend Lydia was helping her 6-year-old daughter out of her Sunday clothes.
“Honey,” she said, “Did anyone tell you how pretty you look in your new dress?”
Little Holly said, “No. They thought it. They just forgot to tell me.”
I love the self-esteem that answer reveals. Such parents–Terry and Lydia Martin of Columbus, Mississippi, my friends for over 40 years–surely did something right with this child.
Our task is to convey a healthy esteem not only to our children but to our spouses, our husband, our wife.
My son Neil and I had a few days to work on Margaret’s obituary. Understandably, he could not bring himself to think about it while she lingered in the hospital on life support. It was hard, but I worked on the essentials.
Margaret and I used to talk about these things. But not seriously. Somehow, you think this could never happen to you.
Margaret’s sister, widowed perhaps four years ago, told how someone praised her husband Jim with a good line which she later used as an opener in his memorial. So, we began thinking about that.
“They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35).
No marriage is perfect.
The union of two godly well-intentioned disciples of Jesus Christ does not guarantee a successful marriage.
And even the successful ones–however we would define that!–in almost every case had their ups and downs.
So, if you’ve been feeling like a failure because a) your husband spends more time at the church than at home, b) your wife isn’t nearly the cook or housekeeper your mom was, c) you and your spouse argue, d) you have each lost your temper and said/done some things you regretted later, or e) all of the above, then….
Welcome to the human race.
I’ve been reading William J. Petersen’s book “25 Surprising Marriages: Faith-building Stories from the Lives of Famous Christians.”