Charting our calling

During this blog series on Work Stories, here’s some stream-of-consciousness reflections about our journey of calling/work/vocation.

   January 2010: charts representing the timeline of Brian's life and our search to know God's calling for his life..

January 2010: charts representing the timeline of Brian's life and our search to know God's calling for his life..

We’ve been talking about calling around here lately. It’s not exactly a new conversation - more like a new level of learning on a conversation we’ve been having for more than twenty-eight years we’ve been engaged and married. We tell our kids that we did everything backwards: married, had kids while Brian was working on his bachelor’s degree and not even landing his first, “real” salaried job until we had three kids (and added another within a year). Of course “backwards” is a relative term. Other than the covenant-type, “I Do” decision, who decides what order the rest is supposed to happen?

When we say backwards, we’re acknowledging that there’s some wisdom in being a bit more stable before adding children. Things like college degrees, salaried jobs with health insurance, and appropriate housing are generally a more hospitable way to welcome children into the world than the alternate. At the same time, there’s nothing like welcoming children into the world to add clarity and ambition to one’s sense of calling.

So, we started our family while Brian was a full-time college student and a full-time manual laborer at a car dealership. I worked every sort of odd job - tutoring, cleaning houses, cleaning offices, assisting in a library research room, and babysitting. We were just ignorant enough to be happy about it all. When we look back now, it totally stresses me out, and I’m guessing at the time our family and friends were freaking out a little bit. (I remember when I told my Mom Brian and I wanted to get married before we finished college and she, naturally, asked how we planned to afford it. I gushed “MOM, I could live in a cardboard box and eat Nutter Butters for the rest of my life just to be with Brian.”)

The plan had been to complete college degrees together and for six months we worked toward that goal. What we’d imagined about a cute little newlywed, college-student life got serious real quick when we discovered we were pregnant. Each weekday, we’d drive the twenty-minutes to campus trying to make 7AM classes, arriving late because we didn’t factor in enough time for morning sickness. I’d politely ask Brian to pull off the road, lean over some guardrail and lose my breakfast and then we’d hustle to class.

In addition to taking a full load of classes, we both worked jobs - me in the reference library on campus and Brian in a pharmaceutical warehouse from 4pm to midnight every day. We saw each other from midnight to 7 AM and a tiny bit on the weekends, and tried to figure out how to do things like find an OBGYN without health insurance in a fairly-rural, slightly-barbaric medicaid system. (My first appointments as a pregnant woman took place in a kind of locker room where I shivered in a paper gown in a little cubicle waiting for a nurse to open the curtain that separated me from a long row of other curtained cubicles to walk to the examining room. I’ve literally blocked out the memory of actually being examined in this cattle-call arrangement.)

I will never forget the joy of leaving our newlywed apartment near our college campus with a little U-Haul hitched to our Buick Skylark and heading back to our hometown to find an apartment near grandparents, aunts, and uncles to welcome our first child. We’d started the journey at the beginning of the semester with $200 in our pockets and no place to live. At the end of the semester, we cashed in a few savings bonds I’d been given as a kid to pay for the trailer (I’d received the savings bonds in exchange for anchoring a kids’ television news program in my hometown. A story for another day.) We headed toward New York with even less money in our pockets and still no place to live. Thankfully, my grandparents welcomed us into their home for the first couple of months while Brian found a job (cleaning cars at a dealership he’d worked at before we were married). Thanks to a wonderful Catholic hospital system, our home town also came with a much more comfortable low-income health care provider. I mean it when I say God bless Lourdes Hospital and the De Marillac and De Paul clinics.

A few weeks before Andrew was born, we moved into a second-floor apartment on Rotary Avenue in Binghamton and I hustled that little place into shape. I was also just blissfully ignorant enough to not think twice about teetering my nine-month pregnant self on a metal kitchen stool to paint our kitchen (trying to compensate for the cockroach problem we’d just discovered). While I was in the hospital recovering from the twenty-six-hour labor and delivery, my mother was in the apartment a couple blocks away painting and stenciling the nursery.

This all happened within the first year of our marriage. It was a bumpy, nonsensical way to start a life together. We don’t necessarily recommend it. At the same time as I look back from our current vantage point I don’t know how we would have gotten here any other way. To be clear, by here I mean we still have no money in our pockets, we’ve traipsed from home to home in our vocational journey, but there is a sense of having arrived into our rightful place in the world. Like a highly disorganized flow chart, we’ve adjusted each stage of our life “If this happens, then we live here”, “If that happens, then we move there”. On the one hand it’s been a messy, backwards way to live; on the other hand it’s been beautiful and full of the sort of grace and mercy that makes us feel unimaginably wealthy. You might even say lucky.

While I’m certain we didn’t plot every new iteration of the chart correctly, I do believe we’ve been following the overall direction of our Shepherd Jesus as he leads us ever nearer to the purposes of God for our lives.

Recently I was chatting with a friend during a church potluck supper. He was feeling emotionally staggered under the weight of an ill-fitting career. He’d reached the point where most of his emotional energy went into the kind of flow-chart calculations that precede a major life change. When he asked me about how Brian and I felt about the moves we’ve made from New York to Austin to Connecticut I said a sentence I didn’t even know I believed until after I heard it come out of my own mouth:

The path to discover our calling has brought us to a place better than anything we’d imagined and has cost us more than we ever expected.

I couldn’t tell if that encouraged him or not, but not long after that he left his job and he and his wife sold their house and moved a long way away. I think about them a lot and wonder if he’s thought again about the unimaginable outcomes of pursuing one’s calling.


I’ll write more on our vocational journey on another day. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about what you’re discovering as you pursue your life’s calling. Drop me a line?

I didn't intend to stay away for so long [an update]

 

Hi, friends. I've been meaning to write an update for several weeks and finally just recorded a short message to post on Instagram which I've included at the end of the post.

While I canceled several of my freelance writing assignments this summer, I've had two posts published at the Telos Collective's Intersection blog. You might recognize the content from a parenting series I wrote here some years ago, but the contents been polished up a bit (thanks to the editorial help at Telos). Head on over to their site to read. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

While you're there, take some time to peruse other posts. I've linked a few of my favorites below.

My posts on the Intersection blog:

Part 1: What Is Your Family's Cultural Footprint?

Part 2: Becoming Culture Makers and Blessers

A few other posts to check out while you're there:

Black Christians in America: A Personal Invitation from Esau McCaulley (I strongly encourage you to listen to Esau McCaulley' talk at the 2018 Intersection Conference "Towards A More Diverse Anglicanism")

What Makes A Culture Christian?

Present in the Polis: Toward an Anglican Political Theology

And here's my four-minute, off-the-cuff update:


Thank you for your companionship on the internet. I'm grateful for you and look forward to reconnecting soon!

In the meantime, I'd love your feedback on the types of posts you find most encouraging. Drop me a comment and let me know. You can browse through the menu bar at the top of the website page here for a view of the various categories I've covered over the past twelve years.

Heading home [sharing at Art House America this week]

read the whole article at Art House America

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” 
—Yogi Berra

My dad loves baseball. From as far back as I can remember, he’s been a Yankees fan. He tells me he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they broke his heart and moved to the West Coast. That was the 1950s and long before I knew him. His grandfather was a Yankees fan, and his parents are Yankees fans. Naturally, the man I chose to marry is a Yankees fan. But I don’t really remember anything about the Yankees before their comeback year of 1996. With a new manager, Joe Torre, who had never won a championship in his thirty-two-year career as both a player and a manager, the Bronx bombers began to live up to their pinstripe glory once again, winning their first world series since 1978. We followed every single game.

We didn’t own a television in 1996. When our third child was born in March, a few weeks before baseball spring training and a couple months before my husband completed his bachelor's degree in education, we were paying our bills with his substitute teacher income. We had no health insurance, no vacation time or sick pay, and made ends meet by picking up extra work cleaning houses. We’d put all our hopes in a college degree landing him a teaching job in the fall. Evenings in our second-floor apartment, after we put our two sons to bed, we’d tune into the game on our radio. While I sat on our hand-me-down sofa to nurse my daughter, Brian sat across the room writing résumés on our clunky IBM personal computer. It doesn’t take a therapist to figure out that we’d associated our own underdog story to the scrappy team fighting for a win, night after night, a couple hours south of us in the Bronx. 

The 1996 season introduced Yankees fans to Joe Girardi (catcher), Derek Jeter (shortstop), and Mariano Rivera (relief pitcher), among others. It’s the season we rooted for Darryl Strawberry to rise above his drug history, and he did. We worried about pitcher David Cone’s surgery to remove an aneurysm and rallied behind him when he promised to come back by the end of the season. And he did—in time to pitch a winning game in the World Series. It’s the year I discovered the joy of befriending radio announcers John Sterling and Michael Kay. Even though I’d never meet them in person, they felt like guests sitting in our living room, passing the time with warm conversation for hours each evening. We began to relish the ritual of sportscasting, loving each Yankee home run not only for the score, but also for John Sterling’s patent call: “It is high! It is far! It is gone!” Over time, he would embellish his trademark home-run call with wordplay for each player’s name. Center fielder Bernie Williams hits a run, it’s “Bern, baby, Bern!” from the announcer’s booth; first baseman Tino Martinez cracks one over the fence, “It’s the BamTino!” and so forth.  

After a long, uncertain summer, we celebrated our team’s October World Series win almost as raucously as we’d celebrated the teaching job Brian received in September. We earned a salary, and the Yankees earned a championship.

Fast forward nearly twenty years, most of our circumstances had changed. ...

read the whole article at Art House America


BONUS FEATURES: 2 extra deleted "chapters" that include my own very humbling unsportsmanlike behavior + a whole bunch of cute photos of my kids repping the Yankees over the years

“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” -- Yogi Berra

My Dad played baseball through high school and college. By all accounts - mostly his and a couple of yellowed news blurbs clipped from the paper - he was a pretty good player. Naturally, he’s never given up hope that one of his 6 kids and 18 grandchildren might take up the sport with the same fervor. As the oldest child, I did my part in disappointing this fatherly wish with a couple of seasons of town softball. I recall these years in snatches of terror and embarrassment. Somehow, I never quite understood what was expected of me as an outfielder (wayyyy out in the field) my few times off the bench. As far as my stats at the plate, I ask you: Is there anything more humiliating than swinging a big stick at the air? The answer is no, no there isn’t. I fared slightly better on the school soccer team, not because I was any more talented, but because I could at least run around a lot between the goal and half field, and make it appear I had what my Dad called “hustle”. Although, I have a clear memory of a burly coach yelling in my direction while our team ran laps, “Hill! Can’t you make your stride any longer?!?” By that time, I’d already reached my adult height of 5’2”, and felt my stride was doing its part adequately.

During the springtime of the town league softball games, a kind, older cousin showed mercy on me, teaching me how to V my thumb, fore, and middle fingers along the leather stitching of a baseball, cupping the ball just so, and then releasing it in the generally correct direction. As far as I can remember, no one even attempted to address my incompetence with a glove.

When our own four kids were of the age for town sports, they each took a turn at T-ball, softball, or Pony League. One son got as far as relief pitching, but he quickly realized it felt like stress instead of fun, and he took up the guitar instead. All my kids leaned toward artistic, rather than athletic, pursuits. While our neighbors were schlepping their kids to the ball field, ours were making a holy rock’n roll raucous in the basement, instead. This was a development that rather pleased me - even if it was noisy.

Still, we kept up with the Yankees. Not playing baseball in the spring actually gave us more time to enjoy watching and listening to each game. We began a family tradition of giving each of our kids their own first trip to see a live game in the house that (Babe) Ruth built. We took our oldest son when he was only 5 years old, and it’s one of our happiest memories. We spent the day sightseeing the city as far as his little legs would carry him, stopping only to crane his neck upward to take in the skyscrapers. One photograph captured the image of of Brian and Andrew staring up at the Twin Towers. In the evening we sat through all nine-innings of the 1996 Yankees. Andrew’s inagural stadium trip coincided with Derek Jeter’s rookie year.

The photo I’ve kept of our second son is a close up from nosebleed seats. He’s smiling at the camera, waiting for the game to start, miniature Yankees cap shoved down on his head so far his ears are jutting out either side of his face. A little over a decade later, he and Brian would attend the final game of the 2009 World Series in the Yankees new stadium. They’d watch the home team beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3, and win one last title for the "core four" of Pettitte, Posada, Rivera and Derek Jeter. Alex would cheer as gently as possible because he was suffering a tooth infection, and was scheduled for a root canal the following morning. If you asked him, he’d still say it was totally worth it.

On one of our daughter Kendra’s first trips to the stadium she’d get the thrill of a player, Ramiro Mendoza, handing her a baseball after batting practice. She’d lisp “thank you” through her missing teeth, and later give the ball to her Dad as a Father’s Day gift. It now enjoys a treasured spot on the bookshelf in his office.

Natalie, as sometimes happens with a youngest child, would wait until she was a bit older to visit the stadium, and she wouldn’t be by herself. Our whole family would be with her, because a kind church friend gave us free tickets. But we managed to get a photo of her, cheering from the railing of our upper deck seats, taking in Brett Gardner’s first hit and first RBI in the seventh inning. Gardner went on to steal second and eventually score in that inning.

This year, the 2017 season that Natalie is living back home with us, Brett Gardner is a much-needed veteran on a team of new kids, known affectionately as the Baby Bombers. Now that we live about an hour north of the Bronx, Natalie and Brian have been to the stadium three times together this season. Thanks to generous church friends, again, she’s enjoyed great seats - most notably along the right field line within shouting distance of #99, right-fielder Aaron Judge. At that game she made it to the jumbotron, with her giant, hand-letter sign, “I’ve got 99 problems, but A. Judge isn’t one!” The home-run-derby king’s gathered a huge fan club this  year, but I’m positive none more earnest than my daughter. He should be so lucky.

“It ain't the heat, it's the humility.” -- Yogi Berra

I’m a fairweather stadium attender, myself. I mean that literally. The older I get, the more comfortable I am insisting on my own comfort, and, in my book, that includes forgoing the experience of sitting thigh-bone to sweaty thigh-bone with over 50,000 people stewing in stale beer underneath the blazing sun. I no longer feel the need to physically suffer for the love of the game.

I’d like to blame the physical discomfort of a hot, crowded stadium for one of the most epic moments of my own humility, but the truth is the weather was decent that night, and we were only sitting in our town’s double-A minor league stadium, which at capacity seats only 6,000 people. And that night we were not even close to capacity, but I was feeling clausterphobic anyway.

Here, let my son tell you in his own words (the ones he wrote for a senior-year Public Speaking class. Lord, have mercy.)

"Baseball game are rarely fun when you're sitting near drunks. That was the situation I was put in about five years ago at a Binghamton Mets game. Behind us where the drunks; in front of us were the smokers.

The drunks were mad at the smokers for smoking. They said their kids -- John, Ashley, and you know, what's-her-face (they couldn't remember because they were so drunk) -- were crying and scared because the smoke from their cigarettes were drifting upwards towards their row.

This was obnoxious to me because the drunks were obviously looking for controversy for controversy's sake. It was also obnoxious that the smokers were fighting back. They weren't drunk, and they should've had the common sense to just move up to the dozens of empty rows in front of them. It's a B-Mets game, after all. There are going to be empty seats.

The person who broke up the tiring feud was my mother. She looked back, and I swear the second before her mouth opened I could see lightning strike behind her profile. She screamed 'Shut Up!' at the drunk parents, whose little kids were now crying only because the adults were so angry at each other. She was so scary that the two rows ceased their arguments.

A couple of fighters on each side ended up speaking to each other, just stubbornly apologizing for their pointless fight. My brother and I actually spoke to each other because we could finally hear each other without all the shouting. And no one, absolutely NO ONE, spoke to my mother. And I have a feeling she was okay with that."

 Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

 A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

 Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

 Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

 Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

 Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

 Kendra!

Kendra!

 Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.

Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.

Heading home [sharing at Art House America this week]

read the whole article at Art House America

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” 
—Yogi Berra

My dad loves baseball. From as far back as I can remember, he’s been a Yankees fan. He tells me he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they broke his heart and moved to the West Coast. That was the 1950s and long before I knew him. His grandfather was a Yankees fan, and his parents are Yankees fans. Naturally, the man I chose to marry is a Yankees fan. But I don’t really remember anything about the Yankees before their comeback year of 1996. With a new manager, Joe Torre, who had never won a championship in his thirty-two-year career as both a player and a manager, the Bronx bombers began to live up to their pinstripe glory once again, winning their first world series since 1978. We followed every single game.

We didn’t own a television in 1996. When our third child was born in March, a few weeks before baseball spring training and a couple months before my husband completed his bachelor's degree in education, we were paying our bills with his substitute teacher income. We had no health insurance, no vacation time or sick pay, and made ends meet by picking up extra work cleaning houses. We’d put all our hopes in a college degree landing him a teaching job in the fall. Evenings in our second-floor apartment, after we put our two sons to bed, we’d tune into the game on our radio. While I sat on our hand-me-down sofa to nurse my daughter, Brian sat across the room writing résumés on our clunky IBM personal computer. It doesn’t take a therapist to figure out that we’d associated our own underdog story to the scrappy team fighting for a win, night after night, a couple hours south of us in the Bronx. 

The 1996 season introduced Yankees fans to Joe Girardi (catcher), Derek Jeter (shortstop), and Mariano Rivera (relief pitcher), among others. It’s the season we rooted for Darryl Strawberry to rise above his drug history, and he did. We worried about pitcher David Cone’s surgery to remove an aneurysm and rallied behind him when he promised to come back by the end of the season. And he did—in time to pitch a winning game in the World Series. It’s the year I discovered the joy of befriending radio announcers John Sterling and Michael Kay. Even though I’d never meet them in person, they felt like guests sitting in our living room, passing the time with warm conversation for hours each evening. We began to relish the ritual of sportscasting, loving each Yankee home run not only for the score, but also for John Sterling’s patent call: “It is high! It is far! It is gone!” Over time, he would embellish his trademark home-run call with wordplay for each player’s name. Center fielder Bernie Williams hits a run, it’s “Bern, baby, Bern!” from the announcer’s booth; first baseman Tino Martinez cracks one over the fence, “It’s the BamTino!” and so forth.  

After a long, uncertain summer, we celebrated our team’s October World Series win almost as raucously as we’d celebrated the teaching job Brian received in September. We earned a salary, and the Yankees earned a championship.

Fast forward nearly twenty years, most of our circumstances had changed. ...

read the whole article at Art House America


BONUS FEATURES: 2 extra deleted "chapters" that include my own very humbling unsportsmanlike behavior + a whole bunch of cute photos of my kids repping the Yankees over the years

“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” -- Yogi Berra

My Dad played baseball through high school and college. By all accounts - mostly his and a couple of yellowed news blurbs clipped from the paper - he was a pretty good player. Naturally, he’s never given up hope that one of his 6 kids and 18 grandchildren might take up the sport with the same fervor. As the oldest child, I did my part in disappointing this fatherly wish with a couple of seasons of town softball. I recall these years in snatches of terror and embarrassment. Somehow, I never quite understood what was expected of me as an outfielder (wayyyy out in the field) my few times off the bench. As far as my stats at the plate, I ask you: Is there anything more humiliating than swinging a big stick at the air? The answer is no, no there isn’t. I fared slightly better on the school soccer team, not because I was any more talented, but because I could at least run around a lot between the goal and half field, and make it appear I had what my Dad called “hustle”. Although, I have a clear memory of a burly coach yelling in my direction while our team ran laps, “Hill! Can’t you make your stride any longer?!?” By that time, I’d already reached my adult height of 5’2”, and felt my stride was doing its part adequately.

During the springtime of the town league softball games, a kind, older cousin showed mercy on me, teaching me how to V my thumb, fore, and middle fingers along the leather stitching of a baseball, cupping the ball just so, and then releasing it in the generally correct direction. As far as I can remember, no one even attempted to address my incompetence with a glove.

When our own four kids were of the age for town sports, they each took a turn at T-ball, softball, or Pony League. One son got as far as relief pitching, but he quickly realized it felt like stress instead of fun, and he took up the guitar instead. All my kids leaned toward artistic, rather than athletic, pursuits. While our neighbors were schlepping their kids to the ball field, ours were making a holy rock’n roll raucous in the basement, instead. This was a development that rather pleased me - even if it was noisy.

Still, we kept up with the Yankees. Not playing baseball in the spring actually gave us more time to enjoy watching and listening to each game. We began a family tradition of giving each of our kids their own first trip to see a live game in the house that (Babe) Ruth built. We took our oldest son when he was only 5 years old, and it’s one of our happiest memories. We spent the day sightseeing the city as far as his little legs would carry him, stopping only to crane his neck upward to take in the skyscrapers. One photograph captured the image of of Brian and Andrew staring up at the Twin Towers. In the evening we sat through all nine-innings of the 1996 Yankees. Andrew’s inagural stadium trip coincided with Derek Jeter’s rookie year. The photo I’ve kept of our second son is a close up from nosebleed seats. He’s smiling at the camera, waiting for the game to start, miniature Yankees cap shoved down on his head so far his ears are jutting out either side of his face. A little over a decade later, he and Brian would attend the final game of the 2009 World Series in the Yankees new stadium. They’d watch the home team beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3, and win one last title for the "core four" of Pettitte, Posada, Rivera and Derek Jeter. Alex would cheer as gently as possible because he was suffering a tooth infection, and was scheduled for a root canal the following morning. If you asked him, he’d still say it was totally worth it.

On one of our daughter Kendra’s first trips to the stadium she’d get the thrill of a player, Ramiro Mendoza, handing her a baseball after batting practice. She’d lisp “thank you” through her missing teeth, and later give the ball to her Dad as a Father’s Day gift. It now enjoys a treasured spot on the bookshelf in his office.

Natalie, as sometimes happens with a youngest child, would wait until she was a bit older to visit the stadium, and she wouldn’t be by herself. Our whole family would be with her, because a kind church friend gave us free tickets. But we managed to get a photo of her, cheering from the railing of our upper deck seats, taking in Brett Gardner’s first hit and first RBI in the seventh inning. Gardner went on to steal second and eventually score in that inning.

This year, the 2017 season that Natalie is living back home with us, Brett Gardner is a much-needed veteran on a team of new kids, known affectionately as the Baby Bombers. Now that we live about an hour north of the Bronx, Natalie and Brian have been to the stadium three times together this season. Thanks to generous church friends, again, she’s enjoyed great seats - most notably along the right field line within shouting distance of #99, right-fielder Aaron Judge. At that game she made it to the jumbotron, with her giant, hand-letter sign, “I’ve got 99 problems, but A. Judge isn’t one!” The home-run-derby king’s gathered a huge fan club this  year, but I’m positive none more earnest than my daughter. He should be so lucky.

“It ain't the heat, it's the humility.” -- Yogi Berra

I’m a fairweather stadium attender, myself. I mean that literally. The older I get, the more comfortable I am insisting on my own comfort, and, in my book, that includes forgoing the experience of sitting thigh-bone to sweaty thigh-bone with over 50,000 people stewing in stale beer underneath the blazing sun. I no longer feel the need to physically suffer for the love of the game.

I’d like to blame the physical discomfort of a hot, crowded stadium for one of the most epic moments of my own humility, but the truth is the weather was decent that night, and we were only sitting in our town’s double-A minor league stadium, which at capacity seats only 6,000 people. And that night we were not even close to capacity, but I was feeling clausterphobic anyway.

Here, let my son tell you in his own words (the ones he wrote for a senior-year Public Speaking class. Lord, have mercy.)

"Baseball game are rarely fun when you're sitting near drunks. That was the situation I was put in about five years ago at a Binghamton Mets game. Behind us where the drunks; in front of us were the smokers.

The drunks were mad at the smokers for smoking. They said their kids -- John, Ashley, and you know, what's-her-face (they couldn't remember because they were so drunk) -- were crying and scared because the smoke from their cigarettes were drifting upwards towards their row.

This was obnoxious to me because the drunks were obviously looking for controversy for controversy's sake. It was also obnoxious that the smokers were fighting back. They weren't drunk, and they should've had the common sense to just move up to the dozens of empty rows in front of them. It's a B-Mets game, after all. There are going to be empty seats.

The person who broke up the tiring feud was my mother. She looked back, and I swear the second before her mouth opened I could see lightning strike behind her profile. She screamed 'Shut Up!' at the drunk parents, whose little kids were now crying only because the adults were so angry at each other. She was so scary that the two rows ceased their arguments.

A couple of fighters on each side ended up speaking to each other, just stubbornly apologizing for their pointless fight. My brother and I actually spoke to each other because we could finally hear each other without all the shouting. And no one, absolutely NO ONE, spoke to my mother. And I have a feeling she was okay with that."

 Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

 A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

 Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

 Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

 Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

 Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

 Kendra!

Kendra!

 Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.

Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.

On Being with Krista Tippett—and Jesus? [sharing at Think Christian this week]

read the whole article at Think Christian

If you’ve followed faith podcasts for any length of time, you’ve heard of the award-winning On Being with Krista Tippett.Depending on your comfort level with discussions of religion in general, you’ve responded to the show with appreciation or apprehension. I swing back and forth between the two.

I’m grateful that in a post-Christian world, someone provides a public space for discussions of “faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.” And I’m grateful for Tippett’s hospitable approach to the lived experiences of her guests, who represent various faith backgrounds. At the same time, I long for the Gospel of Christ to be presented with a grace that is unafraid of difficult differences yet remains faithful to the truth of Scripture and creed. Tippett consistently models one part of this equation beautifully; the other is more difficult to pin down.

Since 2001, first as a radio program and now as a podcast, Tippett has interviewed a wide range of people representing art, science, academia, religion, and social action. Whether her guests have professed any faith tradition or none, from Danah Boyd to the Dalai LamaMiroslav Volf to Maya Angelou, Tippett’s opening question remains the same: “What was the religious or spiritual background to your childhood?”

Tippett’s own faith background is rooted in the Christian tradition influenced most notably by her grandfather, a Southern Baptist preacher in Oklahoma. In various interviews and in her bestselling books, Tippett tells the story of growing up in a religion-soaked culture that contrasted starkly with the environment she encountered in her post-university work in the 1980s in Cold War Europe. In the mid-1990s, disillusioned by the limits of political and journalistic work to address what it means to be human, she returned to the United States to study theology at Yale Divinity school. She wanted her work to offer a response to the “black hole where intelligent coverage of religion should be” and to the political presence of conservative Christians she felt had distorted the rhetoric of faith.

An exchange during a recent episode provides an excellent summary of what motivates her work.

read the whole article at Think Christian


Bonus feature

My top five favorite On Being episodes:

1. Where Does It Hurt?: RUBY SALES

2. Spirituality of Imagination: MARTIN SHEEN

3. Listening to the World: MARY OLIVER

4. How Trauma Lodges in the Body: BESSEL VAN DER KOLK

5. Humor as A Tool for Survival: SAM SANDERS, TERRY MCMILLAN, LINDY WEST, ET AL

Last, but not least, if I were able to ask Krista Tippett 2 questions, here they are (in no particular order):

1. Who do you most wish you could have interviewed from history?

2. Has anyone ever mentioned you look like Bonnie Raitt?

 Krista Tippett, Interviewer goddess

Krista Tippett, Interviewer goddess

 Bonnie Raitt, Rock & Hair goddess

Bonnie Raitt, Rock & Hair goddess