Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hump-Day Hilarity

How do you put an elephant in the refrigerator?
You open the door, put the elephant in, and shut the door.
How do you put an alligator in the refrigerator?
You open the door, take out the elephant, put the alligator in, and shut the door.
The King of the Beasts, the Lion, called a meeting and he realized that someone wasn't there.  Who was it?
The alligator--he was still in the refrigerator.
There are 500 bricks on an airplane.  One falls out--how many are left?
A lady wants to swim across a swamp--why does she not get eaten?
Because the alligator is still in the refrigerator.
When the lady reaches the swamp bank, she gets out, only to be knocked out by something.  What is it?
The brick that fell from the plane.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Day The Knickers Died

October 25, 1999.  A lear jet goes down over South Dakota. In subsequent months, we would learn that the plane should not have been flying at all.  There were documented mechanical problems.  What was unusual about this particular plane crash is that Payne Stewart--father, husband, friend, and world-class professional golfer--and some of his closest friends were on board.  A routine flight to start a conversation about building a home golf-course for his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.   It was just another ordinary day.  I wept as though I knew him.   My heart simply broke for his wife, Tracey, and their two precious children.  And, for the others who would not return home.

Why did this matter so much to me?  I am so glad you asked. 

It was 1982--and I was eleven years old.  I was attending the Honda Golf Classic at Inverrary in Lauderhill, Florida.  Glasses, braces, and pre-teen gawkiness were the theme of the hour.  My friend, Challis, and I were walking the course.  Truth be told, we were on the look-out for cute golfers!  Our dads were involved in the communications side of the tournament; hence, the reason two tween-age girls were spending their day at a golf event.

We started following this young player who fit our criteria--and he was wearing these super-cool plus fours with a matching jaunty cap.  He was a throwback to the Bobby Jones era.  And, he made it look good.  He seemed to be doing fairly well, as we followed him from hole-to-hole.  Then, on the crossover between the ninth and tenth holes, I summoned up all the courage I had and asked him for an autograph.

Before Payne could answer, an exceedingly gruff judge intervened and said,
“Mr. Stewart will NOT sign autographs right now!”  I was mortified--could I possibly crawl under the green?

Payne looked at the judge, looked back at me, and replied, ever-so-kindly, “I would be happy to sign an autograph for you!“ And, proceeded to engage in a brief conversation with me.

“What’s your name?" inquired Payne.
“Tracie,” replied the star-struck Me.
“That’s my wife’s name.  It’s a favorite of mine,” stated the charming Payne.
I just smiled--that’s all I could do as I was in the process of melting.
“Tracie, you’re going to keep up with me, right?  Bring me good luck?” asked Payne.
“Of course,” said I, having finally found my voice.
He thanked me and pointedly stares at the prickly judge.
“Sir, I will decide when, where and for whom I will sign autographs,“ declared Payne, firmly but quietly, getting his point across.

Needless to say, he had a fan for life. 

On the very next hole, as he set up his shot, he looked over at me, smiled and winked.  And hit a pretty strong drive off the tee.  Did I mention I became a fan for life?

The simple fact that he took the time, between holes, to respond to a shy, young girl, treat her with kindness and a smile, spoke volumes about Payne.  Years later, I learned that this particular Honda Classic was the first tournament in which he played after qualifying for his PGA Tour card.  Big stuff. 

The rest, of course, is golf history.  Payne went on to win a PGA Championship, represent the United States on the Ryder Cup Team for multiple years, and win his first U.S. Open in 1991.  Perhaps his best-known victory came just four months before his untimely death--the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.  He holed a beautiful 15-foot putt which would lead to his one-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson. 

But what I remember most from that 1999 victory were the words he said to Phil.  Phil’s wife, Amy, was due to deliver their first daughter at any moment.  In fact, Phil wore a beeper throughout the tournament, saying that if it went off, he was out of there!  As Payne and Phil embraced after Payne’s victory, Payne told Phil, “I’m so excited for you and Amy.  I was there for the birth of both of my kids and those were the best moments of my life!”  Christ-follower, husband, father, friend, golfer.  In that order.  

Payne in his trademark tam and Phil Mickelson.

You never know how far a simple act of kindness can go.  More than 250 yards with your favorite driver, I suspect. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Karate Kid

June 2012.  Our Ninja began lobbying his parental units to take Tae Kwon Do.  His short-term goal of being the next Spiderman, coupled with his Ninjago fascination, fueled the fire of interest in this martial art which literally means “way of the hand and foot”.  I made an appointment for a free, introductory lesson with Mrs. Ann and from the moment he set foot in the studio, he was hooked.  He was so serious, so intense (I know, you’re shocked!)--it was the perfect fit.  

It all started with a white belt.

His persistence, tenacity, and fearlessness are ideal for this color-belted world.  What our Ninja lacks in height, he makes up for in bravado.  But, he backs it up with knowledge and skill.  And an impish grin.  Frankly, I am amazed at the focus and concentration martial arts require.  As each student progresses up the color belt ranks, they must memorize forms--a specific system of moves that emphasize hand, foot, and body coordination--and, on average, contain 20-30 different moves.  Yes, you read that right. And, the number and degree of difficulty of the moves increase at each belt level.  Did I mention they do this with weapons, too? 

We have found ourselves saying things like, “No nunchucks in the foyer”, and “Please do not use your brother as a sparring partner--even if he offers!”.  However, special dispensation has been granted for occasional bow-staff practice in the living room--as long as the glasses are cleared from the coffee table.  And, I have learned how to say, and yes, even to spell the proper Korean name for those nunchucks--Ssahng Jeol Bahngs (sahn-jo-bons).  Every sport has its lingo, glossary, and complimentary pronunciation guide.

Two years later, our Ninja-who-is-now-nine, has the coveted black belt.  And, a few tournaments under that belt.  He has been given the opportunity to instruct those younger than he and to train with a multi-time World Champion.  He has learned that commitment, practice, and focus will bear fruit.  He has learned to shake hands with his competitors and offer a high-five after a job well done.  And while even the Eternal Grand Master of Tae Kwon Do will not permit himself to achieve the perfection of the 10th Degree Black Belt, you always keep striving for it.

Buddy passes are available.  I carry a few in my wallet.   

Monday, October 6, 2014

“Honey, If You Love Me, Smile...”

Admit it.  That one sentence may have transported you back to a large multi-purpose room, with “Early American Garage Sale” furnishings, a well-used Ping-Pong table, and funky colors on the walls.  Or, perhaps those walls were decorated by signed Petra or DC Talk pin-ups--or ginormous wall posters of past mission trips and lock-ins.  I’m right there with you.  Sedated in the 80s, baby.

The premise of the "Honey" game, if you can call it that, was for a player to entice (oops, not a very “Youth Group” word) another person of the opposite sex to laugh, giggle, and/or smile, using nearly any means to do so.  Yeah, that’s the perfect game for a room-full of walking hormones, ages 14-18, who come through the doors to “fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ”.  If you were “crushing” on someone, it was the ideal way to get their attention.  Or, to watch the drama unfold if Sally couldn’t get Harry (her significant other of three weeks) to smile.  Fireworks.

Thankfully, youth group games have evolved a bit since that glorious age.  “He-who-is-now-taller-than-I” is a full-fledged member of a local youth group--which means that he comes home with his friends’ names, written in Sharpie, on his flip-flop clad feet.  Or with tales of a food relay--a must in all good Youth Groups--with partners acting as wheelbarrows, with stations of Starburst, Skittles, and the pièce de résistance--a towering platter of Vienna Sausages.  Would you believe an exceedingly brave young lady bested the boys on that particular game?  Truly, her value is far more precious than rubies.


Hey, where’s my deck of cards?  I’m totally up for a game of “Killer”.  Wink-wink.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Week-Ending: Be Still My Soul

"Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine."

~Hymn Text by
Katharina A. von Schelgel (1752), translated by Jane L. Borthwick (1855)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hump-Day Hilarity

What is a plumber's favorite card game?
Because he always draws a flush.

What well-known composer was always sick?

What doctor is known for fixing bumps on your head?
A Dent-ist.

**Today's HDH brought to you by the Ninja who just turned nine.**