Monday, April 16, 2012

Eating Humble Pie

There are times when life affirms us; there are times when we are reminded there is no hat big enough to wear on our ego.

Last week I had a gentle and made-me-laugh experience of the latter.

My wife and I had a few hours with two of our grandchildren and went to play in a park.  They used their rich imaginations and turned a Jungle-Jim/monkey bars into, as they put it, a "rescue bus."  The scenario they created was that Nana and Papa were in a horrible car wreck.  (Aren't they beautiful kids?)  Their mission was to rescue us and save our lives.  Nana and I were moaning and groaning in life-threatening fashion. I made it clear that we could possibly die if they didn't get us to the ER asap.  "Mary" responded by slapping a band-aid on my hand.  Ok. I'm feeling relieved already.

"Mary" and younger brother "Chad"  assisted us into the rescue bus and Mary hopped into the driver's seat.  I was yelling, "Hurry! Hurry!"  She took off and we were en-route to the hospital.  Suddenly, she said,  "Oops.  We have to turn in here."   I screamed, "What's going on?!?   Why are you turning here?!?"  She replied, " It's the Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-thru."

I know it's gotta be an agonizing decision--KFC or grandma and grandpa dying--but REALLY?

I am feeling much more humble lately.  And I'm boycotting KFC.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Roxanne Volkert Moment: The Power of Our Words

It came out of the blue—a memory which had remained hidden for over 50 years.  It was a Roxanne Volkert moment.
Some background.  I was raised in a doctrinally rigid, emotionally frigid home and, as a child, felt very insecure and starving for affirmation.  As you can imagine, this led to some very poor choices on my part in my adult years, but I’ve learned and grown. God and I are still working on that insatiable need for affirmation.
 Recently, this memory surfaced and I was transported back in time to when I was a child. Maybe 6 years old.  I’m in church, standing by my mother and Roxanne Volkert approaches.  She was a beautiful woman, a wife and mother,  and through these 6 year old eyes she was a blond angel sent by God. She leans over and smiling at me says to my mother, “He’s such a beautiful boy.”  End of memory. End of any contact with Roxanne Volkert.  I have not seen her in 50 years.  This much I know—her words of affirmation were soaked up by my soul and psyche. Those few words she spoke about me were so powerful that 50 years later I am cherishing them and basking in their warmth.
This is a twofold testimony.  It attests to the powerful abilities of the mind to recall and store God-given experiences.  More importantly, it suggests that our words and actions have much more impact and influence than we realize.  I’m sure Roxanne Volkert was not on a mission to be charitable and reaching out to the down-trodden little Steve’s of the world.  She was simply expressing an affirmation.  She didn’t give it a second thought and surely would have no memory of that brief conversation. But, for me, those words constituted validation and blessing and have stuck with me for decades.
I encourage you to create memories.  You and I have no idea of the power of our everyday words, our acts of seemingly ordinary kindness.  Do not allow words to remain internalized--speak them.  If you get one of those “nudgings” act upon it.  You have no idea the blessing, the affirmation you may be imparting. 
I encourage you to create Roxanne Volkert moments in the lives of others.  You see, those moments last a lifetime. I know that to be true.