Showing posts from August, 2019

Labor of Love

New research claims that 80% of adults are dissatisfied at work. Since we spend 90,000 hours of our lives at work, that’s discouraging news. 

But Clyde was hard at work long before researchers researched things like this. Clyde was a simple man doing what some might call simple work—he fixed household appliances.
Customers would bring in a faulty toaster or a favorite griddle and he’d find the offending part or wire connection causing trouble. Or he'd travel the winding farm roads with his tool kit if need be. He never charged more than he should. 
His small shop was lined with uniform metal bins that held screws and whatever odd assortment of parts he needed. He could look at something with his good eye (his only eye) and usually make a diagnosis.
This was back when people fixed what they had, and Clyde could do it. His shop wasn’t on Main Street, but one block east. His rotary phone hung on the wall in between his metal bins. 

The long counter served as both an operating table and a …

Be That Teacher

It was more of a pathway in the woods than a road. Overhanging limbs brushed the windshield and scraped the side of the truck. The road meandered upwards with no end in sight. 
But I followed it anyway. Recent rains had filled all the potholes, effectively disguising just how deep they were. My truck bounced mercilessly.
Coming up a final incline, a curl of smoke and the top of a metal chimney pipe came into view. Then I saw a woodshed that somehow had become a home.  Knocking on the door, I could hear whispering, then the door cracked open to reveal a woman staring at me with bloodshot eyes. “Yeah?”
Her question was all the greeting I’d get. I explained I was her son’s teacher and that I missed seeing him at school. What I didn’t say, is that his absences had led to his being held back last year, and so far, he was on pace to fall behind again, unless he came to school more regularly.
I could see her son standing at the far end of the small room. He was tall for a 10-year-old. He was wea…

Golden Opportunity

Dear Pam & Ed,
Congratulations on your Golden Anniversary! Fifty years is a long time, and you two have written quite a love story. I haven’t told you just how much your marriage has inspired my own. 
I’ve seen how your God-honoring choices often meant personal sacrifice—you did what was best for those you loved. Family and faith were always above personal gain. 
The love you shared extended far and wide—even into the classrooms where you both taught hundreds of children.
Pam spent tireless hours making certain kids could read and helped struggling students learn math. Ed was often paired with the toughest kids. 
I still marvel how he found the road into their hearts, melted through their tough exteriors, and showed them that their education was their future.
When retirement came it wasn’t the end of classrooms, but the start of after school Good News Clubs that encouraged young kids in more incredible ways. At a time when God was being removed from schools, Ed found a gentle way to br…

Cedar and Gold

1979: While college newlyweds, Tom and I cut downed cedar logs into bolt-sized sections for roof shakes. It paid our bills.
So when Mom needed cedar shakes for her cabin, we went hunting for cedar on her land. Her property covered nearly ten acres with deep valleys and steep bluffs.

We finally found a huge one. It was buried with moss and debris, but when Tom cut into it the wood, it still smelled fresh and the grain was perfect for shakes.

We teamed up. Tom chainsawed and I carried the bolts out to a clearing where there was a trail to the cabin. As we worked, neither of us noticed the time.

It was just the two of us in the woods, working together, which is what we loved most.

At dusk,  Tom noticed his gold watch was missing. We searched the area where we’d been cutting and hauling. We sifted through piles of chainsaw chips, moss, leaves, and limbs, but no watch. 
We walked back to the cabin. Mom had fixed dinner for us all—my grandparents were there too. I told them Tom’s watch had…

The Second Look

As I think of it now, it was probably the beginning of an obsessive compulsive trait. I was five or six—and whenever I went out with my parents, if I’d see something interesting—a display case, or a toy, or a pretty picture, I’d touch it once. But for some inexplicable reason, before my feet could move, I needed to touch it again. I never told anyone about this strange need.
Somehow, very soon and without my awareness, that tendency left me without a trace.
Or perhaps the trait evolved later in life. 
While I don’t need to touch things twice, whenever I visit a new place, or see something beautiful, I tell myself to take a second look, and make it last in my mind.
With the ease of smartphones, we can just as easily snap a photo. But when I stop myself, steady my eyes for a second and final look, it is not digitally stored, but it goes from my eye, to my mind, directly to my heart.

Obsessive? Perhaps. But I remember many places and things I’ve seen just by thinking about them once again.