a “bad” experience

Years ago when my oldest son was a wibbling, wobbling toddler, I will never forget the day his stuffed Curious George went sailing through the aisle at our local grocery.  While first appalled that my son would turn his beloved companion into a public projectile, I couldn’t help but chuckle as George came to rest in the narrow gauntlet between multiple canned goods.  I may have even grinned from ear to ear.


Unfortunately, my laughter quickly subsided, as George landed a mere 3-4 feet in front of one of those motorized carts, donned by an obviously, elderly lady.


“I’m sorry, ma’am.  My son threw his favorite stuffed animal.”


Instead of the articulated grace perhaps far too naively expected, the lady’s countenance turned immediately stern, glaring at me, squinting her eyes, and then retorting, “You need to get better control of your children!”


I was shocked.  What?  I need to get better control?  There is no grace for a harmless throw of Curious George?


Let me tell you what I did not…

I did not conclude that all elderly women are as withholding of grace as she.  I did not conclude that all persons on motorized carts have lost respect for the rest of the waiting world.  No.  I made zero conclusions about the elderly nor those on those oh-so-cool motorized carts.


However, my sense is that refraining from making conclusions — when we have 1 “bad” experience — is the rarity as opposed to the norm.


How often do we do that?  How often do we make conclusions about an entire demographic because of a singular experience?  For example…


Have you had 1 “bad” experience with a Christian?  (“Bad” equates to harshness and immediate judgment.)  Have you had 2, 4, maybe even 17 “bad” interactions?  There are billions of Christians on this planet.  Even 17 so-called “bad” experiences pale in comparison.


Have you had 1 “bad” experience with a Republican or Democrat?  (“Bad” equates to arrogance and a clear failure to listen.)  There are millions of partisans on this planet; they are not all the same.  In fact, I have a brother who is a state legislator.  He is ethical, fiscally responsible, and he listens to those he represents.  More of our representatives — regardless of party — should be like him.


Have you had 1 “bad” experience with a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community? … or with someone who believes LGBT behavior is unnatural?  (“Bad” equates to so passionate they actually justify condescendence of persons with differing opinion.)  I have friends who are gay… and friends who believe homosexuality is sinful.  I have both who still love and respect their neighbor.


Friends, one of the most accepted forms of arrogance on this planet is when we make judgments about entire people groups because of 1 “bad” experience.  Sure, we don’t feel it’s only 1.  We find other likeminded persons to “amen” our experience, so we’re never confronted with the darts that pierce our self-inflated bubbles; we’re never confronted with the reality that challenges our self-created reality.  In other words, we allow 1 or 2 or even 17 “bad” experiences to tell us what we want to hear — as opposed to be on a continuous seeking of actual truth.  Too many times, experience trumps truth.


When the lady at that grocery challenged my parenting, I wish all could have witnessed the astonished look on my face…


“What?  I need to get better control of my children?”


I knew her response was not the response of all people.  It was not even the response of all elderly women on motorized carts.  Hence, I smiled, paused, and said the first thing that came to mind…


“Have a nice day, ma’am.  I will, too.”





Imagine if America was a community… one large, real, significant, interactive, healthy community.  What would that change?  What would we be like?


Perhaps some would suggest:  we already are a community — maybe not so healthy — but we’re still a community!  It ‘takes a village,’ you know.


I think not.


To be a community — an authentic community —  is first, not something forced upon us.  Community is a choice.  It’s a choice, in its simplest manifestation, to do life together.


Does that mean there never exists disagreement?  Of course not.  Disagreement does not equate to disrespect (… a few more of us could learn that, I’m thinking…).


But if we functioned as an authentic community, we would never work so hard to squelch or silence opinion solely because it’s different.  Dare I say that neither the Executive nor Legislative branches consistently practice such wisdom.  Far too often, P.R. campaigns and rhetorical put-downs are instead, lavishly employed.


To live in community means to be on mission together…  We saw that in the days immediately succeeding the Boston Marathon bombing.  Not solely the city proper nor the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but rather, seemingly the entire U.S. of A. was passionately seeking the arrest of those responsible.  Cheers, tweets, and texts rang out when the suspects were apprehended.  Being united in purpose prompted a truer sense of community.


Hence, what mission could endure in this country?  What mission could a “united state” of America join in on together?  A mission that would last? …


To fend off all evil.

To pursue life.

To pursue liberty.

To even pursue happiness.

To recognize that opposition does not equate to evil.

To recognize that evil is the utter absence of God.

To defend our inalienable rights.

To recognize that those rights come from someone bigger and better than you and me.

To learn to preach to ourselves as opposed to listen to ourselves.

To acknowledge God.

To relentlessly pursue his blessing and perspective.

To extinguish terrorism.

To recognize that there exist multiple, organized, anti-Christian organizations that wish to bring us serious harm.

To seek God’s best for all people.

To be humble enough to pray.

To submit.

To do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.


Again I ask, what mission could we join in on together?


As I look at the purpose articulated by current leadership — regardless of party affiliation — I don’t see much of the above.  Instead, it seems we have a plethora of “me first”…  “Party first”…  and a generous helping of “I know best.”


I don’t see a lot of humility, submission, and putting others before ourselves.


The reality, therefore, is that I don’t see a lot of community.




who is more successful than me?

Today reminded me of an endless truth…

… a truth, I believe, we each wrestle with.

In fact, it’s one we say we don’t believe, but when push comes to shove and the moment hits us squarely in the face, we’re forced to ask what we believe…


Can I truly celebrate the success of another?

Or do I look as someone else’s success as one less opportunity for me?


(Examples, please…)


… be that the kid who plays on the soccer or baseball or any other team before my beloved child…

… be that the older teen who is awarded the lead before any of those other talented teens I love…

… or be that the business man who is more successful than me in my adulthood…

… be that even the adult who is more successful than me?


Can I celebrate their success?


The reality is that if you and I view someone else’s good fortune as something lesser for you and me then we can’t truly celebrate their success; we can’t be happy for them.  We will instead look at them with displeasure or disdain, thinking that’s one less opportunity for me.


And then…  yes, then… we justify all sorts of things.  We justify:


… looking down upon them.

… playing (dare I suggest) “victim.”

… and yes… actually… (let’s say it…) physically confiscating from them…


… ah, do I dare even argue such taps into the inherent definition of socialism?  … in other words… a unitary controlling of goods and services regardless of who has worked hardest for them?  … regardless of who is most deserving?


This past weekend, my oldest sons have been involved in a national show choir competition in Nashville, Tennessee.  Several of the nation’s best performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  It has been a beautiful, emotional, awe-inspiring weekend.


After the preliminaries that spanned 2 entire days, the audience seemed thankful to witness the varying, amazing talents on display from high schools donning from Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, etc.  It was no doubt a talented, uplifting time; it was also an incredible opportunity for our teens.  After day one, I wondered how the exiting choirs would feel, as a mere six were named finalists.


Would the competitors feel positive for one another?

Would they wish each other well?

Would they see opportunities as limitless?

Or would they only focus on what they, personally, had won or lost?


On Saturday, I woke that morning in prayer… praying that this day for my boys would be a confidence builder… that regardless of the result, it would be a day of enormous blessing… that they would gain confidence and self-esteem… and that they would realize the unparalleled rewarding of effort and hard work.


My boys’ choir won first place.  It’s a special, special group.  Yes, yes… like all good parents, the Intramuralist sobbed.  (Call me a grown up “softie.”)  But I sobbed most due to the humbling answer to my prayers…

Opportunity is not limited.  And blessing is undoubtedly bountiful.

Always and still… yes… always and still.













Hakuna matata.



‘Kids say the darndest things.’  The question is whether our teens are more “kids” or adults — and whether “darndest” qualifies more as foolish or as wise.  One “darnd” thing I’ve heard far too often from these growing young men and women is the colloquial justification that “everybody’s doing it.”


“Everybody’s doing it, Mom…

“He’s doing it.  She’s doing it.  I should be able to do it, too!”


Seemingly suddenly, society’s evolving standard of morality is dependent upon what everyone else does — hence, the existence of a slippery, (un)scrupulous slope upon which current culture continues to ride.  Sometimes it feels like a bit of an ‘adventure land‘ — like riding a roller coaster… hands up… smiles on… the participants unaware of any lurking calamity awaiting at the end of the ride.


Don’t let me be too hard on our teens.  It’s not as if this is merely a problem indigenous to their generation.  They have watched their parents; they have watched celebrities; they have watched the politicians and elected leaders in the land; they have watched them squabble and base their behavior on what others do.  Dare I suggest, they have watched us all a little too well.


Prior to our teens being teens, they’ve watched previous generations ride an often parallel, (un)scrupulous pitch.  We may or may not have articulated our actions via the “everyone’s doing it” logic.  However, the teens have seen our not-so-subtle “keeping up with the Jones’s” act; they’ve seen us subtly (or not) be continually indignant or stubborn or selfish or even refuse to extend grace — again all based upon the behavior of other people.  They’ve even seen us look, act, or even dress a certain way, all motivated by “impression management” — our fairly futile attempts to control the perception others have of us.  Further still, in my semi-humble opinion (emphasis on the semi), the youth in this country have seen reasonably intelligent adults discern what’s right or wrong based on other people.  Worse yet, they’ve witnessed us actually change what we believe to be right or wrong — based upon other people.


“Eveybody’s doing it, Mom…”


On what do we base what’s right and what’s wrong?

Does it change?

If it continually changes, how can it be wise?  … even from reasonably intelligent adults?


From Jan. of 1998 through June of 2000, gifted comedian, Bill Cosby, hosted a comedy series on CBS entitled “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  The premise of the show was that Cosby would ask a kid a question, and that kid — usually between the ages of 3 to 8 — would respond with a “cute” answer.  The inherent joy of the show was found in the innocence of the child.


While our teens aren’t quite still children nor quite yet adults, the reality is that their justification for all sorts of beliefs and behaviors may or may not be innocent; we haven’t necessarily always taught them well.  The reality also then exists that the articulated justification for their beliefs and behaviors — and the articulated justification for our beliefs and behaviors — is nowhere close to “cute.”


What will we base our belief system upon?


“YOLO!” as the teens sometimes say.  You Only Live Once.  Yet if we only live once, we better figure the basis for that belief system out.




minority status

Let’s push the envelope a bit today, shall we?  In fact, it’s quite possible that today’s post may be our most controversial.  Maybe it will ruffle the most figurative feathers.  Please know that’s not my intent; ruffling feathers — regardless as to how figurative — but ruffling for the sole sake of ruffling seems a futile exercise indeed.  My goal has always been to wisely and correctly handle words of truth.


Yet in the seemingly continual, digressing state of society — where discouraging words are too often heard and far more than deer and antelope play — big is considered better; more is always best; and the majority is irrefutably wise.


The Intramuralist does not agree.  Big is not always better.  More is not always best.  And often it is the minority which offers the most prudent message.  Yes, the minority often possesses the greatest strength and keenest insight.  Granted (and such is said with an undeniable, sober sigh), the minority often face unfathomable, dire challenge; also true, no less, is that the existence of the challenge has the power and potential to strengthen the person and thus prompt that incredible insight.  In other words, the minority often possess the greatest blessing.  And yet, my ruffling sense is that the minority too often give that blessing away.


Reflect upon the minority for a moment…


A minority marked by race, religion, gender, or geographics…

A minority marked by ambition, achievement, or athletic competition…

A minority marked by perspective, potential, or political position…

A minority marked by intelligence, institution, or physical impairment…

A minority marked by skin color, school, or social standing…


Regardless of what distinguishes the group, the minority is the smaller number — by some part lesser than half the whole.


Regardless of being “lesser,” within that minority still, we find incredible insights, values, and places of personal and corporate growth…


Among them, perhaps?  … humility… perseverance and pride…  work ethic and wisdom… faith and self-awareness…  (… did I mention humility?)


The majority, however, is instead too often marked by an unattractive arrogance —  possessing no perceived desire nor even believed need to persevere.  Far too often the majority even replaces faith and self-awareness with an over emphasis on self.


So what happens when minorities grow?  … in number?  … in power?  … in significance?  What happens when their numbers evolve into that bigger half of the whole?


My prudent hope would be that we/they would remember where we came from… that if we were ever once in the minority we would not forget the values learned nor the blessing gained that evolve when meeting challenges wisely…


Too often, though, I think we fall prey to simply adapting and absorbing the unattractive traits observed in many of the majority…


Humility is zapped for arrogance…  Faith and self-awareness are replaced with that over importance of self.


Regardless of what marks one as a minority — by race, gender, or Senate standing — by not making the playoffs or by a lower GPA — regardless of what distinguishes us and places us within any lesser or bigger half of the whole — may we hold on to the humility that propelled us to persevere.  May we hold onto the blessing.


P.S.  Blessing is good.




what it’s not

Much of what we say actually means something else.  Hear me out on this, friends.


We utilize multiple words and phrases that are either inaccurate or utterly fallacious.  It’s seemingly most often unintentional; however, today I’m wondering about the colloquial error of our ways.  I speak not about the grammatical misuse of “lie” vs. “lay” or “who,” “which,” and “that.”  I’m thinking more about the phrasing that has subtly sneaked into our dialogue that simply is untrue.  For example…


“It is what is is.”


Egad.  Perhaps one of my pet peeves.  “It is what it is.”  What exactly does that mean?  Does it all go back to Pres. Clinton’s legal questioning surrounding the definition of “is”?  Surely not.


We hear that phrasing frequently…


From business mogul, Ted Turner:  “I regret that I wasn’t more successful with my marriages, but it is what it is.”


Or from my fave NFL QB, Drew Brees:  “The Madden Curse has really taken on a life of its own.  People just love talking about it, and it is what it is, but I look at it as a challenge.”


Are you kidding?  It is what it “is”?!  No.  “It is what it is” is what we say when we don’t know what to say anymore.  It’s the clear ender of conversation, meaning there’s little else to say or I really don’t want to speak of it anymore (see Turner, Ted).


We also hear…


“You’ve got the patience of Job.”


Sometimes, as the parent of a special needs child, I receive that frequent retort.  Newsflash, friends:  it’s not true.  I don’t have the patience of Job.  But the reality is, in my semi-humble opinion, that Job wasn’t patient!  Shocking.  (Another “hear me out” here…)


In my continuous pursuit of wisdom, I routinely invest in writings that are historically noted for their accuracy and truth.  Once again, I just completed reading through the book of Job.


Here was a man who was blameless — a man of complete integrity.  He was wealthy and wise yet seemingly humble and giving.  And over the course of a few stunning days, the man lost his family, possessions, and good health.  Such is a set of circumstances that undoubtedly would cause each of us to cry out, arguably inserting a bit of “why me.”


But Job went further.  While at first seemingly attempting to persevere and maintain his humility — a component contemporary society often negates from its integrity definition — Job’s countenance and composure changed.  Granted, he had a few friends around him who were certainly not helpful, yet Job became demanding.  He cursed the day of his birth.  He questioned the wisdom of God.  He questioned not only God’s wisdom but his power and all of creation.  He condemned God to justify himself.  (Fascinating concept… condemning God to justify self… my thinking… my behavior…)


Who knows how any of us would act under such a tragic, unthinkable set of circumstances?  Truthfully, most of us would probably act much like Job.  The reality is that such is not considered patient.


More false phrases exist…


“head over heels”… aren’t heads already over heels?

“could care less” … then why are we speaking to begin with?  Isn’t it “couldn’t”??


Or one of my funny favorites…


“the whole 9 yards”… wait… all NFL enthusiasts know that 9 yards are not “whole”; a team has to go 10 yards to actually continue down the field.


Sorry, friends.  I’m not very patient today.  Have I shared that I do not have the patience of Job?





Even after the transparent admission last week that Christmas is “my favorite time of the year,” I must also acknowledge a strong fondness for New Year’s Day.  Not the festive and frolicking New Year’s “rockin’” Eve — although toasting to friends and family both near and far is certainly sweet — but the actual initial day of another year.  Why?  Because I love resolutions!


Yes, yes… I realize that last line prompted many a sigh or perhaps even a “so long” for this post this day.  My apologies.  I do not desire to evoke such a lack of energy or entertainment value.  Note, however, that my relishing of resolutions evolves not from the actual, annual intentions…


… I want to be healthy… exercise consistently… pray more… love others better… be less judgmental… be respectful… eat better… figure this “God stuff” out… work harder… listen more… talk less… be more giving, selfless — less selfish… read a new book… ask for recommendations… ask for directions… read the Bible… be teachable… save more… spend less… go to the spa… hug my kids… teach my children well… get on the scale less… focus more on people instead of things… write a letter… spend less time on Facebook… take more walks… get more sleep… focus on the important things in life… get more organized… take a daily vitamin… work on my abs… quit smoking… get a better job… be nicer… take a vacation… volunteer… read a classic… fast… get out of debt… spend more time with my family… drink less… count my calories… make a new ‘to-do’ list… throw away my old ‘to-do’ list… do away with ‘to-do’ lists… seize the day… be less busy… read the Intramuralist more… stop and smell the roses… appreciate the beauty of the sky… apologize… forgive… forgive again… and again… commit to living wisely… be more humble… be healthy…


Now the reason the sighs and “so long’s” are so often prompted lies within the reality that for most of us, the above are only intentions — as opposed to permanent changes in our behavior.  Our intentions are too often temporary.  Hence, if they are temporary, what’s the benefit of making the resolutions to begin with?


Ah, and therein lies the fondness for the Intramuralist.


What would life be like if we encouraged the above, positive behavior change, but yet, we also allowed ourselves the freedom (for lack of better words) to “screw up”?


In other words, what if we recognized that much of the above is hard? …too hard, in fact.  Much of the above — even with earnest intent and commitment — may be or appear too difficult to do.  With that honest recognition, how would our resolutions be altered?  Would we then simply refrain from ever making them?  Would we give up on the process, noting that while the behavior would certainly be a positive change, that the degree of difficulty makes our pursuit fruitless?  … that with desired consequences unlikely, resolutions are futile and therefore unnecessary?


Friends, as realistic as such sounds, my greater sense is that such logic misses the beauty forded on New Year’s Day.


It is not the actual resolution that possesses greatest value.  True, eating healthy is a good idea; it has great value.  So does taking a daily vitamin, being humble, and appreciating the beauty of the sky.  Those are good things!  But the benefit of the resolution is the growth that comes via the process.  The more we focus on being humble — whether or not we actually, ever, totally and truly get there — the more we focus on being less judgmental and exercising more consistently, the wiser we will be.  The healthier we will be.  And while we may not actually “get there,” the pursuit moves us closer to where we want to be.  The pursuit — and thus the intent — is good.


The reason the Intramuralist so appreciates New Year’s Day is because it’s a clean slate.  Once again, we are given the abstract opportunity to focus on what’s most important.  Yes, we need to give ourselves great grace in the process; know now that we will most likely “screw up” somewhere.  But thanks to the freshness and attractiveness of a clean slate, we are more willing to make the resolutions that we know would be wise to embrace.


Happy New Year, friends!  Time for this semi-humble blogger to hit the elliptical.





Writing from the midwest this day, a funny development occurred.  It snowed.


It wasn’t just a little snow.  It was big…  perhaps not “big” to those living in the mountainous East or West, but here in the heart of America, it was big.  “Big” equates to enough to make life stop (… and to impose upon many the dreaded fear of running out of a gallon of 2% milk).  Yet contrary to popular belief, life stopping is good.


I know, I know.  I hear you…


Do you not realize the plans this all messed up?


I have things to do — important things!


I’m frustrated… bored.  I can’t do what I need to do!


Exactly.  Important things.  Stuff we need to do.


I wonder sometimes, no less, if what we claim to be important is really, truly, somehow lesser…  if we prioritize items and issues and activities that are lesser in value and wisdom than reality — than things of greater value — than things, so-to-speak, of a more enduring “bottom line.”  An insightful friend of mine, who has bravely initiated a ministry designed to generously pour respect into the lives of men and women, often says, “We have to keep what’s most important most important.”  But yet we don’t.  Society doesn’t.  We often get off track…


… in our homes… in our hearts… in Washington… and in the world.


In Washington many of those who contributed to the decades-old pattern of financial fragility are currently seeking to solve it.  But to solve it, they would have to collectively, fairly-permanently agree to spend less money than they take in.  In other words, with a national debt of over $16 trillion, reducing the debt by $2 trillion over 10 years — one of the current options on the table — will make little dent in the debt.  It doesn’t solve the problem.  Solving the problem is what’s most important — not adhering to lobbyist groups that simply attempt to shout loudest for their special, special interest.


Friends, hear me on this, please.  With all due respect, congressmen from both parties and the President each have those special interests in the back of their minds; they have issues and entitlements which they have individually — and often partisanly — prioritized.  As long as those interests maintain an entitled grip on a politician’s motivation, the politicians collectively will not solve the fiscal problem.  If they do not solve the problem, they are not keeping what’s most important most important.  And dare I suggest… if they are not keeping what’s most important most important, they are not serving — at least the entire country — well.


It’s hard, however, to cast stones upon Washington when we maintain similar struggles in our own homes.  In fact, at Christmas, especially, many of us also have prioritized things of lesser importance… like…


… presents over people…

… things over relationships…

… materialism over the meaning of the day…


We all do it.  We all struggle with keeping what’s most important most important.  And it matters not how brilliant nor intelligent nor worldly or wealthy we are; the struggle remains real.


And so sometimes, perhaps, in order to make us slow down — to make us pause and reflect upon what means most — we are given opportunity — if we are humble enough to actually “get it” — to re-prioritize what’s most important.  Hence, sometimes, life stops.


Sometimes it even snows.




generous love

As I was once again tempted to count the shopping days left until the retail world’s biggest annual holiday, I was prompted to pause, challenged anew to focus on the actual meaning of this season.  I’m not sure I always get it.  Yes, I get that Christmas is far more than Santa and sleigh bells and egg nog and elves.  I get that it’s more than cookies and carols and those pied pipers and presents under our tree.  I get that.  I’m just not always certain I get or we get or even society gets the depth of what the day denotes.


Then I remembered the words of a contemporary wise man who suggested that this season is about generous love.  Not just love.  Not just generosity.  The meaning of the season centers around a love that is generous.  A love that is authentic and real.


As my pause prompted reflection, I couldn’t help but wonder where now on this planet we see evidence of that love… a love that is so big, unparalleled, sometimes overwhelming, often sacrificial.  A love that leaves a mark.  Yes, generous love leaves a mark.  That’s what I think neither we nor society gets.  I think we miss the mark.


So I interacted with multiple persons for whom that mark is obvious and deep.  This is what I found… this is what they said…


“Growing up I always told my mom, ‘I want to adopt children; there are too many that don’t have anyone to love them”… “Bottom line: we wanted to be parents and to raise a family.  We chose Ethiopia because we knew there was a need”… “I always thought people were crazy to adopt internationally, and now I’m one of them.  I was always amazed by the leap of faith I saw in those families, never expecting one day that was what God had in store for our family.”


Yes, I interacted with families who have chosen to adopt.  When reflecting on generous love, what other example comes closer to the concept than persons who have made the intentional choice to share all of their emotional and material resources with another?  … to forever alter their family?


“There was nothing about our situation that made this ‘make sense”… “$23,000 and almost 3 years into an Indian adoption, we got news that India had instated a Family Limit Law that we exceeded by far!  We had no recourse and no additional avenue to take.  We were even financially tanked”… “We once had plenty of things and money.  We once never worried about making a house payment or how much gas was.”


The giving of that love — that generous love — isn’t necessarily easy…


“There is so much loss and grief associated with adoption. My children grieve that loss at a very primal level”… “She has no medical history, no cute stories of her birth, no memories that we can relay of her earliest months”… “He longs to know his birth mom, and it is a great loss to him, a part of him that he finds as ‘unknown’… “Her very first experience was of loss and rejection”… “Her sadness often comes out as rage”… “People wonder if I am her mother — assume she is with someone else. Throughout her life, I have cringed when this has happened.  She is ours through and through, but there is this constant reminder that she is different.”


And somehow this tangible process leaves a mark…  on both the kids and parents…


“People tell me all the time how lucky my children are to have me.  I tell them that I am the lucky one”… “Adoption has helped me understand the depth of the love of God”… “My love for her is fierce!”… “I learned that God’s plan was way bigger than the little box I thought my life was going to be in”… “What I know now is that this family of mine fills my soul in ways that I can’t even articulate or understand.  I am blessed.”


There is something authentic in that blessing — something that speaks to the depth of the generosity and the vastness of the love.  Something that has more to do with the meaning of Christmas than any Santa, sleigh bell, egg nog, elf or present under the tree.  Those who have chosen to adopt — as seen above in families who adopted from Africa, Asia, the inner city, and more — typical kids, foster kids, kids with cognitive and/or physical disability — infants and teens — they have a powerful message, especially this time of year…


“We have embraced the sweetness of every color, every hair type, every body shape, every language, accent, and claimed it as our family.  We’ve learned to pick and choose our battles.  We know the Lord will only give us what we can handle. We are truly blessed.  This is family!!!  This is our family!  It has grown us immensely.  These kids have humbled us, sobered us, and taught us more about our faith than we ever could have realized.”


Yes, the blessing is real.  The mark is deep.  Generous love leaves a mark.


Respectfully… and today, also, humbly blown away…



As perhaps you have by now surmised, the Intramuralist believes thanks can be given in all scenarios and circumstance.  Don’t let me suggest that it’s always easy nor that we always feel like being intentional with our gratitude.  I would never diminish the days that are hard for each of us.  Nonetheless, I do believe reasons for thanksgiving are always plentiful.


Today, I am thankful for…


Life.  Liberty.  The pursuit of far more than happiness.  Democracy.  Elections.  Voting.  The absence of dictatorship.  The freedom to agree or disagree.  The right to free speech — even when we actually disagree.  The Constitution.  The Bill of Rights.  Freedoms endowed by our Creator.  The wisdom foreseen by our founders.


Communication.  Listening.  The encouragement to listen.  Authentic dialogue.  The art of dialogue.  Respectful dialogue.  Dialogue where opinions aren’t all pre-determined (see again, listening).  Community.  Other people.  People to remind us that self is not as important as we think it is.  Humility.  Being grounded.  Accountability.  Wise persons bold enough and compassionate enough to help us in the grounding.


Faith.  Freedom within faith.  Freedom of faith — not freedom from it.  Free will.  The opportunity to see God and love him back.  His creation and the challenge and responsibility to love his children well.  Forgiveness — especially when we’ve needed it most but had somehow had no idea.


Ice cream.  Sundaes.  Coffee.  Playing cards.  More coffee.  Jokers wild.  Walking on sunshine, water, or just plain walking.  Game shows.  Knowing the Daily Double.  The Oak Ridge Boys.  Computers.  Christmas.  iPods, Pads, etc.  Diet Coke.  Mountain Dew.  Caffeine-free Mountain Dew.  Garland.  (Not tinsel, though… too messy on Dec. 26th.)


Chocolate.  Hot chocolate.  Whipped cream.  Starbucks.  Lattes.  Nonfat.  Foam.  (Did I mention coffee?)  More foam.  Sunrise.  Sunset.  “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Old musicals.  Old books.  Classics.  Julie Andrews.  New movies.  Star Wars.  Han Solo.  The princess.  That Darth is not my father.


Music.  More music.  Mariah Carey.  Martina McBride.  Miranda Lambert.  Bruno Mars.  The Beatles.  London.  Those big Beefeater hats.  Prince William and Princess Kate.  Monarchies.  Monarchies not here.  Broadway.  Elphaba.  Empathy.  Compassion.  Selflessness.  Teachability.  Tenderness.  Truth.  Growth.  More growth.  Recognizing both the need for growth and progress.


Respect.  Submission.  Honor.  The elderly.  Youth.  The privilege of learning.  The responsibility of teaching.  Taking them seriously.  Being intentional.  Sometimes being silly, too.


Old dogs.  New tricks.  Recognizing none of us have life all figured out.  College football.  College basketball.  Good games.  The NFL.  Positive attitudes.  Knowledgeable fans.  Cheering for a good play by the other team.  The other team.  Cool uniforms.  Nike.  Adidas.  Sweats on a Saturday morn.  Swag.  (Sometimes no swag.)


Falling leaves.  Brilliant colors.  No more to pick up.  Winter snows.  The beach.  Dreaming of the beach as winter arrives.  The mountains.  Water by the beach and the water by the mountains.  Friends there.  Friends here.  Friends who love you no matter what.  Thick or thin.


Foreign countries.  Home.  Coming home.  Clean laundry.  Sheets just out of the dryer.  Picked up toys.  Puzzles.  Getting the toys out.  Throwing them everywhere.  Children.  Babies.  Special kids.  Mature adults.  Even teenagers… well, most of the time.

Sitcoms.  Sundays.  “Cheers.”  A good toast.  Baking.  Alma maters.  Work.  Days off.  Vacation.  Christmas music.  Creativity.  Brainstorming.  Donuts.  (P.S. brainstorming while eating donuts is extra good.)  Wine.  The first miracle.  All miracles.  Being aware of them.  Vision.  Seeing rightly.  Acting wisely.  Loving those around us.  The opportunity.  The challenge.  The joy…


Yes, these things make me thankful…  today…