Tag: milton hooper

Paying My Respects Without Imterference

Today I will attend my Dad’s funeral. It will be the final chapter to bring an end to the last two weeks of my final time with my dad.

Father-son relationships can be tricky. It was very difficult for us. I know I spent a long period of my life seeking his approval. I just wanted him to say he was proud of me. He never did. Many years ago I made peace with that and I never kept expecting it.

As he laid in bed last week, he told me that he had wished things had been different. He said he was sorry that he didn’t spend more time with me.

It is true that for the first part of my life, his priority was the church. I told dad that it was okay and I understand more now. He did the best that he could. We also moved around a lot because churches did not appreciate his integrity and strict accounting of church finances. That integrity finally betrayed him and forced him to retire before he really wanted to when leadership failed to back him.

Integrity. That’s what I remember most about my dad. I never knew him to lie about anything regardless of the consequences. Yes he was strict but he was always consistent. He was decisive and I always knew what to expect from him.

Our relationship was challenging. He was always difficult to talk to. I dreaded it because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Even with our difficulties, he did try to relate to me. He constructed a basketball goal each place we lived and he was a pretty good shot. He would also take me to high school football games. He might have taken me to my first college or professional football game if the church hadn’t thought it was a sin to do so.

At every church Dad tried to make them better than before he came. He was a straightforward preacher who said what he believed. He and I didn’t agree with some things and even in his final days he was still firmly entrenched in it. He didn’t waver.

Our relationship didn’t get any better during my adult years. There was a large influence which manipulated his view of me. We spent more time not talking than we did together. It wasn’t my choice. It became more and more difficult to overcome the interference. I regret this interference deeply and today I boil over in anger about it. Things could have been different. The interference sabotaged our father-son opportunities.

I think one of the things that also hinders is was that we didn’t know how to relate to each other. In the final days I understood him more than I ever had before. It helped that we no long had the interference. I finally understood how to talk to him.

I so much wish it could have happened sooner.

He was a good man. He just never could navigate through the interference.

Damn that interference.

In his final days things were different and as they should have been. He was finally the father I had always wanted. I am no longer irritated to see his resemblance in the mirror. I am proud to be his son.

In one of his final days I asked Dad if it bothered him that I never followed his footsteps into the ministry. He was not. He said it wasn’t something hereditary. It was a calling. I was finally relieved about that.

During the times of the interference I only wished he would have reached out to me. I so much wanted him to make an effort. I wanted to be worth his effort. Unfortunately the interference kept that from happening.

I am certain that outside observers couldn’t understand why we had periods of estrangement. They never understood the power of the interference. They only saw me as the prodigal son. I always appeared to them as the one who ran away. I was the rebellious one. They never saw the battles I was having with the interference. As hard as I tried, it always won and affected our relationship.

Not today.

Today there is no interference. Today I pay my respects to the man who is a part of me.

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He’s Finally My Daddy

I am watching my daddy die.

I haven’t called him daddy for a long time. For most of my adult life, our relationship has been strained and estranged for long periods of time.

Yet here I sit by his bedside watching him fade away to the heaven he has preached so much about in his sermons and believed in for many years. Some have called it “slipping into eternity” or going into the “presence of the Lord.” Whatever you want to call it, he’s almost there.

You think a lot about “the other side” when you are sitting here watching someone die. Some people don’t believe. I can see how hard it is to believe it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. There are many Christian beliefs about what happens when we die. Some think you immediately go to heaven, others think you go to an in-between place and some think we fall into a “soul sleep” until the return of Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

As far as things on this side goes, dad and I have resolved our issues. Neither one of us can make up for the lost years between us but things are settled. At this point the petty differences we had before doesn’t really matter much now.

I now declare that our relationship resolved.

We are both winners. It was never a competition. It was a prideful standoff for way too many years.

We all make hard decisions in life. It’s easy when we are young and can blame decisions on our parents but when are adults and make the hard choices, it’s all on us. I was forced to make some of those hard choices which significantly impacted our relationship. That’s what happens sometimes in life. You don’t always get the Norman Rockwell painting. Many times you get the dysfunctions that would be too difficult for even Dr. Phil to resolve. You have to make choices that allow you to live your own live. It is sad, but these choices can hurt people and cause divisions.

I won’t sugar coat it, my dad was strict. He was a pentecostal preacher and that led to a lot of conflict between us. Whenever he said I was going to get a whipping there was no parole. It was gonna happen. Of course today, he would be accused of abuse but it was a different time then. That’s all he knew. I’m not excusing it or condoning it. I’m just explaining it. I seem to think I turned okay in spite of it. We all do our best. It’s easy to be a critic.

As the breath of life gets harder and harder for him, I sit here understanding this man more now. Over the past few days we have had the father-son moments that never happened between us. He was never the mushy type who talked about feelings. Death tends to force it out of our pride.

Dad was a preacher for over 40 years for a church organization which was very much a cult of people who mistreated him and church leaders betrayed him. The only reason he left this church group is that church leaders ignored improprieties and because of his integrity, it forced him out. The so-called leader whimped out and caved into pressure. Now that person is the leader of the cult group. How pathetic. Because of this, my dad had to find another way to support himself and my mom. Even though this church burned him badly, he still held onto their ridiculous teachings to the very end.

My dad was never a slacker. At many of the churches he had to work a secular job in addition to pastoring a church. He never had a college degree but he was always very intelligent and often figured things out for himself. The church seriously limited his talents and abilities.

I never followed in my dad’s footsteps. I asked him about that recently. It never bothered him because he said that being a minister wasn’t hereditary, it is a calling from God. I see too many who follow their father’s into the ministry as if they were continuing the family business. I’m glad my dad never felt slighted about me not becoming a preacher.

For the first time in my life, my daddy needs me. I am here without any hesitation.

I don’t recall him ever telling me that he was proud of me but that’s okay. He doesn’t have to. I resolved that issue many years ago and I don’t need that affirmation.

At this moment, none of that matters. Death humbles us all.

How Do You Pray For A Healing?

One of the most difficult things in life is when someone we love needs a miracle of healing. When they receive a bad report from the doctor it hits us in the gut and we feel helpless.

Our prayers go to another level.

Right now as I type this post I am sitting by my dad’s bedside watching him struggle with breathing and hearing the negative reports with each doctor that comes in the room to check on him. It doesn’t look good.

Praying for a healing is one of the most difficult prayers to pray because we want our loved one to be healed and recover. That’s natural we want that. We don’t want to see someone in pain or suffering.

I have seen preachers on television who claim that if you have enough faith that people would be healed. They almost guarantee it. Of course your chances improve if you “sow a seed” into their ministry. It also makes me furious to hear some preachers making claims of people who have been healed because they prayed for them. I tend to believe they embellish those claims for their own reasons.

Can I share something with you rather bluntly? It doesn’t matter how much faith you have. If God doesn’t want to heal for some reason, the person is going to die. There’s not a damn thing we can do about it either. (I warned you it was going to be blunt). I have seen people rally all of their Facebook friends to pray but the number of people praying doesn’t guarantee it either. God doesn’t heal someone based on popular votes.

So what does? Is there anything we can possibly do to convince God to heal someone?

No.

I don’t have 7 easy steps or a magic prayer you can recite.

So is there a right way to pray for a healing?

Repent of sins

Yeah, I know we don’t like to hear that. It’s not a popular subject. We have become too prideful to admit it but we ALL sin sometimes. Yes, even the perfect ones out there. Prayers won’t get off the ground if we refuse to repent of our sins. Sin hinders our prayers. There is simply no way around this one. People might debate it but when you get to the desperate stage you will realize this step needs to be done.

Confession

Let it all out. Tell God how you feel. Don’t get hung up on trying to use the right words. There aren’t any magical words. Just speak from your heart. If you have no words or don’t know what to say just be quiet or cry. God understands the tears more than we realize. This isn’t the time to pray “standing in church” prayers with eloquent words.

Be Thankful

Thank God for prayers He has answered in the past. Remind God of what He has done. It’s not that HE forgets but we do it to remind ourselves. Too many times when God answers our prayer we are happy for a short time and then we move onto the next thing and the thrill of that answered prayer fades away.

God’s Will Be Done

I hate this one but it’s totally necessary because we have to admit that God is ultimately in control regardless of our faith or number of people praying. It is very difficult to resign to God’s will because we do badly want His will to be what we want. We don’t understand it.

As I sit here and watch my dad struggle, it’s hard to even pray about this. I have reminded God of all the sacrifices my dad has made in the ministry. The churches he has pastored and the sacrifices he has made. I guess I’m doing it as if Dad has some bank account stored which such be enough to convince God to heal.him. I resign to the fact that God doesn’t work that way. I’m sure dad’s sacrifices mean something but not any additional leverage for a healing.

Honestly sometimes I don’t even know how to pray. I feel weak and completely ineffective. When you are in a situation like this you just don’t know much of anything. This kind of thing humbles you because you realize you are helpless and have absolutely no control of it. That’s pretty scary and frustrating.

The Bible has many examples of healing and how we can lay hands on the sick and they shall recover but what happens if they don’t? What do we do with that? I am convinced that the reason God doesn’t heal is that people praying with take the credit for it. That misses the whole point as to why God heals people.

Do I believe God can heal? Yes, absolutely. Will He? I honestly don’t know. I will pray until something happens. That’s all I can do.

God can heal and I’m praying that He will but I have the courage to handle it if He doesn’t.

Keeping Calm When Plans Change

Most of the time I can deal with stressful situations. I haven’t done so well over the last 48 hours.

I am a planner. I can’t help it. I am usually thinking and planning three steps ahead. Sometimes it’s a curse. So when my plans become scrambled up, it can seriously throw me off.

I thought I had the next three weeks figured out but a sudden change in my dad’s health turned all of that upside down. You can’t plan on some things and I was ill-prepared for this one. With the calming help of my wife we were able to make the immediate necessary changes.

Let me tell you that work makes me mad. I don’t love my job but I like what I do and I am good at it most of the time. It made me mad because work has to take up so much of our lives. I hate that but it is the necessary evil of life. You have to work to pay for things but it never seems to be enough. Work is not the most important thing in life but we are so damn dependent on it.

I like being prepared. This time I am not and it is freaking me out a little. I have to keep hitting my mental reset button and keep focused on the current thing in front of me. Just this morning on the drive to work I was thinking about all the changes I needed to make and had to remind myself to remember that at the moment I was driving and I needed to do that before I move on to the next thing. I couldn’t think about tomorrow or the next day or my plans next week yet. At that moment I just needed to drive safely to work.

Being rattled isn’t the norm for me. I have been calm in the moments of being fussed at by judges or attorneys on my job while maintaining my nerves.

The dynamics of this situation are different. I won’t go into details but emotions are affected as well as changes in schedule. I suppose it’s easier to remain calm during a benign situation at work rather than one that involves more.

The two things that have been working are having someone to help you through it and doing one thing at a time. My wife has been awesome at helping me and even taking some of the planning off of me. I think sometimes I have to do it all but I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for help. I have also just tried to keep the next thing in front of me. Don’t get swarmed with future scenarios and trying to resolve those issues before they possibly happen.

I said that I’m learning this. I’m not good at it yet. It’s a very difficult thing for me but I’m having a chance to learn.

If you’re panicking about a situation, take my advice and keep calm. Focus on the thing that is before you at the moment. Don’t stress yourself about looking ahead. You’ll get there but you have to take care of this first.

What If God Sent You A Friend Request?

I don’t normally watch prime time television shows but sometimes one captures my attention. Most recently I have liked the new CBS series “God Friended Me”.

This show is a mix of “Touched By An Angel”, “Highway To Heaven” and “Lost”. Okay, maybe a hint of “Lost” but still another show that makes you think after each episode yet without an island or the “others”.

The show features Brandon Michael Hall as Miles Finer.  Miles is an atheist who shares his views on his podcast.  His life changes when he receives a mysterious “friend request” from God.  Intrigued, he seeks to prove that the God account is a hoax but along the way he helps others through it.  One of his first friend suggestions by God is Cara Bloom (Violett Beane) who is a reporter.  They team up to find clues to the person behind it and find themselves investigating God’s friend suggestions and helping people in need.

The show is very well written and the intersecting storylines have left me saying “wow” a couple of times which is good because I am rarely surprised and usually see what’s coming.  In fact, we are told about why Miles became an atheist when, as a teenager, his mother had cancer.  He prayed for her and she went into remission and was declared cancer-free; however, on the trip from the doctor she was killed in an automobile accident.  Yeah, I did NOT see that coming.  It is no wonder that he turned to atheism.

Before you get turned off about “God” being in the title, I assure you that it is not a Christian show. Far from it. You won’t have a sermon or sneaky attempts to convert you. In fact, some religious folks will have a difficult time with the Miles’ sister who lives with her lesbian partner while Miles continues to proclaim his atheist views. Another twist is that their father is a preacher. So you can imagine the twists and turns this relationship dynamic creates.

The only issue I see that could be the show’s weakness is the elusive romantic relationship between Miles and Cara. This back-and-forth thing has been overdone before in countless other series and will tire viewers the longer this goes on.  It really isn’t necessary to keep viewers hooked.

“God Friended Me” is currently at a 1.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.4 million viewers in a pretty difficult time slot on Sunday nights following “60 Minutes”.   CBS had liked it well enough to order more episodes through the first season.

It is a good show worth watching if you don’t want to see murders, stupid comedy or weird things.  It is a wholesome show at a time when most TV dramas are dark.   It is amusing to think that God is on Facebook and his profile picture is a cloud and his only like is nature.

Miles Finer is definitely a likable character and someone that will think or do things you might if you found yourself in his situation.

 

 

Doing Anything Fun This Weekend?

I have one of those co-workers I try to avoid on Fridays.  I’m not being anti-social. I just want to avoid that annoying question. I’m not always successful in my escape and evasion tactics as he will find me and ask that dreaded question:

“Are you doing anything fun this weekend?”

I have the same escape plan on Monday mornings because then it is:

“Do you do anything fun this weekend?”

It’s too much pressure man.

Stressful.  Panic attack time.

I MUST have an answer for this guy!  I am under pressure to do something fun over the weekend.  I race through the events in my mind…went shopping, bought groceries, washed the car.   Oh no!  I didn’t do anything fun!

What’s up with this question anyway?  What are the expectations?

I have nothing.  No excitement here.  Move along.

So what exactly is this guy looking for?  I have two possible explanations for this:

#1 – He doesn’t know what else to say.  People who don’t know what else to say or feel awkward in starting a conversation might use this line as some type of icebreaker.  Perhaps they don’t know you that well or your interests and using it as a probing question so they can have a conversation with you.

#2 – It’s a setup question so they can tell YOU want THEY did.  They are very eager to talk about what they did and tell you about their lives.  They are excited to tell someone – anyone.  They want you to tell them what you did and then the end they think you will ask the same thing.  Then they can go with their tales of adventures.

Whichever one this applies to depends on the personality of the person asking the question.

This doesn’t remove the pressure of trying to come up with something exciting to report.  You don’t want to talk about any mundane tasks.  They want action and adventure.  Mowing the grass isn’t so riveting.  I spent three weeks in Europe and now I have to answer the weekend question.  Where were you when I got back from Europe?  I had enough tales to account for many weekends.

The most exciting thing about most weekends is that I didn’t have to be at work.

Boring.

The anxiety about weekend plans can be a problem without the pressure of facing the co-worker’s inquisition. After working 40 or more hours during the week, you wouldn’t want to waste your time off. I know there are others out there that don’t work a 9-5, Monday-Friday job but that’s been mostly what I have done and when the weekend arrives, I want to make it count.

Unfortunately most household chores and tasks are necessary on the weekend because you can’t fit them into the week. Grocery shopping, yard work, house cleaning and other things need attention on the weekend. Unless you are tackling a major project, it is usually good not to allow those chores to take up the whole weekend. I always like to have some time to go on an adventure. Many times my wife and I will go someplace or have an initial event planned but then it leads to other adventures that we hadn’t planned. I really like those kind of days when it all flows like that without being all planned out.

I fiercely guard my weekends. I do my best not to allow my work to take any of my personal time. There are some who like to talk about working the weekend as if it is some badge of courage. It doesn’t impress me how much someone works over the weekend when they could have gotten their work done during normal work hours. Sometimes working the weekend is necessary but sometimes it is a result of someone’s poor planning.

Most of the time when the “weekend guy” asks what I did for fun, my response is that I wasn’t at work so that was fun for me. He laughs and moves on to the next person.

Of course, everyone has their own definition of “fun”.  When I was in the Air Force, most of the guys thought fun was having parties and getting drunk. No, not quite my idea of fun.  Some people think playing golf is fun.  Everybody has their own thing that is fun.  I think it’s fun to play with the grandkids.  I’m not so sure that the office “fun” guy would agree.  He’s probably expecting stories of hang gliding or swimming with the sharks.

I’m sorry, I can’t (and won’t) compete with the office “weekend fun” guy.

So what are you doing this weekend?

Bird Scooters, Voting and the World Series

102518If you live in Nashville, you would swear it was a scene from the movie “The Birds” but instead of birds it is in the form of these silly looking vehicles called “bird scooters” that have invaded the city.  It is annoying and it looks silly.  People are zipping down sidewalks, bike lanes, streets and any place these vehicles can possibly fit without regard to safety, traffic laws or even common sense.  They are a nuisance.  Just another irritation to add to the peddle taverns, golf carts, party vehicles and buses that litter downtown.  The electric scooter companies have promised to ensure their users are adhering to safety standards but I can tell you that they are not.  Riders are not abiding by any safety or any kind of standards.  Just like many Nashville automobile drivers, they are doing whatever they want without regard to any rules.  They are just everywhere and anywhere.  What happened to simply walking?  Oh wait, some people can’t do that right either.  So let’s add another form of transportation to an already over-saturated downtown.

Early voting has started and it is a good thing.  Everyone should get out and vote.  Unlike the way the presidential election goes, these elections actually do go by the popular vote so every vote does indeed count.  Be sure to check the times because they can be rather puzzling.  Polling places have some odd-ball closing times as my wife and I experienced yesterday when we attempted to go vote.  We unknowingly picked the night the place closed at 4:30 p.m.   So we will try again now that we have a copy of the times.  If you go vote, be sure to take a photo ID.  This is very important.  Millions of people have voted early and if this trend continues, it will be the highest turnout in 50 years.  I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  That’s up to you.  Just take your common sense with you.

The Boston Red Sox lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 2 games to 0 in this year’s World Series but if you aren’t in Boston or Los Angeles you probably don’t care much about it.  This year’s World Series has the lowest rating since 2014.   Unless you are either a diehard baseball fan or one of your teams is in the World Series, it is very difficult to be interested in the World Series.  I honestly haven’t been interested since the Chicago Cubs won it in 2016.  I don’t know what it is about Major League Baseball.  The season is long.  Then there’s the one-game wildcard game, five-game divisional series and seven-game league championship and World Series.  Maybe there are too many games and too many teams in the playoffs.  With football and hockey going on in October, the fall classic doesn’t fit into my personal sports viewing schedule.

I’m hopping on my scooter and getting out of here…….