Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Noble Ones

For every freedom we enjoy in our nation today, we honor all those who first served and gave to establish these freedoms, all those who have since served and given to protect these freedoms, and all those who are serving and giving right now to ensure these freedoms for the future.

To all of you everywhere, you are the Noble Ones.

On this Veteran's Day and every day, we salute you.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Eleven years ago one Sunday morning, I was assisting with the children’s ministry at church. All the kids were gathered for a special event: a visit from a real firefighter. One of our pastors was a career man, and he came to talk to the kids about fire safety.

At the end of the visit, he discussed the scariest scenario: being trapped in a burning building. As he spoke, he began putting on all his protective gear, from pants and boots to coat, gloves, helmet, and finally, the mask. With each item, he continued to speak, especially to the younger children, and said, “Remember, under all this gear, it’s still me.” Of course, to a young child, each item made him look less like the gentle, smiling man that he is, and more like some unfamiliar and frightening creature. With the mask finally on, his face was nearly unrecognizable, as was his voice. He said once again, half shouting to be understood through the muffling, smoke-proof face protector, “You see, it’s still me in here. If you find yourself trapped in a fire, get down low, and look for me. When I come for you, I’ll look like this, so don’t be afraid. When I reach for you as you’re hiding behind a desk or under your bed, don’t pull away. Remember that it’s me. With all the noises and smoke around you, you may not be able to hear me clearly or see my face at all, but it’s still me. When you see this uniform, I’m coming to help you.”

8 years ago this morning, thousands of people were gathered as usual at their schools, airports and office buildings, two in New York in particular. In moments, everything changed beyond description. At the center of the action were the firefighters. The comments that I remember most from people who were there are these: “While we ran as fast as we could down the stairs to get out of that burning building, the firefighters ran as fast as they could up the stairs, into that burning building. In the midst of the noises and smoke around me, I remember seeing their uniforms, and I knew they were coming to help us.”

To those firefighters who ran into those burning buildings, our admiration and gratitude are beyond words. To those firefighters who didn’t come back out, our hearts will forever remember you with sadness and honor. To all firefighters everywhere, thank you for what you do. Thank you for always coming to help us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It Happened to Me

I’ve often marveled at the mystical relationship between women and their chocolate. Light or dark, world-class or cheap, the fruit of the cocoa bean seems to be an enchanted concoction that can transform the ladies from worn down and woebegone to effusive and exuberant in a single bite.

I’ve even been a bit arrogant from time to time, boasting about how we men are clearly above such nonsense.

But then . . .

The other day, I stopped by See’s Candy in the blackest of moods. I was so miserable I didn’t try to hide it when I walked in. I even refused to buy anything for myself. But the lady behind the counter offered me the obligatory sample, so I returned the obligatory thanks and ate the thing while giving her my order. She filled it, I paid for it, and then I left the store.

As I got into my car, I noticed that my black mood seemed to have vanished. I felt – yes – light and airy. The next thing I knew, I was singing some goofy pop song from decades ago, and bopping around behind the wheel. I was happy. Oh, so happy! I was smiling at nothing!

Then I remembered: I’d just eaten Chocolate. I was shocked, but still smiling. This had never happened to me before. I was so glad to be alone, convinced that I was betraying my fellow guys in the worst of ways. Also, because I couldn’t stop smiling, and I didn’t seem to want to.

So no more boasting from me about male supremacy over chocolate. I certainly don’t want to be a hypocrite. Besides, no one will believe me with this big cocoa-covered smile on my face.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


When I was young, I envisioned my dream girl. She had long, curly brown hair, deep dark eyes.

Oh, yeah: and a great personality.

I kept on dreaming.

When I was in college, I met a first-year girl. She was bold, playful, mischievous, and full of laughter. She had a great personality.

Oh, yeah: and gorgeous long, curly brown hair, sparkling deep dark eyes, I started dreaming all over again.

Now at 44 years old, I no longer dream about her.
I get to dream with her.

Thank you, my beloved wife, for making my dream come true 19 years ago today. You are truly beautiful in so many ways, and more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.

I love you, my soul.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

When I Knew

“When did you know you loved me?” she asks.

Memories leap toward me, like children offered cupcakes. “Me, me, don’t forget me!”

The night we met twenty four years ago, your first few minutes at college, when I was a Dorm Assistant who had nearly memorized the names of the new freshman, and I had just met your roommate, and your first words to me were the challenge, “So what’s MY name?”, and I guessed wrong and you playfully chided me, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one,” I didn’t know that I knew . . . but I knew.

Early in the morning on a college retreat in a large cabin filled with our dorm mates, as I slept peacefully on the floor in one crowded room, and several of you came in to find us, and you jolted me awake loudly and more roughly than I’d ever been awakened, and I looked up to see your mischievous smile, and a feeling like liquid joy rushed through me, I knew.

As we walked down the bustling late night boulevard in Westwood, with me in a tie and you in the most beautiful creamy white lace dress I’d ever seen, and I held your hand and felt like we were in a world of our own, like invisible angels, I knew.

When much too late one night after finally arriving exhausted at my apartment to find my roommate answering your phone call, I drove all the way back to rescue you and your fellow damsels from the giant cricket, with each of you screaming, and I walked in to your room to find you standing on your bed, cringing and pointing at the terrified creature, I knew.

That afternoon on the altar, looking at all our friends and family gathered in one room for us, and the last bridesmaid smiled at me and took her place, and you came around the corner on your father’s arm, and the room gasped to see you, and I looked at your face, I knew.

In your high-barred bed in the tiny curtained cubicle of the outpatient room when the surgery was finally over, and you’d never looked or been so worn out, with eyes that would only half open, and you gently handed the cup of water back to the busy nurse, and then you smiled at her, I knew.

The night several months after my father died, when you suggested we sell our house and move in with my mother to help pay her bills and to be there for her, I knew.

The first night you sat on the edge of the bed and waited for me to take your socks off (and every night you’ve done it since), I knew.

Last night, when you were happily dividing up our two small pizzas and you licked each of your fingers with all the gusto of a carefree little girl, I knew.

And I’ll always know.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Gift Arrives

2008 was the year of struggle. How to make ends meet, whether to move or stay put, what to do about the car.

I’ve been waiting for something in the mail. I hate waiting for something in the mail, especially when it’s something special for someone else.

But it finally arrived a little while before the holidays, so I saved it to be a special Christmas present. I was more excited about giving this gift than receiving any of my own.

It was for my wife.
It’s a midnight pearl with crystals set in sterling silver.

She loved it. When I told her how beautiful I knew it would look on her hand, she put it on and glowed.

When I told her that it was also a symbol of persevering through struggle, she tucked into me and cried.

It was a wonderful Christmas.