FUN: Bouncing Around


Have you ever played “Popcorn”?

I did during the Christmas break. It requires a trampoline and at least two people. The more the merrier, and yes, I’m aware, more dangerous. 

While watching my 20 year old and his 18 year old brother bouncing around with their youngest cousin – a 7th grader – I saw way too much fun in progress. I yearned to participate but considered the cost it might exact from me. I found myself wanting to be there – even if the three decided to disembark!

First, I logically reflected upon my recently rehabilitated ankle. I pondered the physical therapy that had gotten me to this stable season in my life. Gone were the grimaces from ankle woes that had stripped away my confident stride. Gone was my syncopated limp. In fact, it had been months since I had even considered my ankle. It was then I realized it was rather enjoying its new found healthiness. Yet my passion to pounce remained.

The kids were jumping and jostling and just having fun. I couldn’t just stand by!

Next I contemplated my successful family rollerskating adventure the day before. The annual skating episode was a rite of family time during Christmas. The rink held momentous memories – of teenaged employment, of fantastic friends who created the social nucleus of our lives, of being a shared experience most of us could still enjoy.

My confidence was high as I left mom’s house to join awaiting family at the rink. And then, she said it. The two words that caused me to cringe and re-evaluate my reasoning for this risk.

“Be careful,” she said as I left.

I guess falling down at 49 would have implications that would impair my middle school teaching. It’s hard enough to get to the five different classrooms in which I teach WITHOUT an injury.

Do I REALLY want to skate knowing the potential for pain? My heart said yes so I plowed straight ahead laughing in the face of uncertain safety. Being with my family mattered and if I did kiss the floor and become crippled, at least I’d have a good story. Besides, I was relatively sure my family would call 9-1-1 after they had finished laughing.

Buoyed by the consecutive successes mentioned above, I claimed my moment. 

“My turn,” I yelled as I shed my shoes and sat in the center of the trampoline. My sons were dumbfounded and my nephew unsure how to react. I sensed a momentary hesitation but they could tell I was serious. I wasn’t budging from my criss-cross applesauce position until I had gone airborne and their jumping justified my zeal for zaniness. So the bouncing began. I landed on my right side, then my left. I found deeply stored silly screams emerge and I HAD FUN.

Why is it that we talk ourselves out of fun? Out of “playing popcorn” when circumstances dictate or NOT? I don’t know.

But I hope you think of me next time you weigh the risks because being serious is highly overrated.


















ETC: Resolve (in poetic form)



I’m gonna do a lotta livin’
In the days and weeks I’m given
I’m gonna do a lotta lovin’
Through the cookin’ and my oven

I’m gonna do a lotta listen’n
In between the tears and whisprin’
I’m gonna do a lotta prayin’
God knows the needs, I’m sayin’.

Among the clouds and rainbows
I resolve to make life matter
Between the texts and messages
The noise and endless chatter

I can hear a faint refrain
The tune of truth remains the same
As I do a lotta’ livin’
In the days and weeks I’m given

I’m gonna do a lotta lovin’
Through the cookin’ and my oven
I’m gonna do a lotta listen’n
In the between the tears and whisprin’

I’m gonna do a lotta pray’n
God knows the needs, I’m sayin’
I resolve to make life matter
Between the texts and chatter

I still hear the faint refrain
Of His tune that stays the same
I’m gonna do a lotta’ livin’
In the days and weeks I’m given.

(This poem is dedicated to my friend Bob Coggin.)

FAITH: My “To Don’t” List


This year I have a “to DON’T” list for celebrating Christmas. I’ve determined that unless I am brave enough to make some decisions ahead of time, I will cave to “shoulds and woulds” when it comes to the festivities and frenzy. Let me explain.

The approach is not one that earns Grinch points. It is one of sincerity, kindness, thoughtfulness and giving of self. It doesn’t mean I’m taking a pious way “out” of  NOT doing, going or giving in usual or customary ways. It probably means I will have to think more about the next 23 days. I’m not sure I’m up to THAT but I’m going to try.

The main question I’m asking myself this year is this: What DON’T I have to do to?

Here are some answers:

I DON’T have to be rude – especially to store staffs who work tireless and many times thankless hours as grouchy people buy to have a “merry” Christmas. The gift of patience requires something of me. Who cares that I don’t personally know the person handling my transaction? Am I only supposed to be nice to people who know me? Somehow to me, it just doesn’t add up. Now I’ll warn you, math was NOT my best subject in school but I think you see which way I’m headed here.

I DON’T have to beep my car horn impulsively if the car in front of me doesn’t start moving in 2.2 seconds. The gift of patience might be just what the driver ahead needs. Yeah, it bugs me when drivers talk on the phone but maybe they will realize their distraction if I wait.

I DON’T HAVE to encur debt to help others know I love them. Maybe the self control I’m learning in spending will encourage them to consider changes in their spending habits and end up helping them see hope for their own financial frazzle. The gift of simplicity can be powerful.

I DON’T have to let others’ moods be the steering current as I navigate another season with new family configurations and experiences. The gift of graciousness and acknowledgment can be balms of peace. I may never see the results but I DON’T have to contribute to the stress and hightened emotions holidays can bring out in all of us.

I DON’T have to have my calendar so jammed up that I end up not seeing my family until Christmas Eve at church or Christmas morning for “family time.” The gift of limited availability provides the ability to really make ordinary moments matter, to have the time to extend a kind word, a hug or to actually make eye contract and listen to whomever is making an effort to communicate with me.

I  DON’T have to manufacture merriness just because everyone else has an extra dose of holiday spirit and mine seems a bit less in volume this year. The gift of honesty with myself can allow me and others around me to experience genuineness – happy or sad. Being a risk taker isn’t easy but I know that faux faith isn’t helpful to anyone – especially people who aren’t sure why we get so jazzed about a baby born a couple thousand years ago.

I  DON’T have to be the center of attention or “high need.”  The gift of consideration exerts new dynamics and while I can’t guarantee outcomes, I know that by using it I will end each night knowing I chose to not be a burden or require people to cater to me.

I could go on but I DON’T have to tell you what this approach might mean in your life. Discomfort? Perhaps. Challenge? Of course. The unexpected. Let’s hope!

After all, Jesus has many names recorded in the Bible but He is the hope of the world. My hope is for others to realize this very intangible, but life-altering gift. And the best part? One size truly fits all!