Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Do you have any idea how difficult it is to communicate clearly? There are so many variables involved in the process, most of them non-verbal variables. Teachers and preachers and politicians know this all to well. So do teenagers, parents, spouses, bosses, salespeople and bloggers. Try as we might, our messages are invariably misunderstood.

Communication is frustrating and sometimes dangerous. My wife has punched me in the arm on numerous occasions over a misunderstanding. Businesses, marriages and friendships have failed because of poor or lacking communication.

I have a degree in communication. Yes, I was made sport of for earning this degree until I entered the business world and met people who could read a spreadsheet but couldn't write or speak well enough to lead a girl scout troupe. I quickly learned to read a spreadsheet while they struggled mightily, and usually failed to become good communicators.

I encourage you all, for the greater good, do not let yourself be deluded into the belief that communication is something of no great significance, or that it is an easy matter. It is difficult and of utmost importance and effects everything we do.

In the words of author and engineer Norman Augustine, "Simply stated, it is sagacious to eschew obfuscation."

True that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Old Friends

While watching the mighty Frogs of TCU beat Utah last Thursday I suddenly flashed back to my childhood. I had a wonderful, creative friend named Rich Whittington whose parents were big TCU fans. Every once in awhile Rich would invite me to go to a game with them. Rich's parents were quite a bit younger than mine and their lifestyle was different and fun.

I was really into playing sports when I was a kid and I was pretty good at them. I was fast and pretty coordinated. Unfortunately I think I peaked as an athlete around the third grade. Rich was not an athlete. He humored his dad and me by attempting the occasional basketball game or tennis match, but his heart was never in it. That was fine with me. I had plenty of friends I could play ball with.

Rich was unique. He was creative and funny. We spent hours playing with his impressive collection of Star Wars action figures. We wrote puppet scripts and put on shows. We used our imaginations in ways that none of my other friends did. Rich's house was a fun place to be because Rich was comfortable in his own skin.

Via the miracle of the internet, I found Rich (thank you Google). Rich is the Managing Director at the Triad Stage Theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was so pleased to find him making his living in the theatre, still immersing himself in a creative community. We exchanged email messages and I have to tell you it felt really good to reconnect.

I have been blessed with several good friends in my life. What a treasure.

BST, Fish, Dog, I know I can count on you guys for anything, anytime.

Allen, you inspire me creatively and encourage me to never think of myself more highly than I should.

Brian, you gently challenge me to grow and teach me how to love more deeply.

And the list could go on and on.

I'm thankful for old friends today. I'm thankful for Rich and the role he played in my fond memories of childhood. May my children be so blessed.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mums the Word

My family and I enjoyed a high school football game on Friday night. It was Homecoming at Birdville High and the mighty Hawks did not disappoint as they throttled Graham 47-28.

Our sweet neighbors (bless their hearts) even made Rainey a mum which thrilled her and filled me with dread about the future, but more about that later.

The real show was at half time as I watched my oldest niece Jordan escorted onto the field as a Homecoming Queen nominee. She looked beautiful on my brothers arm and although she did not win, it really was quite an honor to be nominated. Birdville High is a pretty big school. Jordan is smart, funny, talented and pretty. I'm proud to be her uncle and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for her.

But I digress. If you have never been to a homecoming game in Texas then you may not be familiar with the tradition of the Texas mum. And if you are not familiar with the tradition of the Texas mum, then you probably will not believe what I'm about to tell you.

Homecoming mums in Texas are huge! And they seem to get bigger every year (or maybe I'm getting smaller, but I don't think so). We saw girls who had shoulder straps (SHOULDER STRAPS!) connected to their mums to keep them held up. They are floor length and include bells, teddy bears and we even saw one with lights. LIGHTS! I saw neither neon nor any that shot fireworks, but can that be far behind?

I love Texas and Texans, but bigger is most certainly NOT always better. I have one word to describe this idiotic tradition: RI -DIC-U-LOUS! Definition: Deserving or inspiring ridicule; absurd, preposterous, or silly.

However, I told Rainey she looked great (which she did) and kept most of my comments to myself. That's more than I can say for my wife from Idaho who could not contain herself. I just hope we can get through her high school years without totally scarring Rainey beyond help. I'm encouraging her to get on a work out regimen so she'll be able to walk upright while wearing a mum when she gets to high school. Then again, perhaps by then the girls will simply pull them on a trailer instead of pinning them to their dresses.

Sometimes Texas really is a whole other planet.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Explaining Katrina

As a parent, I'm always looking for teachable moments. Those times when life takes a turn and you stop and share wisdom with your child.

And then something like hurricane Katrina happens.

I've tried to explain the facts. I've tried to share my feelings of sadness. We've met survivors and given aid. But how do I expect my 4 year old to grasp the gravity of the situation when I can't even do that?

Rainey wants to make paper purses for the children and give them some of her toys (note: She said she wanted to give them some of her "bad guy" toys and she emphatically explained to me that Lava Girl is NOT a bad guy). But she can't understand why the builders don't just build them all new houses in our neighborhood and she thinks that the animals left behind must be having a great time playing in all that water.

I guess I just want her to be thankful for what she has and not take things for granted like I've done most of my life.

On another sad note, Ted Harp, a guitar player and singer I've played with a few times, lost his wife after a courageous battle with Parkinsons and asthma and will be burying her tomorrow. Please include Ted in your prayers today for the many who are in mourning right now. May the Great Healer, the God of all peace be with them all.