Packing Up for Christmas

This morning I began the process of loading our vehicle for a welcomed trip home for Christmas. We say good-bye to our friends here in Cambridge, Ohio and head south this afternoon for a week and a half stay in Kentucky. For that, we are excited.

One of the most overlooked and, I am convinced, hated aspects of Christmas is all the packing up and unpacking that comes with it.  We pack up our shopping carts, pack up our cars, move to other locations and unpack. We repeat this crazy ritual over and over until we are completely exhausted.  I hate packing.

Unfortunately, Lisa and I do a lot of that. Moving things between our home – to our vehicle – to our RV in Ohio and back again – is, for us, the worst part of traveling.  But here is the worst part of all – Lisa packs everything.  Let me try to write that more accurately – LISA PACKS EVERYTHING!  She had so many clothes in our RV closet that the bar holding her entire wardrobe collapsed during one of our trips.  I love her – but enough stuff is enough.

Last night she began collecting items to take home and, finally, announced things were ready to be loaded. My knees buckled at the sight of the mountain of clothes on top of our bed.  I started hauling out armfuls of clothes, shoes, cosmetics, bags, boxes, wrapped and unwrapped packages, decorations, a Christmas tree, and finally her suitcase.  After about an hour, I decided to pack my things up and managed to squeeze my little Wal-Mart bag of clothes into a tiny space that, somehow, her things did not need.  I just hope the springs on our car will handle the weight.

Lisa called this morning to remind me to pick up a pumpkin cheesecake before we leave out this afternoon.  Sorry, there is no room left for a cheesecake, I informed her.  She laughed and then said what she always says, ” You have no spatial sense. I could pack that car and have plenty of room left over.”  Ok! Einstein, have at it.  I understand the whole spatial relations thing.  But, THERE IS NO MORE SPACE LEFT.  No matter how many different ways this car is packed – eventually you will run out of space.

Anyway – we look forward to bringing ourselves and this car load of sh.., stuff home with us.  And I will stop by Reisbecks grocery and pick up one of their delicious pumpkin cheesecakes.  I’m just not sure where to stick it.  No, no, not there (That was not what I was thinking – I promise. Besides, I would eat it first).

I’ll just have to tie it to the top of the car. 

Merry Packing Christmas!
Steve and Lisa.



I had two teeth pulled last week. I now have about six and a half remaining and am waiting on two bridges, an implant and a partridge in a pear tree in January.  Four thousand dollars later and I’ll be chewing with the best of them.

In the meantime, I have experienced my first dry socket and the blessing of knowing heaven is just another sin away.  I have yelled out so many expletives in the last two days, I have been excommunicated from not only the church, but all of Guernsey County, Ohio.  I just went off on a little, old lady at the grocery for blocking my path to the “Oragel”.

Speaking of “Oragel” – please be advised that when you purchase this God blessed tooth pain relief, you better have a sharp knife to cut the tube or you may be screwed.  After knocking down the dear little blue haired lady blocking my path to the check out, I threw a twenty down for the pimple faced teen at the check out – told him to keep the change – cussed Santa Claus at the Salvation Army kettle – and rushed to my car.  Relief was only seconds away.

But no!  Or make that – Hell No!  The tube required a sharp knife to cut away the tip.  Who carries a sharp knife these days?  Not this loser with the dry socket.  I have about twelve really sharp knives at home six hours from here – but I needed the thing NOW!

My only choice was to start gnawing away at the end with two of my remaining good teeth.  I twisted and turned and pulled so hard on the tube that, apparently, I busted out a large opening and the sweet tooth nectar came pouring into the side of my mouth. The only problem was that it was the wrong side of my mouth and now I was still in pain and had half of my mouth drooping like I had just had a stroke.  I worked the goo from one side of my pie hole to the other and, finally, felt the pain subside.  By this time, I had Oragel all over the front of my shirt and had even managed to get some up my nose.  Oragel ain’t no joke.

I was going to stop and eat a Big Mac since my mouth was completely numb, but my face is paralyzed and I am fairly sure the pimple faced kid behind the counter at McDonalds will never understand my order.

Screw it.  I’m going home.

Wuv oo, Teve!

A Dad’s Letter to His Son

I am honored to have my son, Justin McFarland, share this letter he wrote to his infant son, Lincoln James McFarland.  Lincoln passed away on November 27, 2015 having been born premature.  I appreciate the tenderness and love that flow from his words and am amazed at the wisdom he displays.  Our hearts go out to Justin and Lori and any parent who has had the heartbreak of losing a child.

Dear Lincoln,

Hey Bud! It’s me, Dad.  I just wanted to see how things were going and check in on my little man.  I’m sorry I can’t be there to say this in person, but, I just wanted to tell you some things I wasn’t able to say while you were here.

My parents always told me how proud they were of me, even when they probably should not have been.  So, I want to tell you that I am proud of you.  I’m proud of the man I know you would have grown up to be.  I know I would have been proud and honored to call you my son.  I would have bragged on you until you were embarrassed, and then bragged some more. I know you would have been a good looking  kid. With your mother’s eyes and my chiseled features (insert sarcasm here) you would have had the ladies swooning.  On the flip side of that, I think you got your grandpa’s wide feet and I am sincerely sorry for that.  But, we love those feet as they are all your mom can talk about.

When you raise a son, there are certain things that you imagine as your child grows up and I really wish I could have been there to experience them.  Teaching your son to throw a baseball is something that I have envisioned doing with my son.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that.  But, there is a man up there that would be happy to teach you.  His name is Roberto Clemente and I was told from an early age that he was the greatest baseball player to ever live.  So, I know you are in good hands. 

I also wish I could have been able to teach you the finer points of playing football just like my dad did for me.  I’ll have to miss that too.  But, I have great news, Lincoln.  There is a guy up there named Walter Payton and he was one of the greatest to play the game.  Walter will teach you everything you need to know until I get there.

There are times that I think about you and wonder how you may have turned out.  I think about the good times and the bad times that, I am sure, we would have had together.  I hope, like my father, I would have been exactly what you needed during those bad times and the first person you told when the good times rolled.

I’m not sure if I would have been the best dad, but, I had a great dad that taught me what it means to be a good one.  So, hopefully, I picked up on a few things.  I am thankful, however, that you got to see your heavenly Father and I know He wrapped you up in a warm embrace when you got there.  If I could choose someone to fill in for me – it would be Him.

Well, Bud, I’ve got to go.  I just want you to know your mother and I love you very much.  Get your mitt ready because we are definitely having a catch when I see you again.

Love, Your dad.


Shared at graveside service for Lincoln James McFarland on December 5, 2015.

There are times in our lives when we simply want something more, we want something better.  We want better answers, better meaning, better purpose. This thought kept occurring to me during the events of this past week.  And with that,  I thought about a word used in scripture. The word is “surpassing”. Some translations use the word, “transcending”.  I love both because they convey what I feel (perhaps what we all feel at times).  I desire to surpass and transcend this life.  We find that word in Philippians 4:7 when we read, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your mind and heart in Christ Jesus.”

Reading that I thought about peace in my own life. I don’t always have it. I find myself in turmoil and anxious about things more often than I am at peace.  There have been moments of unlikely peace in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. Perhaps that kind of peace is what “surpasses all understanding” is referring to. In the most difficult moments of my life, peace has come over me that was beyond reason or explanation.  And yet, peace (generally speaking) is elusive in our lives. We have it in occassional, small doses like drops of rain suddenly and unexpectedly landing on us and then, just as quickly, find it evaporate away. Defining the peace of God in this way I must conclude that God may not be pleased that I experience far too little of His peace.  Perhaps it is my fault.  But, may I suggest another possibility?

In thinking about the peace of God, I came to another revelation – I may have thought of that verse in the wrong way. Too often I misintrepret scripture by trying to make it about me.  The peace of God, as stated in scripture, may be referring to just that – God’s peace – not mine.  And then it all made sense.  God has peace and that is what guards my heart.  Because of Jesus, God looks at us, His children, and He has peace.  When the heavenly hosts declared at Jesus birth “Peace on earth” – that could not have meant peace between mankind. If that were so, it has failed miserably. Mankind has been at war with one another since Cain and Abel and Jesus birth did not, in an instant, vanquish mans violence against man. Rather, it is God’s peace between Himself and mankind, made possible by the person and work of Jesus, that is remarkable. God no longer sees us as enemies.  And because of that we can sing, “Glory to God in the highest”.  So what is the point of all this?

Today we can also sing, “Glory to God in the highest” because of the peace God has with us.  And here is why: God looked at the brief life of Lincoln James McFarland, He looked at his small, not even completely formed body, He looked and He, God Himself, the creator God, the author and finisher of our faith, was (and is) at peace.  Knowing that God is at peace with calling Lincoln into His arms far sooner than we would wish, is what will guard our hearts and minds until we see Lincoln again. Perhaps we will think of Lincoln and see his life as being unrealized and incomplete. But mark this well: God looks at Lincoln James McFarland and says, “He is Perfect!”.

And so I read as an encouragement to all of us, but to Justin and Lori specifically, “May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Amen!