A Thanks Long Overdue

Tomorrow is a big day in my life. My first published book will arrive in the mail and within the next couple of weeks, “A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team” will be available for purchase. One of the two hardback copies that will arrive tomorrow will be mine to keep. The other will soon make its way to a very special man who has meant so much to Owensboro High School football, the “Coach”, Gerald Poynter.

One day during the fall of 1967 when I was eight years old, my dad and I walked from our house on 22nd Street to Rash Stadium to practice for an upcoming Punt, Pass and Kick competition.  The football I was practicing with had been thrown, kicked and punted so many times in our street that the laces had busted and the inner tube was protruding through the opening to the point it looked pregnant.  I abused the footballs my parents bought for me and my dad told me not to throw or kick it in the street.  I didn’t listen.  I would not be allowed another football until Christmas.  I’m certain that the football players leaving the field that day after practice had a good laugh seeing my pregnant football.  That’s when Gerald Poynter did something I will never forget. 

If my memory serves me correctly, Coach Poynter came over to where I was practicing and gave me a few words of encouragement and noticed my bizarre looking football.  He then walked into the OHS locker room and returned with a ball that they used for practice. It was not new, but in good shape and he walked over and gave it to me.  It was the greatest gift I had ever received. 

Over the years I have wanted to thank him for his kindness but never really had the chance.  In the next few days, I will present Coach Poynter with a signed, hardcover, copy of the book about those ’67 Red Devils he coached and I will tell him thanks for that football he gave me fifty years ago.

Those ’67 Red Devils were special and I am excited for people to read why. Their story is unlike any in Owensboro High School sports history and after fifty years I wanted them to get the recognition they deserve. 

I also want to use the book as a way to say thanks for the kindness shown to me by their head coach. 

It will be a thanks long overdue.

Noah and the Fat Girl

Some biblical scholars have concluded that Noah may have worked on building the ark for as many as 150 years. Can you imagine? Every day, waking up, grabbing the same hammer and pegs and going about driving them into the side of that vessel – for 150 years – waiting for the rain, and not seeing a cloud in the sky. 

It is a testimony of a man’s faith, resolve, perhaps even stubbornness, not to quit.  I have to wonder what the early days of that project must have been like for Noah. The enormous size of the task must have been almost overwhelming. Did he ever throw down his tools in frustration? Did the animals drive him nuts? Did he ever want to quit? My hunch is yes to all those questions. I know I would have.

The great struggle of our culture is the inability to wait, to persevere, to accept our reward is far into the future and never tire of straining toward it.  We want what we want now – a fastpass to our dreams. There are very few Noahs in our world today. I am certainly not one.

While sitting each morning here at the resort where we are staying for our vacation, I have watched a young lady jogging the perimeter walkway.  She appears to be in her twenties and her jogging pace tells me she just started running in the past few days. Overweight and heavy-legged, she struggles to complete one full circle.  I have watched her face twist in a painful grimace as she struggles to complete her second lap. By lap three she is walking and struggling to breathe.  She has a long way to go.  But, every morning this week she has been out here – running, trying, hurting. I think about how each morning she rises from her bed, slips on her jogging atire, and quietly makes her way to the jogging path knowing how painful the experience will be.  Yet, I see her everyday.  Other more capable runners fly around her with little effort, lapping her and I wonder if she is discouraged seeing “Miss Fit-body” in the bright spandex flexing past. But, for some reason, she keeps going. God bless her! 

There is a dream way out in the future for this chubby girl who runs here every morning. She wants something and seems determined to get it. I hope she does.  I hope she keeps running when she gets home and never gives up. For some strange reason I want that for her, someone I don’t even know. 

But, maybe I do know her. Maybe she is me. I see her struggles and I see my own. I know what it feels like to get lapped by people. I know how hard it is to keep going when the pain is overwhelming. I know what it is like to fail. And that is why I want her to keep running – to keep driving the pegs into those holes until God delivers His promise – whenever that will be. Please, chubby girl I see each morning, don’t stop!  Please don’t stop!

Your reward is waiting!

A Buffet for Chris

An amazing thing happened here at Disney World last week. I have found that small gestures of kindness are the most memorable of all and that is what we experienced.  A small thing with a big impact. Disney is really good at creating little, magic moments for its guests and that is one of the reasons we return over and over. This one, we may never forget 

We had been planning a trip to Disney World for the past year and invited a sweet family we met in Cambridge,Ohio to join us for their first vacation in almost fifteen years. We covered the cost of the room and helped them raise enough money to make the trip affordable.  They had the time of their lives. 

One of their concerns was their son, Chris, who is autistic and requires a special diet.  There was some concern that Disney might not be able to accommodate Chris and his special needs.  Those worries went away on our first night.  

The campground here at DW has one of our favorite restaurants (Trails End) and features a buffet style assortment of foods.  None of them, however, were on Chris’s limited diet.  Upon arriving, I checked us in to be seated and explained Chris’s special diet needs.  One of the staff members from the restaurant took down a list of food items that Chris liked and soon we were seated. With the exception of Chris, our group began filling our plates with mini-mounds of delicious food.  Chris waited as our waiter told us his food was being prepared.  

The list of food Chris eats includes French fries, chicken nuggets, Mac and cheese, and cheeseburgers.  It was our thought that they were cooking up one of those items for Chris, which was all we could expect.

Then one of those pixie-dust moments happened.  Carrying a full tray of various food items, our waiter placed plate after plate of Chris’s favorite foods in front of him.  Every item on his list had been prepared and we could not believe our eyes.

It then dawned on me that they had created for Chris his own buffet. Cheeseburgers, fries, macaroni, nuggets – he had it all and could ask for as much of it as he could eat.  We were without words.

Disney World is an expensive place and certainly a different kind of vacation mentality required.  But, there is not a place this side of heaven that can make magic happen with such kindness and inclusiveness. They had made Chris feel special, but more importantly, made his parents feel included.

That is magic!

Steve Mc

Eating Around the World

Lisa and I have been here at Disney World with some friends for over a week and have enjoyed our vacation immensely.  Over the next month or so, the annual”Wine and Food Festival” at Epcot is happening.  And I do mean “happening”. Last night we inched our way around the world showcase sampling various foods from around the world along with every other two legged creature in central Florida.  I am convinced there is no such thing as “downtime” at Disney World.  Either the schools are shut down this week or Florida residents are only allowed to vacation in September.  We are talking grid-lock. But, food was calling and so we joined in the fray.

The food samples are really no more than a couple of spoonfuls and seemed (relatively) inexpensive (at least to Disney World economy). Five or six bucks will allow you to sample most menu items.  Lisa and I started in Australia and worked our way through Mexico, Italy and a few other countries whose food items I could not even pronounce.  We blew through about a hundred bucks worth of samples, trying to convince ourselves the entire time what a great time we were having, sweating in lines with the other sweaty people trying to convince themselves they were having a good time sweating with us. In other words, we were miserable.  

To make matters worse, Disney workers, wearing oversized Mickey gloves, waved to us as we left the park, as if to say, “Good-bye you idiots and thanks for leaving all your money with us.  See you tomorrow!”

After inching back to our car with all the other broke, miserable cattle, we finally made it back to our condo and I fixed a bologna sandwich. I figured it cost me about .67 cents. 

Best deal of the day and I ate the whole thing.  

Tomorrow, we are going to try Chinese. There is a buffet right outside the Disney World gates. And they will let you eat all you want.

Steve Mc

My Friend Chris

You don’t really notice the faults and flaws in people who are your friends. Chris is my friend.  I came to know Chris while Lisa and I have spent the last two years here in Cambridge, Ohio.  Soon Chris and his family will join Lisa and I at Disney World for their first ever trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth”. It will be their first family vacation in over ten years and we are excited to be able to help this very deserving, hard working family to this long awaited trip.  Chris is excited too.

Chris and I have made Sunday afternoons our movie time each week through the summer and have enjoyed hanging out while watching the movie of his choice.  Fortunately, we have similar tastes in movies. We love animated movies and movies that border on being silly, hokey-jokey films that probably could have been made for TV or even direct to DVD fare. But, that’s OK with me. Sometimes a predictable, campy movie is just what I need to purge my brain of all the bad stuff in the world. Chris doesn’t care that most of the kids in the theater are half his age and can be heard talking and giggling throughout the theater for the entire movie. I love that about him.

Don’t get me wrong – Chris has some quirks.  He only drinks diet Coke and demands a bag of buttered popcorn at the movie and he sometimes wants to talk during the show. But, the seven and eight year olds don’t seem to mind him either. Neither do I. He laughs out loud and loudly at parts of the movie that only he finds funny and then wants to repeat the line over and over. I love that about him.

Chris stayed with me all this week at the campground and we spent time swimming, watching movies and eating his favorite meal of plain cheeseburgers and fries with (you guessed it) diet Coke. He is very easy to please. I love that about him.

Chris loves knock-knock jokes, singing Disney songs, pretending to pick his nose to get a rise out of me and then laughing uncontrollably when I teasingly put mustard on his finger to make him stop. He can recite lines from movies and TV commercials and can answer any Disney movie trivia question I throw at him.  He loves to change his voice and pretend to be a character I created for him, “Evil Dr. Christoff”.  He thinks the name sounds menacing. I love that about him.

Chris is autistic. He will never be able to live on his own and will need a supervised, sheltered work environment his entire life. He will forever talk out loud in movie theaters, want only fries for lunch and every day text me “Good morning, Stevie” and before bed “Good night, Stevie”. And I love that about him.

Chris is my friend. And that is really all that matters.

Reunion

This past weekend Lisa and I drove nine hours south to Alabama for her family’s reunion. It was a very quick trip and we are now back in Ohio for our final six weeks before heading home and taking some time off.  

I have great admiration for Lisa’s family and there seems to be a genuine love for one another and for outsiders such as myself.  They have always been warm and welcoming to me and to the McFarland branch of the tree.  Having very little family myself, Lisa’s people have become my people and I can’t imagine how it might be for me without them.

Neither my mom or dad had brothers or sisters and my brother and I never had any first cousins.  My dad’s mom died when he was a baby and we never knew his father as he passed away when we were very young.  When my brother died in 1987 followed by my dad and mom a few years later, I had very few relatives left.  With the exception of some distant cousins who I have only occasional contact, I am all that is left.  God has blessed me with wonderful children and grandchildren that fill any void in my life and add to that Lisa’s family – and I can say my cup runneth over.  

I have to admit that I feel a twinge of envy listening to Lisa and her cousins reminiscing about their childhoods and the adventures of growing up together. On Friday night, Lisa’s female cousins gathered in our hotel room and shared funny stories of the past and present.  I watched as these women sprawled across the bed like teenagers and laughed at the funny tales being told, much like I imagine they did forty or more years ago. I took a spot in the corner of the room and tried to stay out of the mix. (Truthfully. I had no where else to go and if I could have slid under the bed – I would have). It was not until my c-pap machine was spotted that I was brought into the conversation.  

My how time and age changes things. Forty years ago I can imagine the conversation with these girl cousins involving topics such as Donnie Osmond and their new stereos. Friday night the discussion was on surgeries, female hot flashes and c-pap machines.  One of Lisa’s cousins told the funny story of having her first experience using her c-pap and how the setting was so high, it caused her lips to flutter “like a dog hanging his head out of the window of a race car”.  Good times!  Fortunately the late night cousin conversation came to an end soon after that and before it could devolve into trying to outdo one another with detailed descriptions of their most recent surgeries.

I am relieved that I no longer have to explain to people what I do for a living, the most common question at reunions. When I was first introduced to the family, it was always the first question asked. “So, Steve, what do you do?” I would then feel the need to explain my mundane job in as impressive and self-important terms as possible.  There was the fear in those early years in the “Cunningham” family, that if the truth came out that I really had a rather boring job with an embarrassingly low salary, there may be a caucus in a back room somewhere deciding I was “Out!”.  That never happened and Lisa’s family members have always been accepting of their Kentucky hillbilly cousins.  For that I will love them forever.  I suppose the interest in what “I do” will be on every relatives mind until they gather at my funeral (I imagine, even then, someone will lean over my corpse and ask, “So, Steve, what do you do?”) Being retired, my answer to that question now is very simple, “Nothing”. Next question?

The truth is these are some of the most welcoming people I have ever known. Lisa’s aunt JoAnn never fails to screech out your name and declare how wonderful it is to see you. And, I think, she really means it. That is a real gift.  

I am appreciative of a family that cherishes being together.  Despite political or religious differences, there is a sense of care and concern that overrides any disagreements.  Age is now starting to catch up with the brothers and sisters, cousins and kin and father time marches on in all our lives.  Our time together should always be spent loving and laughing, remembering good times and cherishing what we have left.

I’m glad God gave me this family to reunite with.

Love, Steve

A Glory Denied: Preface

       Today I am sharing with my readers the (unedited) preface to my book, “A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team”.  I am currently waiting for approval on some photos to be used in the book and other final touches before it goes through the editing and publishing process.  

      I am excited to share this story with others and hope this brief excerpt will spark interest in this remarkable team.  Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.

Thanks!  Steve McFarland

   

                   

                               Amor Fati – “Love your fate,” which is in fact your life.

                                                            Friedrich Nietzsche

 

    A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team                          

                                                                  Preface

            The noise from the big diesel engine drowned out the sound of conversations as the chartered bus made its way home.  Cold raindrops created tiny streams of water on the windows and the worn down football players leaned their heads against the cold glass and watched the rivulets of moisture being pushed into random patterns by the cold November wind.  Occasional light would pierce the darkness inside the bus as it carried the winning team home following their final game of the season.  For the eighteen seniors the night was bittersweet.  Their high school football careers were over and this, their final game seemed anti-climactic as no more than three hundred fans, the smallest crowd of the year, would witness this, their final victory.  Who could blame fans for staying home on such a cold, miserable night?  The game meant nothing in terms of standings or play-off implications.  For these Owensboro (Kentucky) Red Devils, the final trip down US Highway 60 toward home would mean the end of what had been a remarkable season.  The looming, inevitable end was a foreboding reality long before the season began, a dreaded moment they would all face, a foe they had no power to defeat.

           Throughout their season, thoughts of this, their final game, cast a long, dark shadow on all their success.  A year earlier, in a small office in Lexington, Kentucky, a man with authority to do so had determined that this game would be the Red Devils last for the 1967 season.  Punished for a crime they did not commit, these players had no choice but to accept their fate.  There would be no play-off, no possible chance at a state championship, no chance for glory.  Their season would simply come to an end.

            And that end had now arrived.  As the red and white bus from the Fuqua Bus Lines rolled along bringing players and coaches home for the last time, thoughts of the season now completed began swirling in their minds.  Nine wins against just one loss, a controversial loss to the eventual AAA state champion in front of a Louisville crowd estimated to be over 8,000.  The Red Devils had dispatched of every other opponent on their schedule and had overpowered every AA school in their conference and class outscoring them 371 to 7.  They would find little consolation being crowned Big Eight Conference Champions.  They wanted more.  For the rest of their lives, these players and their coaches wanted more.

            It would not be lost on anyone, coaches or players, that a cross-town rival would be their replacement in the state playoffs.  That thought was practically unbearable considering they had soundly defeated their fill-ins just a few weeks earlier.  For a few players, basketball season would help them take their minds off the painful end of their football careers.  One would be Isaac Brown, the dazzling running back who would soon learn he had been named a Parade Magazine high school All-American.  Brown would find some solace on the hardwood as the basketball season would take his mind off of what might have been, perhaps what should have been.  Several seniors would begin the recruiting process as their football careers would be continued in college.  For the others, this final bus ride home would usher in a long, long winter.

            The bus completed the brief, thirty-mile drive and turned into the school parking lot next to the darkened football stadium.   Players and coaches began gathering their equipment and playbooks.  There would be one final walk inside the locker room and the heart wrenching task of removing their soiled uniforms one final time.  Players and coaches congratulated each other, thanked everyone for the remarkable season and slowly made their way home.

            The 1967 football season was over.  A team picture would find its place in the Owensboro High School hallway.  A single trophy declaring them conference champs would squeeze out a spot in an already crowded trophy case.   The uniforms would be washed and put away in anticipation of many football seasons to come.  It was over.

            The team had answered every question and taken on every challenge.  There was little doubt that this team was the best class AA team in western Kentucky if not the entire state.  Other teams would take their place in the state play-offs and one team would be crowned champions.  It would not be Owensboro High School – that determination had been made twelve months before.

            There would be, in the end, many questions, many opinions and speculations.  Perhaps the most difficult would be the question of how this team would be remembered in history – or if they would be remembered at all.

 

 

Stevie is Only 20%

For the past couple of weeks, I have been home helping our daughter with her two boys while James, our “Fun-in-law”, is away for job training.  Heather is an outstanding mom and Lisa and I could not be more proud of her and James for the way they are raising Conner Jack and Thomas Lea.  Raising two little boys is not for the faint of heart.

This past week has been especially challenging for Heather as Conner Jack, who is three years old, has developed a bit of an attitude and, it would seem, is experiencing those “terrible twos” a little late.  He is still a wonderful little boy and we know the strong will he is displaying will, one day, work to make him a strong young man.

He has struggled to adjust to his new preschool classroom which requires a more structured environment.  Conner would much rather play all day with absolute freedom and to be told to do something is just hard for him to accept.  When Heather was told that Conner had received a number of stars for good behavior, she was ecstatic.  One would have thought he had been named Valedictorian.  We were so proud.  We told everybody about his stars and were convinced the crisis of his bad attitude was over.  The next day – he spit on his teacher.  OK!  This is not going to be easy.

After another long talk with Conner, reminding him what we expected of him, he told me he was a “good boy” and was going “to stay on green” (which is the preschool color coding for being good).  I hugged him and told him we all knew he was a good boy and that we loved him very much.  It is important to tell children those things – often, even when they may disappoint us.  Children need to know what is expected of them and they must also know they are loved and always forgiven.  It is a lesson in life that I did not get until I was an adult.

When I was growing up, my parents insisted that I attend both Sunday School and church every week.  The only exception to that rule would be an occasional Sunday family outing to the only place we ever went when I was growing up, Sturgis, Kentucky, to visit my grandparents.  Sunday School and church was important in my life and it gave shape to my spiritual identity and taught me the basic principles of my Christian faith.  It was a great time in my life.  But, there was a problem.

Each week as I sat with my friends in Sunday School, the teacher would ask each of us some basic questions before starting our lesson.  It was part of the Southern Baptist protocol to keep extensive records.  I never really knew what became of all those records but I imagine they are stored in a Ft. Knox-like vault somewhere in Nashville, Tennessee.

On a little white pad of paper (I can still see it in my mind) was a list of six or seven items that would give each of us a grade for the week.   Things like: Did you read your bible everyday?; Did you read your Sunday School lesson?; Are you attending worship service?; Did you bring your bible?;  and other questions like that.  After we answered those questions, our teacher would say (out loud) what our grade was.  I could never seem to get 100% and I felt terrible about that.  God was not pleased with me.  I was a bad person.  I should be ashamed.

It would go something like this.   After the “opening assembly” the boys and girls would separate into small classrooms where our “lesson” would be taught.  After a few minutes of giggling and jokes, our teacher would get our attention and pick up that little white pad of paper.

“OK, boys! Let’s go through our questions.  Alright, Bobby Proctor – did you bring your bible?”  “Yes”, Bobby would exclaim proudly.  “How about your lesson”, the teacher would ask – “Did you read it?”  “Why, yes I did” Bobby proudly declared.  I slunk deeper into my metal chair knowing my time was coming.  The teacher continued with the questions to Bobby and then announced, “Bobby is perfect today.  Congratulations Bobby!”  The next boy in line would then be asked the same questions.  “Terry Chapman is 90%.  Way to go Terry!” Then he questioned Gary, Billy and Mark.  Outstanding scores everyone.

Finally, it was little Stevie McFarland’s turn.  “Ok, Stevie!  How about you?”  And the questions would begin.  I had not read my Bible that week.  I had not read my lesson.  I forgot my bible as I ran out the door.  I only could say “Yes” to one question.  I was going to attend worship service.  My teacher added up my score.  I sunk even deeper into my chair – wanting to fall through the linoleum floor.  There was a long silence.  My teacher was calculating.  The other boys in the class waited, silently.  The verdict was almost in.  I thought the teacher may need a slide rule to get an accurate score.  I swallowed hard and waited.  Finally – “Stevie, you are 20% today.”  And then he said something even worse.  “You can do better than that.”

I was going to hell.  No doubt about it.  This was it.  God may send me there before I can even get to the worship service.  I could have lied about those things, but, if I lied inside the church I was fairly certain that I would instantly be engulfed in flames.  God loved Terry and Bobby and Gary and Billy and Mark.  But, God hated little Stevie McFarland who, on this particular Sunday morning, was only twenty per cent.

Sure, I could run home after Sunday School to our house just a block away and skip worship service.  But, that would be lying to that little white piece of paper and, probably, an unforgivable sin.  Besides, one day the President of the Sunday School board may arrive at our front door and say they had been conducting an investigation of my Sunday School records and had found that on June 3, 1969, little Stevie McFarland said he was going to attend worship service, but that their records indicated that he did not.  I could imagine my mother trying to explain and the man, probably in a black suit and a red tie asking her, “What do you have to say for yourself, Mrs. McFarland?”  They would then enter my house, ask for church records and then, ceremonially, tear up my baptismal certificate.  I would be doomed.  My 20% was unworthy of God’s love.

I felt that way all because no one told me that God still loved me.  Maybe they assumed I knew that.  I did not. For years I convinced myself that for God to love me, I would need to be 100%.  I remember singing the words, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way – to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”  Yet, I was just 20%.  I was failing in trusting, failing in obeying and certainly failing at being happy in Jesus.  Mainly, because I was convinced that Jesus was not happy with me.  How could he be?  I was just 20%

And now the real shocker.  I have been 20% all my life.  I never did get it right – I never did and I never will.  While I witnessed what looked like people with their lives all together, their careers perfect, their conduct without question,  scoring 90% or better at everything they did,  I found myself to be a mess – an unforgiven, cussing, angry, teenage mess.  It would take me years to overcome the thought that I was unworthy to be called a child of God.  But it happened.

Something of a miracle took place in my life in my twenties.  Someone explained to me about God’s grace.  God’s grace, they said, was more than just the prayer we recite before a big family meal.  Grace was much, much more.  In fact, God’s grace is everything.  It is the part of God that loves me for my 20% and forgives me for the 80% I can never achieve. They told me that not only am I a mess before God – so is everyone else.  I could not believe it.  There are others who are 20%, some even ten. I had a friend, one time, who, I am certain was in the negative numbers.  God even loved him.   It was as if I had been on a deserted island all my life, thinking I was all alone, only to find out that all of humanity was with me the whole time.  I was not going to hell after all.  God actually loves me and my 20%.   It changed my life.

When I heard my grandson, Conner Jack, trying to convince me that he was a “good boy”, I immediately hugged him and told him, “Yes! You are a good boy!”,  and that I loved him very much.  In fact, we all do.  Without God’s grace, I’m not sure how parents can survive the terrible twos or threes or thirties that their children will put them through.  Parents must teach, discipline, love and always forgive – daily.  Conner will have good days and bad.  There will be times in his life that he is 90% and other times that he will barely hit ten.

But, in God’s eyes – Conner Jack will always be in the “green”.

Love,

Little 20% Stevie Mac

 

 

 

Unprepared

Longfellow Elementary School once had a classroom with a fireplace.  I know that to be true because I spent most of my first grade in that classroom.
I can still remember my very first day sitting at my desk, “Big Chief” tablet and limb-thick pencils in tow.  I was scared and unsure of myself.  All around the room children were upset and crying.  I wanted to go home. To my left, standing in the classroom doorway was my mom with tears in her eyes.  She worried that day about her child, just as Lisa and I would worry about ours some thirty years later.  Had we prepared them for what they would face in life?  Were they ready?  Only time would tell.

My parents did a good job preparing me for things I would experience.  At all the significant moments in my life, my parents had me prepared.  For some of those events it became necessary for them to take time and actually instruct me, sort of childhood in-service lessons. For example, when I began junior high I was required to wear a jock strap in PE class.  I had never seen one before and had no idea how they were worn.  Had my dad not prepared me for how to properly wear the strange garment, I may have embarrassed myself right out of the seventh grade and into therapy.  Come to think about it, some of my poor classmates may have ended up needing counseling all because they had their jocks on backward.  They were not prepared.

Some of my preparation for life came by those modeling their lives before me.  People, including my parents, friends, and those I admired, became examples for me to emulate.  In some cases, those examples were less than positive – leading me to make bad choices. But, there were many examples in my life of how to live that changed me and turned me toward the man I am. They taught me about being a good husband, a good father, a man of God.  Many of those I found myself imitating, never knew I was even watching.  But, they prepared me for things in my life that no textbook, no Sunday School lesson and no college lecture could ever convey. 

Many of the men and women in my life who took time to prepare me for what I would face have passed away.  And though their physical presence is no longer, I still feel and experience their influence as I continue on this journey.

Now, for a heartfelt confession.  I have faced some things that no one prepared me for.  I suppose we all have.  Almost three decades ago I was faced with the realization that my brother was a homosexual. Today, the issue of homosexuality has become so commonplace and accepted, it seems strange to admit it was once taboo.  After the Aids virus attacked his system and took his life in 1987, I spent the next fifteen years lying about the cause of his death.  My parents never could speak the words.  None of us were prepared for what we had to face.  Things were so much different in the 1980s.  It took me time.  Let me repeat – it took me time.

The world continues to change.  New issues challenge my understanding and acceptance.  The transgender debate is the newest hot topic that is building a dividing line between those who accept and those who do not.  The issue demands our immediate embrace and acceptance and LGBT advocates monitor our accommodation.  Those who do not accept transgenders are labeled bigots.  Those who struggle to understand are closed minded.  Those who resist on moral principles are religious fanatics. 

I was not prepared to deal with my brothers homosexuality and I was not prepared for transgenderism.  Over time I developed a healthy, loving understanding of my brothers sexuality.  It was not easy and it did not happen over night.  The same will be true for whatever new lifestyle choice will demand my acceptance.  It will take me time.

The issue of agreeing or disagreeing with a lifestyle choice is not the purpose of this blog.  I have been determined to always write truthfully and many have thanked me over the years for my open and honest stories.  This is no different.  When my brothers sexuality first became known, I was angry with him – to the point that I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Over time, although I disagreed with that lifestyle, I was able to embrace him in love. Perhaps the real challenge for people, if they are anything like me, is that social issues that arise suddenly seem to always demand sudden acceptance.  That is the difficult part. Though I may not agree with a lifestyle choice, in time, I may (at least) learn to love and understand. I just need some time.  Don’t call me a bigot, don’t call me fascist or closed minded – please.  Just give me some time.  I was not prepared.

In conclusion, embracing the ever-changing social mores is (for me) like putting on a jock strap for the first time. Initially, it is strange and uncomfortable – an unpleasant experience. Over time I will feel a little more comfortable, but probably never wear one again – nor understand how or why anyone would.

And had someone not shown me how to wear that thing – I may still be trying to figure it out.

Love, Steve

This, That and the Other Thing

I’m not a patient man.  I get antsy at stoplights and fast food restaurants that take longer than three minutes to hand me a dried up burger. I squirm if a sermon goes too long, or the doctor makes me wait, and wait, and wait. As a retiree I should take things nice and easy – slow down – relax.

Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe I should see a doctor. I would, but he will probably make me wait and my problem will only worsen.

My Mom always told me to be patient. She said good things come to those who wait. I believe she thought it was scriptural. Maybe it is – probably in the book of Proverbs somewhere. I don’t know and I’m too impatient to find out.  Besides it does not make sense. Nothing has ever come to me by waiting except a sore rear end and higher blood pressure.  That is, until a couple of weeks ago. 

I headed back to the Nashville car auction with our used car dealer/friends, Mark and Charlie Armstrong, following our first failed attempt to buy a car. You may remember in our previous episode, the vehicle we really wanted sold for more than expected and because we had no backup plan, we went home without.

Well, guess what?  As it turned out, the vehicle we thought sold, in fact, did not sell. I could hear my Momma’s voice saying, “See, Steven Mac! I told you – be patient.”  I love you Mom, but, patience had nothing to do with it – it was someones lack of credit or cash.

This time we had three vehicles to choose from – but my heart (and, more importantly, Lisa’s taste in cars) was on the same one.  While I was spending a moment in the restroom, Mark was bidding on the car we wanted – low and behold- he got it.  I guess good things come to those who pee at the right time.

Lisa and I now have a new vehicle (not new-new but new to us). We are grateful to Mark and Charlie. We are grateful to the person who did not buy the vehicle the first time. And, we are grateful to my mom whose voice from decades before spoke to me about being patient.
PS:  We learned a few days ago that another vehicle like the one we purchased sold at the auction a week later with less miles. I knew we should have waited.

Lisa and I learned this past week that our time in Cambridge, Ohio will be extended until the first of September. We have plans to take some time off in the fall before heading out once again. It is feeling more and more like this will be our last stop in Cambridge.  We never anticipated staying two years in one place. But, God may have other plans and is laughing at ours. We love our friends here in Ohio, but look forward to new adventures. Stay tuned.

Our newest grandson, Thomas Lea, is doing great. The little guy came into the world several weeks early but is thriving.  The nurses at the hospital called him a “rock star” with his ability to go home after just a few days. He has amazed everyone.  Thanks for all your prayers.

I am working on a book about the 1967 Owensboro High School football team. The book is called, “A Glory Denied” and tells the story of the only team in Owensboro history to be suspended from post season play. The 1967 team was one of the best in school history with a record of 9-1 and the team outscored their opponents 371-27. I am anticipating the book being available by the fall of 2017 and the team’s 50th anniversary. If anyone reading this has a connection to that team as a player or otherwise, please contact me at mcfarzone@att.net.  I would love to speak to you.

God Bless!
Steve and Lisa