Day 69: Bob, Gordon, and Luis

I spent a majority of today staring at my laptop and catching up on a summer's worth of emails from parents and students.

I'll spare you that excitement.

Instead, let's remember Bob, Luis, and Gordon -- all of who are parting ways with Sesame Street after 45 years on the show.

Day 68: Nothing exciting.

Today included yard work, a septic tank repair, and some time spent preparing for the new school year.

Nothing exciting.

So here's this instead:

Day 67: Grass-Fed Beef and God's Voice

Over the years, my wife has taught me a lot about healthy eating. While I still have a weakness when it comes to junk food and carbs, Amy's example at least makes me try to drink plenty of water and eat an occasional vegetable. One other example is, as often as possible, we buy grass-fed meat in order to cut down on as much of the store-bought additives as we can.

This is the background to a very interesting Monday morning.

. . .

After researching various grass-fed cattle ranches within a reasonable driving distance, Amy recently placed an order with a gentleman located about two hours away and I set out this morning to pick up our purchase. I was expecting a few hours there, about ten minutes to pick up the meat, and a few hours home. Leaving at about 7:15, I figured I'd be back home by 11:30 -- noon at the latest.

I called Amy a little after 11:00 and told her I was just leaving.

. . .

Our meat order was to be picked up at the cattle rancher's home. After ninety minutes of interstate driving, the last portion of my trip took me to a two-lane highway, then to a rural road, then to an unpaved gravel road winding through a field. Finally, I sat in my car at the bottom of a hill -- looking at an unmarked mailbox on my right and a long winding lane to my left which headed upward toward an unviewable destination. This wasn't a road -- it didn't really even look like a driveway -- but my GPS was telling me I had arrived.

I called the rancher to be sure I was in the right spot. If this wasn't it, I didn't want to climb this crater-filled drive only to find myself face to face with a guy telling me I have a "purdy mouth."

On the other end of the phone came the rancher assuring me I was in the correct location and inviting me up the hill.

After a few turns and avoiding some holes that made me wish I still had my old Jeep and not a Honda CRV, the property came into view -- a beautiful farm house looking out over acres of land.

. . .

I rang the doorbell and was invited inside the rancher's home where he appeared to be finishing a text message on his phone. I considered pulling out my checkbook to have payment ready for him and to take up as little of his time as necessary -- but before I could even reach toward my pocket, he finished his message.

After some casual chit-chat about his business, the rancher mentioned a news piece that was done about his business which can be found on his website. I don't recall the exact progression of our conversation from there, but he subtly made mention of having an "amazing Christian testimony." For the sake of polite conversation, I asked if that was included on his website as well.

The rancher said it was not ... but in the same moment, turned quickly towards me and asked with a smile, "Are you a believer?"

"Yes, sir. I am," came my reply -- not entirely sure where this was headed.

"Do you want to hear the story? Do you have time?" he asked, clearly excited to have this door open even a crack.

While I'm not the world's biggest fan of small talk, I also believe that everyone has a story to tell and deserves a chance to be heard. I often remember a line from Max Ehrmann's Desiderata:
Listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Don't get me wrong. Based on our few minutes of conversation up to this point, the rancher was certainly not dull nor was he ignorant. He was charismatic and quite intelligent.

Either way, did I have time to hear his story? Sure. I had a few minutes.

"Of course," I said.

With that, he invited me to join him at his kitchen table which was scattered with receipts and papers -- clearly where he'd been working earlier in the morning.

. . .

For over an hour, he talked and I listened.

I listened as he poured his heart out through multiple stories of having heard God's audible voice and experiencing moments of perfect peace. Some of his story took place when he was a teenager and other parts took place last month.

You may think I spent this time glancing at the clock or concerned for the well-being of my purdy mouth...but that wasn't the case.

I was fascinated. I was inspired. The hair on my arms stood up multiple times as he shared his story.

At times he laughed. At times his eyes filled with tears. A few times his hands trembled with emotion as he spoke.

This guy was not off his rocker.

I have a pretty accurate bullshit detector and he was no kook. He was a man with a passion for God who clearly bursts with excitement at the opportunity to share his story with anyone willing to hear it.

. . .

About the time I expected to be on the final stretch of my drive home, we headed outside to load my coolers. I paid the rancher and thanked him for sharing his story with me.

Winding down the lane back to the main roads, I wasn't quite sure what I'd just experienced.

I was pretty sure it was more than just buying some grass-fed beef.

. . .

Do I think the rancher has heard God's voice?

I do.

People experience God's presence in different ways. Although I've never had such an experience where I've heard God audibly speak to me, I've experienced His presence in my own individual ways at various times throughout my life.

The rancher said to me that someone once asked him why he has these experiences and they do not.

He and I agreed that it's because he allows himself to have these experiences.

That may seem over-simplified, but I think it's true.

It's hard to hear if you don't listen.

. . .

"It's amazing how reluctant or even terrified we are of accepting how peaceful life can be -- while seeming to spend all of our time seeking for it to be so. Every one of us embodies the Sacred One." -- Bo Lozoff (Deep and Simple)

Day 66: Suit Shopping

Amy and I will be going to a wedding in a few weeks -- a "black tie optional" affair.

That means formal.

That means I need to buy a suit.

In my job as a high school counselor, I don't have the need to own a nice suit. At my fanciest, you might catch me in a shirt and tie, but mostly my corduroys and untucked button down shirts have served me well all these years. But duty has called and it's time for me to bite the bullet and play grown-up by purchasing my first suit since my early college days.

Remembering the last suit I owned -- somewhere around 1994 -- it was hideous.

And so was my hair.

The last time I wore it was at a celebration for my grandparents' anniversary. That's me in the back with the goatee and the purple suit. Or is it burgundy?

Either way, I looked like a magician.

Twenty-two years later, I walked through the doors of our local Men's Warehouse where my measurements were taken and before long I stood looking at some guy in the mirror who looked like he would've been a lot more comfortable wearing the shorts and flip-flops he wore into the store.

I debated on breaking into Jim Carey's dance from Dumb & Dumber while Amy checked out her stunning husband in the mirror...but I didn't. The suit I was wearing at the time had apparently taken hold of my sense of humor and would not allow me to tap into the idiot portion of my brain.

As we paid, Amy attempted to be sly by asking if my measurements would be stored in their system but I knew what she was doing. She seems to be under the impression that corduroys are not dress pants and is bound and determined to rid our closet of my small corduroy mountain. Reading between the lines, I expect to be receiving a pair of dress pants from her at every birthday and Christmas for the next five years.

I asked the guy helping us if Men's Warehouse sells corduroys.

They do not.

I debated on asking if they'd consider doing alterations of the pairs I own that are currently too small for me or have fringed cuffs. Again, there must have been something in the store affecting my idiot mode because I decided that I was already teetering on that line between funny and obnoxious to my wife.

So stay tuned. The Summer of Tim may be winding down, but it'll wind down in style.

Day 65: More Sun, More Swimming

After a week on the road with much of that time spent in the sun and in the water, you'd think we'd had enough.


Amy's aunt and uncle were in town today and we spent all day swimming across the street.

All day.

ALL day.

Good night.