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Award Winning Book

Fun summer reading. “Monkeys In My Coconut Tree” by Ed Thompson, is a compilation of fun, easy-to-read stories of fun, family, and faith. It was a Reader’s Favorite 2016 Silver Medal Winner. So come on, check it out. Read some of the reviews and download your copy by clicking HERE. (Also available at Amazon.com, iTunes and others.)

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No Ugly Crying

Abby & Dad

see the short video here: http://youtu.be/n72tZR-yrR8.   Photo by kallimaphotography.com

The night before my daughter got married on December 28, she handed me a small gift. Appropriately, it was a handkerchief. It was monogrammed with these words, “No ugly crying. I love you, Abby.” She knows me well.

Abby didn’t want me to see her until it was time to walk her down the aisle. As the minutes passed and the hour drew near, however, I was beginning to panic. I felt like a gurgling volcano ready to explode in a horrific blast of ugly crying.

A good friend, who also knows me well, saw me pacing. “Have you seen Abby?” he asked very concerned. All I could do was shake my head, “No.” He heard the volcano gurgling and said, “Oh no. This is not good. You’ve got to see her…now.”

So it was that a few moments later I was outside the room where Abby was waiting with her bridesmaids. I stood there waiting, alone with my thoughts, when the volcano started to erupt. I pulled out my special handkerchief and tried to read the words but all I could see was, “I love you.” Then the volcano blew.

I was desperately trying to compose myself when I turned to see Abby walking toward me. What a sight. I have never seen anyone or anything so beautiful. She was radiant; absolutely beaming.

It’s hard to stop a volcano, but Abby did. She looked me in the eyes and with great confidence and conviction, said words of love that will forever touch my heart. And somehow, the volcano stopped. (Click here to see the short video.)

The next thing I knew I was standing beside her before family and friends with a lump in my throat, but a confident smile on my face. We were standing together before a loving God who brought all of us to this point and who promises to see us through every twist and turn of life.

So I put her hand into her soon-to-be husband’s hand, gave him a hug along with a few private words, kissed Abby one more time, and took my seat beside my beaming wife. As we watched our daughter get married, the pastor (my older brother) recited this wonderful blessing from the Bible:

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Without a doubt, December 28, 2014, was one of the best days of my life. I am greatly blessed.

 

Monkeys in My Coconut Tree

There are monkeys in my coconut tree.

No, really.  Little Capuchin monkeys–the “organ-grinder” kind.   We live a few miles from the Miami Metro Zoo and assume they escaped after one of our hurricanes.  If so, they hiked several miles before finding the county-protected wooded area behind our house.  We’re just glad it’s monkeys and not rhinos.  Everyone knows what to feed monkeys.  I have no idea what to feed a rhino.

There are three of them.  We’ve watched as they climb through the trees in the protected wooded area, climb over our back yard fence, and make the quick scamper into one of our coconut trees.  They like to sit on a palm branch and eat the little coconut eggs (or whatever you call them) and chirp with delight.  They actually sound a lot like I do when eating a Heath Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

They showed up quite often before (we assume) the county monkey squad caught them and returned them to the zoo. But for almost a year, we enjoyed sitting on our back porch, sipping coffee while enjoying the traveling zoo.  In fact, I highly recommend that when you have the opportunity, you should sit on your back porch and watch monkeys eat berries in your coconut trees, too.

I have a rather long history with little two-and-a-half pound Capuchin monkeys.  In fact, I grew up with them…and I’m not talking about my three brothers.  As I was sipping coffee and watching the monkeys in my coconut tree, I thought back about the time my monkey broke my arm…

Ed & ReepicheepHis name was Reepicheep and he was named after the pugnacious talking mouse in the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series.  He came to live with us when I was ten years old.  We got Reepicheep from the Amazon — not the online place that sells everything except monkeys — the actual place in South America with jungles, wild animals, and piranha.  Just to make sure, however, I went to Amazon.com and typed in “monkey.”  I was relieved to see they do not sell Capuchins.  At least not yet.

Reepicheep arrived via missionaries traveling on furlough to Miami. But as so often happens when  foreigners get a taste of America, he didn’t want to go back.  So when the missionaries went back to South America, Reepicheep stayed with us and become an illegal alien.

Reepicheep lived outside in a treehouse my Dad built specially for him.  It was a lovely but sparse two story condo with a front porch.  To keep Reepicheep from wandering off and joining a gang, he wore a leather belt around his waist which was attached to a light chain about five feet long.  The  chain was attached to a pulley wheel which was attached to a strong cable with one end anchored to the tree and the other end to the corner of our house about 30 feet away.  Got it?

This set up is important because Reepicheep taught himself the most amazing Tarzan-like trick which he performed all day long.  He would casually stroll to one end of the wire cable and dive off in a headfirst bungee jump.  Knowing exactly how far he could free fall before the five-foot chain would jolt him by the waist, he would deftly grab his chain and swing like Tarzan to the other end.  Honest!  The only thing missing was Tarzan’s jungle yell.  I used to charge the neighborhood kids fifty cents to come over and see our monkey swing.  I made $18.50 the first weekend we had him!

One of my jobs was to feed the monkey. This meant I would have to climb about seven feet up the tree, find his metal food dish, climb back down the tree, walk back inside the house, fill his tray with left-overs from dinner (no Purina Monkey Chow for our chimp), then climb back up the tree and hand over the dish.  At first it was sort of fun, but after six or seven months of this, it lost all its excitement.

So one day, in a moment of adolescent genius, my brothers and I decided to hang a rope swing.  We figured we would not only save gobs of climbing time, but our “speed feeding” system would  actually make feeding the monkey fun again. We attached one end to a thick branch and the other end to a deflated inner-tube tire. The trick was to run as fast as you could and dive into the inner-tube.  If done right, your momentum would carry you all the way up to Reepicheep’s tree-house. Once there, you had to then reach out and grab onto the tree house and hold yourself in the precarious prone position long enough to locate the metal dish.

It was a thrill seekers delight.

It became even more dangerous, however, when Reepicheep turned mean.  I don’t recall exactly when he turned mean, but I think it was right around the time I started throwing mangos at him.  Reepicheep was amazingly agile and hard to hit.  At first I thought he enjoyed our little game of dodge-mango, but as it turns out, it just made him cranky.

Even so, feeding the monkey had now become fun once again.  If Reepicheep was in a good mood, you could swing up and chat and play with him for a while during your search for his food dish.  If, on the other hand, Reepicheep was feeling a bit irritable based upon the amount of mango juice dripping from his fur, it became a rather daunting and terror filled experience.  It’s amazing how scary a two-and-a-half pound ball of fur with fangs can appear at dusk.

So it was, on a particular summer night in Miami, I was trying to coax the little ape away from his treehouse to the other side of his cable by our house.  A couple of near miss mango tosses were doing the trick and Reepicheep was as far from his tree house as he could possibly get.  My plan was to take off for the tire swing, dive into the inner-tube, swoop up to the treehouse, grab the food dish, and swing away to safety before the savage beast reached his house. It looked good on paper.

I lobbed one last mango to distract Reepicheep. My ploy worked as the gullible long-tailed organ grinder wasn’t even looking when I took off for the inner-tube.  My dive was close to perfect as I launched myself into the tube and felt the momentum propel me upwards.  I smiled at how smoothly my plan was working and how easy it was to trick a primate whose brain was much smaller than the mangos he was dodging.  At the same time, I could hear loud snorting coming from the enraged orangutan running as quickly over the cable as his hairy arms and legs would take him.

I grabbed onto the treehouse and began a mad scramble for the metal food dish.  That’s when I swore I heard the little ape let out an evil laugh.  He had purposefully moved his food dish to a little crook in the tree and was closing in fast.  He was almost close enough for me to see some mango dripping of the left side of his face.

Panicking, I tried to reposition myself in order to grab the dish.  To do so, I had to slide my waist out of my perfectly aligned center of gravity position inside the deflated rubber tire and wiggle out to where my thighs were holding me in place. My outstretched fingers were just beginning to close around the metal food dish when the evil monkey leapt off the cable and disappeared in a nose dive.  I temporarily lost sight of him, but I could hear his Tarzan like yell as the pulley wheel whizzed and he thumped his little chest.

Then, to my horror, the gorilla suddenly came swinging up holding onto his Tarzan-like chain and then let go in a perfectly timed move the Flying Wallenda’s would have applauded.  The flying furry fanged beast was hurling straight at my face which caused me to not only let out a bloodcurdling scream, but also let go of my grip on the treehouse.

I remember thinking how much faster I was going down than going up. That’s also when I remembered I had wiggled out of my perfectly aligned center of balance position in the inner-tube.  As the rope swing pulled me away from the crazed gorilla, it also released me to fight gravity all by myself.  Fortunately, I landed on a rather large and rotten mango which sufficiently softened my fall so I only broke the two bones in my left forearm.

Later, as the emergency room doctor was putting a cast on my broken arm and pulling mango out of my hair, he asked if I could once again tell the story of how my monkey broke my arm. But this time, he asked if he could invite a few of his fellow staff members to listen.   Apparently, I was his first patient to have his arm broken by a little two-and-a-half pound monkey.

My arm healed and I stopped throwing mangos at Reepicheep and over time, we made up.  He bit me a few times after that, but never again broke any of my other bones. Thankfully our rope swing remained, but we were no longer allowed to use it to “speed feed” the monkey. Even so, Reepicheep and I never fully trusted each other again.  He, for one, lost his appetite for mangoes, and I lost my desire to be an Acapulco cliff diver.  Perhaps it was all for the better.

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Surviving the End of High School Athletics

When it comes to recalling my athletic exploits, the axiom is true, “The the older I get the better I used to be”. The truth is, however, most of my athletic memories involve hospital rooms, casts, crutches, and Extra Strength Tylenol. I had a heart for football but knees for X-box.

My wife, Jenn, never actually saw me play football when we were students at Wheaton College. She did, however, visit me in the hospital where I slightly embellished how I sustained my season-ending knee ligament tear.  If memory serves, it was whilst tossing a perfect 127 yard touchdown pass between 8 defenders while being tackled by 14 rabid linebackers, the opposing team coaches, and a few cheerleaders.  It was quite a play.

David surrounded by family on Senior Day

I exchanged my football cleats for a seat in the bleachers long ago.  And what a great seat it has been.  Front row and center for the past twelve years; a constant barrage of football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball games and practices.  But then, in an instant, it came to a jolting stop.  Our youngest played his last high school game and suddenly, it was all over.

We knew this day was coming.  It had to.  It took a slow, inevitable route beginning with our oldest.  I distinctly remember his last high school football game and the slow, agonizing walk off the field. Shoulders were slouched giving way to heavy sobs.  And my son wasn’t doing much better, either.

But when our eldest son’s high school athletic career came to an end, we still had two more to cheer on.  That meant our calendar remained full of football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and baseball.  Then suddenly, my daughter’s soccer games were over; then her volleyball.  The writing was on the wall the entire time, but with one kid still in the system, the busyness continued.  Then, on a normal day, our last high school game was played and just like that, it was over.

Erma Bombeck said she took a very practical view on raising children.  She put a sign in each of their rooms which read, “Checkout time is 18 years”.

My wife continues to remind me that our job as parents is to prepare our children for “checkout time.”  As custodians of God’s prized possessions, we hope and pray we’ve filled them with confidence, dreams, determination, and faith and trust in a loving God.

When checkout time arrives, the ones with the biggest adjustments are often us parents.  We go from years of whirlwind activity to the unfamiliar territory of calm and quiet.  Suddenly, it’s just the two of us again and that’s both exciting and a little scary, too.

As it turns out, hanging out with my wife is pretty awesome.  And to my great relief, I think she likes hanging out with me, too.  So, it appears we’re going to survive the end of high school athletics. And if our recent trip out west is any indication, this new chapter  in our lives is going to be rather fun and exciting.

Today, highlighted on our calendars, are those wonderful college break visits and vacation days.  And of course, just because they’ve “checked out”, doesn’t mean they won’t be visiting.  After all, right next to that “checkout” sign is another sign that reads “welcome home”.

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P.S.  To our great delight, our youngest (David) is continuing his athletic career at the University of Miami.  We have many football and baseball games yet to enjoy.

2009 Thompson Family Christmas Letter

Matt, Jenn, David, Ed & Abby

Warm Christmas greetings from the Thompson Family. Or, as the Spanish Santa’s say here in the malls of Miami, “Jo, Jo, Jo.”

Jenn and I took a moment to reflect on this past year to see if we had anything exciting to report. After a few minutes we realized 2009 was far more eventful than we had initially thought…so we took a nap.

Feeling refreshed, here’s a quick look at our year in review:

Matt (22) graduated from college! That is a wonderful, amazing sentence that wears us out all by itself. Now that a diploma from Florida International University hangs on Matt’s wall, he can always proudly say, “I was the first child to graduate from college in my family…” We are, or course, very proud of Matt. And now, the real world begins for this college graduate…

With that said, the ink was barely dry on his diploma when he was off to Macon, Georgia to begin his “Development Intern” job at First Presbyterian Day School. My brother, Gregg, just so happens to be the Head Master. Gregg was looking for someone with creative abilities to produce promotional videos, webcast school games and special events, speak at chapels, and generate even more excitement, energy, and school spirit for a great high school.

Laura & Matt

That job description had “Matt” written all over it. He is also a football coach once again and has even added “swim coach” to his vast repertoire of things he can do.

But far more exciting than any of these things is… he is getting quite serious with a young lady named Laura, who is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. Jenn and I are way too young for any of this…we need another nap.

Abby, (19) is a sophomore at Samford University in Birmingham where she is studying the cognitive and corporal effects of college on two hours of sleep per night. She has always been a blur of activity… now she must be seeing everything blurry, too.

She somehow manages to keep up with her studies in between her Facebooking and nimble fingered texting. And while this sounds a bit strange, it does make my day to get a text from Abby that says, “Luv u Daddy.” Abby continues to study Exercise Science. She is still very interested in helping people who need prosthetics, but is developing an interest in working with children who have autism as well.

Abby

She’s in a tough major requiring lots of long hours of study… and I have no doubt, a little extra sleep would help. She loves her Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and has made some great friends. She now has a “big” and a “little” which I’m told means something important. And because she is always awake, she is also the sorority’s intramural chairman planning all their sports teams and events.

Needless to say, this beautiful and energetic girl with a gorgeous smile has a long list of would-be suitors. I have calmly responded by developing a deep and intimidating scowl I’m hoping young men sense and fear from hundreds of miles away.

Abby seems to have developed some sort of immunity to my scowl, however. She knows she can soothe the savage beast with a simple gaze and smile in my direction. It’s not fair. I need a nap.

Most would agree that David (16) had a pretty good year. He started 2009 helping lead his team to their first State Baseball Championship since 1998. David was the only freshman on the team, but led Westminster Christian in home runs, batting average, and other such nice things.

The great season helped David become a First Team All-State Team selection, a First Team All-Miami Dade selection, and to top things off, a MaxPreps All-American (the top 30 baseball freshman in the country). So, yes, I suppose he had a pretty good year.

When the 2009 football season rolled around, David, now a sophomore, had the opportunity to put on the pads and help lead his team back to the playoffs for the first time in six years (Matt’s junior year). As a second year starter, the preseason report by the Miami Herald listed David as one of the top QB’s in Miami. The season concluded with David making the top 10 in several offensive categories for the entire state resulting in him being described as, “the top rated quarterback in Florida for the class of 2012.” Hmmmmm. Matt is quick to remind David, however, that his (Matt’s) 80 yard touchdown pass is still the family record. Even so, you can see some highlights here: David Football Highlights. After attending all his games, Jenn and I need and deserve a long nap.

Dave & Tim Tebow

Meeting Tim Tebow was pretty cool, too. And in case you were wondering, yes, the college letters have begun. Of course, Jenn thinks David being inducted into the National Honor Society was even more impressive than his athletic skills. I know…Jenn is so funny.

Speaking of Jenn, she had a pretty good year, too. She started the new school year at Westminster Christian as the new and very cute Elementary School Principal. Yes, several major changes took place at the Alma Mater of Ed, Matt, and Abby… but none more exciting than Jenn’s new role.

She was promoted from her Assistant Principal job in the Middle School to being in charge of grades PreK – 5th with roughly 60 teachers and over 340 kids to oversee. While most think she is working really hard, the truth is, she’s just reliving her childhood. We especially love to hear the stories of cute little boys and girls who are sent to the Principal’s office for one reason or the other. I tell everyone, “If I worked half as hard as Jenn, I’d actually get somewhere.” Jenn would take a nap if she had the time…

As for Mr. Ed, well, I am working on a very exciting project at LOGOI called our “Virtual Pastor’s Office.” It’s a brand new way to do missions and we have high hopes for how it can help indigenous pastors and leaders, missionaries, churches, as well as partners in ministry right here in the States. You can get a preview at www.logoibeta.org.

It’s also been great to see three of the singles from my “Beautiful Feet” CD make it to the top 20 of Christian Radio & Retail’s Global Charts. Over 500 stations are playing my songs and soon you’ll even be able to include some of my songs on places like “Pandora Radio” on the internet. My single, “Love Me Anyway” climbed all the way to #2 on the inspirational chart and held a top 20 spot for over 25 weeks. A fourth single is scheduled to be released in January. You can check my website for more details: www.edthompsonlive.com. And come on, invite me to perform at your church already.

Finally, I thought you’d enjoy a little picture of our home decorations this year. We’ve thought about doing this for quite some time as our neighbors get into the Christmas spirit with great gusto. They found a few “empty” spots in their yard this year which they’ve been able to fill with blowup Santa’s, snowmen, ferris wheels, and even a manger scene if you can see through all the penguins. So, we put up our Christmas tree, hung a wreath, and wrote, “Ditto” in lights on our roof with an arrow pointing at the neighbors. A steady stream of cars driving by at night seem to be enjoying our Christmas sentiments. We hope you do, too.

Merry Christmas, from our house to yours. May the love and grace of Jesus fill our hearts and lives. “Ditto!”

The Thompsons

Limo Rides

When was the last time you rode in a limo?
white-limo1
I asked this question to my office staff the other day because my son, David, had recently ridden in a limo to his school homecoming party.  I had asked him how he was planning on getting to the party, since as a typical teenager, he seems to be under the impression that his parents are sitting around anxiously waiting for opportunities to jump up at a moments notice and drive him where ever he wants to go.

David simply shrugged and said, “We’re taking a limo.”

Now, one may think this sort of matter-of-fact answer would shock me.  David, however, is my youngest child, meaning I’ve been through this twice before.  So his matter-of-fact comment about a fancy limo taking him to a party got my standard answer, “Oh?”

“Oh?” by the way, is a great answer to almost anything a teenager says.  You have to say it as a question, of course, which not only does it cause the teenager to elaborate, but it’s a great delay tactic giving your brain a chance to race through variables associated with their irrational comments—most of which will have something to do with time and money.

“Yes,” David replied in a low, teenage mumble, “a group of us are taking a limo.”  Now, the last thing I want to spend money on is a limo ride to a homecoming party, so I gave him my, “Do I look like Donald Trump?” scowl.  This caused David to quickly mumble, “Don’t worry Dad, the limo isn’t going to cost us anything.”  To which I immediately perked up and said, “Wow, a limo!  That’s sounds like a lot of fun.”

But I started thinking about this whole limo concept.  I mean, with the exception of politicians and the Donald Trumps of this world, limos are used when you want (and can afford) to do something extravagant and special.  In my impromptu office survey, for example, the only limo rides taken were at weddings—and neither was mine.

I couldn’t help but consider the stark contrast of living in a “limo-available” country and a very special mission trip I was able to take last month to Cuba.  Now, I suspect there are a few limos somewhere in Cuba, but it is definitely not a “limo-available” place.

A group of us were able to take some relief supplies into Cuba after Hurricane Ike tore across the country.  We had the privilege of visiting some homes and churches of local pastors.  One pastor’s family and home particularly sticks out in my mind.  They were a handsome family. They stood in the front of their little church and smiled at us and we smiled back.  Beautiful little girls holding hands, well groomed, cute dresses.  Beautiful.

Their house church, which perhaps could seat 20 if everyone squeezed in tight, somehow filled up with over 60 each Sunday.  Behind a curtain in the front of the church was their home. After apologizing for the “mess,” they graciously allowed us to walk around—it didn’t take long.

Two sparse bedrooms, a closet for a kitchen—which had a sink and nothing I could see that resembled a stove, and a bathroom whose mirror was a few shards of glass, and empty closets.  Our talkative group went silent as we saw the true picture of their situation.  There were no limos here.

While we thought no one else was looking, several of us left cash gifts to help out.  We also were able to provide gifts of clothes and even some hand-made dolls for the girls lovingly given by a grandma in California.  It felt good to help…even though we know it will all be used up soon.

A few days later, I was back in my beautiful “limo-available” country and my Miami home which featured such luxury items as a working stove, complete mirrors in the bathrooms, and closets full of clothes.  I looked at my well-fed and happy family and couldn’t help but say a prayer of “thanks” to a gracious God who, for reasons I’ll never understand, allowed me to be born and live in this amazing country.

While we certainly have our troubles, I love living in a “limo-available” country.  I may never splurge for one, but I like the idea that I could.  It means I live in a country where God has blessed me with far more than just life’s essentials.  It also means I can joyfully and willingly help others in need.  And of course, opportunities to do just that are everywhere.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lemonade Stands

According to those who make calendars, summer is officially over on September 23rd.  Sadly, the end of summer also means the end of most neighborhood lemonade stands.

I love lemonade stands.

In fact, my wife and children know that it is almost impossible for me to drive past a neighborhood lemonade stand.  I’ll circle blocks, make illegal U-turns, and drive over rusty nails and shards of glass to get to a neighborhood stand.  I’ll even call my wife and kids and ask them to get in their car and go get some lemonade.

It goes back, of course, to my grade school days when I proudly operated my very own lemonade stand in my front yard.  I remember setting up the table by the street, making the signs, and wondering how much to charge for a wonderful ice-cold glass of lemonade; a nickel, a quarter?  Is a glass of lemonade worth a quarter?

Of course, mom would help make the lemonade and would even supply a small box of change.  Then, finally, after all the preparations were made, it was time to sit in the chair behind the table and wait for the line of cars to show up driven by thirsty people.

That’s usually where the entire operation broke down.

Long, lonely minutes would creep by as I sat there anxiously waiting for a car—any car—to pull down my street.  And nothing would crush my spirit more than when a car would finally come into view only to rumble past without giving me or my lemonade a second thought.  (There’s just something un-American about that.)

There is one summer day that stands out in my life as a lemonade salesman.  It was a particularly hot day and ideal for selling lemonade.  No one, however, seemed interested in my stand.  Cars were driving by that day, but none stopped. My ice had melted.  The lemonade was hot.  The apple I had set on the table to give away as an incentive to my first customer was rotting.  Yet, no one stopped.  And I was fairly miserable.

I was just beginning to close up shop when off in the distance, I noticed a car coming my way.  It was a familiar car.  It was my Dad’s car, and Dad was in it.  He pulled up to my stand and rolled down the window.  “How’s business, young man?” he asked with a big smile.  All I remember was bursting into tears.

The next thing I know, Dad is asking for a glass of lemonade and about the rotten apple on the table.  “Are you selling that apple, too?” he asked still smiling.  I guess I managed a “yes” through my sobs but informed him it was a little rotten.  “My favorite kind,” I heard back.

I have a vivid memory of handing my Dad the warm glass of lemonade and then the rotten apple through the window of his car.  He leaned back and drank the lemonade in one long swallow, smacked his lips and stared at that rotten apple…and took a big bite.

He reached into his wallet and pulled out a bill and handed it to the little boy trying to overcome his heavy sobs.  He said a big “thanks” and drove away.  He was around the corner and out of sight by the time I looked in my hand and saw the bill he had pushed in my hand.  Twenty dollars!

Have you ever gone from despair to joy in under a second?  Well, I certainly did that hot summer day.  It left a powerful imprint on me that lasts to this very day.

It is easy to drive by lemonade stands.  After all, we’re busy and have places to go and people to meet.  But sometimes, if you stop and invest in a “small cup of warm lemonade and maybe even a rotten apple,” you may never know the impact it could leave on someone’s life.  In fact, God could even use it to turn someone’s despair into joy.

Feeling “Sappy”

My little girl graduated from high school this weekend.

Emotions are strange. It’s odd how you can be happy and sad at the same time. What would that dual happy/sad emotion be called, “Sappy?” As she joyfully grabbed her diploma and exited the stage, that’s how I felt, “sappy.”

As I sat there wondering how so many yesterdays had suddenly caught up and were passing me by, a handful of memories flashed through my mind. The first was when she was barely five years old and broke her collar bone while visiting grandparents. It was the age before cell phones so my wife couldn’t call me and warn me so I didn’t know until she walked off the plane and ran into my arms crying, “I hurt myself, Daddy.” I couldn’t pick her up and hug her because it hurt her too much.

I remembered teaching her how to ride a bike and discovering just how stubborn and determined my little girl could be. She left an ugly trail of skin and blood down the street with all her failed attempts, but despite my pleading to try again another day, she wouldn’t quit until she had figured it out. Her scars healed. Mine remain.

I remembered learning the first time she had a boyfriend. I had no idea who the creep was, but despised him instantly. I remembered how she lit up the stage with her school choir concerts. There must have been dozens of other girls on the stage, but somehow, I only recall one. I remembered her first prom and how my little girl had somehow transformed into a beautiful young lady in high heels and make up. My heart sank when the jaws of her date (another creep) fell open in awe as he saw the glamorous girl waiting for him.

I was joyfully brought back to the present when my daughter’s name was announced as the recipient of a special scholarship award for embodying the qualities the school looked for in student-athletes. Then I immediately felt “sappy” again as I realized how much I would miss attending her games.

When the diplomas had all been handed out and the caps flung into the air, I found her laughing and even crying a bit with her family and classmates. She came up to me ready for a hug and kiss. “Are you proud of me, Daddy?” she asked as we hugged.

“More than you’ll ever know,” I somehow managed to say in a voice that didn’t sound like mine. I’ve never been quite so…”sappy.”

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