When I asked for a story yesterday, I needed it for a sermon today in calss. Here’s what I came up with…
One of my favorite games as a child was Candy Land. You know the game – you’re a gingerbread boy or gingerbread girl. Your objective is to navigate a colored pathway while surviving treacherous obstacles like the Molasses Swamp and Gumdrop Mountain. With each card I would draw, the game would become more intense for me.
Every time my dad’s family would get together, I would ambush my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Don with the board game. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even make it to my Grandma’s porch without my asking the question, “Wanna play Candy Land?” And like all good aunts and uncles, they would play with me.
I know the experience wasn’t always pleasant for them. I was a sore loser and a much poorer winner. Whenever I would win the game, I’d stand up and walk around, beating an imaginary snare drum. Then I’d bang on their heads saying, “I beat you like a drum! Look Mom & Dad – I beat them like a drum.” And they lovingly took the taunting. When I asked to play again, they were always willing to say “Yes.” Conveniently, I would almost always win. And I’d walk around again, beating them like a drum.
It was many years before I found out their dirty little secret about Candy Land. They were cheating! They had stacked the cards in such a way that early in the game I would conveniently draw one of the special cards that would send me to Lollipop Woods or the Ice Cream Float. That would give me an insurmountable lead. And, more important to my aunt and uncle, the game would be over much quicker. I was totally oblivious. So I continued to beat my drum as I celebrated my well-honed Candy Land playing skills.
It got a few laughs. More than I expected. Sure makes you want to hear the rest of the sermon, huh?
There are only two things people talk about on Groundhog Day: the weather (for about five minutes), and then that movie with Bill Murray (for the rest of the day). I don’t really pay much attention to all the talk because (1) it’s a silly tradition, and (2) I really didn’t like the movie all that much. It was just…annoying.
Last night, however, I was going to bed and heard a talk radio host ask, “If you had to relive the same day over and over like in Groundhog Day, and could choose which day it would be, what day would you pick to continue reliving?”
It made me think about which day I would pick. I think I’ve decided. But I want to hear what day you, O Visitor of MattDanTodd Land, would pick as your day to relive every day.
I’ll post my answer later. For now, I’m curious to see who responds and what you say…
It’s crazy how we remember odd things about other people. Sometimes you can be identified by your past quirks for the rest of your life – even if you don’t do it anymore.
A few weeks ago, I was “promoted” to using the riding mower on the ESR grounds crew. As soon as I sat on the mower, I immediately thought of a kid I had in my first youth ministry back in 1999. Chris was a funny kid. He got picked on a lot and was not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. It was because of him that I learned that I can be a very patient man – he tried that patience every day. He was 15 and his only goal in life was to get a driving license so he could cruise around our small town in his car. He was so looking forward to getting that license that he didn’t want to wait for his car. So, he would drive his riding lawnmower all over the place. He lived very close to the church building (and our parsonage) and I would see him cruising the neighborhood every day with his mower.
Chris is not someone you could easily forget.
Another memory was triggered this weekend when we went to a new Indian (India-Indian. Not Native American-Indian) restaurant in town. I’ve been to Indian places in Johnson City before, but this time I couldn’t stop thinking of a family in our church in Indianapolis. They used to be missionaries in Africa, so they had an affinity for cross-cultural experiences. They began a tradition of eating Indian food for their Thanksgiving meal. It seemed odd the first time I heard about it. But now that I think back on it, it’s really a pretty cool tradition.
There are more little things that have triggered my memory as of late. I’ve run out of time to share them right now, so I’ll have to write more later. It’s interesting to find out the things we associate with other people. I wonder what little things have been associated with me?
I’ve been thinking about childhood friends a lot recently.
I’m sure some of it has to do with Aiden’s first day of school today. There are other reasons, too. Last night, I watched part of the baseball All Star Game (stupid National League choked!). It was the first time I had watched the game since 1989 when Bo Jackson hit a lead-off home run for the American League. I remember that one quite clearly because it was the last time I really spent the night at my friend Aaron’s house. We were good friends all through elementary school, but his family moved to a different school district sometime during our middle school years. I tried to keep in touch with Aaron and his twin brother, Matt – they were both equally my “best friends” – but we just didn’t stay in touch all that often after they moved away. Every time the All Star Game is played, I think of Aaron and wonder how he’s doing. I’ve talked to Matt recently, and it has been good to reconnect with him. I’d like to talk to Aaron sometime, though, and see how he’s doing.
On top of the All Star Game, I also got an email through my Myspace account from a friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years! Talk about a blast from the past! He and his brother were basically the only other boys in our small church. My brother and I played with them all the time! I was very sad when they moved away and I’ve always wondered what they’ve been up to. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what’s been going on with them.
Reconnecting with old friends from Evansville makes me ache to return. Not just because I want to go back to my “homeland,” but because I know there is still a lot of work that can (and needs to) be done in reaching the community with the gospel of Christ. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are many established churches that are doing amazing things in reaching certain parts of the community (Crossroads, First Christian Newburgh, CFC, Bethel Temple, etc.), but the West Side still needs to be impacted in a more powerful way. There need to be more churches for those who have been burned by/bored with/confused about/grew up outside of the church. This is especially true in the USI area. Students are making life-changing decisions and establishing lifelong habits during their college years and many churches are not doing enough to help them make godly decisions that will change their lives. We need to get better and more intentional at reaching the age group that most churches tend to forget about because they’re not the biggest financial contributors (sorry – the cynic in me is coming out just a little bit). There’s a lot of work left to be done, and I’m excited to see it begin!
I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Man, I miss my childhood friends.