Thursday, January 30, 2014

My dad, the inventor

All I wanted was a normal dad who played games with the family and catch in the backyard with my three brothers.  I didn't know our family was so different until I went to school and began visiting friends in their homes.  Didn't everyone have a large trough in the family room?  My dad had concocted a massive indoor planter for my grandmother to have a year-round garden.  Our basement walls were covered, not with traditional plaster or wood  as other homes in that era, but paper-covered chalky panels that could be painted.  Dad was in the process of inventing wallboard, and of course, there was no better place to try it out than his own house.

Much to our dismay, one autumn before the deep cold of Chicago set in, he spread out large sheets of plastic in our backyard -- a material that was rarely seen in the 1950s. What looked like a yard to most people was transformed into an outdoor laboratory for Dad. When freezing temperatures descended, he flooded the backyard with water and created a skating rink between the garage and the swing set.  Our yard became the hit of the neighborhood that cold winter, much to our delight.

This was the same man who as a young boy in the Great Depression, living in urban Brooklyn, built a miniature golf course with scraps of wood in their small yard.  He charged a few clothespins apiece for children to play the course.  And then every Monday (wash day), he sold those clothespins back to the neighborhood mothers.

Dad embraced difficulties. They were like a game to him.  He never stopped thinking of connections.  He sought to solve and resolve.  Dead ends were his specialty, because they directed him closer to an answer.  In his mind and demeanor, there was always a better way to do something.  And he would bury himself in a laboratory until he found something new to try.

Three years ago when he was in hospice, I entered his room quietly after a short lunch break.  His eyes were closed.  I touched his hand to let him know that I was back.  "Dad, are you sleeping?"

And in classic style with his eyes still closed, he replied in a loud voice, "No, I'm thinking."

We too should be so creative when it comes to glorifying God with our lives.  Think about it.  How else can I do that?  What other way can I look at that problem, or love that person, or handle that situation?  How can I apply grace to it?  How deeper can I pray?  What is God's perspective on that?  What is a new way I can serve this need?   How can I best live His truth today?

...serve Him
         with a whole heart
and with a willing mind...

                   1 Chronicles 28.9



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