“The story is not so much about how to simply clean up the mess, but how creative you can get with the mess you have. This is what God seems to be up to — creating good, mysterious things out of messes.” ~Curt Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul
Even as I’m writing this post, two weeks after she finished her race, I’m worried that somehow Mrs. Adkins will appear with a red felt-tipped pen to correct my grammar or my spelling. More likely, if she were to appear, she’d make fun of me for something, she’d point out a physical flaw or remind me of something really dumb I had done in the past, and then she’d laugh really loud(ly) and throw her arms around me and tell me she loves me and that she’s super proud of me.
That’s Mrs. Adkins. Our junior high English and Grammar teacher at Dallas Christian. Our high school counselor and psychology teacher and senior class sponsor. The mother of one of my closest friends. And a big fan of every student who walked through her doors or sat through her classes.
I was providentially hindered from attending her memorial service this past Saturday at the White Rock Church of Christ in Dallas. So Todd, her son and my long-time partner-in-crime and roofing, asked me to record a video with some memories and nice words on behalf of all Mrs. Adkins’ students.
Here’s a link to the video. Several of you are asking for it. Please share it responsibly. Anything I would write about Mrs. Adkins in this space, I already expressed in this 13-minute video. I loved Mrs. Adkins, like all of her students, because she first loved us.
When Todd first saw the finished video, he told me it was a weird mix of Goose Gossage and Eddie Haskell. Perfect! Exactly what I was going for! He texted me Wednesday evening and said, “My dad is watching it now. His first words were, ‘He’s put on some weight.’ Thanks, Lefty.
According to my sisters, Rhonda and Sharon, and the dozen or so emails and texts from high school classmates and one out-of-the-blue phone call from Coach Richmond, the service Saturday was a Dallas Christian reunion. And I hate that I missed it. The picture above was taken as they were turning the lights off in the church building. I’m told there were double that number of DC folks in attendance. But I would have loved to have seen all these great people and to get caught up with each of them in person.
I played football and sang in the choir with Tracy Hauck (bald, yellow shirt) and Mark Cawyer (big smile, purple shirt) and Jeff Majors (“Low Budget”). Brad Yurcho (blue shirt behind Rhonda) and I sat on the top row of the bleachers at Chargers Field during JV football games and did the play-by-play out loud together, preparing for what we wanted to do professionally for the rest of our lives. Caitlin McAuley (yellow flowers in the front) was my consistent companion, rival, and great friend from 6th – 12th grade. Mike Fitzhugh (bald with the beard in the back-right) was part of our fabled Greenhill Bell Crew. Robbie Beene (next to Fitz) was so over-the-top, loud, and in-your-face funny. Mrs. Straughn (far right, next to Todd’s sister, Tracy) was my Creative Writing teacher and encouraged me to “keep writing, keep writing, don’t ever stop writing.” Lynn Davis (far left, next to Sharon), Mrs. Sorrells (front middle), Mrs. Dickson (between Caitlin and Traci), Joanna Farrar — such great people, such great friends.
I have so enjoyed spending time on the phone with Todd the past couple of weeks. Todd and I grew up together. For a long while there we did almost everything together. High school running buddy, roofing partner, college roommate — he is the co-star in my favorite and funniest stories. We always pick up right where we left off. We can still crack each other up with just one word. We can recall a month’s worth of the same memories with just one phrase. Todd is that old friend. I’m so grateful to him for the great privilege of contributing to his mom’s service. And I thank God for the great blessing in my life of Mrs. Adkins.
I’m told there are a dozen or so older ladies at White Rock CofC who are still very confused about my opening remarks regarding prison and house arrest. Excellent. I’m also told Tracy Hauck is keeping those questions and rumors alive on Facebook (thank you!).
May God bless Lefty and Todd and Traci and everybody in their super-fun family. May God receive Mrs. Adkins into his faithful arms. And may God bless all of us with the faith and the confidence that he is able to keep everything we’ve entrusted to him until that great day.
Bradd Morgan grabbed me on the way to the bus leaving the waterfalls of En Gedi. The news he had for me was so unbelievably and surprisingly wonderful, I almost got emotional. I’m getting a little emotional typing this right now.
Yesterday morning eight of us climbed the ancient Snake Path up the face of Masada in the Negev Desert. Bradd and I almost died together on that rock. We finished the climb in about 50-minutes, but it was brutal. Reagan Crossnoe told both of us at the top that neither of us will have to take a stress test for the next five years. We passed, but barely.
The weather here in Israel is like it is almost everywhere: about 15 degrees hotter than normal. The highs every day since we arrived have been in the 100s. And even after soaking our feet in the pools under David’s Fall, I was still extremely hot and dry and thirsty. And Bradd says to me, “Hey, they’ve got Dr Pepper in the gift shop.”
He said it casually. Almost a little too casually. So much so that I wasn’t exactly sure what he had said. So I asked, “What?” And he said it again, “There’s Dr Pepper in that gift shop.”
And I thought, “Don’t lie to me now, Bradd. Don’t be messing with me right now, brother. Don’t lie to me. Because if you’re lying to me, well, you know, you and I won’t be able to be friends anymore.”
He wasn’t lying.
They were ice cold, I mean freezing cold, way in the back of the cooler. Twelve shekels each. I grabbed four. And Valerie and I were good all the way to Qumran.
It means, “Let’s go!” in Hebrew. “Yala!” And we hear it a hundred times a day in Israel from our wonderful tour guide Anton and our super-skilled bus driver Gesan. We’ve arrived at our destination, “Yala!” It’s time to load up and go to the next place, “Yala!” We’ve conducted the head count, we’re all here, “Yala!” We’re running behind on our schedule, “Yala!” And by now, day three of our sight-seeing tour in Israel, we’re all saying it. For everything. It’s time for the meeting, “Yala!” I’m going back for more dessert, “Yala!”
I may write more about our bus driver later, but I’ll give you this now: Our Lord said it was impossible for a man to drive a camel through a needle; but that was before he met Gesan.
We began our day with a treacherous ride in three taxis to the top of Mount Tabor, the supposed site of Jesus’ transfiguration. I’m increasingly convinced of the authenticity of this place as the true location of the divine revelation of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Both historical and traditional evidence keeps rolling in. We scoped out the walls of the fourth century church and the baptistry that was built there and toured the current Franciscan church that was erected there in 1921.
We also spent some time in Nazareth, ate a picnic lunch under ancient olive trees at Sepphoris, and hit the ruins of Chorazin, the fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus famously condemned.
Because today is Sabbath, the roads were mostly empty and we had the sites mainly to ourselves. Of course, that also means the little store next door to our hotel is closed so I can’t find any caffeine. But we had another great day in Israel. We leave the region of Galilee tomorrow for the Negev Desert where, hopefully, it’ll be a little cooler than the 105 and 107-degree days we’ve had up here.
The Sabbath has begun in Tiberias and we are avoiding the far left elevator at our hotel on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Day Two of our sight-seeing is under our belts and I’m posting pictures here as fast as I’m able. As you know, you can click on the pic for the full size and click again to really blow it up.
We began the day at the Church of the Beatitudes on the north side of the Lake and then made our way north to the ancient city of Dan where Jeroboam constructed his ill-advised high place. We spent a great morning hiking the trails along the headwaters of the Jordan River on the way to one of my favorite sites, Caesarea-Philippi, where Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, Son of the Living God.
We also toured the remains of King Agrippa’s palace and government buildings and drove through the middle of the Golan Heights.
Then we giggled as Anton pronounced Jesus’ hometown as Ca-FER-na-Hoom! And we wrapped up the day with a windy boat tour around a choppy Sea of Galilee.
Dale is spoiling Valerie rotten, buying her ice cream bars after every lunch. And Anton says she has a happy face. She does.
We are at the end of Day One of our ten-day tour of Israel — slightly sunburned, almost exhausted, and more than ready to tackle all that Day Two promises to provide. I’m mainly just going to post pictures here for the next week or so; there’s too much going on to do any deep reflecting in this space right now. As always, just click on the picture to get the full size and click on it a second time to blow it up. Just know that we’ve got a great group — 18 from Amarillo (Brice and Becky are from Amarillo, NOT California), 8 from Colorado, and 2 from Tennessee — and we’re having a blast.
We began our day at Herod’s palace and government center at Caesarea on the Sea, taking in the massive theater and hippodrome, the palace and swimming pool, the Byzantine and Crusader structures, and the eight-mile aqueduct from Mt. Carmel. Then we drove the eight miles to see the site where our God sent fire to burn up Elijah’s soaking wet altar, ate lunch at a Druze restaurant on the way down, walked around Megiddo, the traditional site of the final war between good and evil, and spent some time at the Church of the First Miracle in Cana.
Our middle daughter, Valerie, is here with me in Israel — first ever trip over here for her. So, as you can imagine, a lot of the pictures you see here over the next several days are going to feature her. What a great blessing it is to share this wonderful land and its inspirational sites with her!
Now we’re in our hotel in Tiberias, right on the west banks of the Sea of Galilee! We’ve had a nice dinner, some of us have strolled the boardwalk by the lake and had some ice cream, and now we’re getting ready to turn in.
No late night Dr Pepper for a while. No Mexican food or Seinfeld or cell phone calls or texts. But it was 104-degrees today, the wind was blowing at 35-miles-per-hour, and it’s dusty. It still feels like home.