Tag Archives: Doug

Doug – God’s 2×4

It was more than 30 years ago, but I still remember it vividly.  With the stroke of a neuron, I’m transported back to my youth group, and my seat on a log in front of the firepit, grousing to a friend about how the chaperone’s children are hogging the horses (all three of them).   It was a teen outing, after all, so protocol suggests it should be the teens enjoying what the event had to offer.  The offerings, by the way, were noticeably tired and the sun was beginning to set.  The one turn I’d had was all I’d get, and I do love to ride horses, given my few opportunities to do so.

Suddenly, mid-grumble, as though choreographed by a Hallmark Movie director, a horse slowly walked up on my right, led by one of the farm hands and ridden by our pastor’s son.  His father helped him dismount, and without a hint of prompting, ‘Doug’ walked immediately to a spot in front of the horse, within my earshot and sightline.  He reached up, took the horse’s muzzle in his hands, pulled his head down, kissed him on the nose, and said “Thanks for letting me ride you.” 

!WHAP! In a mere instant, my ingratitude was on display, in high-definition.  In that moment, God didn’t bother to agree or disagree with my perception of fair, He simply pointed out a higher priority: in everything, give thanks.

Someday in Heaven, when this scene is replayed for His glory, Jesus and I will share a wink.  You see, on the day I met the lady who graciously welcomed me to her home, she told me about the 25 horses in the pasture behind the house….and I have an open invitation to ride. Just one of the personalized perks of His provision.

How Superstitions Start

I have to throw away my shoes. They’re fine shoes, my go-to shoes for a quick dash out the door, but there’s something about those brown shoes that make Doug’s friends see red. They haven’t said anything outright, they don’t really seem to take note, but there’s a strange coincidence between their worst occasions and my choice of footwear. Yup, it’s official, the shoes have got to go.

There have been other times that I’ve worn those shoes around Doug’s friends with no turmoil, and other rough times when I was wearing different shoes, so I know there’s no direct correlation. The observation has been made enough times, however, that it has become a running joke. Bad night? Wrong shoes. Should’ve known. And thus begins the newest superstition.

I’m not a superstitious sort, but many are. They put some merit to the fear of black cats and walking under ladders (although, caution around a ladder seems prudent). Finger crossing, rabbit’s feet, and lucky t-shirts (and unlucky shoes) are on an ever-growing list of things to keep handy or avoid. Where do these odd ideas come from? I’m beginning to learn…

Something unusually good or bad may occur, and we look for the rhyme or reason behind it, the cause to the effect. Sometimes an identifiable cause exists, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, we keep searching. If there’s a similar event later, we study the previous event to find matching facts. We’re willing to go so far as to recall wardrobe choices or pocket contents to come up with an answer. It’s somewhere in our human nature, we want there to be a predictable cause, so that we can have some control over what may affect us. Some people become absolutely crippled by the need to do everything just right, lest they miss something and get blindsided by the randomness of life. Superstition to the extreme.

There’s an easier, less stressful way to live. Get to know the One who knows all things and is in charge of keeping the world spinning at a consistent rate and direction. Granted, He allows pleasant and unpleasant circumstances to touch people who may be declared good or bad – rain on the just and unjust. He also makes two massive promises that He alone is able to keep. One, nothing happens without His foreknowledge and approval – it can’t touch you before it has gone through His hands. (Job) Two, He will cause all things, good or ill, to work together for the good of those who trust Him. (Romans 8:28) It could take a while, it could get ugly before the dust settles, but He’s got a plan to make the best of even the worst circumstance.

He’s constantly working on connecting unique lives for two objectives: first, to draw people to Himself, and second, to transform them into His character, fit to live with Him forever. This may mean that the sweetest lady you know is suddenly thrown into the hospital for three weeks by an accident involving a drunk driver and the death of her husband of 60 years. What looks horribly unfair to us may be a specific assignment to reach some nurses, a doctor, your niece the candy-striper, or that person you’ve been praying for for years who is in the next bed, scheduled for critical surgery.

The next time you need to find a cause, go to the original cause of all things, Jesus, and trust Him to affect your life in excellent ways. Let go of the need to be in control, and with it, the oppressive false responsibility for bad things happening.

I’m still going to get rid of those shoes. Spring is here, and I much prefer going barefoot!

Dishwasher Inspections

I’ve been inspecting dishes as I unload the dishwasher for many years now, perhaps you do too.  The thing is, the jets in that machine are fabulous at what they do, washing many dishes at the same time, but there are a few food bits that can hang on until they get some special attention from someone with a good eye and a soapy dish cloth, perhaps even one of those plastic scrapers. (I love my scraper!)

It occurred to me, we Christians are the same… It’s not that we need to be ‘saved’ twice, Jesus did all that was required in one shot.  He promised that whoever trusted in Him would belong to Him, done deal.  We who believe all “have our place in the cupboard”, as it were, but some have more stuck-on stains than others.  Some need special attention, just like the dishes.

The bad news is, we ‘dishes’ look at one another & start comparing….the plate sees a spot of milk in the mug, and the spoon sees a bit of egg between the tines of the fork, and we start refusing to share our cupboard space with one another.  It’s especially easy for those of us who were either well rinsed before the washing, or were barely used to hold a piece of toast.   How clean we are! Balderdash – the measure is spotless, and no one qualifies.

The good news is, Jesus inspects and gives that extra cleaning that’s required.  It may take a little time and some elbow grease, but He will get us cleaned up and useful.

There’s more good news – Jesus isn’t Doug.  Doug, you see, has a rather disposable view of dishes.  If he can’t get something clean enough to suit him, he’ll throw it away, smashing it to bits if possible.  (Doug doesn’t have many glass dishes now)  Jesus, on the other hand, will continue to pick and scrape and wipe and rinse, using as much time, soap, and as hot of water as He sees fit.  We may not enjoy all that attention, but we can rest assured that if we belong to Him, He will never give up & throw us away.

As you look at one another, or as you unload your dishwasher, remember:  Some of us have more set-in stains, so show some grace, even if it’s to yourself.

Meet Doug

Doug has taught me much about God and His perspective on our relationships, with Him and with one another. I’d like to share some of these insights with you, but first, you need to meet Doug. You may think you know him, and you may know him in part, but only God and I actually know this person we call Doug. If you chose to shake hands with him, it could take a while. That’s because Doug is a composite of more than 30 people over the encounters of my lifetime, and some of them have been granted their new eternal bodies.

Doug has Down’s Syndrome, or Autism, or Cerebral Palsy, or Alzheimer’s, or a form of fetal poisoning, or some undefined mental limitation. He’s the woman beaten so badly by her husband that her mind no longer works right, the man who doesn’t trust his umbrella, the stranger who hugged my date and I on our way to the ball, the people you pass every day who are just a card or two shy of a full deck, and the person who is slowly losing their wits because they are alone in caring for a loved one with some form of progressive dementia.

Sometimes Doug is inconsolably grumpy, and sometimes he is unconditionally loving. It’s tough to reason with him without resorting to a power play, because his reasoning is simple, straightforward, and now. His mind is that of a child, so he will either train you in dealing with your children, or he will cause you to employ every strategy you ever learned or heard of. Likely some of each. It may be simple to find rewards for him, like a smile or a “thanks for helping”, or it could be nearly impossible because nothing can give him that heart-lift that we’d all like to experience from time to time.

I’ve known Doug all my life, literally, and I love him. Make no mistake, he has the capacity to make me want to throw myself into heavy traffic at times, but I know there’s no menace or manipulation behind it. That’s just Doug, and he is precious to me, and to God.

Corrie Ten-Boom knew Doug. When WWII broke out and Poland was invaded, Corrie was teaching Doug and his friends about Jesus. During an interrogation before an SS Lieutenant, she was asked about her work and the officer sneered something about one ‘whole’ convert being worth a dozen ‘half-wits’ (his words). I love her response – “In God’s eyes, one of these may be worth more than their teacher, or a Lieutenant.”

Just one more note – as you read of Doug, you may be inclined to start believing that all ‘Doug’s are difficult – not so!! Doug, like the rest of us, has his good moments and not-so-good moments. Most importantly, remember that the stories I tell of Doug are based on the observation of many people and Divine whispers of how my relationship with God looks much the same from His perspective.

Little Brother

On August 23rd, 1959, Sheila Anne Cloman was born.  Weighing in at 7lbs, 4oz with brown eyes and a hint of auburn hair, she was as normal as any other baby in the nursery.  That is, of course, except to her parents and her older brother and sister.  Three years later, she was the big sister, being held up to see the new baby, Jason Cameron.  He was a little screamer with a headful of hair, and with all the attention he got, Sheila found herself wishing they’d just send him back with the stork that brought him.

Over the next several years, she repeated that wish to anyone who might be able to do something about it – Jesus, Santa, the Easter Bunny… she even left a note with the zookeeper, just in case that stork ever flew in to visit his family.  Her parents just gently reminded her that life happens, and someday there would be an answer, though we may have to wait until we arrive in Heaven to get it.

Jason, you see, was mentally handicapped.  The doctors discussed such things as heat exhaustion, undue stress, the fact that labor was induced, the baby went breech, and it was too late for a cesarean, but the end result was still the same – Jason was a child with special needs.  Life happens, and you deal with it.

As Sheila, Tom, and Jenny grew up, they grew to accept and even love their younger brother.  A surprise to the rest of the family, Sheila was the one who developed the closest relationship with him.  She had a special patience and found ways that he could help her with little things, from picking up toys to drying the plasticware after dinner.  These moments were the best, because just for an instant, Jason’s usually dull eyes would light up, his mouth would form a rare wide smile, his back would get a little straighter, and he would glow with pride in his accomplishment and the fact that he had made a contribution to the family unit.

Not that he didn’t smile at other times – he was the most happy-go-lucky little guy you could ever meet.  Every member of the family was met with a broad grin and a bear hug so strong that they’d have to remind him to be gentle.  He had fun leading visitors and friends through the house to see his collections of matchbox cars and shaped erasers.  He whooped and hollered with the cowboys on TV and nearly broke down his favorite chair in the living room when the car races were on.  His dad and brother enjoyed watching the races, so by golly, he did too!  It didn’t matter to him who won or lost, only that he was sharing time with his family and watching the cars go around.

Ahh, but when he could be proud of himself – when he could do something that earned him the title ‘Helper’ – these were his finest moments!  It was difficult to let him help, as everything took longer and you had to be very careful he didn’t pick up something fragile or dangerous.  He didn’t quite know the difference, and he certainly didn’t realize his own strength.  His attempts at bed making and table setting left much to be desired, but he gave it his best shot.   Socks never quite got matched and folded on the first try, because it was way too much fun to toss them into the air and watch them flutter back to the couch.  This exercise would be followed by an ornery giggle and one of those “what have you done now” looks from across the room.  Few things really seemed worth scolding him about, especially since his greatest desire was to see his family as happy as himself.

Soon, Jason would be following Sheila into the kitchen to dry some spoons or make some Kool-Aid, and all was right with the world again.