Here’s some good news: I went to Dallas for two days to spend time with our son, Byron. (Before you correct me on which cities I actually visited, I refer to anything east of Weatherford as “Dallas.” Incorrect and inaccurate, I know, and possibly offensive to some, but efficient.) Byron didn’t come home over the holidays since he had to work, so I took Christmas gifts with me. Also, as Cyndi pointed out, I went to remind him that we love him and think about him often and wish we saw more of him. And like that.
More good news, I didn’t have to spend the ten hours driving back and forth on I-35 since Tanya, my sister-in-law and a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, gave me a buddy pass so I could fly. And being Monday morning the plane was not crowded. And, I successfully solved the “Hard” Sudoku puzzle while we were still in the air.
Just before we took off I overheard a conversation between a young parent and two small children. The kids were being impatient and wanted drinks and peanuts and everything else, so the parent told them “You have to follow the rules,” Good advice, I thought. That bad news was that even in the middle of talking about rules, the parent was using a cell phone that should have been turned off.
More good news, traffic was light so I made good time driving to the Olive Garden in Addison where Byron worked. The bad news happened when I went inside to ask for a table in Byron Simpson’s section and the young hostess looked through her binder and said, “Oh, he isn’t working today.”
That was strange. We had talked about meeting for lunch at his restaurant. Was he sick? Had his plans changed and he didn’t tell me? I fretted about it some, called and left a message, sent a text, then drove to REI on 635 to replace the hiking boots I lost last summer.
The good news was that REI had the same boots I had last summer and wanted another pair of, but even better, they had a waterproof model.
The bad news was that they didn’t have any boots in my size in any model. I guess they sold them all over the Christmas holidays. The only reason I hadn’t ordered a pair of the boots already was because I didn’t know the size I needed. Now, they were out of boots, and I still didn’t know what size.
However, good news again, the cash-register guy used my REI Membership Number to look up past purchases and he found the size of my last pair of boots. So even though I didn’t leave with boots under my arm or on my feet, I knew the model and size I wanted; I could order a pair when I got home.
The good news continued, because as I drove away from REI Byron phoned me. He had been working all morning and was surprised that the hostess said he wasn’t. That was when I learned the he worked in Plano, not Addison. Bummer. That was bad news. I was sure I knew where he worked. I should’ve asked someone (Cyndi, Katie, Byron) for confirmation. However, it would’ve been helpful if the hostess had said he “never” worked there instead of saying he “wasn’t at work.”
Well, since Byron had to work the evening shift, I told him I would be back for dinner. That was good news for him since I tip really well when my own son is waiting on me.
It was also good news that I now had time before dinner to drive to White Rock Lake and run. So I drove to the lake and parked in the lot on the hill at the northeast shore near the bridge.
Then, once again, there was more bad news. I realized I needed to go somewhere to fulfill my biological obligations, and I needed to do it right away. I couldn’t hold out until I ran all the way to one of the park restrooms. So I got back in the car and drove south to a McDonald’s and used their facilities.
Back to the lake, I parked in the lot on Lawther on the west shore. I dug around for my phone to check the temperature but I couldn’t find it. I had the sinking feeling I had left my phone the men’s room at McDonalds. That was bad news, indeed.
So I raced back down to the McDonald’s and found my phone on the counter right where I left it. Whoa, good news. And a surprise, as well.
Now, once more to the lake, where I parked again on the west side and crawled into the back seat of my car to change clothes. I finally started running, clockwise around the lake, at 3:30 PM.
By the time I finished my run it was dark and getting cold. I made the run just fine, but my legs felt hard and stiff. I decided that I should reconsider joining Katie at February’s Cowtown Marathon. There was no way I could be ready in only two months. More bad news.
During the run I listened to a podcast featuring Eric Bryant, and he was great. It was his farewell sermon at Mosaic before moving to Austin to serve in Gateway Church. He talked about a man in the Old Testament portion of the Bible, King Ahaz, who said he didn’t want to try God’s patience by asking for a sign, as if he were the sort of king who always talked to God and cared about offending him.
Good news, God gave him a sign anyway … but the sign would be Jesus, born hundreds of years later. It’s hard to know how this could have been useful to Ahaz, but it was a message that his tiny story was part of a bigger narrative. That his tiny circumstances, which seemed so big to him in the moment, paled in comparison with what God was doing across the centuries. God’s sign was also a reminder to us that we are more than our daily story, we are part of the bigger grander narrative of God, and we can never fully understand the long-term purposes of what God says and does with us.
So more good news; after my run I drove to Plano and had dinner with Bryon. Well, I ate while he worked, but we had fun together cracking jokes and making plans for the next day
At a table across the room sat a body-builder guy with a huge chest and bulging biceps accented by a tastefully-tight T-shirt. He was sitting with his cute tiny blonde girlfriend and they couldn’t decide which desserts to order. Finally, he actually pointed his finger at the menu, and I’m not making this up, his lips silently said, “Eenie-meanie-miney-moe.” How curious that such a huge powerful guy would play a child’s game to make a decision that he hoped would impress his date. I guess we all run home to our upbringing when we can’t decide what to do. At least, as a parent, we hope our kids do that.
Back home in Midland we had some final bad news: our friend and the builder of our home, Gary Kahler, passed away this week from cancer. Yet the good news today at his funeral was how many people were there. For such a quiet and unassuming man, Gary left a huge wake behind him. I especially noticed how many subcontractors and home owners were there. It speaks well for a man to be honored and respected by both his suppliers and his customers. Once again I was reminded of the long-term impact of a life well lived, and how a humble righteous man of character can change the world. That is very good news indeed.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s book, “Running With God:” www.runningwithgodonline.com … Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org