If

chris bball

 

This is a photo of me in 1975 when I led my high school’s conference in points per game (18), assists per game (7), rebounds by a guard (10), free throw percentage (90%), and minutes played (38.5).

I also have the record for telling the biggest lie in 2016.

But for the record, if I had been four feet taller I would have been in the NBA. And I would not have been one of those non-athletic 9-footers. I would have been a 9-footer who could jump out of the gym. OK, maybe not.

If. If a pig had wings it could fly. If I had been four feet taller I could have been in the NBA. Maybe not.

Yesterday I went to my doctor’s office and when I got to the check in window I noticed the two ladies checking people in were laughing their heads off. Gradually, it came to me. They are laughing at me. Yes, they were laughing their silly heads off at me. I looked at one of them and told them my name. You know, that’s what you are supposed to do when you check in. “I’m Chris Ayers. I have an appointment with . . .” The laughing lady on the left said, “Pokey. You are Pokey.”

Ha, ha, ha, ha.

So here’s the short version of the story. My wife gets her allergy shots at this office. She’s struck up quite a relationship with the laughing ladies. A few years ago Victoria told them how slow, how pokey I am. Not long thereafter the laughing ladies noticed I had an appointment on a certain day and they decided to watch me to see if I was as pokey as had been reported. They agreed with my spousal unit. Evidently their husbands are pokey too, but not as pokey as me. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Funny, funny, funny.

As it turns out, my basketball coach in 1975 told me “Ayers, you have one speed and it’s slow.”

If.

If I had been four feet taller and fast.

What’s your biggest “if”?

May God help you and me to live with our “if’s,” our shortcomings. Get it, shortcomings. May God help us and others (including the laughing ladies and my wife) to appreciate all our fine qualities. And thank you to that person who wrote the story about the tortoise and the hare.

My First Experience With Weird

 

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic

My parents fell in love with Daytona Beach, Florida and so our annual vacation was to Daytona Beach, the beach you could drive your car on. Every year for fifteen years – Daytona Beach. It was our home away from home. Same route, same stops (for the most part), same beach, same hotel. We were into sameness.

I was very provincial:   an unsophisticated, narrow-minded youngster from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As far as I was concerned, Winston-Salem was the center of the universe. A lot of learning was in my future.

At Daytona Beach, when I wasn’t playing in the ocean or sand or swimming in the hotel’s pool or playing putt-putt golf, one of the things I liked to do was look at the license plates of the other people staying at the hotel. For some reason, there were always gobs of people from Ohio. I found them to be odd, weird, different. I wondered if being away from the ocean, being so centrally located, had something to do with their oddness. They were my first experience with weird.

Years later as a freshman at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, I experienced the really weird for the first time. In Chapel Hill, we had a little bit of everything. As the pastor at University Baptist Church put it, “If we don’t have it in Chapel Hill, it’s coming in on the next train.” At UNC, I received as much of an education outside the classroom as in it. It was a very good education.

It was in Chapel Hill that I discovered those weird people are just people. Some of the weird people became friends of mine. Diversity to me became a gift, and not something to be feared.

These days I am a pastor of a liberal church in Charlotte, North Carolina. And now I realize I am weird to a lot of people. The shoe is on the other foot. With some therapy under my belt, I don’t mind being weird. Self-differentiation has turned out to be quite fun, even though painful at first.

As a pastor of a very diverse group of people, part of my ministry is to teach the rest of the world about “my journey of weirdness.” The world and people are much more complex than most people are able to grasp. I try to be patient with the provincial because I once was quite provincial myself. And truth be known, there’s a part of me that still believes Ohioans are a tad odd even though I know stereotyping is very problematic.

One of the things I most like about Jesus is he hung out with the outcasts, the truly weird. To him, people were just people.

[Note:  As fate would have it, my wife’s maternal relatives are from Ohio :)]

Why I Profile

 

laylal 1

I profile based on past experience.  I profile because I know the profilee.  I profile because if I don’t I have major messes to clean up.

Layla is my wonderful granddog, but she is a chewer.  It’s the Beagle in her.  She’s a rescue dog so we don’t know exactly what kind of dog she is, but there’s no doubt about the Beagle part.  The vet said we could do a DNA test for $100 to find out her other half but we decided to live with the mystery.  Just dealing with the Beagle part is enough.

For example, Lalya decided to chew off some pine combs that had been on a miniature Christmas tree sitting in our entrance area.  Three pine combs to be exact.

As you know, training a dog involves training an owner as much as training the dog.  We get used to living without a dog who is a chewer and then she comes over for a sleepover and – and while we get open trash cans off the floor there’s always something we forget to do to house proof for Layla.

Our nickname for Layla is “Destructo Dog.”

We had the Ayers Christmas party last Saturday.  Less than a minute into her grand entrance Layla jumped on a table and devoured a stick of Land of Lakes butter.

You can’t blame us for profiling Layla, but we can urge you to be careful about profiling people.  The truth is we have all sorts of preconceived notions about other people based on many factors.  Sometimes our first impressions are dead on, but often our first impressions are wrong.  So we have to learn to give people a chance and hope others will give us a chance.  If we don’t get past profiling, we miss out on the blessings some of God’s most interesting and wonderful people have for us.

I wonder if Joseph, Mary and Jesus had a dog.

Merry Christmas!  May one of your gifts be a unexpected relationship with someone you never dreamed you would know.

 

Liberalrev gives a shout-out for Donald Trump

donald trump

I’ve never had a reason to do a shout-out for Donald Trump until today.  There’s so much to dislike and disapprove of when it comes to The Donald.  Today, however, I heard an interview of Donald Trump in which he warned against the dangers of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.  That, in my opinion, deserves a shout-out.  As a pastor, I’ve witnessed how alcohol, drugs and cigarettes have destroyed lives and relationships.

I was curious about Trump’s comments so I did a Google search and discovered the history behind his stance.  In an interview in 2011 Trump commented:

I’ve never had drugs. I’ve never had a cigarette and I don’t drink coffee. I have other problems, I guess! I had an older brother named Fred, who was a great guy, a handsome guy – the most handsome guy that you’ve ever seen. He had everything going: he loved flying airplanes, he was a professional pilot. Somewhere along the line, I think he was in college, he started drinking. It got worse and worse. He also smoked a lot.

He was about 10 years older and he would tell me, ‘Don’t ever smoke, don’t ever drink.’ I say that to my kids now – no drinking, no drugs, no alcohol. So far my kids have been following my lead. I had this great brother who had everything going but he became an alcoholic. Ultimately, he died. . . . He was a very severe alcoholic (but) he was an amazing guy.”

In a certain way, he was one of my great teachers, if not my best. He got me not to smoke, not to drink. I say to people don’t drink. It’s not hard.

I’m not a fuddy-duddy preacher.  Jesus turned water into wine.

Prayers for those struggling with addictions and for those in relationships with individuals whose life is overwhelmed by addiction.