To my grandchildren…

Did I mention I’m losing my memory? I can feel it, though others try to assure me I’m wrong. My dad had Alzheimer’s. It frightens me, that one day not so long from now, I’ll lose the stories, the punch lines, and the theological connections. It frightens me more than I’ve wanted anyone to know. I long for my grandchildren to carry at least a glimpse of this way of seeing that has brought sense to my life. I long to have them understand a way home, no matter where they wander, or what happens to them

“Hello my grandchildren. By the time these words might matter to you, I will probably be hunched over in the corner, a shawl draped over me, cautiously sipping tapioca from a straw while mumbling about the Truman administration. Come over and kiss me on the forehead. Tell me you understand what I’ve written. It’ll be the best moment of my day. I love you beyond words. This is some of what your grandfather held dear; a primer manifesto. This will hold up and give you a life beyond your dreams. People may not understand why you live this way, but know that your grandfather did. It was his secret to joy.”

*Be kind
*Honestly affirm others every chance you can. It teaches them who they are
*Become articulate and skilled in writing, so you can express thoughts which go to the heart
*Carry gum. It’s a lazy man’s toothbrush
*The food pyramid is changed like I change socks. Just avoid fried things
*Every hour you spend at a time-share presentation is an hour you can’t get back.
…And its never an hour
*Jesus
*Learn to receive his love
*Learn to cry to him, laugh with him, talk through all day with him. Hold nothing from him
*Find a few others who can talk about Jesus with you in a real and life giving way
*Figure out a way to see the Aurora Borealis at least once
*Curious George was more like Evil Little Monkey George, as far I’m concerned
*Be kind
*Dream. Even if it is self-centered at first. God is forming beautiful meaning in you
*Try to live on a cul-de-sac
*Tell on yourself
*Don’t let anyone guilt you into caring more. Trust your new heart and you will care more
*Give dignity to the common
*Don’t leverage anyone
*Learn to make dialects and sound effects
*Learn to love being alone
*Sing to God on walks. Make up songs about your life. He loves it even when it doesn’t rhyme
*Be generous with your insights
*If you come under God and others, you will become wise and get to influence other
*Find some people you can trust and come under their read of you
*Learn early on to be comfortable dancing at weddings. You go to a lot of them
*With great animation, call to an imaginary friend in a crowded restaurant. Do this often
*In crowds yell this: “Please, I’ve asked you. No photos when I’m with my family!”
*Don’t make Jesus a Conservative or a Liberal. He is neither.
*Create environments of safety and grace wherever you are. Make this a life ambition
*Sit with others around fires whenever you can. You are your best you around a fire
*Don’t become an alcoholic; so later you can enjoy wine with your spouse
*Buy an old Volkswagen. You will thank me for this
*Everybody, even the arrogant, are fighting with all they’ve got
*Don’t let my funeral be held in a funeral home
*Own your stuff. Be winnable
*Draw closer to people when they fail. They will never forget it
*In your safest friendships learn to playfully mock each other in a way that teaches the opposite
*Teach truth in stories. Others will be so grateful to you for it
*Share your failures. It gives hope that authenticity is possible in a community
*Don’t let anyone put you under religious guilt in the name of living sold out to God
*Avoid meetings as much as it is possible
*Stay in the present. People desperately need you to be right now for them
*Trust as many as you can. Let them tell you the truth. You will become healthy and wise
*Develop some vices. People don’t trust those without vices
*Don’t use religious slogans or trite sayings. They deaden you to the real Jesus
*Don’t try to fix people. People don’t fix
*Curtail your freedoms around a weaker brother, loudly flaunt your freedoms with the Pharisaical stronger brother
*Do not be afraid to say “I love you” as often as you think it
*Guard your heart around judgmental, arrogant, unkind, smug and demeaning people
*Be kind
*Read the Bible not for information but to come under his way of life
*Don’t let shame place a voice on the bible that God does not
*Hang strings of light. Find Chinese paper lanterns and display them
*Life is too short to sit in uncomfortable chairs
*Don’t use sexual humor. It demeans you. Others will not trust you
*Find several writers you trust and deeply enjoy. Let them guide you through life
*Ask others about themselves
*Read books aloud, with great animation and dialect to children. They’ll think you’re a god
*Imagine Jesus walking next to you with his hands in his pockets, smiling
*Let your confidence of his grace trump your fear of sin
*Find a trusted other to tell when something doesn’t feel right, or temptation begins to build
*Fight jealousy and envy by believing you are his favorite. You probably are
*Never forget he wanted there to be an exact you on this planet at this time
*The quickest way home from embarrassment or shame is telling another what happened
*Don’t hold onto unforgiveness. Forgive them to God immediately
*Don’t ever play judge and jury. It is not yours to play. It’ll make you sick
*Figure out early on how to live near the beach
*Don’t have a moral point to every story. People hate the moral point at the end of the story
*Don’t rub it in
*Don’t flirt. Don’t use your sexuality to gain anything. You will always doubt if you’re loved
*After twelve, temper being a sports fan. You’re not a better person if your team wins
*Don’t take up golf. It’s a cruel game, convincing you of evil when you hit a bad shot
*Nobody really cares about your takes on life unless they ask
*Be kind
*Learn to allow people to feel safe around you. It will give you permission to protect them
*Doing right is better than being right
*Don’t make Jesus the cop for anyone, especially your children
*Learn the motivation of wooing out other’s new natures, instead of lecturing their flesh
*Become objective before you confront another. (I learned this one too late)
*Don’t resent the romantic. They see color and hear sounds no one else can
*Fight against cynicism, flippancy and smugness. Such privately resent themselves
*Learn to trust the sovereignty of God, so you’re not always fighting the “why God” questions
*Save room for pie
*Breakfast is king of meals. Your grandfather chose it any time of the day
*Find a career you’d do anyways, and then try to get paid for it. I did that
*Don’t make your faith in Jesus hard. It’s not. He says his load is light. Believe him
*Never see yourself as behind with Jesus. You are not. He does not see life that way
*Celebrate anything and everything as often as possible. It creates threads of love
*Enter into other’s suffering and grief. You need no answers. Just show up
*When people confess, don’t pile on. They’re risking the nearly impossible
*Listen to older people if they are kind. They’re past kingdom building and so they can be wise
*Set up times with your parents. They won’t badger you if they know they have access to you
*If you use humor to hurt others, you may later discover you were adopted
*There is never a necessary occasion to poach an egg
*You will honor me if you crave bread pudding
*Get a dog. Love a dog. You will become a better person
*Cats are helpful to remind us there is a devil
*No sect, denomination or creed has the corner on truth
*Don’t trust seven steps to anything…unless I wrote them
*Don’t try to be cool, but put yourself in situations where you feel cool
*Simulate the sound of the air conditioner in class. No one can catch you. You’ll feel invincible
*I love fishing, but I hate pulling hooks out of their mouths. I feel embarrassed telling you this
*Ask me to go looking for beach glass with you. I know where the good pieces are
*Be generous. Pay for meals more than you are paid for
*Call fouls on yourself in one-on-one basketball games
*Play dumb on all things financial
*Rent “The Big Fish” and watch it, if only for the end scene
*Marry someone who likes to make the bed
*Avoid any preacher who talks tough or carries any hint of arrogance
*Avoid any preacher who plays to shame in the name of “telling it like it is”
*Risk everything on believing God’s continual delight of you
*Vicks makes you happier. I often wear it as cologne
*Be vulnerable. It gives others hope
*You’ll eventually learn to like the avocado
*Avoid being picky. You won’t be invited places as often
*Learn the guitar or piano. Children, forced to play the trumpet earlier in life, struggle
*Don’t doubt your rightness in showing Jesus as fun and playful
*You can read the minor prophets once and then skip them for decades
*Nobody likes wax beans. Why do we keep growing them?
*Tolerate geometry and then get out. Whatever it teaches you don’t want or need to know
*Check due dates. Food poisoning makes death seem preferable
*Avoid cruel violence in movies
*You are flat out beautiful to God. He specifically wanted you
*No one is loved like you or more than you by God
*Lift with your knees
*Make sure you get to Venice
*In a big city, ride a double-decker bus to get the lay of the land and then walk everywhere
*Dogs go to heaven. I have scripture to back this up
*Children are freaked out by brooding oil paintings of Jesus. So am I
*Learn to paint flaming forest sunsets with watercolors. Do it with your kids
*Don’t spike your hair like a dinosaur
*Don’t let anyone tell you how to style your hair
*Find recordings of Jonathan Winters, Vin Scully and Garrison Keillor
*Wisdom is freakishly superior to knowledge and information
*Try to live near a beach closest to the Redwood forest
*See if you can locate a Zagnut bar
*“Every Grain of Sand” may be the finest song ever written
*Be kind