Showing posts from February, 2010

The Third Little Girl

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t able to play football in high school, having to help out in the family business. Or maybe I just had more skeletal fortitude, but in my 53+ years I have never had a broken bone. Oh, I’ve had my bumps and bruises… but no breaks.

But let me to tell you about a little girl who wasn’t so fortunate. And what may be the most amazing thing I ever saw with my own two eyes!

I saw three… and then there were two, in almost the twinkling of an eye. But what happened to the third little girl?

The year was 1982 and I was the youth pastor of a mid-size church in Oklahoma City. The kids jokingly referred to themselves as “Reece’s Pieces”. One of my responsibilities – and indeed a great pleasure – was to take a couple dozen of “my kids” to youth camp that summer.

One of the greatest things about summer camp is the new friends you meet. We were sister churches with a church in Tulsa, a much larger church with more kids, and they invited us to come along with them to camp. They a…

An Idiotic Idiom

An Idiom is a phrase that has a meaning different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words themselves. Idioms are pretty common in the day to day language of we Americans. But imagine being in America from a foreign country – say France, and trying to figure out with a French-to-English Dictionary how to interpret an idiom.

Consider the phrase - “Keep your shirt on”. The poor Frenchman is standing there looking up the words – “Let’s see, ‘keep’ translates Écouter… meaning to continue”. And while he’s trying to determine what it is he needs to continue, an American would have already given the appropriate response, “Oh yeah? Well, blow it out your ear, buddy!”

You may think I got up on the wrong side of the bed, or that I’m not playing with a full deck, but I have an ax to grind...

Another good example of an idiom would be “fire a shot across his bow”. It comes from naval warfare, when they want to fire a warning shot without doing damage to the other ship. You don’t act…

You Are What You Are

Awhile back a store cashier accidentally gave me too much change. I realized it and returned the overage. While thankful, she was astonished that somebody would reject free money. My answer to her was, “My honesty comes at a higher price than a couple of bucks!”

Did you know that if a stamp is used to mail a letter, and then the machine at the post office fails to cancel that stamp, it is still considered by federal law to be a used stamp? Would you peel it off and reuse it? Nobody would ever know. But forty-four cents? Surely you’re integrity is worth more than that! If you’re going to be a thief, you may as well steal a car or something else of real value!

How many people would you have to kill to be a murderer? The obvious answer is one. But I disagree...

I’ve cleaned up an off-color joke to make a point. If you’re concerned you may be offended, please turn away. But in all fairness, it’s wasn’t that off-color in the first place... and besides, you’ve heard it before.

A man at a party…

An Unexpected Windfall

My first thought was, “I’ve been poisoned!” Then I got to thinking, “Maybe I have a lawsuit here.” But I can hear the defense attorney now… “Mr. Kepler, do you usually put food in your mouth without making sure it’s dead first?” I’m in trouble on that one. I better not sue…

When we were kids there was this really cool amusement park in town. We got to go once or twice, but mom and dad couldn’t afford to take us very often, so instead mom would take us with her to the market for groceries. Granted there weren’t roller coasters or arcade games at the market, but there were shopping carts to ride, and fruits and vegetables to throw at each other.

...after about my third spoon full, I realized something unusual. My cereal was moving!

One of the things we looked forward to was picking which breakfast cereal we wanted. We would each get to pick one box. I remember standing on the cereal aisle for what seemed like hours trying to decide. Actually though, the only criteria for my choice was the

A Religious Guy

Jack was tall and slim, with black hair and a full beard, albeit somewhat scraggly. But what made Jack so noticeable were the scars on his forearms. At some point in his life, and not too terribly long ago, Jack had taken a knife and torn open his arms from the wrist to the inside of his elbow – on both sides! Jack joked about it, about how he'd "botched the job". But it was obvious by the depth and width of the scars that his attempt was real and he’d given it his best shot.

...the guy that gets to pray with someone and lead them to Christ gets to see the result of all that labor. With Jack, I wanted to be that guy!

“You’re a religious guy, aren’t you?” Jack asked me as he passed by, pushing a load to be dumped down the chute. I’d just met Jack about an hour before, and all I’d done was assign to him a sledge hammer and wheelbarrow, and point him to the area I needed him to work. “I guess you could call me religious”, I answered. He dumped the busted up concrete an…

The Distinguished Gentleman

Personally I blame the affordability of air conditioning for herding people off their front porches and into their living rooms… well, that and television. Before those two “modern miracles” folks used to stroll the avenues, waiving and ‘howdy-do’ing’, and everybody knew everybody. Now we can live in the same place for years and never learn the first names of our neighbors, or where they work, or what they do to unwind.

A couple of years ago Stephanie and I moved into a new home in a new subdivision, and frankly, coming from an area of more humble incomes, I wondered what kind of folks we’d be living among, and how well received we would find ourselves. I didn’t have to wonder for long. On the afternoon of our first day, two… count ‘em, two sets of our new neighbors introduced themselves. Kim and Mary Beth even presented us with a home-baked apple pie!

I started addressing Patrick as sir and referring to him as The Distinguished Gentleman. Then it dawned on me where that term comes fro…

The Swiss Army Knife

I saw this cool Swiss Army Knife you can buy for your dad next Father’s Day – or if your father has passed on as mine has, you can buy it for me. This knife costs 180 bucks, and I counted no less than 20 functions for which it has a unique tool. What’s more, it comes with band-aids, a pressure pencil (whatever that is), writing paper, safety pens, matches and sewing thread. Of course these accessories aren’t built in, so you’ll lose them pretty quickly. But it’s still cool that they come with the knife.

This got me wondering – if GOD had a Swiss Army Knife, what would it look like?

He’s not just that church’s Swiss Army Knife… He’s GOD’S Swiss Army Knife...
There’s this guy I know that works at a church. Now, in respect to him I shouldn’t use his real name so I’ll use an alias. Let’s just call him Randy. That’s a good, strong yet generic name, don’t you think? Randy is the “go-to” guy for whatever’s going on in this church he works at. If the rainy season finds cracks in the roof, call …

It Ain’t All Bad

I waited nervously for the doctor to give me the verdict. Your health is no laughing matter, unless it has to do with your funny bone I guess. And after what I had to endure for the test itself, I figured my dues were paid in full on this one. Then the Doctor said it – and I turned white as a polar bear in a blizzard. “The results are negative!”

OH NO! I started planning my funeral right there in the exam room – let’s see – I’d like a mahogany coffin with brass trim…’s going to take an Ovaltine Decoder Ring to understand that joke.
“How long do I have?” I asked him. “How long for what…” he responded. “…to pay your bill?” Then he explained that negative is good – positive would be bad.

What is that – Doctor Code? And if so, I’m just a lowly desk jockey. Is he supposed to expose it to the likes of me? But as it turns out, everybody knows that. I guess I don’t watch enough Real TV.

I told my son the results of my tests were negative. “That’s bad”, he said. “Why is it bad, son? Do you w…

The Pendulum

I’m one of those “white collar” types, although I don’t actually wear a white collar. I think the last time I wore a white shirt was when Stephanie and I stood up in front of a preacher. But I do sit at a desk, in front of a computer screen. Day after day after day after day… after day, inside those same four walls I sit.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job and am truly blessed of God to have it. But there’s a yearning inside me to get away. Field personnel come into the office and I bite my lip with envy at the places they go. Just the other day I overheard a guy that’s working in Pennsylvania right now. He was talking about how he drives over to DC or NY for the weekend, just to goof off. I closed my office door so they wouldn’t have to see a grown man cry.

I started this job in 2002, and by late 2005 I found myself with such a yearning to get “out there” that I resigned the desk job to take a field job. Finally – on the road again! Stephanie and I stowed our stuff in a mini storage, pu…

Thunder and Lightning - Bells and Whistles

It was the early 80s and we were opening a bible school at our church. I was working late one evening, laying carpet with one of the guys who would be one of my students at the school when the church phone rang. I answered and the caller identified herself as a woman who attended the church. She was afraid because a guy she used to be involved with was banging on her door.

Why she didn’t call the police I do not know. She apparently felt her best chance was the church… kind of like calling God I guess. Well, all we could do was advise her to hang up and call the police… and that we would pray. And we did pray. Then we returned to our carpet laying.

Thunder and lightning, bells and whistles - that’s what we expect or we deem God to have “not shown up”...
A few minutes later she called back. She said she didn’t need to call the police beause as soon as we hung up this big ole’ guy came up to the lunatic banging on her door, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “You need to leave”. At tha…

A Fool and His Money

Red was a good man, and he had a good heart – a heart for the Lord. Red spent hours daydreaming about what he would do with the money, should his numbers be called. He even went so far as to draw up a spreadsheet on his laptop, listing all the folks with which he’d share the winnings, and the largest chunk of the cash would go into the ministry...

Red wasn’t his real name, but all his life he wanted to have a nickname… a handle if you will, that people would grab onto, making him more memorable. One of his favorite movies was The Shawshank Redemption, where Morgan Freeman’s character has the nickname ‘Red’. That seemed odd to Red because Morgan isn’t red…he’s black. And then there’s Red Foxx, again a black man. The only thing red about Red Foxx were the faces of his audience, when he told his off-color jokes. But our Red IS red. At least his hair is, and so it seemed fitting.

Like all of us, Red had his pet vices. For instance, he loved to gamble. Now we’re not talking about gambling a…

Pillars of the Community

She’s my wife, she’s my lover, she’s my best friend. But on top of all that – she’s my hero! If you know me well, you know I’m a man of strong beliefs and opinions. But this beautiful woman, who was once a fragile little girl did as much to change my thinking as any philosopher, teacher or preacher who ever crossed my path.

See, I grew up in a nuclear family, a thing that wasn’t as rare in those days as now. When I was in grade school the kid whose parents were divorced was the exception – today, the rule. But our family was not only intact, it was strong. And we came from sturdy stock. Our German heritage went back several generations, with hard working, God revering men who fought in wars and served as deacons of their church - real pillars of the community.

Suffice it to say that if ever there was one who could point to society and say, “It’s your fault!” that right would belong to Stephanie.

But a word often used to describe those staunch German pillar types is PROUD! And the probl…

My Darkest Hour - My Brightest Day

The Doctor, a personable young woman, went out of her way to compliment us on doing “everything” a good parent could by getting the child to a doctor and on to the hospital. Later we realized she was just trying to ease the pain we would surely face when daybreak found the baby no longer alive. But there were forces at work the likes of which this doctor was not aware…

In April 1987 I was blessed with the birth of my second child; a man-cub I named John Reece. When you have a girl and a boy they call that a millionaire’s family. And I think I know why. I felt like the richest man on earth. But nine months later I found myself facing the darkest hour a man could know. My baby boy was sick - and getting sicker.

I found myself facing the darkest hour a man could know. My baby boy was sick - and getting sicker...

All weekend long he cried. His mother and I tried everything to ease his pain, and when the meds knocked him out he slept. But when he woke up he cried… and cried. And I cried. The…

To The Moon, Stephanie

Every year my wife Stephanie and I take a vacation. If you don’t get away from it all at least once a year, you should! I used to have a pastor that said he got away one day a week, one weekend a month and one month a year. I remember wondering if he takes one year per decade. How about one decade per century?

This year we’re considering an unusual destination for our trip – The Moon!

See, I saw a news report that the President has nixed the funding for NASA to go back to the moon. Folks, nobody in this country that’s my age or younger can even remember a United States of America without a space program. So I figure it’s our patriotic duty to do this thing.

“How can you get to the Moon?” you might ask. Well… I think I have that figured out. We’re all aware of the fact that the entire technological capabilities used by NASA for the Apollo missions can now be duplicated with one laptop computer. As it happens, I have a laptop computer. In fact, in the spirit of the redundancy that is so i…

The Fairgrounds 500

If you live in or near Oklahoma City you know what this city excels at – tearing things down. You may have been around back in the 70s when a program called Urban Renewal ripped and tore its way through downtown OKC, replacing beautiful architecture with parking lots. Reference the old Biltmore Hotel.

I remember when I was a kid and dad told me, “Son, they’re gonna build a highway across downtown Oklahoma City that’s up in the air…on stilts.” “No way, dad!” But they did. It’s called Interstate 40. But it won’t be for much longer. We’re poised to tear it down soon.

But the next domino to fall is the State Fairgrounds Speedway. Now, I will confess it’s been years since I’ve visited the speedway. In fact, I can only recall attending one or two events there in my life. When I was about 12 dad took me to a Mustang Precision Driving event. It was so cool to see those Mustangs jump over each other and weave between one another at high speeds, barely avoiding catastrophe. It was entirely awesom…

Six Bucks a Quart

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how bad the economy has been. And rightly so – things have been difficult for many if not most. It’s at times like these we find unique and creative ways to get by. Let me share a couple of the ways I’ve coped.

There’s a thrift store in town where you can get Polo, Nautica and Eddie Bauer shirts for under twenty bucks. Of course, somewhere out there is a guy that has already decided this shirt isn’t a keeper. It may be because he’s so rich he changes his wardrobe every few weeks, or it could be that he’s gone on a diet and lost a lot of weight (more likely gained). I just hope he isn’t among the “dearly departed”. I’d hate to think I’m wearing the threads a guy died in. Usually I tell myself, “Someone got this as a gift and didn’t like the color so he never wore it.” Of course, that doesn’t work if the dry cleaning service has already stenciled a name in it.

Another way to save money is to buy those cheap “knock-offs” of the expensive colognes. Af…

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Twice every other week averages out to once per week, doesn't it? That's how often I make the drive from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and back again. That's because every other weekend Stephanie's son Jerry comes down to spend the weekend with us. I go get him on Friday evening, and I take him home on Sunday afternoon. Today was one of those Sunday afternoons.

When I was younger I wasn't so moved by the sight of an animal in distress. But as I've aged my heart has softened - tenderized if you will. Now, when I see something in the road ahead I breathe a quick prayer that I'm not about to witness what's left over from the unfortunate meeting of a vehicle with an animal. Such prayer was not answered this afternoon. I had been watching for deer as I like to do on this drive when I spotted something on the side or the road ahead. It was smaller than a deer, and black. As the gap closed I recognized the form of a dog standing in the grass. Then I saw why. He was st…

The Thrill of the Hunt

Usually when someone goes by an alias it’s because they’re hiding from the law, or maybe from their fans, real or imaginary. Texans often find it wise to use an alias while north of the river – especially during football season. I know of a whole species from Texas that goes by an alias when in Oklahoma…the Texas Horned Lizard.

Known in Oklahoma as the horny toad, the Texas Horned Lizard is one scary looking creature. But as they say, ugly is only skin deep. These guys are really nice little fellers. They don’t bark or bite, but when frightened they do shoot blood out of their eyes. So try not to frighten one.

Let me tell you about my favorite horny toad of all time. He wasn’t around long enough for me to catch his name… just long enough for him to steal my heart! So I’ll just call him Hellboy (because of the horns).

It was Easter Sunday and my niece Beverly and little sister Brenda, only 4 days apart in age and both just cute as a button, were itching for an Easter egg hunt. So the whol…

Famous People Born Today

All things being equal, today is a special day for 18,611,111 people, more or less. See, the United States Census Bureau estimates the world population as of today to be 6,800,500,000. An easier way to say that would be a little over 6.8 billion people. And they’re all coming to your house for dinner! Ok…not really. Just me!

Anyway, if you take that 6.8 billion and divide by 365.4 (the approximate number of days in a year) you come up with 18.6 million people – having a birthday today. OK…I know more people are born in certain months, and nine months after a cold snap or a power outage, and blah blah blah. That’s why I said, “All things being equal…”

Some of the more famous people having birthdays today: Charles Lindbergh, who crossed an ocean to get away from a crowd of people. And then there’s Oscar De La Hoya, the boxer who’s famous for his baby face, or at least he was before Floyd Mayweather gave him a 12 round facelift.

I see that Alice Cooper and Dan Quayle are having birthdays to…

Malice of Four Thoughts

Driving my granddaughter home from church tonight I saw a marquee at the corner drug store that read “HINI SHOTS, $15.00”.

My first thought was, “If hiney shots are fifteen bucks, I wonder how much shots in the arm are.” My second thought was, “They misspelled hiney. It’s not H-i-n-i… it’s H-i-n-e-y."

My third thought was, “Oh…that doesn’t say hiney, it says H-1-N-1”. You know - what we used to call swine flu, until the pig farmers got upset because people were thinking you could catch it from eating a ham sandwich.

My fourth thought was, “I never got one of those shots. I wonder if I should.” See, I heard that if you caught it back in the 70’s when swine flu was making its last appearance, you may be immune now. And I remember being pretty sick back in the 70’s. But then, I was doing some things in the 70’s that can make a guy pretty sick. And to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’ve got to say about thayat!”

My wife Stephanie struggled with a bout of the swine flu a couple of months…

Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?

History and literature are full of intriguing stories of babies being switched at birth. It’s usually the story of a poor fellow finding out he’s really the son of a rich family, or even royalty…and vice versa. Mark Twain kicked it up a notch in his story “Pudd’nhead Wilson”, where a white baby and a black baby were switched, with both passing for members of the other’s race.

Babies being switched at birth – that just doesn’t really happen much in modern society. Hospitals go to great lengths to document which baby goes with which mommy. I think it’s to avoid getting sued. Having said that let me say…I’m pretty sure my brother was switched at birth!

Andy-ites, we’re called. We recognize one another… I’m not permitted to tell you how. I will say there’s a handshake involved...
Why do I say that? Well, all my life I was called Opie. The reason for that is because I resembled Ronnie Howard, who played the role of Opie Taylor, the fictional son of fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor, of the ficti…