You Win Some

If you’ve been a loving parent of a young child just learning to play Candy Land, you know the quandary: do I let them win, do I stack the deck so that they will draw the double purple card, or do I teach them to lose well, you know in case they grow up to be a Dallas Cowboys fan or something.

That quagmire is even deeper and more daunting when you’re a grandparent and your mission in life is for your beautiful grandchildren to never, ever know loss, disappointment, heartache or failure of any kind.

Harper & Pops & Checkers

Harper & Pops & Checkers

My grandfathers were real men, not weepy, whiny, bleeding-heart liberals like me. I played checkers with my maternal grandfather. He was a well digger and used cuss words in normal conversation. I know he never intentionally, out of pity, sympathy or compassion or anything else, ever LET me win a game. I know this because I never won a single game of checkers against him.

The game of choice of my paternal grandfather was dominoes. The occasion of letting me win or not never arose because I was never allowed to play. Seats at the domino table was reserved for serious players who could count their own points, not put their partner in jeopardy and pretty well knew the dominoes in every players hand half way through the round.

Sometimes you wonder if maybe sometimes some Adults out there, including me, had too many people in our lives who LET them win a few times too many.

What about this? Wouldn’t it be nice if KD would come back “home” Saturday night and do something to sort of help his old team win one. I’m referring of course to the game this Saturday, between the OKC Thunder and the GS Warriors, and the first time Kevin Durant will return to OKC for a game since his midnight abandonment of us a few months back. I guess that would be a hollow win wouldn’t it. I tell you what I would really like to see, not that I’m a sore loser or anything, but I would love to see KD hold Draymond Green down while Steven Adams kicks him in that place where no man likes to be kicked. Of course the sweetest victory of all would be one where the Warriors (with the exception Green, of course) play one of their best games and still lose to our Thunder.

When it comes to playing checkers with Harper, I don’t actually LET her win, but I also don’t stand in the way of her being a bit creative with the game. For example, apparently in Harper’s version of the game, she can earn a third checker on her “kinged” pair. That makes for an omnipotent King that can pretty much move anywhere at anytime. You have to watch out for those omnipotent rulers. It’s hard to beat them no matter how well youplay.

Some wise person said, “When the game is over, all the pieces go back in the box.”

Or as my mother and the mothers of other frequent losers used to say: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts.”


We have a “comforter” at our house. Although I have watched copious amounts of HGTV and have logged several hours in a Pottery Barn or two, I don’t claim to know my comforters from my quilts from my duvets.

To further clarify, I’m not necessarily speaking of this type of “comforter”:

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.” —Ecclesiastes 4:1

That’s for another day perhaps.

So here is a photo of our comforter. It is from IKEA®, so I guess it’s an immigrant comforter—Scandinavian, I believe. (I’ve also spent a few hours in IKEA®. It’s by design that you go there and stay awhile. If you’ve ever been in one you know you can’t get out until you reach the end—sort of like when we elect politicians to a four-year term. I can’t be certain of the comforter’s origin. It may actually be from Bangladesh. I cut the label off even though it warned that I was doing so at the risk of severe penalty. I can be anarchistic like that.

The comforter delivers on its promise. It is comforting; and warm, and utilitarian. Not once though, has anyone ever come to our house and said, “What a beautiful comforter, who made it?!”

However there is another covering in our home. Every time someone sees it they comment on its beauty.

While being mass-produced by the thousands and shipped from Sweden or Bangladesh is a story, this other covering has a real story. It was lovingly made by hand, by my daughter-in-law’s great aunt, Elda, who had curated the fabrics over time, selected the pieces with some kind of theme in mind, and then stiched them together just so. It was given to us as a gift.

It is comforting, warm and artful.

It is called a “crazy quilt” by people who know their coverings.

Now to the metaphor:

What if we could imagine our earthly collection of humanity as a jointed fabric of sorts—woven together by the things we share: hopes, dreams, water, air, sun, moon, food, beauty, strife, illness, hunger, love, hate, compassion, spite, courage, fear, selfishness and selflessness?

I really do understand the worldview that somehow it is more comforting to hunker down in perceived safety under a protective, homogeneous blanket, secured tight around it’s edges. I get that. But is it realistic? Is it beautiful? What about the stories that will never be written or told.

I am not bragging, but rather celebrating when I say that I have close friends who are young and who are old, who have a wide mix of religious views and thankfully are passionate about their beliefs. Friends who are of varied races, who are of varied sexual orientations. I have dear, dear friends who hold Donald Trump in the highest regard. And I have friends whose skin crawls at the mention of his name. I love them all. I’m grateful that my life is somehow stitched to theirs. I’m glad my quilt is crazy.

Is a “crazy quilt” crazy? Is it risky? Yes, that’s life. Do I believe in providence? Yes, in a weird sort of way that likely defies all logic but my own. Would I prefer the snowy white comfort of a utilitarian blanket over the crazy, wildly colored haphazardly stitched-together stories of flawed humans? Absolutely not.

Franklin Graham recently said, “Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized—and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad.”

It is also true that every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be a neighbor who contributes beautifully to the artful craziness of our American quilt, just as all who have formed this immigrant nation have.

I prefer the hope-fullness of this passage over the hopelessness of Graham’s words:

“Gather the people together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living among you—so they can listen well, so they may learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, and diligently keep everything in this Revelation.
And do this so that their children, who don’t yet know all this, will also listen and learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, for as long as you live on the land that you are crossing over [emigrate] the Jordan to possess.” —Deuteronomy 31:12-13


Did The Best One Win?

THE VOTES WERE CAST AND COUNTED. Maybe you agree with the final outcome, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re indifferent to it all. Maybe you have a sense of justice about it all or maybe you feel like the system’s rigged.

Does the guy deserve some respect? Has he earned it? Maybe it’s all a popularity contest. Some don’t like his style. Most, at least here in Oklahoma, seem to love him, like he can do no wrong. Maybe if it weren’t for those voters out on the west coast, it would have looked more certain, more decisive.

Does he deserve to be the top guy?

YES! In my humble opinion, Russell Westbrook deserves to be the starting point guard on the Western Division All-Star Team. No doubt about it.

Baby It's Cold Outside

THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I'M GLAD I'M NOT: doctor, infectious disease scientist, activities director on a cruise ship, podiatrist, weatherman/meteorologist.

Maybe back in the day I wouldn’t have minded being a weatherman. Back then they didn’t claim to be able to predict ice storms a month in advance, convincing people to empty grocery shelves like maybe they would never have the chance to buy bread, milk and chicken noodle soup ever again.

I know they have really high-tech stuff they trust and love. I know they REALLY want to be able to run promos on TV after power has been restored telling how they were the first to predict the frozen future.

We can all appreciate wanting to be first. Who wouldn’t want to be able to say, “We tried to warn you!” But do they ever feel bad for prognosticating with such certainty and doom that schools shut down across the land, that people hunker down for a winter like we haven’t seen since the settlers crossed this land decades ago searching for the beaches of sunny California.

It’s kind of like those poor end-times preachers, who have solved the puzzle of the second-coming--again. One of these days they will all be able to say, “See I told you so.”

If I were a weatherman, or end-times preacher, I think I would stick to what I know for sure. Of course, no one would listen because my weather report would be so obvious, no one would close school or gas up their generator, or rededicate their life because of anything I said.

Here's an example of what my weather report might sound like: I can speak with complete certainty regarding the weather right now. As I’m typing this, it is 29 degrees Fahrenheit in OKC, and it is literally colder than Hell, Michigan.