I Love (My Version)

Of the hits Tom T. Hall had, two stand out in front of the others: Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine, and I Love. The latter would be the most successful single of his career. Story goes he wrote it one morning while having breakfast. It took him all of five minutes to write, and recorded it in one take. The song went on to sell millions. And was even used by Coors in a commercial of theirs several years ago.

Here is a video clip to the song. Below the clip, is write my own version of the song….

(My version)

I love life when it goes slow, freshly fallen snow; Kids on Santa’s lap, and cats

I love a drive in the fall, watching football; Fishing when they bite, and kites

And I love you too

I love sitting ‘round a campfire, a garden full of flowers; Handwritten notes, and jokes

I love seeing dreams come true, fighting for what is good; Watching lightning bugs, and hugs

And I love you too

I love seeing dreams come true, looking at the moon; Lazy days on the couch, and soup

I love drawings from my kids, an underdog that wins; A Sunday morning sermon, and Christ

And I love you too

***And I love some of you guys!

Class of ’92

The Class of ‘92

I am guilty of being one of those people who actually listen to the lyrics in a song. I am painfully in tune to what is being said in a song and not simply caught up in the beat or rhythm. It is a double victory when you get good lyrics with good rhythm. But it is a total loss if the song has little say to the heart and mind.

Not sure why, but I especially like music from the 60’s and 70’s. Maybe it was the Civil Rights movement, assassination of President Kennedy, Cold War, Vietnam, Woodstock, Watergate, Man on the Moon….all I know is some great music came out of this era from all genres.

My taste is eclectic. It is no wonder than in sixth grade I would be listening to Run DMC one minute, then Kenny Loggins the next (Dear Heavenly Father, I want to repent for listening to Kenny Loggins. Please forgive me of this grievous sin – Amen)

I was a member of the class of ’92. 20 years earlier the great country music quartet The Statler Brothers, released a song that would go to #6 on the charts called “The Class of ‘57” (video clip below). First off a little tidbit, none of the members of the Statler Brothers have the last name “Statler”, and only two of them are brothers.

Each member of the band has a section of the song, which goes through their graduating class in ’57. It mentions what classmates: Helen, Mavis, Harvey and Jan are doing today. The cleverly written song is like a class reunion – only with some of the veneer taken off

For instance, Randy’s on an insane ward, Ray is deep in debt, Charlotte’s on the make, Mary’s on welfare and Joe took Freddie’s wife – then Freddie took his life

I don’t do Facebook and never will. I personally believe history will show that Facebook did more damage to the average family than good. But Facebook does allow you to keep in touch with others. It keeps you from wondering what Julie is up to today – you just logon and find out. But Facebook only goes so far. Most people put their best foot forward on social media (how many people stress over selfies), and we don’t always get a true picture of what people are dealing with in life. Facebook doesn’t tell me what fears and worries are keeping my “friend” up at night.

Facebook probably wouldn’t tell me that Joe took Freddie’s wife

The chorus of the song goes as follows:

And the class of ’57 had its dreams, Oh, we all thought we’d change the world with our great words and deeds.

Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs, The class of ’57 had its dreams.

 The class of ’92 had dreams as well. I suppose our class wasn’t any different than the group graduating 35 years earlier in ’57. My graduating class was all of 148 people, and we’ve been “in the world” now for 23 years.

Most of my class is probably like Frank who works at the mill or Jerry who drives a truck for Sears, Jan who sells Tupperware or Janet who teaches grade school (and probably always will). And there’s nothing wrong with that!

My kids begin school in four weeks. They are the class of ’24 and ’27. I am sure most of their class (like the class of ’92) will be comprised of people who never make the headlines. Like Helen the hostess or Tommy who sells used cars. I hope their class is one where everyone simply makes a difference in the place God has them. They love their family, they stand up for what is right, people who sacrifice, are generous, gentle in spirit, patient and wise.

I don’t keep in touch with any of my classmates. I’m not saying that is a good thing, it’s just where I’ve ended up. Maybe it is a big reflection of my personality? I can’t begin to tell you how Mike, Marc, Amber, Bryan, Josh, Megan….are doing. I hope their lives are full of purpose and joy. And most importantly, I hope they aren’t listening to Kenny Loggins.

For the record Mark Zuckerberg was part of the class of ‘02

A Dragon Lives Forever, But Not So Little Boys

I love to listen to my son play by himself. I was an only child so I can relate to much of the world he lives in (however, my son has a sister three years older than him). His imagination is phenomenal. He will take our living room rug and turn it into the race track at Talladega. Or take a blanket and turn it into a cape. When he is in his world I love to stay with an ear shot of him so I too can enjoy what he is conjuring up that day.

He is six, and like many six year old boys, it is all about dirt and diggers and collisions and adventure. We live in a new development and the past couple of weeks I have taken him to the construction area and let him go wild in the dirt piles. It is a world of endless amazement for him. I remember at his age playing with my ERTL trucks and John Deere tractors – I get what is going on in his mind. He will be talking to himself, yet out loud – with zero concern for embarrassment or other people’s opinions. What freedom!

I hear parents often say they wish their kids wouldn’t grow up, that they could keep them at a specific age. That isn’t the case with me. I am anxious to see what God has in store for both of them. What I am sentimental about most is this wonderful world of endless creativity and imagination. A world where you can create anything because “realism” hasn’t crept into your psyche yet.

I think this is why the book Where the Wild Things Are is such a classic. Even today kids (and adults) love thumbing through this timeless story of a boy and his freedom. He creates a world that allows him to be king and not be brow-beaten by adults (put yourself in the shoes of a small child someday – not an easy role)

wild thigns

Where the Wild Things Are

I want my son to grow up, but his heart to stay full of wonder. The truth is, that won’t happen. At some point the carpet will no longer be Talladega – it will simply be a carpet. And capes, light sabers and super hero outfits will be for “little kids”. We call this “growing up”

Peter, Paul and Mary sang of this transition of a young boy in their #1 hit song from 1963 “Puff the Magic Dragon” (video listed below). The story is about a boy named Jackie Paper, and his imaginary dragon-friend Puff. Jackie and Puff lived in a land called Honali. And “Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff.” Honali was made up of strings, sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Jackie would sit upon Puff’s tail and they patrolled the seas. Royalty would bow in the presence of Jackie and Puff.  Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out Jackie’s name! Imagine the endless hours of adventure and joy. No one yelling at you, no one is impatient, no one is too busy, no one rushing you along because they had to be somewhere. I think we all had a Honali of some kind

But at the 1:58 point in the song, Eden is invaded. “One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more. And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.” One day in the early 80s I no longer created a world with my trucks and tractors. They were replaced with other toys and fantasies. The song continues “Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave. So Puff, that mighty dragon, sadly slipped into his cave.”

A few weeks ago I took my son to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out. It focuses on the 4 emotions inside a young girls mind (joy, sadness, disgust and anger). Early in the movie, the girl now a teenager moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. This shock in her life sends her emotions haywire. Without giving the movie away, Sadness and Joy end up in the young girls long term memory – the place where memories are stored (but pretty much forgotten). There is only one step beyond long term and that is completely forgotten. In long term they run across Bing Bong: half elephant, half cotton candy, half clown….Bing Bong was the girl’s imaginary friend as a  young child. Joy remembers all the joy the girl experienced whenever she was with Bing Bong. Anyway he helps Sadness and Joy get to where they need to go, but not before sacrificing his own life and ending up in the area of forgotten memories. Joy turns around to see him slowly disappearing forever.

There was stunned silence in the audience. I might as well admit it – I teared up. I wonder how many great events/things I had cast into the area of my mine never to be recalled.

INSIDE OUT – Pictured (L-R): Bing Bong, Sadness, Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

INSIDE OUT – Pictured (L-R): Bing Bong, Sadness, Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Think of the Toy Story movies and why they are so captivating to adults. Because there is the joy of recalling our innocent youth, and yet some sadness to how those toys and memories are long long gone. And lets be honest, we all kinda wished our toys were alive didn’t we?

There will come an afternoon when my son will clean up his hot wheels and never crash them at Talladega again. There will come a day when girls and sports will be far more interesting than Spider Man and bed time stories. There will come a day when he will forget these days (or at least most of them). They will be relegated to wherever Bing Bong went. However, I will not. That rug bought from Lowes will always be a NASCAR track, cardboard tubes will be swords, and Ironman will only be one change of clothes away

The Four Horsemen

four horsemen

(L to R) Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller, and Harry Stuhldreher

When mentioning the phrase “Four Horsemen”, it will invoke one of the following thoughts: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Conquest, War, Famine and Death – Revelation 6:1-8) or the dynamic quartet that lead the powerful 1924 Notre Dame football team (shown above). Either way, the term Four Horsemen is associated with fear and respect.

I have my own Four Horsemen. They are the four men that have been most involved in my life. They are the men that have directly and indirectly shaped the good in me. They are also the men I strive to be. Each has his own unique set of characteristics and strengths.

This entry is to merely introduce you to them. I will have more detailed stories about them in the near future

Cool Man Phil: Cool man Phil is exactly that. Cool. Not in the silly Henry Winkler way, but a deep in the soul coolness that is God-given. Cool Man has a brain the size of Oregon, but more importantly a heart to match. He was an executive and at one of America’s most prestigious companies, but has put as much energy into serving the Tri-State area through multiple charities and ministries. Cool Man is a loving and devoted father and husband (and grandfather).

Cool Man always had the time to talk with me. Even as a confused teenager and early 20-something, he took time to sit down with me and mentor me. Here was a man that made humongous business deals – the type that effect quarterly earnings – and yet would have long face-to-face talks.

He didn’t fill me with false hopes and dreams. He knew my strengths and weaknesses, and made sure I stayed focused on them. 2+ decades later, I am so glad he did!

He was always that person I looked up too. I knew full well I didn’t have the skill set to become like him – but I did want to hopefully resemble him in the areas of life that mattered most.

This is why he was the best man at my wedding. There was absolutely no one else that deserved the role

Super Hero Russell: He really is a super hero. Another man who was an executive at a strong American company. He has singlehandedly reshaped thousands of men’s lives. He entered my life in the spring of 2008 when I was in need of guidance on how to be a better husband. Today I cringe at the idea of letting this man down. He means that much to me.

He is the epitome of what it means to be an all-star husband, father, grandfather, friend….He is one of those people (and there are few) that leave a mark wherever they set foot. He is a man that will hug, cry and yell at the TV whenever Auburn plays poorly.

Each month he drives 30 minutes into downtown to have lunch with me. This has been going on for several years. I love hearing this man speak. He makes everyday and adventure. He loves life. I mean REALLY loves life. And he makes those he comes in contact with share in his joy.

He is Super Hero because he has taken a guy (me) with a HUGE list of faults and weaknesses and loved him, day after day, in spite of himself

Humble Wade: Humble like no one else. He and his wife have achieved a lot on their life (not yet 40). But in conversation you wouldn’t know it. Humble Wade has that ability to dive into your world. When he asks how you are doing, he means it. His smile is warm and eyes are sincere

A 5-star son, 5-star husband, 5-star father and 5-star friend. Humble Wade does everything right

I got to know him when I was “young in Christ”. These weren’t always pretty years: hot head, negative, proud, stubborn…Humble Wade has endured it all with me, but has never stopped being at my side

Even though he was a few years younger than me, I never had a problem admitting I wish I could be like Humble Wade. My wife can attest

Wade would lovingly say he valued my opinion in various points in life. Me??? You value MY opinion? I would be so confused. “How could this value much of anything I have to say on an important topic.”

He is not only a friend, but one of the finest men I have ever met

Smiling Dan: I’ve known Smiling Dan for about 8 years. And only a few times have I ever seen him not smiling or positive. I love this about Smiling Dan. I’m not always a happy-clappy person. But Smiling Dan makes me feel safe to smile and laugh. He is so very patient. He will share a story from the previous weekend how this, that, and this, and that happened…..yet it never rattled him.

it is not to be confused with go-with-the-flow, Smiling Dan is simply an authentically good guy. More than one occasion over the past several years Smiling Dan has come along side me and encouraged me. Keeping in frequent touch until a low point in my life was gone.

Again, a very wise person and will not hesitate to get advice or opinions. He is quiet and still – and I love this! He is a solid rock in my life. Smiling Dan is the ‘real deal’. We have a string of mutual friends that would agree.

Today he is out reshaping the world. He is in the middle of an adventure that I get to ride shotgun and be part of. And I love him for this

Though these four men are distinctly different, there is a lot in common.

  • They are dedicated to family
  • They improve the lives and communities they come in contact with
  • They have time (or make time) for others
  • They understand love
  • They share their strengths and wisdom
  • They have great self-awareness
  • They are quick to forgive
  • They know how to prioritize their life
  • They are not selfish or self-focused
  • They are strong in the mind and heart
  • They understand their role in God’s bigger plan

The bullet points could go on! These are my four horsemen and I love them!

Salvia

I have never taken a poll, but I would imagine most people will go through a whole year without seeing a hummingbird. For those who do see them, it is typically an isolated event – right place, right time. Well, not to brag, but I can see as many as six in a half hour. And most days I do

A lot of plants are labeled “hummingbird magnets”. Large home improvement stores to mom-n-pop nurseries will have these must have plants throughout their inventory. But one stands above them all for hummingbirds. It is salvia.

There are several varieties of salvia, and most will work to draw hummingbirds to your garden. The one I have had the most success with is the Salvia Black and Blue. This particular plant can be purchased at any large improvement store for as low as $8 per plant.

When planting salvia, I recommend no less than a three foot circumference to the nearest plant. As you can see in the photo below, black and blue develops into a bushy plant. Very full and robust. Plant it in an area where it will receive an abundance of sun throughout the day, and in soil that drains well. This is not a plant that will thrive in overly wet soil, so avoid low laying areas in your garden, at the exit of a downspout or in a location where runoff from the roof will oversaturate the plant.

The most important thing is to plant salvia in a highly visible area. I suggest off a patio or porch. Hummingbirds are not overly timid, and will come within a few feet of people to feed at a salvia plant. I have a chair on my front porch pointed directly at my salvia plant. Nothing like the brrrrr sound of a hummingbird’s wings as he pulls up to the bush and starts feeding

Salvia is hardy, meaning it can take low winter temps in most planting zones. Salvia can be slow to start in the spring. Be patient with it each year, however, if you do not see new growth in mid-May chances are good your plant did not survive the winter.

Salvia has a black-blue trumpet shaped bloom that lures hummingbirds in. Blooms appear in June and can continue blooming all the way into September. These blooms will often drop after a hard storm or wind, but in no time new blooms will appear.

One of best features of salvia it that it is a low maintenance plant. It requires little to no attention. just plant and stay out of the way! The plant doesn’t require deadheading and as noted earlier, isn’t in need of watering too often. It is suggested to cut the plant back to about 6” above soil once blooming season is over (fall)

So next year, buy a couple Salvia in mid-April, get them in the ground and enjoy countless hours of hummingbirds bouncing around!

salvia-black-blue-400

Salvia Black and Blue

salvia-black-and-blue hummjpg

Hummingbird feeding at Salvia Black and Blue

Makes me remember…

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a cookout at our house. We invited three other families in our neighborhood – all with kids. In total I think there were 8 adults and 10 kids. I was the maestro at the grill! Cooking hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, metts, and brats all at the same time. It really was an impressive sight to behold

After everyone had eaten, all of the adults gathered in the kitchen for some small talk. Somehow the conversation turned to the movie Field of Dreams. The 1980s classic starring Kevin Costner. The movie centers around the sport of baseball, and one of the guys at our home that night is a big baseball fan. In fact he got a college scholarship to play baseball.

David is a good guy. Easy going, appreciates a good joke and has a very sentimental edge to him. While on the subject of Field of Dreams, his wife noted that there is a scene in the movie (towards the end I believe) where Costner is tossing ball with his deceased dad. This scene always moves David to tears because his dad would come home every night and play catch with him. Even though his dad wasn’t much of a baseball fan. This fond memory is etched in David’s mind forever. It is lodged in that area of the brain that brings us legitimate happiness. I wondered if his dad is aware just how much joy those hours of playing catch meant to his son?

That night I got to thinking. What was my “Field of Dream moment” with my father. What sound, smell, scene…takes me back to a happy time. Then I realized – I was in the middle of it – summertime.

My father and I spent countless hours fishing during hot summer evenings. Those humid, muggy evenings where no air is moving. Even the fishing stream (often Todd Fork in Morrow) would sit still because the water was so low. I recalled the joy of him letting me venture off by myself to find a better fishing hole up stream (which usually resulted in my getting my legs chewed up by a weed called nettle or being the like discoverer of the largest swarm of mosquitoes in SW Ohio).

We weren’t good fishermen. We tried like the dickens, but our catch was usually measured in ounces, not pounds. I would sometimes catch more tree limbs than fish. But dad was cool with it. He would usually find someway to get my line undone while I used his fishing pole to catch….nothing.

Some point during the evening I would usually fall down on the mass of rocks that made up the creek bed. This portly elementary school kid would at of course be reduced to tears. River rocks on the right butt cheek don’t feel good.

This fisherman’s diet was usually a bag of Funyons and Pepsi…..don’t judge.

But what I vividly remember most is the sound of Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall. There was nothing like Reds baseball on radio. Even though the mid-80s were not kind to Reds fans, the sound of Marty and Joe still had a way of getting you to tune in. My dad had a small black transistor radio that we would use to fill the air at Todd Fork with the call of the game. I would always listen more intently when Mario Soto was pitching. It could be August, the Reds could be 15 games out of first place, but we had to listen to the game.

Once fishing was over, we’d load up the truck, hop in and tune to 700WLW. And listen to the game all the way home. Which often included a stop at UDF.

A few years ago, my dad and I took a small road trip to visit some of our old fishing holes. A lot has changed in Morrow over the past 2-1/2 decades. The drive out 22-3 isn’t as rural as it once was. The bait shop we would stop at in Foster is long gone. As for the fishing hole, a good portion of the flow has been rerouted to prevent soil erosion near the road. Across the stream was a cleared off area where people do some night fishing now. The small tributary to the right is bone dry. Doesn’t look like water has flowed down it in a long time. The pull off we would park at was grown over with weeds and dense brush. Though for the most part it was the same – it still wasn’t 1984

But like David who recalls those years of tossing ball with his dad, I will always be able to recall the hours that add to days, that add to weeks of fishing in that small town in Warren County. No worries other than doing my homework when I got home, and making sure I took a bath first thing.

Joe Nuxhall left us in 2007. I am confident he now resides in the Kingdom. My dad is still alive and still roots for the Reds – who believe it or not are 15 games out of first place.

I am sure David will someday watch Field of Dreams with his son and explain that particular scene. Maybe he still owns the glove he had as a child. My son is 6 and someday during a trip back home I will take him to Morrow, to the same creek, to the some part of the bank, and explain it to him.

todds fork

Chicken Soup for Hazel

Yesterday afternoon our small group from church had a small summer outing. We were hanging out on the screened in patio, just us three couples. It was your typical small talk: women in their huddle, men in theirs. Then one of the ladies, Sara, said “I have been reading to a 93 old woman named Hazel who lives in one of the area nursing homes.” I shot my head around and started probing. My favorite kinds of ministry are the behind the scenes, quiet ministry work. The few hours a week type of stuff done outside the church. And this is exactly what Sara was doing.

I found out that it had nothing to do with our church. She knows someone affiliated with this nursing home and one day said that she had a heart to read to someone, was there anyone at the home that would be a fit? Sara was introduced to Hazel. Hazel’s lone next of kin is her 88 year old sister. In short, Hazel is very much alone

Sara has been going up for awhile and reading a children’s bible to her. It sounded like she was about complete with the New Testament and so she was going to have to get some new reading material. Sara felt one of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books would be ideal.

I also learned that Sara has been taking her 14 year old daughter to the nursing home while she is home on summer break.

After a story about playing bingo and winning dimes and quarters for a prize, Sara wrapped up by telling us Hazel’s “Dream Day”. Instead of a trip to the beach, or a day in the mountains or some other event that would be a logistics nightmare, Hazel’s dream day would be a trip to the local department store to go shoe shopping. I had to wonder if there was more than simply needing shoes? Would a trip to this particular store stir up wonderful memories of years gone by? Was this store full of memories of years filled with exciting Christmas shopping or possibly a place where she once worked?

Sara’s story was the highlight of my day. No one knew about her serving the Lord in this manor. I know I look forward to hearing more stories from Sara about chicken soup, bingo, and shoe shopping

Dirty Martini

Last weekend my wife and I went to a posh bar downtown. It is located in a tall building with an excellent view of downtown. Because we have to pay for child care, we don’t get to go out on a lot of date nights. At least not dates that last very long. However, this night was a drinks, dinner, and theatre play type of date night.

Since this was a little special we decided to go to the bar mentioned above. We were early so were able to get a place right at the bar. I looked around and noticed the normal foo-foo drinks on the bar. None of that stuff for me. I wanted something manly – and something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. So in true James Bond fashion, I ordered up a dirty martini

dirty-martini

Dirty Martini

In a few minutes my drink was in front of me. It looked like the drink in the photo accept a bit darker (I was expecting something that looked like Sprite) Typically I watch how cocktails are put together, but I didn’t this time around. After a toast to the wife, I tipped back my overpriced beverage and took a strong sip. Then BAM my mouth dried up and I apparently gave an awful face because my wife asked what was wrong.

“Good grief this thing is salty!” I suppose somewhere in bartender language the word dirty is translated salty. My wife took a sip and agreed

I love olives. I love them a lot! But something was dreadfully wrong. Of course a real man isn’t going to whine over a little sodium right? (Even though it tasted like Lot’s wife had been chiseled into my glass.) So I kept sipping….which eventually lead to gulping. Which lead to me getting to that happy place too quick

After several grueling minutes I came to the end of the Dead Sea. I took a quick bite of three olives – done! All I needed now was a few gallons of water

The next day I looked to see what was in a dirty martini. Gin, Vermouth and olive brine. I pretty sure my bartender left out the gin and vermouth!

I have since learned there are three ways to order a dirty martini: slightly dirty, dirty and filthy

“Yes bartender I will take a dirty martini, but hold the olive brine!”

Your Man Loves You Honey

In 1977 Tom T. Hall released the single “Your Man Loves You Honey” off of his About Love album. The album didn’t get the fanfare that Tom was used to the previous ten years. In fact, this was the point his career was starting to slow down. Country had changed its focus to a more pop style sound and Tom T.’s style was no longer in vogue

About Love

Your Man Loves You Honey would be his last top 5 single (peaking at 4). And when people talk of Hall’s music, this tune is often overlooked. But this gem is as applicable today as it was close to 40 years ago

The song contains three stanzas (not counting the chorus) of a man, who though he never lives up to his wife’s high expectations (and apparently she reminds him of this), maintains an enduring love for her

Had my golf clubs on my shoulder when you saw me first today Wearin’ my old army sweater that you thought you threw away

And when you saw me standin’ there you shook your head and sighed When you saw I’d bought a sixpack I thought you were gonna cry

Most of the husbands/dads I know try hard. Try very hard. And if there is a common thread that men have (at least the men I know) it is a desire to receive adoration. Praise and attention especially from the one they love most.

But the stories from many men are the exact opposite. I cannot recall where I read it, but an article I read said that if there was one word to describe the American male it is “angry”. It went on to show how starting at a young age, boys are far more likely to receive harsh criticism and ridicule. That boys often receive less love because of the long standing belief that it will make a boy soft.

Boys are more likely to receive physical punishment (slap, belt…) and in school boys are more likely to be publicly disciplined

Throw in there some sport coaches who yell and degrade a young man, the emotional ups/downs that come with dating (yes girls break hearts too).

Then toss in a boss or two who nit-picks and brow beats………..you can see how the author described the American male as “angry”

We deeply crave atta-boys!

Your man loves you honey and I don’t know what else to say

Your man loves you honey but you can’t change my ways

While it is impossible for a wife to undo decades of hurt (that’s something only Christ can do). The question becomes, are they adding to the hurt? When I am in a social environment (where there are other couples), I pay special attention to how the wife treats the husband. Most guys break off and talk about sports or their latest adventure. Maybe a joke here or a vacation story there. We are pretty unadventurous in these settings

This song centers on his wife’s action in their home – everything is apparently private in nature. However, there is a trend I am seeing over the past several years I am not a fan of. I often hear a wife publicly making fun their husband. Highlighting a recent mistake or blunder. I have seen women (in a group setting mind you) talking about how sexy or good looking a co-worker or veterinarian is in front of their husbands. These conversations can go on for minutes with the husband standing right there.

I’ve heard them publicly proclaim doubt in a husband’s dream or goal (weight loss maybe or going back to earn a higher degree)

Endless stories of bad meals cooked, screw ups while watching the kids, hairy backs, waistlines getting bigger, hair getting gray, projects around the house that didn’t go so well, our forgetfulness, how emotional we are during football games…..and on and on.

It is said that the lowest form of humor, is when humor is focused on degrading or making fun of someone else. It requires little talent or wit.

If the objective is to crush a man’s feelings – ladies you’re doing a great job!

Now before you say you’re angry you remember what I did Went to church with you last Sunday took your mama and the kids

Sat right up and heard the preachin’ even wore my Christmas tie I’m not much on organ music 5-strings banjo’s more my style

I’ve made a habit of hanging around great men. Super Hero Russell, Wade, Phil, Dan, Pastor Bob….just to name a few. This is an all-star lineup.

These men would never do this to their wives. No way would either of these men talk about how hot another woman is in front of other couples. Actually they wouldn’t do this in private either! Sure, they have their own flaws, but they wouldn’t go there. And they wouldn’t let me go their either in their presence

If I began publicly criticizing my wife, they would intervene and changed the subject. Maybe even call me out on the spot. These are all star guys! They see the big picture and have great personal awareness, and I benefit from having them in my life

Your man loves you honey and I don’t know what else to say

Your man loves you honey but you can’t change my ways

Despite these humiliating moments, most (if not all of husbands) will bend and not break. And through some hidden power, don’t take the opportunity to lash back in public. I’m not sure if it is discipline or a “why bother, it won’t do any good” attitude that prevails. But, the damage is done. The pain is very real. You can see it in their eyes and posture, or a passive chuckle or smirk – desperately wishing the conversation would move onto something else.

I admire when a man won’t get defensive and play tit-for-tat. I admire when men take the high road. It’s hard, but these men do it!

Oh you should have had a knight in armor and a castle fair Not some restless cowboy faded jeans and shaggy hair

I can’t make it babe without you and you know that it’s true Keep me around for laughs so I’ve been good for one or two

As I noted earlier, Tom T’s song is about what goes on in the home. it is a snapshot of he and his wife (Dixie, who died this past January).

God gives us such an opportunity to serve as a champion for our spouse. To encourage, motivate, love, to be playful and light hearted. We have this platform to minister Christ’s love in a way no one else can.

I know I have certainly taken the easy road and been anything but loving, soft and encouraging. Our world makes it very hard to even desire to pursue such a relationship.

Our nature likes to keep score of wrongs, we like to play the victim and we like to make forgiveness something you have to earn (thankful God doesn’t take that route)

We choose to make our spouse jealous, rather than stupendous

We spend more time coming up with reasons to withhold good, than actually doing good

We choose to point out a mistake, rather than celebrate a victory

We will give a hobby hours of our dedication, leave some scraps late at night for our spouse

We will “like” the most irrelevant thing on Facebook or Twitter, yet let our spouse know they are boring us with something they share at the dinner table

We will contain our anger at work, blow up at our spouse

Your man loves you honey and I don’t know what else to say

Your man loves you honey but you can’t change my ways

This isn’t to say that men aren’t jerks at home. That will be touched upon another day another time

In this post I simply want to point out that most men are trying hard – we spend a lot of time pondering how to be even better

But, we are sensitive to criticism. I know I am, and the men that have gotten closest in my life are the same.

And I hope to become the man that when I fail at home, and I am “lovingly reminded of my shortcoming” that I will be like Tom T, shrug my shoulders and say “Your Man Loves You Honey…..but you can’t change my ways….”

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed (not yet in bloom)

Joe Pye Weed (not yet in bloom)

This big guy is the centerpiece of my butterfly garden. It is called Joe Pye Weed. It is considered a wildflower in many states and butterflies love to eat the nectar it produces. Joe Pye is considered a weed (as I understand it) because it is invasive. In other words, if not properly managed it will take over your garden. Please note, many preferred butterfly attracting plants are considered “weeds” (Butterfly weed, Goldenrod, Milkweed, even Bee Balm).

The picture at the head of my blog is of monarch butterflies feeding on Joe Pye Weed blooms.

In the south, you can see Joe Pye growing alongside the road. Even along expressways! In late summer you will see it, along with Goldenrod coloring the sides of the road.

But, Joe Pye isn’t for everyone or every garden. For one it is a towering beast. Healthy Joe Pye can reach over 10 feet tall. Mine was transplanted from someone’s private property last fall. When I transplanted it, I had only 3 plants and each stood about 3 foot tall. After just one year of growth, 3 plants has turned into about 8 and my tallest plants are close to 7 feet tall! Clearly not everyone wants this in their garden. Even the most enthusiastic butterfly gardener may shy away from Joe Pye

While coneflower and black-eyed Susan’s are fan favorites because of their classic pattern and color, Joe Pye has this somewhat awkward long “Jack and the beanstalk” appearance. It’s long green trunk, which is actually a thick hard stem, has many broad leaves hanging from it. I have found these leaves serving as resting spots for bees and butterflies.

Joe Pye itself doesn’t bloom until late summer. The picture below shows the buds at the top, The blooms vary in color but most common is the purple/pink variety. Blooms will last several weeks, as summer begins to fade.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed in bloom next to stream

Care and maintenance: because of its height, it is good to have a solid structure behind Joe Pye. It is not uncommon for a strong summer wind to snap these plants in half. Also consider staking them in the spring. Joe Pye is hardy and can handle many different types of soil. However, due to its height and need for a strong root anchoring, you are going to want soil that drains well.

When October rolls around and the blooms have dropped, it is suggested to cut the plant back to about 6 inches above soil. This is also an ideal time to divide the plant or even relocate it.

If you are unable to get wild Joe Pye, I recommend going to a reputable nursery to get your plants. You may pay a little more but the quality of the plant will be worth it (not that box stores do not have quality plants…). Plus, Joe Pye is often not sold at major home improvement stores)

So if you want something tall and magnificent, with little care necessary, I highly suggest the somewhat unknown Joe Pye Weed! Happy Gardening!