The Road Ahead


May your closest companion now and always be the one who made the road.

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Wednesday Weirdness

bluebirdMy Featured Blogger this week is Bluebird of Bitterness. B.O.B. consistently finds funny stuff–quips, cartoons, videos like the one below–to post. And since her (yes, her) sense of humor almost cosmically aligns with mine, I visit her site on a regular basis. You should too, cuz, like, I said so, ‘kay? So go there now.

Hello? Why are you still here?

bluebird of bitterness

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Shoot for the Moon

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars!”

This popular saying is actually a misquote of what Dr. Norman Vincent Peale originally said. The correct version should read:

“Shoot for the moon. But be careful because if you miss you’ll land in your neighbor’s backyard and end up getting shot at while you’re scrambling back over the damn fence!”

(Hey, even inspirational speakers have their off nights.)


You’re welcome.

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Not Guilty…ish!


I’d reached the sagely age of 20, and had finally scratched together the down payment for a groovy avocado green Chevy Vega with harvest gold vinyl seats.

Then, just two weeks later, a very un-groovy cop pulled me over.

“But my speedometer said 65!”

“I clocked you at 72, son.”

I courteously explained that he was wrong and that I wasn’t his “son,” but he still gifted me with a speeding ticket.

That night I mentioned the situation (yelled about it) to my car-smart friend, Ray.

“Have your speedometer checked.”

“On a brand new car?”

“It’s a Vega.”

So I had it checked and, lo and behold, the speedometer was off by 7 miles per hour! I immediately began preparing my watertight defense.

At the courthouse, the Bailiff asked, “How do you plead?”

“Not guilty!” I proclaimed as I clutched my love-worn copy of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

“In the case of the Universe vs. Mitch Teemley,” the Bailiff droned, “Mr. Teemley pleads not guilty.”

The Judge motioned me forward. “What’s your story, son?” (Why does everyone think I’m related to them?)

“Well, funny you should ask. There really is quite a story—”

“Guilty or not?”

“Um, well, not guilty because I was driving a brand new Vega and…”

The Judge’s eyebrows plunged vertiginously.

“I-had-the-speedometer-checked-and-it’s-off-by-exactly-seven-miles-per-hour! Sir!”

“Do you have the certification?”

I passed the document to the Bailiff.

“Guilty. You can pay your fine at the Clerk’s window down the hall. Next.”

I stood in stunned silence.

The Bailiff motioned for me to leave. I began shuffling away, but then stopped.

The Bailiff unsnapped his holster.

“I don’t understand!” I blurted.

“What is it you don’t understand? You were going 72 miles per hour,” said the Judge.

“Well, technically, yes—”

“Well, then technically you were breaking the law.”

“But it’s a new car. I didn’t know—”

“That doesn’t matter.


“We’re done here, Mr. Teemley.”

“Your honor, can I just ask you a question?”


I persevered. “If someone tied you up and tossed you through your neighbor’s window, would you be guilty of breaking and entering?”

“Pay the fine or go to jail, Mr. Teemley.”

I pulled Thoreau out of my pocket and read aloud: “’Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison!’”

The Judge stared in disbelief. “Do you want to go to jail, son?”

“No, your honor.”

“Then, pay the fine.”

“I can’t. It would be wrong.”

“But you broke the law.”

“Not knowingly. Maybe General Motors should pay the fine.” The courtroom erupted in laughter. I grinned.

That was bad.

Up until now I’d benefited from the Judge’s amused tolerance. But the moment I started working the room, his tolerance disintegrated. “You can change your plea to ‘guilty’ and go to traffic school. Or you can keep your ‘not guilty’ plea and go to jail.”

The Bailiff hoisted a pair of massive manacles.

Well, I’m not sure I…”images

“Choose, Mr. Teemley!”

“Traffic school!” the coward that lived inside me screamed.

“Thank you. Now go pay your fine.”

“You mean I still have to pay the…?”

The Judge’s eyebrows plummeted.

I’ve always had noble ideals. But the fortitude to stand by them, well… Those handcuffs were big, dammit! As I skittered away, Thoreau fell to the ground. Was the book trying to escape my craven company?

It would have gone to jail!

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Truly I Tell You…

A learned Theologian passed away.


At that same moment, a Child died.


In the blink of an eye, the two appeared before God.

The Theologian wrinkled his nose and said,

“Hmm, you’re not what I expected.”

But the Child threw open her arms and cried, “Daddy!”

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,

you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

~Matthew 18:3

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Oh, Me of Little Faith!

rob_carpet-wand-revers-655x1024Saturday chores: This is just so wrong. My wife expects me to vacuum before there’s any actual proof of need! When I do something I want to know I’ve made the world a better place, rescued it from imminent destruction. I want to part the dirt like Moses (well, OK, God) parted the Red Sea! “Give me something I can see!” I shout. “But this business of vacuuming by faith–well, darn it, it’s simply got to stop, woman!”

Of course, I never actually say this aloud. I’m lazy, not stupid.

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A Different Kind of Wall


Bil was a proud man (yes, he spelled his name that way). Trust me, I know because I have an excess of pride myself. I came to know him when he played the lead role in my production of A Man for All Seasons, a talky but moving play about the British saint Sir Thomas More. Bil’s audition was brilliant, but as rehearsals went on it became clear that there was a wall around his heart. And no one, not me (his director), and certainly not the God of Sir Thomas More, was allowed past that wall.

His acting pyrotechnics were undeniable. But his heart never came out to play. “I don’t cry,” he admitted just before the play opened, “but don’t worry, I know how to fake it.” His talent—and the wall—were on display nightly.

Thirty years later a mutual friend, Laurie, sent me a message that Bil had had a heart attack. “Pray,” she said. “God is using this. For the first time he’s admitting he needs someone other than himself.” But Bil managed to slip past death’s door, and reconstruction on the wall began immediately.

Then, after two more years, his lone wolf heart broke down for the final time. Laurie (and several others) visited him regularly, telling him about—and displaying—the love of the God he’d never let past that wall. Slowly, weakened by a broken dam of others’ tears, the wall began to crumble. Bil died, confessing his need for the God who’d never ceased to seek him.

Away in a Manger is probably the tenderest of all Christmas carols. Perhaps because it’s actually a nursery rhyme. It closes with the words, “Be near me lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in your tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.” I think of Bil when I hear those words.

father-and-son-holding-handsIt took a lifetime for God to fit him for heaven. But He finally did. God’s love is ruthless. It stops at nothing, certainly no human-made wall. But then, He’s a Father and fathers are like that. See you on the other side, Bil. As soon as the last vestiges of my wall are down, and the Father is finished…

Fitting me for heaven.

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments