On Kids, King, and Obamania

Amazing how a change of scenery changes your perspective.

Today is MLK Day, and I write sitting in my mother-in-law’s house in West Palm Beach. It was at my wife’s insistence that we came up here after Sunday service yesterday. She reminds me that I never rest on holidays at home (She’s right, I must admit) and just a day away from any possible ministry concerns has done me good. I only fielded one call today. We spent the morning sleeping in, then took the family to IHOP for brunch – I had to sit and watch, since I gave up lunch as part of my Trinity Fast, but I was thankfully not tempted to snack off the bacon and pancakes surrounding me.

NOTE: Twitter Update ahead – those uninterested please be warned –

The fast has been pretty effective so far.  I’m going strong on 19 days with only one click even remotely related to Twitter – a Twitterdads friend request – which, I feel, technically doesn’t count.  I do admit Facebook has become a quasi-substitute, but the same could be said for my new desire for tea, which has come more prevalent since I’m also fasting from coffee. The point was to concentrate on prayer to God with the momentary issues of life that I would normally tweet about, and I do feel I’m more spiritually in tune than I was last month.  My prayer time in the morning has been more consistent, and my Proverbs devotion has been helpful to my thought process through the day. Now I must maintain this even when the month is over, so that I don’t again simply become a sender of issues and not a vessel waiting for God’s responses.

I Had a Dream….?

Now, before you ask about our King commemoration –  no, I’m afraid we didn’t volunteer today as our President-elect (for one more day hence) called for, nor did I spend today teaching the kids about our civil rights struggle, memorizing the “Dream” speech (which I did have them do in previous years), or anything remotely resembling a respectful nod to our patron saint of racial equality. We did sing as a church choir at the King festivites at our neighborhood park on Saturday, but that seemed more an excuse to have a family – reunion style gathering than a real celebration of social justice. (Just how does one ‘celebrate’ social justice?)

If I sound jaded, perhaps I have been made so by the endless stream of giddiness from the media and my friends on the impending inauguration of Mr.Obama.  Yes, of course I am proud, and I do sense that tomorrow will be one of those “I remember where I was” moments when the first person of African descent (that we know of, that is) takes the oath of office. Marcus and Naomi will accompany me to the church tomorrow, where we will show the proceedings on our big church screens, theater style.  I myself advocated this event, knowing that despite my reservations on mixing politics with the pulpit, this is too big an event for our community to let slip without participation from our ministry.  I fully expect to see my children jump for joy as they watch Obama and his family wave to the millions that are casting such huge hopes on such a unlikely hero.

Hopefully, only one of them actually believes he's Superman.
Hopefully, only one of them believes he can fly.

However, I cringe at the hero worship that I feel seeping into the conversation. I read a great column by Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald on how, despite all the media’s attempts to say so, Obama is not the second coming of Lincoln. Not because I feel Obama is doomed to failure, or for that matter, for success in this, the biggest of all possible theaters. It is our tendency to become myopic in my community that worries me.  The hatred of Bush in the later years became an easy road for people to travel, and therefore we could avoid any real facing of our own responsibility for our problems.  As I wrote on Election Night, (“Real Choices“), we cannot avoid looking at the mirror when deciding how to face global issues, and it was refreshing to come up here and make choices that involved putting my family first – calling off piano lessons that were to take place earlier this afternoon so the kids could spend more time with Grandma.  Yes, I definitely need the money from these new students, but I know that days like today where I can throw the ball around with my boys, help my oldest son check the oil on Grandma’s SUV, and have a moment of quietude in the backyard, letting the Florida breeze bring it’s own version of wintry chill, that make a difference that no spending bill or economic plan will ever replace. Perhaps, on a eve of such a momentous event, we should turn away from the hype, and excise the commercial excess that is sure to accompany it. (Just count how many commercials appear during Inaugural coverage. It will rival the Super Bowl, I guarantee. Even Pepsi has altered its logo to more resemble the “O” brand. How long until we have the first ever presidential product placement controversy?) Instead,we should again remind each other that our strength as a nation comes from our freedom to acknowledge what is most dear, and make the choices that keep those priorities first and foremost, so that we will always have a place to return to when the outside world is out of control of those charged with the oversight of it.  I do pray for the Obama family – one can only imagine what his daughters are about to endure – but more, I pray for my family and families all over America. Making the right decisions may be easier or harder based on certain political realities, but it still comes back to making right decisions.  Perhaps framing the decision in a question will bring clarity to what I am trying to say. “What can I do today, that will ensure a better tomorrow for those I love?” If every person asks that question each day, I’m pretty sure our nation will be OK. Obamania will come and go, just has every subject of Amercian fascination dims in the memories of those who once held them up as idols of worship. But the family must endure.

Specifically for me, my family must endure, and whether they do is not up to Obama. It’s up to me.

It’s now dinnertime – and my daughter is requesting my presence at an inaugural dinner. I believe homemade pizza is the main course, instead of ordering out. Family time, plus frugality. That, my friends, is change I can believe in.

Couldn’t resist.

Looking unto the hills,



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