Posts Tagged ‘christian’

The Aroma Of New Life

April 20, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Just a few weeks before my first baby was born, my mom surprised and intrigued me with a rather odd tip.  She said, “When you’re with the baby for the first time, smell it.”  I asked why, probably joking that all newborns probably smell like baby powder and pee.   She told me that, in fact, every newborn has its own unique smell.

With Garrett, I don’t remember exactly when I got the chance to do this, but I did remember to try it.  No baby powder or natural functions could be detected on my infant son.  Garrett smelled like . . . sugar cookies!  In fact, for the first few days of his life on Earth, I called him “Sugarboy,” but this quickly evolved into “Honeyboy,” which stuck for the first six or nine months.

Four years later, when I actually got to be alone with newborn John Christian for a couple of hours, one of the things I did – along with tell him about his family, sing to him and thank God for his safe delivery – was to breathe in deep near the soft skin at the top of his head.  Whereas Garrett smelled of something specific, with Johnny it was an overall smell of spices, like I was in a baker’s closet.

Again, I was surprised.  Not because I didn’t believe my mother, but simply because I had never heard of such an individual element in babies.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, and we don’t hear or retain such information.  Most men might not even care, but I think my generation – and now the one after me, which is old enough to be creating another – is peopled by men who allow themselves to show love.   Who kiss their kids in public, who say “I love you” into the phone, and who are not embarrassed to carry stuffed animals or be invited to their daughters’ tea parties.  This is a wonderful thing.

To those who may not have heard of this mystical bonding trick, give it a try.  If you don’t have a newborn of your own, or one on the way soon, remember to smell the forehead of your sister’s baby, or another in your family.  It really is a wonder of Nature!

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Heavenly Motives, Heavenly Hash

April 7, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Happy Lenten season!  I must admit that, prior to last year, I knew very little about the hows and wherefores of Lent.  All I really knew was that Christians give up something for a few weeks.  In college, and a few Lents afterward, I used to joke that I was giving up sex for Lent, because I wasn’t having any, anyway.

Only last year did I learn more about the mechanics of this season, and put forth an honest effort.  In doing so, I ended up learning even more.

I found myself in church last Ash Wednesday, although I must also admit that I had no clue that it was, in fact, Ash Wednesday.  My church at that time held simple dinners on Wednesday evenings, and I partook on occasion.  This particular Wednesday, I was asked if I was staying for the holiday service, and while trying to hide my surprise, said, “Sure!”

During the short gathering, I learned that Christians give up doing something they normally love doing, and are meant to then spend the time they would normally devote to this activity communing with the Lord.  It is something that should be a personal decision, and something they should not share with anyone else but God.  I was very moved and intrigued by this, and made a decision to give it an honest try.

(According to the rules, I’m not really supposed to be telling you the rest of this, but I hope in passing on my lesson, I’ll get a pass.  Also, someone with more power than I broke the rule first, so hopefully, he will be my scapegoat.  More on that later.)

It just so happens that my birthday falls during Lent.  Last year, I took a Monday off and headed to my mom’s winter home in Florida for a long weekend of “mom time.”  On my last day there, which happened to be the big day, Mom had ice cream and cake for me and several neighbor friends.  It was a very nice time, with only one little glitch: I had given up ice cream for Lent.

In retrospect, it may not have been the wisest of moves to give up ice cream during a period of time that includes your birthday.  Keep in mind while pointing and laughing that I made this decision weeks before the event, and prior to making plans to see Mom.

So, I had a conundrum for a few seconds.  Do I politely explain that I can’t actually eat the wonderful Heavenly Hash ice cream that she had specifically bought because the amazing combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, chocolate chips and almonds is my favorite?  Or do I throw sacrilegious caution to the wind, and dig in?  I decided not to insult my mom’s efforts, but it wasn’t an easy decision.  I spent the next six days sweating it, until I got back to church.

During the next sermon, my pastor told us his Lent story, which included what he chose to give up, and why it was a funny thing in the weeks that followed.  After the service, I approached him and began, “I realize I’m not supposed to be telling you this, but since you told everyone what you gave up, I don’t think I’m going to be in too much trouble.”  He laughed, and I explained the Lent/birthday issue, ending with the exaggerated puzzler, “Am I going to Hell?”

“Actually, no!” he replied quite enthusiastically.  It seems that it is a far greater moral crime to refuse a host’s hospitality than it is to keep your Lenten vows.  Leave it to Jesus to protect us from punishment for eating Mom’s ice cream.  Again, in a way I’m breaking a rule by sharing this tale, but I hope it teaches others about the intricate contract that is Lent, and how sometimes hurting your mom’s feelings is a greater sin than breaking a promise to Jesus.

Entering the Awkward “Nether Regions” Years

August 11, 2010

by Thomas M. Pender

My age never bothers me, and has never bothered me at any age.  I figure I’ve been on the planet for a bit over 44 years, so how old would I be but 44?  I’ve always been able to be happy I’m not going through junk I went through when I was younger, and ecstatic I haven’t had to go through what I’m bound to encounter when I get older.  This attitude levels me.

That being said, I’m filled with a tiny-but-growing bit of dread as I near the embarrassing “nether regions” years, which I call them as of five minutes ago.  (Try not to wince.  I’ll keep the language as vague as possible.)  I recently had my first physical since I was 16, which was funny in itself.  If you haven’t yet heard comedian Bill Engvall discuss his son’s first sports physical, I recommend you see it at least once.  It’s a riot, mainly because it’s also all true in terms of what a boy experiences during his first medical mauling.  While I thank God for my doctor-evading health in the interim, not counting that one fidgety medical interview where I had to discuss certain occurrences that turned out to be food poisoning, I was not looking forward to the 40-plus-year-old probing.

I’ll be the first to admit that in the arena of embarrassing medical procedures, men have it made.  I can’t imagine what goes through a woman’s mind before and during their doctoral tune-ups, and they have to have them – many of them – on a regular basis!  My fedora’s off to you gals, one and all.  Nevertheless, my relatively healthy male self was ill-equipped to prepare for what I assumed would be a horrific introduction to this particular doctor.

From the insurance website, I had chosen for my doctor a lady about my age.  I’m not homophobic, but given a choice, I would rather make any sort of businessy-intimate contact with a woman than a man, call me what you will.  I was guessing at the age group in a logical sense, because her listing only mentioned what year she graduated from medical school, and I went with one that graduated around the time I would have graduated from med school, if I’d had a good enough brain to get there.  This could have blown up in my face, of course, had Grandma Perkins decided to get her doctorate at the robust age of 76.  Luckily, I guessed well.  The doctor was very professional yet pleasant, and I had no trouble discussing all things medical with her.

“Now,” she said in a sobering tone, “let’s discuss the colon and prostate issues.”

At this point, something in my colon-and-prostate-issues area did something, but I’m not sure what.  I think something imploded.

“We’re going to put off any kind of screening for at least a couple of years.”

Had I not been a Christian at this point, I would have run for the pamphlet.

She continued, saying there wasn’t any reason to worry about these issues as yet, but in a few years, the assault would surely begin.

I thanked her for the comforting news.  Admitting that I knew they were coming someday, I said, “We haven’t even been to dinner.  That would have been a rather rude sort of introduction.”

Nervous humor always seems to attack me at just the right times, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.  I was prescribed my first pills in my adult life.  As I took home my first childproofed brown tubes, I knew I was officially on the ever-steepening downward physical slide of Life.  As I said, my age doesn’t bother me, and I don’t expect it to ever bother me.  The side effects, however, are pretty much designed to do so!