THE MUGGING OF DEARLY DEPARTED GRANDMA BETTY
A ONE-ACT VIGNETTE
INT. LOCATION - DAY, AN OLD STYLE LIVING ROOM
WE JOIN THE READING OF GRANDMA'S WILL IN HER OLD LIVING ROOM. HER THREE CHILDREN WITH SPOUSES AND HER TEN GRANDCHILDREN ARE SEATED ON COUCHES AND OVER-STUFFED CHAIRS, ALL DRESSED AS IF THEY HAD JUST COME FROM HER FUNERAL. A BANKER-LOOKING FELLOW WITH WIRE-RIM SPECTACLES IS READING THE WILL SEATED BEHIND A SMALL DARK SECRETARY. WE PICK UP HIS DIALOGUE...
BANKER: "...and finally, for my dear sweet grandchildren. You know how much I adore you and long to see each of you go to college. Patrick, I believe you've wanted to be a surgeon from the day you started to walk. Lilly, you have all the talents and skills to be the best architect in the whole world. Jay, you know how much you want to build bridges and you can do that if you can keep the girls away long enough to get your engineering degree. All of you have so much potential and I suppose if you're reading this, I'm obviously not going to get to see it from down there. So, to help you reach your wonderful potential, I have left one final surprise for you. If you look around the room, you will see ten paintings. I have spent my life collecting them and since I know that none of you have any appreciation for art (which always irritated me), I will tell you that each are an original Dubreaux and have grown in great value over the last fifty years. They are yours now. They will be kept in store for you until you are ready to start school and then they will be sold to fund your college. I suspect they will take care of your tuition, room and board and possibly even some spending money. Spend it wisely, Jay. (Can you see me looking at you over my glasses?) All of you, make me proud. I love you. Grandma Betty."
THE BANKER PUTS DOWN THE DOCUMENT AND THE ENTIRE FAMILY BEGINS TO BREAK INTO JOY AND A FEW START TO GET UP TO LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT THE PAINTINGS HANGING ON THE WALLS. BUT THEY ARE THEN INTERRUPTED BY A LOUD CLEARING OF THE THROAT. IN THE SHADOWS, HIDDEN FROM OUR VIEW, A MAN, DRESSED IN BLACK LEANS FORWARD. HE HAS A MAFIA LOOK ABOUT HIM AND SPEAKS IN A MUGSY-STYLE VOICE. EVERYTHING SEEMS TO TAKE ON A 1920'S GANGSTER-ERA AMBIANCE...
I don’t usually read USA Today, but I’m in Florida again filming for Cross Examine and the hotel offers it for free. Today’s “Our View” editorial was on the estate tax. Here is the subtitle: “Steinbrenner’s ‘smart’ financial move reveals stupidity of inaction”.
In case you missed the news, George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, passed away recently. The “stupidity” USA Today is referring to, is the stupidity of the Federal Government for missing a chance to loot his estate. Evidently this was a “smart financial move” on Steinbrenner's part because the estate tax in 2010 is zero, which means that people who die this year will be able to pass on the family china to their kids.
This galls some people, including USA Today which believes that we missed out on a grand opportunity to rifle through a dead man’s pockets and take half of his stuff.
Last week, I had the privilege of spending a few days with a phenomenal family—the Romeikes. Uwe and Hanne have five wonderful children, Daniel (12), Lydia (11), Josua (9), Christian (7) and little Damaris (4).
Uwe is a pianist and makes his living teaching piano. Germany is their native country. But they are now living in Tennessee.
Because not long ago, they had to flee their beloved homeland and seek asylum here.
That may seem strange to the ears, because none of us would think that anyone would need to “flee” from Germany. But the Romeike family did—because they really had no other choice.
You see, Uwe and Hanne became convicted that they should be teaching their children—at home. The German state believes that IT should be teaching Germany’s children—and that was to take place only at the government’s authorized schools.
This obviously represents a serious conflict.
And when one comes in conflict with the power of the state, one usually loses.
That came to a head on a relatively quiet morning while the Romeikes were still in bed. The doorbell rang and Uwe looked out the window only to see, to his horror, the police and their vans. He knew why they were there, but never really believed it would happen.
The last two weeks have been filled with a lot of issues. I don’t know if they rise to the level of Peter’s “fiery trials” or not (1 Peter 4:12), but they have been close to overwhelming at times.This is a photo from my recent “hunting” trip to the mountains. I am posting it with this blog because I am longing to turn the clock back and return to that time and experience the great joy and peace I had there.
But, we only live in the present, do we not?
First, my very, very, dear sweet uncle passed away. He was a WWII vet, earned two bronze stars. He adored my Dad who cared for him when they were all abandoned at early ages. My uncle spent the rest of his life singing the praises of my Dad, as we all did. But the reality was that my uncle was one of those rare jewels of a man as well. I will miss him terribly.
Secondly, we have been hit with several family issues: one daughter is facing a very long deployment of her husband and other daughter facing serious issues with their children.
We, personally, are walking through another heart-breaking event with our “prodigal” son—our youngest. I know there are many who struggle with this and I hope that our new TV show, Cross Examine, will deal with it within the first few episodes. There are so many emotional and physical issues associated with a prodigal, some rather severe. There are strong feelings of guilt, bewilderment, frustration, hopelessness, anger, disappointment, sorrow…betrayal. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, another event occurs and they all come back. Even when they aren’t triggered by an “event”, your wandering son or daughter is never really far from your thoughts and it can break into your heart and mind and emotions without so much as a warning knock.
They just surge back and hit you like an unexpected ocean wave.
Dr. Juli Slattery called me promptly at 9am. She’s working on a parenting DVD series for Focus on the Family and wanted me to be a part of it. I was delighted with her first question: “When it comes to the very practical issue of raising children, why do you think a biblical worldview is important?” It was a great question and we talked about that for some time, but then she ended with the million-dollar question, as far as I was concerned. It is the critical question that every Christian parent should wrestle with and constantly keep before them as they attempt to raise their children.
It was a natural question, considering the pathway our discussion had taken. Man has a strong tendency to squeeze God out of his life. For the believer, this is still true. We end up compartmentalizing our Christianity into a smaller and smaller slice of life, until it pretty much only applies to the time we spend at church on Sunday mornings. For the extremely faithful, that may also include Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and possibly a morning or evening devotion. But, unfortunately, for much of the Body of Christ today, that is where it ends. Once we leave the “God Zone” of our life, we walk into the rest of the world as if He doesn’t exist or, at least, doesn’t speak or care. This was this conviction that led to the creation of the Truth Project and my burning desire to be a small part of seeing all of that change. The truth of God is not only relevant in every area of life, but it is critical…critical to understand the design of God so that we can walk in accordance with that blueprint; critical so that we can understand why things around us are in a mess or why they are a blessing; critical so that we can be the light and salt in a world that desperately needs the children of God to stand and say either “this is the path of blessing” or “this is the path of tragedy”—in an attractively, winsome way, of course.
If we care about the plight of people, not only eternally, but also caring for them in this world and desiring to see everything glorify the Lord, then we must know how things ought to be or we will never know the right prescription to offer.
So, we were talking about all of this when Juli then asked: “But how does a parent tell truth to their children without coming across as dogmatic or dictatorial?”
The million dollar question.