The tooth fairy

I remember the first time the tooth fairy showed up at our house.  Allie was six, and she came home from kindergarten bearing her precious cargo – ready to put that tooth under her pillow.  And she was excited, too, because her friend Autumn had informed her that the tooth fairy always left a dollar for every year old you were.

What?

My tooth fairy had never heard that before.  He (or she) had always worked under the principle of leaving a quarter or two.  At least that’s the way it was in the house where I grew up.  But what was I to do?  How was I going to explain to Allie that the tooth fairy loved Autumn more than her?

So in the morning there were six dollars under Allie’s pillow.  Looking ahead and seeing where this path was taking us, I quickly informed Allie that the dollar deal was only for the first tooth.  After that it would only be a quarter per year.

A little while after this incident I was sharing with Autumn’s dad how he – er, the tooth fairy – had cost me quite a bit of cash.  He got a really funny look on his face and then informed me that the tooth fairy had NEVER given Autumn a dollar per year.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had been scammed by a six-year-old.

Over the years the tooth fairy has been a frequent visitor at the Wood’s house.  We’ve gone through a lot of quarters.  There have been many nights of sneaking into the bedroom to leave a treasure.  There have been many mornings that have started with a delighted kid showing off the prize that he or she had found under her pillow.  (And there were also those unfortunate times when the tooth fairy forgot.  Boo!)

Sadly the tooth fairy no longer frequents our home.  The magic is gone.  Just yesterday my youngest lost a tooth.  When he was asked what he did with it he shrugged his shoulders and told us that he had thrown it away.  I almost hoped he would put it under his pillow.

At the same time I am somewhat grateful that we have moved on.  That’s because Allie – who is now sixteen – will be having her wisdom teeth and another molar extracted today.  Think about it.  On the dollar plan that would be $80.  Even on the quarter plan it would be $20.  But maybe she could use the encouragement.  She’s kind of scared about it.  And I don’t blame her.

I’ve tried to encourage her, but I keep remembering when I got my wisdom teeth out.  It was a bad trip.  They told me I should have them removed so they wouldn’t give me problems later on.  And I listened.  Now I realize that that advice is akin to having someone tell you to have your toenails removed so that they don’t become ingrown someday.  (For the record, Allie is having trouble with her teeth.)  Anyhow, the extraction process was fine – it was the anesthesia that did me in.  They must have given me enough to stop a charging rhino in its tracks.  It was days before my head was clear enough to function again.  But I keep reminding Allie how much more advanced we are in the anesthesia field today.

In conclusion, I’m feeling bad for my daughter today.  If you think of it, would you say a prayer for her?

Let It Snow

I love snow.  Honestly.  And I’m just a little bit bitter that I don’t live in the Mid-Atlantic region right now.  Instead I live in Detroit – which with last night’s storm of about 8 ” has finally made it over the 20″ mark for the winter.  The entire winter.  That’s so lame.

But here’s what I love about snow.

I love snow days. Still.  And I don’t even go to school anymore.  But how awesome just to get a surprise day off in the middle of the winter.  For two years I was a school administrator and never got to call off for a snow day.  My popularity suffered.   (And I love how my kids wear their pajamas inside out the night before a predicted storm – supposedly for good luck.)

I love the look of the world the morning after a snowstorm. Trees flocked with white against a bright blue sky.  It seems so fresh and clean and bright.

I love big snowstorms. I still remember the big storms of ’77 and ’78 (that was a long time ago) when we got about three feet of snow all at once.  You couldn’t even walk in it.  But you could build some pretty cool snow forts without too much work.

I love snow ball fights. My favorite was a couple of years ago on a New Year’s Eve.  It started snowing just before midnight – so the kids and I went outside, built snow forts and pelted each other with snow balls until about 2:00 a.m.

I love driving in snow (except for the fact that it’s slow).  It’s just so much more challenging.  Driving on dry pavement all the time gets so boring.  And unplowed parking lots are the best places to drive.

I love tubing hills. The best one ever is on a sand dune in Saugatuck, Michigan.  About 5,000 ft. straight down.  Maybe not that big, but it seems like it.  Big enough to break my sister’s collar bone and rupture another guy’s spleen – all in the same day.  (I do NOT like walking back up the sand dune in the snow, however.)

I love how quiet everything is in the snow.

I love leaving footprints in the snow, and stamping out messages in the snow that you can read from the upstairs windows.  And I love building snowmen and making snow angels.

I like (don’t love) to run the snow blower. It’s a power tool – and it’s pretty much self-propelled.

I love Rick Mecklenberg, the weather forecaster in South Bend, Indiana, who always predicts way more snow than ever comes.   Still, he always gets me excited – even though I have to deal with the let down when it doesn’t happen.

I love how people rush to the store when a big storm is coming to buy bread and milk.  Why bread and milk?  And do you think those people typically eat bread and drink milk when it’s not snowing?  Me, neither.

Yep, I love snow.

Building the perfect church

The words in the title are a little out of order.  It should read “The perfect church building.”  I’ve given up on the idea of building a perfect church – at least on this side of heaven.  So today I want to build the perfect church building.

When I was a kid in elementary school I went to a church that had a perfect building… for playing hide-and-seek.  It had been built in several stages through the mid-1900’s and was filled with what seemed like unlimited nooks and crannies and hallways and little classrooms big enough to hold a maximum of about 8 of those miniature sized chairs.  And while our parents met on Wednesday nights to learn how to teach the Sunday school lesson, we ran wild in our hide-and-seek labyrinth.

But then my Dad became pastor of a different church – and whoever designed that building had evidently never been a kid.  Except the new church had a gym.  And as a teenager having a gym was actually a bigger deal.

Eventually that church built two new buildings in a new location, and as an adult I was somewhat involved in the planning of those two projects.  By that time I was concerned that the building be functional, practical, and able to be used in a multitude of ways.

Today my church doesn’t have a building.  Sometimes we meet at the community college.  Some weeks we meet at the local cinema.   But not having a building isn’t all bad.  It’s a great reminder that the church isn’t really a place but a people.  And those people can meet together anywhere.

But not having a building has made me think about what kind of building I would build if I were building a church today.  And this is what I have come up with.

1.  It should have an auditorium with a flat stage and a nice big screen behind it.  The floor should be flat, too.  And I like the idea of removable chairs vs. pews so that the room can be used in multiple ways.

2.  It should also have a couple of smaller auditoriums – one dedicated to kids, and another dedicated to teens.

3.  It should have a cafe/coffee shop with lots of tables and couches and fireplaces.

4.  It should have a bookstore.  And possibly a study area.

5.  It should have an indoor playground (I’m still thinking about being a kid at church).

6.  It should have a gym.  With wood floors.

7.  Mabye it should have an exercise room and a weight room, and maybe even some raquetball courts.  How about a rock climbing wall?  And how about a game room with ping pong tables, air hockey and couple of big screens for gaming systems?

8.  It needs to have classrooms, too – because education is very important. But I would hope that they could be flexible and have the ability to be configured in many ways.

9.  Finally, it should have an office for me – right in the middle of it all.

I know, I know.  This doesn’t sound like much of a church building.  It sounds more like a community center.  And that’s exactly my thinking.  Remember – it’s really not about a building but about people.  But how cool would it be if the church were the favorite place for people in the community to go hang out?!  Could it be the place where relationships are built, and where those relationships result in people coming to Christ?  That’s my idea.

(10.  I’m still debating a water slide that dumps into the baptismal pool.)

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