Sunday, March 30, 2014

G.W. in Lubbock, America

Picture taken through glass gives the appearance that the President has lost some hair. No, he still has a full head of hair.

"This ain't my first rodeo."

On Thursday, President George Bush spoke at the fundraiser for Trinity Christian School, where 4 of my grandchildren attend. Before a sellout crowd of 1500 seated in a tent the size of a football field, with Texas barbeque and a silent auction, the former President's presence made Spirit Ranch the best place to spend the evening in Lubbock, America.
Rt: grandson, Beck (one of the twins)
pictured here with friend, Ellie and the Trinity mascot

Seated in a comfy chair in front of a black backdrop, where a fireplace and other furnishings created a homey setting, George or G.W., spoke as he would in the living room of a friend. No cameras or recording devices were permitted once the event began, and perhaps that contributed to the relaxed atmosphere. 

The setting
At one point when the moderator asked if President Bush got to see his twin daughters much, he said, "No, they both live in New York. I hate New York. I'd rather come to Lubbock."

That says something considering the 30+mph winds that afternoon, and the dusty field where the tent was set up along with the parking lot across the highway where guests could catch a ride on a golf cart to avoid at least some of the dirt that clings to boots and jeans. Springtime in Lubbock includes a bit of dust and wind, but the people make up for what the geography lacks. 
At 4:00 p.m. it was as dusty as the tail end of a cattle drive. By 8:00 p.m. a glorious twilight.

Family Life

Speaking of his daughters, the President acknowledged that his girls had tested parental limits as teens. He stressed unconditional love as the most important aspect of parenting. 

G. W., the father, told Jenna and Barbara, "I love you. There's nothing you can do to make me not love you. So stop trying."

And speaking of his wife, Laura, when the moderator asked, "What's it like living in the White House?"

His answer, "What's it like living in a museum? It's cold and isolating. But Laura made it warm and comfortable." Promoting literacy and reading, among other things, Laura brought children to the White House to watch movies.

People who influenced the President

"We had a joyful White House," which President Bush attributed to the people who aided him. "I'm not afraid of making decisions. [But] no one person can know everything. I believe in the Socratic method––learn by asking questions. You surround yourself with people who know [things] you don't, people who know they are needed. Patriots, first and foremost. And secondly, those who have a sense of responsibility."

Politics is noble

The first thing President Bush said was that he would not criticize a sitting President or demean his administration. Later, when asked about the attacks made on him during his presidency, he said that he was disappointed, not hurt, because what hurt him was to hear his dad criticized during his term as President. 

"I understand the process; consequences for decisions, I understood." But he objects to elected leaders "sullying the process," which sends the signal that "politics is not noble." While admitting what he referred to as "truth––I should have been more circumspect in my language––I said 'mis-underestimate' in a press conference, generally I didn't pay attention" to critics.

Know what you believe. Listen carefully. Base decisions on principles. Give people access to inform  decisions were key values President Bush stressed. In fact, that's what distinguishes George W. Bush, in my estimate. Core values and principles guide his politics as well as his personal life.

The President's Legacy

"America is not a nation of revenge. We're a nation of justice." This President Bush said in response to questions about 9-11, the defining moment of his presidency, and now memorialized as the centerpiece of the Bush Library. He compared that event to the previous generation's experience of Pearl Harbor. 

He described the horror of 9-11, saying, "Evil exists. It is real … The human condition elsewhere matters to National Security. Where tyranny exists, there is hopelessness." He spoke of the danger of isolationism, "creating vacuums where evil then enters." He believes that the advance of freedom for all––"marginalize hate"––offers hope to oppressed peoples everywhere.

When the President walked among the ruins of the Twin Towers after 9-11, he compared walking into the hole at Ground Zero to hell. 

"I don't know what hell's going to be like. I don't intend to go." But, that pit felt like hell was his point.

He spoke about the 3 hours he spent there comforting those who hurt. "I didn't want to be the one to break the news," that their family member had not survived. Instead, he gave hugs. It seemed an anguished moment for him to even speak of that time.

"You're hermetically sealed as President. You don't see citizens … [but then] I saw the horror, the shock on parent's faces."

"I was in a classroom with children when I got the word on 9-11 … I overruled the Secret Service when 'Angel,' code for the White House," since no one knew if the White House would be attacked next. "But I didn't want the country to see me cowering in a bunker. I wanted to speak from the Oval Office. In a crisis, 2 things. Project calm. Do nothing. Secondly, say something. Fill the void with some kind of assurances."

And fill the void, President Bush did throughout his presidency and again on Thursday evening. 


Since leaving office, the president said "It's harder when you're comfortable, surrendering when you have an ego like mine. Prayer, with an uncluttered mind … Faith is very important to me. Comforted by prayer as President, [it] was an unbelievable experience."

"It's a precious freedom to worship as we see fit, if not all do. Public policy [also] protects the right NOT to worship; a sacred right, freedom of religion."

"My favorite verse is speck/log," a reference to Jesus saying in the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 7), "Don't be judgmental. Be careful, those who think they're better. We're all sinners … Be guarded when you yourself have your own flaws."

Future Exploration

The former president shared that he has started painting. Inspired by an essay he read by Churchill, "I paint a lot. Unbelievable experience. Do it. Don't just lament. Pick something and do it."

"Explore to the last breath of your life."

Family matters

People waiting to use the "Royal Thrones"

Catered barbeque

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Meet Bob Goff and Love Does

Bob said he thinks Jesus will touch people on the nose when he meets them face-to-face.

Julie, a writer friend

Julie, Donald, Petie and Bob

In the beginning, a girl named Julie introduced me to Donald Miller via his book Blue Like Jazz. Read and passed on to my son John, he too became a big fan. Then I read the other books by Miller, including my favorite, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. This book too I shared with family and friends, including my friend Petie, who when she returned my copy, told me that Bob Goff, who factored prominently in Donald Miller's book, was someone she and her husband and their 3 sons knew when they lived in San Diego some 25 years ago.

Bob Goff actually met "Sweet Maria" in my friend Petie's living room. Bob fell in love with Maria that night and eventually convinced her to marry him.

When Bob Goff wrote Love Does, my friend Petie bestowed upon me a copy, as giddy when she gave it to me as if she had written the book herself. In turn, I gave away 10's of copies. Is that a good way to put it? Well, far more than 10 yet less than a hundred.


Behind the book is a person

Last week, I met Bob Goff face-to-face. My friend Cynthia offered my husband and me places at the table they had reserved where Bob was the speaker. Cynthia nudged me, "There he is," knowing I had driven 120 miles from Lubbock to Amarillo to meet Bob Goff.
My friend Cynthia took this picture of Bob and me

"I'm Petie's friend."

"I'm a hugger," he said, bending down to engulf me in the kind of hug you hate to let go.

"Ah, Petie and Doc," Bob said. "It all started in their living room," referring to his story of life with wife, Sweet Maria. (See chapter 7)

And suddenly I could see connections, circles inside circles, where people meet, their lives intersect or parallel for a time, for moments or for years, and the impact of some incidents ripple to unimagined outcomes. Unforeseen to me that day in the parking lot at DTS when Julie told me to read Donald Miller's book, one day I would find myself seated at Storyline conference in June of 2012, listening to Donald Miller (see previous post), someone whose ideas fascinate as well as resonate. 

Storyline conference in Santa Barbara, CA June 2012

Same with Bob Goff. When I told Bob Goff that I had attended Storyline in Santa Barbara, with hopes he would be there too so I could tell Petie I met her friend, he offered without coaching to follow what I was saying, "Yeah, I was in Canada." Back then, Donald Miller shared stories about Bob, even in his absence.

I took this shot of the screen when Donald Miller told people about Bob

Same little boy lifted up, like the movie UP, by a thousand helium-filled balloons
"I used to think…but now I know…"

Including the story about the boy from Uganda that Bob has since adopted. Adopted after Bob secured for this child a delicate operation to repair/replace what the Ugandan Witch Doctor had cut off, leaving the child to die. Only the boy didn't die and connections were made, need and provision matched, a real doctor working miracles. Bob recently took this 10-year-old son on a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. UP. Way, way UP.

Bob Goff does. He practices the message he preaches in Love Does. As Bob's book describes his story, "I used to think, but now I know …," he illustrates that the narrative of our lives should flow from grace with an openness both to God's message to us as well as expressed through us.  

So if per chance in this world of Internet connections you should meet Bob Goff here, there or anywhere, tell him that a girl named Carol told you that he's a great guy and you should read his book, Love Does.

"Go do stuff," he said the night I heard him speak. "Be not afraid. Just live extravagantly."

He added. "If you've got a guide you can trust, you don't need to see where you're going."