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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Monday, January 19, 2015
I can still see him standing at the top of the carpeted stairs in our Illinois house in his Blues Clues shirt, the two-tone green with the collar. The stairs had a railing on the right side but on the left were dirty smudges where the kids would put their hands to steady themselves as they climbed. At the time I didn’t like the smudges. I think we painted over them before we sold the house. Now the smudges don’t bother me.

In a chapter in a book I wrote about our family, At the Corner of Mundane and Grace, I told his story and tried to capture the essence of this little guy we called “Beast Boy.” He was rambunctious, full of energy, and had a mind that always seemed to be on-duty.

I was going to the mailbox one day when he saw me putting on my shoes. A little voice that was just learning to talk said, “Ki go?”

Later that day I was going to retrieve his big brother from soccer practice. I yelled to anyone who would listen that I would be right back. This time bouncing at the top of the stairs and a wide grin and two big, brown eyes.
“Ki go?”

Of course he was asking, “Can I go,” in his two-year old shorthand. I wrote, “The first time he said it, it took me a few moments to understand. Now I expect the words any time I’m going away.”

That was in 1998. Fast forward to 2015. January. Shortly after Christmas Reagan was accepted at his college of choice, a small, liberal arts school that teaches in a somewhat unorthodox method. Their classes are discussion based and take students through the most important books in every field of study. Andrea had heard of this college when she attended the University of Virginia and it seemed like the perfect fit for Reagan. We crunched the numbers, made an appeal, and figured out a way for him to go for at least one year.



With the sun setting in our rearview, Reagan and I drove seven hours (he drove all the way because it would be his last time in his beloved car) and registered. We spent the day moving into the dorm, going on a tour of the campus and in various meetings. Later that night we drove to his favorite restaurant and had dinner. Throughout the weekend I had a sense of mission. We looked for a warm coat that would fit the climate. We bought sheets and a blanket and bottled water and floss.



But with every check on the “to-do” list, I knew something was coming to an end. On Saturday I knew it was time to leave. We sat the coffee shop and talked about his upcoming classes and where he would spend most of his time, the cuisine in the cafeteria. He told me what the semester ahead held, the books and courses. The invigoration of higher learning was compelling. Just walking through the bookstore made me want to camp out and read until my eyes bled.



As much as I wanted to stay, I knew I needed to leave. I wanted to go with him, to search the library and tag along and explore his vantage point of the world. But there are some places you cannot go with your son.

Before I left we took one last picture. I fumbled with the camera to get it to turn around for the selfie.
“Here, let me take it,” he said, taking the phone from me.
We hugged. He walked into his dorm. And I could still see him standing there at the top of the carpeted stairs in his Blues Clues shirt. Maybe there was some part of him asking if he could go with me. Maybe there was some part of me asking if I could go with him.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Lord, I give thanks for the things you brought me through in 2014. I give praise that these events, decisions, trials, struggles and problems did not consume me like a fire. This was my fear. Thank you for preserving me.

As the New Year approaches, it’s easy to think there is some merit in the turning page of a calendar. Would you deliver me from the idea that I can only start anew once a year? Would you help me see that right now, today is my opportunity for a fresh start because of your grace?

I thank you for coffee and cream. I thank you for the laughter of children. I thank you for the kindness of animals, the comfort of a gentle dog, even one with a weak bladder. I thank you for the shaky handwriting of an aged mother. And for new ideas that seem to spring up like thieves to whatever it is I’m trying to write.

I thank you for conflict because it is in the midst of relational struggles that I learn the truth about myself. I am shown what I most care about when I’m confronted with someone else’s viewpoint. Will I succumb to always having to be “right?” Lord deliver me from myself and supplant a listening heart.

I thank you for the warm embrace of those who love me. I thank you for children who still believe I am special simply because I am their father. I thank you for a wife who is willing to grow and love more deeply after 32 years.

Thank you for those who seem to believe I am going too slowly in the wrong lane.

Would you help me to be more consumed with the plight of others than with whatever it is that wraps me up today? Would you give me hope so that I might pass it on to those who have none? Make me more concerned with what you think of me than what my greatest critics think. And thank you that I have critics.

Deliver me from the pursuit of success as an end in itself, for what is success other than an artificial determination by someone who can’t see the totality of life as you can? I want to be a success in your eyes, not my own or anyone else’s. Help me redefine success by your measure.

Also, deliver me from the need to be satisfied and happy with the stuff of earth. This is not what I need. Make me complacent about things and more alive to people and hearts. Open my eyes to the hurts and scars I can’t see.

Make me an encourager. Help me give wings to others’ dreams. Shod my feet, even when I’m not sure how to shod, with readiness for the gospel of peace. Where there is division, help me sow unity. Where there is hurt, help me give a healing touch. Where there is anger, help me give understanding. Where there is pain, help me give comfort.

Above all, help me, O Lord, get out of your way. Do what you want in me, to me, and through me. And about those critics, I’m having second thoughts concerning my thankfulness regarding them. I think I would rather have you break a few of their teeth, so that I might be able to give a healing touch.

Somehow, I think I should just let you take care of the critics in your own way, in your mercy and grace, for now that I think about it, I have been a critic at times in the past year. And I would not want you to break my teeth.

O Lord, help me be less critical this year. And thank you for intact teeth.

Amen.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Being thankful is swimming upstream. It’s breaking out of the normal existence and routine. Here are the top eight things that prevent my heart from beating to the thankful drum.

1. Busyness. You can’t be thankful when you have no time to reflect on reality. And the reality is, there is much for which to be thankful. Every breath is a gift. Every laugh. Every meal, no matter how meager.

2. Fear. Constant worry and angst about the future, the past, world events, politics, finances—it all crowds out the things that are. And truth is, there are problems in the world and in my life. But there are also a multitude of reasons to be grateful.

3. Self-sufficiency. If there’s one thing that will keep me from being thankful, it’s the thought that I’m in control of everything that happens and I have to scrape and scratch and claw for everything.

4. Excess. When I am captured by the trinkets and toys offered for sale and all the add-ons to those trinkets and toys that I need in order to enjoy them fully, I fail to see what I already possess. That which I crave possesses me.

5. Poverty. When I have very little, I can become resentful of those who have more and become bitter. I have not experienced this much in my own life, but the taste of it made me realize how easy it is to compare and become envious.

6. Regret. If I allow the mistakes and hangups of my life to define me, I’ll miss the progress that’s been made.

7. Circumstances. If I could only get past this financial hurdle, this job, this school, this relationship—all of the struggles of my life are propelling me forward. I can give thanks even for the negative things because these are pushing me forward to become the person I was meant to be.

8. Lack of Faith. Faith is not believing hard about something that isn’t true. Faith is seeing evidence of the truth and trusting that what I see is not everything that is. You can’t be ultimately thankful in life without someone to whom you can give thanks.

Being thankful is a full-time job because we have been given full lives, beating hearts, breath in our lungs and sunshine. Take a look around you right now, wherever you are. You can see a hundred reasons to be thankful. And beyond that are a billion more.

May you overcome these hurdles to a thankful heart today.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I had a professor in college who taught me a lot about journalism. He taught from the overflow of his life as a reporter. He taught how to interview. He taught the difference between writing for the eye and the ear. But there’s one lesson he never taught, and for that I will not be able to forgive him.

I’m convinced Bos could have been a big fish in a big pond. He had the intellect, the charisma, the wit—the whole package. But for some reason he chose to stay in Huntington, WV and report relatively small stories, until big ones found him. He hung his hat at WSAZ-TV and hung his heart at home with his family.

Bos was one of the most contented men I have ever known. He was giving. A lot of people are talking about what a father figure he was to them. He was a mentor, a confidant, a friend, and you always had the feeling you were the most important person in the room to him. How did he do that?

When I was in high school, Bos was a judge at a forensics competition. I was a junior in high school. I can’t remember much of the competitions, but I do remember his score sheet. He gave constructive criticism throughout, but in big, bold red letters, at the top, he wrote, “Hey, you can write!”

I kept that page for many years and I can still see it in my mind. Every morning when I get up to write, those four words are in my head. Bos Johnson believed in me, and that was important because he was a man you could believe. Integrity. He shot straight. Authority. He said what he needed to say and then stopped. He knew how to use a pause in a lecture or an interview. And he was one of the few people who really listened.

Bos showed us that journalism wasn’t just about getting the story. It wasn’t even about getting it right. That was important, of course. Facts and the inverted pyramid and all that. News is change. But news always concerns people. And people mattered to Bos Johnson. Maybe that’s why so many students loved and respected him. And viewers, as well.

There are a few people in life who are irreplaceable. Bos Johnson was one of those for me and I will never forget his kindness, generosity, voice, laugh and smile. But Bos left out one lesson in the syllabus. He never taught us how to live in a world without him in it.

Monday, October 27, 2014
I said it loudly and with conviction. I said it to my dog. But I didn’t hear the irony until later.

Tebow, our Morkie, was perched in his favorite spot on the back of the couch, scanning the movement of everything outside. A bee buzzed past the window and he barked. The plants outside waved in the wind and he barked. He thought someone was at the door and he barked. He barked at the sound of his bark.

“You don’t have to bark at everything,” I yelled.

I berated him, brow-beat him, looked sternly at him and rolled my eyes as if I were saying, “Come on, get with the program.”

“I’ll take care of the bunny in the yard or the wind or the truck going past without a muffler. If you see a rattlesnake or an intruder, you can bark, otherwise, I’m good. You don't have to bark at everything.”

Then it hit me, this must be how God feels about me.

There’s some issue that’s pressing, that has me all wrapped up. Somebody cuts me off in traffic or rushes ahead in the only open aisle at the grocery store and I have three items and they have 300. I get frustrated with a candidate's commercial or bone-headed play. And I bark.

I like to sit on my couch and bark and think I’m doing something. It makes me feel better to bark.

But life is not just about making me feel better. So I’m trying to learn from Tebow and save my bark for things that count. I don't have to bark at everything.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I wept at the grocery store. I walked inside and was transported to the street where my grandmother lived more than 45 years ago.

It was the smell, of course, that did it. The electric doors opened and I was assaulted with the candy aisle directly ahead stocked full for Halloween. I stopped, took a deep breath, and closed my eyes and I swear I could see it. I could see her.

Mrs. Quintroll (sorry if I'm not spelling that correctly) was an ancient woman when I was a child in the 1960s. White hair. A will of a wisp. Her teeth were always so white, but I had no concept of dentures back then. She wore sweaters in the summer heat. I'm sure she had to dance around in the shower to get wet.

The store was her house, just the front room, and she sold bread and milk and other sundries. But it was what was behind the glass cases in front that drew me.

My mother would park in front of my grandmother's house and I'd ask to go to the "ten-cent store." She'd smile and hand me a dime and off I'd go, like a Lewis and Clark bar. This was before the days of worrying abut child-abductions, or, perhaps my mother was hoping someone might relieve her of her duties.

The store had a screen door that squeaked and I remember wooden floors and a cool, basement-like feel. I do not remember anything about the rest of the room, I can only tell you what was behind the glass cases in front. At just the right viewing height for a round, chunky kid like me was a treasure trove of candy.

Pixie sticks. Caramel chews--I think they were called pinwheels. Tootsie Rolls. Jawbreakers. Smarties. Mary Janes. Kits taffy in the little squares. Tootsie Roll Pops. And the holy grail, Wax Lips. Oh wait, and the wax bottles of juice or soda or whatever they were. Licorice, too, but I would never waste a good dime on licorice.

I can't recall every type of candy, but I remember the smell of the room. It was the odor of every childhood dream. Mrs. Quintroll would stand behind the counter, a bony hand outstretched, and I'd hand her my dime. She'd squint at me over her cat-shaped glasses and ask, "What would you like?"

One piece at a time, I would select my choices. A Tootsie Roll Pop--grape, please. And a red one. Two pinwheels. Two Smarties.

My mind whirred with the speed at which I was choosing. I was closing in quickly on the ten-cent mark and I had to leave room for the Wax Lips. There was a fair amount of anxiety involved with this procedure because I didn't want to choose unwisely. And the overpowering smell of the candy almost lifted me off the wooden floor.

You have four more cents left," she said, pulling out the little paper bag where she placed my candy. She called it a "poke." On the radio I would hear a song, someone singing about "poke salad" and a girl whose mother was working on a chain gang. I can't even talk about her granny.

I chose four more pieces, including the Wax Lips, and she handed me the paper sack. I thanked her and went skipping down the lane to my grandmother's place.

I don't remember when they closed the store. I don't remember Mrs. Quintroll dying. I was oblivious to much of life going on around me. But that smell brought a wave of emotion and memory I had buried.

I went back to that little town not long ago and took some pictures of the street, my grandmother's house (pictured below), my uncle's wood-shop, the graveled lane that is now paved. It's all so much smaller than it seemed growing up.

And the smell of the candy is somehow sweeter.