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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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Thursday, July 26, 2012
I woke up yesterday morning thinking of Mike Sullivan. I wondered why, then looked at the calendar. It was in July of last year that we lost him. On the 26th, I believe.

Maybe we didn’t so much lose him as we realized what an impact his life made on so many people. I still haven’t been able to watch all of the memorial service my friends recorded. I think he would understand.

I didn’t know Mike all grown up and educated and with a beautiful family. I remember him as #10 to the right, next to his friends Kelly and Bill. I’ve seen the pictures of his other life and can imagine them together, the hole in their hearts now, but the celebration this day brings as well. Remembering is a holy act that honors a father or husband or friend.

I didn’t know Mike with closely cropped hair and a degree and medical success. He is stuck in my mind with a Buster Brown haircut, bell-bottomed pants, frozen in time with red hair and smacking gum and fingernails clipped to the quick and the crossover dribble that came so naturally. And that laugh. It’s hard to describe if you didn’t hear it. Sort of a cackling, chuckling, sniggering guffaw of a laugh. One that came from the belly he couldn't suppress.

And that little spot on his bottom lip. It showed most when he smiled, stretched out and tight. We saw the spot a lot.

I learned to covet because of Mike Sullivan. I knew it was wrong. I knew you weren’t supposed to want what other people had, but with Mike, you couldn’t help it. You wanted what he had, though you couldn’t quite put your finger on it. It wasn’t the floppy hair and freckles and the spot on the lip, it wasn’t just the swagger—that self-confidence nobody else seemed to possess. Or the fashion sense. Or the brains. Mike had smart written all over him pre-kindergarten. No, it was the whole kit and caboodle, as my father would say.

Here’s the weird thing. It never seemed to possess him. Others had swagger, wore nice clothes, had adept mental acuity, and freckles, but it always seemed to catch up with them. They knew they had “it,” whatever “it” was. But with Mike, his self-confidence and intelligence and good-looks was like a shadow that trailed him, that never quite caught up. He knew it was there, he had to have known, but he always acted as if he was no big deal. Some call it humility and I suppose they’re right.

The picture here has Mike on the left and Bill from above to the right and Libby in the middle. Old friends who gathered to remember a special coach. 

If I close my eyes long enough, I can conjure Mike up. Tying his shoes, cross-legged before gym class, head down, hair in his face. Speaking at graduation, a little nervous, but still in control. Walking to school with his books under his arm. All the girls talking to him. I don't just mean some, ALL. That's another blog.

Don’t get me wrong, he made mistakes. Mike wasn’t a saint. But he knew that, too. The trick is never letting either truth catch up to you or possess you.

I don’t know what age people are in heaven. Whether babies who die stay that age or progress. Whether old people revert to a more youthful visage. I’ve studied it and admit I don’t know. But I don’t have to know. All I’ll have to do to find Mike is to listen for the laugh.
Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where was Batman when we needed him?

Theater 9 was the real world early Friday morning. And we wanted someone to combat evil. But when the shooter opened fire, there was no caped crusader willing to step off the screen and come to our aid. We wanted Batman or Spiderman or Captain America. We wanted the Hulk to spot James Holmes getting dressed in his outfit of death and to hop over and smash him.

Batman was on the screen. He wasn’t with us. That’s because Batman is made-up. Imaginary. He has no power over reality, just the fictional world of Gotham. He’s quite entertaining, but in the real world he’s not effective.

Imaginary heroes always let us down in the real world.

When something evil like this happens, our tendency is to ask, “Where was God?” Those who are antagonistic to the Almighty will say this proves he doesn’t exist. How could a good God allow the likes of James Holmes. They believe Batman and God are made in our own image. That both are imaginary.

I don’t know why God allowed that event any more than I understand why he allowed 9/11 or the Holocaust or the genocide in Rawanda or the shooting in Tucson last year. Or how Jerry Sandusky was allowed to abuse so many for so long. And anyone who has it all figured out is selling something you shouldn’t buy.

But here’s my theology of Theater 9.

We want a Superhero to make us feel safe and solve our problems. We want Superman, the man of steel, to swoop in and right the wrongs of the world. We want Spiderman to catch us just before we hit the pavement.

But we’ve settled for less than we need. We’re aiming too low. Superman is an aspirin. And we’re all dying. What we need is something more. Someone more. We need someone who can vanquish evil for good and not just put out fires. We need someone who will be with us at all times, not just when bad things happen.

Human inventions, whether it’s a superhero or religion, will always fall short because what we want is not what we need.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Thirty years ago today I took a walk. A long walk. I was living in Mainz, Germany, home of Herr Gutenberg. I was on a summer missions trip, living with a Canadian family with four children. It seemed like a huge family. And I had made up my mind to walk. I think better when my legs are moving.

On the walk I made up my mind to ask a girl I knew to marry me. She was four years older than me, but I decided that really didn't matter.

I went to a little German jewelry shop and bought a gold heart and had him inscribe, "Ich Liebe Dich" on it. Maybe that was not on this walk, it was probably a later one, because it would have taken a lot of faith to believe she would say "yes" to me.

It was clear to me that day that I was to do this thing. I heard God telling me, "This is the one." The Proverb that morning, chapter 18, had a telling verse. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing..." I was sure. There was no doubt. The walk confirmed it. So I went back to the family's home, calculated the time difference, and called her at her parent's house in Columbus, Ohio. I knew she was visiting there because she had written a letter saying such. (For those who don't know, letters are things you write and send in the mail that take a long time to get to the other person.)

No one told me it's bad form to propose over the phone from Germany. I'm not proud of that decision, but I was 21. I knew very little about life. I did know I should talk with her father and ask his permission, which I eventually did. But why go through that talk with George if she said no, right? Looking back, it feels a little selfish, a little self-protected to propose over the phone. It's something a boy does, not a man. But admitting that shows I've grown a little. It is what it is.

The phone had a counter with numbers on it. I am not making this up. On local calls it moved at a snail's pace. On long distance it moved faster. An overseas call was like watching fruit on a slot machine. So I got up the nerve and dialed and watched the numbers click click click as I talked.

Even while proposing I was counting the cost. I just realized that. This money thing, spending anything, has haunted me my whole life. If funeral homes ever have casket sales, I will probably time my death to coincide. But I digress.

I can't remember what I said or how I said it. I think I wrote it down and told her I took a walk that day and made a decision. I also remember the butterflies and fear, but also the resolve. And I remember her laugh and surprise and, dare I say, joy when she heard the question. I like to think I got down on one knee, but I don't think I could see the counter on the phone from down there. In my heart I was kneeling.

And then I remember hearing her tell me she would think about it and call me back.

I am not making this up.

Seriously, she said she'd call me back. Which, now that I think about it, was a considerate thing since the numbers were churning so quickly.

I thought it was over. I figured I'd hear her say, "Well, this is very nice of you. I'm honored. Why don't we talk about it when you get back? When you're a little older?" I wondered what my mother would look like with an "I Love You" gold heart around her neck.

Then the phone rang.

She said yes. I'll be your wife.

July 18, 1982.

Thirty years ago today.
Saturday, July 7, 2012

So THAT's the reason the world is in such bad shape. Morgan Freeman is God. He confessed this in an interview with Fox News. Of all places. You can read it here.

This takes a lot of the guesswork out of my life. No longer do I have to worry how to address God. I can pray to Morgan. If my kids ask what God looks like, which they don’t anymore, I can tell them. “That guy next to Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption. That’s what he looks like.”

We don’t have to wonder who God supports in sporting events or politics. Morgan Freeman is not a Republican.

Sure, there will probably be those who will argue whether Morgan exists, but my guess is that agnostics will be less inclined to say we can’t know.

Life is so much easier knowing Morgan Freeman is God. I don’t have to wonder which church to go to anymore, it’ll be the one with “Morgan” in the name. Assemblies of Morgan. United Church of Morgan.

It also makes the exclamation that grates against me a little more palatable. I can’t see correcting someone who says, “Oh my Morgan.”

Perhaps he didn’t really mean what he said, though. Should we take Morgan at his word? Or did he mean each one of us is God? Each one of us has a tiny, itsy bitsy piece of God and if we’ll water that piece and tend it, it will grow until we each become people with bigger pieces of God. Is that what he meant? And if your God particle grows, you’ll be more successful and the box office will reward you.

How did this happen? Perhaps becoming God was on Morgan’s bucket list. Who can know the mind of Morgan? After reading the article, I’d say he sure moves in mysterious ways. And it’s clear from his political views that Morgan does not help those who help themselves.

Well, even though it makes life easier, I don’t think I can worship Morgan in spirit and truth. I’m taking the more traditional route. The old, outdated mode of thinking that says you and I are not God, we were created by him but we are fallen and desperately flawed. Sinners, every one of us, without hope of knowing God or having a relationship with him, unless God intervenes. Which he did, thank God. The hymn writer said it well:

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

I put my faith and trust in that truth. My sin, oh the bliss, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. God already became one of us and sacrificed himself, interposed his precious blood. Instead of becoming God, I can know him and serve him.

This I believe, for the love of Morgan.

In the car, driving from point A to point B, I hit the radio scan button. It wound up on an oldies station. FM dial. Full bandwidth but crackling music. A flash from the past. Late 1960s? Early 1970s? I was 9 or 10 and not a hipster, but I still liked the song. I remembered this one but couldn't place the voice--was it Mama Cass?

But you've gotta make your own music
Sing your own special song,
Make your own kind of music even if nobody else sings along.

For some reason the lyrics hit me deeper than what may have been intended by the author. You can read those words and interpret them as, "Be yourself, man. Do your own thing. Whatever makes you feel groovy, do it and don't care about the people who drag you down. Man."

That kind of sentiment was prominent in the 1960s. The individual became king. This led to a lot of personal disasters that leaked onto others who were also enthroning themselves. Every man a king and no one a servant.

There's another interpretation that strikes me more than 40 years later. There's music inside each of us. Art and creativity waiting to emerge. Most of the time we're too afraid of what others will think. We play our songs to an unseen audience of critics and decide to play it safe and give them what they want--or perhaps we give them what we think they want so we'll get the desired response. In other words, we play to the applause or play to avoid the catcalls. We don't play authentically from the heart because we're afraid.

Living is risky. Loving is, too. The struggle is finding the unique song God gave you and singing it loud, confidently, no matter what the response. Maybe you'll have others singing along today. Or it might feel a little lonely. Everyone else has drums, a big band, and you're sitting alone with a kazoo.

Ultimately, the "make your own kind of music" mantra feels hollow to me. Maybe the reason I identified with it is the truth that left to our own devices, we're always going to make music that doesn't satisfy our souls. We can only take the tunes so far and wind up like Jackson Browne's Everyman, always searching, always feeling "a day away from where I want to be." There's a deeper, more meaningful kind of music/art we were created to make that can only come when I slip my trembling hand into the one who made me and put the music inside.

When you get to that point, not enthroning yourself but stepping off the throne in humility, the music you were created to make will bubble to the surface. And you'll be content with its reach no matter what the fans or critics say. You'll be content with God and a kazoo.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It's almost like your own father dying, seeing the news that Andy Griffith died today. I suppose that's because I confused Mayberry with my home town and thought my father was Andy Griffith when I was a child. See the comparison at the left and below.

The Andy Griffith Show began in 1960, the year before I was born. It ran until 1968 and I recall mixing up the man on the screen and the man who walked in the front door each day. They both were handsome, lanky, had striking voices, and walked with a confidence that came from some other place. As if the road had brought them and taught them something they wanted to pass along if you'd take the time to listen.

Andy settled most problems by being kind, generous, and thinking of others. At least on the TV show. This was another reason I confused him with my father. He seemed to be able to solve just about any problem with kindness and thoughtfulness.

My dad and Andy were only 6 years apart in age, wore their hair short, and had gentle hands.

When Barney wanted to sing in the choir, Andy helped the performance. When Aunt Bee was almost taken in by a suitor, Andy was there.

But the real draw of the show was Opie's relationship with Andy. When Opie killed the mama bird and his father sat on his bed and talked him through the guilt and shame, it was as if my own father were sitting there. At the end, when Opie had to release the birds, his father is the one who opened the window to wake him to the truth. At the end, when they're on the front porch, Andy and Opie are together in a scene that reverberates in my mind and heart.

Opie: Cage sure looks awful empty don't it, Paw?

Andy: Yes, son, it sure does. But don't the trees seem nice and full.

I'm guessing there were others like me who confused their dads with Andy Griffith. Or didn't have a loving father and found one in the TV version. Andy Griffith made me want to be a better man, a better dad. Not a bad career synopsis.

The world is a sadder place because of his passing. But somewhere the birds are singing. And the trees are nice and full. Probably right outside the window.
Monday, July 2, 2012
My mother phoned before 6 a.m. and said she wanted to wake me the way I woke her 51 years ago. A little after 2 a.m., in a backwater hospital in a backwater town, I came into the world. I have been apologizing ever since. I apologize for this blog, in fact. It seems a bit presumptive, but here goes.

Ernest Hemingway committed suicide on the same morning. Morbid, I know. I like to think it was the same hour, that in some intuitive way Papa rose from his bed and made his way downstairs in that Ketchum, Idaho home, knowing there was someone to take his place. He could end his own life now, with assurance some other storyteller would pick up the mantle.

It was probably more of a drunken stupor or perhaps just the depression that propelled him. The illness his father died from. Maybe the fact that he couldn’t write anymore. He was only 61, about to turn 62. I’m only ten years from that age.

I’m going to ramble today without the constraints of a theme or topic. My apologies.

I got my haircut yesterday and had two thoughts: 1. I wish I could go back to that red, metal chair of my youth and experience another haircut from my father, something I hated as a kid. 2. I wish I could have a do-over with the hair stylist who worked in Barboursville, WV that I always went to after my father was summarily left behind.

Maybe the theme is what you would change in your life after 51 years. Or whom you would find and apologize to.

Back to the young lady in WV. I did not know how to get a haircut outside of sitting down and having my father scalp me, but I knew I needed to learn, so off to the beauty shop I went, meandering toward Barboursville for some reason. I walked into the shop and sat down in front of a strikingly beautiful young woman. She had long, flowing blond hair, kind of like Farrah Fawcett in the poster. Curls here and there. A pretty face. I told her how I wanted it cut and tried to relax as she went to work, her delicate fingers roaming, clipping.

After that, I went back to her each time, requesting her by name, though I can’t recall it now, or the specifics of her face, I remember she had two eyes and a forehead that creased every time I walked in. She began to passively aggressively cut my hair as her anger and frustration leaked. It was as if my very presence angered her and I couldn’t understand it. Perhaps I reminded her of someone in her past. Perhaps she’d had a troubled childhood.

My father never got angry at me, except when I’d hide when haircut time came. He let me go last in the haircut line, my older brothers going first, and by then the clippers were white-hot and ready for branding. I had sensitive ears. No, seriously, I could hear so well because they were big—like those radar things—the big dishes that scan back and forth for life on other planets. But noises next to my ear were painful, especially when Lou Anne Hayes screamed piercingly next to my head just for fun in the second grade. I was gunshy with girls after that day. It’s probably why I married an alto. Well, one reason.

By the time my hair was ready for shearing, the clippers my dad had, that weighed probably 40 pounds, would start to cack and buzz and fritz with a noise that stung like a hornet. I would jerk back and he’d tell me to sit still and I would try, I really would, counting the seconds there in the basement until this indignity was over and I could go outside and play.

My hair is gray now. Seriously gray. I watched it fall yesterday as the young woman with the pierced nose and the tattoos she delicately covered with a shawl leaked through. She was talking with her friends about the take-out they ordered and how much it would cost and if they should get the jalapeno poppers and who was going to pick it up. She didn’t ask me how I was doing or if I had anything planned for the 4th or how many children I had or if I’d been born on the day Ernest Hemingway grabbed a shotgun and I was glad. And I knew if she’d have started the conversation I would have spilled my whole life to her and then apologized.

Sandy. I think her name was Sandy. Or maybe Sandee. Or Saundeae and she pronounced it Sandy. If I had the chance, I would go back to her, find her. She’s probably in her 50s now with children and colitis. I don’t think she smoked, so probably not lung cancer. Probably married to a nice guy who made her happy who is not a writer but a doer, a work-at-life-with-your-hands kind of guy. Drives big machines or cuts lumber and likes to hunt on the weekends or fish while she gets her nails done and thinks of the dorky guy with the glasses as thick as coke bottles who never gave her a tip because he’d never been to the beauty shop before and his dad had always cut his hair. How could she know something like that? I would have been mad too. But I guess if I could tell her I’m sorry, I would. I’d apologize and tell her I simply didn’t know you were supposed to tip and that because of her I probably tip too much now because I think of her every time I get my haircut.

And I think of him, too, and that I never tipped him either. My dad. But he never got mad about it.