Well, it happened far sooner than I expected. Which, I guess, is a good thing, for I know that, as much as I may not want it to be the case, this will not be the last time that it occurs – although I was expecting it to happen AFTER Baby Girl Oliver comes in October and is mobile. Yesterday, Erin stopped by my office while she was taking care of a few things, sat down on the couch, and said, “Well, I really do not want to tell you this, but…” I had no idea what was coming, but, as a rule of thumb, when the wife starts a sentence like that, it’s not going to end well.

“Shilo [our 18-month old lab/shepherd mix] chewed up one of your shoes.”

I knew immediately from Erin’s non-verbals it was not one of my cheap, easily replaced shoes. No, ladies and gentlemen, Shiloh, in absence of another ‘chewie’ in the bedroom, found one of the wingtips that I inherited from my grandfather back in 2000. Yes, the wingtips that I saw him buff and polish many times getting ready to go to church, the wingtips that I ‘traded’ him so he would be buried in one of my white shirts since we didn’t have any of his that fit after he spent so many years in the nursing home, the wingtips I had the day Erin and I got married, the wingtips I wore at our graduation from seminary, the wingtips I wore when I was ordained, the wingtips I wore often to preach in on Sunday mornings, the wingtips I had resoled several times over the years (always with a compliment from the cobbler about how they were in ‘remarkable’ shape, the wingtips I just spent more than a few dollars being resoled shortly before moving to DeRidder this summer, the wingtips I was planning to wear for many years to come, always lacing them up with a smile and a sentimental wistfulness as I thought about this man who influenced me so much and that I think of daily and quote often…yes, those wingtips.

I cannot lie – I was not, nor am now, real pleased about this development. However, I am more sad than angry, because I felt a deep emotional connection every time I wore those shoes, especially those Sundays where I would wear them while also preaching from one of my grandmother’s bibles.

However, it’s just a shoe. After doing some relatively brief searching, I found ones just like them online, and will get a new pair in short order. No, they won’t be ‘the shoes my grandfather gave me,’ but, in many ways, I’m ok with this fact. Really. For every time I lace up my new wingtips, I will still think of my grandfather and be grateful that I had the chance to step into his shoes – figuratively and literally. When Baby Girl Oliver sees me lace them up, I will tell her the story of the shoes, and most likely a story about my grandfather as well…probably to the point she will be able to tell the stories back to me after just a few words.

There’s a reason why Jesus told us not to hold on to the things of this earth but instead to focus on the things above…you never know when your cute, adorable, 18-month-old hyperactive playful puppy is going to destroy that ‘stuff.’

I’m going to keep the destroyed shoe, and not just for sentimental reasons. I’m going to keep it as a reminder that the ‘stuff’ we have is just that – stuff. Even the highly prized, sentimental, deeply meaningful stuff that may have transcended generations – it’s just stuff. The shoe may no longer be able to be worn, and the replacement will not be the same, but I will always have the memory of the man who gave them to me…and Baby Girl will still hear about him even if she doesn’t get to see daddy wear his grandfather’s shoes. While I treasured the ‘stuff’ I treasure the memory even more…

The day is surely coming, Isaiah once prophesied to a previous generation, where everything up to that point that had been stored up by them and those who went before them, will be carried off, and there will be nothing left. John tells us near the end of Revelation that a new heaven and new earth is coming, and the first earth will be no more. Since we worship a God of redemption and reconciliation, I am going to choose to take advantage of Shiloh’s ‘gift’ to make sure that I’m not so invested in the things that will eventually be gone anyway that their disappearance or destruction will rob me of what is truly important, and that which I am called to always treasure.

Thanks, Shiloh.

Grace and Peace, Lamar

P.S. The rest of the story? No, Erin and I did not get Shiloh a new chewie so she wouldn’t destroy another pair of shoes. She got THREE new chewies…