STORIES FROM OLD JOE
25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT JOE KEMPSTON
Originally written in 2009
1. Early morning is my favorite time of the day. I really like it. I get up early, take the dog out, make a cup of coffee and then sit in my favorite chair and read the “one-year” Bible.
2. I am very much in love with my wife, Cherry. My buddy, Craig, and I took a couple of women to a Stanford football game in the fall of 1964. We both married them that next summer. I love discovering new things about Cherry. I love her goodness, her loyalty, her problem solving ability, her backbone and her integrity. And she’s not too tough to look at, either.
3. I like to read . . . mostly history and poetry. As a boy, I would head to the library once a week in the summer and come home with a bunch of books, sit up on one of the apple trees in our yard, chew on an apple and read. I’ve read twenty five books on Russia in the last five years. Recently read two great books on the American Revolutionary war. Our son, David, estimates that he has read the Chronicles of Narnia over thirty times. I remember reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” to him aloud when he was a boy, and when the dog in the story died, I started to cry and had to have Cherry finish the reading that night.
4. I cry at sad movies. I cried watching “Marley and Me” in the theatre with my granddaughter recently. I get teary at the end of “Sleepless in Seattle.” I get a lump in my throat watching Hallmark commercials. It’s embarrassing.
5. I like to be active. Meetings are real tough for me to sit through. I get antsy. I went through all my report cards once, and noticed that almost every teacher marked the box “has trouble working quietly without disturbing others.” (I got paddled in junior high by three different teachers at different times.) I find it difficult to sit still for very long. That’s why I’ve always been a runner, a walker, now a kayaker, etc.
6. I have been learning to speak Russian for awhile. I study pretty regularly. I travel to the former Soviet Union a couple of times a year with my good pal, Gary, for Young Life. On my 65th birthday, I was at a camp outside Moscow and my Russki pals played a dirty trick on me. They lined up a couple of local cops to pretend they were KGB guys and interrogated the heck out of me for ten minutes. Then they took me downstairs to a birthday party they’d set up. I still need to get even.
7. I played in two Rosebowls for the Washington Huskies . . . baritone in the band. Two years ago I took it up again after a small 45 year break, and now play in the Tacoma Community College Symphonic Band. We put on 3 concerts a year and a lot of my nice friends come to cheer.
8. My two sons quote me a lot. They refer to things I used to say to them and call them “Joe-isms.” Of course I don’t remember saying any of these things.
9. Loyalty means a great deal to me. I have never believed that distance or geography has to end a friendship or put it on hold. Relationships are among the very best gifts God has given to us. I stay in regular touch with childhood pals, high school and college buddies, people I worked with in Young Life, and, of course, former Young Life kids. A day does not go by that I am not in touch with some kid from the past. That is a real gift to me.
10. My Camry has 208,898 miles on it. I want to drive that sucker to 300,000 and then have a party for it. Drive it over a cliff or something. Still drives beautifully.
11. I have great dreams at night. And I can usually remember them. All kinds of dreams but usually good adventure ones.
12. I am a grateful individual. One of the things I am grateful for is my mom and dad. They have both been gone now for awhile. I grin, stupidly, when I ask God every so often . . . “God . . . if you do this sort of thing, could you please tell ’em hello for me, and that I miss ’em, and tell ‘em thank you for being such good parents.” They both loved and believed in me so much. I really miss being able to call them and share my heart with them.
13. I really like who my kids married. They are great folks and each one of them is a dear friend to me.
14. I led Young Life clubs for 39 years in Washington and California. I’m so glad God let me do that. Sometimes now it seems strange for me to stay home so many nights a week. I still pray for many of those kids quite regularly. I often have dreams about being on a camp assignment somewhere with my buddy, Dave Moynihan.
15. Cherry and I have had a lot of different people live with us over the years for varying lengths of times. People from overseas, college kids, high school kids . . . people who needed a home for awhile. My mom and dad did the same thing. Come to think of it, we have two people staying with us for a week right now as I write this. One of the many things I love about Jesus is that he always includes people and he is always generous. I want to be those two things as I live life . . . inclusive and generous.
16. I am a Mac person. Our good buddy, Bob, got us into computers in Monterey back in the mid eighties, and he worked for Apple. He still does. So we’ve been loyal fans ever since. And we call dear Bob whenever we have problems. (Which, being Mac people, rarely happens!)
17. I sometimes bite my fingernails. I say several bad words more than I want to. (Not the real bad one.) I’m impatient with jerks. And sometimes I am a jerk, but I try to recognize it and apologize.
18. I love to travel. Took our family around the US in a tent trailer on a ten week trip once. Cherry and I and some of our kids have done a couple of home exchanges with people in Scotland and England. Because of my former Soviet Union travel, my passport got so filled up that I had to add pages to it last year. My dream is to rent a villa in sunny Tuscany and take my entire family. We would do it September, help with a grape harvest, drink wine in outdoor restaurants, and smile at each other in Italian.
19. I am a pretty good writer, and I like to write, but my kids are better. When I write something, Lisa always edits it for me. She’s got a great touch.
20. I am very proud of my children. I love what they do, and the level of competence they have reached in their various occupations . . . but I mostly love who they are. They are all caring, honest people who reach out to others. They all are trying very hard to honor God with their lives. I love hanging out with them, and do it as often as I am able.
21. I like numbers. I like doing my income tax. I like writing my bills online. In college I liked Calculus and Physics. I liked raising money in Young Life.
22. I enjoy setting goals and then getting them done. You know . . .”Git ‘er done!” Like running races in certain times, or training and doing a triathlon. I did ham radio for a couple of years a long time ago and set a goal of talking to 100 countries one winter and did it. (Even talked to a descendant of one of the guys from Mutiny on the Bounty on Pitcairn Island). Like learning Russian. Like playing my baritone again. Like climbing a bunch of “fourteener’s” in Colorado.
23. I have been stopped by policeman for speeding more times than anyone I know. But I am much better now that I have settled down a bit.
24. I have experienced some great answers to prayer over my lifetime. Some have been wild. I am a firm believer in prayer. Ask me to tell you some stories sometime. Many have been so very specific that there could be no doubt whatsoever that God is “both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation” as it says in the Phillips translation of the Bible. Life is an incredible adventure to be lived with Him, and a serious prayer life makes that possible.
25. I try to read “Grapes of Wrath,” by Steinbeck every few years to put life in perspective. It always does an amazing work of producing gratefulness in my heart.