What Can I Say? It’s Part of My Story

I’ve read where a few people have questioned why people would honor Prince.

He was, after all, controversial, edgy and so on.

I’ve asked myself why I was saddened last week when I heard of his passing too. It took me a few days to process why and I have finally come up with the answer.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself.

It boils down to this – Prince is a part of my story.  Now before you fall off your chair from laughter, let me first clarify something. While I liked some of his songs, I am not nor have I ever been a purple rain loving, party like it’s 1999, little red corvette driving, let’s go crazy, raspberry beret wearing, sad when dove’s cry crazed fan.

But to say that Prince wasn’t part of my story would not be telling the truth.

I have written about it before but I have based almost every lasting memory around the music that I was surrounded by at the time of the event.

For me, the music memories are so vivid that at times they overtake the memory itself. You see, music, invokes such memory that at times I can even remember the smells associated to those memories.  A simple melody has the power to burn a memory in my mind—engraving its memory on me so that every time I hear it I return to that emotional place.

I love that—the power of a song.

I first felt the impact when I was nine years old. Listening to CKLW out of Detroit and hearing the song “I’ll Be There” by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five.

Over 45 years later, when I hear that song, it invokes memories of my brother Bobby.

It was such a big song… #1 from October all the way through November 14th 1970.  My brother was killed on a Thursday, November 5th. Normally, I have always struggled to remember my brother.  I was five years younger and he was too old to really play with me when I was really little and at the age of nine, I was just a pest to him and his other fourteen year old friends.  He was taken too soon and I never really got to know him.  I was devastated by the loss but this song brings him back to memusic memories.  I only think of him every time I hear it.  It invokes good memories and softens the hurt that came so many years ago.  It is when I remember him most.

I could tell every story that is associated to a song that is burned into my memory.  But that would be a really long post so I will just leave it at that.  I am sure you understand what I mean.  I will write about those memories and songs as I continue to write this blog.

Music influences every post I ever write. No matter how well I map out what I am going to write, I can’t catch my flow of words until I have music playing in my headphones. And almost always it’s the music that reveals what I need to write about.

While I always have music playing when I write, I can’t stop myself from singing along with it.  I envy the writer and the way lyricists can tell a story in a few stanzas.  I struggle to put a sentence together, let alone a song.  It is one of the great mysteries of life that I ponder. The whole process of writing a song is one of the great mysteries in life.  I do not have the talent to write lyrics and for me, someone who can write lyrics has truly a gift from God.  My favorite artists are those that sing and write their own music.

So, basically, for as much as I love music, I’m locked out of the process of making it. I really can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, and I can’t write lyrics. But the artists who can?  They rock. I wish I could do it.

So there you have iMusic Storyt.  Music is what I use to define periods of my life.  Music tells my story.  It’s that important to me.  It allows me to write pages of my life and my music will tell you more about me than I ever will.

I’ve learned that until you fully embrace your story, you can’t move forward writing new pages. The story will include good and bad. There will be wonderful memories and times you wish you could erase. Removing those memories, removes pages from your story. It minimizes what made you who you are.

So now back to Prince. Prince was big in the early 80’s and at a time when I was in my college years.  I was going to a Christian college and trying to hide the fact that I loved music.  Most of which was banned at that time when I was in college.  Rock wasn’t allowed and I had to be very discreet with my music. I was a young man trying to figure things out, in time when legalism flourished in the church.  Anything with drums was taught as being evil and I tried to hide it as best I could.  It was a time of friends and dates.  It was the age of excess with big hair, fluorescent clothes and the music.

Oh… the music.

I could go on and on and tell so many stories from those years. They are treasured. Sure, there were broken hearts and scars. There was puppy love and having no clue how to treat our dates. But we were writing our story. We were learning the mistakes to teach our children to avoid at all costs. The habits, the trials and the things our parents said we should avoid.  These memories are locked into the music from that time.

I’ll leave you with one last thought.  My parents bought a VCR in the summer of 1984. Not everyone had one. We finally got ours. I had just returned from a summer of travelling across South Africa.  I came home to find that VCR hooked up to our TV.  I made my first trip to the movie rental place.  The first video I ever rented and watched was one I have never had the guts to admit to until now.

The movie?

“Purple Rain” by Prince. Not exactly the way to bring confidence to the purchases you make. It was edgy. It was a little raunchy. It wasn’t a highlight for me choosing movies for sure.

But now you know the rest of the story.

What can I say? It’s a part of my story.

I embrace it. I lived it, loved it, recovered from it and at times, miss the simplicity of it.

That’s why I mourned Prince last week. I mourned another reminder that my story, my songs and my history is slipping away.

 

When Life Takes a Detour You Didn’t Expect

On my way driving to work this week I saw the dreaded sign of any trip- “Road Closed”

Road Close Sign

You know the routine. 

“Road closed ahead.”

“Detour.”

“Local traffic only.”

“Proceed with caution.”

As soon as I saw the sign, I began to sweat and get irritated.  I knew that this meant that my daily routine and commute to work was going to be there was going to be a detour and I would have to find a short cut around the problem.

We’ve all been there.

The path was chosen, the course was clear, our destination intentional and then, to make the trip even more difficult… a detour.

Change in the name of progress I guess.  It’s result… a longer trip than normal.  Oh, not a lot longer, but still. 

Our time is precious, isn’t it?  And here I lost a few minutes to a detour!

A few minutes?

Is my life that structured that a few minutes makes that big of a difference? Based upon my initial reaction, I would have said yes but in truth probably not.

A detour.  An opportunity to see new things.  Not always the way we probably look at road construction.

It’s unavoidable in driving.  There may be an accident ahead, traffic construction or weather issues.  Detours promise I will still get to my destination, but not as I had planned and not when I had planned.

And such is life.

Have you ever been cruising through your day, only to be sidetracked by something unplanned?  An unexpected problem to deal with.  A sick child.  A broken door as you’re headed out.  An unhappy client.  And on and on.

Or maybe even bigger things.  A job lost. An unexpected death.  An accident leading into a long hospital stay.  Life is full of unplanned detours.  Some small.  Some big.  And on the surface, it can be hard to look at any of these as being good.

“Ugh.  How long far behind is this going to put me.”

“Why does this always happen when I’m so busy.”

“Why me?”

Does any of this sound familiar?  I know I’ve been there.  Cruising along, hitting on all cylinders – and then – bang!  Road closed ahead.  Sending a clear message to me that I have to find a different path through life.

It all can be frustrating.  Maybe you want to pull your hair out.  Or just crawl into bed and never come back out. Cry. Throw something.  Retreat.

What if. 

What if, we looked at life detours through a different lens?  You may have done this before.  What if we looked at life’s detours as something to embrace.  In many cases, we can’t just barge through the “road closed” signs in life.  Taking a detour is the only way to keep moving forward.

In life, we always have a choice as to what that detour will be.  And that’s a choice of our attitude and the path we choose to take.  When we can see the positive, the good that’s out there – those detours in life can be very life-fulfilling.  There’s so much out there in our world.  And so there’s no way we can see and experience everything life has to offer.  Taking a few detours along the way – and really experiencing them – what a great opportunity to see a different path in life.  Meet new people.  Build new relationships.  Develop new ideas. Start a new career. The list is endless.  Especially if we’re open to seeing the possibilities that exist on these “detours” life often throws at us.

That’s not to say that some detours won’t be sad or frustrating or challenging.  There will be detours that are.  Still, even in these detours of life, we have a chance to grow and learn more about ourselves – as hard as some of those hours may be.  It may be allowing the pain we feel to surface and come out. 

When we do this, when we start to accept more deeply the detours in our life, even these very difficult detours – that’s when we’re ready to experience a richer and more abundant life.  Even if it doesn’t feel like that “in the moment”, there is abundance waiting for all of us, if we allow it in.

Life detours happen to all of us.  There’s just no way everything is going to go just as planned in your life.  In fact, looking closely, it’s hard to go very long at all without some sort of “life detour” thrown at us.  Some can be really big. Some really small.  And anywhere in between.

My own life has been full of detours, routes I never planned or anticipated.  I’m sure you have seen them as well.  The problem with a detour in our faith is we easily lose our way, lose sight of the goal and wander off course.

A detour will present itself for any believer who decides to pursue God.  It always happens. It might take moments or days to get back on course, but we dare not forget where we were going.

All through the Bible our relationship with God is described as a walk.  A walk has certain elements to its success- a start, a destination and the path to get there.  Often, as we walk with God a detour can come.  It might be as simple as a distraction, a health issue, a family crisis, a job change.  Detours happen in every life. The problem comes when we forget where we were going and wander off to other passions and desires.

It’s not the detour that is ever the problem.  

It’s how we respond to them.

 

 

Faith and Doubt

Have you ever doubted your faith?

Have you ever wondehttps://i0.wp.com/www.beliefnet.com/columnists/preacherskid/files/2011/08/faith-and-doubt.jpgred if all of this is true or just a grand fantasy?

If you are really honest, doubt is part of your journey, part of the journey to faith.

“And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”  Matthew 28:17

As I read this passage from Matthew this morning, I was once more amazed to read that men who had been with Jesus for more than three years, who had seen miracles… eyes opened, lepers healed, dead men raised, Jesus walking on water and so much more… now find themselves doubting.

Can this all really be true?  Is it a grand fantasy or is it real?

I love the honesty of the Bible that God would tell us about these first doubters… that even they wondered “is this really true?”

How do we answer these doubts?  If you haven’t had them, you will.  

If you have children, they will go through them.  Anyone coming to God through Christ will struggle with doubt.  Some of it is honest inquiry, some of it is the enemy challenging your faith and some is our attempt to work through our own faith issues.

Doubt, it’s a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction, a question that is struggling for an answer.

It’s real.

Now what?

When it comes go to God, be honest, test His word, test your questions.  Investigate the history of your faith.  God will never be offended at your questions.  He welcomes them, He knows they are there and this faith of ours can stand the test of evidence.

Doubting?  That’s fine, now investigate, see if this is true or not.  You will find your faith stronger for the experience.

God is bigger than your doubts.

Life is short, eternity is long. This eternity thing is too important to not know for sure where you will be spending it.

Hillary, Bernie, Ted, The Donald and God

I have watched the politics of these days play out in front of me… so much posturing and people speaking their opinion on things that most of them do not understand. 

I see a lot of fear in the comments made by many of these people.  The words go https://i2.wp.com/gdb.rferl.org/A6A5A683-AB53-4E5F-BB53-C1C70E3202A9_mw1024_s_n.jpgsomething like this, “We can’t let that candidate win.  Our country will never be the same if they win!!!” 

Now… let me make this clear… the purpose of this post is not to promote or disparage any of the candidates running for president.  They do that pretty well all by themselves.  My decision was made a long time ago on which candidate I will support in the coming election.  I am of the personal belief that almost everyone who is going to vote has already made up their mind as well. 

I keep hearing the volume get turned up over the past few weeks of the campaign and it all becomes a mishmash of meaningless drivel and catcalls of who is lying more than the other person.  I have come to the conclusion that what is driving all this rhetoric is a fear that reveals a poor understanding of who is really in charge.

To think we have 8 more months of this.  It’s exhausting.

This has been an election cycle that has brought out the worst in people.

And this “worst” applies to EVERYONE. 

NO ONE gets a pass on this.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have given people a chance to do and say pretty much whatever they want to any person they wish.  As a result many people do a lot of things which they would never contemplate doing in real life or face to face  – and it seems more prevalent because there are so many platforms for people to use in expressing their opinions.

Both political parties – Republicans and Democrats – are known for getting carelessly carried away with name calling when stakes and tensions are high in the political arena. Regardless, there is no excuse for this type of name-calling that has surfaced, especially if you are a Christian.

What you speak are not just words.  They mean something.  They reveal something about you.

In the last 24 hours, I have been called ignorant, judgmental, a moron, uneducated, naive, racist, stupid, a woman-hater, a hypocrite, a bigot, a pinhead,  an idiot,  a rape-loving, gay-bashing wing-nut and a slew of other names that are not fit for repeating on this website. 

All while getting lectured by an 22-year-old college student enlightening to me on the failures of George W. Bush that have caused ALL of our current problems and the finer nuances of the political process. Informing me how great Obama has been and that I am un-American and I represent all of these names if I don’t support Bernie.

This phenomenon occurs when someone becomes ten foot tall and bullet proof when addressing others on FACEBOOK.  It is a common practice for them to make bold statements, on the internet, knowing there is no way to be held accountable.

If you’re selling anger and scorn against conservative Christians, the market is hot.

Now for the record… I do not offend easily.  Pretty much you can say what you want to my face and I can handle it.  At work, I hear bad language all the time and I do not wear my Christianity on my sleeve to the point that I get offended at the drop of a hat.  So I want to make clear that these hateful words were not written specifically towards me, but were thrown in my direction and posted on Facebook last night.  These words were posted to anyone who supports anyone other than Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. 

The saddest truth is… that most of these words but not all were posted by a young man who calls himself a born again Christian.

Whether or not this young man is a believer or not is not mine to judge. 

God will do that one day. 

However, I wanted to so much respond to his rant and express to him that I had t-shirts that were older than him and that I wasn’t the person that was so naive. 

He was all of six years old when George Bush took office and what possible life experiences could he possibly have that would give him the unmitigated gall to lecture others about George Bush, Obama, Hillary, Bernie, Trump or the political process.

I wanted to go “Chuck Norris” on him and give him a piece of my mind… but I didn’t.  

As a matter of fact, the only comments about politics I have made in the previous months leading up to tonight were to make sure you voted.

I have held my tongue… I am glad I have.  I have learned long ago that NOTHING changes by your political posts on FACEBOOK.

It makes me wonder whatever happened to common sense among those in politics and those who make it their business to opine about politics and politicians.  The incredibly ill-received and offensive comments about rape and abortion that were flung from politicians during this election cycle are among the most horrendous assertions I have ever heard.

Shame on each and every one of us who have been unable to control their verbal outbursts, as well as their written feelings during this campaign season. 

That goes for EVERYONE… Christian’s included. 

Our Facebook and Twitter accounts do not give us free rein to say whatever we want without ramifications.  There is a price to be paid and each one of us are going to have to give account to God for our actions.  I found it enlightening that after an hour or so of just berating and tearing down Hillary or Trump supporters (depending on your position) some of these same people were trying to post comments about how great  God is and He is in control. But you surely wouldn’t know that by their earlier posts. 

I want to desperately scream for everybody to just take a deep breath and play nice.  I want to tell them to take time to censor yourself… learn some self-control in how you respond.  Others read and do judge you by the comments that you put out there on Facebook and Twitter… you can’t take them back.  Once posted it is out there for people to read what is truly going on in your head and in your heart.  What I have read is hate… and you can’t cover that up by posting a “spiritual” comment a few minutes later.  They do not offset each other equally.

Being incredibly insensitive and unnecessarily offensive in your comments sets a bad example for all.  It ruins friendships and it divides families.  I have had to make the sad choice to delete some people off my friends list because of their comments over the past few days.  These include people who I hope are embarrassed at what they posted in the heat of the moment.  However, for me, I saw really what was in the hearts of some of my friends and it scares me.  I do understand that mistakes happen,  I have made my fair share and I know that I am not perfect but I have to take a stand somewhere.

Furthermore, the entire world is watching those who claim Christ as Savior and many people are embarrassing themselves and their testimony for Christ.  I hope they learn to express their strong, differing views in a way that shows the world that as believer’s  – with their right to free speech – can express their political differences respectfully no matter which side they are on.

News Flash!!!  God is not surprised by or wringing His hands in fear over the political process that is going on in America.

Do not automatically assume your support of a candidate is equal to God’s approval.  There is a BIG difference between God’s approval and what He will allow to happen. 

We need to measure politics and policies by God’s unchanging character and revealed truth.  For those who wonder where we are headed as a country, I don’t know where all of could lead.  It will keep all of us up some nights I am sure but remember not all is lost.

Questions arise when fearsome things happen.

Fear is natural.   We ask ourselves what’s next?   What will happen to us?  What are we supposed to do in times like these?  How did God allow this to happen?  It is during times like these when we have no real understanding as to the “why” and all we really want is answers.

Now I don’t know the answers why things like this happen.  I know that they have been going on since the beginning of time.  Throughout the ages God has allowed these type of things to happen. 

It is not for us to question.

I think that during these times we have to remain confident that God is indeed in control and understand that He has a plan.

God’s redemption and God’s presence are the reasons we need to trust God and  understand that He is control.   In the midst of difficult days, the reassurance of God’s redemption for the future and His presence in our lives will sustain us during the trials at hand.   Do not fear because our today’s and tomorrow’s are all taken care of.   God has a plan and He is with us. 

I think these ripples of chaos are only the first glimpses of what is tohttps://i1.wp.com/www.mikaelakate.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Mikaela-Kate-Are-You-Ready.jpg come.

The Bible is clear about what is going to happen in the end times.  There are those who are predicting the end of times, however, I will not go there. I am not one to make predictions. Mainly because I believe that Jesus Christ could come back at any time… maybe even today.

The Lord’s coming is closer than it has ever been.

The question is are you ready?

 

 

 

In Between Death and The Resurrection

The disciples were in shock.  All they had lived for, all they expected was over.  

Jesus was dead.  

There’s nothing written about this day in the Bible, but we can imagine that the day JesusOnCross_013was full of grief, loss and fear.  

They were experiencing the death of hope.

The death of all they dreamed.

Between loss and the work of God is always a sense of hopelessness.  Between death and what God will do next he left them with a day of nothing.  I imagine they were silent, unable to speak of their true feelings or disbelief.

There were tears.  Shock. Mental paralysis. Questions of what do we do now?

Between the death of hope and the resurrection of God’s new work we each experience a time of grief, a time when hope dies… but wait, just wait.

The day  in between death and the resurrection, no one could imagine what the next day would bring and in that resurrection all death of hope vaporized and unspeakable joy came on that glorious morning.  

Soon, in the midst of loss, you will see the resurrection of your hope in what God is doing. And it will be more glorious than you imagined.

But today… the day in between was a day was sackcloth and ashes for the disciples, but just wait… in 24 hours they will forget all of this and be amazed at the work of their wonderful God.

And so will you.

My Biggest Problem

My biggest problem is not my work. It’s not other people around me and it’s not the struggles I face everyday.

My biggest problem is ME!Untitled

We all live in a world of people who are all struggling.  For the most part, they are struggling with themselves.

The Apostle Paul knew this struggle himself, we all understand the struggle, but he actually articulated his own battle. Here are a few of his thoughts,

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

As Paul recognized that he was his own biggest problem,  I have come to the same conclusion.  My biggest problem is ME!

I hate that.

I want to please God, I want to be who He designed me to be. I want to live as He designed me, but something keeps pulling me down to the base person I was when I first met Him. That “me” that causes all my problems, all my anger, my thoughts, my frustrations, irritations, my resentments. All the things that come from that “me” is not the me God wants me to be.

He has created in me a new man, and yet I so easily fall back to that old man. It’s so frustrating. I hate it! I so understand Paul’s words and struggles.

So do you, don’t you? We all live with this tug of sin pulling at our hearts, minds and affections, but it’s not the end of the story. There is a solution that Paul mentions at the end of his thoughts in this passage. Here’s his conclusion,

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The truth is that my sinful nature will never improve. I have to deal with that and “walk in the Spirit,” the new man God created when I trusted Him. My old man, the old me, always wants its way…that won’t change…it’s my reality. It’s yours too. My challenge is to choose to walk in his Spirit and not as the “me” who wants his way.Struggle

Today I’m struggling with me.

Frustrated by the man in my mirror, but I know God has provided a better way.

My next step today is to walk in that new way and thank God for His forgiveness and grace.

This struggle will be ours until we finish this life. It’s part of the curse, but the hope we have is the Spirit of God in us that gives us the opportunity to live in a new “me” that pleases God.

Dealing with “me” is my struggle each and every day. 

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ.

Warning Lights

Pain sucks. If I’m 100% transparent, it’s not the pain that bothers me.

It’s the fear that comes with the pain.

I’ve told my doctor on multiple visits that “the pain doesn’t bother me, I can deal with it. What I want is to make sure of is that it’s not killing me.”

I’ve owned seven Fords. Seven. No particular reason, it’s just the way that it always worked out.

Every last one of those Fords followed the same dreadful path. I was told each time that “the ‘whatever-whatever’ engine will run ya forever.”

Seven. Every Ford had a multitude of dashboard lights on when I traded it in or sold it. In every case but one, the car still ran pretty well (beyond the normal age and wear and tear) but all of those warning lights were on.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/warninglights.jpgI have warning lights all over my body.  I have a bad shoulder that needs replaced for a second time. I have type 2 diabetes and have peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet due to the diabetes.  Severe hearing loss and I am over-weight. All of these issues lead to pain and I’ve got dashboard lights on all over my body. Some more serious than others. I burn oil. I get overheated. I have to regularly check the tires for slow leaks. But I’m still going.

This old body I call a car still gets me from point a to point b. But when I get concerned is when another new dash light comes on. Is this the one? Will this be the one that will lead them to find the cause of all the other lights? Will we get the news that this one can’t be repaired and I’ve got limited miles left?

That’s my pain. I could lie and say it’s led me to a closer relationship with Christ. I could give you stories about hours in prayer and some incredible peace I’ve found.

I’d be lying.

It sounds good on a Sunday morning video but it’s not real. What I have learned to accept is the “thorn” that Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 12.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I’ve prayed that God would take pain away more times than I can count. I’ve done it in the middle of the night when I feared I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I’ve done it in the morning hoping to get through one day pain-free. But for whatever reason, He hasn’t taken it away.

So my dashboard lights will continue to glow until I trade this “vehicle” in one day. I hope that day is long after I’ve seen my grandchildren grow and made more forever memories with my beautiful wife.

Until then, I’ll keep the oil filled, air in the tires and do my best to enjoy every mile we spend together.

Right to Write

A few years ago, I found that I was getting really hung up on how many people were reading my blog. I was getting frustrated because for the first time since I started writing, my readership had plateaued. I was being told in some of the comments that my writings were the “stain on the white shirt of society” (and this was from someone I knew).

There is no question that the amount of visitors to this blog are slowing down.  Last month was the lowest monthly readers since August of 2010.  

I’ve wrestled with just stopping. Just not posting anything new. 

Would anyone notice? Who would miss it?

Truth be told, I have found myself struggling with coming up with something new.  I just discovered that my last post, “Too Much Stuff” was a topic I wrote about a few years ago and I used the same title on both of them. 

Maybe I have come full circle.  Maybe I have said all that I can say to someone else.

I found myself tempted to pander to the lowest common denominator just to get more traffic. 

Maybe write about politics (blah), sports or maybe food (blah, blah).

Not a chance.

I had to ask myself, “Would I rather be read by a bigger audience for something I don’t care writing about, or a smaller or non-existent audience for something I do care writing about?”

My right to write is mine alone… even if no one ever reads it.

I write for me.  If you like to read my writings then good.  If not, so be it.

That quickly put things in perspective.

It may be a few days or a few months before I post again, either way it’s “my write”.

 

Too Much Stuff

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my greatest enemies is stuff.

The desire for stuff.too_much_stuff
The need for stuff.

Having a place to put my stuff.

I look around my office and all I see is my stuff.

Stuff like clothes, computers, phones, cameras, video games, DVD’s, extra shoes, books, and a thousand other things.

I keep too much stuff.

Our house is full of my stuff.
We have no more room for my stuff.

And yet, every day in every media we are told… YOU NEED MORE STUFF!

I’m tired of all the stuff. I wish I could get rid of it all and just have the bare necessities…the things I really need.

A simple life is so appealing right now.

Having all this stuff, paying for all this stuff, finding places for my stuff is overwhelming.

But tomorrow new stuff will be available, stuff I don’t know I need yet, and once more the desires are kindled. The ads will tell me that I really need this, I must have that, my life won’t be complete without this new stuff.

Doesn’t this all sound crazy?

Now for the challenge of getting rid of all my stuff.
Anyone want some?

Measuring the Moments of Life

You are not a good parent unless you track your children’s height somewhere tucked away on a wall or door jamb in your home.

Okay, that’s not necessarily true.

But I do love seeing the scribbled, hash marks along with corresponding dates.

I had the wonderful opportunity to briefly speak on this subject at my daughter’s wedding a few months ago. She was the youngest and my wife and I are now “empty nesters”

Our home has a life measuring door jamb. It’s not my door jamb, but it belongs to our children.  I keep this archive of their growth among the memories of my life. Pen and pencil enshrine millimeters of development with dated lines.

I remember their smiles with backs to the wall, daring to perch on their toes as I prepared to solidify that moment in time.

Symbolically, the past marks are behind them as they optimistically look forward to future marks and memories. They were seeing their future about as far as the mark on the door jamb would allow. A future full and bright, with endless possibilities.

Once documented, we jubilantly discussed how they had grown and we talk about days to come when the marks would show them as tall or taller than mom or dad.

That door jamb now sits dormant in the shadows of our empty nest life.  Sometimes you never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Often I steal time to visit our measuring door jamb.  I secretly and simultaneously Memorycurse it and love it. I am drawn to its sentimentality. It is a bittersweet reminder of life’s deeply cherished moments with my children.  I am sure these marks are more important to me than to them.  They will make marks of their own on a wall in their own home and with their own children. That is why I have hesitated marking the growth of my grandsons on this door jamb.  Those marks belong in the home they grow up in.

Staring at that old door jamb, it is symbolic of life. It’s foundation of wood, like life, is hard and finite. Every piece, a part of a whole rooted in its origin – milled and shaped by the machine of its past. The smooth and rough patches, dark knots and voids; blemishes and beauty unique to all of us, are covered by paint and time.

Those lines we etched on the walls of our homes over the years are only as new as when the ink is wet. Once placed, they become a unique memory.  It happens so fast, doesn’t it? One day they are all there but then it seems a few days pass and the house is empty and they are gone.

During those early years it seemed that the kids wanted to be measured everyday.  It was hard for Cherishthem to understand, that I couldn’t measure them EVERYDAY! We need to let some time pass before we stand proudly to measure the growth.

These “measuring moments in life” really do not stop when you stop making these pencil marks on the door jamb in your kitchen.

Life is littered with things to do, and plans to make of more things to do. Even in those moments when it feels like the world has stopped… (and, trust me, there’s been plenty of those) life is going to keep moving around you whether you’re ready for it or not. And it’s OK to stop and take a moment to mark and measure that particular moment in life, as long as you remember that there’s still more waiting for you in this world: more people to meet, more places to see, more “I love you” messages to share.

I had one of these “measuring moments” a few months ago. I wasn’t standing tall at a wall with my heals pressed against the wood trim praying for another inch. No, I was driving. I was driving on a road I’d traveled down many times years ago.

When I was a student at Liberty University, I knew the way home like the back of my hand. There were times on that road when I cruised as fast as my Ford Pinto would take me because I couldn’t wait to get home for a little breather and some detox from cafeteria dining. On the other hand, there were times when break time was over and I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough, gladly leaving home in the dust so I could see my friends. Back and forth. Forth and back. Behind the wheel I made the turns and journeyed my well-acquainted path. I couldn’t complain, cruising  was undemanding and easy. I knew the turns. I knew the sites. It was my pintodrive.

A few months ago, I found myself again driving on this familiar road.  I had not driven the road since I graduated over 35 years ago. The curves and landmarks brought me back to those many trips I’d made on that highway.

I remembered that young man that sat in the driver’s seat… the me of thirty-six years ago.

I thought about him. I remember looking at life through his eyes. 

He was so young. So naïve. 

He thought he knew everything. He wanted desperately to be strong, but he knew the truth—he was a coward.  He wanted to not care what others thought of him. He wanted to be confident, but that wasn’t the case.  He played that confidence game well, but he knew the truth.

He thought he knew God. I mean, he knew Him, but he wasn’t working too hard to know Him more. Something that would desperately haunt him in the next few years.

He was satisfied in building the life he wanted.  He thought he had ultimate say in his tomorrows. He had no idea what the years ahead would look like for him.

He had no idea he would come to know the God of the Bible in a much deeper way. The God who would not leave his side when he was alone, lost, abandoned.  He had no idea God would allow him to travel a new road.  He would be free of the fear of death.  He would strive to walk humbly with his God, desiring to love Him with his whole heart. He would not be bound by what the world said about him.  He would know freedom—a kGrace1ind of freedom that he never thought possible. He learned how to accept being forgiven and how to forgive.

Traveling down that road of my past, tears began streaming down my face. The curves and landmarks that were still there and like those marks on my door jamb that documented the past of my children and the growth of their life. The same was true with these landmarks as well.  They were reminders of my past.  They were reminders of how far I had grown and they were reminders of… the loss, the heartbreak, the tears, the awakening, the healing and the forgiveness.

I felt thankful to be in this “measuring moment.” God had taken me by the hand and led me to His door jamb. He wanted to show me how far I had come. He wanted to show me how “tall” He was making me. Not to praise me, for who can will themselves to grow? The honor must be directed to the One who “makes all things new!” Appreciation given to the One who wakes us from our slumber so we can really live. Adoration to a God who can take even a person like me and make something of worth.

I know I can trust Him. He who began this good work in me will be relentless to complete that work for His glory. But this is what you need to know, the work He is doing in YOU is happening! You may not see it, but maybe it’s time for you to be still before Him and enter your measuring moment. We are nothing without Him. And any good that is happening in us is truly because of the grace of God. Yet He brings us to these measuring moments to remind our hearts that it’s all worth it. He’s worth it. And to abide in Him will produce the fruit, will cause growth, will make our hearts rejoice all the more in the God that is our friend and companion through every road we may find ourselves on. Sometimes He just has to place us on the wall and show us He’s at work in us. He’s growing us up. I’ve got a lot of growing to do, but I trust He’s not done with me yet.

For I’m not the man I once was.

And that my friends is my grace story.

 
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