Month: July 2013

Keep Calm and Keep Your Mouth Shut

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

That’s either a Chinese Proverb or a one-liner from Mark Twain. Can’t remember at the moment, but it’s one that keep-calmkeeps circulating through my mind today.

It’s a lesson I am desperately trying to apply in my life.  Seems lately I find myself “having” to say it instead of holding my tongue.  As the words spill from my lips and I suddenly find myself in the middle of a mess.

It’s so amazing how quickly you can go from content to convicted. From peace to turmoil.

Like disregarded sparks falling onto a dry field, reckless words can spark hurt feelings. From there, they either stay there smoldering where they land, on the heart of the wounded or spread back to the heart of the one who wounded them. Either way, before you know it, emotions run wild and the whole field is up in flames.

By this point, the words can’t be unspoken, the fire is already started.  But, thankfully the flames can be squelched through the power of forgiveness.

* Moral of the story: Make your words sweet… One day, you may have to eat them. *

I’m Not Here For Myself

Standing there in the dimly lit hallway that leads to the maternity department, I watched as my son-in-law came through the door to announce the birth of my new grandson.  Grandson number two had made his appearance. Brody Michael Kirchenbauer was born on July 9, 2013.  

As it was when my own children were born, the reality and truth of the great news he just delivered caused a small piece of “me” to fall off from the man I am.  The wonderful desire to become my grandson’s teacher, protector, provider and friend, suddenly overtakes any desire that I may have had for myself.

I am reminded once again that I’m not here for myself.

Grandpa and BrodyBut it is different for me than it is for my daughter and for my son-in-law.  They have the responsibility to raise him and while I don’t have that responsibility I still feel a sense of purpose and a responsibility to do what I can to help my grandsons reach their dreams and goals.

As this “small piece” fell away from me, a much larger piece had just fallen off of my son-in-law.  I look into his eyes. His eyes have changed.  If you didn’t look closely it would have been easy to miss.  It is something that happens when the weight and responsibilities of a father of a new-born son and a budding toddler come crashing down upon his shoulders, he suddenly seemed far less concerned about his own future and desires.  His eyes tell the story as personal goals suddenly seem less important.

It has happened since the beginning of time. The moment when you first hold that child in your hands for the first time, the bulk of your attention and hopes are now focused on someone else and not on yourself.   The joy of receiving a child into your life gives you something outside of yourself to hope for – someone to dream harder for than you dreamed for yourself.  There is no way to truly understand until that moment  and your heart desires change.

I’ve thought about my journey with my own children. And I can’t help but think back to another me I used to be all those years ago.  I was single with no kids. I saw all the new movies and every concert that came to town.  I played music at all hours without interference from the volume police. I traveled. I slept in. I had plenty of time with my friends, and a little more “me” money in my pocket.

I didn’t know it at the time but something was missing in my life. Clay and Brody

I began to understand it in new ways the day my son was born.  He was a gift to me… a key that unlocked perspective and wisdom I desperately needed if I was ever to become who I was meant to be. In fact, I believe it was downloaded into me the instant he wrapped his little hand around my finger.  Five little words came to my mind that had never been truer, and would change my life forever.

I’m not here for myself.

Do parents have a corner on this market? Do they get some greater opportunity at fulfillment than the rest of the world? Absolutely not! A child is not required. But for some of us, parenthood will lead us to one of the most important lessons we’ll ever learn.

I’m not here to attain or accomplish.  I’m not here to build a name. I’m not here to rise to the top of my field.  I’m not here for what I can earn or have.  I’m not here for myself.

This same resolution was seen in the eyes of my son-in-law as he delivered the great news of Brody’s birth as it was when Indiana our firstborn grandchild was born.  

I understand and appreciate the love we have for a child where we will lose ourselves, our dreams and desires for the hope that is found in having our children and grandchildren find theirs.

We find our purpose by laying down our self-focused hearts, minds and ambitions to offer the world what we have to give.  Hopefully, you and I will accomplish amazing things in our time. But in the end, most of it won’t hold the significance we think it might. We lose ourselves to find ourselves in our children. Our purpose and fulfillment are directly tied to how we can make the life of our children and grandchildren better than ours.  Ultimately our legacy will not be found in what we do but in what we leave for those who come behind us.

May I never forget that I’m not here for myself.

Welcome to the world Brody… your world will be filled with love from the Lee’s, the Sumner’s and the Kirchenbauer’s. 

“Not Guilty”

I stand accused.   There is no place to hide. The truth is soon to be revealed for all to see because this is the day I am to give account for my life.  The list of all my sins and everything I’ve done wrong is a mile long. 

I am so ashamed.  I cannot hide behind my words any longer.  My fate is now in the hands of One who judges…

I wait for Him to render His verdict and I hang my head in shame…

But then He turns to me and says, “I know you… I love you… I gave my life to save you.  Love paid the price for Mercy… my verdict…”

“Not guilty.”

How can that be?  I cannot begin to comprehend the kind of Grace that would take the place for all of my sins.

“Not guilty.”

After years of scrutiny and judgment and public ridicule.

“Not guilty.”

Suddenly I see the Cross and the tears well up in my eyes because it should have been me to pay for my own sins.

“Not guilty.”

My fate was in the nail scarred hands.  The debt of my sin was paid when He was nailed there and He said,  “I know you… I love you… I gave my life to save you.  Love paid the price for Mercy… my verdict…”

“Not guilty.”

The song “Not Guilty”  has played in my head and in my heart all this week.  Written by Mandisa and Matthew West, the song has been challenging me to scrutinize my own life and my own indiscretions. How would I measure up with the knowledge that all my sins would be laid before me at seat of God’s judgment?  Would I still have a future and a hope?  I cling to the belief that I have an Intercessor who knows me , loves me and gave His life for me.  Paid the debt of sin for me and provided a way to heaven.

What kind of Grace says “Not Guilty” ?  Only God’s.

Do you know Him today?  Are your sins covered by His grace?  Jesus Christ came to seek and to save those that were lost… all you have to do is accept His gift of forgiveness.  If you would like more information on how you can know Christ as your Savior, please send a note to and I will get back to you.  May God’s love find you today.

Thank you, Lord.

Dreaming of Days to Come

I taught US History for a number of years when I was a teacher in the mid 80’s but in the years that have passed, I’ve forgotten more names and dates than I care to remember. 

However, just because I’ve forgotten a few names and can’t remember a certain date or place that something of significance took place, doesn’t mean that I have forgotten the basic principles upon A FLagwhich this country was founded.

I am the first to admit that the history of the United States is complicated and imperfect. There are and will continue to be certain principles and facets of our history I don’t think I will ever fully understand or appreciate.

But I understand the man who wants more for his children than he had for himself.  I sense his desperation. I feel his determination.  I respect his resolve – crossing an ocean, leaving everything behind that had been – carrying nothing with him, but his hope and his will.

If I’m quiet and still, I can imagine what it might have been like for the early settlers to carve a road where there was nothing – exploring completely uncharted territories, in search of a new and better life, a place to belong.  Setting their sights, slowly and painfully, they began to build…

A cabin. A church. A community. A little town.

A Home.

Hard as I try, I can’t imagine what it must have cost. But having paid that unimaginable price, I can understand why they’d risk their lives again to protect what they’d built.  In my mind, I hear their cry for freedom, along with each generation that has followed – so that the pursuit of life, and liberty and happiness can be enjoyed by all people…including me. 

That is why I struggle with a government (any government) that would try to suppress anyone’s right to express their rights and beliefs.  That includes any group or political party that I may disagree with.   Seems to me that somewhere along the line we no longer can disagree without risking having your right to free speech threatened or at least monitored.

There are so many people who believe that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of all their needs. However, building a government that takes care of all your needs is not what this country was founded for.  This country was founded on the principle of freedom from a controlling government that would impose its authority to the point that it’s citizens are no longer free to pursue the same dreams that previous generations enjoyed.  This country was built upon spirit of hard work and self-determination. The freedoms we enjoy were given and defended by the blood of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that have sacrificed and fought for this great countFlagry.  

It scares me to think of what this country will look like when my grandson is old enough to be a contributing part of society.  My fear is it will not be the same country that I grew up in.  Will the blood and the lives of those that sacrificed and served be given in vain?

Only time will tell.

I wish I could find a way to somehow say the right words.

But the only thing I can say is… “Thank You”.

To anyone who has paid a price for the freedom I enjoy,
To anyone who has fought a fight on my behalf,
Thank you.

Thank you for clearing a path for me to follow after.
Thank you for sacrificing much, so I wouldn’t do without.
Thank you for acting boldly and with great courage, even in the face of fear, even though it cost you everything.  The life I live is built squarely on the shoulders of those that built this wonderful country.

Over 237 years have passed since the founding of this country and we find ourselves standing where generations before us once stood.  Dreaming of days to come, building our future country by our words and deeds, creating what will someday be.

May we live up to the example of those who’ve come before us.
May we continue to cry out for our freedom and sacrifice to protect it.
May America continue to be the land of the Free and the Home Of The Brave.