Tag: Steve Schueren

Bookmarks In The Pages of Life

Life is a book of pages. 

We laugh. We cry. We smile. We stumble. We stand. We fail. We succeed. We win and we suffer loss.

Every page defines who we really are. On some level we all “bookmark” the events in life so that we can bribookmarkng them up in our memory to be relived as we move on in life.

The goal in life is to have one perfect memory that is all about those moments, big or small, that make you wish they’d last forever. Those moments you want to stop in time, when everything feels perfect, even for just a split-second.

Snapshots of the mind. Moments to treasure forever.

It is easy to bookmark the great things that happen in our life.  We do not struggle to remember the events in our life that are good.  We can remember almost every single detail of  good life events.  Great memories of graduations, engagements, weddings and almost every detail of our child’s life from birth to this very moment.  These are easy to bookmark and if we are lucky enough, we are able to put a few of these pages together to create a nice “chapter” in our book of life memories. 

The sad part is that we all have bookmarked pages of life of things we do not want to remember.

Life is full of these bookmarked moments.

Life is complicated. It starts before we’re ready, it continues while we’re still trying to figure out the point of it. And it ends before we’ve worked out just what to do.

I’ve learned that in an instant life can change.
Just like that.
No warning.
No rewind button.
No pause or stop button.

Suddenly we are scrambling to “bookmark” memories as fast as we can in our minds.

Sadly, I have had to this a few times in my life.  

My brother Bobby and my grandfather in 1970. Just a few months before Bobby died.

At 9 years old, I had to scramble to bookmark memories of a 14-year-old brother that was taken from our family in a car-train accident.  I can remember almost every minute of that fateful day he was taken from us. But I think that over time when we block out the pain of loss, it causes us to lose some of the precious memories.  These “bookmarks” have faded with time and now at 54, I struggle to remember him.  

I lost my grandfather in 1986. I have great bookmarked memories of him.  He was a great influence on me and there isn’t a day I don’t wish I could talk to him one more time.  The funny thing is that I have some bookmarked memories of him that I choose not to open in my book of life memories.  I systematically only open the pages that make him larger than life.  I only open the pages that fit the image I have of him in my mind.  Those pages of him acting poorly or negatively, although bookmarked, will remained closed and locked. Never to be opened again in the confines of my mind. I guess we all do that on some level. When someone dies, we freely open the “good” pages and quietly put those bookmarks that would taint the memory of a loved one under lock and key. 

Me and Bryan Blakely in our our “Leisure Suits” getting ready to pick up our dates for the 1975 Homecoming Dance.

Many of the bookmarks in my life were influenced by Bryan Blakely, my childhood best friend.  The first pillar in my life.  The days of my early childhood were influenced by his presence in my life.  Not much happened in my life from the age of 5 to 16 that Bryan and I did not experience together.  Somewhere along the age of 16, we started to drift into different directions. Over the next 30 years whenever our paths crossed, we would always talk and we knew that there would always be a special friendship between us, but it would never be the same as it was growing up on that alley between Walnut and Washington Streets in Oak Harbor, Ohio.   He died in June of 2009. 

My best friend from my high school years took his own life.

Steve and I during our senior year in 1979.

Now that is a bookmark that I would rather not have to open. I was devastated.  I was confused.  I was filled with questions. I was overwhelmed with regret.  I was angry.  I was ashamed.  I was frustrated.  I was hurt.  I was all of these things and more.  

I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing Steve Schueren.  Steve was my closest high school friend.  I looked up to Steve and I will always hold him in high regard as a man of God. All the bookmarked memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered.  All of us who knew Steve know that he will live forever in our hearts.

Bob Emrich

About the age of 16, I was introduced to a man who would become so influential throughout my teen and adult years.    He grew to be not only be my friend but he was no less a father figure in my life.  Our father/son relationship lasted for years.  Bob Emrich loved me as a son and he loved me unconditionally.  God took him home after a battle with cancer.  He wasn’t perfect but he taught me so much and I still miss him everyday.   There is no doubt of his influence in my life. Forever bookmarked in my memory.

One would think after reading this, I would have this bookmarking thing down.  But like most people, I move from day-to-day not really paying attention to how quickly things could change.

Why does it take big kicks in the behind for us to realize what’s important in life? 

Most of the time, I believe, it is because we get caught up in chasing things in life. Whether it be money, materials, certain experiences we think will solve our problems or even people. Sometimes we get so engaged with everything in the future or in the past and what it can bring us, that we forget about all that is right in front of our faces.

Are you paying full attention to the things you love? To each moment? What memories have you bookmarked in your memory? I implore you to start with one thing today. One thing you want to experience fully.  Maybe something that will be with your wife, husband, your children or grandchildren. 

Maybe you need to make yourself available to allow a loved one to make a bookmarked memory with you.  Remember your children are making bookmark memories of their own with you as well.

I realize more and more how incredibly blessed my life has been and I know a good part of that must pay tribute to the people that surround my life, past, present and future.  

Lives that vary so greatly, the people I went to school with formed a good part of who I am today. The good, the bad and all of the in between!  

Time goes quickly and some stay in touch more than others, but there’s a bond in growing up in the small town of Oak Harbor, Ohio or in the time spent in a small Baptist Church and Christian School that only those there can understand.  I suppose it’s the pros and cons of living with a small group of people that knits our hearts together.  The losses that take their toll on such a small community can seem larger than life because of the percentage they take away from the whole. They can feel like holes that are irreparable.   But at the same time the wonderful memories of victories are celebrated as monumental events by one and all and are remembered fondly.

My challenge is for anyone reading this is to take the time to make memory bookmarks in the confines of the hearts and minds of your family.  In turn you will be able to do the same, before it’s too late.

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Sweet Words of Healing

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

This week I had the honor and privilege to attend the funeral of Nancy Schueren.

Nancy SchurerenI was saddened by the loss of someone who for the greater part of my elementary years and a good portion of my adult years treated me like a son.  Her son Steve and I had bonded as friends in early 1971 and she immediately took me in and thus started her influence on my life that has lasted over 40 years.

I could no more deny the influence of the Schueren family in my life than I could deny the influence of my own family.  I have written about my friendship with Steve in my post called,  “Save Me a Seat – A Tribute to Steve Schueren” (Click to Read)   This was my tribute to honor Steve and his life.  I wrote it because I had been carrying a lot of guilt and shame because I had let him down in our friendship.  I wrote it because I could not bring myself to go to Steve’s funeral, but I had to in some way give honor to him.  I just could not go and face the Schueren family with my guilt, shame and embarrassment of my failure in my Spiritual walk, not to mention my failure to be the friend that I should have been to Steve and to his family.

I did not write it to get a response from anyone.  It was a just an attempt to clear a burden and weight on my soul.  To my surprise, my tribute to Steve has been read over 7,000 times since I posted it.  I am thankful for that because hopefully people will see what a good man he truly was.

Now to the rest of the story…

For most of the last eighteen years I have spent a lot of time and effort avoiding situations where I would feel uncomfortable and most assuredly I would avoid those situations where  I would make people feel uncomfortable with my presence.  Mostly it was spent in avoiding those who knew me from my former life.  When someone in the ministry fails in their walk with Christ there is a very high price that is paid.  Forgiveness is not something that is offered from other believers easily.  I would avoid as much as I could so as to not cause offense.  When I would be in situations where I would be around someone from my past I would try my best to avoid any direct interaction and most assuredly I would avoid eye contact at all cost.

One Sunday morning, just after Steve passed away I was walking to my car after the morning church service.  I was doing my usual head down and walk in a straight line out to my car.  No eye contact.  No conversation with anyone.  That is when she stopped me.  One of those 7,000 views of my post was read by Nancy Schueren. There was no avoiding the contact.  There was no avoiding the conversation.  I had no idea what to say and I surely had no idea of what she was going to say to me.

Nancy had indeed rforgiveness-2009ead my post about Steve and she grabbed my hand and pulled me in close and looked me in the eye and her first words were, “Thank you for your kind words about Steve and know that I have forgiven you.”    I cannot tell you the  weight that was lifted from my heart.  I have to be honest with you… this was the first time a fellow believer had ever looked me in the eye and told me they have forgiven me since my divorce which at that time was 16 years earlier. 

Those words spoken by a woman broken by the loss of her son were sweet words of healing to my soul.

It was the beginning of the healing of some of the wounds to my heart and while I still struggle with the lack of forgiveness and acceptance from other believers I will always savor the reconciliation and forgiveness from a woman I have looked up to for all of my life.

This week, as I dealt with her death, I remembered  as I listened to her son John and her grandson Jared speak at her funeral, although wounded and hurting from their loss, they were using words of love, healing, and encouragement as they honored a mother and grandmother that was now in arms of Jesus Christ.  These spoken words were sweet, healing, like a warm blanket to the hearer.  I longed to hear more.  I was amazed as I listened.

Our words make a difference.  They can  heal and comfort or hurt and cut to the heart.  We are most Sweet Wordscreative AND most destructive when we speak.  We choose which we will do…build up, encourage, love and comfort or hurt, destroy, and wound.  Our words are powerful!!! Our words are a reflection of our heart.

The Schueren family,  hurting from the loss of their mother and grandmother, was encouraging and comforting others!  Sweet and healing only begin to describe what the kindness of the lips can do in the lives of others.  We all need to know we are loved, to know it from those we care about and when the words of another are encouraging, healing, and loving it changes everything.  It changes us.

I’ve been thinking about these things since I left the funeral.  I am embarrassed at the thought of what may be said about me when the time of my passing is announced.  The footprints of the legacy I left behind will speak for itself.  I cannot change the legacy that I have left behind nor can anyone else that reads this post.  The only option is to live today with the hope that people will find the last years of our life will be found to have been lived in faithfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that we spoke words of forgiveness and love for our family and to those who we met along the way.

What I saw in the Schueren family this week were sweet words, kind words, encouraging words.  I wonder how we could change this world if we decided to only speak those types of words.  I long for the day in heaven when those are the only words we will use.

I know that the last 15 months since Steve died were so hard on Nancy and she paid a price with her physical body as she dealt with the loss of a son.  A parent is not supposed to out live their child.  It is one of the hardest experiences we face here on earth.  I am comforted only by knowing that she and Steve are re-united in heaven.  

Thank you Nancy for your influence and for your forgiveness… maybe you will be there when Steve saves me a seat next to him on my first day in heaven. 

 

Under the Influence

It’s been a year.

One year since I received the call that shook me to the core. 

My best friend from my high school years took his own life. 

I was devastated.  I was confused.  I was filled with questions. I was overwhelmed with regret.  I was angry.  I was ashamed.  I was frustrated.  I was hurt.  I was all of these things and more. 

I had already been reeling from the loss of two of my best friends that had passed away in the previous two years.  I was now facing a third pillar of my life being taken from me.  

Bob Emrich, Brian Blakely and now Steve Schueren.

I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing Steve Schueren.  My third pillar in my life.  Steve was my closest high school friend.  I looked up to Steve and I will always hold him in high regard as a man of God. 

It has been a year… and I so wish I could hear him once again debate the political issues that we face today.  He would have had a field day and he was never at a loss for words when it came to politics or his faith.

All the memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered.  All of us who knew Steve know that he will live forever in our hearts.

<To Read More About Steve Click Here>

Bryan Blakely was my childhood best friend.  The first pillar in my life.  The days of my early childhood were influenced by his presence in my life.  Not much happened in my life from the age of 5 to 16 that Bryan and I did not experience together.  Somewhere along the age of 16, we started to drift into different directions. Over the next 30 years whenever our paths crossed, we would always talk and we knew that there would always be a special friendship between us, but it would never be the same as it was growing up on that alley between Walnut and Washington Streets in Oak Harbor, Ohio.   He died in June of 2009. 

  <To Read More About Brian Click Here>

About the age of 16, I was introduced to a man who would become so influential throughout my teen years.  My second pillar.  He grew to be not only be my friend but he was no less a father figure in my life.  Our father/son relationship lasted for years.  Bob Emrich loved me as a son and he loved me unconditionally.  God took him home after a battle with cancer.  He wasn’t perfect but he taught me so much and I still miss him everyday.   There is no doubt of his influence in my life.

<To Read More About Bob Click Here>

The pain and loss that is associated with the loss of these men is huge.  A mother shouldn’t have to bury a son, a wife should not have to lose her husband and children should not have bury their father before their time.  All three of these men were gone too soon from this life.  They are missed by many and I have to admit that over the course of the past year, I have felt sorry for myself.  I just could not understand why God chose to take those in my life.  I looked forward to growing old and having those pillars in my life for a long time.

For whatever reason, God sometimes allows people to be taken very quickly from us.  Many times, so fast that we never get the chance to say the things we needed to say.   I am still shocked and in some ways I am still not over their loss.

But this is one truth that I have come to appreciate.   I still find myself under their influence.  I can still hear the laughter and the voice of Bryan as I think of the memories of my childhood.  His humor and his perspective on not taking life too seriously will always be imbedded in my memory.

I find myself listening to music and hearing Bob’s voice encouraging me to be better man.  I can see him giving me the cheat signs that we had made up in order to win at our epic Rook battles or laughing so hard at times we couldn’t speak at the crazy stuff we did.  His influence on me as teenager trying to find his way in life has transcended into an influence that still makes want to be a better man.  He is still here with me… the signs are all around me.

It is no different with Steve.  His influence is still evident in my life.  I became a better student of God’s Word because of Steve.   I still do things that I learned from him from way back in my high school years.  Most importantly, he is part of my “Great Cloud of Witnesses” that is mentioned in Hebrews 12:1.

I am still under their influence.

This has caused me to think about what it means to influence others.

I looked up the word “influence” and the definition says:

“to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means; to have an effect on the condition or development of.”

To have an effect on the condition or development of.  That’s huge!!!  All three of these men had a profound effect my development.

I feel a bigger responsibility today as a result of my relationship with them.  As if I need to re-think decisions that I am making or things that I do as possibly having an effect on others, whether positive or negative.   I need to ask myself what kind of influence am I having on others.  What kind of influence do I have on my wife?  How am I influencing my children? my friends? my co-workers? Will they feel my influence after I am gone from this life?  It’s a little overwhelming to contemplate that I could have the same effect on someone’s condition or development, just like the influence of these men had in my life.  

I hope the Lord continues to teach me how to be a man of influence.  To be someone who is to be remembered.  My hope is to be that better man… that better friend to someone.  To be a voice of influence. To be a shoulder for someone to lean on. To be the one who encourages… to be one that spurs others on to greatness.

Until that happens…I am thankful to always be under the influence of Steve  Schueren… Bryan Blakely and Bob Emrich.

I thank them for the time that they shared with me of their life  and I am forever grateful for the legacy that they passed on into my life. 

For now… I am still here.  I look forward to re-uniting with all of them one day. I cannot help but smile when I think of it.   Steve will offer me the seat next to him… Bryan will be telling stories and Bob will be playing music and sitting at the table with a deck of Rook cards in his hand with a big smile on his face.

I look forward to that day…

Precious Value of Faith, Family and Friends

This morning I woke up early.  That is not really anything new it is just that today was a day when I needed to get things done.  I have been distracted over the course of the last two weeks and I have not been as productive in completing some tasks I needed to get done. It is now about 11:30 at night and I am sitting at my office desk realizing that I STILL have a lot to do before I can go to bed.  I did not even come close to getting the things done today that I needed to do.

There are reasons as to why I failed in getting everything done today.   I have been reeling from the loss of my lifelong friend, Steve Schueren, who took his own life just a few weeks ago.

( Save Me a Seat – My Tribute to Steve Scheueren)

I am still trying to process this loss in my life.  I am living with an element of denial because I have always assumed he and his friendship would always be there in my life.  I took him way too much for granted.  I am struggling with the fact that he is gone. 

So today I came into my office and was determined to shake the cobwebs from my head and get down to business.   In the middle of a very busy morning, I took the time to clear all of my voice mails that were saved on my phone.  Pretty simple task and I was sure it would only take a few minutes to do.   About halfway through the task however, there came a voice mail that I had never heard before.  Someway, somehow this message was bypassed and I had never heard it before.

It was a voice mail from Laurie Crawford.   Laurie was a close friend and an employee of mine that had worked for me right up until she passed away in early 2011.   I have written about Laurie a few times over the years.  Most specifically on the post,  “No Whining Zone  – A Facebook Challenge”.

I sat there at my desk trying to hold my composure.  I was virtually on the brink of tears as people walked in and out of the office.  I was trying desperately not to show my emotions as I listened to the message from Laurie.  She was telling me that she was planning on coming in to work but that the doctor wanted her to come in for another test.  She was apologizing for not being able to come to work. 

She never did come back to work and she passed away a few weeks later.    She was a very special person and I still miss her terribly.  On top of everything over the past few weeks, I did not expect to hear her voice today and it really shook me up.

Over the course of the last few years I have lost some dear friends.   People who were very important in my life.  I have to admit before the Lord that I need a break from the sadness and the hurt from losing those that I loved and was close to.  I reflect on the loss of these close friends and it makes everything vivid, raw and emotional.

In the midst of the loss, I am reminded that the things that are important in life become very clear.  The most important things in life are your faith, your family and your friends. The rest of the junk in this life is just not worth it.  People are way too important.  What is most clear and what really matters is to be true to your faith,  say the things you need to say to those you love.  Starting with your family and then with your friends.  Make sure you have made things right.  Regret is a terrible thing to live with and as I write this I am keenly made aware of some things that I need to fix and settle in my relationships within my own family.   

We are busy living for food, cars, houses and things, but in death we see….if only briefly….that the only important things around us are those friends and family that we are close to.  You see, the only eternal things you will ever encounter (other than God himself) are people.   All the cars, houses, things and stuff will rot, rust, decay or be thrown out, but your faith, friends and family…are the most important things in life.

May I always be reminded to check my priorities.  Ask myself,  “How am I investing my life?”   “What’s important to me?”  Don’t pass by your faith, your family and your friends too quickly, don’t dismiss them, don’t abuse them.  

Faith, Family and Friends

All of these things are created by God to be valued as precious…because they are.

Save Me A Seat – My Tribute to Steve Schueren

I sat in the back of the bus.

I sat with the other bewildered children listening to some strange lady trying to get us to sing songs that we had never heard before.  She seemed way too happy for that time of the morning. 

The church bus picked us up early on that Sunday morning in Oak Harbor and I was on my way to Fremont Baptist Temple in Fremont, Ohio.  It is hard to believe that my parents allowed me to ride this rickety old bus some 25 miles to Fremont to attend Sunday school.  But it was  1971 and things were different back then. 

It seemed as if that strange lady in the front of the bus knew a never-ending list of songs.  She sang those songs  one right after the other and I found myself taking a liking to those catchy songs.  Before I knew it we arrived at the church. 

As they herded all of us up and tried to get us in line and in the right Sunday school room, I was still uneasy and not really comfortable with all of these strangers.  I did not know anyone.

I was led into the fourth grade room and was introduced to my teacher.  Mr. (Gene) Trusty was my teacher that day.  He shook my hand as I walked in the room and remembered that he about broke my little 10-year-old hand that morning.

I sat at the end of the first row of chairs I could find.  It did not take long to discover that I was looked on a little differently.  I sat there quietly not wanting to draw attention myself and not really wanting to talk to anyone.  I mean I was a bus kid and no one pays attention to a bus kid.  That is just the way it was.

Then just before the class started this skinny little boy with blond hair came right up to me and asked me if I wanted to sit with him.  He asked me my name.  I told him that my name was David and he introduced himself as Steve. 

Thus began the unlikely friendship that lasted from that Spring day in 1971 right up to Monday, October 10th, 2011. 

Steve Schueren and I have known each other for over 40 years. 

In those early years, we quickly became fast friends and though I lived in Oak Harbor and he lived over 30 miles away in Old Fort, Ohio I would spend time at his house as often as I could.  We had the same love for sports and there was just something that just drew us together as friends.  

Every Sunday I would rush off that broken down church bus and find my way to our Sunday school class and there would be Steve waiting there…saving me a seat.  A seat for a bus kid.  

This continued for the next few years, until one Sunday they told us that the church was no longer going to be sending a bus to Oak Harbor.  I lost contact with my Old Fort friend.  Three years passed.

In 1976, my sister started to drive and we talked our mom into allowing us to drive to the church in Fremont.  As we parked our car and made our way into the church, I wondered if Steve was still at the church.  Sure enough, there he was.  He welcomed me and invited me to sit with him.  It was as if nothing had ever changed and we just picked up our friendship where it had been left three years earlier.

For the next 10 years we did just about everything together.  We were active in the church youth group, went to summer Bible camps.  Hung out with each other and attended the same Christian School, played varsity soccer and basketball together.  Listened to the same kind of music and sang in the same group.  We worked at HJ Heinz together and both decided to go in the ministry and attend Liberty University together.  

From that spring day way back in 1971 I have always looked up to Steve.   That is not to say that we always got along.  Like all friends we had our differences.  We had our times where we needed space from each other.  We both were very competitive and like any other friendship we had our share of arguments and disagreements.

Sometimes when you have a friendship that is similar to the one that Steve and I had, it would seem as if we had a lot of things in common.  In reality we were quite different.  I was an Ohio State fan… he was a Michigan fan.  I was barely aware of who the President was… he could talk politics before it was popular to do so.  I scraped by academically just so I could remain eligible to play sports… he was an excellent student.  I was a stutterer and could not speak in front of people without embarrassing myself… he could hold the attention of a large crowd and could clearly explain difficult concepts long before he finished his education.   I struggled with my walk with Christ, it was a daily battle… he had his act together spiritually and was an example on how a young man should live his life.   He was one of the most focused and intelligent people I have ever known.  

We were together for a lot of our life events.  I remember the night Steve told me he was confident that he was dating the girl who would steal his heart.  Being his longtime friend I must admit I was rather shocked and I had to admit I had never witnessed him so taken by a girl.  I am referring to Rhonda, who would soon become his wife.   Both he and Rhonda would be in my wedding and we would all share in celebrating the births of our first-born children.

He would graduate college and seminary and go directly into the ministry.  He served in a church in Virginia for a few years and then he took the opportunity to teach at Temple Christian Academy in Fremont, Ohio where we both graduated.  I had the privilege to work with him during his time at Temple.  He was a gifted teacher and could inspire those who sat under his teaching to grasp the deeper things of God.  He had a unique ability to challenge those that he taught to think and defend what you believed.  He would teach you that if you believed something you needed to believe it because you researched it yourself and that you did not just believe because he or any other preacher said it was so.  He was such a student of God’s Word.  His students loved him and looked up to him. 

It was during this time I noticed something different in Steve.  He struggled with a burden that I did not see coming.   Like Paul in the New Testament, who carried a burden for years that God never took away, Steve would carry this burden for years to come. This burden would start affecting his teaching.  I am sad to say that I did not appreciate the years we worked together at Temple.  I wish I could go back and change the way things happened and certainly how it all ended.  I deeply regret it to this day.  I was in a very difficult position where I had to tell Steve that the school was going to head in a different direction.  We parted ways and from that point my friendship with Steve and his family would be strained at best.  He would move on and become a wonderful pastor to those that he ministered to in churches in Indiana and Southern Ohio for the next 20 years or so.

I am sad to say that for this portion of our adult years “life” got in our way.   He was busy in the ministry, raising children and moving forward with life.  As I struggled in my walk with Christ, I found myself falling farther away from what was left of our friendship.  When I went through a divorce in 1995, I had lost all contact with Steve.  I alienated myself from almost everyone from my past and Steve was no exception.  (I have documented my journey away from the Lord a number of times on this blog)  Steve and Rhonda had remained friends with my ex-wife and I think that Steve and I went close to 13 years with no contact with each other.  What ever was left of my friendship with Steve and his family was over when my divorce was finalized.  I was a failure as a believer, a husband, a father and as a friend.

Steve battled his burden and I battled mine.  His struggles were different from mine and while mine were for the most part self-inflicted, his were not.   I deserved what I received from my choices and my self-inflicted struggles.  Steve did not deserve what he was dealing with.

In 2009, Steve accepted the call to be the pastor of Bigelow Church in Portsmouth, Ohio.  He was excited about the opportunities that this ministry had to offer.  About that same time he came home to visit and one Sunday morning Steve and I talked for the first time in years.  We talked for about an hour after church and we were re-united again.  However, it was evident that time and space had changed us.  We were not the people we were in high school or college for that matter.  We would not ever again be the “Steve and David” combo we once were all those years ago.

The bottom line was that we re-established contact with each other and we exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.   I am thankful that we talked that day in the church because although it would never be the same we did indeed write notes back and forth over the course of the past few years.  He would comment on my blog posts and I would comment on his.  He had started a blog called, “A Clay Jar Speaks”.  It was insightful and perfectly reflected his commitment to the truth of God’s Word.  He linked my blog to his and I have had a number of people visit this site through the link on Steve’s blog.  Over the next few months, we shared some letters and I had the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated his friendship and thank him for everything he had done for me all those years ago.  I apologized to Steve and told him how sorry I was that I had failed in our friendship.  I was hopeful that we could move forward and put behind us some of the things that had come between us.

But it soon was evident that Steve had begun to battle his burden again.  Our communication slowed down and this past April he stopped responding to my notes and letters.  I had known that Steve had battled depression since his time at Temple Christian.  Over the years, there would be periods when he would struggle and I know he fought the battle courageously during these times and he would always come out on the other side.  I had no doubt that this time would be no different.

When the phone rang on Monday, October 10th … I knew.  The news on the line was devastating.

Steve’s death was sudden.   When I heard the news I simply could not believe it.  I had lost another pillar of my childhood.  In 2009, I lost both Bob Emrich and Bryan Blakely, two of my closest friends. Both of them taken too young and too quickly.  These losses were devastating to me.  Now a few years later I lose Steve.  We may not have been as close as we once were but make no mistake that he is and will always be a major influence in my life.  Another pillar in my life… gone. 

I cannot say I understand Steve’s death.  I cannot process it.  I don’t understand the decisions he made that day, but I accept them.  I believe that he was courageously fighting his burden and it was a battle that he could no longer see the end of.  It is with that aspect I am most saddened.  It would be unreasonable for me to assume anything else other than the fact that he was a weary soldier and was ready to go home.

Steve was well-loved and he had done so many things on earth that had a direct impact on eternity. I will forever be grateful to have known him.   I will forever be grateful that Steve was there at the right place and at the right time all those years ago in that Sunday school room when he asked a skinny, snotty nosed bus kid to sit next to him.  I wonder where my life would have taken me had that not happened. 

What is it that I will remember when I think of Steve?  I have a long list of precious memories.  Besides his commitment and love for the Word of God, I think everyone who knew him very well would agree with me on this.   It was his sense of humor.   He had a wonderful sense of sarcasm and humor.  That is what I will truly miss about Steve.  He could make me laugh and not many people could do that. 

I will remember him when I hear a Ronnie Milsap or Tim Sheppard song.   I will remember him when I watch the Ohio StateMichigan game.  I will remember him every time I turn on the NCAA March Madness during basketball season.  I will remember him each and every time I watch a political debate on TV.  He would just love to comment on the perspectives of each candidate. 

All of these things and more will trigger memories of him.

I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing him.  All the memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered.   Steve will forever live in my heart.  Steve is in heaven now.  This is not the time for me to grieve his death; I choose to celebrate his life.   I choose to think back and remember how Steve touched my life.   How he made me laugh and how good Steve was as a person.  I am thankful that I was given the chance to have known a man named Steve Schueren… he made me a better person.

(Updated on January 11, 2012)

I mentioned in the last few paragraphs that I would always remember Steve when I hear a Tim Sheppard song.   Since Steve’s death this song has taken a very special place in my heart and it will always be the song that will bring back cherished memories of the man of God that I knew in Steve.   This song brings me great comfort and as Tim sings please take a moment to reflect and remember  Steve as I do…

 

Steve will forever be missed but I know in the right time, I will meet Steve again.   He will be waiting there in heaven and maybe he’ll be saving me a seat and invite this “bus kid” to sit next to him…just like he did all those years ago.  

I look forward to taking him up on that invitation.