Monday, July 27, 2015

Too Soon

My friend died today.

Too early in her life, too soon for her family, too unexpectedly for her friends.

Life is short at best, and even though we try to hold on to the greatest seasons of our lives, they slip away before we can blink twice.

I met her when we came.

Always the most glamorous of us all.

And the greatest chef.  She would have us "girls" over for a gourmet dinner almost once a year.

We were "camp" friends on the Flow.  She, even more than Rob, was nervous at how big our bonfires got!  "That bon enough, Ethan!"

And her impact at our high school in the English department was monumental.  She was a hard teacher but a great advocate for her students, developing  writing skills and love of books.

More than anyone else, Rob loved to talk with her about books that they had both read, concepts, ideas and plots and story lines.

As we met once a year, after they moved, for her husbands birthday, "back home in Canton" she would give me a list of books that I should read that year.  I still have the list from last June.  Hastily stored in "notes" on my iphone.

We meet each day with lists of things to do, projects and objectives making our days productive.  As a family, we know first hand, that we are not immune to accidents, illness and tragedies.  And yet once again we, with sadness, focus on how precious life is; thankful for the days He has given us and our times together.   How beautiful God's world is.   How meaningful our friendships are.

 And how important the our families are.   Holding us close, strengthening our ties, recounting  our special moments and memories.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Be Better than Our Culture

Can we be better than our culture?

Should we be better than our culture?

Is it arrogant to think about being better than our culture?

When I was thinking about this today it occurred to me that perhaps I grew up in a more traditional, settled society.  But wait!!

I grew up in the 60's when everything was challenged,
Everything was changing.  It was tumultuous.
Nothing was right about our society, according to some
Everything was rejected.  Rearranged
Don't trust anyone over 30, Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, freedom
It was chaotic.

Be better than our culture.  I think we should.  I think we can.

It's the gospel

Jesus gave us the means...himself.

Be light and salt, we're told in scriptures.  Two completely different things.  Different applications and purposes.

In so many areas, the church, and specifically we Christians, have assimilated the values and ideas of our current culture.   Values and ideas that are the opposite of what Jesus taught us and modeled.

We live, everyday, dominated by self-esteem, self sufficiency, self-advancement, self awareness, materialism, devaluing of life (old and young), individual rights,

Self, self, self, self.......... could we really just get over "self"?

Philippians 2:3  "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves."

I love Rick Warren's first sentence in Purpose Driven Life.  "It's not about you"

It applies to so many areas of our culture today.  Let's just try it??


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Awakening


Bright sun streaming over the neighboring roof top
Down, in through my window.
Dancing shadows painted on the pages of my book
lain open on the kitchen table.
Pulling me,
pulling me
 Look out.
Out to the glistening water droplets clinging and
sparkling off the juniper branches.
The gentle breeze making the green feathers sway
with diamond crystals
in the movement of the hidden wind.
Patterns of life
 changing seasons.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

We're book people in this house.

There are books and shelves to house those books in every room in our house.

The old fashioned kind.  With ink and pages.  Bindings and covers.

I came upon this book in one or our small bedrooms, casting about one evening for the next book I would read.  I can't say that I had ever considered reading it, or had actually seen it before, and wasn't hopeful that it would be one of my more interesting "reads" of the year.

But it was and is.....

And almost unbelievable!

It is the true story of a Polish soldier and a small group of fellow prisoners who escape from a Russian labor camp in Siberia in 1941, and walk out to freedom through Russia, Mongolia, Tibet, the Himalayas and the Gobi Desert.

The journey takes a year and 4 of the original 7 make it to India and freedom.

I noticed some vocabulary words written on some of the blank back pages in Jon's handwriting.  When speaking with him later I asked him about the book.  Yes, he had read it.  No it wasn't in connection with his mission trip to Mongolia when he was in Vet school.  It was a book he had read for college at Wheaton.

Similar to Unbroken, it is a picture of incredible courage and strength of will to survive amid the  cruelest of environments with little or no resources.  It tells of the cruelty of people to others.   And the love and humanity and sharing of meager supplies of others.  The hospitality and generosity of the Mongolian and Tibetan people continue today, as experienced by Jon at every little enclave of settlers they encountered.

And the memoirs speak of the mercy of God, the resourcefulness and tenacity of  man, and the fullness of life after an unimaginable trial.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Funeral

I've never been to a funeral that has lasted two hours.

There was the usual worship, slide show, and sharing from family and friends.  There was a lot of laughter.  There was crying. There were funny stories, typical Rick memories, and realizations that he was more than the surface person we interacted with each day.

Everyone had given him a ride.

But the greatest moment was shared by his brother-in-law.

On his last trip to Walmart he asked Rick why he always said "my place", referring to where he lived and didn't just say, "home".

Rick replied, "Because it's not my home, it's where I live right now."  My home is heaven.

A revelation for all of us.

And as I remember him in future days, I want that to echo in my consciousness continually.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 2,2015

It was just the second day into January.

And we had a birth.

The little guy who we have all been waiting for came a week late.  His mom had been patiently living life.  Taking care of her other two.  Celebrating Christmas with us, celebrating her other child's birthday, doing puzzles, being uncomfortable, and waiting.  But he was born the second day of the year....perfect, healthy, chubby pink cheeks and alive.  Full of promise, hope, love and purpose.

We had a death.

And I cried.

I wept.  For a long time..

Not because lack of hope for him, he was strong in his faith, strong in his commitment to the Lord, and I know the Word tells us we will see him again, and he will enjoy the company of the one in whom he believed.

We won't have to debate with ourselves now, whether we should pick him up anymore. and adjust our schedule.  We won't have to look in the backseat or trunk to make sure we have room for his huge bag that he carried everywhere.  And we won't have to alter our plans to take him to his various destinations. And some of us won't receive calls specific to our influence in his life, I've got a scratchy throat, my elbow hurt, my colonoscopy date, my laser surgery, what can I take for..., do you know this crossword puzzle word.

It was an accident.

Life is tenuous at best.  My family is not unfamiliar with untimely deaths and accidents.  Even our aged who lived full, wonderful lives struggled with debilitating long illnesses and difficult deaths.  Weeping does  endure for a night and joy does come in the morning.

But January 2 has reinforced to me that there is only one thing needful.

And we are given only today to do it.  And then in His mercy, we get to do it again.  Persistently, not haphazardly, in a sort of self absorbed haze.   Not engaged in the lifestyles of our culture and controlled by misinterpreted intentions and disharmonies.

This life we've been given is finite.  It's brief at best.

We must,.... I want to, greet each day in expectant hope, tenacious faith, delightful expectation, strength of purpose and exuberant obedience.  Living in the present moment and observing His everyday epiphanies and magnificent realities.  Everyday is new for me.  Each day has meaning, a destiny which individually, we only can fulfill.  They all add up to a life that must be face with incredible tenacity, resilience, fortitude and direction.

His