My Dad, When I Was Young

My Dad, When I Was Young:

I always knew Dad loved me, and us.

I always knew he tried hard, and his best.

The transitions of life were difficult. Hard at times.

I can only imagine those major moves in life.

Young, one of nine. Share cropper. Air Force. Deployed. Married. Kids.

He never told us it would be easy, but he wanted it better.

For my mom, his parents…and us.

He worked hard, and never seemed to goof off.

His work ethic was sweat, and I take that much from him every day!

Perfect? None of us are.

The Best? How can anyone claim this title.

Labels, and all they are meant to be,

Are only what each of us see in the dad’s of our lives.

So, boast and proclaim, but take a hint

Be sure and love this man you call dad…

I know I do.

Happy Father’s Day!


Nothing Stays The Same

Nothing Stays The Same:

Backyard Morning Musings
These trees are now dead and gone…

(Click for Audio) We often wish for simpler times of our childhood. Why? There’s a warm fuzzy feeling about those older times when we were children. The weight of the world was not carried on our shoulders, or in every cell of our body. Energy levels were high. Anticipation levels flowed continually higher as special events rounded the corner.

Friends coming over. Summers. Back yard Camp-outs! Staying out all day and only coming in when it gets darker… Birthdays! Bike riding just about everywhere and anywhere you wanted.

Riding the tree tops when blue northers came through, and only coming down once we saw or heard lightening….damming up the ditches after a deluge and making our own pond to play in!

Swimming in creeks, lakes, ponds, even occasionally in salt water. Playing Tarzan and diving into the water to wrestle the alligator! Where’s my red rubber knife? No fear. And I’m sure we chased snakes away without even knowing it!

In some of these younger days, I remember what it was like to go to a nearby hamburger stand and get hamburgers…6 for a dollar! Meat, Ketchup, Bread… Soda was a nickle. 2 cent deposit on the bottles that you would get back when you returned the bottle. Penny candy was a bag full of yummy delights for a trip down the road, and for a quarter you could eat for hours. And I remember a gas war between two filling stations and I could get a gallon for 11 cents…. That mowed a lot of yards for next to nothing!

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What Does Your Personality Say?

What Does Your Personality Say?

(Click for Audio) Notice. I’m not asking what your personality says about Y-O-U…rather, what is your personality saying? We are each a unique personality, enjoyable to a select group of people, but not to everyone. Some want to hear what we want to say, and others dread to see us walk into their space.

This morning I woke thinking about the role I fulfill that is unique to my personality. I am not like other pastors, teachers, or writers. I have something to share, and enjoy the process. For the most part.

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I Can Do This!

I Can Do This:

(Click for Audio) If I’ve said this to myself once, I’ve said it a hundred times. I’ll get better. I’ll improve. I can do this!

Too often these words come after we have been found out! You know. Not getting something done the way we promised or hoped. Especially when we are capable of doing the task and even exceeding!

Way too often, it’s a guilt trip. I didn’t ______________ hard enough. And you get to fill in the blank. Study. Prepare. Try. Practice. Plan. Execute. Document. Take Notes.

Just some of the words I’ve applied to the concept.

But there is another way of looking at this. Have you ever stood at the start of something and decided whether you wanted to attempt a task? You decide. Yes. No. No maybe’s exist. Once you decide to attempt, you should focus on completing. Remember that dusty keyboard or guitar in the closet? How many diets have you tried? Which exercise routine did the trick? Once you take up something that requires you work hard to hone your skills with repetitive practice, you should not so easily set it aside and say, “That’s not for me!”

Maybe we need a free space to TRY something before we commit to ACCOMPLISHING something.

I’m just thinking this morning. Out loud. We all have failures in our life that we look back at with remorse and regret. If only… We realize life takes great commitment. Some of life comes by practice, and some comes naturally, and there are some things we should just never attempt to do! Yet, many accomplishments come only by having a mentor, coach or other leader walk us through the exercise of doing until we reach the point of saying, “I can do this!”

There was a low point in my early life where I was caught between doing what I was good at, improving and moving on to the next better step, or doing something just to put a roof over our heads. I took a wrong step. Out of necessity, I felt to be an acceptable step until the first full day on the job. Suddenly, I knew this was not for me! It took a while to exit, and I did it poorly, but when the next step came I quickly took it. And it was better!

That taught me a lesson. If you keep repeating the false step, then you never learned from it previously.

Everything should teach us something.

Remember, some things you do out of necessity, not just because you enjoy it. My personal list is long of things I do, or have done, just because it was needed at the time. Enjoy? Not necessarily. Put up with it… Definitely. Chafed at the task? Sure. Gripe. Complain. Even moan the fact of my existence!

“But do it, you must.” ~Yoda

Remember, once you have completed something, you now have knowledge and power over the task. You can take it to another level!

“Do the thing and you will have the power.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In The Face of the Old

In The Face Of The Old:

Circa 1972… 17 years old!
2017-06-13 08.15.43
Closer to current age!

(Click for Audio) In the face of the those around me that are older, I see a weariness born from years in the saddle.

You know, they’ve been around the block a time or two.

You may not even recognize their younger self were you to see them side by side, separated by a generation of time, and the weight of the world resting in every cell of their body.

One looks young, ready to face the world. The other looks, well, older, and more contemplative of the world behind, and life before.

Their countenance is heightened by the years they’ve lived. Wrinkles, hair color, receding hair lines, and all the other typical age related issues. But see them in the light of their youth, and you may only glimpse who they once were, or who they could become.

I saw a picture of a cousin I have only met when she was real young. Toddler, I suspect. I think. I happened upon her Facebook page and in one of her pictures I could see her mom. It struck me how similar they were from some part of my memorized past. Facial features. Hair color. And even that same gaze. I’ve not told her of my observation so I will not reveal it here, but think about the differences we have with our younger self, and then think about the image we portray in our children, and how our children can innocently look like us and not even realize it.

This week, Adam West passed away. He was 88. He was born in Walla Walla, Washington, back in 1928, and was nearing 40 years of age when his fame as Batman began in the 60’s. I do not remember much of his series, I’m not even sure anyone I knew paid attention to the TV show. But we all knew who he was. The picture on the web this week showed him next to a grown up and totally different looking Robin, who I would never have recognized on the street. But in the face of Adam, I think most will always see him as Bruce Wayne. AKA, Batman!

All of this got me to thinking how we struggle with seeing the young person in the face of the older, or what a young person may become and what they will someday look like. In my mind, I will always have that look of a person from my school pictured days. Six years old at Deep Water Elementary. Stripped red and white shirt. Age 15 at Channelview High School, where my nickname of Curly Gurley can be seen in my hair-do! 19 when we married, looking confident and scared at the same time. Age 23 when I became a dad, and feeling the stress of what it truly means to be a parent. Fast forward nearly 40 years to age 62, I’m not much into having my picture taken, but I can recall what I looked like in those former years, and in many ways I am still that younger person.

Am I what I ever thought
I would some day be?
I’m not sure my younger self had any clue.

Just thinking, this morning…. He was born and became an immediate favorite of his father, over all his brothers, because Joseph was the son born of his older years. (Genesis 37:3) His brothers were jealous at his favored status, and when the opportunity arose, they sold him into slavery, lied to their father, telling him he had become a victim of a wild beast. Joseph entered a hard life, but also a blessed life, eventually becoming the second highest authority in Egypt (Genesis 41:43).

Just 4 chapters long, his time at home, and then life in a foreign country, it is a pretty well known story. When famine hit the land, his brothers came to him for sustenance, not even recognizing him in his older years (Genesis 42:3), but Joseph knew every one of them except for the youngest brother still at home with their father. Imagine the surprise when Joseph finally revealed himself to them! Can you imagine their feelings? Shocked. Dismayed. (Genesis 45:3). I even think they had a little bit of doubt. Their minds went back to that dark time when they would even dream of doing something like they had done. To their own brother. Was this truly him?

But Joseph did not hold that past up before them, or berate them for their actions. No… And this is my thought. He had all the time in the world to concoct plans for getting even with his brothers! He had the power to be whatever he wanted to be and no one would think less of him had he reacted differently. But he had a better view on life. He could look back to those earlier years and see hate, or he could look back, and this could be an even deeper thought, he sees the hand of God allowing something to happen for the future good.

But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-8 NKJV)

Perhaps this was simply the style of Joseph. As we see him mishandled through the years, we never find him a hater, or a dweller on the past in any sort of negative way. What had happened to him back then produced the results of today! Though his brothers could not recognize this future Joseph, they did have him in their thoughts, always as a younger man. A boy. Favored by his father and a dreamer of dreams.

I have purposed to look at someone from their favored times and not see them as they presently are. Life is cruel to some, bringing a harsh visage upon their existence. But buried somewhere in their story is that youthful person with all the world before them. The possibilities are endless to become who they were meant to be! And we only need to see them from their youth till now… Age really makes no difference.


A Little Down Time

A Little Down Time:

(Click for Audio)

It’s not often that you take your “down time” seriously.

For many, this only means a busy trip to some far off place of entertainment, enjoyable if you have unlimited strength and stamina, the financial strength to spend some of that extra you’ve stored up, and are willing to come home tired.

For some, and I know this is partly me, I enjoy the time spent in doing what I want, as I want, when I want, and for however long I want.

This past week was an enjoyable “vacation” with family hanging around our domicile, and a few trips to family in Oregon. My bride is soaking up some Z’ssss this morning, playing catchup from the the busy few days before. And, this current week wraps up our only summertime vacation with a few tasks to accomplish here, before the life of busy creeps up and demands attention next week.

When you do not have the time to spend like others, then you must learn how to create zones and times in your daily life that gives you the necessary respite from your constant busy schedule.

I learned this years ago but never had the language to describe it properly. There have been years that these zones were only found on the drive to and from work, or after the kids went to bed, or a quiet walk at lunch with no one around I know – and I mean, no conversations, or being in the moment with someone else to focus on.

You may have your own focused word, but I like how Michael Hyatt describes it from a research he had done. Margins. His research included the writings of Richard Swenson, M.D., who writes:

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

When he talks about gap, he’s not talking about a Mall shopping experience. It is that space between continuing on, or wiping out. It’s that gap that ensures an engine will run correctly, or will prevent it from even getting started. It’s knowing the correct setting that is required, having the tools necessary to set the gap, and then testing the results to ensure the gap has been correctly set…

I’ve bought Swenson’s book, and the audio version also, and am listening to it as I work throughout the day…when I have some margin time to listen to it!

To truly enjoy your “down time” you have to know your load limits.

Manufacturers test their products to see how much load, or stress, they can take and publish the limits so you will know not to exceed the stresses that they have been tested for.

You and I only know these limits for ourselves from trial and error. When we exceed the limits, the results are often a “crash and burn”. We’ve all experienced it. We’ve overwhelmed our load limits, and without some scheduled down time, or margins, we become unhinged.

What I’ve truly learned, to protect my margins there are times I must simply say “No” to some requested task or event. It’s a difficult thing to do, at first, but later you realize the value of protecting yourself from your load limits. Some call this “burning the candle at both ends” and we know this means we extinguish ourselves too quickly.

I wonder, did this every happen to Jesus? Did he ever protect his humanity from overload? After all, there were days that everyone demanded his focus. How do you protect yourself from this level of commitment? He learned not to over extend his humanity, and thus, teaches us how important it is to choose our commitment wisely.

We do find a number of times that he refused to get involved in some local event so that he could continue his mission further.

  1. At the beginning of his ministry, we find him moving to the next village even when the continued need was great where he had just been. Sometimes, you know your mission is greater than the need of a single place. (Mark 1:34-38)
  2. Later, we find him refusing to get involved in a personal dispute. Though this may seem a stretch, he does make it clear that this is not where he will focus his attention. Getting involved is acquiescing to the local demand, and again, he moves on. (Luke 12:13-15)
  3. Again, we find him refusing to do a miracle he has done previously, telling people to have faith and work for the things that have eternal value. They were only looking to enjoy a single event, and did not have the larger picture in mind. (John 6:26-27)

Each time he defines his territory, his margin, his gap, He identifies his load limits and stress load, and says “No” to the demands. It’s not that he could not have done any of these things, but I’ve learned another valuable lesson in life – continually give in to the demands or requests, and eventually you will be seen as the sole supplier, you know, that pay day loan that supplies your needs in your darkest hour – and all those others that are hanging on are simply looking for a hand-out. Believe me, they are there, too!

Now. Remember.
You get to set your margins.
Define your load limits.
Set the gap in your spark plug so your engine will run correctly.
Choose how to spend and be spent.

Last week, after Sunday service, we stopped by a local store to pick up some things. There was a man with a sign indicating he needed some money. Not unusual for the place, but what was unusual? He was clean cut, and from another cultural area not necessarily from this country, and he had his family with him. They all looked embarrassed to be found in such a predicament.  After sharing my message that day where Apostle Paul wrote he was willing to spend and be spent for the church (2 Corinthians 12:15), I felt a prompting in my heart to give, knowing that it could be given in return as Jesus taught (Luke 6:38), or to simply give knowing I will never see that blessing again.

I made the turn past the family standing on the corner, there was a long line of traffic behind me, circled back through the parking lot and shared of my blessings with him. In Jesus name, I prayed that there would be some good and comfort for this family in need.

Margins. Load limits. Stress loads. Gaps. We all need them to protect us from the overwhelming walk through life. Just remember. Margins should include keeping some financial stash for the rainy days, as well as the times you step away and simply recoup.

When You Remember

When You Remember:

(Click for Audio)
I remember what it’s like to not remember,
And wonder if you really understand.
I remember what it’s like to not remember
What it is like to have kids in the house.
You know, those really short humans
That have an unbridled amount of energy!
Those youngsters who have an unknown
Number of questions about EVERYTHING!
Little ones that can run and play,
Play and run you into the G-R-O-U-N-D!
I remember what it’s like to not remember,
The times when kids were a constant reminder
Of family, and love, and hope, and joy…

I remember what it’s like to not remember,
That it is important to pace yourself all day,
So captured nuggets of time framed for sweet relief,
And night becomes a welcome end to a seemingly long day…
Just to get ready, all over again, For tomorrow…Today!

I am glad for the time of remembering.

With sweet Emma here for Camp Gramma and Grampa, we remember how much we forget what it was like to have young ones in the house. But it is a sweet time of playing, and reading, and surprise, and amazement at the amount of energy kids expend and never seem to wear out. She tries to get the neighbors horses to run with her down the 400 feet of common fence line…. “Come on, Grampa!” Watching out for the moles mounds because we should be kind to all animals. Ducking from birds because surely she’s learned there are huge birds that can pick her up and fly her away! And playing hide and seek through the half-acre woods we keep as barriers between us and neighbors. “Look, there’s some sap! Come, Granma, let me show you!” All the way to the end of the day when roasted marshmallows seem to be the perfect way to close her day – storing up energy for tomorrow, and that time is here, today!

I am glad for the time of memories stored for the future to be recalled…Pictures and finished drawings to keep us from forgetting what it’s like to remember the times of kids in the house.

I am glad for memories!