And Now Family…

The Past 7 Days…

Seven DaysHas been totally geared around family, including some dear friends that are like family. The Good, Bad and, yes, there are some Ugly’s… Regardless, they are each friends and family and I love them all!

Friends you choose, or they choose you. But family is something your are born with, and are eternally stuck to. You can never undo a family connection – that’s a genetic truth. You can minimize the impact of family, but the fly in the ointment is that they are yours forever.

Inlaws… Outlaws… Even ex-laws…

In fact, we all have friends that often feel closer than our blood relatives. With family and friends equally, we lose contact with them through the years. There are times it is simply joyful to get to hang around with those you know.

That’s been the past 7 days have been like winning the jackpot! New family members, old family members. And friends.  Ahhhaaaa!

The days are coming to a close and life ends back into a normal patterns soon. Sunday is our church “No Thanksgiving Leftover” potluck. But before then, we get to pull our little family together for an afternoon of food and fellowship. I’m looking forward to it… I just want it to last for 7 days, and not feel like 7 days in one afternoon! One is “…just right…” and the other one feels like it goes by entirely too fast.

Blessings to all…

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You Know You Have Arrived….

What are your measures to know that you have arrived?

4th Grade
My Favorite Picture – 4th Grade

Today is my favorite daughter’s 34th birthday, and I thought, “I’ve arrived! All my kids are in their 30’s!” Then I paused and thought – really, I did – by the time 7 more years pass then I could say they are in their 40’s!

Which arrival means the most?

Alright. Neither is as important as their day of first arrival. You know, their original birth day.

For Elizabeth, it was this date back in 1981. It was a dawn birth for many (around 6am), but in Alaska the sun had been up for quite a while. Still, her middle name is Dawn for the reason of timing. As you can see below the sun arose around 4:40 am and sat at 11:29 pm – 18 hours of daylight her first day!

Anchorage Sunrise

“Elizabeth” came because I have simply loved this name for a long time and my bride agreed it was a good name for her! She has shortened it to “Liz” but I simply call her by the name we gave her 34 years ago. Today. Yep. That’s right!

Simple math tells me she’s 34 – but my heart tells me she’s still that little bundle of energy that we enjoyed our first year in Alaska. Jason would be 3 years old in a couple of months and he got to enjoy the night at the grandparents, while we spent the night at Providence Hospital. Though a painful night for Brenda, we were aware that we would enjoy a new experience at our apartment on Boniface…

Checkmate Plaza. 3330 Boniface, Apt 31… Still remember the address!

What a joy those early years in Alaska were. We had made a conscious decision when Jason was born that Brenda would be a “stay-at-home” mom until all kids were in full time school. I believe this was the touch of mom-magic that has blessed both of our kids even today.

Elizabeth, like me, is an introvert. I never thought about the label until she explored the phenomenon of how much we both need time away from people to recoup our energies just to go back into a crowd. She would play with her characters on the porch, or even the bike trail, and be more perfectly aware that she wanted to be by herself than the rest of us could understand.

EDG0138In this photo she was totally mad at me for wanting to take her picture. It interfered with her “alone” time of play! We have another picture around here where she played on the bike path at a park south of Anchorage, around Bird Creek, and she was not a happy camper when hikers and bikers transitioned her part of the trail!

Elizabeth on Swimming TubeNone of this means that she did not enjoy being around others – only it had to of her own timing and choice! She would crawl after Jason down the hallway as he tried to escape for some of his own “alone time!” She would rally with all the other kids in the neighborhood and church and play until all her strength was gone, but I’m sure it’s because she had stored up the necessary energy to enjoy the time with!

Through the years we have had a special father-daughter relationship, but I’m sure there were times it could have been better. In fact, I know there are times when life, career and church kept me so stinking busy that I missed out on so much. But I have always hoped that she knew I was there…

Elizabeth…. Liz…. Happy Birthday!

(Special note: I tried to upload an audio of her singing “You are My SunShine” with the verse she wrote for me… But it’s a trying time to think it through right now!)

 

Memorial Day 2015

For many it is just another day

Tomb of the Unknown SoldierAlbeit, a holiday from their normal work duties. To others, it is a day set aside to honor and remember the soldier who has fallen in the line of duty for the protection of homeland and family.

For those of us who have no personal connection to a war, or battle, or headstone, then it is somewhat difficult to have a memorial for a life we do not share.

To the soldiers in my church and community, whether they be present soldiers, or defenders of some past conflict, then I know many of them have memories of friends and fellow defenders who are no longer around – to them I see this Memorial Day meaning a lot.

In fact, until our friend, John Cole, passed away a couple of years ago, we had representatives in our church dating back to WWII. Today, Epharim Scott is our oldest soldier and he dates back to the early days of Viet Nam.

This is different from Veteran’s Day which is a day to honor all who have served in the military. Memorial Day honors those who had died while serving.

My age puts me at the end of the Vietnam war. I received in the mail information regarding the Draft around my 18th birthday in January, 1973. By March it was noted that there would be no more drafting, and by July it was law – I did not have to worry about the draft.

My dad and various uncles were in a draft system for the Korean war, and I know several of them signed up before their draft number was chosen. To my knowledge, none of them saw battle.

Mom says we lost a cousin in WWII – a flight that did not complete its mission and was never recovered from the English Channel. I do not remember who this is… Perhaps she will share here for future memories.

Arlington National Cemetery on my 59th birthday, 2014
Arlington National Cemetery on my 59th birthday, 2014

In 2014, I was fortunate to go to Washington DC for one reason, but had great opportunity to see many historic sites around our Nations Capital. One event was the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A silent 100 or so stood and waited for the quiet honor of experiencing the Changing of the Guards.

Just a few acres away was the grave of Audie Murphy, one of my wife’s favorite WWII hero’s and actor.

Just a little bit further was President JFK’s tomb, another WWII hero and president to our nation.

I guess what I am trying to suggest this morning, you may not have personal memories of someone who died in service for our country, but there are great opportunities to have an humble spirit of memory if you would just take a trip to a Veterans Cemetery. Somewhere.

Kenneth FosheeMy dad and my father-in-law were both serving during the Korean war, and my FIL is burried in the Veterans Cemetery in Houston.

I have been involved in several memorial services here over the years and I am honored to see the visible remembrances offered for those who have served, and those who have died in service.

To those with very personal memories, I offer my thanks to you and your loved ones for their sacrifices. We owe a lot for them.

Sacred and Holy

Twice I have been to the Western Wall.

IMG_6198Twice I have stood before it and contemplated its construction and purpose. I thought about something a few minutes ago.

Touching something old and original….

Here is my hand,  touching the Western Wall, more commonly called the Wailing Wall. One of the closest places to the location to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and the only place that Jews can touch and pray at. It is often called the Wailing Wall because it is where they could pray and cry out to God for their loss, and hope for their future.

It is believed by many Jews that praying and leaving a written prayer at the wall and as close to the Holy of Holiest location possible will always have the attention of God.

IMG_6228We toured beneath the Western Wall and you could see the effort it took to build a strong foundation for what is seen above. Solid beams of rock with no seams over 40 feet in length, and approximately 6 feet tall and 15 feet thick.

What did it take to create such a monstrous stone and what effort did it take to move it into place?

Tremendous strength below holding up the wall above.

This brings me to the things we call sacred and holy.

How deep is our foundation for what we deem sacred and holy? It seems like every religion has a holy place, or article, or even a teaching, that yearns to be touched and remembered by it’s followers.

Some replace this concept of holy with the location of popular figures in the public eye, be they entertainers or business people, even man-made objects of art and architecture.

It would seem everyone has something to worship, even when they claim to be irreligious.

What do you worship so respectfully that you have studied and supported and polished your respect of the item? I remember the days of the baseball card collectibles. Kids by the millions would buy those foiled wrapped packages hoping to add to their collection, knowing that if they scored a rare card then they could be rich and famous. Stores popped up on every corner!

Where are they today?

The one thing I have ingrained in my self is a focus on that which is sacred and holy, giving great respect for the foundation to those things that mean so much to my life. The purveyors and supporters of the sacred and holy will come and go, but it is my hope that the sacred and holy will never become as worthless as those lost stores and cards of old.

Reminiscing About Germs

At least, that’s what I called them…

Germ ShirtGerm Shirts. This thought bumped into my mind while reading my local weekly newspaper discussing our new government starting business here in Washington. Germs. Hmmmm…

It would have been in the 60’s, and since then I do not ever remember owning anything like this, but somehow my wardrobe ended up with some button shirts that had germs all over them. And they became my favorite shirts to wear, and wear out. It wore well, and it stayed sharp without a bunch of ironing – at least that is what my 2015 memory says!

Back in those days you wore your button down shirts tucked in, and T-Shirts hanging out.

Other than trying on blue jeans, I do not ever remember shopping for all my outer clothing articles. I’m sure mom did it all and bought what ever caught her eye and budget. Speaking of budget:

I do remember my grandmother making us some button shirts during the grade school years, but the pocket was so high on the chest it was a useless addition. Our other source for clothes came from hand-me-downs. With a lot of boys in the extended family, there was always this paper bag passed on to the next family with a bunch of clothes.

It was only years later that I learned the germ pattern on the shirts was actually called “paisley” and I had to look it up to see what it meant.

…a distinctive intricate pattern of curved, feather-shaped figures based on a pine-cone design from India.

Of course, another definition says it’s from Persia, which could include the continent that includes India. Although, modern day Iran is basically the Persia of old.

I still like my name best. Germ Shirt.

 

First Steps

Day One has Passed!

StartNow it’s time to put the New Year plan into action.

Some say that the first step is the hardest. I think planning for the first step is harder. There are all kinds planning mistakes that can make the first step difficult, but the better you plan (and the more frequently you work the plan) then the better results of good planning makes the first step much easier.

What am I planning for this year? Well, the list is mine and it’s private in many ways, but along the way you may see the results of good planning. I do have a different list for the church, and somewhere along the way I have to merge those two lists into a single working documented plan for 2015.

What is your plan for this year? And how will you work your plan this year? Just curious.

Control Your Focus

There is a science to it…

Reading GlassesI have been blessed with needing only reading glasses these past 10 years or so, but I can tell the other full time glasses may be a requirement soon…

My right eye does not see as clearly as my left eye, so prescription reading glasses are in order because each eye has a different focal need.

Just like you use different tools for focusing on different objects (think microscope versus telescope), each eye often has subtle differences that requires unique lenses for each eye.

In fact, you may even an one eye that sees straighter than the other one!

I started shooting a bow about 40 years ago. At an archery shop in Pasadena, TX, I tried out many bows and struggled with hitting the target. Being right-handed like most everyone I know, the owner finally asked me to do a simple “eye dominance” test. Eye dominanceArrange your hands in front of you like this picture and focus on an object about 6 feet away, maybe a door knob. Alternate closing one eye and then the other. If one eye sees the object centered, and the other one doesn’t, then that is your dominant eye. If each eye sees the object centered then you have equal focal between the two eyes.

If you have a dominant eye, and depending on how far off the other eye is, you have some choices to make. Either allow everything you do to focus on the using the dominant eye, or cater to the other eye and make adjustments so that it centers on the object ahead. That may mean learning to aim differently, or even something as simple as standing differently, or cocking your head further one way in order for the eye to line up with the object.

For me, the easier option was to learn how to shoot a left handed bow. Bulls Eye the first shot!

I think this concept comes into play in many areas of our lives. We have dominant focus on certain things and seldom learn how to bring the other portion of living into the same focal strength.

Notice how Apostle Paul shares this concept from a different perspective – using our thoughts as an object lesson.

“…take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)

Like vision, our thoughts are often scattered to every nook and cranny of our mind, but we do have the ability to reign in those thoughts into a focused attention! For him that was to “obey Christ.”

Have you heard the old saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” Your focus is on nit picky view of all those individual trees and you cannot see the whole group identified as a forest!

Every thing you look for is found in the last place you looked…even if you looked there previously. Your focus was not upon the lost item, rather more devoted to the flash of fear that something was lost!

This past year I experienced “too much on my plate” and felt like there were too many loose and tattered ends to projects.

Finally, the writer of Hebrews tells us about controlling our race for this life.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

So, for this next year I want to be more focused on bringing everything into focus, controlling the drift away from my goal, and then zoom in on the main thing – reaching my goals for 2015!

How about you?