Two days ago we were blessed to welcome our fourth grandchild into this world. The first three were grandsons, but God blessed us with our first granddaughter, Ava Blake Gorton
As you can see, Ava has the same dark hair as her dad Carter. She was even caught smiling on the first day. I’m sure that she was so pleased that she had been placed by God in to our family.
As a grandparent, the joy of seeing your children grow up into adults and begin to have children of their own is a joy that is twice realized, once when they are born and secondly when they reproduce.
Thanks for celebrating with us the birth of Ava Blake Gorton. It starts a new journey for Carter and Rachel as they begin the process of raising this precious infant.
Over the years, I have had many hair stylists who have cut my hair every 5-8 weeks. It’s interesting to hear the interactions that happen in the chair. Stories of children and their mishaps. Vacations that were taken. Stories of encounters with the police. Happenings around the salon. Happenings with children coming into town. Holiday experiences. You name it. It’s been discussed in the chair. Except for the last two encounters with my hair stylist, Kim.
I don’t remember how the discussion started, but Kim is from Native American descent and the topic came around to what she loved to do for a hobby. She responded to the question by saying that she loved to hunt with her husband. Deer. Elk. Pigs. Duck. Turkey. Pheasant. You name it, she has hunted it. She is such a hunter that she even took off her shoes about a month ago so that she could sneak up on a deer that she was hunting so that she could bet a better shot. In 30 degree weather in the snow. With only socks on.
Last week was a new interaction as she described her encounter with hunting antelope. She and her family had 5 tags to hunt these wonderful animals on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. What fascinated me the most is the description of these animals. They can run up to 45 miles per hour. What they eat determines the taste of the meat. If they are eating sage brush and pine needles, the meat will taste like sage and pine needles as compared to Antelope that are eating hay and corn stalks on the eastern planes.
One of the topics in the chair that I thought fascinating is the structure of the hair. Kim indicated that Antelope hair is very course and is formed like a straw. Air is allowed in the straw so that on very cold days, the air forms an insulation so that the Antelope stays warm out on the blustery days of the Colorado plains.
Who would know what you might learn sitting in a hair stylist chair. On this journey through life, keep your ears open to stories and insights that others bring from their own experiences. It can cause you to thank God for His creation intricacies of life.
When you think of the title North versus South what comes to mind? If you are a history buff, I’m sure your mind moves to the Civil War of the United States where the North was in a battle with the South. If you are a sports fanatic, you might think about the All Star Game in college football where they have North all star football players playing against the South all star football players. If you are thinking about moving, you might look at the pros and cons of living in the north sections of the US versus the south sections. If you are wanting to find a place to eat, you might talk about going north versus south to get to your destination.
I didn’t even think of North versus South when we came to Colorado to look for a house. But our Real Estate agent did. She informed us that in Colorado, you want a south facing house especially in the winter time. The sun moves in a southerly direction in the winter time and causes the north parts of a house or fence or tree not to get the necessary warmth to melt ice and snow. Hence, when it snows, the sun melts the snow on the south side of the house, but doesn’t melt the snow on the north side, causing ice and snow to stay for a whole winter season.
It reminds me of my life with Christ. When I allow the Lord Jesus Christ to shine in and through me, He convicts me of wrong doing and causes me to clean out the junk in my life so that can experience the warmth of His love and grace and forgiveness. On the contrary, when I live on the north side of life and do my own thing, my actions don’t allow His Son to positively impact my live and live in the shadows, not allowing the gunk to be removed and suffer the consequences of my own actions.
On this journey, we have a choice to allow His Son to shine upon us and bring us life abundantly, or we can live in the shadows of this earthly life. We can choose to turn our life to the south and experience the sunshine of His warmth and direction.
This last weekend Nadine and I had to fly to Sulphur Springs, Texas to officiate a wedding of a close friend of mine. We flew into Dallas Love Field and rented a car to drive the 1 1/2 hour trip to Sulphur Springs. We had some time to grab some lunch in their quaint downtown area. The grassy square had a World War II Memorial for those fallen from that generation. It was wonderful to see the forefathers of Sulphur Springs honoring those who had given their lives so that we could be free. That wasn’t the weird thing.
What was weird involved two mirror encased boxes on the sides of the grassy square. They were about 6′ X 6′ X 8′ feet high. Below is a picture of the boxes.
The box could be opened up as Nadine opened the door. As the box was opened, the weirdness became evident. It was an outdoor toilet that could be used with a sink for washing your hand afterward. Once the door was closed, you could see everyone walking around the grassy square, but they couldn’t see you. Really. A glass outhouse.
It is one of the most weird things that I have ever seen. Needless to say, neither Nadine nor I would use the outhouse because of the thought that someone outside could see in. But they couldn’t.
There are just some things on our journey through life that you don’t want to participate in. Just Saying.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine at church asked me if I would be willing to become a greeter as people come into the church. I said yes and didn’t realize that they had to do a background check before I could stand outside and say, “Good morning and welcome to Plum Creek Church.” I have never had a background check and began to imagine what they might investigate regarding my background. My numerous driving tickets (I haven’t gotten one for years, but in my earlier life I did have a lead foot). Find out things that I had no memory of. I filled out the form on the computer and waited for the results. I PASSED.
My first service where I greeted was at one of the seven Christmas Eve services. It was so fun wishing seniors, men and women, teenagers and little children a Merry Christmas and a warm welcome to our church. Two of my friends were working with me at one of the doors and wanted us to dress up in similar attire.
It was a real joy to greet those who were coming to our church to celebrate the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. The highlight of the night came when a family came with a mother, father, a 10 year old boy and a little 2 year old long brown haired girl. I got down to her eye level and wished her a Merry Christmas and commented on her pretty dress. She let go of her mom’s hand and spread her arms wide as she took two steps toward me to give me a big hug. My heart melted as her heart was open to giving and receiving love.
As we take this journey at Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, He has his arms wide open wanting to give us a big hug and welcome us into His family. It only takes an open heart like the little girl had to start a relationship with Him. He’s waiting for our response.
My two daughters are here for the Christmas holiday and decided to watch Elf on TV last night. It is one of my favorite moves with Will Ferrell playing the elf. It depicts Santa with a huge book of those who are naughty and those who are nice. The nice list are those who get to enjoy the presents from Santa that they wanted for Christmas. The naughty list are those who didn’t act so nice during the year and have their wish list rejected.
We all know the story of the nice and naughty list. What hit me this year was my perspective of the lists. I have always put myself on the nice list and never on the naughty list. I have mostly treated people I come in contact with with respect and given them value. I have opened the door for the most part for my wife and others. Often I have sought to give value to service people and used their names when interacting with them. I am for the most part a good person.
Yet I found myself watching the movie with a horrible attitude toward a family member. A nice guy having a naughty thought. When I thought about this more, I began to realize that I am not so nice at all. This is not the only time where my attitudes for others have not been so nice. There are times when I don’t treat others with the respect they deserve. I have not always opened the door to others. My driving habits have not always been with grace especially in the day or two leading up to Christmas, especially in the parking lots. In fact I found myself relating more to the naughty list than the nice list. Naughty ones don’t deserve to receive the gifts they want at Christmas time.
I didn’t deserve any gift, but God 2000+ years ago brought forth His Son, born of a virgin that we celebrate for Christmas. Jesus lived on the earth for some 33 years, and gave His life so that we could be forgiven for all the naughty things we have said, naughty things we have done, naughty attitudes we have had. I am on the naughty list, but Jesus came to bring forgiveness for those things so that we could receive the greatest gift, forgiveness and cleansing for our naughtiness and be put on the nice list.
On this journey as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it might do us well to recognize that all of us are on the naughty list and are in need of forgiveness. What a gift we all can have if we only put our trust in the one who gave us the greatest gift of all. His Life.
Moving from Arizona to Colorado has been the best move for Nadine and me. I grew up in eastern Colorado in a little town between Limon and Burlington called Seibert. I graduated from Seibert High School (now called High Plains) and did my undergraduate education at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. I stayed one year in Colorado before moving away. Tennessee. Florida. Massachusetts. Lebanon. Arizona. I was away 46 years. Away from my homeland. Over half of my life.
But now I’m back. Back in my homeland and know that this is where God wanted me to be. One of the benefits of being back in Colorado has been visiting my mother whenever I want to see her. She lives about 40+ miles from our house and it takes about 45 minutes to get to her home. She lives in an assisted living facility with cloth napkins, fresh cut flowers on the table with fancy silverware. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
So what does she want when I come over to visit her on a regular basis? McDonalds. A double cheese burger with fries and a coke. When she turned 100 a year ago January, I wanted to take her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate the place of her choice. What was her place of choice? The Golden Arches. McDonalds.
It’s been cold out the last couple of weeks, so she doesn’t want to get in my truck and drive to McDonalds, so I bring the double-cheese burger with fries to her apartment and we have a picnic in the middle of December.
I never thought that moving back to Colorado would bring such joy to my life by having a picnic with my mom. Every hour I spend with her is such a wonderful experience with a double-cheese hamburger, fries, and a coke.
On this journey, we are going to take right and left turns on the road of life. God has some wonderful experiences for us that were never spelled out when we chose to begin walking on the new road. It means that we need to keep our eyes open to those experiences and not miss out on the simple pleasures of life.