No Greater Joy


Can you believe it’s December.  It seemed like only a week ago when were celebrating Thanksgiving turkey–I’m sorry, we were.  It’s December 1 and we only have a few weeks before we are celebrating the Lord’s birth.

I bring up Thanksgiving because something happened over the weekend that caused me to be truly thankful.  Thanksgiving day was a special day of celebrating what we are thankful for.  It was a great day of cooking and baking and taking time to play games with the whole family, but that’s not the event that gave me cause for being the most thankful.

What happened on Sunday of that weekend is what caught my thoughts and mind.  I was sitting in church–the front row as I usually do and I happened to look to my right where my three children were sitting.  All of them have made a commitment to follow the Lord and a verse came to mind as I was looking down the row.   “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”I John 3:14  NO GREATER JOY.  This doesn’t mean that my children are perfect.  Far from it.  It doesn’t mean that they are angels.  They are not.  It doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes.  They do.  It doesn’t mean that they have been walking in the truth all of their lives.  They haven’t.  What it does mean is that with all of their flaws and mistakes, they are seeking to walk with the Lord and that brings me great joy.

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On this journey we need to celebrate the victories in the process of this life journey. Their commitment to the process of walking with the Lord has stopped me to reflect of how thankful I am for their lives.

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Zeal For Life


What are you passionate about?  What holds your attention and burns in your soul?  What would you do to gain whatever you are zealous for?  What keeps you up at night and doesn’t let you go to bed?  What captures your thought process when you interact with others throughout the day?

I believe that passion for life has been diluted in our everyday experiences.  Passion has been defined by a strong and barely controllable emotion.  It is an emotion that causes you to act in a dangerous way.  It can be a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for anything such as a passion for music, for a recreational endeavor, or an activity such as writing or reading.  I wanted to fully know this word, so I looked up zeal as well.  Merriam-Webster defines zeal as a “passion, server, ardor, enthusiasm with intense emotion that compels us to action.  It deeply stirs us to ungovernable choices and action.

So what are you passionate about?  What are you zealous for?  What drives you to uncontrollable action?  The reason for my thought process today centered on a passage in the bible that caught my attention.  It is a story in the early life of Jesus’ ministry where He went into the temple and found something despicable to Him.  “It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.  In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.  Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.  Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!’ Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: ‘Passion for God’s house will consume me.'”  (John 2:13-17 Living Bible).  Jesus’ passion for God’s house drove him to the actions of herding sheep and cattle out of the church yard.  He overturned the tables of the money changers.  He scattered the coins all over the floor.  He forced those who sold doves to remove them from the premises.  He used leather whips to chase those selling out of the temple.  Uncontrollable.  Passionate.  Zealous.  All of the above.

I have been thinking about what drives me to uncontrollable actions?  Do you have that kind of passion?  Are you zealous for anything in life?  I do believe that all of us could answer that question differently based on our strengths, gifts and abilities.  I have asked that question to many people I come in contact with when they tell me about their profession.  Are you passionate about what you do?  Do you love what you do?

For me, God has put marital and family relationships in that passionate category.  I love to counsel.  I love to help people with their parenting and marital issues.  I take the time with any person who has questions about these areas and seek to give them guidance to improve their relational situation, whether I’m getting paid of it or not.  I love what I do and am ready always to help those in need.

On this journey passion can drive us to impact our sphere of influence if we take the time to identify what drives us to passionate action.  The answer to what drives us can be the first step in being zealous for life.

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Driving LIKE Miss Daisy


There was a film that came out in 1989 with Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd being the key cast members entitled Driving Miss Daisy.  It’s a story of a son (Dan Aykroyd) recognizing that his mother (Jessica Tandy) needed to quit driving and hired a driver (Morgan Freeman) to drive her around.  It was filmed in the deep south with the factions of black and white being in play.  Driving Miss Daisy centered on Morgan and Jessica coming together to become best friends.

I bring this movie to mind, because my kids and in particular Carter think that I drive like an old man (Miss Daisy).  Mind you, I haven’t always been like this.  I am known for driving fast and getting speeding tickets, but more recently getting out of speeding tickets as in my most recent episode.  I was driving up to Flagstaff with my dog Monty when a policeman stopped me for driving too fast in a work zone.  He approached me from the passenger side and saw Monty, my Cavalier King Charles spaniel, sitting in the passenger seat.

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Before we knew it, we were talking about dogs and he finished by saying, just watch your speed and let me go–without a ticket or a warning.  But I digress.

My wife and I over the last few months bought a four-door pick-up truck.  On the speed-o-meter is a reading that gives you miles per gallon (mpg) reading and I have become fascinated to increase that number as I drive.  That means that I have to slow down when I am driving, and slowly accelerate when I go from a stopping position.  Trucks notoriously get bad gas mileage, but I am getting 16-17 miles per gallon even when I am driving in town and more on the road.

When I talked to my son Carter about this, he brushed me off, because he drives like I used to and gets poor gas mileage on his vehicle–and could care less about his gas mileage.  He  could care less about the gas he was using to accelerate until today.

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I was driving with him as he took me to pick up my truck and I so happened to look over at his gauges.  The mpg said 17.4 and I said, “Carter what’s going on with your mpg?!!!  Are you driving differently?!!!  Are you beginning to drive like your dad?!!!”  I began to laugh uncontrollably as I realized he was beginning to copy his dad in his most recent pattern of driving (driving LIKE Miss Daisy).

On this journey, you never know who is watching you in terms of your patterns of behavior.  Just because they make fun of something you are doing, you are always planting seeds in the next generation and you never know when or where that seed you planted may germinate.  Happy planting.

 

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You’re Hurting My Ears


My daughter came over tonight to pick up Brayden, my 6-year-old grandson that I had picked up from elementary school.  She brought over her Keaton, her 3-year-old as well.  The boys were running around the house chasing one another as Victoria and I caught up on the day’s activities in her life and in mine.

Brayden loves sports so he wanted to watch some college basketball before his mother came.  While they were there, the game was about to start and a woman came on the TV singing the national anthem.  I decided to sing along with her and match her beautiful voice with mine.  A side bar.

I have always thought I had a pretty good voice when it comes to music.  I can carry a tune and have sung in choirs in church was well as the men’s glee club when I was in college (40+ years ago).  I do love to sing loud which over the years has been embarrassing to my children who have stood next to me in church.  I have heard more than a hand full of times to sing softer.  Well, back to the story.

I was singing the national anthem and when I got done, my 3-year-old grandson Keaton looked at me and said, “You hurt my ears, PAPA!”  I had no idea.  He was verbalizing his feelings that his mother taught him to verbalize, that I taught her to verbalize.  I truly didn’t mean to hurt his ears and asked him if he wanted me to kiss his ears.  He said, “Yes” so I pulled him close and gently kissed his ears and off he went.

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You see, I had no idea that what I was doing was hurting my grandson.  Fortunately he told me and I could take steps to repair the situation.  How many times do we find ourselves hurting someone and never knowing that we are hurting them.  We are insensitive to what we are saying or doing that is causing pain in those around us.

If there is one quality that I could give everyone that I come in contact with, that one quality would be sensitivity.  You see sensitivity comes before initiative.  I have to be sensitized to what I am doing wrong before I can take the initiative to change whatever I’m doing.  I know that being a sensitive man is not in the book of a macho man, but it is an essential quality if we are going to build connected relationships.

On this journey open your ears to those around you (including the little ones in our lives) so that we don’t hurt the ones we love.

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An Amazing Day: An Admirer


After visiting Mom’s co-worker Jean Mudd, we were ready to head back to Colorado Springs where Mom now lives.  We said good-bye and started walking out via the waiting area of the assisted living home.  As we were about to exit the front door, a lady stopped my mother and said, “You are the one who hung the moon in Flagler.  You are the most important person to ever grace the town of Flagler.”  Mom and I were stunned as neither of us knew  who she was.

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She introduced herself as Doris Rowden, and the pieces began to fit together in my mother’s mind.  The last teaching assignment for Mom was in the town of Flagler.  Mom taught English and Home Economics.  Everyone had to take both of those classes during their time in high school, and it so happened that Mother had taught the three adopted children that Dave and Doris raised.  The two girls were twins and the boy was described later by my mom as a rebel.  He had to take her Home Economics class and recalled that he made a stuffed animal.  While he was in her class, he calmed down and never gave Mom any trouble.

Doris went on and on about the impact that Mom had on her three children.  She described Mom as a life saver, something that my mom had no knowledge of when she was teaching the teenagers decades ago.  Does this story remind you of someone who impacted your life as you were growing up.  A teacher.  A pastor.  A friend.  Neighbor.  Boyfriend.  Girlfriend.  First employer.  Coach.  Relative.  Fill in the blank.  In this case, Mom was a very positive role model for these teenagers.  If you remember someone in your life that positively impacted you in some way, it might be beneficial if at all possible to contact them by letter, phone or in person and tell them what they said or did to help you in your journey.

Unfortunately the opposite is true about someone who had a very negative effect upon us who could be one of the relationships just mentioned.  When you think of this person, only negative feelings of bitterness and resentment emerge.  If you find yourself in this camp, it might be beneficial to take some time possibly with a professional to help you cut away the negative effects of this person so that you can move forward with the rest of the journey that God has given you.

The writer of Hebrews 12:1-2 talks about the need to “lay aside the sins and encumbrances that so easily entangle us so that we can run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”  In order to run the race before us, we need to cut away those things that have negatively impacted us either internally (our sins) or externally (the encumbrances that have been placed on us by others).

This journey we all are running is filled with negative and positive impactors all along the road.  Affirm the positive impactors and cut away the negative ones so that we might run with endurance the race set before us.

 

 

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An Amazing Day: A Co-Worker


This amazing day continued as we left Nina Lou’s house.  The last stop was at an assisted living facility where mom wanted to see a fellow worker in the Flagler school system that she taught at.

Mom was an English and Home Economics  teacher.  She taught in three school systems over the years, starting with Seibert, moving to Vona, and finishing her teaching career in Flagler.  I asked her why she gave up being superintendent at Vona and I heard this story.

The people loved her in that position along with the students.  Straw that broke the camels back involved a newly hired coach for the Vona Wildcats.  She was walking the halls one day and found a bunch of students shooting hoops in the gym when they should have been in class.  In finding out what class they were missing, the culprit so happened to be the new coach.  He was teaching history, and quit early and ushered the kids into the gym to shoot, but he was nowhere to be found.  Mom had to call him into her office and confront him on his lack of preparation for his class and decided that it had been one too many confrontations over the years.  She was ready to just teach so she moved to Flagler.

It was in Flagler that she began to interact with Jean, one of her colleagues.  They were like two peas in a pod and began to reminisce on their experiences when they were teaching.  Jean had a dry sense of humor and I just sat as they reconnected on a deep level.  Jean had experienced some health problems earlier in the year, but was feeling better.

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Co-workers are individuals that we spend most of the day with.  We can have a tremendous influence on those that are next to us in the trenches.  My mom was such a positive person that she positively impacted even co-workers.

On this journey, your profession can be an opportunity to connect and build lasting friendships.  Who are you seeking to connect with today?

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An Amazing Day: An Old Friend


When we had finished our time in Seibert, Mom turned to me and asked, “Do you think we could stop in Flagler, CO,  to visit a couple of my friends?”  I replied, “Mom, we are doing whatever you want to do.”  So off we went on I-70 to Flagler, a neighboring town 11 miles away.

The back story.  Flagler was a perennial sports enemy of Seibert when I was growing up.  There is a record today in the Colorado record books of Seibert and Flagler playing football when I was a junior in high school.  It was their homecoming and I still can remember the outcome unfortunately.  103-0.  You heard right.  103-0  As a result of this score, the rules committee put in place a rule that causes the clock to start running continuously  when the score differential appears in a game.  Needless to say, there was bad blood for years between these two towns.

What Mom told me blew my mind as we drove to Flagler.  Flagler and Seibert have now combined their sports teams and are playing together as they compete with other towns in the various sports.  Working together as a team and not enemies?  That would have been unheard of in my generation, but I am so thankful that bygones can be bygones.

Back to the story.  We stopped by Nina Lou Ford’s house to say hello.  Nina Lou was a dear friend of Mom’s and they would play bridge a couple of times a week when Mom lived in Seibert.  There was a car parked in front, but Mom said, “Let’s go in any way because she will want to see me.”  Did she ever want to see Mom.

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It was like Mom was royalty.  Nina Lou said that Mom was her favorite person.  They couldn’t stop talking and it was as if neither of the other three ladies nor me were in the room.  Nina Lou and her late husband owned the grocery store in Flagler that we would shop at on a regular basis.  Nina Lou had since turned the store over to her son Tony whom I had played football with on the non forgettable night.

The other three ladies who were playing bridge  that day wanted to know if Mom would be okay if they came to Colorado Springs where Mom lives now and bring their bridge cards up to play with Mom.  She was humbled that they would want to do that.

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On this journey it is important to continue to cultivate friends new and old.  You could tell that Mom had a significant impact on them and could tell the love they had for her.  Today might be a good day to stop by one of your old friends and say hello.  Who knows what might happen.

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