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Archive for May, 2011

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Pearly shells
From the Ocean
Shining in the sun
Covering the shore

When I see them
My heart tells me
I love you
More than all
Those little pearly shells

Those pearly shells.

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

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Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”

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And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

…and all of creation sing with me now
lift up your voice and lay your burden down
and all of creation sing with me now
fill up the heavens let his glory resound.

And GOD saw that it was good.

Who am I to say, but I concur. Good, indeed!

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Last July, I listened to Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” while on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Colorado. Kudos and thanks go to Little Frau for buying me that membership to Audible a couple of years ago. It has been one of two or three major life habit changing events over that time frame.

I began to listen to Miller’s book for a second time as we hit the road on Saturday for another trip, this time southward to elevations much closer to sea level. Correction, make that, at sea level!

The book has prompted me to “tell a better story”, and is prompting me to work on “living better stories”. I’m bookmarking some of my favorite quotes, and home to take some beach balcony time later in the week to share them here. In the interim, here are just a couple to chew on:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, it’s like that with life. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like to work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

“And that’s the thing you realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You get a taste for one story and then another, and then another, and the stories will build until your living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And when you live a good story, you get a taste for kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”

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It’s been 10 months, and yet it feels like a day. And yet, so much is different. I hardly even want to think I know the guy who bore my name this time last year. He got angry a lot, but I digress. It has been a good year, in so many ways.

As we enter the early stages of Roadtrip, Day 3, 2011 style, I am up thinking, reading, and writing early while the family sleeps. Thankfully, some things never change.

As I’ve been collecting thoughts and memories from this go round, I found some rough notes from last year and figured they were too good not to share.

Notes from roadtrip, day 1…

I have the sudden urge to hit small mammals
Tell me again why we have to take so much stuff?
Can I have some gum?
Too much Nervous energy…
Is it OK if I’m embarrassed by the minivan?
Hey, those grapes hurt!
You’re crushing my larynx…
Dad, what about that u turn was “official”?
Can I have some gum? Sorry…
These foothills look a lot like mountains.
Beautiful land; beautiful weather !
Unwinding at the Doubletree
You are a large man…
Do you still want to hit small mammals?
Physical therapy session!
I am incredibly vexed right now…
A million miles in a thousand years
Is that quesadilla made with corn? …..Yes…. Not!
Hey, there’s Seth…going to the GC also
Beautiful prayer; powerfully so!

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His name was Kyle. He was an amazing young man. I first met Kyle almost 9 years ago, in June of 2002, while passing through the St Louis airport. Our paths crossed a few more times on the OC campus, with short visits on each occasion. Kyle shared with me only a few of his great dreams, and service to country was at the heart of them all. And then, he was gone. I still remember the shock the morning we learned of his loss. If you did not know Kyle, his obituary will be shared at the end of this post, and hopefully you will get some sense for what this man was all about.

My family and I are taking our annual school break summer pilgrimage, this year to the beach. Along the way, we planned for a stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi to tour the battlefield memorials. As we began today worshipping with the Bypass Church of Christ, the minister had some thoughts and emotions to share regarding Memorial Day. And it reminded me of Kyle. I have not thought about him in admittedly quite some time. The last time was while scanning a serviceman’s memorial at the D-Day museum in New Orleans some time ago.

My grandfather, Howard Pope, was a Midshipman in the Navy during WWII. He made it home from serving to be reunited with wife and family. Another family member, Alec, was not so blessed. Originally interred in a cemetery near Norway, France, his body came home to rest in Texas some years later. I remember men like Howard, whom I knew and loved, and Alec, whom I never met but whose name I repeat almost daily and whose face I see in so many of my family members.

I traditionally hang the American flag from our house on Memorial Day. As we are not there for me to do so this year, may this post serve as a digital display to honor the fallen, whether from 1812, 1863, 1913, 1944, 2004, or today in 2011.

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As we toured the site in Vicksburg today, my thoughts were focused on young men who were lost so many years ago. In retrospect, the cause seems so obvious. Why would anyone want to fight to keep people enslaved? And yet, the freedoms and cultural diversity shared this morning at the Bypass Church reminded us why others would fight to help others be free.

I think that is why Kyle wanted so badly to serve our nation, and in so doing, to serve our world. He wanted to share some of that same freedom.

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Danton ‘Kyle’ Seitsinger was born in Oklahoma City October 4, 1974, to Dan and Jo Seitsinger. He died serving his country in Afghanistan on January 29, 2004. Kyle graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, in May of 1993. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps on December 7, 1993. During his six and a half year tour of duty, Kyle guarded U.S. embassies in Brasilia, Moscow and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro. At each of his stops, men of his company gave spontaneous awards to Kyle for his leadership style. Kyle was also an expert marksman and rifle instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was named ‘Top Gun’ at his embassy school graduation in Quantico, VA. Of the 150 Marines who started the program, only 50 graduated, including Kyle. Kyle enrolled in Oklahoma Christian University in the fall of 2000. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves when he enrolled in OC, and was a senior when he was called into active duty in November 2003, just 12 months short of his graduation with a dual major in journalism and Spanish. While at OC, Kyle worked for the Talon, the student newspaper, serving as an editor for two years. In 2002, Kyle was selected as one of sixteen student journalists to participate in the Summer Institute in Journalism sponsored by the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities. His assignments included interviews with the Colombian president as well as U.S. representatives Ernest Istook and J.C. Watts. In 2003, Kyle spent six months in Costa Rica in a program designed to immerse the learner in the Spanish language. He had expressed an interest in a career of service in the U.S. diplomatic corps in South America and was an aspiring photojournalist. Kyle’s adventurous spirit blended well with the Marines, who showed him the world. He grew from a tempestuous child to a disciplined, confident young man. His college newspaper columns covered everything from world affairs to his opinion of the ‘ridiculous’ logo his university adopted. Kyle embraced a journalism career and aimed high, with hopes of being a photojournalist and a foreign war correspondent, perhaps even winning a Pulitzer Prize or two. Meanwhile, he enthusiastically covered high school games and worked as a copy messenger at The Oklahoman, realizing he had dues to pay before getting there. Kyle made many friends at The Oklahoman who remember him fondly. Kyle’s down to earth, gregarious personality attracted friends of all kinds. In Brasilia, he ‘adopted’ two young poor girls and urged his family to send them gifts. He rarely missed a chance to practice Spanish or Portuguese with natives. Despite their cultural differences, Kyle always knew what to say and how to keep them talking. Kyle wasted no time, rising early to explore the many cities he visited. It’s as though he knew he needed a faster pace to complete his life. We’ll cherish the many stories that surround Kyle’s antics, his cleverness and his special kind of audacity. We’ll miss you, Kyle, always. Our solace comes in knowing that you have invigorated our souls and taught us that love is stronger than death. Kyle is survived by his father, Dan, his mother, Jo, and two sisters, Karla Seitsinger of New York City and Penny Owen Cockerell of Dallas. In lieu of memorials, the family requests that donations be made to Wentworth Military Academy, 1880 Washington Avenue, Lexington, MO, 64067 and the Gridiron Club, c/o Don Schmidt, 330 N. Country Club Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064, which provides journalism scholarships.

Obituary originally published in The Oklahoman on February 7, 2004.

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Leroy Jethro Gibbs has his numbered rules (never say you’re sorry, never involve a lawyer, etc). There are a bunch of them.

My friend Michael has adopted what he terms N.U.T.: Non-negotiable Unalterable Terms. He currently has identified 1 through 5.

While I’m in the “initialization” mood (BNFMK, anyone?), I think I will create my own alphanumerical sequence. How about I.W.W.D.?

I’m not sure, however, that I want to begin with my first identified item
as number one. To do so might come at the expense of a subsequently defined item gaining higher numerical standing.

So, let’s begin with lucky number 7.

IWWD #7: When the Bings are on vacation, they don’t “bypass” finding a place to worship on Sunday morning.

So, greetings will be extended at the Bypass Church of Christ in Vicksburg, Mississippi this fine humid morning.

IWWD: It’s What We Do.

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I’ve spent a lifetime involved with educational systems, and I don’t just mean as a student. My dad was a school teacher and administrator for over 20 years, and I have worked in higher education administration for 13+ years. Suffice to say, I’ve seen some of what goes into trying to make it all work; making the sausage, you might say.

Few things are as important to a society as their educational systems. And yet, it is an area where American society does not always invest as much as might be optimal or even necessary. Good school systems or bad, it comes down to personal commitment and relationships.

Commitments at home.

Commitments at school.

Commitments to learning.

Commitments to discipline.

Commitments to the kids.

As constituents of our educational systems, we don’t always agree with decisions, directions, and disciplinary actions by the schools and their agents. Or, maybe we agree with many policies, actions, or individual decisions, BNFMK: But not for my kids?

Regardless, when the smoke clears and another school year is in the books, we should be thankful for those in the trenches with the scores of energetic and hormonal kids for a day, a week, a month, a year…or even 39 years (the Edmond years of service record, I believe) It is a higher calling. Commitment indeed.

So, thank you, teachers. Thank you, principals and administrators. Thank you, parents. And thank you, kids!

And now, school’s out for summer! Enjoy! The learning opportunities may be temporarily ending for some…, BNFMK.

Vicksburg, here they come!

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