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Archive for April, 2014

20140425_180922-1Old.

New.

Borrowed.

I forget the rest of it.  Maybe Hannah can fill it in for me later.

So the old saying goes about “Something”.

Rewind back with me 26 or 27 years, and my one and only visit to the Mayfair Church of Christ.   My college roommate and I visited there on a Sunday night, looking for a different experience, and seeing if we could scope out some new girls.    We sat back under the balcony near where I took this picture on a recent Friday night, and we left empty handed.   Or, did I?

This same Mayfair was home to my eldest baby girl’s wedding last night.   And, I must add, life has been anything but empty.    As said baby girl graduated with her husband to be on Friday, another friend spoke to the graduates and their families about the concept of living the great adventure, and writing a better story.    I get that, and hope to live it each day.

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story…***

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Hannah blessed her mother and I with embroidered hankies (“Hankies, from Hankie”) Friday evening, and mine was proudly worn as we marched down the aisle together.

Her dress was old: her grandmother’s, made by my grandmother.

My hankie was new.

The cufflinks pictured above are “borrowed”, belonging in fact to my grandfather, the husband of the wonderful woman who made the dress. I was blessed and proud to wear them on my shirt as I accompanied Hannah down the aisle last night.

Howard and Ruth allowed God to write His story, and it lives on to this day. A picture paints a thousand words, and only a fraction of their faithful progeny is pictured with us here, and it is a beautiful story, indeed.

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Speaking of something beautiful, that is what Hannah and Jason get to allow today. God can write His story on their hearts, and the hearts of others. We are off to a good start…

I wanna start it over
I wanna start again
I want a new beginning
One without an end
I feel it inside
Calling out to me

It’s a voice that whispers my name
It’s a kiss without any shame
Something beautiful
Like a song that stirs in my head
Singing love will take us where
Something’s beautiful…

It’s the child on her wedding day
It’s the daddy that gives her away
Something beautiful
When we laugh so hard we cry
It’s the love between you and I
Something beautiful
***

***lyrics by FRANCESCA BATTISTELLI and NEWSBOYS
 

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Some of life’s more ponderous moments come in the wee small hours of the morning, long before the dawn.

My first such recollection of such was in the early 70’s, when I snuck into the living room of my parents’ small east Texas rental home and waited for the vacuum tubes to warm up and bring the picture to life on our “Color” television set.  Don’t ask me why it was called a set.  It just was.

The picture came to life just in time for me to see a black and white image of a warplane crashing into a ship.  Two unknown characters were floating at sea, said a couple of forgotten things to each other, and the movie was done.

Fast forward 40 plus years.  It is the hour before the dawn, once again, and my mind believes my body should be up and keeping it company.  Go figure.

I clicked on the button way too early this morning and waited the requiset few seconds for the plasma screen to come to life.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Apparently John Wayne was once a German spy.  Who knew?  It was all there for me to see, in clear black and white.

If only all of life was just so simple to understand.

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Image It’s there on a wedding day…
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace*

If you know me very well, you will find a number of historical clues hidden deep within this picture.   Far in the backdrop are pictures from and of my ancestry, grandfathers one and all, one of them resting on a random rock.   In the foreground, we find gifts from a few of the ladies in my life.   A pewter token from a grandmother, a ceramic celebratory mug from a daughter, and a treasured portrait taken by my wife, preserved over time of course of the once celebrated Kodak Paper.  

Old school portraits were always best presented on Kodak Paper, but I digress.

Within said portrait I’m wearing my once prized, circa 1987, Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles sweatshirt.     Truth be told, I prefer “The Rock” to “the hard”.    You see, elsewhere within the larger image are various representations of Christianity, and we have the original hard rock to thank for that.

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  Matthew 16:16-18

Life is full of hard moments, and great ones as well.   To live in avoidance of the former is to deny yourself the opportunity for the later.   Parenthood is kind of like that, and on the near eve of my eldest daughter’s wedding, I would change nary a thing.

It’s there in the newborn cry
There in the light of every sunrise
There in the shadows of this life
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountain top
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me, yes your grace finds me*

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,  and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  I Peter 1:3-4

Amen.   Feasting at the hard rock today is better than ever.   The picture says it all.

*Your Grace Finds Me lyrics by Matt Redman

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On being wrong…

Well worth the 17 minutes invested.  Enough said.

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Plumb: a lead weight attached to a line and used to indicate a vertical direction.

out of plumb or off plumb:  out of vertical or true.

So defined is the term by Merriam-Webster online.

As one who has done a little wallpapering in my day, I’ve learned the value, sometimes the hard way, of being out of plumb.

Is it straight?   Is it true?    Does it stand tall?   Does it risk falling over?   Or, much less risky but much more visible, will the condition call attention to itself for years to come?

My first experience was as a teenager helping my mother re-paper our dining room in Shreveport, Louisiana.   Having never done the job before, we just jumped in.  While the work was done quickly and the wall surfaces felt nice and smooth, it was soon evident when standing back a few feet that the vertical stripe pattern had a distinct tilt to it, even though it looked like we were putting it up straight.   Fortunately, the china cabinet just happened to fit nicely in a place that would hide our error, and on we went.   Undoubtedly, it was noticed by others in the years that followed.plumb

The building I office in at my employer is vintage 1950’s, and is the product of a noted west coast architect from that era.   It recently underwent a major gutting and renovation, and only at that time did we discover one of the most visible outer walls, leading from the ground up to a 7 foot window ledge and bounded by ground to ceiling windows on each side, is far from plumb.   The error was hidden in the past by a particular sub-wall and door facing, but cannot be hidden any longer. The tilt is now prominent for all to see, and makes for an interesting story.   And yet, it is still a great building, with wonderful history and an impactful legacy.   So, being “out of plumb” is not always equivalent to fatal failure, even if less than desirable.   Sometimes great character comes from such flaws.

I recently attended a concert event with some friends.   One of the opening acts was a singer who calls herself “Plumb”.   Her most current hit song seems to hit the nail right on the head, or maybe more appropriately to be straight and true.   Consider the lyrics for yourself and see if you agree:

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell

And everybody’s got a wound to be healed

I want to believe there’s beauty here

‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on

I can’t let go, I can’t move on

I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this”?

How many times have you given me strength to

Just keep breathing?

Oh I need you

God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan

Wondering how I got to where I am

I’m trying to hear that still small voice

I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this”?

How many times have you given me strength to

Just keep breathing?

Oh I need you

God, I need you now.

Though I walk,

Though I walk through the shadows

And I, I am so afraid

Please stay, please stay right beside me

With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?

And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this”?

How many times have you given me strength to

Just keep breathing?

Oh I need you

God, I need you now.

I need you now

Oh I need you

God, I need you now.

I need you now

I need you now

I’ve reached a place in life where many roads are converging.  Some call it the sandwich generation.   Our parents have aged.   Our kids somehow suddenly reached a point that their actions are more impactful.   I look in the morning mirror, and am starkely reminder that both statements are true of myself, as well.

Some call it mid life, and refer to it as a time of crisis.   I believe all of life presents moments of challenge and crisis, but may I suggest our response and reaction is every bit as important, even more so, as finding out we may have been “out of plumb” to begin with.   Maybe it is in mid-life that we are better equipped to reflect and respond to the inherent flaws in our prior efforts.

There’s another word called grace, and even another called forgiveness.   They remain with us, even if the evidence of a tilt remains.

Nothing says it better than Hebrews 14: 12-16:

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.  

 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

 

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