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Archive for the ‘30 days of Thankfulness’ Category

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“Forewordfinally…find enduring use in the service of the One, Eternal God.

What an appropriate charge, and an indirect testimonial, as well.

I was asked to be at an event today, and accordingly arrived very early.   Truth be told, I was going even before I was asked.   In the waiting moments, I found myself reading the forward section of the above pictured hymnal, and remembering the life of a friend.

Beyond the forward of this volume, there is the index.      Songs old and new are listed by author, by composer, by tune, by meter, by title, and by common name.

Songs from Europe.    Songs from Asia.    Songs from the American frontier.    Songs from those displaced by the American experience who would not return to their African heritage.

Songs written by priests.    Songs written by businessmen, and women.   Songs written by former slaves.

Songs written around 500 AD.    Songs written in the 1,700’s.     Songs written before my lifetime.   Songs written after my children were born.

A song too new to be included in this book now comes to mind:

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You *

Within these lyrics is a representation of a man I went to remember today.     While only known to me for but a few months, I counted him a friend.    I now understand he said the same of me to some whom he loved.

This man was a father, a grandfather, a dedicated former employee, and a faithful volunteer.   The tools shown above represent but a few of the things he was adept at using.     Most importantly, he was a child of God.

Within the songbook are tales of faith and failure, fatigue and faithfulness.   There is a saying that “God is faithful, and we are thankful”.    That is true, and faith legacies in this regard old and new are shared within its pages.

My new friend passed quickly and unexpectedly within the past few days.     As we carried his body to be laid to rest today, I was reminded of what a true legacy of faith is all about, both from him and from poets, lyricists, and fellow mere mortals around the world from centuries of following the calling of our Creator.

May the tools of his trade and theirs last me a lifetime, and those who follow after me, to find enduring use in the service of the One, Eternal God.

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing…

*Lifesong” lyrics by Casting Crowns

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…to make sure we get a good

still shot of the whole family…

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” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

It was 2:00 in the morning.  For whom did the bell toll?   It tolled for me, and for a few of my friends.  While they are the closest of kin, in moments like these, I prefer to call them friends.  Friends stick together.  Friends endure hardship, together.

In this moment, we three were awake.   Our senses were heightened, while our bodies, our brains, and our spirits were tired.  It had been a hard 24 hours, and we were merely witnesses to the hardship.  Much like the earlier quote from Charles Dickens, this early Thansgiving hour was both good and bad.  Accordingly, every tick of the clock, every chime of the bells, and every chirp of a bird served to keep us awake.

One of us sought and hopefully attained a little rest.  As the remaining two of our threesome settled in, we chuckled briefly over pictures of a rabbit wearing silly hats, and then it happened.  Our stomachs collectively began to growl.

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What followed were clandestine moments of relocating clocks and searching the freezers for Blue Bell.  They say it is the best ice cream in the country, and I think they are right.   The night light glow on the dimly lite smile on my young friends face was all I needed.  We were together, and we were happy.   And the fat content in that ice cream put us both to sleep.

In moments like these
I sing out a song,
I sing out a love song to Jesus.
In moments like these
I lift up my hands,
I lift up my hands to the Lord.

Singing I love You, Lord.
Singing I love You, Lord.
Singing I love You, Lord,
I love You.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, indeed, as most times are. And I would not trade them, or my dear friends, for the world…

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Every morning, OK, most mornings, I get up very early before my family, and often even the sunrise.   I love to sit in the quiet, and the dark, and just let my mind clear and wander into prayer and thoughts about the day just completed, and the day ahead.  Eventually, this time leads into coffee.  And some reading, and maybe a little writing.

That’s about the time it starts.  From opposite sides of the house, two different doors to be exact, my dog and my cat start to scratch, paw, and cry out for my attention.  Yes, they were separated before birth and truthfully don’t care for each other at all, but I like them both.

Accordingly, despite how tired, or comfortable, or preoccupied I may be, I eventually heed to their relentless cries.   And what do they get in return?   Really exotic sounding nourishment, with names like “Fancy Feast” and “Hearty Beef Stew”.   I’ve never tried it before, and don’t plan to, but from their pleadings and their reactions, it must be good stuff.

This morning, as I was reading from Bob Goff’s book “Love Does”, the cacophony started.  “FEED US, DAD”, was undoubtedly their cry.  So I did.  And my peace and quiet returned, briefly.

But this morning, the encounter reminded me of Jesus talking to us in Luke 11:

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

So, as I think about what I’m asking for this morning from God and from others, I’m imagining Him saying “what do you really like about this stuff, anyway”?  And He gives it to me, anyway.  I know He doesn’t really feel that way about His creation, but the sentiment resonates with me.

So, this morning, amidst “all my pain and all my fears, I will listen to the Voice of Truth telling me a different story“. *

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go scratch, whine, and paw at the door, with audacity.  I think a fancy feast awaits…

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We attended a funeral yesterday. Participated in, might be a better stating of that. It was a time full of sadness, singing, and celebration. I went alone, but was instantly among friends. There were tears, hugs, and kisses.

And, there were memories.

What is a memory? Something warm. Something from long ago. Something that makes you cry. Something that makes you laugh. Something precious.

The life being celebrated was that of a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. She loved to read. She loved children. And she had a favorite book, just for them.

Wifrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge is a book about a little boy, and his friendship with a lady who has lost her memory. The teacher who befriended so many was just such a lady, and disease fled with her memory much too soon.

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But, in remembering her yesterday, even for those of us who did not know her well, the blessing of memories, how we make them, and how we cherish them, was as warm as sitting in your grandparent’s lap so many years ago with a good book. My favorite was called “Little Black a Pony”, and was about how a smaller creature, sometimes overlooked by those bigger, sleeker, and faster, used his gifts and rose up to save the day for those around him. I am sitting in a lamp lit room on Pentagon Parkway, hearing it read to me, and seeing its illustrations, even now. Please pass the tissues.

Here was hers:

As the preacher finished reading the book to us all yesterday, there was hardly a dry eye in the house hundreds strong.

The message for me? Live for today. Love every moment. Love those who are near and dear to you. Make good memories. Ignore moments that won’t. Marti would not have it any other way.

What is a memory? I think we leaned a little better yesterday, and I am thankful.

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…and the Lord is my Shepherd.

Speaking of which, my wife’s Shepherd’s pie is to die for. That being said, it is a good thing my first statement is true, seeing as I had 3 helpings of said pie at dinner last night….

🙂

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DATELINE: Lubbock. At least it was, yesterday. This is a tale of miles driven, miles walked, and miles not.

You see, a colleague and I just went, and returned, from a 48 hour excursion to meet with a support group of sorts. Money folks are an odd lot. We spend, and we don’t. We travel, and we don’t. We talk, and we don’t, except when we do. And that is what this annual gathering is all about: faith based university financial guys and gals getting together to swap stories, issues, ideas, and support. It is one of the best things I get the opportunity to do each year.

We always trade off on who gets to host the event. Past year locales have been as varied as Music City Tennessee and the Proverbial Sunrise California coast. This year? Well, I told you it was an important gathering. Accordingly, we agreed to take a turn in Lubbock Texas. The noted philosopher Mack Davis once sang “Happiness is Lubbock Texas in my rear view mirror“. Given the drive we endured, and the things we got to discuss, I could not agree more.

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As my colleague and I were making the drive out, discussing politics, parenting, and pandemics, I wondered internally about the distance travelled. What if something happened? The media is all abuzz with end of society scenarios and prime time dramas about what we as a society would do. What if it all came to a crashing halt, and we could not drive back? What if there were no gas, no busses, no planes? What would I do to get back to my family? I knew the answer, but didn’t need opportunity to verbalize it.

The next morning, I began to walk. No, not back home, just down the lovely treadmill. There is a reason I take those walks, and it is the same reason I would take the greater distance back east, no matter the effort, should it have been necessary. My faithful friend “Pandora”, and the “Under Pressure” radio channel then sang it for me better than I could have ever said myself:

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When i wake up yeah i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you
When i go out yeah i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you

But i would walk 500 miles
And i would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 5,000 miles
To fall down at your door

When i’m working yes i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s working hard for you
And when the money comes in for the work i’ll do
I’ll pass almost every penny on to you

When i come home yeah i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if i grow old well i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you

But i would walk 500 miles
And i would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 5,000 miles
To fall down at your door

When i’m lonely well i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man whose lonely without you
When i’m dreaming well i know i’m gonna dream
I’m gonna dream about the time when i’m with you.

When i go out yeah i know i’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
When i come home yes i know i’m gonna be,
I’m gonna, be the man who comes back home with you
I’m gonna be the man who’s coming home with you

But i would walk 500 miles
And i would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 5,000 miles
To fall down at your door

That one was for the Little Frau, who doesn’t really like being thought of in just that way. To borrow another phrase “She’s got a way about her”, but that’s a whole other lyric vault moment for later.

But I would walk 500 miles. In a heartbeat, for that is why it does…

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