Archive for the ‘Best Friends’ Category


Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I dreamed of things being different. “Once upon a time” was both long ago and possibly and unfortunately not so far away. Perhaps it was only yesterday. As the family and I sat down the other night to watch a few minutes of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, I was reminded of that and so much more.

Not so long ago, in a land much farther away, some friends and I climbed a mountain. But, things indeed were different: different from my prior experience, different from my visions of the moment, and different in the result. You see, you can’t escape the winds, no matter how hard you try. And, to quote another song, the funny thing is “It’s OK”.
IMG_1889I had been on this mountain before, but the chosen path was changed. In fact, were it not for the winds of change, we would not have been on this path, this day, at all.

It was just about a week ago that my friends were nearing the summit of our climb. I say “my friends were”, because I had long ago lost sight of them, and was beginning to wonder if I would ever reach the summit myself. The path was steep, I was likely not fully prepared, and there was the wind. As I hiked alone, knowing those friends had gone on before me to reach the top, the wind became suddenly and painfully strong.

The gusts were powerful. The sensations were cold. My mouth was dry, and my tongue was numb. It felt as if the wind would fill the very jacket I wore for protection and would sweep me right off the side of that mountain to an unfortunate landing below. I thought I wanted to quit, to sit down, to give up, and to hope my friends would be back for me later, having experienced the summit without me.

But, it didn’t. Quit, that is; the wind didn’t quit.

I didn’t, either. Quit, that is. I pressed on towards the summit, finally reaching it to the buffeted sound of cheering from my friends as they endured that very same wind.

As we descended the mountain later that morning, I reflected on what we’d just experienced, and was reminded about how life can be. Windy, that is. But, enduring the wind makes for a great story. Sometimes encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

As I said, I’d been on this mountain. My son and I have traversed its slopes twice prior, and the mountain has taught us to expect the unexpected. Fog, snow, lightning, hail, and rain from a sunny sky have all accompanied our experience here. Wind had, as well, but nothing like the wind this day.

Two of my friends from this day were supposed to have climbed a different mountain with us just a few weeks ago, but winds of change prevented that moment. My father entered his last days of life in the very moments that we were to embark on our journey with these friends, and we had to say no that day. But, you see, enduring the wind makes for a great story.

Sometimes, I might suggest, encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

Those friends went on to plan this most recent adventure, and they brought two new friends with them. Had it not been for one of life’s windier and most uncomfortable moments, we would not have found ourselves together this past week, nor would I likely have been inspired by the outcome.

As we all drove home together, life’s winds continued to blow, this time in the form of car trouble. It blessed us yet again with the reminder of how other people will go out of their way to help when you need it the most and expect it the least.

Which brings me back to the inspiration from “Saving Mr. Banks”. Long ago I used to dream that life could be simpler, and wished that my days could be more like the 1950’s, when it seemed that life had fewer distractions, fewer interruptions, and maybe fewer hardships. But, as I often learn later in life, I was wrong to feel that way.

Mr. Walt Disney himself even had hardships back in the 1950’s. The demands and fast pace of today have only replaced the equally demanding world of yesterday, and there are things we have learned and overcome today that could not be said of a prior “simpler time”.

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.

Indeed. Let those winds blow. Life’s outcomes lie ahead, and I’m sure some great stories are right there with them.

*lyrics from Disney’s Mary Poppins


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We were made to be courageous
We were made to lead the way
We could be the generation
That finally breaks the chains
We were made to be courageous…

I have these friends. They are young. They are active. They care. The future is theirs for the taking.

That doesn’t mean they don’t encounter setbacks, just like all of us have, and do. Not so long ago, I was at their house on an errand, and we were dealing with and discussing a mutual life setback moment that had just occured. As we visited in the driveway before I left, I couldn’t help but notice the street signs in the corner of their yard. Half asking permission, half saying “I’m sorry, but… “, I walked toward the signpost and took out my iPhone to snap the picture shown above. One of the friends quickly replied, “Oh, I see a future blog post coming”. Little did either of us know.

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

Life moves on. That doesn’t mean things are necessarily easy. However, as the song says, we were made to be courageous. As the other song infers, the beat goes on, and the song on our hearts should be playing loudly for all to see, hear, and tap their feet along with.

The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with your God

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

We were made to be courageous
And we’re taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

To quote the fictional wiseman, Forrest, Forrest Gump, “that’s all I’ve got to say about that”.

The beat goes on.

We were made to be courageous.

I suspect my friends will not remain down, on the corner, for long. After all, they live at the corner of Liberty and Courageous. What better crossroads could anyone ask for?

* Courageous lyrics by Casting Crowns

* Down on the Corner lyrics by Creedence Clearwater Revival

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It’s 3:00 in the morning, and I’m still awake,
so I picked up a pen and a page,
and I started writing just what I’d say,
If we were face to face…

Those words from a song are with me now, along with so many others. I’ve been sitting quietly here with my father this night, and the sands of time are sinking.

As I’ve been with Dad tonight in his room, listening and watching, I’ve had the blessing of reflecting and noting some of my two sister’s more poignant memories and mixing them with my own as we prepare for Dad’s upcoming memorial.

As I emailed a draft of those memories to those two special ladies a few moments ago, I found an email of a blog post from a former colleague and teacher, speaking to the beauty of a song by Anne Ross Cousin, and it seemed the perfect gift from God in this moment. It is a beautiful song, and no doubt is one of my Dad’s old favorites. Thanks to a man named Mark for sharing them earlier.

The words to this hymn are below. I hope you enjoy them as I have tonight, as we await our Dad’s opportunity to be with Christ, where He is throned where glory dwelleth…

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.”
I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand,
Not even where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

*These Simple Truths lyrics by Sidewalk Prophets

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Burgers and fries and cherry pies, it was simple and good back then.

Walking in the sand hand in hand never thinking that it could end…*

I’m reflecting on those words as I ponder the lives of five guys: Joe, Howard, Dean, Jeff, and Alec. If you look closely, you can see images of all five in the picture above, one but a reflective image inset with his generational contemporary in the upper right, but reflections of them all are imaged in my thoughts this early morning hour.

But one of the five was intimately associated with the other four of us, and as time goes by, he will soon leave the younger two and join the two preceding us on this journey.

I don’t know if there are burgers and fries and cherry pies in Heaven, but I believe it will be simply good. One day, I believe these five will get to share, all together, in a much greater feast.

Until that day, it was burgers and fries and cherry pies in a world we used to know…*

*Lyrics by Charley Pride

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download (1)I’m not a perfect person. Truth is, none of us are. Accordingly, life, this life, is lived under a curse. But we are created to be so much more. And we are becoming that, or at least we are put in a position to do so, but we have to make the choice.

Sometimes, the choice is to simply endure. And understand or accept that “it is what it is”, to borrow a phrase: we have to choose to understand, even when we really don’t.

I’m not a perfect person. Accordingly, there’s a lot I still don’t understand.

One of those things I don’t understand is why we suffer. I understand the curse, and I’m accepting of the fact that we are a sinful people. I am a sinful person, far from perfect. And yet, God has called me, He tells me He loves me, so I’m left to wonder “why”. If you have ever watched someone you love age and endure some of the challenges that come late in life, you might understand a bit of what I’m asking here. My wife summed it up well in a recent conversation by saying “death is just a waste: you are born, you grow, you make something of your life, you have people who love you, and then it just ends”.

In this context, I’ve spent some time thinking about new life coming into this world. Babies are beautiful to behold. There are few who would debate that. They are peaceful. They are dependent. They truly don’t carry an agenda. And, for at least a time, their infancy is likely the only time in this life that their form is without any blemish. It is just as it was created to be, and it is a beautiful thing.

But, if you’ve ever watched the process of childbirth, it’s not pretty. Truth be told, the process is indeed a byproduct of the curse of man dating back to our earliest ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve were created full and whole, and God saw that it was good. But, a few bad decisions later, God told Eve that there would be pain in childbirth. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss. He told her that shortly after they realized that, in fact, they would “surely die”.

But, therein lies some wonder, and pain, today. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss, but followed by joy, and relationship, and life. Death is a sad and ugly thing, but it doesn’t have to be, and maybe we can see it in a new context. It’s not about the right now. It’s about the soon, and very soon, and going to see the King.

Scripture tells us that “In the beginning was the Word”, and we have come to understand that God’s plan for redemption was always there. That redemption was not pretty, in its occurrence, as scripture tells us He was disfigured, and some could not look upon Him. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss, but followed by joy, and relationship, and life.

So, if the plan for redemption was always there, maybe our passing from this life is but a type for the pains of childbirth, as we pass from this womb, this earthly existence where our souls have been given life and have been nurtured and developed into creatures that are fully prepared to exist in the new world that we are created to live in.

When I think about it that way, all sorts of images shared years ago by CS Lewis in “The Great Divorce” are brought to mind, and I begin to be able to better ignore the pain and the discomfort of the journey for the beauty that is before us.
As I close these thoughts, the inspiration to that opening phrase comes from a song appropriately called “The Reason”. It was likely penned under a slightly different mindset, but maybe with the “Y” in you capitalized in a few appropriate places, one could argue this love song as a prayer to our God. Take a listen and see if you might agree. In the interim, here we find ourselves, laboring as in childbirth, and longing for the light of a new day. It’s OK, because it’s a great day, indeed. We have the promise, and maybe we better understand “the reason” for it all.



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“There are two sorts of traveler.  The first sets off in the general direction of the destination and is quite happy to figure things out on the way, to read the signposts, ask directions, and muddle through.   The second wants to know in advance what the road will be like, where it changes from a country road to a busy multilane highway, how long it will take to complete the different sections, and so on.”  N.T. Wright – Simply Christian

All roads lead to Portland, or so it seems.   Likewise, all roads must lead from Portland, for you can’t get much farther from here when you are there.   I hope that makes some sense, or at least will when I’m done.

Portland was established in the mid 1800’s near the end of the Oregon Trail.   It was named, by definition I assume, as “the land of ports”, a place where rivers come together, and where ships (and people) come and go, delivering their cargos, their freight, and their baggage.   They might ultimately leave Portland feeling lighter, or perhaps they take more with them as they go.

I had long heard of Portland but never visited there until about 15 years ago.   Then, for the better part of 10 years, it almost felt like a second home.   After that, it was time to leave.   More on that later.

This Christmas holiday, I’ve been blessed to have time to do more than just a little bit of reading.   Courtesy of an Amazon gift card, my interests and inquiries led me to two books: “Wild”, and “Packing Light”.   Neither was quite what I expected, both in what was similar about the books and the authors, and in what was different.

Each book is a story about a young lady 26 years of age searching for something more in life, and choosing to take a daring journey to help them find it.   The first was from Minnesota, and ended up in Portland.   The second was from Portland, but ended up in Minnesota.   Ironic?   I think not.   Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Back to Portland for a moment.   Portland (and the surrounding areas) is the home of many good friends, and of Powell’s books, Columbia Sportswear, and organic food.   Each of those people, places, or things has been a big part of my life, my thoughts, my hobbies, and resulting actions and attitudes these past few years.    And, Cascade College.   Portland is the forever home of the former Cascade College, and I have a baton, and a large framed picture of Mount Hood at sunset to prove it.   Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Wild – From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the story of Cheryl Strayed,  a young lady who lost her mother, made mistakes amidst her grief, and set out to find herself.   She had no experience as a long distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “…an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise”.   The book was a real page turner, a fact that was emphasized all the more by my accidental choice of the large-print-edition when I ordered my copy.   And yet, when I finished this read, there were but a mere one or two “dog eared” pages, a symbol marking when I was particularly moved by words and phrases I wanted to remember or repeat.    This book has its shocking moments, and is not for everyone, so caveat emptor.  What I came away feeling was joy for Cheryl at her completed journey, and the life she has made in the twenty years since.   I came away with an appreciation for the Pacific Crest Trail, and as a Christian man named Albert, her pack-lightening trail mentor said about his time on the PCT “…now there’s something I’d like to do before I go to meet the Lord”.   OK, for me, it may mean a slightly smaller pack.   And, I may not take the full 1,500+ mile excursion that the book describes, but I  also don’t plan to set out alone, as did Cheryl.   I look forward to hopefully being on the trail with a friend or two, and to walking the miles together with my God.

Packing Light – thoughts on living life with less baggage is the story of Allison Vesterfelt, a young lady who had a neatly orchestrated life, but knew she was missing something.    She had no experience as a long distance traveler, but chose to leave almost everything behind to see the country and find what she was missing.   She left almost everything behind, except a big suitcase, a back seat full of “treasured belongings”, a good friend to accompany her on the journey, and her faith in God.   At the end of this read, I found just the opposite of my “Wild” experience completed just a day or two prior.  I have “dog eared” no less than 30 thoughts and quotes from Ally’s book.   Suffice to say, I’m not packing light when it comes to what I want to take away from this read in the form of thoughts, quotes, and remembrances.    And yet, I’m no more impacted than by what Cheryl had to say about things that cross our path.

Each tells a story about our journeys, what we take with us, what we leave behind, and what we pick up along the way.   Each talks of friendship, and the role others play in our lives.   Each tells a story of faith, the lack thereof, or where we place it.

Back to Portland for a moment.   “The land of ports” is a symbolic place for each of us.   We drop our heavy loads.   We take a rest.   We enjoy the beauty of the creation around us.   We celebrate our achievements, and grieve our losses.   We re-stock our packs.   We cull our baggage.   And, ultimately, we pick up our next load, our next set of objectives, our next destination, and we start the journey anew.

As I set out with my friends and my beloved Little Frau toward 2014, many things dot the horizon.   A wedding (lightening one pack, and adding weight to another), new objectives for my company and career (shedding excess weight where I can, and acquiring lighter, more nimble tools), and of course being prepared for the occasional rattlesnake or moose that appears on the path before me. (something Cheryl and I almost have in common).

I look forward to walking with my God each step along the path.

Who knows what lies before us?   I said ‘no’ to a wilderness  trek experience with a good friend almost 25 years ago, but stand eager and ready today with plans we are making to live that moment, now with a few of our almost grown children (the more adventurous, not-yet-married ones).   I’ve even got the overloaded (but ever shrinking) pack to prove it.

…you can’t get much farther from here when you are there.   I hope that makes some sense, or at least will when I’m done.

2013-12-27 10.50.20

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…to make sure we get a good

still shot of the whole family…

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