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…marks in the sand. It is a quiet Sunday morning on the golden spread, as the man calls it. It’s just me, a few song birds, the sunrise, and “the Bear”. Bear is a dog.

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Adjacent to us is a highway, and a train line. As the moments have passed, traffic has picked up. There is an occasional car or 18 wheeler. Earlier, much earlier, there was a train.

People have been this land for centuries, long before these tracks were laid. My son and I found last night what could have been some ancient Native American tools of stone. Or not. On trips past, we have found arrowheads in the field behind the house.

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What will remain when we are gone from here, and our tracks no longer remain? Tracks in the sand won’t last the week. The land, and the grass, are battling the asphalt even now. And the train tracks will even fail, allowing enough time, and neglect.

God’s love will survive, I believe, and surrounds us like a good pastureland fence. It doesn’t hold out all predators, mind you, but is always there to remind us not to stray too far.

Have a blessed Sunday morning, whether your tracks today are here, or beyond.

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Beach combing. It is a lost art, in this era of digital entertainment, marathon shopping, and amusement parks. I have been amazed on the recently completed trip to see how many “attractions” are built on the way to or even on sight at natural beauty destination spots like the ocean shore.

Or is it a lost art? Little Frau and I, along with our entourage of Kinder, have made a routine out of visiting the coastline every other year or so, and the list of destinations is growing. And we don’t adopt an aggressive agenda while enjoying this part of God’s creation. As Number One Son expressed a few days ago: “we can do that stuff at home – we came to the beach”. Smart boy! And, I might add, he has to sunburn to (dis)prove it.

As we drew nearer to our destination of home today, I sat in a quiet hotel room with sleeping family members and
reflected on beach visits past.

There was the first family visit, celebrating the first wedding anniversary for LF and myself. It was her first time to see the ocean: any ocean. Remember, she is a West Texas girl, born and raised. She just stood at the water’s edge for what seemed like an eternity, but not going into the water. Her first two statements about the visit still stick with me: “The water goes on forever”, and “Do you see any fish flying the Portuguese flag?”. (that would be a Jellyfish, for those who are beachcomber novices). Little did she know that, one day, Number One Son would be a multi repeat victim of said Portuguese warriors, and she a supplier of the “home remedy” antidote.

As I conclude today’s post, the following two lists are of the beaches that God and career of provided us opportunity to visit over the past 21 years, even if just for a 30
minute stroll while passing thru, and a handful of beaches I would put on “The Bucket List”:

Visited (hopefully, in order):

Virginia Beach, VA (pre family)
Panama City, FL (pre family)
Galveston Island
Frau/Family visits:

Corpus Christi, TX/Mustang Island
Jacksonville, FL/Amelia Island
Sea Island, GA
Hilton Head, SC
San Diego, CA
Cannon Beach, OR
Galveston, TX
Miami/Key Biscayne, FL
and now, Gulf Shores, AL.

And the bucket list? Maybe the eastern coast line of Japan, the beaches of Normandy, France, and, of course, Hawaii. Maybe, someday.

In the meantime, we have the memories, and maybe some
sand in a few places we have yet to find…

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I need to share a story with you this morning. No surprise there. The surprise is in the turns of the story.

In listening a second time, one year removed, to an audio version of Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In a Thousand Years”, the following quote is an appropriate lead in for this post:

“People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.” I often feel that I’m not willing to pay the cost for joy. It’s difficult to give up my comfort. It’s difficult to leave my comfort zone. Pain is not comfortable. But that’s the price.And so living your life deliberately – living your life on purpose – requires something extra of yourself. But giving the something extra is addictive.”

So, here is the story.

I made an early morning milk run last week to get some breakfast fixin’s for my hungry children. While in the store, I ran into a guy who is about to make a kidney donation to a mutual friend and
older mentor at church.

I asked the man “how did this come
together?”, and his answer was quite intriguing. It seems that about 10 years ago, this man woke up one day and told his wife “I want to donate my kidney. I don’t know why, necessarily, but it’s just something I think I should do”.

Time passed. 10 years, give or take, to be exact. Nothing was done to follow up on the desire to donate, but the desire remained. This man then happened to be at church on a Wednesday night (something he says he almost never does, BTW) and he runs into our mutual friend.

Unknowing of the friend’s medical condition and need, he asked how he was doing. Upon hearing of the friend’s need for a kidney transplant, he said “you can have mine”.

Disbelief followed, along with denial and “you need to think about this first”. The man’s response, naturally was “I already have: for 10 years, in fact”.

Weeks passed and they finally reached agreement, and wouldn’t you know it, but they are a match. The donation will be happening soon.

I know risk follows, and we need to pray for both of these men, but I could not leave with my milk that morning without being struck by how God moves in a mysterious way. A man even wrote a song about it over 200 years ago:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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The song was penned by a William
Cowper (1731 – 1800). His story is not so great. He was born into wealth and opportunity, but when love escaped him and challenges faced him, he slipped in and out of bouts of depression and insanity for the rest of his life. And yet, his name, his story, and more importantly, his music, are still influencing us today.

So, this morning, I’m moved in what is likely no longer such a mysterious way. Why did this man get to the point of needing a kidney? Why is there disease, war, poverty, abuse, and hatred in this world?

Good things happen, and bad things happen, but we are called upon in both counts to make a difference in our own unique, special, and even mysterious way, and in so doing, to live a better story.

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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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It’s graduation weekend in Edmond, America, and you know what that means: hitting the reception circuit. So many kids, so many cake/punch/hors doerves opportunities, so little time/so little stomach space. And memories: so many memories. How could they have all grown up so fast? It seems like just yesterday that Baby H graduated; I think it always will. Babies A and B start HS soon, and you can only wonder where the years are going.

After completing our Saturday reception circuit (there are more to come on Sunday), we stopped at one family’s house to drop off a little graduation gift. As the young lady turned to go back into the house, it hit me: I had coached this girl as a 6th grader on H’s basketball team, way back when. It could only have been yesterday, it seems.

A basketball coach, I am not, and yet this time afforded me the first of several opportunities to coach each of my kids in the fine sport of round ball.

This was a small church based league, with only about 4 or 5 teams total, 6 girls on each team. Accordingly, we played each team at least twice in a simple 8 game season. As those teams go, we were OK. We had a couple of decent players, and then just a few girls who wanted to have fun. We won a game or two, and we lost a couple of games. One of the losses was quite one sided, as that team had set up an elaborate (for this league) half court line screen offense. This was a “color wrist band” man defense only league, so the screen effectively freed up the point guard to go shoot a layup almost every time down the court. “Help Defense”, as it is referred to, was a foreign concept to these girls as they chased their matching color around the court, and I was not sure the rules would even allow it.

In a “let’s have fun and grow in mind, body, and spirit” league, this loss still hurt. It felt like the other team took unfair advantage. So, I did what any red blooded American male would do in that situation: I appealed to the league office! My question was simple: can we “switch” defenders when running up against that type of offense? After some discussion, the answer was yes. It was game on: time to begin preparing for the upcoming rematch.

This league only allowed one practice for an hour a week, and you only got a half court for that. But, the girls seemed to understand the concept of our new defensive strategy. At it’s heart was one word: “SWITCH!”. Simply put, the girl whose color match set the screen would pick up the ball handler and stick with them until the other girl could get free and they could switch back.

The date for the rematch arrived, and my girls were practiced and ready. As the game began, the other team complained “they can’t do that”. But, the ref/commissioner explained to them that, with the type of offense they ran, we could. “Do that”, we did. It worked beautifully. As they game wore on, we were behind, but began a comeback in the last few minutes of the second half.

With only seconds remaining and the game tied, we picked up a turnover and began to run back down the court. The gym was packed, as many had arrived for the game that was to follow. Every person was on their feet cheering, and the roar felt almost deafening, relatively speaking. My heart still races today when I think about the moment, 6 or 7 years later. As the clock fell below 10 seconds, we passed it to the girl on the right hand lower block (her name was Morgan, I think), she shot and scored, and time expired. We won, and had beaten the only undefeated team in the league. That team finished the year with only one loss: the one orchestrated by us.

We finished the season at 4-4, but that moment was our championship. Parents rushed the court and hugged their girls, and there were huge smiles all around. But the look on the opposing coach’s face as we shook hands was my “Lombardi” moment. We had changed our ways, we had adjusted, and we had overcome in a “that’s not fair” scenario.

So, back to graduation weekend. If I had any advice for Alex, that all grown up girl who just graduated, or anyone else, it would be that one thing: “SWITCH!”. Take what life throws at you, but don’t give up and accept it. Respond. Get advice (and buy in) from important friends. Adjust. Change. Quit the things that are holding you back. Develop new habits. SWITCH.

As you have those late game moments in life, your heart racing, may this simple philosophy serve well. Make it a great life. The “cloud” crowd is cheering for you.

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I’ve been blogging (“web journaling”) off and on for a couple of years now, and the exercise has been good for me. I find that getting my thoughts out of the cranium and editing them into a sharable form has been mentally liberating. But at that point, the words are no longer just for me. They are out, for any and all to possibly see. And I’m OK with that.

I love old pictures of friends and family, but as much as the pictures, I long to know more. “What were they going thru at that time?”; “What was life like for them then; what were they thinking?”.

One day, I won’t be here anymore. I don’t know when that day will be. Regardless, I want to leave something behind for those who are close to me. I want to leave a little behind every week, if not every day.

Jesus came and went. In the mind of his disciples, he was gone in only one day. Then he came back, shared a little more, and was gone again. But he left something behind: His Spirit. And he left His words with his disciples.

I want to leave a few words behind, both my own and some sharing of other’s words (and His Words) that mean something to me. And, if I can leave behind a small sense for my spirit, that might mean something to those who were close to me and stay behind.

Good News, guys. One Day, He is coming back, and if you are still around, He will bring you to where I am. If not, we will already be there together, and will get to share with so many as it all unfolds.

I long for that One Day. You should too.

  1. One day when heaven was filled with His praises,

      One day when sin was as black as could be,

    Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin—

      Dwelt among men, my example is He!

    • Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;

        Buried, He carried my sins far away;

      Rising, He justified freely forever:

          One day He’s coming—O glorious day!

  2. One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,

      One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;

    Suffering anguish, despised and rejected;

      Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He.

  3. One day they left Him alone in the garden,

      One day He rested, from suffering free;

    Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;

      Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He.

  4. One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,

      One day the stone rolled away from the door;

    Then He arose, over death He had conquered;

      Now is ascended, my Lord evermore.

  5. One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,

      One day the skies with His glory will shine;

    Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;

      Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Lyrics by L. Wilbur Chapman

Photo of Lake Hefner in OKC at sunset (I believe) by OC’s very own Ann White. Used without her permission. (Sorry, and thank you)

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It has been a good weekend, thus far, in several ways.

Friday night was “Rwanda Night” in the OC auditorium. Lots of culture, celebration, and sharing was in order.

Saturday night, in the very same room, several churches with predominately African American membership came together with MRCC and others for a “unity in praise night”. There was a great turnout.

Admittedly, the evening felt like it got off to a slow start, but it made the ending that much better. One of the vocal groups from the beginning time scheduled did not show up, so the final group (from Eastside Church of Christ in OKC) was “tasked” with adding an extra, unrehearsed, number to their performance.

They did a great job, as did everyone from the evening, but instead of simply adding a song, the director from Eastside invited every group to join them on stage, and they then taught and led all of us through a song that went something like the following (with some admitted misremembered words):

I’m glad I know you
I’m glad you know me
We worship our God
We”re one big family
We lift up our hands
To reach the sky

While the following video clip is not connected, maybe it will give you a little taste of what the song sounded like when sung together by a huge group. It was a good night. We need to get together like that more often.

It is a pretty good weekend, all things considered, and it is not over yet…

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