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A good friend and newly minted father of an adorable daughter posted the following on Facebook Friday evening: “Left the kid at home tonight with her grandparents and went on a one hour date. It’s funny how it only took two weeks to make something we’ve been doing for over 12 years seem really strange.”
 
My baby girl went “off to college” this year. It’s funny how it only takes two miles of separation to make something we’ve been doing for over 12 years seem really strange, because we’re not doing it any longer.
 
Our younger two, twins, are off at a youth retreat for the weekend, which means 48 hours of kid free living, and it should seem really strange, but it doesn’t. We may be recalling how this couple thing is done.

It started slow; GF pizza and a trip to Sam’s Club. Boring, you say?. And with that question churning in my head as they locked the doors behind us leaving Sam’s, a lyric vault moment emerged:

And the Friday night blues they get in your shoes and they work to get you down
Oh and there ain’t a lady that I ever knew who didn’t need her a night on the town

Have we lost our edge? Is this all really strange?

I think not: a follow up late night to Barnes and Noble was in store, and discussion of days gone by. As we discussed the aforementioned “preoccupied man” lyrics of old, we turned to Pandora, that queen of Internet musical memories, for a fuller walk down memory lane.

Quiet, kid free, coffee and Rice Chex: we could get used to this, in time. We love our junior duo, but like big sis, their transition continues.

As the Box opened wider thru the morning, the cheesy country tunes continued. As we close this random weekend moment, my newly minted father friend and I could take something from the last Pandora poetry enjoyed today, courtesy of Alan Jackson…:

Born the middle son of a farmer
And a small town Southern man

Like his daddy’s daddy before him
Brought up workin’ on the land
Fell in love with a small town woman
And they married up and settled down
Natural way of life if you’re lucky
For a small town Southern man

First there came four pretty daughters
For this small town Southern man
Then a few years later came another
A boy, he wasn’t planned
Seven people livin’ all together
In a house built with his own hands
Little words with love and understandin’
From a small town Southern man

[Chorus:] HIS GREATEST CONRIBUTION IS THE ONES HE’LL LEAVE BEHIND….
And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
(He) was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones HE’LL leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern man
(Raised on the ways and gentle kindness)
(Of a small town Southern man)

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
And keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard just to walk and stand
You can break the back
But you can’t break the spirit
Of a small town Southern man

Finally death came callin’
For this small town Southern man
He said it’s alright ’cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don’t you cry, and don’t you worry
I’m blessed, and I know I am
‘Cause God has a place in Heaven
For a small town Southern man
 
When our time on this Earth is through, may my younger friend and I, City Slickers though we may be, take a few cues from Mr. Jackson’s lyrics… 
 
Bowing our heads to Jesus, loving our girls ( and sons), workin’ the land, and making a difference for those we leave behind.

Doesn’t seem so strange, after all.   Neither is a Date Night.   
🙂
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The following is a repost of excerpts from a recent article on John Maxwell’s leadership page. The hourglass/egg timer in the picture belonged to my grandmother and is proudly placed at the front of my desk to remind us all that time is fleeting.

By John C. Maxwell

A group of American tourists walked through a quaint English village in wonderment. They were enamored by the town’s winding cobblestone streets, the beauty of its courtyards and plazas, and the sense of history emanating from its ancient churches. While strolling through the local park, the tourists struck up conversation with an elderly gentleman and found out that he had lived in the town for his entire life. One of the Americas, eager to hear more about the town’s history, asked, “Sir, have any great men been born in this village?” “Nope,” said the old man, “only babies.”

Personal Growth Is a Process

In our twenties, we think ahead to when we’ll be ideally situated in our career, positioned to do exactly what we enjoy, and enjoying immense influence in our occupation. Like children on the way to Disneyland, we impatiently await arrival at our destination instead of appreciating the journey there. However, as we age we encounter an uncomfortable truth: growth doesn’t happen automatically. We cannot coast through life hoping one day to stumble across our dreams. Unless we set aside time to grow into the person we desire to be, we’ll not reach our potential.

Leaders develop daily, not in a day. They commit themselves to the process of growth, and over time they reap the rewards of daily investments in their development. In this lesson, I’d like to share five principles to encourage you to adopt a lifestyle of personal growth.

#1 Growth is the great separator of those who succeed and those who do not.

#2 Growth takes time, and only time can teach us some things.

When it comes to personal growth, you cannot substitute for time. Yet, the mere passage of time doesn’t make you wise. Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher. To gain insights from your experience, you have to engage in reflective thinking.

#3 Growth inside fuels growth outside.

The highest reward of our toil is not what we get for it, but who we become by it…. With respect to personal growth, take the long view on results. The most important question to ask is not “What am I getting?” from the discipline of personal growth, the most important question is, “Who am I becoming?”

#4 Take responsibility for your own growth.

We have to put together a game plan so that we become students of life who are always expanding our minds and drawing upon our experiences.

#5 Determine the areas of your life in which you need to grow.

You’ve probably heard someone say, “You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it.” Sadly, as nice as that sounds, it simply isn’t true. In watching people grow, I have discovered that, on a scale of 1-10, people can only improve about two notches.

Don’t work on your weaknesses. Devote yourself to fine-tuning your strengths.

Focus within those areas of strength; you have incredible potential to make a difference.

If the time runs long, turn the glass over and keep working at it; give life and those you love everything your hours have to offer.

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I’m likely going to have to apologize to a small army of folks for this one, but here goes.     As referenced earlier, this weekend featured a long overdue catchup visit with an old college buddy, and as you can guess, the photo album came out and the memories ran deep.

The picture here on the left got quite a bit of attention from the kids during the visit, and even an, “oh, Dad, yuck”.   But that’s just it, appearances can be deceiving.

If my teenage son had commented, instead of his twin sister, he might have said something like “wow, Dad, you were a playa“.     (playa, colloquial spelling of “player”, as in the context of dating)  I think it might have been Confucius who said “If you have to define it, you are not one”.    Touche.    Appearance (or first impression) can be deceiving.   You’ve got to go deeper.

Friday of last week, I accompanied my kids to the local high school football game.    Ever the parental creeper, I was keeping an eye on what “the boys” were doing on the hill adjacent to the end zone.      Seems this rat pack was attracting a crowd.    I thought to myself, “hey, my son is a playa“.   But as the gaggle of young ladies in the picture to the right swarmed in around the young men, a very interesting thing happened.     The young ladies sat down, and all of the boys got up and left.    Appearances can be deceiving, but I digress.

So back to the lead picture.   What gives?    Well, you see, this was a university business club trip.    My friend and roommate and I were preparing to leave for the airport to return home after a fun week in Los Angeles with friends, and my friend suggested he take my picture by the hotel lobby sculpture.    That picture follows here.  Bus as he was taking the picture, this “gaggle” of young ladies walked into the lobby where we were sitting.     “Take our picture, too”, was the cry.      You have to remember the context: in this era before digital photography and instant viewing and sharing, we didn’t take very many pictures.    Film, it was called film; and developing.    It could get expensive, and it took time.    But I digress.     Appearances aside, these nice young ladies were friends and acquaintances, and a couple of them are even Facebook friends today (at least, before this post, that is)  but we were not that close before the trip, nor after.    Appearances can be deceiving.       Sorry, Judy, Laura, Krista, and Tanya.   Thanks for the fun picture, and the blog  application 23 years later.

Proverbs 20:8 says “When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence,
      distinguishing the bad from the good.

So, what’s the application here from this “sea of randomness” this morning?     It’s simply this:   let’s not be too quick to read, rule judgement, and react when we see things in our everyday life.    When you read that email, when you have that stress moment conversation at the home or at the office, or you get what feels like a curt brush off in the hallway at church, think about what might be going on in the background.    How is that person’s day, week, or year?     What is happening in their life?    what is happening in the interactions that go on between the two of you?      Do you need to work on the richness of your relationship?

So, back to the lead question?    Are you a playa?   Am I?     Relationshipwise, that is…

You see, not too many months after this original picture was taken, I met and cemented a rich relationship with the lovely young lady pictured below.    Thank you, Sherry, for not just going by appearances.

When I met my future father in law the first time, he called me a wolf in sheep’s clothing.    Months later, after he’d gotten to know me, he said I was a sheep in wolf’s clothing.    Touche?

But we’ve formed a rich relationship, not just my wife and I, but my father in law and I as well.    And I definitely earned the great prize, 21 years and counting.

Who knows, maybe I was a playa after all….appearances can be deceiving.

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Great old movie tune that will have you singing today.    If you don’t know it, find it on YouTube or iTunes…

You’ve got to accentuate the positive

 Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum

Have faith or pandemonium

 Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark

What did they do Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better

Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

 Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

No, do not mess with Mister In-Between Do you hear me, hmm?

(Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear About the elininatin’ of the negative And the accent on the positive)

 And gather ’round me children if you’re willin’ And sit tight while I start reviewin’ The attitude of doin’ right

(You’ve gotta accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative Latch on to the affirmative Don’t mess with Mister In-Between)

You’ve got to spread joy (up to the maximum)

Bring gloom (down) down to the minimum

 Otherwise (otherwise) pandemonium

Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate (well illustrate) my last remark (you got the floor)

 Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark What did they say (what did they say) Say when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better

 Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

 Don’t mess with Mister In-Between No! Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

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It’s move in day at OC for Hannah Vaughn. After much anticipation, the day has finally arrived.

We spent last evening doing the expected, and a little of the unexpected. Mom fixed a special meal with a special dessert, all Gluten Free, of course. Hank and I then went out alone together to do a few final things to her car: a vacuum and wash, buying a few small fix it items from the auto parts store, and as she dubbed it “buying her one last fill up” before she left.

When we returned home, after the final work was done on her car, it was time to begin the packing of Mom’s SUV effort. As her brother and I reluctantly went about this task, he more reluctant than I, Hank and Mom sat down on the couch for one last read of “Miss Suzy”. This is one of the many, and I do mean many, childhood classics that fill a cabinet in our house. Sherry has always been great to read to the kids for hours when they were very young, and she still does today, when they will allow it. Miss Suzy, (“Miss Tuzzy”, from days gone by) however, is extra special. This copy of the book was Sherry’s, and was read to her at a young age by her mother and grandmother. If the Lord is willing and Gary England’s blood pressure does not rise (due to a pending tornado on Middleberry Road), I hope and plan to see these books being read to grandkids one day, especially Miss Suzy. “I love to clean, I love to bake, I think I’ll bake an acorn cake….”.

As written in this space in earlier times, the Bingham house is a “Chick Flick” venue deluxe. As Hannah was preparing to spend “the last night at home”, spending the last night in her room sharing time with little sis, they planned to watch a movie together. As fate would have it, the venue was moved to the living room, and all five of us stretched out together for another viewing of “You’ve Got Mail”. Seeing as how we’ve watched it probably a hundred times, I am not sure anyone was still awake at 12:15 when the credits rolled, myself included.

This is always a fun story to watch. A story of redemption, as discussed in this space before, but also a story of discovery. At the beginning last night, each of us commented on how we were looking for small details that we’d failed to notice before. Mine was the opening “walk thru Manhattan” tune that is such a familiar part of the movie. Only, this time, I listened to the words a little more closely. Seems like a good way to close this particular post, and give a happy send off to Hannah on this big day. Yes, we all acknowledge that it’s only across the street, but it is a life changing moment. Things will not be the same after 7:30 am today.

Hannah, as you begin your own “Journey of a Million Miles”, around the corner and around the world, these words seem to be an appropriate send off. We love you.

Oh, my life is changing everyday,
In every possible way.
And oh, my dreams, it’s never quiet as it seems,
Never quiet as it seems.
I know I’ve felt like this before, but now I’m feeling it even more,
Because it came from you.
And then I open up and see the person falling here is me,
A different way to be

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Moved the blog to WordPress today.   Not sure how the transition is going to go, but we’ll give it a shot.    WP seems to be the choice of friends, and has more expressive opportunities to offer.

One of the big changes is the name of the site.    What’s in a name?    Well, that likely depends on the perception of the reader, as I’m not able to explain it to all.   Accordingly, here’s a little background.   

The new name is pretty much self explanatory.   As for the old name: In college (as a student), many of my friends called me “Bing” or “Dr. Bingham”.    Not sure how the latter got started, but it did.    As I was setting up blogger two years ago on a whim with a friend and with Sherry, “Dr. Bing” sounded fun.    Now that I’m actually posting, and I think people are actually reading, it’s time for a change.    I’m not a Dr: Phd, EDd, JD, MD, DO, OD, or any such accomplishment, nor do I want to pretend to be.

As for “Bing, Jeffrey Bing”, the James Bond reference is obvious.   Now, I don’t live the life of Bond, nor do I wish to even think about doing so, but the movie franchise is fun.    As a product of the mid 80’s, I relate more to the Timothy Dalton Bond, the one who seemed to care about others, cared about one woman, and whose main movie was filmed in Vienna.

So, “drjbingcpa” is gone, but “Bing, Jeffrey Bing”, lives on.    Happy reading.

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“If I could save time in a bottle….” It’s an old song that my dad played a lot one year, and I never really appreciated it. I’ve often seen time capsules different places and wondered why people would do something like that. I never appreciated or understood the significance.
In the past year, I have experienced a couple of time capsules of different varieties. The first was a museum in Vienna, and a room containing all of the artifacts related to the event that started the First World War. The car, the uniform, the guns, photos of the event and the assassins, and the conviction papers of the assassins that began the chain of events. I’ve never experience goose bumps in a museum before, but I did that day.
This past week, I traveled to Fort Worth to help my parents clean out my grandmother’s house. My grandmother has been living in a nursing home in my parent’s town for the past two years, and is still amazingly alert and vibrant at almost 96 years of age. She moved into her last house in Fort Worth about 45 years ago, and very little has moved in the house since my grandfather passed away 42 years ago. Things came into the house, she placed them somewhere important, and there they stayed until my trip into the house last week.
I have no memory of my Dad’s father. He suffered from lung cancer and died when I was about 20 months old. I first found some books with his signature in them. I later found multiple copies of his obituary, which I had never seen. I then found a slip of paper in grandmother’s handwriting bearing his final, terminal, diagnosis. The hospital billing, a copy of the check paying for his funeral expenses, and even his last wallet. It is like new, brown leather, still soft and uncracked. It has resided in a tight plastic bag for the past 42 years, still containing many of his personal items that he carried with him up until the time he died. Much of my life I have wondered about him. What was he like, what did he value, etc. Going thru the wallet gave me new insight, and the goose bumps returned yet again.
Other lessons from the time capsule? Stuff. We all have so much of it. What will become of it when we are gone? Much of grandmother, and grandfather’s, stuff has come back to our house in Oklahoma, and some to my office. I have so many things stored in our attic. Will my kids be the ones to pull that stuff down and go thru it when I’m gone one day? When will that day be, and how will I be remembered? What will people, maybe my kids or grandkids, learn about me from what I leave behind?
A good man from our church had a stroke this morning. After a long day at work, my wife and I ran out to see his family, and hopefully him, at the hospital tonight. He died shortly after we arrived at the hospital, only a few minutes after I left his room with his son. He was a great man, had a servant heart, and will be remembered by many. A couple of moments after he died, one of his daughters stepped into the waiting room and said “He is in Heaven now”. I know from what was said of him that he touched and influenced many lives who will be there with him. I hope to live in such a way that many can say that of me one day, and that some will share Heaven because I was able to touch their life for Christ in some meaningful way. May that be a legacy, more than what someone finds in my office, my wallet, or my attic some day.

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