Monday, May 31, 2010

Saying thank you to Vicki

By now I guess you know that all my blogs are not about spiritual matters. I also know that I need to write more "biblical" thoughts in the days ahead. So bear with me because today I want to say a few words about Vicki.

I hope you've had a good Memorial Day weekend. Today was a really good day off for us and I enjoyed being with Vicki a great deal. The interesting thing was that while going for a little "early bird" dinner she remembered what I had forgotten. It was Memorial Day Monday 39 years ago today when we went out for the first time.

I had become enamored with her and finally asked her to go over to the lake near her home. I picked her up at the end of her road and we spent a few hours at the lake. In those days she was a woman of few words. I did the talking but in that first meeting I knew without any doubt that she was who I wanted to marry and by the end of September I achieved that goal. All that is an awesome story!

Life has not always been easy over 39 years but I cannot imagine a day without her. As my daughter says - mom is the glue that holds us all together. I agree. Today Vicki said the thing she was the proudest of in regards to our getting together are the children and grandchildren that came out of our relationship. Family means everything to my wife. She's been all I could ask for in a wife, mother, grandmother and especially partner in ministry.

Right now we have some stresses in our life and she has some physical issues she is trying to address. I just don't want to miss any opportunity to express how glad I am that we spent those few hours at Fellows Lake in Missouri on Memorial Day 1971. Falling in love with her was the best thing this flawed male has ever done.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pirates and Money - A Lesson

This week we had our son and his family visiting with us. In honor of our twins (age 3) recent birthday we took them on a theme event - the Pirate Cruise at Fort Myers Beach. We had a nice time but there was something I just couldn't get out of my mind and I think you may need to think about it as well.

First we called to make reservations and pay for tickets. At that time we were told how people come early and eat at a specific restaurant (connected to the Pirate Cruise of course). When we arrived they took our picture as a family and we boarded. On board we were encouraged to visit the bar for drinks and snacks. Then we were told about Pirate toys we could purchase for the kids. Then a crew member came by with the picture for another $10 and its hard to say no with them standing in your face and showing the picture to the children. Toward the end of the cruise we were invited to eat at the specific restaurant and also visit the Pirate store for more goodies. As if that wasn't enough out came the treasure chest to collect "tips" for the crew. This passed in front of you and when you walked off the boar there was a crew member holding out the "tip" chest as you passed by.

Now when you stop to think about how many times and ways your wallet was tapped for one event it adds up. But no one frowned or complained. Everyone went blindly along because we love good old American capitalism. We are all used to "anything to make a buck.'

What's my point? All this with no complaint by anyone yet somehow if we mention money at church we are crossing the line like unto a criminal offense. People get offended and I think we need to rethink those thoughts.

Church holds a far more essential place in our lives than an evening of entertainment. We count on the church to always be there for us and ready to do a successful job at providing ministry. So knowing about the churches financial position, being invited to participate in helping it be a continuing success and being offered options for involvement should make sense.

Just think about it - who do you really consider to be "pirates" - the needs of a church or the capitalism we face 24/7?

I can live with my pirate cruise excesses. I was honestly felt it was over the top but you know "it's just good business." I also know churches can go overboard in much the same manner but I think that there is a lack of balance. We should be much less offended when we are informed about the finances of the church and invited to participate. Certainly we cannot all participate the same but why be offended? At least the church does not make you pay for a high dollar ticket before you can get in and be fleeced.

Think about it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Words of honor

This will be the final post regarding the passing of my father. I'll try to soon get back to thinking out loud about spiritual and scriptural topics. I want to thank any and all who shared your love and support this week. I had a chance to say a few words about my dad at the funeral and I decided to post them here as many of you never had the priviledge of meeting him.

On behalf of my mom and all our family, thank you for coming today. I want to take a moment to honor my dad and share a few things I want you to know about him.

My dad was a hard worker. We didn’t spend a lot of time playing together. In the early years I just remember his working daylight to dark to provide for our family. Actually as a child I remember Dad would leave in the dark and return in the dark. Much of Dad’s self worth came from the satisfaction of a hard days work and he passed his same work ethic on to me.

Dad never made great sums of money and I never saw him spent anything at all on himself. (except for duct tape) He was very careful with his money. He would agonize over his check book and account for everything down to the last penny. He passed that habit of record keeping on to me as well.

My dad was a humble man who never liked confrontation. I never knew him to hold a grudge. He had a very soft heart. He cried easily. He passed that on to me as I have to my son. We are a family of men who are touched easily and we all cry, especially in church.

Dad loved God, church and ministry. But in my estimation his greatest joy was the 13 years after he reached 65 when he served as a Hospice Chaplain. He finally found his sweet spot in life caring for those who were dying and their families. It was the most fulfilled I ever saw my father. He had found his purpose. Hospice ministry called for the one thing he had above all else – a kind heart.

My dad kept his faith. We were a family raised in church and we’re still there after all these years, through all the good and all the worst that church life entails. If I started telling your stories about dad they would all have church in them somewhere. I don’t know how he did it but I never saw my dad’s faith wavier. He loved the Lord – read his Bible insatiably and prayed always. Dad underlined everything he read, especially his Bible which was underlined multiple times so much so that it looked like he underlined every verse. He passed the habit of underlining to me as well.

My dad loved to talk to people. He could talk your ear off but at the same time make you feel like you were the center of the universe. Because of that people loved him.

After dad had vision problems and had to stop his work it was all down hill in terms of health. Toward the end much of his life was very confused. But I choose not to think about that today. Instead I choose to remember that he loved me and when others weren’t he was always proud of me. I know he spent his life always trying to do the right thing. He was truly a good man. My uncle, Weber, always said that Dad was one of the twelve apostles.

I will miss my dad but I'm glad he has quietly slipped away to a place of peace and soundness of mind. I knew this day would come, I just didn’t think it would be this week. Dad, good bye for now and I'll do the best I can to keep the faith you passed on to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Value of Family

Today was my father's funeral. You only get to say that once in life so it was a significant day. This was an eventful and painful week leading us to this special service. It was special as we reflected on the impact of Dad's life. It was amazing how we benefited from hearing all the positive impact Dad had on the lives of others.

However that is not my main point tonight. I want to share with you about my immediate family, my children. Of their own choice and at significant expense Byron flew to Norfolk Va from PA and Jennifer flew in from Houston, TX. They loved their grandfather and have wonderful memories of him but the main reason they came was to be there for me. They loved their dad so much that they wanted to be here with me in my moment of loss and sorrow. You cannot top that as a father.

Jennifer has driven me everywhere and seen that I ate well. She and I have talked for hours about family, life, our beliefs and so much more. Byron had to come and go in the same day but he went aside with me when we first got there today. We sit alone and cried. He helped me process a lot of concerns. He came to listen. They showed me an enormous amount of love.

I will miss Dad. I thought I knew him pretty well but I learned even more about his greatness today. I also learned the value of the love of your children. I learned I am a blessed and honored man.

One other thing that impacted me regarded my wife. Vicki loved my father so much but she could not make the trip for a number of reasons. But when I walked into the funeral home today I had a overwhelming and renewed sense of love for her. I felt so aware of how much she means to me, how much I depend on her and need her. Tomorrow I fly home and I'm looking forward to seeing her.

Of course throughout the day I talked to people about my congregation. The more I talked about my church family the more I missed them. I shared with so many how much I gain each week by being outside as they arrive each Sunday. I'm so looking forward to Sunday and seeing the people God has called me to serve at this season. There will be plenty of hugs and handshakes to go around.

There are many difficult seasons in life but God provides for our needs. This week I did not realize how much I needed my children. God knew and there they were because He loves me and they do too. I am blessed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Dad is Gone

This is a picture of me and my dad in the spring of 2006. Sometime this morning dad passed away in his sleep. I thank God that his journey is finished and he is at peace.

My dad was a hard worker. He worked all the time to provide for our family and as such we did not have a close childhood of play like many children do. Dad worked a number of secular jobs related to the construction industry as well as his ministry. After I grew up Dad finished his college earning his degrees and served as a full-time pastor. However, his greatest joy was the 13 years after retirement that he kept working as a Hospice Chaplain. He was great at caring for others.

After dad had vision problems and had to stop his work it was all down hill in terms of health. Toward the end much of his life was very confused. He was a kind man, tried to avoid confrontation and always tried to do the right thing. He loved to talk to others sharing his life and theirs. He was a truly good man.

I will miss my dad but I'm glad he has slipped away to a place of peace and soundness of mind. I knew this day would come I just didn't think it would be today. Dad, good bye for now and I'll try to be a good son.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One Month - follow up

Its hard to believe that its been about a month since I wrote a post and its been a month since we lost our dear Yusnan. (see previous post). This morning I got a posting from Farid and I would encourage you to read and then view the video at the end. Feel the loss and the pain for sure but I share it with all who read because we need desperately reminded of how we need to live our lives. This could be my last day & I need to live it with kindness. Are you living for the right reasons? Do you have the right life goals? Will you regret this day or live it with kindness? Everything in this life is fleeting and there are only a few things that really matter.