The shed

I finished mowing the lawn today and as I closed up the shed where I store the lawn mower, I looked at the little bolt at the top of the door. It is designed to keep the double doors flush to the frame. A clasp lock lower down puts the two doors together and that’s where the padlock keeps the shed secure. The little bolt is not high for an adult to reach and loosen to open the doors, but for a kid it’s a bit of a challenge.

Almost every time I take hold of that little bolt now I’m thrown back to an image years ago. When we first got the shed our boys were little. I think our oldest wanted to go out and ride his bike so he went out to get the bike out of the shed. I can remember so vividly watching from the back door as he went right to the door, unlocked the padlock, then leaped up to undo the little bolt. It was beyond his reach standing there, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. A couple of leaps and he had it loose and the doors came open.

Each of the boys then grew and took turns taking care of the lawn. They are all grown and gone now and it’s up to me to get the mower out and take care of the lawn.

The little bolt today threw me once again back to watching that scene and reflecting on how fast last moves. In two very short days our youngest son gets married. He is marrying a wonderful young lady we are so proud to welcome into the family. All three boys will be there. Our oldest with his wife and they are expecting our first grandchild. Our middle son working hard and making his way in life.

Adult young men and I’m left wondering… how did that happen so fast?

I finished Don Meyer’s wonderful book, The Distinguishing Mark of Leadershipyesterday and Dr. Meyer asks a key question that he has modeled all of his life: what is my legacy?

This Saturday I will be gathered with my legacy. Three incredible sons. Two daughters-in-law. A grandbaby on the way. An amazing wife.

Our children are part of the greatest legacy we can live for this planet, and for the Kingdom of God. They will have the opportunity to live out the values of generations that have gone before. I pray I have fulfilled the legacy of my parents and grandparents. They are giants to me.

Our children are the testimony to the world of God’s faithfulness and the hope of what they can do to extend the beauty of the Kingdom well past our time on this planet.

I love that shed every time I go to mow the lawn. I take hold of that little bolt and I think of three boys, now men, and how proud I am to be called their dad.

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Year 49

I’ve contemplated this year… for all of 5 minutes.

In this year: We will have relocated our church and relaunched ministry,  welcomed our second daughter in law to the family,  and become a grandpa.

Quite the year I’m find myself halfway through.

My Christmas Wish List

I don’t get asked a lot, but every once in awhile someone will ask what I want for Christmas.

This year I’ve said the same thing: World Peace.

I just don’t have a Christmas wish list. My life is full.

My family is doing well. My wife and I are having a great time as we watch our sons mature. We’ve had a house full of young adults this fall who are making their way in life and that has been nice, actually. No big struggles. We’ve actually had them successfully sit down with us every week for a house meeting, which I couldn’t do with my sons once they hit high school!

Our church is on a new trajectory as the Lord challenges us to dig deeper into our community. This next year will be full of incredible new territory for us!

At my point in life, while I can always enjoy a good book and a great cup of coffee, what is possible for a Christmas wish list?

A question I’ve challenged myself with over the past several months is this: Is it well with my soul?

In this season, that answer is “yes.”

But could someone please work on that world peace thing for me?

God bless us… everyone.

Framily

I got to experience what the Sprint commercial calls “framily” on this trip. My wife and I traveled to Kansas for my high school reunion. The weekend was filled with family get togethers intertwined with reunion activities.

We caught up with old friends and had wonderful conversations.

We had family meals and caught up on family news.

We even got to explore a bit more of my home state by taking my parents to the Eisenhower museum in Abilene.

It has been a trip full of joy and gratitude. And “framily”.

Random Weekend Thoughts

We had a fast and furious trip to Duluth to see our son in the musical “Pippin.” As I drive I have a lot of thoughts tumble through, none of which I can remember for very long. To develop them is a lot of fun… but maybe for another time… and privately.

Some thoughts along the way:

— We heard the news of the Malaysia Airlines flight being shot down, then of Israel invading Gaza. In the midst of all that I thought of an extended novel idea regarding the two Malaysian flights that have gone down this year. A rather good spy novel I know nothing about, so I’m sure Nelson DeMille will figure out something and really do it justice.

— On Russia, and the Middle East affair, what if the world just quit doing business in those areas? Just. Stopped. Not out of hatred for one side or another, but out of CONCERN for all involved. Let the world give these regions a “time out” by feeling a nice economic punch. FIFA needs to step up and do something moral for the first time in their existence: Threaten to take the World Cup elsewhere in four years. Long shots all, but drive time gives me a lot of time to think stupid crazy thoughts.

— Pippin is an amazing musical, at least the adaptation my son’s group did. It is a great morality play that finally lets people know they want to chase crazy dreams when normal may just be okay. We too often play to the edge and forget that Christ wants to take us to the center. Finding Christ the Center, we will understand how Christ was so attractive to the edges… and he drew them in to him. He didn’t leave them “out there.” Normal is okay, folks.

— Driving home was the best of all. There was a stretch of road where I reflected on three incredible sons, an amazing wife, the tremendous blessings amid the tremendous challenges… and I realized it is well with my soul.

Amazing blessings all.

The extraordinary in the ordinary

Whenever I get tempted to think about a “significant” life in a way that means more “notoriety,” I will remember by grandmother. We laid her to rest today. She was 98 when she passed from this life to the next.

She invented nothing.

She wrote no books.

She starred in no movies.

She was born when radio, TV, automobile travel, computers, cell phones, and possibly even phones, were all just thought of or LONG into the future. She learned to use a cell phone at the age of 90, but everything else was a mystery to her in our digital age.

Very… ordinary.

And she had four children, ten grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren.

She loved God. She adored her family. She lived loving people.

In that very ordinary life was an extraordinary woman who had dozens and dozens of family members show up for a funeral, along with scores and scores of friends. All knew she loved Jesus and loved them.

In the ordinary we find the extraordinary. A steady life living out what Jesus said to do.

It’s all it takes for ANY of us…

 

The passing from this “life” to the “next”

My grandmother passed away this morning. As I have reflected on her life through the day, I have also been drawn into my own mortality, my walk with Jesus, and thinking of Dallas Willard at his passing.

When Dallas Willard passed, John Ortberg noted Dallas wondered if it would take some time before he knew he had passed from one dimension to another. Ortberg wrote:

He said that a person is a series of conscious experiences, and that for the one who trusts and follows Jesus, death itself has no power to interrupt this life, for Jesus said that the one who trusts in him will not taste death.

My grandmother trusted and followed Jesus. Death has no power over her. We knew she was so ready to “go home.”

I long for my life to be lived in the presence of Jesus. I long for it so deeply that I truly want that experience I know Dallas Willard and probably my grandmother had… it could take awhile before you realize something’s changed in a particular dimension because you’ve walked so closely with Jesus here, it just seems “natural” that, well, here he is.

My grandmother was the constant in my life. Her memory will ever be that place for me. She now sees face to face what she has longed for these past days. She is home.

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Generosity

The ability to live a generous life has nothing to do with an income level. Paul gives this testimony about the church in Macedonia:

 While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. (2 Cor. 8:2)

When I was growing up I had no idea how “little” my parents really had because they were always so incredibly generous. If they came on someone who had a need, they would share out of what they had in their home. Over the years they housed and fed whole families. They were in the TV and appliance business and Dad was constantly giving away his services in repair and installation to people who needed it. They lived with incredible generosity.

I remember one delivery my dad made when I was in high school. A man had purchased a TV antenna. (They used to have those things, and they went on the outside of the house.) Dad had delivered it to him, but the man had said he would install it himself and save the installation charge.

We delivered the antenna and my dad started asking a few key questions to get an idea of how much this guy really knew so he would successfully install the antenna. I was a teenager and thinking only of getting out of there and back to the warm store, but I knew as Dad was asking this guy questions, the man had no clue as to what was needed to put up the antenna. I also knew what was next: Dad was going to come back to the truck, get his tools, and put the thing up for the guy… no charge.

He would hire guys to help him out at the store who just needed the work.

They would give of their resources and time to churches. Whole buildings went up with my dad’s skills. They have lived with incredible generosity. And they are not wealthy in any worldly sense of the word.

They are immensely rich spiritually. I am so immensely rich spiritually because of the heritage they have passed along to me.

I don’t need a huge income to live generously. I can take my meager skills and give them in places that may not “compensate” me in the way I could get in some other place. I want to give my best to people no matter their lot in life because I want to live generously.

It’s amazing what Paul says about adversity and generosity. It was hard times that drove the Macedonian church to generosity. This I can testify about my own church. In a current economic climate where churches are seriously challenged for resources, I have watched my congregation struggle through those same tough times and STILL give beyond what I can believe. We have taken up amazing offerings for people, supported MORE missionaries, and watched the hand of God take us through some deep valleys. There is a sense of joy and awe in the midst of the hard time.

I don’t have to believe my bank account to live generously. For that, I am so deeply thankful!