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Blogger, Christ-follower, Encourager, Friend, Husband, Dad

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reach Out and Touch Someone

In 1979 a commercial debuted on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The intent of the commercial was two-fold: (1) to get people to make more long distance calls and (2) to soften AT&T’s image as the big bad phone company monopoly. The commercial’s clever jingle asked people to reach out and touch someone … call up and just say hi … wherever you are, you’re never too far …

Some of you remember those commercials, as well as the rotary dial phones we were using back in the day. I remember calling home “collect” from a pay phone my first year of college. It was the only way available to reach out and touch the folks back at home. Ah, those were the days!

I got touched in a whole different way yesterday. If you look closely at the dust on the dented bumper of my Kia you can actually read a portion of the license plate number of the vehicle that hit me from behind and punched me across into the oncoming traffic, where my front bumper gently kissed the front bumper of another car. The touches were coming from everywhere!

People do a lot of things they shouldn’t do while driving (and I admit that I have often been guilty myself). Things like texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup (haven’t done that one), watching videos, reading, having lunch. With all those things going on, it is no wonder there are so many unintentional “touches” on the roads out there. And when those near-misses or non-misses occur you sometimes are tempted to reach out and touch someone “upside their head” as we used to say out in West Texas.

I realized yesterday after I got touched on both bumpers that I had a choice as to how I reached back. The fellow that hit me was really apologetic, and that helped my choice a lot. But I still could have given him a piece of my mind and lectured him on safe driving practices. That wouldn’t have helped his attitude or his driving. It also wouldn’t have made my car any less dented. It could have made me look like a jerk and that is not the person I want driving around in my car.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NLT)

We may not have much control over how others reach out and touch us. We do have a choice about how we reach back. On this particular day, I chose to celebrate that we were both up and walking around. I had an opportunity to be an encouragement to him, to two police officers, and to several other people with whom I had conversations immediately following our little non-miss.

Do I always get it right? Are you kidding! But I want to, because I understand that my life matters to my Lord and He wants me to use it to encourage others. Your life matters, too.

Now, go call up someone and just say hi

Monday, May 23, 2011

Making God Smile

My facial hair is growing back. It is not so much that I already got tired of the nekkid face, but that I just spent the past week on vacation. There are several items that are not allowed to participate with me on vacation: computer, wristwatch, razor. These items are especially unwelcome when the vacation is what has come to be known as The Annual Guy Trip.

The Annual Guy Trip is where I take my son and my son-in-law to some manly place for manly activities like hiking, fishing, rafting, eating lots of meat and other non-healthy foods (in fact, with the exception of one day, our only vegetables were green chiles and guacamole). This year’s trip was to a friend’s cabin in a remote canyon in northern New Mexico. It was rustic, beautiful and isolated. Our host told us to watch for a 600 pound black bear that had been seen frequently on that side of the canyon. We never saw him, but we did our hiking on the other side of the canyon, supposing that he knew where his boundaries were. We did see some fresh bear tracks near the private lake where we went trout fishing, but we never saw the bear. We did see deer, elk, squirrels, some young bald eagles hunting prairie dogs, and some amazingly beautiful scenery. And did I mention that we consumed a lot of red and green chile?

I have to confess that what I enjoyed most about the trip has not yet been mentioned. All that stuff was great, but what really inspired my prayers of thanksgiving to God happened after bed time. The old man couldn’t stay up as late as the boys, so I went to bed first each night. Lying in the dark and listening to their laughter and conversations, I was so appreciative of their relationship with each other. They are not just brothers-in-law. They are brothers and friends. And not only do they enjoy each other, they enjoy hanging out with me! I love my boys!

It makes me think of a couple of things that I think really make God smile. One is when His kids want to spend time with Him. Another is when His kids get along with (dare I say love) each other. He really loves His boys (and girls) and that’s why our lives really matter to Him.

Even when we skip our vegetables.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Midlife Crisis: The Nekkid Truth

My son texted, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!” (I actually deleted several letters to save space).

My daughter posted on Facebook, “My father’s mid-life crisis is giving me a mental breakdown … don’t ask. I’m sure he will explain himself.” (I can only imagine what people could only imagine).

My wife said, “Who are you?”

What created this crisis among my loving and supportive family? I have a hairless face, with a nekkid upper lip, for the first time since 1981. (Yes, that is the West Texas spelling of a word that means to be uncovered). Now, there really is a point to my writing about this that has very little to do with facial hair. I just think all the reactions have been funny. I must say that I did not anticipate the level of discomfort it has created for my offspring. Maybe I should have forewarned them? And just so you know what a thoughtful husband I am, I did indeed give Mrs. Sweetie a few days advance warning.

My kids say I look like their Grandpa. My friends say I look like my son. I take both statements as compliments. I happen to think I am the peanut butter in the middle of a pretty good-looking genetic sandwich (at least the bread on both ends is pretty good-looking). But that is just my opinion.

Psychologically, I think at the 30 year mark of hairy-lippedness, and some challenging midlife questions of what the next few years will look like, I needed to shave down to the basics and see that I am still me. It is not exactly the same face I remember (19 years old and an expert on life), but it is familiar.

I saw a sign not long ago that said, “Be yourself … everyone else is taken.” I like it! My current appearance is not who I am. What is on the inside …the character the Lord is developing in me … the husband, son, father, friend, child of God … that’s who I am. The Bible says that the Lord knows how many hairs are on my head (Matthew 10:30). Neither the color nor the quantity causes a crisis for Him. He has given me the freedom to do with it what I will. He just wants me to honor Him in the way I conduct my life.

I’m probably growing most of it back soon, not because it’s who I am, but because I still like it (and so apparently does my family). It is not my hair, but my life that matters most to Him.

Your life matters, too.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Waiting to Exhale

The title of this post may sound familiar to you. There was a movie by the same name a few years ago (1995). I didn't see the movie and I don't know what it was about, but I remember the title. It popped into my head as I was thinking about what I was going to write for this edition of Life Matters.

If that seems to you like a strange thing to suddenly pop into one's head, I should let you know a couple of things. First of all, one should never be surprised at anything that pops into this increasingly gray head. Secondly, it didn't pop without a trigger. I have for the past few months been reading through a Psalm per day in my morning devotional time. This morning was Psalm 150 and it ends with these words:

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6, NLT)

Many mornings as I spend time contemplating the Word of the Lord, I enjoy posting to Facebook and Twitter a portion of scripture along with a few words of my own reflection. This morning I posted the whole Psalm along with these words, "I am breathing, so I need to be praising." I thought it was pretty good, though I might be alone in that assessment. I had a picture in mind of inhaling the presence of the Lord and exhaling His praise.

Then I left the house. Work interrupted my day off. Thoughts began creeping in of some of the difficult situations that are a part of my current reality. Even the "to do" list that I intended for my day off began to seem like just a series of tedious events. And to top it all off, I needed to find a place and time to compose this post.

As I sat in a local business that offers free internet (technology is so awesome!), I started this contemplation ... my intent on leaving the house was to be exhaling His praise throughout the day. Oops! Apparently, I have been waiting to exhale. Waiting until I knocked out the "to do" list. Waiting until I wasn't feeling overwhelmed ... or interrupted ... or distracted ... or ...

So, while the folks around me may not know it, God is getting a pretty good dose of my praise right here in this corner booth. There is so much about the life He has given me that should inspire that praise. I feel like I have taken one of those "deep cleansing breaths" that I have heard about. Now that I'm breathing again, a car inspection and a lawnmower await. And I am so glad He has provided both.

Breathe deep. Your life matters.