About Me

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

Monday, April 28, 2014


(photo credit: timesdispatch.com)

At least 90% of the time, I write this blog from my rocking chair in my living room.  It is my place to meet with God each morning, consume much coffee, and be inspired. I’m working on getting my home office/man cave set up where I can work/write/record for long, uninterrupted periods of time, but the mornings will still begin in the rocking chair.

I've occasionally written from other places like church parking lots, coffee shops (coffee = necessary writing tool), and even waiting in line for the ferry to Vancouver Island.  Today it is the table in my dad’s dining room.

God came and took our Thingy (my stepmother: Life Matters, April 7) to be with Him early last Thursday morning. We celebrated her life with memorial services, conversations, food, friends, and music for all of this past weekend.  Now that most everyone has gone home,  Mrs. Sweetie and I decided to stay for a few more days and help Dad out with some things.

When I spoke at Thingy’s memorial service Saturday afternoon, I referenced a passage from Psalm 116.  The New Living Translation of verses 15-16 says, “The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.” [emphasis mine]

While meditating on those verses a couple of weeks back, it occurred to me that Thingy was about to be released from the chains of cancer, MS, and the wheelchair that has been her constant means of transportation for 20 years. 

As I shared those thoughts, I reminded those gathered that we should never say that she lost her battle with cancer.  Cancer did everything it could.  It took her final breath at 12:50 a.m. Thursday morning.  But since she is now more alive than she has ever been, cancer has walked away the loser.  Thingy was quite the athlete in her day and softball was one of her specialties.  I told them that, on Thursday morning, she slid head-first into home plate and God shouted, “Safe!”  Then she stood up, Jesus dusted her off, and she ran a victory lap around the bases.  Completely. Ultimately. Healed.

I share that thought today for a couple of reasons.  One is that I have chronicled my journey with her illness in my column and blog writing for the past several weeks--partly as my therapy and partly to share with you what God has been teaching me—and we all needed to write the closing paragraphs on this chapter.

Another reason is that I suspect someone (or several someone’s) reading this may be walking through some difficult days with one of your loved ones. Our lives matter so much to God that He wants us to see the big picture.  He wants us to see that those who belong to Him do not lose in death.

The chains are gone … Safe!

Question:  What do you need so that you can see the death of a loved one as a victory?

Leave me a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Let's Make it Simple.

As a long-time preacher, I appreciate preacher jokes.  Like the preacher who noticed his wife sitting on the front row holding a little sign with one word: KISS.  After the service, he told her how much her expression of affection encouraged him and that he almost blew her a kiss back in response.  She informed him that she was not blowing him a kiss.  She was reminding him to “Keep It Short & Simple”.

Or how about the seminary professor who told his “preacher boys” that there were three parts to a successful sermon: (1) Stand up and be seen; (2) Speak up and be heard; (3) Shut up and be appreciated.

Please do not use either of those messages on your pastor.

The late Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, was a preacher of sorts.  He certainly was not a Christ-following gospel preacher.  In fact, he was one weird and really “out there” dude.  But he had a message: “Simplify”.  If you use a smart phone, you can probably thank Steve Jobs (or curse him on those days when you would like to throw that smart-aleck piece of technology in the nearest dumpster).  There was a time when some of us carried a beeper to be reachable, a walk-man to take our music with us, and either a calendar/notebook or one of those little personal digital assistant things to keep up with important dates and appointments.  When we added a big ol’ mobile phone, we had a ton (or at least several pounds) of technology to carry around. Mr. Simplify started asking what would happen if all those could be combined into one simple piece of equipment and voila! Hello, iPhone!

(photo credit: idownloadblog.com)

Now, I don’t intend for this column to be an apologetic for Apple, iPhone, or technology of any sort.  I am a significant consumer and user of technology for both personal and professional purposes, but that is not relevant for this conversation.

My point today is that we all need to simplify.  I’m not talking about going back to a simpler time.  Though I can understand the appeal, that option is not really open to us culturally if we are going to fulfill the purpose God has for us in the world. I’m talking about a less complicated, convoluted, and frenetic approach to life.  I’m talking about listening to the Master of Simplicity (Jesus, not Steve Jobs), who said:

"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.’” (Matthew 6:31-33, New Living Translation)

We don’t need a more complicated message.  We need a clearer message.  We don’t need more stuff.  We need more focus on the reality that our lives really do matter to God.

And that is simply profound. 

Question: What is one thing you can do TODAY to regain that focus?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let's make history!

(photo credit: vimeo.com)

I want to begin this week’s blog with a heartfelt “thank you”.  Many of you shared wonderful comments on my blog (and in person) after last week’s posting about my Thingy.  The fact that you took the time to do that really means a lot to me. 

It may seem like this blog is about me.  After all, I am always telling my own stories.  I addressed this in a previous blog (“Dear Column Boy …”, December 10, 2012).  But honestly, this blog is about us. My perspective is that we are sharing the journey of life together.  I just don’t have to get written consent from me to share my own stories.

But I really am telling our story—yours and mine.  When I point out the humor in a situation, I want you to see the humor in your own life. Hopefully, the result will be that none of us takes ourselves too seriously.  When I talk about struggles, I want you to identify and remember that life ain’t always a bed of roses.  (This is why I write blogs columns, not articles. Articles are written by journalists who never get to use the word ain’t unless they are quoting someone.)

Whether we are laughing together or crying together, I want us to remember together that our lives matter to God.  Whether you are in His family yet or not, your life matters to Him.  Our stories are weaving in and out of His story.  In fact, I like to take out the space between the words “His” and “story” to get “history”.  Hindsight is only 20-20 if we look back and see the hand of God as He uses us to make history (His story).

Our lives also matter so much to Him that He doesn't want us only considering His story when we are looking backward.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

“I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."  (Jeremiah 29:11-14, The Message)

Did you catch that?  “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  We won’t be disappointed because our greatest desire will be to find God in our story.

I have no idea what next week’s topic will be or what story I will tell.  But I’m glad we are sharing this historical (and sometimes hysterical) journey.

Question: What will you do today to focus on making history?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your story.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hand me my Thingy.

(Grandpa & Thingy, April 5, 2014)

Have you ever had those moments when you needed something, but you didn’t know what to call it?  Maybe you called it a thingamajig, a doohickie, a whatchamacallit … but when you got it, you knew that it was absolutely perfect for the task at hand.

Our family has a Thingy. Her name is Sue, but to all of us, she is Thingy.  The whole story of how she got that name is “need to know”, so if you don’t know …

Thingy became my step-mother in 1985, a little over a year after my Sweetie became my Mrs.  I don’t think it is too strong a statement to say that, in many ways, Thingy and Dad rescued each other. If it wasn't a match made in heaven, it has been, at the very least, a great partnership and grand adventure. 

She has been Thingy to us from the beginning.  When Mrs. Sweetie and I called to tell them we were expecting their first grandchild, we told her she was going to be a Grand-Thingy.  It didn't take long for the grandchildren to simply make it Thingy.

She has filled our lives with laughter (often at her expense), wisdom (she is not particularly hesitant to share an opinion), fun (yes, “Thingy” fits), and a visible example of strength and courage.  Thingy has been completely wheelchair bound with Multiple Sclerosis for the past 20 years.  That is as long as some of her grandchildren have been alive and I’m not sure that any of them have anything more than a vague recollection of her being able to walk.  Thingy’s wheelchair has been a part of our lives.

(Thingy being Thingy, April 5, 2014)

Last September, she was diagnosed with cancer.  Surgery to remove her bladder came in October.  Two weeks ago, tests revealed that the cancer has returned aggressively and is in lungs and liver and is spreading through her bloodstream. It appears that, in a few short months, God is going to say, “Hand me my Thingy.”

She had all her kids and grand-kids with her this past weekend.  We laughed, told stories, and made plans for her memorial celebration.  We all went together to her church, where she led the children’s sermon. There were some tears once in awhile, but it was not a somber time.  She told me she doesn't want any “draggy” songs at her memorial celebration.  So I promised her none of us would come in drag.

Since my life is lived out in my column/blog, I knew I would be writing about her at some point.  I decided I wanted to write it now, while she is still here to read it.  So, indulge me for a moment. 

Thingy, I love you with all my heart. I could not have asked for a better partner for Dad, a second mom for me, or a better Grand-Thingy for my children.  Someday we are going to run laps in Heaven.

The wheelchair stays here.