31 December 2009

24 December 2009

Christmas firsts, and Christmas lasts

Sometimes Christmas is a Christmas of firsts. Our first Christmas together, [my now-ex-wife] got up early and came back to announce that she was pregnant with our first child Timothy. She did this having not yet learned that I run on 7 cylinders until about 10am (despite her insistence that I once threw a pillow at her for tryin to wake me, a charge I still deny but one to which I must plead no contest since, IF I did it, I certainly wouldn’t remember doing it).

1998 brought us a Christmas of lasts. My dad died just after midnight on 29 December. Sometimes, Christmas is both. 2007 found our family celebrating our first Christmas in Oregon. We didn’t know it at the time, but it would also be my mom’s last. She died 15 December 2008, two weeks short of ten years after my dad.

2007 would also be a last for another reason we didn’t know at the time: our last as a family together, as [my now-ex-wife] and I separated in September 2008. Thus was 2008 to be forever known as our first Christmas living apart, although thankfully and with much praise to God (and a break in the worst snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest in 40 years), we were able to spend Christmas Eve and day in the same place, and renew a Christmas Eve tradition that we have not missed in 16 years: a reading of the Christmas Story from the Book of Luke, and the opening of any one present of the children’s choosing, before eggnog and bedtime.

Now we arrive at Christmas 2009, which will also be a Christmas of firsts and a Christmas of lasts. For the first time in 16 years, we’ll read the Christmas Story via speakerphone, an equitable compromise that gives [my now-ex-wife] Christmas Eve and early morning with the kids, while I have Christmas Day and the day after with them. She’ll be taking them to a friend’s church for Christmas Eve services, while I arrive on the late train and set up a Christmas morning surprise for my middle child.

Christmas 2009 will be a last for [my now-ex-wife] and I as our 17 year marriage will end sometime in January. It will also usher in many firsts as we continue to work together to do what’s best for the kids. Although there’s ample reason to be sad, I am thankful that she and I are working together well (for which I hereby publicly thank her) to arrange my visits with the kids as often as vacation time and finances will allow. I’m back to taking the train most trips, as my truck still needs a $550 wheel bearing :^/ but hopefully we can soon resume meeting halfway and letting the kids stay here in Salem. Now that gas has gone back up, it’s a little more expensive than the train, but the kids like seeing their Salem friends when time allows and it makes for a bit more of a break for the routine for them. Like an adventure, which it certainly is cramming into my 1br apt with 3 kids, me, a dog, and a cat that has decided she LIKES having the place all to herself!

But with all the firsts and all the lasts, happy ones and sad ones, we can all still celebrate this Christmas because the REASON we celebrate has not, and will not, change: We celebrate because, a long, long time ago, in a little backwater town in Judea, in a little backwater stable behind a backwater inn, something happened that would reach everywhere and everyone, even you, if you find yourself in your own little backwater situation this Christmas, even in the Cave of Adullam:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

20 December 2009

I'll be home for Christmas...

but only in my dreams. As someone once said, you can't go home again. But if I could, 20 years, give or take, would be just about right.

05 December 2009

"Can you hear me...can you hear me running..."

Thoughts anyone? I remember loving this song on MTV some 20-odd years ago. Wondering if the songwriter knew something the rest of us didn't. Then the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR declared Ch.7, and the thought of needing an underground resistance in our lifetime seemed ludicrous. Now the Russian bear has awakened and remembered he once had claws, Iran thinks it can build a N-Bomb (and for some unfathomable reason, thinks Israel will hesitate to do whatever is necessary to wipe out their nuke facilities), Radical Islam is waging a small-scale, but wide-spread guerrilla war, while we're too "enlightened" to call it a "war" even though THEY do, and by the time we need them the most, our government just might have already maxed out our credit cards (for that is what Treasury Notes are) on bailout and benefits, and we may find ourselves with no one to defend us but ourselves.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." Unknown, usually attributed to Alexander Tytler. (and yes, I know we're not actually a democracy)

For further reading, take a look at this article. (note the dateline, you can read the abstract without subscribing) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed isn't the first terrorist to have been tried in criminal courts. Reckon his defense strategy will be history repeating itself?

26 November 2009

Thanksgiving Day...

The final day of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

One year ago today, in the early hours of the morning, my mother went into the hospital. She lingered for three weeks, passing away at age 84 on 15 December 2008, two weeks shy of ten years after my father died. Today, I wrap up just over two weeks of daily posts, in response to a challenge issued by a not-so-old dear friend; to be thankful for something each day, still having so many things for which to be thankful. On this day, I am thankful that, although it may be a long while, or this afternoon, I will see my mother and father again, along with many, many others who have crossed the vale before me.

25 November 2009

Day 14...

of The Thanksgiving Challenge.
Tonight, I'm grateful for the ball of fur sitting behind my head on the back of my recliner. When we split up, she took the dog and I got the cat. Except when she wakes me up at 3AM batting me with her paw wanting to be scratched, she's a lot better than coming home to an empty apartment every night. Or when she pees in the dirty clothes... or gets into the trash... or "forgets" how to "cover it up!"

24 November 2009

Day 13...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful for my freedom, and those who have paid for it in blood. For the freedom to sit securely and unthreatened in my recliner and post any dang thing I want to, while listening to news stories of others doing the same thing, protesting this or that, demanding this or that, pontificating on such diverse subjects as foreign policy, military strategy, healthcare, insurance, macroeconomics, and global weather patterns with no more credentials to do so than the cat currently resting above my head. The double-edged sword of freedom of speech is that everyone else has that right, too, so that in our country, you have the right to be a blithering idiot if you so chose. Your right to speak doesn't mean you necessarily have anything important to say.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." --Ronald Reagan

23 November 2009

Day 12...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I am thankful for the gift of laughter!

Fair warning if you're not familiar with Jeff Dunham, there's a few bad words and a couple of crude bodily references.

22 November 2009

Day 11...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

View Trailer.

Today, I am thankful that I had the opportunity this afternoon to see one of the most remarkable movies I've ever seen. The Blind Side is the incredible true story of Michael Oher, former Ole Miss Rebel and first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 draft. Born on 28 May 1986 in Memphis, Tennessee, Oher grew up in as tough a situation as any young man can face: a broken home, public housing in Memphis' Hurt Village (which, remarkably, was built in the 1950's as an all-white development), a crack-addicted mother, separated from his "family" as a young child, Oher was on a familiar path to nowhere. Blessed (or cursed) with tremendous size, Michael is befriended by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy white family and strident Ole Miss fans. The movie follows Michael as he goes from homelessness to standing on the stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

I won't get into a great deal of detail about the movie, because you owe it to yourself to see it. But I do want to point out a few of the things that made this movie, which certainly could have been a trite, contrived tearjerker, a must see.

Sandra Bullock (besides being unspeakably HOT) delivers one of the best performances (grade her on a curve, folks) I've ever seen from her as Leigh Ann Tuohy. She nails the woman who faces down a street thug who thought it would be okay to call her a "bitch," informing him that she is "in a Bible Study with the DA, a member of the NRA, and ALWAYS packin!" (her next line is a great one, too) Luckiest man on earth goes to Sean Tuohy. What man wouldn't dream of having Tim McGraw chosen to play him? (BTW, Tim McGraw: Hair Club for Men client? YOU be the judge)

Stealing scenes right and left, the Tuohy's son "S.J." is played by Jae Head. He is pure gold as Michael's "agent" as he is recruited by a bevy of SEC coaches making cameos as themselves, including former Arkansas head coach and current Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. None of the coaches (incredibly) do a terribly convincing job playing themselves, but you'll notice that Nutt's filmography contains only one entry. There's a reason.

Adriane Lenox turns in a brief but gritty, emotional performance as Oher's mother, meeting Leigh Anne Tuohy for the first time as Leigh Anne tries to find out more about a young man who seems to have gone unnoticed and unmissed for his first 16 years.

But the best performance of the movie has to be little-known actor Quinton Aaron, who plays the starring role, in spite of the top billing Sandra Bullock receives. Aaron is a raw nerve throughout the movie as he moves from homeless castaway to NFL millionaire. He NAILS the shy vulnerability of a young man sleeping on a "friend's" couch, overhearing the family argument that spells the end of his stay with them, and the beginning of actual homelessness. Without a word, he is amazing as he washes his one spare shirt in the sink at a coin-op laundry and sneaks it into another woman's dryer load.

One of the most emotional moments in the film occurs when Michael takes S.J. to the store to get a video game, going old school with Young MC's 1989 hit "Busta Move." What happens next, after paramedics explain to Leigh Anne that S.J. is lucky to be alive, must been seen to be appreciated.

As a lifelong Ole Miss Rebel fan, one of my great regrets is that, despite living only 70 or so miles from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, I never made time to attend a home game, or to experience the incomparable tailgating experience of The Grove (a situation unlikely to be corrected, exiled as I am now in Oregon). Today, I added a regret to my list: that I slept through Michael Oher's career at Ole Miss, knowing they had phenomenal left tackle, but not knowing they had a phenomenal young man.

21 November 2009

Day 10...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I'm thankful for the gift of recreation, and my favorite season: Football season!!

20 November 2009

Day 9...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful that I need not know what the future holds as long as I am held by Him who holds the future. And it's a darn good thing, 'cause I sure don't know!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future." Jer. 29:11

19 November 2009

Day 8...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am grateful for an anchor in this storm. Nothing happens by accident, nothing is beyond His power, no one is beyond His love, and no tear that falls ever escapes His notice. When things that look so perfect don't happen, and injustice carries the day. When I can't seem to say/do/be the right things. When I don't understand, when I can't find His plan, when I can't trace His hand... I can trust His heart.

18 November 2009

Day 7...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I'm grateful that God believes in 2nd chances (and 3rd, and 4th...). When daydreams turn into nightmares, God can take our shattered hopes and fashion them into something beautiful.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." Psalm 62:5

17 November 2009

Day 6...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful for my church family and friends that have stood by me through this past very difficult year. You never know how much a simple hug can mean, or how much it means simply to have someone come over and sit with you until you go to church alone.

One such friend shared this with me today, and it meant enough to me to share with y'all today:

Do not ask to have your life's load lightened, but for courage to endure. Do not ask for fulfillment in all your life, but for patience to accept frustration . Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom not to repeat mistakes. Finally, do not ask for more before saying Thank you Lord for what You have already done for me.

16 November 2009

Day 5...

...of the Thanksgiving Challenge

Today I'm thankful that in two short months my Ram will be paid for, and (although it needs a $550 wheel bearing) it still runs and drives just fine! The body has a few scars, and a couple of the joints creak (come to think of it, it's a lot like its owner!), but at 106K it's still doing just what I need it to do!

Taken a few months ago on a rural backroad between Auburn and Maple Valley, Washington (the air bag light has been on for years).

15 November 2009

Day 4...

of the Thanksgiving challenge.

I'm thankful for a secure job which insures that the few extra pounds around my middle, although not sexy, prove that I have more to eat today (and tomorrow) than more than 12 million children in the United States alone. On second thought, I'm not just thankful, I'm more than a little bit ashamed.

So I did something about it.

Day 3...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge

Today, I'm thankful for relatively good health. No serious ailments, just a lil out of shape and a lil snap-crackle-pop in the old joints now and then!

14 November 2009

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good..."

A few days ago, someone gave me a challenge: everyday through Thanksgiving Day, post one thing you are thankful for.

I started yesterday with:

"Day one: A Savior, whose mercy I can't comprehend, whose grace I don't deserve, and whose love I can never lose."

Day Two is today:

"Day Two: my 3 kids, the best kids a Dad could ask for!"

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Three.

06 November 2009

Why? by Rascal Flatts... amongst others.

Death isn't the only way someone can go away, never to be seen again.

You must have been in a place so dark
you couldn't feel the light
reachin' for you through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered in our little hometown
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were masking
a troubled soul, God only knows
what went wrong
and why
you'd leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now in my mind I'll keep you frozen
as a seventeen-year-old
rounding third to score the winning run
You always played with passion
no matter what the game
when you took the stage
you'd shine just like the sun

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were masking
a troubled soul, oh, God only knows
what went wrong
and why
you'd leave the stage
in the middle of a song

Now the oak trees are swaying
in the early autumn breeze
A golden sun is shining on my face
Through tangled thoughts I hear
a mockingbird sing
This old world really ain't that bad a place

Oh why, there's no comprehending
And who am I to try to judge or explain
Oh, but I do have one burning question
Who told you life
wasn't worth the fight
They were wrong, they lied
Now you're gone and we cry
it's not like you
to walk away
In the middle of a song

Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song

27 October 2009

The president wants to get "tough" on Israel, and negotiate with Hamas and Hezbollah.

That whirring sound you hear is Winston Churchill spinning in his grave. And the laughter and cheering is a soundtrack from the streets of Palestine on the afternoon of 11 September 2001, as Palestinians danced in the streets upon hearing of the thousands of civilians murdered in New York and Washington, D.C.. If you listen closely, you might even hear the laughter of a German corporal.

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Chruchill

21 October 2009


If you're waitin on MY apology, especially France, don't hold your breath. The next time Germany hits your borders, as they have three times in the last 150 years, don't call us, we're not arrogant enough to tell them they can't.

If what you are doing is the right thing to do, it shouldn't matter that you have to do it alone.

Our European arrogance in alphabetical order

1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne , France . A total of 2289 of our military dead.

2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes , Belgium . A total of 5329 of our dead.

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France . A total of 4410 of our military dead.

4. Brookwood , England American Cemetery. A total of 468 of our dead.

5. Cambridge , England . 3812 of our military dead.

6. Epinal , France American Cemetery. A total of 5525 of our Military dead.

7. Flanders Field , Belgium . A total of 368 of our military.

8. Florence , Italy . A total of 4402 of our military dead.

9. Henri-Chapelle , Belgium . A total of 7992 of our military dead.

10. Lorraine , France . A total of 10,489 of our military dead.

11. Luxembourg . A total of 5076 of our military dead.

12. Meuse-Argonne. A total of 14246 of our military dead.

13. The Netherlands . A total of 8301 of our military dead.

14. Normandy , France . A total of 9387 of our military dead. Most killed liberating France from German invasion the THIRD TIME.

15. Oise-Aisne , France . A total of 6012 of our military dead.

16. Rhone , France . A total of 861 of our military dead.

17. Sicily , Italy . A total of 7861 of our military dead.

18. Somme , France . A total of 1844 of our military dead. Most killed liberating France from German occupation the SECOND TIME.

19. St. Mihiel , France . A total of 4153 of our military dead.

20. Suresnes , France . a total of 1541 of our military dead.

Apologize to no one. Remind them of our MANY sacrifices and don't confuse arrogance with leadership.

07 October 2009

Couldn't have said it any better...

If you've been around my blog for a while, you may have noticed one of the links down the right side, "Mike Bratton's Blog." I had the honor of knowing Mike (admittedly briefly and peripherally) at my old church, Bellevue Baptist (also a link on the right) when I took an acting class from him (bout the only thing I learned about acting is that I make a better bad guy than a good guy, but really don't do either one particularly well), before I moved to Oregon and he moved to Alabama. Mike's blog was the inspiration for this blog, which reminds me of an old story about Alexander MacLaren (ask me if you're interested).

Mike's post are always interesting and well thought through, and I really couldn't do any better myself, so I'll just draw your attention to it from here.

The Bratton Report: The Florida premiere of High School "Tolerance"

31 August 2009

The Sky is Falling!! Or... the Ocean... or Something!

When I got into my truck to go to work this morning, this was stuffed into the crack of my driver's side door:

No, I didn't visit the website (and I don't suggest you do so, either). I know I'm a science "layman," but I thought this was something that couldn't be predicted particularly accurately. Things like this are generally "sometime in the next hundred years or so," aren't they? Sort of like some self appointed prophet declaring the date for the Second Coming of Christ (which the bible clearly says no man will know, so any date-setter is wrong by definition). Know what the Old Testament penalty was for begin wrong, even once? Stoning!

Actually, I might be inclined to take these guys more seriously, but if their research is as good as their spelling, I don't think folks on the Oregon coast will be in any hurry to rush out & buy surfboards.

31 July 2009

Yeah, um, thanks. :^/

I received an email today. It informed me that I was the lucky beneficiary of a class action lawsuit settlement with the internet postage company Stamps.com. I had an account with them back during the time I was president of Geocachers of West Tennessee. I used it to mail membership materials, as printing the postage was a lot easier than going to the post office, buying, and licking dozens of stamps. Apparently, though I don't actually recall this, they had a habit of charging one or two month's extra service charges to canceling customers. I had canceled the service once the vast majority of the materials had been mailed because it wasn't cost effective anymore.

Fast forward a few years to today. Apparently, also unbeknownst to me, someone had decided that this was a wrong that ranked right up there with world hunger, the nuclear aspirations of Iran, and the arrest of an irate professor by a beat-cop. THANK GOD some lawyer (ironically named "Spencer") rode in on his white horse to save our collectively ripped-off behinds! For a mere $450,000 in legal fees, Spencer assured all of us greviously injured former Stamps.com customers...

Wait for it...

Two free months' service from the company that ripped us off.

I'm sure you will all sleep much easier tonight knowing that justice (and no doubt Mr. Spencer's first evening martini) has been served.

18 July 2009

Ed Freeman. Hero of the Ia Drang Valley. Where's his celebration?

Michael Jackson dies and it's 24/7 news coverage.

A real American hero dies and not a mention of it in the news. The media has no honor and God is watching.

Ed Freeman:

You're a 19-year-old kid. You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter and you look up to see an unarmed Huey, but it doesn't seem real because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out, through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses.

And he kept coming back, 13 more times, and took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman died on 20 August 2008, at the age of 80, in Boise , ID. May God rest his soul.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman!

Since the media didn't give him the coverage he deserves, We will.


Walter Cronkite 4 November 1916 – 17 July 2009

In the modern world of news "spin" and ratings driven drivel, can anyone ever match the objective, trustworthy forthrightness of this news pioneer and legend?

25 April 2009

Here Comes Goodbye - Rascall Flatts (Written By: Chris Sligh & Clint Lagerberg)

I can hear the truck tires coming up the gravel road
And it’s not like her to drive that slow, nothings on the radio
Footsteps on the front porch, I hear my doorbell
She usually comes right in, now I can tell

Here comes goodbye, here comes the last time
Here comes the start of every sleepless night
The first of every tear I’m gonna cry
Here comes the pain, Here comes me wishing things had never changed
And she was right here in my arms tonight, but here comes goodbye

I can hear her say I love you like it was yesterday
And I can see it written on her face that she had never felt this way
One day I thought I’d see her with her daddy by her side
And violins would play here comes the bride

Here comes goodbye, here comes the last time
Here comes the start of every sleepless night
The first of every tear I’m gonna cry
Here comes the pain, Here comes me wishing things had never changed
And she was right here in my arms tonight, but here comes goodbye

Why's it have to go from to good to gone?
Before the lights turn on, yeah, you’re left alone
All alone, but here comes goodbye


Here comes goodbye, here comes the last time
Here comes the start of every sleepless night
The first of every tear I’m gonna cry
Here comes the pain, Here comes me wishing things had never changed
And she was right here in my arms tonight, but here comes goodbye

19 April 2009

Time and Tide wait for no man

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending a week with my kids in the Cave of Adullam. Those of you who regularly visit my blog ('bout 12 of you as near as I can figure) and who know me personally ('bout 8 of the 12, I think) know that my wife and I have been separated for about 7 1/2 months. I've had some dark days, some of the darkest in my life during that time. I don't get to see my babies nearly as much as I'd like, so having an entire week with them was a blessing beyond words! Exhausting...but a blessing! We hung out at the cave, played my PS2 (which unfortunately didn't survive), watched movies, and a good friend gave us a guided tour of the Evergreen Air and Space Museum! I HIGHLY recommend it, I gotta go back and just spend HOURS walkin around that place!

The first day of their Spring Break, I took them to Lincoln City for a day at the beach. It's been years since I just sat and did NOTHIN for upwards of two hours at a time! I just let the kids play and relaxed for the first time in a long, long time. Later, we went to McDonalds then went back to a different beach for another hour or two. It was here that I experienced a profound moment.

I was sitting with Tim on the rocks closest to the beach while William and Elizabeth played farther out. There was a little puddle at my feet that had gotten trapped behind a rock when the last high tide went out. I noticed that I could change the color of the sand by stepping on it, which squeezed the water out, then lifting my foot, which re-saturated the area where I'd stepped. I took out my knife and drew a single word. I noticed that if I stepped around the word, it was barely affected by the water moving in and out. I could make it fade, but it would never completely go away. The only way I could have completely erased it...is by stepping directly ON it...and I'm not going to do that.

Eventually, the tide erased any trace of it, I know. Unfortunately, that word isn't written in sand...it's written on my heart. Nothing I can do will get rid of it, not that I really want to. But there's also only so much I can do to stop time and tide from fading it away. Oh, I could have built a high wall around that word on the beach...dug deep footings to prevent it from eroding from beneath. I could have stood and screamed at the wind and waves...how unfair they were...to attack my word! My poor, defenseless little word! If only it could help...but it just lay there...unable to respond or even understand why I wanted it to stay. I could have looked into the sky and railed at God..."why did you ever GIVE me this word?!?!? Only to take it away?"

I think I know what He would have said. "I want you to know ME, not the things I give you, no matter how much happiness they bring you." Even if the word had lasted, it was still built on sand. Even a lifetime is a dot on the page of eternity.

So I found a larger area of sand and wrote the same word, this time in letters about 6 feet high. You can guess what happened...a rogue wave came up, a good 20 feet further onto the beach than all the others...and washed half of my word away before I'd even sat back down.

So I played with my kids. Then I turned and left my word in the sand. I know what happened to it after I left...but only God was there to watch it happen. The rest of the week, I tried to make memories with them that they will carry for years. We went on to the museum later that week, and I took them to Multnomah Falls on the way back to Washington. Chicklet and I started a cute little saying that I suspect we'll be saying for years to come. And I came to terms with the fact that once you've done all you can do, you've done all you can do.

22 March 2009

From UpWords, by Max Lucado

Jesus Betrayed by Judas
by Max Lucado

When betrayal comes, what do you do? Get out? Get angry? Get even? You have to deal with it some way. Let’s see how Jesus dealt with it.

Begin by noticing how Jesus saw Judas. “Jesus answered, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ ” (Matthew 26:50)

Of all the names I would have chosen for Judas it would not have been “friend.” What Judas did to Jesus was grossly unfair. There is no indication that Jesus ever mistreated Judas. There is no clue that Judas was ever left out or neglected. When, during the Last Supper, Jesus told the disciples that his betrayer sat at the table, they didn’t turn to one another and whisper, “It’s Judas. Jesus told us he would do this.”

They didn’t whisper it because Jesus never said it. He had known it. He had known what Judas would do, but he treated the betrayer as if he were faithful.

It’s even more unfair when you consider the betrayal was Judas’s idea. The religious leaders didn’t seek him, Judas sought them. “What will you pay me for giving Jesus to you?” he asked. (Matthew 26:15) The betrayal would have been more palatable had Judas been propositioned by the leaders, but he wasn’t. He propositioned them.

And Judas’s method … again, why did it have to be a kiss? (Matthew 26: 48–49)

And why did he have to call him “Teacher”? (Matthew 26:49) That’s a title of respect. The incongruity of his words, deeds, and actions—I wouldn’t have called Judas “friend.”

But that is exactly what Jesus called him. Why? Jesus could see something we can’t...

Jesus knew Judas had been seduced by a powerful foe. He was aware of the wiles of Satan’s whispers (he had just heard them himself). He knew how hard it was for Judas to do what was right.

He didn’t justify what Judas did. He didn’t minimize the deed. Nor did he release Judas from his choice. But he did look eye to eye with his betrayer and try to understand.

As long as you hate your enemy, a jail door is closed and a prisoner is taken. But when you try to understand and release your foe from your hatred, then the prisoner is released and that prisoner is you.

His Name is Jesus
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009) Max Lucado

18 March 2009

The story doesn't end here...

"We must pray with our eyes upon God, not upon the difficulties"
Oswald Chambers

"The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former," syas the Lord of Hosts. "And in this place I will give peace," declares the Lord of Hosts.
Haggai 2:9 - 1 January 2006

25 January 2009

Gonna Wake Up Dancin

A good friend of mine recently lost his wife. Coming as it did on the heels of me losing my Mom, I can somewhat empathize with him...and at the same time rejoice. The ones we loved left behind bodies wracked by pain, time, and illness, and traded them in for new ones that now dance across streets of gold.

He pulled that straight back wicker chair
up next to grandpa's bed
and by a voice left weak by pain, his grandpa softly said,
could you get my cowboy boots, and that gold pocket watch of mine,
bring me my Sunday suit with the vest that's satin lined
when he saw the sadness in his grandson's eyes
he said I've gotta be prepared 'cause I'm going home tonight

And I'm gonna waltz across the heavens
while a band of angels play
I'm gonna two-step on some stardust
a million miles away
You'll never have a new beginning
until you reach the end
and these old legs are gonna come to life again
Gonna wake up dancing

He said, If it's not too much trouble,
there's one thing left to do,
since I'm going to see your grandma could you get her favorite shoes.
The ones with those ribbons, red and trimmed in white.
the last time she had 'em on, I believe we danced all night.
And why she left them here its plain to see, your grandma never danced with anyone but me.

And we're gonna waltz across the heavens
while a band of angels play
We're gonna two-step on some stardust
a million miles away
You'll never have a new beginning
until you reach the end
and these old legs are gonna come to life again
Gonna wake up dancing
Gonna wake up dancing
Wake up dancing