Archive for May, 2015

Sitting on the front steps

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

It’s one of those activities that are unexpected – and not much activity to it!

I sat on the front steps of my brother-in-law’s place yesterday.  We both talked of life in the family.  And of the death of our wives.  Sunday had been three years since my first wife passed away.  His wife passed away last year.

We make an interesting pair.  We have been friends for around 20 years.  We have been in-laws for two years.  The cross-over has been smooth.  We just have a greater arena of discussion. 

The sun was shining.  The grass was growing.  Our discussion ranged from selling and upgrading houses to the new normals of life. 

Would I trade this friendship?  No. 

We have gone through family stressors, church transitions and philosophical debates.  All of them have made us both better men.  And we are both seeing the wisdom of passing on any wisdom we have gathered to other men.

Now, that is friendship.

On the third anniversary

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Each year is a new experience.  We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, even sobriety.

Today, I commemorate the third year since my first wife passed away.  If I were to talk of the last three years, transition would be the first word that comes to mind.  Lots and lots!

I remember back three years to that day I held Jill in my arms as she collapsed, certain that something had happened to her heart.  She was one of the best gauges of her own health I have ever seen. 

She knew. 

Within 24 hours, despite superb care in the Cardiac Care Unit, she was dead.

We sang over her in the last hours.  Friends and family gathered.  The memories are vivid.

And then she walked in her next moment without heart problems.  With her friend, confidante and rescuer – Jesus.  That picture, for me, is as vivid as those last hours of gasping breath and dying mercy.

These things stand out to me on this anniversary!

The relative thing

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

So, seven of us are sitting around a table at a senior center.

As we chat, we laugh and reminisce.  The seniors at the table (oops, I forgot, we were all over 60 – so, there were 5 “senior” seniors and two of us “juniors”) talked of the old days and living in these new days.

Eventually we looked at each other.  My aunt and her husband were there.  Another lady had a sister who had married the brother of another man at the table.  And as we went round the table, this was a time of discovery of who was just continued.

In the end, we were all related, by blood or marriage.

Not too often that happens, but it is one blessing (and some days curse) of living in a small town.  I was glad to announce that I would be buried in this town.  They were glad as well. 

Even that thought had its meanderings, as we talked about where in the cemetery we would be buried.

OH . . . the fun of growing old with those who know who you are.

Now official

Friday, May 15th, 2015

We were able, yesterday, to buy a house – officially.

Now for the fun that we have been anticipating!

OK, sometimes there are times of anxious anticipation.  What will need to be changed and fixed?  What do “we” want to change and fix?  How will our own fashions dictate the new fashion of our home?

This is the time where we create a new home together.  After almost two years of marriage, we will experience a larger project than where the cereal should be stored, or how many chairs should sit around the dining room table.

The next step!

What a joyous time this will be!

OK, there may be a few points of disagreement and perhaps a little bumpy ride, but we both are committed to working together to create this new home!  Is there a better way to live life?

The look of the house

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

There is much that looks the same.  The walls have not changed, the stove is still in place and the furnace is still running (for the middle of May, one would wish otherwise).

Packing boxes have taken over other parts of the house.  My wife had planned on packing three boxes a day.  I had planned on culling one bankers box a day.  High hopes – so far we are coming close.

Which means the house, alongside those areas with a lived in look, also has a move out look.  The exact date is yet to be determined.  This is preparation time. 

Waiting is not an easy task.  Perhaps the primary task of waiting is to be still while continuing daily activities.

There is no reason to doubt the current direction – but seconds pass, then minutes and then days.  And you are left with naked hope and a calling that is audible but the sender is unseen.  Sounds like a definition of faith.

Perhaps, as  one recent author has stated, we need to replace the word faith with trust.  When I lean into the future, I trust that I am protected and directed.  When I see an unexpected event sweep away “my” plans, I trust in God’s plans.  When I hear nagging voices harshly criticize my impossible adventure, I trust in God to fulfill what he has spoken.

And so today, I begin, reminded to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

What to write?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Well, that is an interesting topic 🙂

My father, a few years ago, read my blog regularly.  He was always intrigued that I could come up with so many different themes to explore.  I was too!

My mind kind of works that way.  Start a thread and it soon turns into a quilt. With all sorts of stitching here and there.  And a few imperfections along the way, but mostly a great mosaic of thoughts.

Yesterday I was culling my files.  I realized that I had written various comments during my studies, or upon reading an interesting article, or just something that popped into my head.

Somehow the files contained those type of personal thoughts.  Thoughts enough to keep me going for awhile.  An interchange with a seminary professor on the canon.  An archives brochure prepared for local churches.  Even a student newspaper I had edited while at seminary.

Enough to keep this blog going – and maybe another blog or two!!

Teaching in the past

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I have been “culling” various files these past few days. 

Yesterday was my “worship” files. 

My musical ability made me a candidate for the front row of the worship wars in the late years of the past century.  I not only led worship teams as they were evolving in North America, but I taught on the whole subject area.

Three times I taught a seminary course, and at least as many, if not more, times helped to organize and teach worship courses for local churches.  The interaction and stimulation of these teaching experiences still shapes my life today.

Worship is a constant part of our lives.  We choose to worship in the morning.  And at noon.  And in the evening time. 

Corporately, our worship tends to focus most on a once a week service.  Small groups gather and coffee meetings host worship. 

Worship is merely a two way conversation with God.  In that conversation we are reminded that God is God and we are not.  Our expression of that understanding leads to singing, prayer, social action, love, joy, peace and so much more.  We work with the signs of baptism and communion to remind us of the awesome preparation God has done for us.  We pledge to serve as God’s kingdom on earth.  We enjoy God’s throne room and His living room.  We tell others of the God we worship.

At the core, then, worship is core.  Christian worship is the recognition that the way to God in worship is through Jesus Christ.  This is facilitated through the Spirit of God living in us and expressing worship through us.

What a great stream in which to live.  Living waters from God that refresh us and in our growth bring us back to the one who is to be worshipped.

OK, that was just a few files that I looked over.  Good stuff!!

Mother’s Day

Monday, May 11th, 2015

My three mothers fill my mind on a day like Mother’s Day.  Whether or not this commemorative day was inspired by card companies seeking spikes in sales, the idea is a good one.

We too often think that we will constantly remember those we love.  Then our lives become cluttered.  And we focus on the door in front of us, without looking back to the doors that have been opened for us.

My birth mother chose to provide security for a young boy/man who could too easily think the worst.  His sensitivity was often his downfall – and my mother chose to stand strong in spite of her own misgivings and insecurities.

My mother-in-law (number #1) lived through the need to support others whose lives were difficult.  There is a resilience that I appreciate when I talk to her.  There is a sense of God’s destiny that could so easily have been clouded by circumstances.

And now my mother-in-law (number #2) carries the same supportive scaffolding wherever she goes, based on her own experiences.  She is a Godly woman who is strong, and forthright, and loving.  And she makes great buns that are quickly devoured at our house.

Thanks to my three mothers!!

A house is a house

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

A house can provide a person a place of refuge and a shelter – we call that a home.

A house, though, is also made up of materials.  Bricks, mortar, wood, cement, pipes, wiring, and sometimes other things that we would rather not know about.

Yesterday we took a look at a house.  One that is up for sale.

The foundation is solid.  Looks like no great problems there.  A giant pine tree towers in the front yard.  The owners had lovingly watered it – apparently the roots got all the water they needed.

Inside, the wiring is older – somewhat outdated.  The plumbing has had various tricks added to the original pipes – I call them “farmer fixes”.  The layout has been altered somewhat – in a good way. 

Overall a place you could occupy without a problem.  As to fixing it up – the question is always whether you can get your money out of it.  I would call this a low to medium level return on investment.

Yes, a house is a house.  And what you do with it is up to you!

In the quietness

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

As we are walking through our lives together, there are times where quietness is predominant.  We read of the the idea the we should “be still and know that I am God.”  That is a reassuring thing.

Quietness is not always a calming agent.  When God chooses to be quiet, we assume the worst.  Our questions, we figure, must have immediate answers.  Otherwise the plans that we have been working on will dissolve and dissipate (in other words, things will fall apart).

Of course, the plans we hope to accomplish may be our own scheming.  They may also be God’s plans in God’s timing for God’s purpose.  We are just trying to fill in the blanks where God has left them ambiguous for the moment.

I’m not sure which side I’m falling on this morning.  Calm and reassured, or anxious and uptight.  We are seeking a house in which to live.  Options continue to arise (for which we are thankful).  Options have also fallen away (for which we are also thankful).  God has reassured us that He is God and we are not – housing will happen.  In the quietness, though, I just wish I could hear the scrawling of a pen filling in the occupancy date!