Memorial Day

I was supposed to fill the pulpit at West Fayette Presbyterian next weekend, but when I found out my daughter would be in town from Ohio, I made some quick adjustments and switched pulpit supplies to fill in this week instead. I mean, after all, how often do you get a chance to preach to your adult children?

And it was extra special because my other local daughter also decided to show up!

They heard the message, but as I often do, I thought I would share it with my other, extended family. I hope it brings a positive message, but, more important, bring glory to God.

So, here goes … straight from the pulpits to your eyes.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Next week, we will be celebrating — and commemorating — Memorial Day. It’s a time set aside to remember those who served in the military and made the sacrifice.

It all started right here in Waterloo (NY) when Henry Welles, a local druggist, mentioned at a social function in 1865, while it was good to honor the living heroes of the Civil War, it was also important to remember the dead of that war by decorating their graves.

It didn’t take legs until the next summer when Welles passed along his thoughts to General John Murray, then the Seneca County Clerk, a Civil War hero and known as a “man of action.” Murray quickly developed a plan, a committee was formed and plans were made to close all business May 5, 1866 and devote the day to honoring the dead.

The citizens of the town embraced the idea. Women met and prepared wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. The village was decorated with flags at half mast, evergreen boughs and black streamers. Civic groups joined a procession to each of the village’s three cemeteries, led by veterans marching to martial music. There were services at the cemeteries, including speeches by General Murray and a local clergyman.

The ceremonies were repeated the following year, and then moved to May 30 in 1868 in accordance with General Order No. 11 from General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Over the years, the commemoration was expanded to include not just Civil War casualties, but veterans of each and every conflict. It was the said the formal, dignified manner in which Waterloo observed the day created the pattern for future Memorial Day observances across the country.

On Memorial Day 1965, Congressman Samuel Stratton made a speech at Maple Grove Cemetery in which he said he would encourage Congressional recognition of Waterloo as being the birthplace of the holiday. It easily went through the legislative process with President Lyndon Johnson signing a Presidential Proclamation designating Waterloo as Birthplace of Memorial Day May 26, 1966.

What does that have to do with our readings today?

Not much … and everything.

The lectionary convolutes the readings this week. Our Gospel reading (John 17-1-11) actually takes place well before the events in our first reading from Acts (Acts 1:6-14) and our second reading from 1 Peter (1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11). In fact the Gospel account is from the Last Supper.

Here Jesus acknowledges His time is at hand. Here He prays to the Father for protection for the men gathered at the table. …the words You gave to Me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth I came from You … they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them in Your name that You have given Me, so they may be one, as We are one.

It all started right there. The Son brings the trinitarian nature of God to the front. He explains in detail how He and the Father are One and calling on the Spirit to be with the apostles as they move to spread the Good News.

It’s our Christian commemoration. It’s our Christian Memorial Day.

Shortly after this prayer Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice … the sacrifice for you … the sacrifice for me. He was the bridge re-connecting us to God and everlasting glory.

John repeatedly emphasizes that connection. People were created for a relationship with God, although we don’t always recognize that. God’s presence is hidden until God chooses to reveal it. Jesus is telling his merry men this is the time for the revelation.

The crucifixion completes Jesus’ work of glorifying God on earth. By His resurrection and ascension — we’ll get to that in a minute — Jesus returns to the heavenly glory God prepared for Him in love, and Jesus prays His followers will one day join Him in the Father’s presence to share in this glory and love (17:5, 24-26).

I wasn’t there at the Last Supper, despite charges I may be old enough. But I suspect this prayer — this huge prayer — was missed by Jesus’ boys. Some of them were bickering on who was the “favorite” — what family hasn’t experienced that. Judas skipped out a little early — perhaps before the prayer — to carry out the betrayal. Peter was too busy defending himself when Jesus told him he would deny Him three times.

I could see them scratching their collective heads the next day as Jesus hung on the cross. They had seen the miracles — from water into wine to raising Lazarus from the grave and hundreds of healings in between — but their eyes remained closed. Hmmm. Sound familiar today?

That brings us to our reading from Acts. … You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When He had said this, as they were watching, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

Didn’t get it again! Where did He go? Is this when Jesus restores Israel?

I’m just speculating, but maybe they were thinking, here we go again. First He dies, then He returns to us, now He disappears again. Obviously they were still looking through secular eyes. I can only imagine these blue collar workers — none of them were theologians or preachers or teachers — scurrying back to safety of the upper chamber. At least we’re told they devoted themselves to prayer. At least they were trying to make sense of all this. At least they supported each other.

By the way, we celebrate this event as Ascension Day — 40 days after Easter. According to my calculations — and the liturgical calendar — that will be Thursday (May 25). And still today, are we thinking here we go again? First we lament Jesus’ death, then we celebrate His resurrection and now He ascends out of this world. Are we looking through secular eyes?

Except for our Mennonite friends, very few of us recognize Ascension Day as a lynchpin of our faith. Yet, do we devote ourselves to prayer as we try to make sense of it?

I can’t speak for you, but I confess it’s just another Thursday for me.

Jesus’ promises in this text affirm His ascension is not the end of the story. His departure initiates the next chapter in the story of God’s salvation.

Of course, our enlightenment (hopefully) will come on Pentecost in a couple of weeks (June 4). That’s when our merry band of apostles were enlightened by the Spirit. And as I’ve stated previously, the work of the apostles extends to all believers. And just what was expected of the Spirit-endowed apostles? What is expected of us as Christ followers?

To be witnesses for Jesus.

That brings us to our second reading. 1 Peter tells us that road is not easy. In fact, it is downright hard. It cost some of the apostles their lives. It cost thousands their lives as witnesses for Christ. It could cost us, hopefully not our lives, but by being scoffed and ridiculed for our beliefs.

But 1 Peter puts it in perspective. Do not be surprised … rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so you may also be glad and shout for joy when His glory is revealed…

It brings in the glory Jesus was talking about way back at the Last Supper. That’s what He was praying for. Give these guys … give you and me … the power to share the glory of God.

Ethicist Dr. Miguel de la Torre pointed out, “The early churches were persecuted not for what they believed but for what they did. They preached a message of liberation. To preach good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, sight for those blinded and liberation to the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19) is to reject conformity with the prevailing power structures.”

Contemporary churches — or at least God honoring, Bible believing churches — are also being persecuted not for what we believe but for what we do. We preach good news. We preach liberation. We reject conformity. We see with “different” eyes … and it’s not a revolution against the world — this world — but a harbinger of another world, a spiritual world. De la Torre suggests contemporary churches might become more relevant if they again focused on “orthopraxis (correct action)” rather than “orthodoxy (correct doctrine)”

1 Peter reminds us since Christ suffered, Christ-believers can expect to suffer as well. Part of our responsibilities as Christ-believers are to be in solidarity with others who suffer in the world because of Christ, and to resist the devil, which, as the strong metaphor of the prowling lion represents well, will not rest until it finds someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

We may not face the trials of the early Christians, but we face our own, contemporary trials. And since the devil is not resting, neither should Christ-believers.

So, how does all this relate to Memorial Day. It is right to remember and honor those who served and died. That’s the mortal realm. How much more should we remember and honor those early followers? That’s the spiritual realm.

God had faith in a rag tag bunch of misfits — Abraham … Moses … Eli … Jeremiah … Jonah … Hosea … Mary Magdalene … Paul (when he was Saul). Jesus chose 12 … headstrong Peter … temper tantrum prone John and James … tax collector Matthew … nationalists Judas and Jude … fishermen.

God has faith in you. God has faith in me. Warts and all. With all our baggage. We’re all in this together. Your joys are my joys. My tribulations are your tribulations. We’re called to support each other through the good times and the hard times. And we’re called to share our incredible blessing — the known love of God for us.

We are all inter-connected — the apostles, the faith community through the ages, the Union and Confederate soldiers, our friends and enemies — through the love of God, the example of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.

It reminds me of a story that keeps getting hits on my blog. Ironically, I can’t take credit for it. It was passed to me — and shared with family, friends and on my blog — from actsweb.org originally published in The Daily Hug, http://www.2nspireyou.com/.

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? he thought. But he was aghast to discover it was a mouse trap!

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, “There is a mouse trap in the house. There is a mouse trap in the house.”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mouse trap in the house.”

“I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray; be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, “Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap. Am I in grave danger? Duh?”

So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer’s mouse trap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

His wife’s sickness continued so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well. In fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it does not concern you, remember, when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We ARE all inter-connected!

And the faithful say, Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Lord the day ahead will be full of distractions. In the midst of it all help me to always be aware of You by my side.

 

 

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Five Minute Friday — Truth

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Five Minute Friday on Saturday. I was just mentioning to my daughters at dinner — a late dinner at that — I hadn’t written my Five Minute Friday assignment yet. In unison they chimed back, “Dad, you never write your Five Minute Friday post on Friday.”

Never is a strong word, although I’ll give them credit for recognizing I often miss the Friday part of Five Minute Friday. And that’s the truth.

Wait, that’s also the prompt this week … TRUTH.

We’ll get to that in a  few after our regularly scheduled advertisements about the mechanics of Five Minute Friday and a plug on it’s value from  Colleen.

You know the drill. I’ll post, link at Kate’s place (http://katemotaung.com/2017/05/18/five-minute-friday-truth/) and scan through the incredible work of my fellow writers. And, as I always say, you should try it as well — both writing and contributing or at least visiting the sites of this talented crew.

I’ve also been sharing other takes on the value of the exercise, taken from snippets found in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat as an added inducement to join in. Here’s Colleen’s take.

“The Five Minute Friday community has encouraged me to take up the pen when I thought I had no words; to seek friendship when I thought it was out of my reach; and to be brave when I was certain my courage was failing. This is not just a writing group, it is a sisterhood [and brotherhood] that constantly reminds me we are better together.”

So, there you have it. Five Minute Friday is so much more than just words. It’s friendship. It’s community. It’s empowerment.

The timer has been set, so I guess it’s time to let the neurons out to roam free. GO …

Truth. Such a simple word. And yet, how complicated we have made it.

Politically, truth is an oxymoron. Even in church settings, the truth does not always set us free. Our lives? Often poxed with more half truths than actual facts.

In politics, truth depends largely on your point of view. There are shades of truth designed to sway your thought — and votes. Sometimes, I think politicians wouldn’t know truth if it bit them in the proverbial behind. Lately, they have taken sides with letters behind their name and Ds and Rs have vowed to just not get along and parse each word to their own ends. Hardly truth.

Even in churches, often the truth from pulpits is weighted by the particular denominational bent. The words from the Bible are dissected until theologians and preachers do more harm than good in “explaining” the good news to the rest of us folks.

Ourselves? Don’t we often play the various … STOP

… shade game, protecting ourselves from ridicule or responsibility? Me included.

Truth. It’s a simple word that has been tainted by the flesh of an apple.

The truth is God reigns — not you, not me, not our churches and certainly not our secular and spiritual leaders. The truth is the Father sent His only Son Jesus to reconcile us and offer a bridge to eternal salvation. The truth is only through Jesus can we cross that bridge. The truth is the Spirit guides our way, pointing out the direction when we daily reach forks in the road, counseling as we consider options, whispering as we take our minute-by-minute steps.

It’s really just that simple. And that’s the truth.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: As long as there’s breath, there’s hope.

Posted in ecumenism, encouragement, Faith, Five Minute Friday, God, grace, heaven, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Life, love, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Mom

I must be back in New York. I backslid into sloughing off on my Five Minute Friday assignment until Saturday — late Saturday afternoon at that. Oh well. It’s the thought that counts and the effort to post something sometime.

You know the drill. I’ll post, link at Kate’s place (http://katemotaung.com/2017/05/11/five-minute-friday-mom/) and scan through the incredible work of my fellow writers. And, as I always say, you should try it as well — both writing and contributing or at least visiting the sites of this talented crew.

I’ve also been sharing other takes on the value of the exercise, taken from snippets found in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat as an added inducement to join in. Here’s Jen’s take.

“Through FMF, I not only found a community online, but I found the courage to seek one out in real life too. And, through both, my life has changed radically for the better!”

So, let’s get into this week’s word, appropriately MOM. But, before we do, a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms and strong women in our lives! The timer is set, so let’s GO …

I have fond memories of my Mom. I had a good relationship with her and, as an only son, probably got away with a lot more than I should have. But as they say, “A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter the rest of her life.”

So I’m reflecting on Karen as Mom as an outsider looking at my wife’s incredible role as mother. I had a 40 year tutorial with her as opposed to about 21 with my Mom. I would say Mom paved my relationship and Karen refined it.

Was Karen perfect? No. She was a complex woman … sometimes child-like and other times speaking with the wisdom that came with maturity … vulnerable yet strong … compassionate and passionate … anxious yet content … realistically optimistic … unconditionally loving and caring … sentimental yet grounded … cheerful and sad … content yet restless … accomplished … relaxed and stressed … insecure yet secure … self-effacing yet confident.

We all hurt her in so many ways. She may have written some of them down, but she never counted them. In the end, it was her love that shined through.  I saw her love her children with all her heart.

She was always worrying about the kids … even when they went on their own — perhaps even more! She didn’t necessarily push the brood, but you sure knew what she was thinking.

And they respected her. I wouldn’t allow disrespect.

… STOP

… From the outside looking in, I could see she was perhaps harder on the girls. But it balanced itself out because I was harder on the boys. When Karen died, it was hard on all of them … but the girls grieved and moved on quicker. The boys had a much harder time. They all say at one point, “Remember what Mom …”

I would say mission accomplished.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Leadership isn’t making all the decisions. It is making sure the right decisions are made. — Andy Stanley

 

Posted in Christmas, family, Five Minute Friday, grace, holidays, Karen, Life, love, Memories, Mom, motherhood, observations, parenting, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunrise, Sunset

There is just something special about watching the sun rise. We open our eyes to a new day every day — but when you watch the sun peek over the horizon … Wow! It just brings God’s wonder into the here and now.

The same is true for sunsets as you watch the sun drop out sight for the day, often with such spectacular colors.

I’ve been blessed. I’ve seen my share of both through the years. Despite being a city boy, I came to appreciate the daily ritual early in life.  As a kid I remember seeing the sun rise over the ocean in Seaside Heights, NJ. Don’t tell anybody, but as a teen I remember watching the sun peek over New York City from a Garrett Mountain (NJ) vantage point. Karen and I made it a point to watch the sunrise during a family vacation to Florida and we watched the sun do its thing at the Seaside beach. A repeat was on our bucket list — I made it but unfortunately she didn’t. We watched the sun rise over Cayuga Lake (NY).

And we were fortunate to live in upstate New York where the sunsets were just breathtaking. We could sit for hours watching the sun go night-night over Seneca Lake (NY).

Lubec ME

I have been known to head east for a morning rendezvous with the sun. I witnessed it again yesterday (Friday) when I deliberately headed to Lubec, ME, just for the sunrise. But in Lubec, it’s not just another sunrise — it’s where the sun first shines its light in the United States. Lubec is the easternmost town in the country.

I actually had been planning on returning to Lubec {I was there five years ago while house hunting in Maine}, especially since it is in Washington County — next on my quest of hitting every county in Maine {one more to go — York County!}. I had actually planned on going back in March but it was till too cold and in April which was just a ridiculously busy month. Then there was the weather. You don’t want to expend all that energy on a rainy morning. Friday appeared to be the right window — just after the midweek rain and just before the weekend rain. Weather Underground said there would be light clouds building to overcast preceding the rain.

So I set my alarm for 1 a.m., scarfed a cup of coffee and muffin and hit the road for a just over three hour drive to the coast for a 4:40 first light and 5:13 sunrise. I pulled into the municipal lot at 4:30 — perfect timing.

First Light

First light was a spectacular show .. but 5:13 stretched to 5:15, then 5:20. By 5:25 I realized the light clouds turned into a definite overcast. So I drove over to the West Quoddy Head {technically the easternmost point of the contiguous United States} just southeast of town on an easterly-pointing peninsula overlooking Quoddy Narrows, a strait between Lubec and Campobello Island, Canada, that provides access to Passamaquoddy Bay and harbors located on the St. Croix River and other rivers which the empty into the bay.  It was there I spotted Mr. Sun, not peeking over the horizon, but between clouds.

Mr. Sun Peeks Out

Mission accomplished. I was going to stop for breakfast at the Sunrise Diner in Lubec, which was supposed to open at 6, but was still shuttered at 6:30, so I headed back to Dover-Foxcroft with a breakfast stop en route at Helen’s Restaurant in Machias. French toast with sausage links and a bottomless cup of coffee fueled me for drive home.

Not everyone is going to make it to Lubec — or the ocean — for a sunrise show, but I really recommend you get up before the birdies some morning and just look due east. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll start your day with a new perspective and appreciation for nature — as God designed it.

The Bridge to Campobello

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The best things in life aren’t things.

Posted in blessings, bucket list, colors, Faith, Life, love, Maine, observations, photos, reflect, relationships, travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Should

Here we are at the end of a busy Friday and the beginning of a drippy weekend. But there is still some time to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Why?

Because it’s important to me … but you know that already. You also know the drill. We get a weekly prompt, let the words surge from our heart, soul and mind, post, link at Kate’s place (http://katemotaung.com/2017/05/04/five-minute-friday-should/) and scan through the incredible work of my fellow writers. And, as I always say, you should try it as well — both writing and contributing or at least visiting the sites of this talented crew.

I’ve also been sharing other takes on the value of the exercise, taken from snippets found in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Here’s Crystal’s take.

“Five Minute Friday taught me the Internet is full of kind, gracious, funny women {yes, most of the contributors are women — Joe} who choose to cheer for one another instead of compete. The weekly discipline of writing gave me courage to share my story and the encouragement from the community made me brave enough to try again each week. It’s fellowship and friendship around the written word.”

So there. The prompt this week is SHOULD and the time is set for five minutes. Let’s GO…

There are a lot of things I should do …

I should spent more time on my knees. Yes, I have a pretty special relationship with the Lord but I would not classify myself as a prayer warrior. I am more apt to just start talking with my Savior than carving out time to formally spend time with Him. I do try to start each day with time in the Word, not on a rigorous “read the Bible in 365 days” routine but through a deeper investigation through the Interpreters Bible, although I will be the first to admit I often have problems following these scholars. I mean, how you write a three page essay on four lines of text? I’m currently working on the 12 prophets — Zephaniah ben Cushi to be specific and, while I sometimes have no idea what he’s trying to say, I think I’ve been able to weave certain themes … themes that go beyond his day and are as relevant today. I also try to share positive thoughts with my family and friends during these daily and weekly exercises.

I should communicate more. That’s a tough one for me. One of the zingers I got from Karen was I wasn’t always the great communicator. Of course, when I told her I talked all the time, … STOP

… she would counter, talking isn’t communicating. “Open up to me,” she would often say. “Don’t bottle things up. Share what you’re thinking.” Ouch. It’s a regret I have.

I should take care of myself better. It’s not that I’m reckless and I am doing a lot better at carving time out for myself, but I would certainly not consider myself having a good lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for me to compress 40 hours of work in three days, including many overnighters. There was a time I could recover fairly quickly, but it now takes me a couple of days to return to “normal”.

I should eat better. Duh. I am eating better with more fish, fruit and veggies in my diet and I can’t get enough peanut butter {legumes} and jelly {fruit}. I can’t drink fat free milk but I’ve weaned myself down to 1%. And don’t get me started on soy, almond or other “milk”. But,if you give me a choice between sausage & peppers and quinoa or humus, want to guess which I’ll choose? I may have an adventurous spirit, but I kind of steer away from anything I can’t pronounce.

I should be better organized and plan more. Okay. Who are we kidding?

I should wrap this up. There. I just did.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built an ark. Professionals built the Titanic. 

Posted in communication, confession, Faith, Five Minute Friday, health, Life, observations, reflect, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Five Minute Friday — More

Another Friday. Another Five Minute Friday post.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you how important these five minute writing exercises are to me {yeah, you’ve heard before … just about every week}. They are. I look forward to getting the prompt word, pondering it, letting the neurons out to roam free, collecting their thoughts, transcribing them and sharing them at Kate’s place, http://katemotaung.com/2017/04/27/five-minute-friday-more/. Then I get to sit back and read what my fellow writers have posted. It’s always enlightening and a perfect segue into the weekend and Sunday worship.

That’s my pitch. Lately I’ve been including snippets from other writers, taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Listen to why Kimberly finds Five Minute Friday so rewarding. Maybe she can convince you to visit or, better yet, give it a try!

“I found Five Minute Fridays as I was struggling to balance motherhood with the demands of a robust career. Working 40+ hours a week, raising a daughter and trying to be a good wife/daughter/friend left me feeling drained and emotionally exhausted. But each Friday, my spirit was renewed as I carved out a few moments for myself. And over and over again, as I read the beautiful writing of others and as they commented on my own submission, the stress slipped away, even if for the briefest of time. I made connections that blessed me in unimaginable ways.”

The prompt this week is MORE and the timer is set, so it’s time to GO…

We live in a “More” generation. We want more … more money, more comforts, more toys, more technology.

Hmmm.

I’m all for more, but — as I stated previously — I am comfortable with enough. But in thinking it through a little further, I should really want less. After all, we are told, less is more. James tells us that plainly in his third chapter, verse 30. He (Christ) must become greater; I must become less.

Let Jesus shine through. The more I am in the forefront, the less Jesus is. It’s really the reverse. The less I am the focus, the more Jesus is.

This translates to all facets of our lives. Professionally, leaders are not those who rule with the most power, it is the one who works collaboratively recognizing there is a team at work. Personally, the more I am the focus, the less anyone else is. It becomes me, me, me. Spiritually, do we act like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 boasting of his faith or like the tax collector asking God to forgive him, a sinner?

More is not always the prize. Your ... STOP

{my} willingness to become subservient –to become less — is the greater prize.

Have mercy on me.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Life is in the fine print.

Posted in ecumenism, encouragement, Faith, Five Minute Friday, Jesus, Life, love, observations, prayer, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Love Songs

Not everyone is going to understand this post … but those of us who have gone through the loss of a long-term partner, it is all too real.

You never know when the ache returns. Sometimes it is shortly after the loss. Other times it is around a special event or anniversary. You sort of expect those. But when you get hit right between the eyes out of the blue … well, that can be disconcerting. Even after eight and a half years.

Today has been one of those days. It was a little gray, drizzly and dismal. Although I slept well, I woke up about two hours earlier than normal and couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t have a lot on my agenda for the day.

As I often do, I keep myself company by listening to music — contemporary Christian, easy listening, 60s and country mostly. I try to rotate the playlists from Pandora, I Heart Radio and You Tube. Today was an easy listening type of day, using the I Heart Radio platform tuned into WCHI Easy 1350 out of Chillicothe, OH.

As a disclosure, I do have to be careful about what I listen to. Some formats naturally tug at the heart strings, even on good days. On those vulnerable days, they can rip open the scars.

Today was one of those days. There wasn’t the subtle reminder of memories gone by. It was a constant avalanche spanning five decades of melodic memories. Just about every song resonated, bringing special thoughts of what was and is no more. In fact there was a span of about an hour where I felt they borrowed a mix tape {literally a tape} I made for Karen to be played during our romantic Saturday night dinners. {We alternated cooking a special meal at least once a month. I always got the better of that deal.}

There was Phil Collins (Against All Odds), Peter Cetera with Amy Grant (The Next Time I Fall), Art Garfunkel (I Only Have Eyes For You), James Taylor (Up  On The Roof), England Dan & John Ford Coley (I’d Really Love To See You Tonight),  Gloria Estefan (Can’t Stay Away From You), The Association (Cherish), Kenny Rogers (Lady), Noel Paul Stookey (The Wedding Song), Anne Murray (A Love Song), Barry Manilow (This One’s For You), Rod Stewart (Have I Told You Lately), Chicago (You’re the Inspiration), Bette Midler (Wind Beneath My Wings), Rita Coolidge (Higher and Higher), Orleans (Dance With Me), Air Supply (Two Less Lonely People In The World), The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun), Dan Hill (Sometimes When We Touch), Celine Dion (When I Fall In Love), Frankie Valli (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You), Debby Boone (You Light Up My Life), Chris DeBurgh (The Lady In Red), Neil Diamond (Hello Again and September Morn), Diana Ross & The Supremes (Someday We’ll Be Together), Captain & Tennille (Love Will Keep Us Together), Louis Armstrong (What A Wonderful World), Linda Ronstadt with Aaron Neville (Don’t Know Much) … and the list goes on, Paul Young, The Spinners, Carly Simon, The Eagles, Al Green, David Foster, John Lennon, Atlantic Starr, Spandau Ballet, Sheena Easton, Seals & Crofts, Genesis, Samantha Sang, Alabama, Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Michael Bolton, Simply Red, Sting, The Pointer Sisters, Joe Cocker, Eric Carmen, Bread, Juice Newton, Little River Band, Toto, Lionel Ritchey, The Beach Boys, Mary MacGregor, Eddie Rabbitt, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Dan Fogelberg, Clima-X, Laura Branigan, Bill Joel, Sade, Bee Gees, Kenny Loggins, Gordon Lightfoot, Natalie Cole, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Poco, Billy Ocean, Al Jarreau, Barbra Streisand, Roberta Flack, Matthew Wilder, Dobie Gray, Don Williams, Gary Wright, Anita Baker, The Beatles, America, Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett, Jim Croce, Charlene, Firefall, The Jets, Gino Vannilli, Player, Whitney Houston, Climax Blues Band, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Ambrosia, Heatwave, Janis Ian, Grover Washington Jr., Glenn Medeiros, Kenny Nolan, Bobby Hebb, Stephen Bishop, Robert John, Glenn Frey, Peaches & Herb, Quincy Jones, Bertie Higgins, Harry Chapin, Klymaxx, Al Stewart, Carole King, Love Unlimited Orchestra, Marvin Gaye … even Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendez.

It was a million dollar memory day. None of them brought tears to my eyes, just quiet reflection as I rocked and rested in my recliner with the volume up and the soft roar of the water as it rolled over the dam a complementary background… except for Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me — Gladys Knight & The Pips version — my anthem for our 40-plus years together.

I wouldn’t want to re-live my life, but I would give anything to share those moments again. For now, they are locked forever in the recesses of mind. For today, WCHI Easy 1350 out of Chillicothe, OH, held the key.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you find yourself still chasing your dreams — run faster.

Posted in entertainment, Music, radio, relationships, songs | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments