Triple E

This past week, I read an article that talked about people who are eccentric, eclectic and extreme-hence “Triple E.”  The reason it caught my eye was that I realized that I am that person.

Eclectic?  In one of my favorite pastimes, reading, I enjoy science fiction and non-fiction, adventure and romance, westerns and poetry, suspence and fantasy.  In music, I enjoy old-time rock and roll and classical, show tunes and Christian, acappella and instrumental, swing and marching bands.  Last week my wife and I went to see “Avengers: End Game.”  This week we want to see a Christian film.  I also like comedies and chick flicks.

Eccentric?  Even though I’ve gotten older and more conservative, I still like to wear all kinds of funky reading glasses and crazy patterned socks.

Extreme? I hate weeds in my lawn, so I literally pick them out one by one while on my knees or even sometime laying down on the grass to see them better.  One day my neighbor saw me and was ready to call 911 because she thought I had collapsed with a heart attack.

Ultimately, I am a “Triple E” kind of guy.  While you may not be a “triple E” kind of person, each of you are unique.  Don’t try to be someone else or try to make yourself into what someone else wants you to be.  There is no one else like you and no one else could fill your place in the grand scheme of your life.  Being different is good…it makes you who you are.

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.(Ephesian 2:10)

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. (Psalm 139:13-14)

Consider the Postage Stamp

Josh Billings was quoted as saying, “Consider the postage stamp:  its usefulness consists of the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.”  It’s a little humorous, but it really describes what many of our lives are lacking.  We often seem to have a hard time sticking to one thing until we finish it.

I know I have a half-dozen jobs that need to be done around the house.  I’ve started most of them, but have yet to finish all of them.  It’s too easy to get distracted by all the “stuff” going on around us–much of which we could ignore if we stopped to think about the one thing we are trying to get done.

My wife and I were in Boston this week.  The drive is always challenging–especially at rush hour.  It requires focus and quick reflexes.  One would think that other drivers would be aware of that as well.  But I can’t begin to tell you how many close calls we had with drivers who–you guessed it–were holding and talking on their cell phones.  All they had to do was to pay attention to the one thing they needed to focus on to reach their destination and to stay safe.

While we were walking from the hospital parking lot to the main entrance, we passed dozens of people along the way.  At least 75% of them were talking on their phones–looking like they were talking to the air around them.  I had no problem with them using their phones, but it was disconcerting to see them amble across streets while ignoring the crosswalks and the moving traffic.  They were sticking to one thing, but it wasn’t the most important thing at that particular time.

And I know that many of you will say that they can handle all the “stuff” because they are able to multi-task–you know when you are able to do several things at the same time, and do them well.  You know, like the doctor who will be doing your operation while multi-tasking.  Or the pilot who will be flying your children to their grandparents while he multi-tasks.  Or your mountain climbing partner who is holding the rope keeping you safe while texting his girlfriend.  My guess is that you wouldn’t want any of those people to be doing anything but their main job.  If the task is important or simple worth doing, stay focused and get the job done.

Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good. (Proverbs 4:25)

 

The Key to Old Age

After a meeting several days ago, I couldn’t find my keys. I quickly gave myself a personal “TSA Pat Down.”

They weren’t in my pockets. Suddenly I realized I must have left them in the car. Frantically, I headed for the parking lot. My wife had scolded me many times for leaving my keys in the car’s ignition.  She was afraid that the car could be stolen. As I looked around the parking lot, I realized she was right. The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, confessed that I had left my keys in the car, and that it had been stolen.

Then I made the most difficult call of all–the one to my wife: “I left my keys in the car and it’s been stolen.”

There was a moment of silence. I thought the call had been disconnected, but then I heard her voice. “Are you kidding me?” she said slowly, “I dropped you off!”

Now it was my turn to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, “Well, can you come and get me?”

She replied, “I will, as soon as I convince this cop that I didn’t steal your car!”

Welcome to the golden years…Not me! (yet)

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)  Thank God He wasn’t talking about keys, but instead, about you and me.

Coincidence or Miracle?

How can you plan for this?

A man watching his students playing outside on the last day of the school, suddenly feels tense and irritable.  His fellow 7th-grade teacher, who happens to be an EMT, recognizes the signs of a possible heart attack.  He’s rushed to the hospital where the doctors save the day—not to mention, his life.

A man begins to feel tired and out of breath.  After several weeks he visits his cardiologists, who believes that he needs a cardiac catheterization.  While on the surgical table for the procedure, one of his main arteries dissects.  The doctors were able to repair it immediately—staving off what could have been a fatal problem

A man who has been feeling off for a while, visits his cardiologist and has several tests done.  While returning home, he receives a call from his doctor, who tells him that the tests show he is having a heart attack.  Just minutes away, the man immediately returns to be taken by ambulance to the hospital where doctors again save the day ( and his life).

So, did the doctors save the day all three times?  But how was it that this man always had the needed medical personnel on hand exactly when he needed them?  Three different times!  Not much of a chance.  How much of a chance?  “No chance at all”, Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself.  Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”  (Luke 18:27).

Poster the man had in his classroom while still teaching:  “Coincidence is when God decides to work a miracle and decides to remain anonymous.”

Music Memories

I was just working around the house earlier today with one of the cable music channels on, when, suddenly, I heard a song that instantly brought to mind a very vivid memory.  I was transported to the mid-90’s when the Girl’s Cross-Country team I was coaching was having a team-building meal at my house the night before an important race.  In that memory, they were all singing along with “The Rose” by Bette Midler.  And, yes, I was singing right along with them.  I don’t know why that song had become our team song (nor did I know why I ever started singing along with them), but it did.  And I don’t know why a 1979 song was still popular in the mid-‘90’s, but to the girls it was.  Hearing it today brought back that, and many other, happy memories of coaching and running with the girls.

This was not the only time this kind of experience has happened to me.  I like listening to “oldies” music—and, for me, that means the ‘50’s to the ‘80’s—not like what kids today consider “oldies “music.  But that’s a topic for another day.  Anyway, I had an “oldies” station on in my car when “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor came on.  Once again, an image instantly came to mind.  This time, instead of the sweet sound of Bette Midler’s voice, it was the hard-driving guitar blasts of Survivor that caught my attention.  Maybe it was because it was written as the theme song for Rocky III.  The song was released the day after the movie opening-1982 and later used for Rocky IV (1986).  But for whatever reason, it became the theme song for my Cross-Country teams of the early to mid-‘80’s.  The specific memory is of being in the school weight room doing a workout designed by one of the runners.  “Paul’s Tour of the Weight Room” became legendary for all the running teams ( male or female) for years after.  I can still feel the sweat, the strain, and the pain of that workout.  Worse yet, I can hear Paul’s voice in my head “encouraging” me by telling me what a wimp I was if I couldn’t finish.

Music has always been important and has had some amazing results when directed by God.  At one point, the Israelites were trying to capture the city of Jericho.  God gave them some specific instructions which involved marching around Jericho’s walls while playing trumpets.  Sounds like a silly way to conquer a city, doesn’t it?  This is what happened:  “So, the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the people heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed. Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it.” (Joshua 6:20)

Got any walls to bring down?  Any battles you need to win?  Find the song God wants you to sing, sing it with all your heart and might, and you’ll live to fight another day.  And every time you hear or think of that song, you’ll have the memory of what it meant to you.  And, if you can’t sing,

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, 
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. (Psalm 150:3-6)

“Why me, Lord?” (Kris Kristofferson, 1972)

Not too long ago, I posted how our extended family has been going through some difficult times–extending roughly over the past 10 years.  There were deaths too numerous to mention and health issues that none of us ever expected.  I know we’re no different from other families who probably have gone through similar situations.  But that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with.  People say that whatever doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.  Then we must be one incredibly powerful family.  It just doesn’t always feel that way.

So, here we were planning and looking forward to starting the new year with a fresh and positive outlook.  Well, so much for that idea.  Our nephew passed away unexpectedly on New Year’s day, leaving 4 sons (including an infant), his partner, and all of us.  Following that, there were unexpected issues with custody of his baby.  Then there’s an unexpected health issue that will require surgery.  Some of the non-family responsibilities we have are now requiring a lot of our time dealing with very stressful issues.  And January isn’t even over yet.

I said (wrote) all of that to say this:  In the midst of all that (and whatever else may be coming down the road), I need to remind myself:

Psalm 147:3   He heals the broken-hearted and bandages those wounds.

Matthew 5:4   Those people who are grieving will find comfort from God

And, it’s true.  He does and they will.

Fish or cut bait!

 

 

Decisions, decisions…sometimes the decision to do nothing is wise.  But you can’t make a career of doing nothing.  The New York Times explained it this way: ” Freddie Fulcrum weighed everything too carefully.  He would say, ‘On the one hand…but on the other.’  And his arguments weighed out so evenly, he never did anything.  When Freddie died, they carved a big zero on his tombstone.”  Not much of a legacy there.

To set yourself free from the worry and anxiety of making choices, you have to first accept personal responsiblity.  Don’t pass the buck when it’s time to make those decisions.  Tough decisions.  Lonely decisions.  Unpleasant decisions.  Misunderstood decisions.  Courageous decisions.  Decide and don’t leave it to someone else to make the decisions for you.

In other words, if you decide to fish–fine.  Or if you decide to cut bait–fine.  But if you decide to do nothing, you’re not going to have fish for dinner.

And if I remember correctly, Jesus often had fish for dinner.  Hmmm….

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. ( Proverbs 3:5)