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)

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.

Step out the boat.

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!  ”Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Matthew 14:29-31)

Ever notice how the Christmas season seems to amplify the hassles and complexities of our lives?  Health issues seem more debilitating.  Finances seem to overcome our wallets.  Relationships seem more fragile.  In my own family, we suddenly needed a hole in the roof patched (probably needs to be replaced in the spring), our refrigerator died ( just after the warranty expired), our front brakes needed to be replaced (where we discovered that we needed four new tires) and our alternator light went on (we hit a deer on the way to the repair shop).  Add in a cardiac catheterization and things were looking pretty bleak.

Remember the expression, “up the creek without a paddle,”? (Some of you may remember a slightly different version.)  Well, our boat seemed to be taking on water fast.  At similar points in our lives we all have a choice to make.  Do we go down with the boat, or do we step out in faith, believing that God will help us to walk on the water?  Those remaining in the boat will try to convince us to stay and not take the chance.  After all, who can walk on water?  Since I was going to get wet anyway, I decided I might as well step out.  Since I have, we have managed to keep up with our finances, the heart procedure showed no major problems, the car is still running, the roof isn’t leaking anymore and we’re learning how to direct our grief over losses into helpful ways with our family.

Life is never easy, but it’s far better when you step out of the boat.

The Master’s Hand

Now may the God of peace….equip you with every good thing to do His will. (Hebrews 13:20-21) 

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took the small boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that her son was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit, keep playing.”

Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful. Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit, keep playing.” Feel His loving arms around you. Know that His strong hands are playing the concerto of your life. Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

– Author Unknown –

Dem bones, dem bones…

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)

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“To succeed in lifeyou need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.” (Reba McEntire, actress, singer)

Wishbone: Dream big and shoot for the stars.  Never let anyone or anything discourage you.  Some people are born with tornadoes in their lives, but constellations in their eyes.  Be one of those.

Backbone: Be strong enough to know when you are weak and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.  Be proud and unbending in honest defeat and humble and gentle in victory.  Stand up in the storm and learn compassion for those who fail.

Funnybone:  Have sense of humor.  Always be serious, but never take yourself too seriously.  Be humble and remember the simplicity of greatness, the open-mindedness of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.

Bones to live by.

Lifetime Love

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Kiss Me Good Night

Our future looked bright—a new way of living.

We learned how to love—a new day was dawning.

Before we were two—now that would be changing.

You’d kiss me good night—and kiss me each morning.

We two became one—our lives interweaving.

We started our lives—a brand new beginning.

We gave up ourselves—by constantly sharing.

By kissing good night—and kissing each morning.

We moved on through life—with everything changing.

Each one of us grew—our interests expanding.

Together we loved—and just kept on living.

As you kissed my goodnight—and kissed me each morning.

We never had kids—no little ones playing.

The sadness we felt—was often dismaying.

But even while filled—with emotion and feeling,

You kissed me goodnight—and kissed me each morning.

We learned to give help—to those who were needing.

In church, school and sports—and sometimes in singing.

But no matter what—the help we were giving,

You kissed me good night sand kissed me each morning.

We both left our jobs—to begin our retiring.

And made all our plans—to start all our traveling.

But no matter where—we ended up sleeping,

You kissed me good night—and kissed me each morning.

Through sickness and health—we never stopped loving.

In good times and bad—we kept on surviving.

‘Til all that was left—I kept on believing,

You’d kiss me good night and kiss me each morning.

It seems now we’re old—the years have been passing.

Our lives have slowed down—our memories fading.

One day it will end—yet I’ll keep on praying,

To kiss you good night—and kiss you each morning.

Happy 46th Anniversary, Betty.  I love you more with each kiss.