Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brotherly Love

March 21, 2017, marked the 21st anniversary of when my brother met Jesus face to face.  Terry had just completed work for the day, was visiting with men at the job site, and at 38 years of age died of a massive heart attack.  He left behind his wife Eileen, daughter Stacy (15 years old), son Erich (13 years old), and family and friends who loved him dearly.  The details of that day are embedded in all of our hearts and minds.

From the beginning, one of Dad’s desires for our family was that we would be close, and that was for more than just in age.  Thankfully, that priority was accomplished.  There were four daughters and one son in our family born in less than seven years.  Terry was the fourth child and more than held his own with four sisters.  He was even known to pass out Kleenex to all the girls before we watched “Little House on the Prairie.”  As a child, as well as an adult, Terry brought much joy, laughter, and mischief into our family.   You knew you would enjoy and treasure life whenever he was around.  Terry wasn’t perfect by any means, but as he grew he embraced his relationship with Jesus.  Before going to seminary, Larry was the Youth Minister at South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena for part of Terry’s and Micki’s, high school years.  As an adult, Terry taught 7th grade boys in Sunday School and went to church youth camp as a sponsor.  Since he had probably tried most of the tricks in the book, he was a great one to have to watch out for the kids.  At his funeral, several people stated that either they or their child had become a follower of Jesus because of Terry’s influence during their 7th grade year.  One of the most cherished memories our youngest sister, Micki, learned from Terry “was to let people know that they are special to me.  Whenever I said something nice about someone, or told him what someone had done for me, he always asked me if I had let them know that I appreciated it, or just that they were special to me.  When he died, I did not spend one minute wondering if he knew how special he was to me and that I loved him.  He did know, because I told him on several occasions.”  What a blessing to have the gift of no regrets. 

Once the grandchildren came along, Terry was loved and adored by another generation.  Whenever Terry was present, he had the kids’ attention from the moment he walked in the room.  He took time to play with them, joke, and teach them things.  Even after his own children were born, Terry had a way of including everyone when he was around.

Terry’s favorite number was 18, since he was born on October 18th.  It’s one of those facts that we all know and remember about him.  My senior year in college, Dad and Mom bought a car for us three older girls to have and share at Texas Tech.  When Dad brought the car home, Terry gave me an envelope that I was instructed to pull over and open when the odometer hit 18.  I opened the envelope just a few houses down on our street and found a $20 bill of his hard earned money that he had gifted to commemorate the occasion.  I love that my first stem cell treatment was on October 18th, his birthday.  Terry’s son recently married and chose a month with the 18th on the weekend, in memory of his dad, to have the wedding.  Even with Mom’s memory waning, she still chooses cards with 18 on them when they play BINGO at her retirement home.

Weeks like this seem to magnify the gift we had in Terry.  The memories have been extra sweet.  Although Terry only had 38 years on this earth, he packed a lifetime into them.  He taught his family the importance of loving each other, praying, having a relationship with Jesus, and other important lessons.  It’s as if he had an urgency to teach and encourage them with what they needed to know about life.   He would have continued to be so proud of Eileen, Stacy, and Erich.  Terry taught and modeled and they took it to heart and put it into practice.  Eileen continued to teach school and married a man who loves and provides for her and the kids.  Stacy graduated college, married a fine man, has a precious daughter, and is a lab technician at a hospital.  Erich served two tours of duty in the United States Marine Corps, graduated college, taught school, recently married a wonderful woman, and is attending law school.  How grateful we continue to be for God’s gift of Terry and his family. 

Some thoughts through these years:
* God’s love, faithfulness, presence, and provision continue to be enough.
* Investing in your family is worth it.
* Death may take a life, but the love and memories remain.
* Family and friends are treasured blessings, especially at times like these.
* Since our days are numbered, it’s important to express love and appreciation every chance you get.
* Celebrate, love, and cherish the ones you still have with you.
* I need to make sure I am living a life that makes a difference and is worthy of being missed and remembered.
* I want to be intentionally faithful to God’s purpose for my life.
* Because of my belief and trust in Jesus, I will be with Terry again one day.

Teach us to number our days,
     that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

How wonderful, how beautiful,
     when brothers and sisters get along!
Psalm 133:1 (The Message)

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring Break 2017

This week was a break in the everyday routine of our schedules.  Priorities still had precedence, but we purposely chose to set aside some things or wait to complete projects in order to spend quality and quantity time with family and extended family.

What a wonderful week of Spring Break.  We’ve enjoyed sharing birthday celebrations, meals, and time together.  It was extra special having all six grandchildren, as well as the adult children, here at the same time.  How delightful to watch the kids play and enjoy being with each other.  There was much laughter, giggling, and excitement.  We also had tears when they had to be apart from each other for a few hours.  My prayer is that they will always enjoy being together, learning from each other, and celebrating life along the way.  

Spring Break started by celebrating our great-nephew Eli’s 6th birthday last Sunday afternoon in Pasadena.  We were able to be with lots of family.  Chad’s family arrived Sunday evening.  On Thursday I enjoyed spending time with my Mom and two of my sisters in Pasadena.  Larry and I drove to Porter on Friday to celebrate his sister’s 80th birthday. This morning we will celebrate Ryen’s 4th birthday and Sawyer’s upcoming 2nd birthday before they go back to Gatesville.  This has been an extra special week with lots of time with family. 

Daniel     David     Sawyer      Della      Ryen    Mary
                                   2              6      23 months  3 months  4          4

 Larry and Della

 It's always fun when Uncle Brad is around

Abby made me a birthday cake out of watermelon
strawberries and grapes.  The grandkids enjoyed
eating the fruit on a stick. 

In my Bible readings these past weeks, God’s plan for the ongoing teaching and purpose for family has been on my heart and mind.  Along with the laughter and fun, I also want to be intentional about the time I spend modeling and teaching about God’s love, purpose, and provision whether it’s Spring Break or just another ordinary day.

And for the record:  It’s way too quiet around here now that all have gone home.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Choosing to Follow

Scott needed to have work done on one of his cars and called to see if I would pick him up at the automotive shop.  Since I was not familiar with the part of town where he was going, I needed to print out directions, get directions over the phone, or go to Scott’s house and follow him as he drove to the shop.  Since Scott had been to the location before and knew where he was going, I chose to follow him.  Once we left Scott’s house, I made sure I kept my eyes directed on Scott’s car, made every turn he made, and stayed as close to his car as possible until we arrived at the destination.  After we left the automotive shop, Scott gave verbal directions as we completed a few more errands.  Because of his closeness, I could listen, hear, and follow his instructions.

Some lessons I thought about while driving:
* I get to choose whom I will follow.
* It’s good to follow someone who knows where they are going and what they are doing.
* The one I choose to lead me should be worthy of my trust.
* It’s important to keep my eyes and attention on the one being followed.
* It’s good for the leader to know you are following so they can make sure you are staying close and made it through the light change.
* When I concentrate on following, the easier it is to not be distracted.
* Turn indicators help point the way and direction.
* There is satisfaction in a successful mission.
* Every day I must make the choice to follow God, listen closely to His instruction, keep my eyes and heart focused on him, and obey His teachings.

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 111:10

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:38

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Color of Friendship

What color is friendship?

Lydia Rosebush recently told her 5 year old son that he was in need of a haircut.  Jax decided that he wanted to get his hair cut really short like his friend Reddy.  He thought it would be fun to look like Reddy so that their teacher would be confused since she couldn’t tell them apart.  Jax and Reddy are about the same size, have engaging smiles, and twinkles in their eyes.  Because of their friendship, Jax didn’t even consider the different colors of their skin to be a noticeable factor in what his teacher saw.

Muaharrem is a young deaf man from Istanbul, Turkey.  His sister teamed up with some of his neighbors and a production crew to give him a special day.  While Muaharrem’s neighbors were learning sign language, the Leo Burnett ad firm and Samsung spent a month strategically setting up cameras around his neighborhood.  The day of the shooting, Muaharrem is first greeted with sign language from the man behind the counter in a local shop.  When he steps outside, another man speaks to him using sign language.  When he accidentally bumps into a woman she signs an apology.  Next, as Muaharrem gets into a cab, the driver signs “Hello” to him.  The taxi driver takes him to a public square where he is greeted by his neighbors signing to him.  He is overcome with emotion at the efforts his neighbors have exerted to learn a way to communicate with him.

Cleansheet Communications produced an ad for Canadian Tire Corporation as part of its sponsorship for the Rio Olympics 2016.  The commercial begins with a group of young boys playing basketball.  A loose ball rolls onto a neighbor’s sidewalk.  As one of the boys retrieves the ball, he notices a boy in a wheelchair on the porch.  The two boys exchange greetings and then he returns to play.  Later, as the boy in the wheelchair looks outside, he sees a basketball on his porch.  He takes the ball next door and notices the boys riding on tricycles, scooters, and one on a chair in a wagon so that he will feel comfortable playing with them.  The ad ends with “When the best of us steps up, our nation stands a little taller.”

I’m thinking that if friendship has a color, it must be love.  May we all color well this week.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:3

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:31

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:10

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I John 4:11