Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't Lose Your Marbles!

Note: I do not know the original source of this article, but it speaks to me and I wanted to share it with you.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday morning. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.” I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It’s too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital,” he continued; “Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."

"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I’m getting to the important part.It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail,” he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear."

"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.There’s nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.It was nice to meet you Tom. I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 year old man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile.

“Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Friend… you don’t have many marbles. So spend them well!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

TV Church...

Brenda and I have both been sick all weekend long, which means neither of us were able to assemble with the believers at FBC Woodward for worship and fellowship. This marks a first for over 1300 Sundays I had not missed a gathering due to illness... until today. Being unable to go today reminded me of how grateful I am to serve with a group of dedicated men who take seriously the command to be instant both in and out of season. Thanks Tony for stepping in with only a few hours notice.

Being home on Sunday morning is not something I am accustomed to. So... I thought I would check out some of the religious programing available to me via Dish Network. Surely with so many channels for my perusal I would be able to find something inspiring to partake of. Man... was I disappointed! There wasn't much offered that was of any real value to me, but there was a little. Feed the Children was looping a valid appeal for financial help to enable them to transport 11 million pound of rice from Taiwan to Malawi... enough to supplement 44 million meals for the hungry children of Malawi. This grabbed me and, once Brenda and I talk it over, we will probably get involved. I also heard a message from Pastor Ed Young Sr. that was both challenging and helpful. What was lacking was fellowship... interaction with living, breathing, Christ loving people.

Over the years I have met many people who are more than content to "get their church on TV". And... though I have always known the fallacy of this position, I now have experienced the deficiency of so called "TV Church". Oh sure... a person can hear some preaching and singing on the Tube, but it is not and cannot be "church". Beyond the obvious, a lack of genuine fellowship and accountability, "TV Church" could be detrimental to healthy spiritual development. What I mean is... with the hodge-podge of theology made available by many so called "TV Preachers" one could become seriously confused and permanently stunted spiritually. Granted, some believers have no alternative, but pity the individual who, by personal preference, gets his or her "church" on the Boob Tube.

I know that since imperfect people make up the church (local body of baptized believers) the church is imperfect, but it remains God's choice of organizations whose purpose is to lead people to love God, love people, and reach the world. And while I certainly did not miss the petty church politics of the religious people, I really missed the sweet fellowship with those who are Christ followers that gather every week @FBC Woodward... the church of which I am a participant... the church to which TV Church cannot hold a candle.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

24 with Breeana

Well... since my gifted and talented daughter gave my blog a face lift, thought I might joy down a recent happening...

Thursday evening Bree came to spend the night with us. After playing on her swing set and in her sand box for an hour or so, jumping a couple of times... this would be her jumping from my ottoman into my lap, and flying a few rounds... this would be her laying on my arm and holding her arms out like wings while I fly her around, she decided she needed to watch a movie on the "puter"... that would be my laptop. I found a DVD of the Backyardigans, but it wouldn't load. Since we didn't have any other suitable movie, I headed to her house to retrieve a Goofy movie... at 10:00 pm mind you. I know... she's got me! She watched all of 10 minutes of the movie and decided to crawl into bed with Brenda, who wasn't feeling well. Once there, she watched some of her shows on the DVR and finally fell asleep around 11:30.

Friday morning we went through the normal routine... she lay on the couch watching her shows and I went to McDonald's to fetch her a McGriddle. Around 10:00 am, Brenda asked her if she was ready to go home and she said, "Nah". At noon I went to Wally World to get some Pepsi and popcorn chicken. We ate and drank and were merry and... she still didn't want to go home! So I took her to the "Church Park"... her name for the playground at church... and she and I spent about an together... her playing and me cherishing the moment and capturing a memory.

From there we headed toward her house with her still not wanting to go home. I assured her that she needed to go see mommy, daddy and brother, but she wasn't buying it. When we didn't turn towards my house at the 4-way stop near the entrance to her neighborhood, she begin to whine... the kid has a better since of direction at 3 years old than many adults do! We arrived at her house to find Scott and Jarrett home alone... Tish had gone shopping. Bree began playing with Jarrett, but quickly said, "I want milk, Daddy... in my special cup". Now... the little stinker knew that her "special cup" was at Nonny and Poppy's house and, when I told her as much, she said, "I know, I go with you to get it." Well... as you have already guessed, I loaded her back into the car and away we went to my house where she promptly laid down beside her Nonny and feel fast asleep.

While Bree spending the night with us has happened several times, the events of Thursday evening and Friday marked a first for us... she absolutely didn't want to leave. I am not sure what was up with that, but I sure enjoyed my 24 with Breeana.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Afternoon @ Eskimo Slow's

Monday I traveled with the family to the land where the water runs still... to the city whose inhabitants think everyday is Halloween. Tish and Ashley both had appointments with the best doctor in the country, and since it was a good excuse for some great family hang time, I journeyed along.

First up was Shane and Ashley's visit to the hospital for an ultrasound. Anxious to get a glimpse of baby Allen, Brenda and I, along with Ashley's dad and step-mom squeezed into a tiny room with Shane, Ashley and the tech. After determining several circumferences, looking at the heart and kidneys, and assuring us that baby was developing as should be expected, the obvious came into view... yup, the baby is a BOY! Jaxxon Shane Allen is due to be born July 9th.

From the hospital it was off to eat at Ashley's reasturant of choice... Eskimo Slow's. With a little over an hour until Tish's appointment, we placed our orders. After 20 minutes passed they brought out our cheese fries. Our food finally arrived just after Tish left for her doctor's appointment, and just before Ashley had to leave for her's. Shane and Ashley quickly ate and rushed off to the doctor. Now... since Tish had departed in her vehicle, and Shane and Ashley had to take mine, Brenda and I were left at Slow's (I know it's supposed to be Joe's) with Bree and Jarrett doing just what I went to Stillwater to do... hang out at a college dive with my grandkids and wait for a ride! Like I said earlier... going was a good excuse for some family hang time, but this wasn't what I had in mind. Oh well... a memory was made and an impression was formed... I won't be going back to Eskimo Slow's anytime soon.

Finally, Tish returned from seeing the best doctor in the country, and we loaded up and went to Hobby Blobby (No I didn't forget to use spell check). I sat in the Jeep bonding with Bree and Jarrett while Brenda and Tish did the Lobby thing and then we headed West. Since Wally World was on the way out of town, we stopped in for a few things. Once back in the vehicle Brenda decided a Sonic tea would be good for the road so we headed East... yes all the way back to Perkins Road, purchased our refeshments, entered a heading of 270 (Westward heading) and arrived home at 8:00 pm.

February 2, 2009... it was morning and it was night and all in between was good.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The FATHER Knows Best

As a pastor, I have been with many a family during times of grief. I have been the bearer of horrible news to families who suffered the unexpected and tragic lose of a loved one, and I have sat with families while they received such news. I have buried still born infants, children, young adults, and older adults. Each time I have felt helpless and very incompetent. I do not think it is possible to ever walk away from such an occasion feeling good.

Last night was no different. For several weeks, Brenda and I have been really excited about the pending arrival our next grandchildren. The thought of Jarrett having a brother or sister, and a cousin, born within 14 months of him, was precious to us. But then the call came. It seemed that Tish was experiencing difficulty... at first some bleeding... later cramps. We both knew what this probably meant. Shortly after arriving at the Boomer basketball game, Tish called and said Scott was taking her to the emergency room. Somewhere around 11:00 pm it was confirmed... Tish had lost their baby and our grandbaby. Present were my feelings of helplessness and incompetence, only this time... the feelings were much more intense. I didn't know what to do other than hug my daughter up real close, so I did.

On the way home from the emergency room I became aggravated at myself... I should have been grieving, but I wasn't. Yes, I was experiencing sorrow... sorrow for Scott and Tish... sorrow that I wouldn't ever see the little baby... at least from this side... but no real grief. If the lose we had just experienced had been Bree or Jarrett, the grief would have been intense... seemingly unbearable. So... since life begins at conception, and since this little baby was just as much a human being as I am, why was I not sensing grief as I would should anyone else in my family die? It wasn't until sometime in the night that I was able to reconcile what had happened with how I was feeling... even though the little baby that had departed the womb to be with the Savior was just as much my grandchild as the other two are, I had never seen it or held it... never kissed it or heard it cry... the emotional bond hadn't yet strongly formed. This doesn't mean I love less, or lost less, it just means I am a human with emotions.

I feel better. Yes I sorrow for my kids who have suffered the loss of life. And... today I think just a little differently about paradise because this is the first of my descendants to make the journey. But I do not sorrow as those who have no hope.

I do not pretend to know why things such as this happen. I rest in knowing that The FATHER Knows Best.