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The Eastern Oklahoma wind was howling so that I could only suggest a direction for that old broken-back minnow, a lure that I have used for so long I forget where it came from. I would muscle it into the wind, parallel to the willows hanging over the undercut in the bank, and hope the wind would blow it underneath the limbs, and yet not on the rooted bank itself. The roots, extensions from dozens of trees that line the bank, would capture the lure and I would never get it back. Following a few vain attempts, the wind and I made and arrangement, and I dropped the bait just under the lowest root of the biggest willow. Success!
But there was not time to enjoy the cast as the water literally exploded around the bait. Time slowed. The wind stopped; I could count every scale along the jaw line of that large mouth surrounding my lure. The utter surprise of the strike jolted me to act, and in my best Kevin Van Dam imitation, I yanked back on the rod to set the hook on the largest fish I had seen in years. Except for the monsters in the tank over at Bass Pro Shop.
The rod bent deeply, straining against the weight of the strike. I yanked again and began to reel furiously. Suddenly, the rod straightened, and, as if in slow motion, I could see the giant fish turn his big head toward me, wink at me with his fishy eye, open his cavernous mouth, and spit out my lure like my then-baby son used to launch his pureed sweet potatoes. With crystal-clear vision, I could see the broken-back minnow, my favorite lure of all time, growing in size as it came zinging back, right toward my head. With the speed of a large antique turtle, I ducked as quickly as I could, avoiding catching the bait with my forehead, but succeeding in catching both treble hooks in my hair.
Because I was fishing as a guest of a church member, I refrained from forming with my mouth the words that were flying through my cranium, bouncing off every corner in the vacant space. I carefully laid down my rod, and gently untangled the laser-sharpened double-barbed hooks from my hair.
My hair. Wait- where was my cap? My lucky fishing cap?
My cap flew farther than my lure…
It seems to have blown over the water and into the roots of the dozens of trees that line the undercut. Because it was my lucky hat, I wanted it back. So, I spent the next hour fighting the wind to try and hook my lucky hat and reel it back to the safety of my sun-burning head.
I guess that’s why they call it ‘fishing’, and not ‘catching’.
This Sunday begins a new season for us at The Springs. For two months, our church will highlight stories of some of its members. Stories of failure, success, struggle, victory. Real stories of real families. The beauty is that none of the stories have seen their final chapters. As long as we have breath in our lungs, we can re-write the outline of our lives and write brand-new conclusions to our own stories. Every chapter starts fresh, with new content… new direction… new hope.
Join us at The Springs as we celebrate our stories…. and yours.
What’s your story?
It was my privilege this week to stand with a family while a beloved mother and grandmother struggled in her final hours of life. Sweet tears flowed, and quiet prayers brought to mind the goodness of God. It was so obvious that this family was connected, strong, and beautiful.
Later, at the funeral home, I heard stories of times long ago; memories that anchored that family to who they were, who they are. And a new baby will soon be born and that sweet girl will learn of the history of that family, and will- I’m sure- help shape and mold another generation.
I was reminded that the strength of family is a beautiful thing.
For those whose family relationship isn’t something to be cherished and handed down from generation to generation, please know: there is hope. While you may not be able to change your history, you can change your future.
A strong family is a beautiful thing.
What are your favorite things about your family? What would you change if you could?
We all have days where everything we touch seems to turn to gold- good decisions, the right choices, and friends and family close by that affirm us. Then, there are days where we cruise by, where we kind of average out; some good, some not-so-good, but we still feel ahead of the game.
Then, there are the times where nothing seems to go right- we can’t seem to find the right choices and decisions, where we cannot get enough information to make even an educated guess. Often, those times are accompanied by the pressures of multiple deadlines, un-returned phone calls and emails, and no available online information. And time seems to simultaneously rush full steam ahead and stop dead in its tracks.
What do you say to people in those times? What do you want people to say to you in those times?
For me, as a follower of Christ, especially while in the midst of those most difficult times, I try to fall back on the behavior suggested in Proverbs 3, “Trust in the Lord with all my heart; do not lean on my on understanding or comprehension. In everything I do, I will acknowledge the Lord, and He will direct my paths.” Then, I relax, I wait, I trust, I choose, I don’t look back.
I will confess, however, that is easier said than done.
How do you handle very difficult and seemingly unfair situations?
Last week I was able to spend some time away from the office, attending a memorial service for a family member, a conference in Nashville, and visiting family and friends along the way. I drove just under 2000 miles in 8 days away. In all that driving, there are only so many radio stations and CDs in which to listen, so I took advantage of the travel time to sit in silence and …. think.
I thought about my father-in-law George, a quiet, Godly man. George just turned 87 years old, and his body is gradually reacting to years of hard work, dozens of surgeries, and the toll of time. His blood, kept artificially thin to prevent a rupture in an aortic aneurism, also keeps his body artificially cold. We sat last week in his den; George cocooned in thermal t-shirt, a long-sleeved dress shirt, and a sweater vest. The temperature was easily 85 in the house; George was cold. I sat in shorts and a tshirt, and thought I would suffocate.
But even at 87, I looked at his eyes, still bright with wit and determination. His hair, now turned more loose than white, is still wispy. But, I couldn’t stop looking at his skin. The skin of his forehead, his face, is unusually smooth and tight. George has had many small places of skin cancer removed surgically from his head and face, and those places are pink and healthy and so… smooth. I couldn’t help but think of all the older folks I know whose faces are as wrinkled as if cultivated for planting season. The lines and crow’s feet and circles belie their ages… but not George.
The more I think about it, it seems appropriate for George to look young because he is young at heart. The devastation of a motorcycle accident 25 years ago, the subsequent surgeries,the falls, 2 brain surgeries, all his replacement parts- alltogether, it would seem that these would define his character, his personality. But they don’t- his tender pink, smooth skin reflect his solid, even temperament; his quiet and steadfast love for his family and friends, his love for the Lord. The walker that helps keep him mobile, the wheelchair that he sits in at the dinner table, the meds he takes for heart, for back, for legs, for blood, etc… define only the turns and twists in the road he has travelled, not the traveller himself.
Thanks, Grandpa, for your example. Thanks for your daughter that I love so much. Here’s to 87 more….
Life is Good!
A conversation between me and my sister. We were driving in N Alabama, along with my other sister and my beautiful stepmom. We had stopped for a potty break.
Me: do we have any trash to throw away?
My sister, riding shotgun: don’t throw away my diet coke can.
Me: is it empty?
My sister: no, I’ve been nursing it for a while.
Me: oh, really? I think I would have noticed that….
Ok, ok. Many of my regular readers (both of you) have asked about the two-month sabbattical from writings and ramblings about the good life. So, here’s the deal-i-o…
Along with being busier than a I really care to be, I have been doing some soul searching about the direction of this blog. Should it become more of a professional project, designed and written to aid and assist other church staffers and church leaders? I read lots of those types of blogs. Or should it continue to simply be a digital expression of, well, me.
Decision is made.
And the winner is…
Life is good. I will write about life as I experience it, and continue to prove that God is good and loving, and that He is alive in my life.
So, stand by for more posts about life… about God… about family and friends…
Life is good!