December Again

At the time of this post we are sitting once more on the eve of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. 80 years have gone by. According to statistics that’s basically a lifetime for most Americans. There are some who remember that day, but there are a tremendous number more who do not. As I read the morning “news” today (that is to say as I read headlines of stories on the USA Today app) I saw that we lost two more hero figures from World War II. Just this summer I took my father in law to visit Pearl Harbor and to see the site where his brother in law died on the USS Arizona. It was a somber moment. Pearl Harbor was the 9/11 moment for his generation. At times and moments like that, the speeches are made and there is a swell of support for the notion “Never Forget”. Yet in church yesterday, there was not a word said in remembrance…

If we can forget an event such as the violent attack on Pearl Harbor, what else can we forget? Does time heal the wound or does the wound simply get buried under the sands of time?

What wound are you remembering this Christmas season? How long will it remain? What will you do to…

—Rise Up!!

(Out of the) Fog

Yesterday was a long day of driving. We left Klamath Falls, Oregon for our home in Southern California around 9 am. It wasn’t quite the 8am start I had hoped for, but it was still early enough to get home at a reasonable time.

When we left a week ago, I had all kinds of plans for the trip and the return, but like so much in life, things did not go exactly how I had it mapped out. I wound up getting sick a couple of days before the return trip and spent the last two days mostly in bed and wore a mask to keep the others from catching my cold.

Then on our get away day we woke up to a pea soup fog. It was not optimized for our success!

There’s not a whole lot of choice in how we can do things. We needed to get home and driving while feeling sick was not fun. Fog that limited my visibility to about 50 feet at times, and having my mother riding in the front seat from the back seat, if you know what I mean, piled stress on top of stress.

Then as we drove, the sun broke through the fog. Mt. Shasta shrugged of her shawl of clouds and we were greeted to a magnificent view.

Fog, on the road and in life, never lasts forever. It’s going to burn off. The seasons will change. Whatever fog you see now is hiding beauty from your vision, but that doesn’t mean that the beauty isn’t right there. Keep driving and soon you will find clear skies. Keep waiting for the beauty that is just out of sight and…

—Rise Up!!

Foggy driving…
Mt. Shasta

Smells like Thanksgiving…

It’s Thanksgiving week here in America. Cranberries, potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey….all of it will be changing the aroma of homes across the country. Oh yeah, and bratwurst…

My daughter is hosting us at her house for her first Thanksgiving in her new house. We are all very excited to go celebrate. The only thing is that she like to do a “non-traditional” meal, so she has informed us that we will be having German food this year. Fair enough- her house, her rules, right?!?

It threw some of the family for a loop. Thanksgiving can be a day of great tradition. I love tradition, I really do, but the problem with tradition is that it can lead people into an autopilot mentality. We do things because that’s how we’ve always done them. We can lose sight of the meaning behind things. I see and hear people getting upset about “XMas”. They want to keep the Christ in Christmas, yet Thanksgiving has morphed into Turkey Day without much ado.

Whatever we eat, and some folks in this great nation will not eat at all, we need to be mindful of the the Thanks; we need to be mindful of the giving. Look around you this Thursday and find something, find anything, to be thankful for. Most of the time it’s not that difficult to find. Breathe in and…

—Rise Up!!

Hello…?

I made a FaceTime call to my kids this weekend. I was just calling to chat with my daughter and son in law. I figured we could talk about soccer, or maybe the way that our Steelers let us down. Nothing important, basically just checking in and killing some time while I waited for my wife to finish whatever it was that she was doing. When my daughter didn’t answer I did what I always do and called her husband. Usually Heather answers right away and it takes Dave a little while. This was a big switcheroo. Nothing from the girl, but Dave’s phone entered the answering sequence after one ring. Cool.

If you’re familiar with iPhones, you know that there is a bit of a handoff that happens when someone answers a FaceTime call. There’s that bit of a lull when you get some audio from the other side, but the camera hasn’t connected yet. As that happened I did what I always do: I made a funny face. Then when the camera finally came on I was surprised by the face that came back at me. It was my grandson Luc, also making a face. Then he burst into his delightful little seven year old giggle. He was thrilled to have surprised his Papa. I was thrilled to be surprised since he is typically pretty reticent to come to the phone.

We talked for 17 minutes. Well, talked is generous, but we goofed off with each other for 17 minutes. I didn’t even really talk to Heather or Dave. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was wonderful; better, even…

Sometimes when we don’t get what we are expecting it gives us exactly what we need to…

–Rise Up!!

5 New Faces

Friday was one of those days that I don’t necessarily relish. I could see in advance that things were not going to be pleasant for a bit. I even knew in advance and agreed to set some of the conditions that allowed for the unpleasantness. Yet still, with all this “foreknowledge”, I stormed into the rain and complained about getting wet.

One of the biggest tenets of recovery is that consistency in your program is critical. People are often unstable and they need to be able to predict what is coming next. Changes in routines are going to happen, but we like to try to minimize their frequency. Through “circumstances beyond our control” we were moved into a different venue for our group on Friday. There was a scheduling conflict and we were asked to accommodate a change. I wasn’t pleased, but these things happen, right? I agreed to the change days in advance, but as the calendar drew us closer to Friday I got more and more bothered about my decision. I let myself hear that my group was “less than”; that we were once again seen as “those people”.

As I drove up early on Friday afternoon to try to move and set up equipment I discovered that I was woefully under equipped to do things in a way that we had become used to doing them. Cue the angry voices and accusations in my mind. Galatians 5:22 & 23 tell us about the fruit of the spirit. It’s fairly well known in Christian circles. The lead in verses (19-21) tell us about the works of the flesh. Nestled in there amongst the foul and filth is “fits of anger”. Yeah, that was me late Friday afternoon.

I’d love to tell you that I realized my mistake and got over myself quickly, but that’s just not the way it played out. I pouted and fumed. I figuratively stamped my feet and pounded my fists. I wanted to quit. I wanted to light a match and burn it all down. Not a particularly great look for the Ministry Leader of a recovery program…

We did not have the requisite equipment to do an electric worship service so we opted for an acoustic set. We went upnplugged, including no microphones. That meant we had to sing loud in order to be heard well. Sing loud…now that sounded like something I was up for! We practiced our worship set and I began to calm down. I let God soothe me through the worship. I let myself laugh. Then God happened…

On a night where we were not in our normal venue; on a night when the church campus had dozens of people coming for a completely different event; on a night where it was all supposed to go wrong we had our biggest attendance in months including 5 brand new faces and 2 others who were there for the other event, but committed to returning next week for CR. God is so good. Just when I was reaching for the depths He showed me how to…

–Rise Up!!

Merry Christmas

Wait a minute…isn’t today November first? Yes. Yes it is. Last night we spent Halloween in Hawaii with our kids and grandkids. It was interesting. Usually I think of Halloween as the point at which the weather gets cold in Ridgecrest and last night I sat in shorts and a T-shirt at night. Hawaii…am I right?!?

As we sat on the front porch of my daughter’s house we could see down the street to a neighbor who was putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. At first I was thinking “Dang, y’all beat Walmart to the punch, didn’t you?” But as I think about it, I can see the MoM in it. Here as person who is looking forward to the next victory. Here’s a person who wants the celebrate the future even as we celebrate the now. I don’t know them personally, but I’m sure that they know how to…

—Rise Up!!

We wish you a Merry Christmas…

Go South, Young Man!

Last Friday my wife and I visited a Celebrate Recovery group so that she could share her testimony. It was a great experience. As she spoke we were literally about 10 miles from a volcanic eruption that was shooting lava 30-60 feet into the air. God was moving earth as Bev’s story was moving hearts. Afterward she said that more than anyone else in the room, it was she who needed to hear herself the most that night. She needed a reminder about her own recovery and how much God had done in her life.

Tomorrow night we will share at another CR. This time it will be our couple’s testimony. This time we will be down at the southern tip of the island, which makes this particular meeting the southern-most CR meeting in the country. Kind of a neat thing. (I love that kind of stuff.) I don’t know who will be there. I’ve never even met any of the people at the meeting before. But they’re my forever family, so I know it will be good. Maybe it will only be Bev or myself who benefits, but I know that even though our day will go south, by night time we will…

—Rise Up!!

Good

Sitting in my daughter’s living room, listening to the sounds of my 7 month old grandson, on my wife’s birthday, IN HAWAII and I’m wondering what to write about…

It’s not always going to be like this. We are going to have to go back home in two weeks. The grandsons will stay here. Life keeps moving on. But I can always think back to now. When I feel a bit sad, when I feel a bit down, when I feel a bit blue, I can think about….

Ok, I’m back. You didn’t know I was gone, but the grandson we just mentioned needed a diaper change. It was nuts. As soon as I undid the old one he did an arch/spin move on me, dunked his foot in the “stuff”, then tried to crawl off while I wrestled a poopy foot! Talk about someone with the will to rise up!

Anyhow, back to my original thought. Times will change. Good will shift to “less good”. Keep focused on the next time it cycles back to wonderful and…

—Rise Up!!

Going in Circles

Yesterday was a hoot. We got to go to Disneyland with our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter for her very first time there. If you’ve never had the joy of taking a kid to the Magic Kingdom for the first time, you have truly missed out on one of the best things ever. The looks on their faces are just amazing. Everything is so magnificent for them and watching their little brains try to take it all in is so much fun.

We had made a pact with each other that the day would be all about Eleanore, no adult rides were on the docket, and that was just fine with us because her happiness was infectious. She really had no concept of “rides”, having never been to anything like an amusement park before, so we just kind of took her from place to place, unveiling a little bit of the park at a time. As it turns out, she likes to ride rides that spin.

That’s not a great thing for Papa, because I’m pretty much done after my first complete spin. A full minute or two of going in circles puts me down for the count! Enter Grammy. That lady LOVES to spin too, so they were a perfect fit. As we made our way through spinning rides we eventually got to the Astro Orbitor. This one gives all the spin you want and adds a lever to control the height of the car. This was a mind blower for Eleanore. I asked her after if she liked the ride. Her response: “I went up and up and UP!!!” Music to your MoM’s ears right there.

So next time it feels like you are just spinning in circles, find the lever and pull back hard and you will be the next in line to…

–Rise Up!!

Oh, Hello!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to run into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in the better part of a year or more. I was getting ready for my regular Friday night group and reviewing my notes for my lesson. As I read through them I noticed that I quoted someone that I used to see quite often, but that had been out of touch of late.It made me smile because I have a true fondness for this person. After reading through my notes and feeling fairly well prepared for the night I looked up, and who do I see but this very person!

It was a weird thing to look up and see the person I was going to be quoting soon walk through the doors after such a long time. It was a great lesson to never give up on something. People all have the choice to do whatever it is that they are going to do. Heaven knows that I’ve made some choices that have left people wondering what was going through my head. The important thing to remember is that you never know when a long lost friend will walk back into your space. Keep their memories alive, and when they return they will help you to…

–Rise Up!!