IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

a very good year

image courtesy Photobucket.com

What’s in a year? The 365 days in a row before calling it another year seems to have some sort of cycle. I recall the milestone years, turning 16, 21, 30, and 40. Those specific numbers didn’t necessarily relate to what the world would consider “good years.”

The things I used to calculate whether the year was good or bad has changed along the way.

Frank Sinatra did a song titled “It Was A Very Good Year.” In the song, he recalls his early years. At age 17 he recalled small town girls. At age 21 he reminisced a city girl who lived up the stairs who’s, “hair came undone.” At 35, his recollection was of a blue-blooded girl with independent means. The last verse Sinatra compares his life to a good wine that poured out well.

A person in the Autumn of their life looking back on the good things in it and that’s what they come up with? Would you consider those good years?

Each day we’re alive is a gift from God. The days that turn into years are gifts strung together. Sometimes we get so many of them we begin to take them for granted. The years come to be expected as if each one were a right.

Has this been a good year? The answer to the question depends on our perspective. Economically speaking this hasn’t been the best of years. However, on the other side of the coin we find we’ve survived. Many have not only survived they’ve found a new perspective on life and how it is to be lived. They have new priorities, less dollar motivated.

The loss of my dad, this year makes this an unprecedented year for my family and me. We found out in January of this year that he had brain cancer. In some ways, I feel a massive burden has been on my shoulders all year. In other ways, I find the peace of God within and sense He’s been carrying me all year.

Maybe watching the dignity, grace, and strength of God in a man’s last days proves again His love for His chosen. I’m not ready to call it “a good year,” but if something is gained it can’t be all bad.

The things I’ll look back upon in my life to consider the “good years” will be different than that of Frank Sinatra. The things to be cherished can’t be measured in the flesh. The prizes collected along the way will be gifts from God. Love, honor, wisdom, peace, joy, grace, and humility to name a few.

God has blessed me with a lot to be thankful for. I’d say the year I met my wife was “a very good year.” The years my daughters were born were “very good years” as well.

In retrospect, the years I seek God more I find peace. Peace in this world in any year should be a very good year.

I got my first Bible in 1970, I guess that was a very good year. Knowing my immediate family have been chosen by God makes the year and everyone that follows a very good year.

Having the warm sun on my face this deep into December as I write makes this a very good day. I’ve had a lot of good days this year. I’m not sure how many, maybe 345 in a row?

The fact that I know God and what He’s ultimately planned for me in the afterlife accounts for a good day every day.

I don’t get to laugh every day, but I do enjoy the days I do get to laugh.

There might be a day in the future when I talk or write about this year.

I might say, “2010”?  “It was a very good year”…

MY OFFICE

My office

THIS IS THE LOOK I GIVE THE TRESPASSERS!

I do a fair amount of work from  my home office. It’s pretty nice, I have it set up specifically for work and writing.

I’ve had the same rule for the kids their whole life regarding my office: Don’t touch anything in my office! A few times over the years, I went as far as telling them, “Don’t even step foot in my office”! –“I don’t even want you to breathe in there”!

This was usually followed by one of the kids borrowing something from my office without asking. I never knew the exact moment they were breaking the rule. I only found out something was missing when I desperately needed it.

It’s a game I thought I could win! I’ve tried everything. When I went shopping for some of my basic office needs, I’d go out of my way to make sure everyone else in the house had their essentials as well. Not so much because I’m a good guy, I just didn’t want any juvenile hands pilfering through my organized things.

Can you say Jumbo Pack? If I needed paper I’d buy the 40 lb. box. When it was time for a new stapler I’d buy three. The count on mechanical pencils must be up to around 1 million. There was a time when I had several calculators, more than five retractable erasers, and at least three architectural scales.

Yesterday? I had nothing…Zero, zilch, nada. I was a regular “Old Mother Hubbard.” It’s funny (not ha ha, more like peculiar) how no one is ever at home when I discover that my office has been raided. I talk to myself… I know I’m all alone, but I ask the question anyway, “ARE YOU KIDDIN’ ME”?!!!

Apparently no one’s keeping the house rules when it comes to my office. Everything was gone except two empty staplers. My office was like Whoville after the Grinch’s raid.

Instead of getting work done, I rifle through the house on my personal “Treasure Hunt.” My list is always the same and I never ever find everything on my list. When the kleptomaniacs get home they never seem to remember taking anything. I’m not sure Sherlock Holmes could solve these seemingly obvious mysteries. Although I haven’t gone as far as dusting for fingerprints just yet.

I look up from my frustration and am surrounded by pictures of the perpetrators. They look kind and innocent in the pictures. I spot the picture over the fireplace of all of my girls taken about ten years ago. My wife was taller than all of them back then. Oh, don’t think that I’m not aware that she too does her share of pilfering!

I study the picture of all four of them at the lake on an oversized inner tube. They don’t really look like criminals. I see the sketch of the three sisters done about seven years ago at Lego-Land. They didn’t want to get it done. I made them stand in line to get that done. Sure glad I did.

I see the team sports pictures spanning the big girls High School years. I spy the pictures from children to current day. I’m remembering all the times of frustration spent trying to prevent my office supplies from disappearing. I also recall all of the time spent recovering some of the lost articles.

I have to laugh… I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything. Whatever taken from “The Forbidden Room” was used on school projects. They figured out how to succeed. None of them were going to let a simple house rule interfere with what they knew was important to me as much as them.

I spot a picture of my wife at about two years old. There I am about the same age with a plastic phone in my hand. Right above us is a photograph of my wife’s parents on their wedding day. Over to the left is a picture of my mom and dad taken around 1969. That’s my favorite picture of them.

This room I call my office, I cherish. I don’t blame my family for breaking a few rules every now and then.

I guess they already figured that out…

SMILING

smiling

DREAM CAR! image by photobucket

I guess I’m growing wiser and finally becoming more mature. (knock on wood) It’s about time…

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, but I have proof.

Today a guy in a parking lot called me a bad name. I tried to reason with him. When I could see that he was just mad at the world or himself and was beyond being able to reason. I asked him to confirm his stated position, “So I’m the _ _ _”? (3 letters, the last 2 are “s’.” I turned and walked away.

Still not convinced? How about the fact that I get more joy seeing my loved ones smile due to something I’ve done for them?

A few years back we took the kids to Disney Land. I loved that place when I was a kid. We didn’t get to go too often even though we lived pretty close. Nowadays I don’t like crowds and really despise standing in lines. However I love to see my kids smile, and that more than offsets the negatives.

While we were visiting the Magical Kingdom, our little one told my wife, “Mom, I can’t keep my smile down”! Priceless…

I remember the joy of new undiscovered treasures in my life. The first joys were monitored by my parents. My first dog Pee Wee. My first red bike, complete with sissy bar. Of course the true American right of passage, my first car. These “first” things in life were exhilarating, absolutely no way of keeping my smile down. I grin silently in remembrance of them.

At my age, I’ve had a lot of “first” things in my life. I appreciate any and all things provided by God in my life, and I’m thankful. The smile of “First-time” innocence is gone. I suppose that’s part of the price to pay for wisdom. I’ve learned that material things in this world while enjoyable are fleeting.

I grew up with my first dog Pee Wee. He was there with me from 4th grade on. We moved to the city where my dad got a job. I was getting ready to start high school in a strange new place. My only friend and solace was my short-life-long-best-friend, Pee Wee.

We were out of town for the weekend, getting the last of our furniture from what I only knew as home. Someone broke the gate at our new house. Sunday afternoon when we got back to the new house, Pee Wee was gone…

That first new red bike lasted about a month. My oldest brother borrowed it to go down to the newspaper office. It was stolen in less than 5 minutes. My brother did eventually buy me a new bike with the money he made on his paper route.

That first car represented independence. I used that independence without too much responsibility. I would eventually get tickets, suspensions from school until made by my dad to sell it.

Such is life in our fallen world. The smiling comes and goes. The smiles at this age should come with a disclaimer. You know the ones selling a type of medical drug, at the end of the advertisement they give all the possible side effects. “May cause diarrhea, loss of vision, stroke, or paralysis.” I have to laugh. It sounds like a comedic gold mine.

McKenzie and Ali didn’t get to choose their first vehicles. My call, not theirs. We put them in big safe vehicles. They smiled uncontrollable smiles at their “American Right of Passage” ceremony.

Years followed, Kenz got in a pretty serious wreck. Thank God she was in a big vehicle. A few more on top of that Ali backed into her mom’s car. Man oh man, that truck did some serious damage!

The smiles come and go. I still have smiles I can’t keep down. Now they show up as I witness “the firsts” in my love ones lives.

The second vehicle in our house after 4 years of driving is up to the girls. (within budget) I knew a year and a half ago the unsinkable smile when Kenz found the car of her dreams.

Yesterday it was Ali’s turn. I heard her say, “OH MY GOSH”! – “I CAN’T KEEP MY SMILE DOWN”! – “I can’t even think of someone dying and keep it down”!

I couldn’t either…

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Christmas Lights

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I put up the Christmas lights and the Christmas tree yesterday. I have the bloody knuckles to prove it. I also have the sore back and destroyed finger tips if the knuckles aren’t proof enough.

It seems like only 3 months ago I was putting all those heavy boxes away.

Years ago my wife would have to practically beg and plead for me to do what I do now with pleasure. I was somewhat of a Scrooge. I reasoned the whole process took time, energy, and money for such a short amount of time, only to have to spend time and energy to put it all away.

This thought process is more prevalent in males. The same reasoning process that causes us to question, “Why make a bed”? “You’re just going to mess it up again in 16 hours”! You  have to admit that it does make sense from a purely factual basis. What it doesn’t account for is living life with a better perspective.

I lived my life with that kind of a Scrooge mentality for the majority of it. I can say first hand that living a life with that mindset isn’t living, it’s existing. Animals exist using their inborn instinct to survive.

I was like The Wolfman without the fur or fangs.

Knowing God transforms us from intelligent animals to chosen saints living a life more abundant by the grace of God. Once God opens the eyes of His chosen they see the world from a completely different perspective.

I see the hand of God in everything, every day of my life. What an honor to be able to put up lights. Climb ladders, be strong enough to carry boxes that weigh more than my wife.

This year when the lights on the tree didn’t work, (which is a yearly occurrence) I didn’t get frustrated, we just worked through it. I also went to the store and found matching lights for the exterior eaves. I bought four new bags. That’s usually the amount of strands that quit working mysteriously over the course of the year. I had the exact amount needed.

My wife and I went out and bought a new lighted star for the top of the tree. We also got some lighted candy canes for the front yard to replace the ones a couple years past their retirement age. I probably should have coughed up the 25 bucks a couple years ago, but that’s part of the season isn’t it? Trying to get by with what you have. Being thankful and appreciate whatever we’re blessed with.

It’s taken me a long time to grasp the daily mercies and gifts provided by God.

Many years ago it wasn’t uncommon for me to to spend a Christmas by myself, work schedule and all. During those times, I never put up a Christmas tree. I didn’t make it to church during the season either. I was living life for me.

We’ve all heard it said there is no “I” in “team.” I agree, but even more poignant is, “There is no I in joy.” True peace and joy lived out according to God’s terms have little to do with us.

We are His instruments, doing the job He created us for. In His perfect will is the only place we can live above our inborn nature. I heard my whole life, “Christmas is about giving.” I gave from a legalistic standpoint. I enjoyed it but didn’t really get it.

Using money to buy things for another person is good. Spending time, energy, and money to create a lasting memory, although physically temporary is the gift that lasts for a lifetime.

Although very cold for where we live, we all went outside last night and looked at the Christmas lights. What a gift from God. My family, our time together, those simple red and green lights.

The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Who could ask for more than that..

POLITICS AND RELIGION

politics and religion

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I rarely get into divisive issues on this blog. However, if you’ve been reading you know by now I write and speak from my heart. Anything else to me is garbage. (How’s that for eloquent?)

I’m a simple guy. In my simple mind, I like to break things down as far as I can, to the lowest common denominator of reason. Because I break everything down based on Biblical principles, I’m left a little frustrated with the world around me.

One of those frustrations is politics and religion and how the Conservative right in our country comprehend and deal with the liberal side of our society. The Right deals with the left as if they have similar world views. My opinion is that the world views are approximately 180 degrees apart.

This is not a post based on politics, quite the contrary. This is a post of religion and one’s religion will ultimately define one’s politics.

Breaking the massive subject down to its simplest form, this is my perspective; One’s politics are defined by what that person trusts in, or what a person has faith in.

This is an easy call for the conservative. They will admit their faith is in God. The Christian majority will take it a step further and add Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection as their belief and faith.

This is the perfect place for the liberal to use the Conservative’s honesty against them.

Here is my point of frustration. The Conservative nation has sat back and allowed the liberal to disguise their religion as knowledge or enlightenment as if that were anything new under the sun.

The person who doesn’t know God doesn’t serve God. What did Jesus Christ say about two masters? You serve one or the other, you can’t serve both.

The liberal has faith as well as the Conservative. Our religion might be called Christianity which we proudly claim. Their religion is called Humanism. It’s nothing new, it’s been around since the beginning of time.

The modern liberal cleverly points at morality and calls it religious intolerance, and calls for the separation of Church and State. Meanwhile, the Humanist has decimated the barrier between Church and State.

The liberals are using their Bible; The media, to influence and fund their religion. If that weren’t enough they now use the taxes of all of us as their tithe to perpetuate their corruption.

All the while we Christians have sat back and played by the rules of, “Separation Of Church And State.” We’ve stood by and watched the inheritance left to us by our Forefathers, who paid for it with their blood, be twisted and perverted.

We’ve been challenged to a boxing match and the Humanist has showed up with guns and knives.

Let’s start calling the faith of mankind what it is….Humanism. We need to be clear we have different perspectives. We as Christians believe mankind is born into sin and only God can give us the wisdom and strength to live above our fallen nature.

In contrast, the people that don’t know God believe they are evolving, becoming like Gods. They believe perfection can be attained in the flesh. Does this sound familiar? Remember the serpent’s words? “Ye shall be as Gods.” (partial KJV)

I guess that sounded pretty good to Eve. So did what she saw. “A tree to be desired to make one wise.” (partial KJV) This is the heart of man without God, lost in the lust of the flesh, blinded and perishing.

65% of Americans did not want government health care. What did our politicians do? They said with their actions, “We know what’s best for you, so dummy up”!

In California, one of our countries most liberal states, the people voted in majority by almost 70% to recognize only the marriage of a man and a woman as legal. What did the judge in California do? He figured he was smarter than the majority of voters so he’d make the call all by himself. Democracy be damned!

The government that was supposed to be by and for the people has become drunk on power given them by the serpents among us, and we let it happen.

It’s time to send part of our tithe to a man or woman who will represent this country by and for the Power that created it. Only then will “God Bless America.”