“A LITTLE HELP HERE”!

I can almost hear the bongo drums photobucket.com

When I was a kid my mom and dad made me pray. Nothing heavy just the basics. Thanks to God for what I would come to understand as his protection and provision.

When I was older and had inherited some independence I didn’t pray as much. With time in inept lostness, I didn’t pray at all. I was pretty sure right about then that it was my world. In fact, I considered the world my baby and I was takin’ the candy.

When a person is that far from the reality of God’s world, especially already having been chosen and shown grace and mercy, a wake-up call is on the way.

Tough times certainly have their purpose. To my point, most everyone probably has heard the saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” In other words, almost everyone facing potential immediate death send up a Hail Mary prayer to God.

I wonder what our Creator who controls all things feels like at that moment?

I must have been around four or five years old when a rare visit to the lake, paired up with some good old fashioned disobedience to my mom, taught me a lesson that I’ve been relearning my whole life.

I had waded out into the water about waist deep. My mom warned, “Don’t go any deeper”! Knowing she wasn’t much of a swimmer herself. I had swimming trunks on, but she was full dressed. I thought to myself, “What’s she gonna do come in after me”? “Uh, I don’t think so”!

I was in complete control, so I kept creeping a little further out. My mom patiently calling, “Don’t go any deeper.”

For those of you familiar with lakes know about “shelves” or “drop-offs.” They sneak up on you. The soft sand gives way pretty easy. I remember watching my mom from just under the water with my tippy-toes keeping me about six inches under. Thinking “A little help here!”

I was flailing my arms like a drowning person does. I watched as she set her purse down, took her shoes off, readying herself to wade into the water she tried always to avoid.

I was trying to run up the sluffing shelf. My legs were moving at light speed, at least it felt like it. It was like in the old cartoons when the character is starting to run. Their legs are moving, but there not going anywhere. Then comes the sound of bongo drums to represent their furious first strides.

This was no cartoon, but I started to get traction just like one of my favorite cartoons characters as my mom finally reached me.

She should have yelled at me or something, but she didn’t. Instead after recovering I didn’t say “Thanks” or “I”m sorry.” I said, “If you knew I was drowning how come you had to take off your shoes and purse”? I continued, “You should have come and got me as soon as you saw me drowning”! She calmly replied, “I knew you weren’t going to drown.”

It seems we as humans treat God the same way. We willfully disobey, go our own way knowing He’s warned us not to go that way. When we get into trouble we send up the “Hail Mary” and expect Him to come running.

Worse yet we question why He would allow us to suffer, never stopping to consider the consequences of our disobedience. Yet like the ultimate parent He’s always there, ready to pull us out of our deserved fate.

No one has to make me pray anymore. Through good days or bad it is my gift from God to talk with him. Every morning I thank Him for his mercies that begin new each day. Every night before sleep, I thank Him for His protection and provision. His mercy and grace. I ask for guidance and strength.

I pray for my family, friends and ask Him to make mine and our paths straight and level before us. Even now, I still tend to go my own way.

When He  pulls me up from my folly, I now say, “Thank you Father”…”Please forgive me.”

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

no place like home

image courtesy photobucket.com

This post was published the first time November 9, 2010.

We just got home from a quick weekend trip. We managed our way around a canceled flight, a rental car that sounded like it wasn’t going to get us back to the airport, and another delayed flight.

We also had to endure the grouchy people who make up 80% of all people in airports to get back to the place we sleep most often, our home.

Often the old timers would find out where a person lived by asking the question, “Where do you call home”? I believe that home is where the heart is. Knowing the answer to that question had a deeper meaning than the currently asked, “Where do you live”?

I love to visit California, what’s not to love? The weather is as close as you can get to perfect, but as much as we love the weather my wife and I both agree we wouldn’t want to call it our home.

Homes are so important in our society because what it represents. The most pitied people in our society we call “homeless.” The home represents security, safety, stability, and most importantly, family.

You’d have to be asleep to not have heard the about the current housing crisis. People are losing their homes at a rate not seen since The Great Depression.

What’s in a home?

I’m amazed how a piece of dirt can be transformed into a place that houses more than bodies, the home houses our hearts.

Have you ever noticed whether you rent or own when you physically pass through a door into a house how your senses perceive a difference? Even when a door is left open to the same atmosphere, it feels like a different one.

God and His word acknowledge the significance of homes. The Death Angel “passed over” the houses marked with sacrificial blood above the support of the front doors of the Israelites temporary homes in Egypt, right before Pharaoh released them into their journey toward the Promise Land.

From a Biblical perspective, the word “home” usually doesn’t refer to a dwelling place. It refers to family.

I’ve lived in a lot of different houses in my life, some of them had wheels. It didn’t mean much to me the few times I slept outside while working out of town calling that my temporary home.

As an adult, it wasn’t until God blessed me with my wife and family that I had what I would consider a bonafide home. We’ve moved many times as a family and along the way I’ve learned that my home, as the Bible indicates is where my family is. The size or shape of a house has nothing to do with measuring the hearts that dwell within.

There was a year or two we spent in a rental home. The kids grew and the big girls learned how to dispose of dead animals left by our one-eyed cat named Wink. (named by the animal shelter by the way) The little one took her first steps in that rental house we called home.

One of my favorite pictures of the girls is all three of them in the driver seat of my old 64′ Vette while we called that house our home. My wife loves to recount the Fathers Day I stayed at home from church to catch up on paperwork. The baby was napping in her crib. By the time I heard her awake and went in to check on her, she had managed to remove her diaper that was well past needing changed.

The mess was everywhere. So much for getting extra work done. I was cleaning a baby, clothes, bedding, walls, and crib spindles. My wife laughingly says, “That’s what you get for working on a Sunday. Especially one that also happened to be on Fathers Day”!

I hate it when she’s right… All the memories made in that house that wasn’t really even ours and the house didn’t matter. It was the home that meant everything.

Our ultimate home is with our heavenly Father. He provides temporary shelter here in houses we call homes. Since we know our home is where our heart is, we can look forward to our real home with Him in eternity, along with our loved ones we share our hearts with.

We’ve lived in a lot of houses, but “There’s No Place Like Home.”

 

This post has been reposted at http://peterpollock.com/blog/

SOMETHING STUPID

image courtesy Photobucket.com

We listened to all types of music around our house when I was growing up. My dad liked old country. Artists like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash were his favorites. My mom’s taste was on the other end of the spectrum. Some of her favorites were Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, and Boots Randolph.

My brothers and sister were like most young people at that time who listened to pop/rock. The Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Jimi Hendrix were some of what they preferred  at that time.

Being the youngest (and smallest) put me at the end of the turntable line for dropping on one of my favorite 45’s, Winnie The Pooh.

I naturally developed an appreciation for all kinds of music. One of the songs I enjoyed as a kid was Frank and his daughter Nancy Sinatra’s “Something Stupid.” The chorus was perfect for a child who’s favorite word was “stupid.” I was thrilled to hear a song use the word I usually reserved for my siblings.

For the younger readers that might not have heard the song, the chorus is; “Then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I love you.”

I was in complete agreement at the time. Saying I love you wasn’t in my vocabulary back then. To be honest, it took most of my life to come to the point where I could say  those words with comfort. Even now, I don’t say it as much as I should. I blame Ole Blue Eyes for my unwillingness to use the term. After all, he is “The Chairman Of  The Board.” (Another nickname for you youngsters) How could I argue with him?

The Bible says that “Love is patient, love is kind.” I certainly didn’t have a lot of those attributes at that point in my life. In truth, I struggle with them still.

Our youngest has taught me a lot when it comes to this department. Since she first learned to talk she never let one day go by without saying to me or her mom, “I love you.” What does Frank know?… I guess he knew how to sell music…

My wife and I were headed out of town last Friday. My niece and her husband had just arrived the night before for a one night stay over before heading north to hike the Grand Canyon. They hadn’t had much sleep so we had encouraged them to sleep in. My wife was taking our daughter to school where after she was going to spend the weekend with Grandma.

A few minutes before she left I told her to be as quiet as she could heading out to the garage so as not to wake up Toni and Chris. She got busy packing her backpack, I guess in the excitement she forgot about our sleeping guests. As she was heading out the garage door she yelled back to me in the kitchen, “I love you, Dad!”

I quickly answered, “Thanks for being quiet!” The garage door shut before I could say anything else. Immediate regret… Talk about stupid… I quickly headed for the front door to catch them before my wife got out of the garage. My full blooded Italian wife has something in common with another Italian besides Sinatra, that is Mario Andretti. She was pulling down the street as I got to the front door.

That’s the first time I didn’t tell my little one, “I love you too …  Who’s stupid now? I texted her immediately, “I love you too,” and “Who loves the Gurmy Girl”? She didn’t have her phone on. She, unlike her dad, follows the rules and doesn’t turn her phone on until after school. Those are the school rules.

I was bothered all day. That afternoon I got a text back, “You do!” In answer to my question. Love is patient, love is kind, love is forgiving. Thank God she’s not like her dad. I have something stupid to say: To my wife, kids, family, and friends. For all the times I didn’t express myself, I’m sorry and…

I love you.

“YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW”

Man, I wish I knew how to sail! courtesy Photobucket

As a youngster, I heard what seemed like all the adults I knew quote me this line: “Just remember, you reap what you sow!”

I was one of those kids who all caring adults tried to give a bit of advice, in order to save me from some future grief. Some personalities read like a billboard sign… I understood their point, but I was too busy reaping to pay too much attention. So I reaped whatever met my fancy.

That reaping was fun stuff until it was time for me to sow.

The sowing? Well, let’s just say it was full of regret and learning. Some of us learn easier than others.

I was at one of my best friend’s surprise birthday party this last week. Typical of all get-togethers of old friends or family, it is a stroll down memory lane. Some lanes I’ve forgotten all about. Maybe selectively?

I was reminded of an incident that happened during my reaping years. I was with a friend and two other girls our age. We were at the lake and decided we’d like to go sailing. Along with no sense, we had no money.

I decided we could “borrow” one, so we did. After our push off into our new hobby, out about 100 yards we heard yelling coming from the shore. It didn’t take long to figure out it was the owner of the sailboat.

I never considered turning back to return what wasn’t mine. We laughed and kept paddling. Sailboats aren’t a very effective means of water transportation when you don’t know how to sail…

The guy shed his clothes and started swimming after us. As he started getting closer there was less laughter from our sobering vessel. I started waving down boats passing by and asking for a tow. We finally got one with the man fish about 15 feet from us.

Instant sowing would be easier than prolonged sowing. When there isn’t immediate consequences from deserved actions it makes a wild heart bolder.

We ditched the sailboat on the other side of the island. I really didn’t feel like we were stealing the boat, we justified it as mentioned by calling it borrowing.

I haven’t had too many things in my life borrowed from me, but I’ve had more than my share of things stolen from me. Multiple trucks, tools, guns, you name it, I’ve had it stolen from me. I guess some mistakes were truly built to last!

Some people call it Karma, some simpler folks like me call it “getting paid back.” I should have been paying more attention in Sunday School. I first heard this verse there, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

In this world, I see people not as bold with ignorant actions, but with the same adolescent lack of reality. Some with heart problems eating hamburgers and smoking cigarettes. Others spending money they don’t have. Currently, it’s easy to find someone who bought a house they couldn’t afford, believing it’s the government’s or someone else’s problem.

I can’t say I’m innocent of all reaping myself still. The difference now is I understand there is a day of reckoning. If and when that day comes, I’ll take it on the chin. I’m not suggesting I like it, but that’s the way God designed it. There are consequences for all actions, good or bad.

When I sow well I reap well and vice versa.

For those of us who know God, know His forgiveness. Although there are consequences we have forgiveness. In those consequences or sowing we find wisdom.

We learn and grow wise. The ones who don’t live their lives in folly.

I’ve never been sailing a day in my life unless you count that one day.

By the way, Man fish did make it back to shore safe and sound…

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

when sorrows like sea billows roll

I grew up listening to old Hymnal songs in a conservative Baptist setting. I didn’t do too much in the way of singing. Sometimes when I did sing it was usually done out of sheer boredom.

I heard the songs so often during my formative years that sometimes even now at this age, I wake up with one of those old traditional Hymns stuck in my head. You might remember some of them, like Amazing Grace, Just As I Am, How Great Thou Art?

Last Thursday I heard one of those old Hymns I hadn’t heard in decades. The song is titled It Is Well With My Soul.

I may have heard the history of the song sometime in my life because the author of the song’s name sounded familiar. That sort of history doesn’t matter too much to a bored kid. The words of the song, however, would remain in that kid’s mind and heart forever.

The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford. Spafford lost his son at four years of age. Shortly thereafter, the successful attorney lost the majority of his wealth in a real estate investment due to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Two years later Spafford planned a trip for his family to visit Europe. A business issue required he be delayed from his trip. Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead planning to follow a few days in arrears.

The ship his family was traveling on collided with an English vessel and disappeared below the surface of the water within minutes. Spafford’s wife was the only family survivor. After being taken to safety, she cabled her husband with only two words. The words he read were, “Saved alone.”

I can’t imagine the dreadful voyage navigating the Atlantic on his way to recapture his only remaining family member.

The amazing part of that journey is when close to where he lost his remaining children, Spafford penned the song that multiple millions of people would hear and sing over the next almost 140 years and certainly beyond.

Here is the first verse:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I was reminded of the history behind this song at my wife’s friend Candy’s funeral. Candy was an amazing person, blessed by God with the gift of teaching, compassion and mercy, just to name a few.

I’m not sure who chose this song to be sung at her funeral, but I know her husband Steve, like Horatio Spafford echos the words given by God to soothe his soul.

To know with confidence the ones taken by God are in a better place, is the reason we can be well in spirit even as we suffer in this flesh.

I thought of difficult times in my life. My soul squirms, dodges, and weaves, trying to bear up under the flesh. Occasionally God will use events in my life like the example of Steve and Candy to remind me, “Whatever my lot, He has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.”

During those most difficult times, I feel the hand of God lift me up with one hand and cover me like a small bird with His other.

“It is well with my soul,” those words have been with me my whole life. As God guides me through this life, may He give me the strength to honor Him under all circumstances.

May God give me the will to say every day, including the one He chooses to take me home,

“It is well, it is well, with my soul”…