A RUGGED MOUNTAIN

a rugged mountain

THE MOUNTAIN OF MY YOUTH image courtesy of photobucket.com

I remember the warm breeze and the late afternoon sun washing the majestic desert mountains in a beautiful purple tint, highlighting it’s rugged texture. I’d seen it before, in fact, I’d seen it so many times in my life it was like home, protecting and surrounding the community I’d grown up in as a kid.

I’d never witnessed it quite the way I did that day a year ago this weekend. That was the first time I’d ever looked upon the desert mountains surrounding my hometown under those circumstances.

After long embraces with my mom, wife, and most of the rest of my family I stood outside the room staring at those old familiar mountains with tears in my eyes.

I first glimpsed those mountains as a child of nine years of age. I remember how rugged and unforgiving they appeared. 38 years later after having climbed to the top of them, walked deep inside them in the old abandoned mine shafts and racing equally as dumb friends down the rugged and rocky slopes, I knew those mountains like I knew myself.

Those mountains witnessed the lives of my family growing up, they were there in good times and bad, they were consistent. Those mountains reminded me of my dad. Strong, rugged, and unyielding to the storms of life. Within his consistent actions of protection, provision, and unshakeable faith in God was the beauty.

Those traits reflected the strength of a rugged mountain. God used my dad as the rock, anchor, and shade of his mountain as the example for others.

God provided for my dad like the water for the earth, his wife, my mom. That was the sacred garden of my dad’s mountain, hidden deep within his heart of his mountain.

As I gazed upon the mountains like so many times before in my life a year ago, it was different. Our personal mountain was gone… I would never set eyes on those mountains again with my dad here with us.

I knew my dad would never gaze up at the mountains or see them from our earthly perspective. His new perspective would be a heavenly one…

The pain, suffering, and death that are part of this life and that everyone in it will face is over for my dad.

I would be remiss to share my dad’s life and not mention the purpose of his life. My dad believed and lived his life sharing with others the Good News of Jesus Christ. That good news is a better, eternal life with the Creator of all souls.

We do not grieve as those who have no confidence inside their heart. I will see my dad again, I’m confident of that. It is called faith. Everyone has faith in something or at least bets their eternal soul on what they believe in their heart.

The only thing in this world that we can really call our own and have a choice about is our soul. It is the only thing that makes it through to the other side… It’s a hell of a thing to gamble with… Literally…

As we walked into the room a year ago I was hoping to hear my dad say the usual, “Hi Son”!

He struggled to open his eyes one last time… As if to say “Bye Son”…

We walk the remainder of our days upon this earth in the shadow of my dad’s mountain…

From where he now abides, it is more beautiful and comfortable than ever…

Happy Anniversary Pop’s, I guess we’ll carry this pain inside our chests until we meet again…

 

 

FEAR OR FUN?

fear or fun

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“HA-HA-HA”!!!  “Boy,”-“You weren’t kidding about your game!” He said in a good-hearted manner in which us guys rib each other. “I told you”! Was my reply. I hadn’t swung a golf club in three or four years and although I’m somewhat athletic, I never had a natural gift when it came to playing golf.

I thought about one of the times playing golf when I was much younger with my dad. I didn’t really have a huge desire to play golf, we were just spending time together and he loved to golf.

One of those times we were paired up with two other people we didn’t know. One of the guys made a comment about the fact that I shouldn’t be on the course, but rather at the practice range and maybe taking a lesson.

I was at an age that, even though the words were given in honesty they weren’t appreciated. I knew how bad I was, but I didn’t say or do anything to the guy out of respect for my dad.

My dad spoke up and said something to the effect, “My son doesn’t care much for golf, he’s here keeping me company”!- “And I sure do enjoy it”! That quieted down Mr. Golf Advice Giver for the rest of our round.

In truth, while irritated at the time, I realized I was having an effect on the other guys games, even my dad’s usually stellar game suffered when I was around. I was a distraction, these guys wanted friendly competition. I actually felt a little bad for them after awhile.

Add another 15 years to that maturity level and this day I felt even more compassion for the guys I was golfing with.

It’s a special gift to get to play golf in one of the meccas of golf where I live in Scottsdale, it’s an even bigger gift to get to play in one of north Scottsdale”s prestigious private country clubs.

My friend I’ll call Brian belongs to one of these clubs and he’s a real golfer. I mean he golfs under par, OK! I was appreciative of his generous offers to golf over the years, but I warned him that I was really bad and that he probably wouldn’t have a great day with me hacking up the course.

He understood the day would be a less serious day, probably a few good laughs, but he wouldn’t expect much from me.

Taking me to a private country club is like walking a bull through a china shop with skinny aisles.

After a nice lunch on our way out to the golf carts, (my favorite part) one of the attendees whispered something to Brian. He approached me tilting his head to one side, “Hey-ahh” “Your gonna need to tuck in your shirt”… “You know, club rules”…

Being the sensible gentleman that I am I didn’t unzip my pants and do it right there, no – I did the gentlemanly thing and made my way to the bathroom to do so. After all, I’m not an animal…

The first few holes out as I was chasing my balls from one side of the course to the other and out into the desert I didn’t see the cart signs to know I was in forbidden cart territory.

Brian who looks like a chiseled mountain motions me over, “Hey, do me a favor and don’t drive past the cart signs” — “They’ll be all over my donkey”! (other name for donkey actually used) “Oh man,”! “I’m sorry, I didn’t even see em”! Even my other friend, I’ll call Tim said, “Yeah, they don’t appreciate driving up around the greens”…

A few days later I was telling some other friends about my golf outing and one of them said, “That’s not right, to embarrass you like that”! All I could say was, “I wasn’t embarrassed, I don’t expect to be great or even good at something I don’t work to be good at. I actually enjoyed it.”

I wonder how many people don’t do or say things they should because they’re afraid what someone might think of them? My opinion is if you’re scared of little things in life, you’re going be mortified in fear of the big things.

What beckons more respect, taking action in fear or fun and for what you believe in, or being passive, hiding in fear about everything in your life, big and small.

Fear is existing.

Action is living.

“Whom shall I fear”?

LIMPING HOME

limping home

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There was a time when I felt like I could conquer the world, big dreams, big ambitions, and a big head. I guess most young people feel that way to a degree, at least that’s been my experience.

It’s not uncommon to see young men ready to face death because someone looks at them the wrong way, no wonder youngsters make such great soldiers. Youngsters are also pretty resilient, which only exacerbates the tendencies.

When I was young I fell two stories, got up and walked away. We use to jump off roofs at work racing to the lunch truck at break time. I also got ran over by a 6,000 lb. forklift, but wasn’t down for long. When we were still kids I watched my brother pick up the back of cars.

Some years later while working out of town I watched him struggle to get out of bed due to severe back pain, he pushed through it in order to work to feed his family. I watched my nephews as teenagers jump their skateboards off roofs of houses.

Of course, all those things catch up with us eventually. I’ve come to realize there is a difference between “healing” and “mending.” We might be mended, but we are definitely not healed.

I heard it said by older wise men when I was young, “If I’d have known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”! I now know exactly what they were talking about…

There was an old song from the 60’s by The Who, a rock band, the song was titled “My Generation.” In that song, there’s a line that says, “Hope I die before I get old.”

I saw them on TV a couple years ago in concert, those guys are now old! I thought to myself, “I wonder if they’re happy to still be alive”? I suspect they are.

Time has a way of getting behind us much quicker than we ever thought possible…

As a little more mature person and as a much older person, I too have a different perspective on this life. I think back to a big part of my life that would fall under the category of “chasing the wind.”

God used those days to give a headstrong kid a dose of wisdom, I’m not saying I’ve mastered it, I just see the obvious in hindsight. In order to see it, we have to be looking.

I consider Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man when He was walking upon this earth physically. Peter’s actions demonstrate a similar course for most of us. Peter drew his sword as a man to protect the God of the universe, he didn’t quite get it at the time.

Peter also verbally announced his devotion to Jesus even unto death, right before he denied Him three times. Peter wept over his cowardice in his flesh, regret, then humility, the beginning of wisdom.

Thankfully we have Peter’s life through his writing and in secular history to prove his ultimate wisdom. Isn’t that how God always seems to work? He allows the young people, full of pride, to find the truth through their folly.

Those same headstrong people find the true wisdom and meaning to life in God. That is when we set about to do the will of our Father, understanding that this is the reason we were born for.

The course of our lives including all the mistakes God uses as the catalyst for wisdom.

Living in our bodies and mind is that wisdom allowed by God for our honor and His glory.

May we use it to fight the good fight and run the good race as we begin limping home …

SOMEDAY NEVER COMES

someday never comes

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“I know every-sing”! She would sometimes say when still quite young. “Oh Yeah”! – “What’s a hundred plus a hundred”?!!! Her big sister would respond quickly. Panic and despair would set in as Ali ran away from Kenz to find her mom to ask her the nagging question of a lifetime. In tears, Ali would ask her mom, “Mommy”! … “How come I don’t know every-sing”?

“I’m not sure if anyone can know everything babe”! Not good enough for Ali. “How come”! “Well only God knows everything, but if you try and study real hard in school, someday you can know a great deal.” The conversation would continue.

“You believe that”? My wife would ask me later after we were alone, “No”! – “I have no idea how a mind like that works.” Was my answer, I continued with something like, “The only thing I was worried about at that age was playing and occasionally what was for dinner”…. I guess not much has changed since then…

I’m sure all of us as kids had questions, maybe not all of them like that, but questions usually directed at our parents or adults. As the youngest I’d ask my parents for some hope for my future, “Mom”!… “Am I ever gonna be as big as my brothers”?

“Someday, you’ll be even bigger than them”! Off I went counting on that someday to become a reality. I must have been in high school when I realized that sometimes, someday never comes…

We also had a lot of questions that started with the words “how come”? The standard answer while accurate wasn’t very satisfying as a kid, “Someday you’ll understand”…

I was around the age of 7 or 8 when I heard a song from one of my brother’s albums by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the song was titled, “Someday Never Comes.” It was an “Ah-Ha”! moment for me, not that it solved all the answers that had been covered by the blanket of adult impatience or lack of communication skills. It was the understanding of the lack of wisdom and human nature that would become even more apparent with age.

Here’s the partial second verse and chorus for those who’ve missed the lesson from John Fogerty.

“Daddy always smiled, took me by the hand”

“Sayin’ someday, you’ll understand”

 

“I’m here to tell you now each and every mother’s son”

“You better learn it fast and you better learn it young”

“Cause someday, never comes”…

The story and lesson in the song goes on to share the loss of the writer’s dad, the birth of his son that he wasn’t there for and his eventual passing as he told his son, “Someday, you’ll understand.”

It was the beginning of the awareness that even adults didn’t know every-“sing.”

The day of complete understanding might not happen while in this body. What we believe in our hearts is what shapes our worldview, what we believe is what we put our faith or trust in.

Whatever our belief or world view, it is taken on faith, none of us were there to witness any of it. We either trust in a hypothesis which is theory or the written account of eyewitnesses. One day we will all know the truth…

While many of our “Somedays” never come, some of them do. I do believe one of those somedays will happen for all of us.

The day of fulfillment of the prophetic words spoken by our parents and then us without even knowing it.

“Someday, you’ll understand”…

 

click to hear this good ole’ song.

IF I DRINK ALL THE COKE DOES THAT MAKE ME SELFISH?

selfish

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I have a theory or belief, I believe every problem that exists in this world, big or small, insignificant or massive can be summed up with one word. Consider the situations in life when we’ve become frustrated or angry, sometimes justified other times not. What is the root issue or cause of the emotion?

When we were young we rarely got things like Coke or Pepsi, when we did they didn’t last long. We’d share, but in a very animal instinctual, selfish type of manner. The ritual would start with the oldest, my brother Dean who some of the time would be the supplier of our extracurricular treat, due to the fact that he had a paper route.

Dean used the can opener to pry the lid off the 32 oz. glass bottle, he would take the first drink, or guzzle as it were, as much as he could until the carbonation burning his throat forced the bottle back to an upright position.

Still some left, Oh Boy! I couldn’t wait, but Bobby the next oldest had a throat of steel and some worry and anticipation fell over the rest of us as he tipped the bottle back. Fear struck our young hearts as Bobby started to empty the bottle down his throat, our shouts and pleadings most of the time could convince him to stop guzzling.

As he lowered the bottle back Bobby let out a loud, “AAAHHHHH”!!! As his eyes watered with a cat that ate the canary grin on his face. Still a good amount left and my sister who was next in line was up to bat.

Our sister Sheral had the throat of, well, a girl… A couple of sips and down the bottle came, but the sibling rule was only one guzzle. Sheral would always complain, “That’s not fair my throat hurts”! No sympathy for the girl, rules are rules… “Pass the bottle over”!

Finally, my big chance, I’d take a few deep breathes as if readying myself for an Olympic event and up the bottle would go. It was heavenly, cold, sweet and carbonated, life was good. I was going to show my big brothers what time it was…

But alas, my throat and stomach a bit bigger and tougher than my sister’s was no match for the two big guzzlers. Eyes watering, throat burning, burping carbonation, I’d given it all I had…

The fast emptying bottle went back to the beginning, the oldest. Oh No! My chance of getting a second shot was disappearing down the throat of my oldest brother! With less than a quarter of the bottle left and the next guzzler up to bat I knew my chance for another “up to guzzle” was ended.

Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve? What was the sin? It was disobedience to be sure, but what motivated the obedience is the issue.

Eve desired to be “as gods.” Her decision or choice is the root of all sin since that time. Her weakness had been exposed, like the serpent before her, she had forbidden desires to fulfill within herself.

That word that we’re all guilty of to one degree or another constantly throughout our lives and the answer to every problem that plagues this earth is this: Selfishness.

Think about what the world would be like without selfishness, it would be perfect, it would be The Garden Of Eden. Only God in us and in the world allows us to live above the flesh and instinct of an animal.

Thank God for HIs intervention into our spirits.

Sometimes Dean would pull Bobby up short to make sure Sheral and I got one last small guzzle. Being the youngest and last he would let me “kill” the bottle of Coke.

That was years before anyone thought of or I heard the word “backwash”…

Oh well…