Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

19
Apr
21

Watch Your Eyes!

Today, for the first time in a jillion years, I got new glasses.

Not just new lenses. New frames, too. 

And if I do say so myself, they are pretty danged snazzy. 

All of which made me pause and think about the importance of my eyes.

Somewhere in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offered his listeners this important observation: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eyeis unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23, NRSV).

Which prompts me to ask: How is your eye… or rather, how are your EYES today?

No question; eyes and their use have always been important to us. Not only do they help us navigate through our surroundings, but they also serve as a critical instrument of self-expression. 

Here in the time of the global pandemic, however, their importance seems to have skyrocketed exponentially. 

Think of it. When we find ourselves in a time – as we do today – where masks hide the lower half of everyone’s face, the entire weight of emotional expression falls on the eyes. We have to learn to “SMIZE” (or “smile with your eyes,” TM, Tyra Banks), express pleasure, fear, concern, angst, boredom, surprise, disgust, horror, love, and 85 other emotions ENTIRELY with our eyes.

That seems like a mighty heavy burden to lay on those two little jelly-filled balls.

This is certainly a time for us to take good care of the health of these critters, for sure. It is also a good time to remember to be a little extra cautious about how we are using our eyes. For example, are we…

… rolling our eyes?

… averting our eyes?

… leering with them?

… looking covetously with them?

… staring with them?

… registering embarrassment or shame with them?

Your eyes disclose your heart. They have the power to hearten or to discourage everyone you meet. 

Our eyes serve as our ambassadors… going out ahead of us to tell others who we are and what we are about. They don’t lie… even when we ask them to.

So, please… take good care of your eyes…

… and watch them carefully.

Abundant blessings;

15
Apr
21

The Dry

Man… this sure is a dry time.

And I say that as I gaze outside the window to my left, and notice a malicious mixture of slush and snow falling from the sky.

The dryness I am referring to is inside… not out.

And it seems to have come upon me in the span of time between two successive heartbeats.

One moment I was overflowing with ideas for essays, blog posts, witty Facebook posts, and cocktail banter. 

The next moment… dry, unbuttered toast.

Guess I’ll have to write about the experience of drying up.

I know I am not alone in this affliction. I’ve heard testimonies from other folks who have encountered their own deserts. Nothing to do but wait it out, they say.

Droughts are a regularly recurring phenomenon in the Bible, too. Most of the time they show up as God’s punishment on an unfaithful people. Sometimes, though, they just show up.

And the people wait.

And the people pray.

And the people wait some more.

And the people pray some more. 

And then, one day, after a longer spell of dryness than anyone had ever seen before, the rain begins to fall. 

And the rivers overflow their banks.

And the valleys turn lush and green again.

And all the people all rejoice. 

I’ll keep you posted…

Abundant blessings;

13
Apr
21

Crafting Corners of Control

Has this conversation ever happened in your home?

HONEY #1: “Honey? Have you seen the ______? I could have sworn I saw it here in this cabinet the last time I used it.”

HONEY #2: “Oh! Yes! I moved it over to that other cabinet last week. It seemed like a better place for it.”

HONEY #1: (… forcefully biting back a snarky comment). “Ah! That explains it! Thanks.”

This exact dialogue happens fairly frequently here at Chez Brown with yours truly playing the part of Honey #1. And since we have only been in this particular house just shy of 17 months now, we are still truly in the experimental phase of “where stuff goes.” 

When this event happens, I almost always start to register a complaint about the thing getting moved. But I always stop short, because darn it, she’s RIGHT! That new place IS a better place to keep the thing. When I really stop and think about it, it was kind of silly that we had it in Place #1 at all. 

And then, if I stop and think about it a moment longer, I realize I have a problem. 

My problem is: I LOVE pattern and predictability. In truth, I am absolutely head-over-heels enamored with the status quo… to the point that I am regularly on the verge of penning sonnets of desire to “the way things have always been.” The other day, in fact, Joan had to forcibly stop me from taking out my pocketknife and carving “RB + HOMEOSTASIS” on the trunk of the big pine tree in our yard.

I know I am not alone in my infatuation with solid, predictable unchangingness. Every day I meet scores of fellow travelers who spend sizable portions of their day standing and impotently shaking their fists at flexibility, flux, and fluidity. 

But just because there are legions of us lovable Luddites, it doesn’t mean we are right. I call this not-at-all-thinly disguised love affair a problem because it is absolutely at odds with the nature of the God of the Universe. 

I like to think of myself as a follower of Creator YAWEH. To ensure that is actually true though, I have to figure out a way to get on board with the fact that this God is a moving, shaking, dynamic God, constantly in the business of building up, breaking down, renewing, and reforming. 

Always has been… always will be.

The world this God created was designed to be a moving, tumbling, shifting salad of variety. I am pretty sure, in fact, human beings endowed with free will would not have made it off the drawing board if God were not a big fan of unexpected curve balls. 

God spoke about this exact thing when he spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NRSV). Later on, the apostle Paul reminded his Corinthian church members that Jesus also embodies the same dynamic qualities when he tells them, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV).

When we look around at our community, our country, and the world and notice that nothing seems to be nailed down, we understandably become a little queasy. Our hearts long to find a little corner of calm and stability. We want to know that we can indeed control SOMETHING… even if it is just the location of the Crock Pot. 

God regularly reminds us – sometimes the hard way – that we won’t ever find security in STUFF. 

We will only find security in our connection with the One Who Created It All. He speaks to the seekers of stability and says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NRSV). 

THAT is the anchor that will never let us down…

… or move to a different cabinet.

Abundant blessings;

07
Apr
21

No Secret Cobbler

Way back in the W.Y. (“Working Years,” for the uninitiated), I went out to lunch with my pastor buddy Steven. We dined at a local burger place and discussed a few of the many mysteries of the pastoring life. 

I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, but I am sure that among the things we discussed were such esoteric, theological topics as, “So where do you go to get a really good drummer for the praise band?” and, “Are there really no circumstances in which it is OK to strike a parishioner?”

[Just joshing on that last one…]

I recall that I finished my burger and fries and – since we were still deep in conversation – I went back and ordered the special blackberry cobbler ala mode they were featuring on the menu that day. 

It was DELICIOUS!

When I got home that night, Joan asked me, “So… who did you have lunch with today?”

I said, “Steven,” thinking it was a little odd that she knew I had lunch with anyone at all.

She then followed up with, “So I guess you went back and had a little dessert, too!”

I said, “Now hang on a minute! How do you know that? Have you hired a private detective to follow me around all day? I mean, OK… I’m sorry I didn’t bring you any blackberry cobbler, but honestly honey, you’re freaking me out a little here.”

Joan then reminded me that our bank sends her a little “BING!” alert whenever there is a transaction on our jointly held debit card. She saw one swipe for the burger and fries and then a few minutes later, a second, lesser charge. 

So then, using her considerable powers of deduction, she was able to piece together the exact steps of my lunchtime behavior.

But I’m not going to lie; the whole thing was a tad unsettling. I mean, I didn’t particularly mind that my wife was alerted every time I used our debit card. After all, I had nothing to hide. The whole thing just sent out a “Big Brother Is Watching!” kind of vibe. 

So, in response to her financial vigilance, I resolved to become devious. I decided that every time I wanted to buy something goofy or frivolous, I would use cash, thereby subverting the whole family surveillance system. 

OK, here we go!” I bellowed to the sky. “Blackberry cobbler, morning, noon, and NIGHT!!”

It didn’t take me long for me to realize the futility of the path I had embarked upon. First of all, here I was… actively scheming to deceive my spouse. You know, the one I exchanged sacred vows with 20 years ago. The one with whom I had “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NRSV). The one I had promised to “love, honor, and cherish.”

There is also the small matter that whatever I do… whatever I think… every word I say… is already known anyway. I may be able to hide a blackberry cobbler dessert from Joan by using cash or toss a soft-drink cup onto the road when no one is looking or keep that $5.00 bill that the cashier gave me by mistake, but none of that is secret.

All of that – and so much more – is utterly and completely known.

I am known, head to toe, inside and out, front to back, by The One Who Created Me.

So are you.

And while this revelation might sound like anything BUT good news, it is actually gloriously, ridiculously awesome news. 

Because that One who knows us better than we can possibly know ourselves also LOVES us gloriously and ridiculously and unconditionally.

And if that news isn’t worth celebrating with a slice of blackberry cobbler ala mode, I don’t know what is. 

Abundant blessings;

27
Mar
21

Getting Uncomfortable

Germany, Young man lying in hammock and reading a magazine

Before Word #1 appears on this page, I have to settle in at my desk and get nice and comfortable.

Before my car’s engine roars (politely) to life, I make sure I am quite comfortable there in the driver’s seat.

TV viewing in the evening for me is always preceded by strict attention to the comfort of my position on the couch. 

And then, at the end of the day, when it comes to that most essential human activity, SLEEPING!, I devote a great deal of attention to seeking out a position of maximum possible personal comfort. 

In fact, I would be willing to wager that if someone showed me a scientific study of the amount of energy I devote daily to comfort-seeking, that number would make my eyes bug right out of my head. 

And what about you, friend? Are you likewise afflicted with CCSS (Compulsive Comfort Seeking Syndrome)?

I think we can all agree that no one will win a Nobel Prize in sociology for announcing the discovery that, “Comfort-seeking seems to be a universal human pursuit.” Cave people didn’t come up with the idea of fire just so they’d have a way to cook their brontosaurus burgers, you know.  

But I wonder… despite its ubiquitousness, is it possible we can get a little too carried away with this urge toward comfort seeking? Is the Dr. Scholl’s Company really telling us the truth when they contend that “Comfort is EVERYTHING!*”

In fact, I think there is a good case to be made that runaway, unexamined, “comfort seeking” is at the root of a whole host of human maladies. To wit:

  • Avoiding the difficulty and discomfort of hard, physical work usually leads to flawed, “squishy” solutions. 
  • People who don’t feel “comfortable” in the presence of people of different races, ethnicities, religions, or sexual orientations can very quickly become dangerous bigots. 
  • My aversion to the discomfort of re-examining my core beliefs can keep me permanently locked on to a set of toxic assumptions about the world.

When Jesus talked to the folks gathered around and said, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free,” (John 8:32, NRSV), he didn’t add, “And I promise; knowing the truth will be painless and easy-peasy.”

As essential as it seems to be to life on this planet, I am not sure I will EVER be comfortable with discomfort… whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. I have to face the fact that I will continue to be “that guy” who grabs for the footrest and the extra couch pillow to put behind my back. 

I think I can only pray that God will regularly grant me the strength to shove personal comfort aside in favor of some much-needed growth. 

Whew! I’m glad I got that off my chest. 

Now to go find a nice shady spot in the yard where I can lay down, sip an iced tea, and stare at the sky for a while.

Abundant blessings;

  • Not the actual slogan of the Dr. Scholl’s Company, by the way.
23
Mar
21

The God Who Gets It

By now, my response cycle has become a well-practiced routine.

I hear news reports of a mass shooting. I shake my head and sigh, “Not again.” I await the slow trickle of further details, incrementally ratcheting up my shock and outrage as numbers and circumstances are revealed.

Three dead… four dead… ten dead… lone gunman… “unclear about any motive…”, “eyewitnesses report…”, “scores of unanswered questions…”, “awaiting notifications of next of kin…”

The officials speak. The bystanders speak. Sometimes the family speaks. And through it all I shake my head in utter bewilderment and sorrow…

… until I reach for the remote and change the channel to see what else is going on in the world.

But this time it is different. This time the tragedy struck frighteningly close to home. 

That is because the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado where a gunman killed 10 people yesterday – including a Boulder police officer – is located two blocks from my stepson’s apartment. It is his King Soopers. In fact, he was in that exact store yesterday morning, shopping for a few essentials, not long before all hell broke loose there.

This time I saw the terror in the eyes of the survivors a little more clearly.

This time the stabbing pain of family members whose loved ones will never return from their trip to the store penetrates my soul more profoundly. 

This time my sense of outrage and confusion about people randomly killing other people using outrageous weapons that were never meant to exist outside of a military setting is much more unshakable. 

This time I find myself dwelling… not moving on as quickly as I did before. 

Because this time it feels close… personal… tangible.

It also reminds me why I consider the idea of God’s INCARNATION to be such a vital part of the faith I profess. In the light of these newly exposed nerve endings of mine, the biblical phrase, “… the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:14 NRSV) suddenly takes on a searing new urgency. 

It tells me that God is not remote and abstract.

It tells me that when we suffer, God suffers. 

It tells me that human pain and sorrow and tragedy and heartbreak are even more real to God than they are to me.

It also assures me that I could not be more off base than during those times when I am tempted to sink down in sorrow, wring my hands, and cry out, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH!!”

It brings Psalm 34:18 to mind where we read the timeless truth that says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

It will take me a long time to shake this one off and move on. I am equally sure that new outrages loom on the horizon as we begin to emerge from our cocoons and gather in large groups again. 

In the aftermath of this most recent horror, I feel a compulsion to DO SOMETHING instead of just sitting and sorrowing… but for the life of me I have no idea what that SOMETHING might be.

For now, I am going to pray that the families of all those affected by yesterday’s horror in Boulder might feel the arms of Jesus wrapped tightly around them, offering comfort and understanding…

… and give thanks for a God who “gets it.”

Abundant blessings;

19
Mar
21

Broken Limbs

They are everywhere you look here in Fort Collins… a truly heartbreaking sight.

Twenty-three inches of snow by itself might have done the trick. But twenty-three inches of heavy, wet snowwas definitely the coup de grace.

I’m talking about broken tree limbs.

Big limbs. Small limbs. Ash limbs. Pine limbs. Weeping willow limbs. Oak limbs. 

Weeping willow is REALLY weeping

Some crushed fences beneath. Some blocked parking lots. Some (not many, thankfully) brought down power lines in their wake. A huge limb from the willow tree in our next-door neighbor’s yard (shown here) snapped off and landed in our back yard. I am silently dreading the inevitable conversation that starts with me knocking on their front door a couple weeks from now and sheepishly saying, “So… when do you think you might want to call somebody to come take care of that?”

Stay tuned.

Driving around (Hallelujah! We can finally drive around again!) and seeing the staggering number of broken limbs makes me wonder; when did they break? What did it sound like? Why THAT limb and not another? 

I suppose it is all a matter of stress… applied in exactly the right amount at exactly the right point… that finally leads an otherwise intact, attached tree limb to unceremoniously snap off and fall.

I strongly suspect that if we were to conduct a detailed post-mortem of each of those broken limbs, we might find a hidden weakness in each broken limb. Perhaps some insect damage. Maybe a thread of disease. Maybe just a few cell walls that weren’t as strong as their neighbors.

Isn’t that the way it goes with people, too? I mean, let’s face it: we all experience stress. Yes, even us retired folks. Stress is an on-going fact of life. It is exerted on everything, all the time.

Sometimes, however, there is more stress than usual. Like, for example, when 23 inches of heavy, wet snow falls over two days. Or in a personal financial crisis. Or during a health crisis. Or because of a broken relationship. Or maybe even during a global pandemic. 

It is during those extraordinarily stressful times when those microscopic underlying flaws – the ones we really didn’t pay any attention to because they were so small – come screaming into the fore. They become the weak link that causes the chain – or, in the case of our trees, the limb – to snap. 

Too late we realize that the time to sit down and run a comprehensive, top-to-bottom systems analysis is BEFORE the 23-inch snowfall… BEFORE the time of the superstressor event. 

I have been thinking about this a LOT in relation to our current national crisis and would love to get your take on it; do you think it is possible that one of our “hidden flaws” as a country (i.e., the U.S.) is the reason we experienced the highest COVID-19 infection rates and highest death rates in the WORLD?

I will go a step further and ask: do you think it is possible that the love of our American, Wild West, rugged, go-it-alone, pioneering, mentality prevented us from taking the necessary, coordinated steps to keep this disease from killing over 500,000 of our neighbors?

I sure do.

And I am hoping that we might use the moment this deadly virus has given us to collectively recalibrate our definition of what it really means to be an American. I hope we can find a way to put new emphasis on the USpart of USA and stop acting like entitled, self-centered, spoiled brats, incapable of seeing beyond the end of our noses.

Perhaps there is still time for us to try and imitate the wise builder in Jesus’ parable, individually, if not collectively. You remember him… he is the one, “… who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. (Luke 6:48, NRSV).

I would be willing to bet that house withstood a 23-inch snowfall, too.

Abundant blessings;

18
Mar
21

Going First

Going first comes naturally to me.

Going first doesn’t always mean finishing first, just FYI.

It all started when I volunteered to be the first of five children born to Lyn and George Brown, some [mumble, mumble] years ago.

That meant I got to be the first guinea pig for them to test all of their new parenting theories on. I was the first to walk… the first to ride a bike… the first to fall down and skin my elbow… the first to go to school… first to get my driver’s license… and the first to see exactly what the consequences were for violating the family rulebook.

Each time the stork delivered a new bundle of joy to the Brown house, mom and dad were able to tweak their parenting skills a little more, so that by the time #5 came along, they were absolute paragons of parenting perfection. 

You’re welcome, siblings!

Going first soon became a way of life for me. Naturally when neighbor Marc Downer and I were standing on top of the flat-roofed garage behind our house on Norwich Street with bedsheets [excuse me… I mean PARACHUTES], tied to our waists, I was the first one to jump off and test our theory of aerodynamics. 

NEWS FLASH: It didn’t work.

Even though the resulting twisted ankle and bruised head would have taught most people a lesson, I nevertheless persisted. Well into early adulthood I continued to push myself to the head of the line at home, in the classroom, and on the playground. 

In fact, many, many years later when I was one of an army of associate pastors in the largest United Methodist Church in the country, I raised my hand and offered to lead their maiden attempt to develop a “satellite” campus in a suburban location.

Now some of you hearing this narrative might be quick to point me to Jesus’ words from Matthew 19:30 wherein he admonishes Peter and some of the other eager beaver disciples by saying, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30, NRSV). You might even double up your scripturally-based finger wagging with this gem from Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NRSV). 

To which I would probably reply: “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to YOU!”

No… I’m sorry. As tempted as I might be, I would not say that. Yes, I would THINK it, but those exact words would probably stay bottled up inside me.

Mostly, though, I would have to agree with you.

One of the biggest things I discovered through my years of going first is that it is usually a very humbling experience. When you stick your toe into waters no one has ventured into before, you end up making a lot of mistakes. You are doing everything for the first time without the benefit of being able to look at the “teachable moments” from a predecessor. 

Just ask some of the people who had the misfortune of being members of my staff in that first satellite campus church. 

For me, a more relevant scripture passage than those above is this one from First Corinthians. In it we hear Paul explaining some of the fundamentals of church leadership to a skeptical audience: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, NRSV). 

Perhaps this is “wishful hearing” on my part, but I think Paul is saying, “Look… somebody has to go first. Somebody has to get out there and whack down the weeds and underbrush to clear the trail. Somebody has to blunder out and make all the initial mistakes. But whether you are firstsecond, or somewhere toward the end of the line, the only thing that matters is getting God’s work done.”

And so, if I can make someone else’s road a little less bumpy by jumping to the front of the line and becoming a cautionary tale for God’s greater glory, I’m good with that…

… as long as I also get to go first in the cafeteria. 

Abundant blessings;

16
Mar
21

Healing Snow

Turns out, all it took was an epic 23-inch snowfall!

Let me back up a second and explain…

My wife and I are relatively new residents of this little eight house cul-de-sac in Fort Collins, Colorado. We moved here in late November 2019. 

As we introduced ourselves around, we found that some of our new neighbors were quite friendly and outgoing, while others were more reserved. One of the friendlier folks was Fred (not his real name), who lives right across the way. 

Fred is retired and lives alone with his 93-year-old mother. One day last fall, Fred invited Joan and me over to share some coffee and socially distanced cinnamon rolls in their garage. It was a lovely time with good, lively conversation. Joan and I left saying, “We should invite them over for dinner as soon as this virus stuff goes away.”

And then – a couple of weeks later – I put a political sign in my front yard, expressing my support of one of the presidential candidates. Clearly it expressed support of exactly the opposite person Fred supported. I say this because the next time I was out in my yard and hollered out, “Hey, Fred! How’s it going?” I was met with an averted gaze and stony silence.

I gave it one more try a few days later, but with the exact same results.

“Dang!” I said to myself. “Looks like Fred now considers me to be The Enemy. I guess we’ll have to rethink that dinner invitation.”

It got so bad that one day while I was out walking the dogs, I saw Fred and his dog coming toward me from the other way. I quickly made a right turn on a side street in order to avoid eye or voice contact with Fred. 

Great, Christian behavior, eh?

I know similar scenarios were repeated over and over again across this country in both the before and aftermath (is there such a word as a “beforemath”? If not, there should be!) of this most recent presidential election. Relationships with neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members from coast to coast were rent asunder by political disaffection. 

Names were called. Voices were raised. Vows were broken, all in the defense of being on “the right side” of the contest. 

“How will we ever get past this?” I wondered. “How will these deeply felt wounds ever be healed, and relationships restored?” 

Well, I am happy to report to you that 23 inches of snow in 36 hours turns out to be the magical healing potion!

In the blizzard’s immediate aftermath, all of the cul-de-sac neighbors were out shoveling or snow-blowing their own driveways. That worked for the first day. But then came the question of how we each might travel beyond the end of our own driveways out into the world beyond. You see, our little neighborhood does not appear anywhere on the city’s list of “streets we must plow.” 

We are left to fend for ourselves.

So earlier today, Joan and I were out trying to carve a path from our driveway into the common roadway. Immediately across the way, Fred was out engaged in the same activity. Feeling empowered by our common plight, I decided to chance it…

“Hey, Fred!” I called out. “Have you been able to get out of your driveway yet?”

And then I waited.

Straightening up, resting his snow shovel on its blade and turning in my direction, Fred cupped his ear with his gloved hand and said, “WHAT?”

“It’s a start!” I thought excitedly.

I repeated my question and waited. Fred then told me that he had not tried getting out of his driveway yet but was making a path in order to try. He explained that he was confident that his four-wheel drive car would be able to handle the immediate terrain but had serious doubts about the ice-jam at the end of the cul-de-sac. That was followed by a couple of minutes of commiseration about the snow, the damned city plows, our respective vehicles, and the virtues of north and south-facing driveways.

VOILA! Relationship RESTORED!

Well, maybe not fully and totally restored… but at least no longer stuck in a state of frozen hostility. 

So, if you find yourself today wondering how you will break through the frozen ice-jam of relationships damaged by recent political hijinks, be at peace. The solution is staggeringly simple:

PRAY FOR 23 INCHES OF HEALING SNOW!

Abundant blessings;

15
Mar
21

Thank you, Chris and Charlie

Today I want to use this space to say “Thank you” to all the people in my life who ever tried to teach me anything.

Lord knows this note is – in some cases – 50 or more years overdue. I am doing this because just the other day I began to mentally check off all of the routine practices I engage in… most of which I take completely for granted… that were lovingly and patiently taught to me by some caring adult.

I also realized that I considered their instruction to be a major pain in the neck at the time and did not adequately thank them then.

Naturally my parents are at the top of the list of “people who taught me useful stuff.” I never did – and now never will be able to – thank them nearly enough, but I am sure they heard “Thanks, mom!” and “Thanks, dad,” once or twice from me before they departed this earth. 

First, I want to thank my 10th grade Driver’s Ed teacher – whatever his name was – for teaching me the correct way to make a right turn (“Stay in the lane closest to the curb as you complete your turn!”) and how to come back into my lane after passing another car (“Wait until you can see both of their headlights in your rearview mirror!”).

I want to thank my Cub Scout pack leader, Mrs. Bletz, for teaching me to tie both a four-in-hand and a Windsor knot in my necktie… a skill I am making far less use of these days than I used to.

I want to thank my mother for teaching me the value of “rotating your stock” when putting away new, clean socks or underwear in my bureau. I know I never thanked her for that.

I want to thank Grandpa Raymond for trusting me enough with a sharp knife and a piece of wood to instruct me in some of the basics of whittling. 

I want to thank Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Daniels for showing me that teachers did not always have to be women… Mr. Hoffman in the sixth grade at school and Mr. Daniels around the same time in Sunday school. 

I want to thank Mr. Crossett for teaching me the difference between Stage Left and Stage Right and helping me learn how to PROJECT!! my voice.

I want to thank my counselors at Camp Merrowvista – Chris and Charlie – for showing me how to shoot a bow and arrow. And also, for being so cool and enthusiastically positive about the difference Christ made in their lives. 

Today I find myself especially grateful whoever it was that shared the brilliant hack of using a wire whisk to quickly remove the balls of snow from our dogs’ furry legs. 

I also want to thank…

[Whew! This list is already pretty long, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface! 

I am beginning to realize that at this rate it is going to take me at least a year and a half to name all the people who have made some kind of difference in my life. 

Maybe a better idea than trying to sit down and thank all these people here in my late 60s is to thank them then and there… to take a moment to look someone in the eye and say, “Thank you! That really means a lot to me. I know this lesson will stay with me and continue to influence my life for years and years to come. I really appreciate you.” 

We are each born with unique skills and abilities, but we also each grow and change as a result of the things we learn from other people. Many of those lessons happen when we are young, but there is never a time when we lose the ability to learn and grow.] 

Is there someone you can think of right now who taught you something useful, or made an important difference in your life? Why not take a moment and find a way thank them? 

I guarantee it will mean the world to them.

Abundant blessings;




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