We allow others to hijack the concept of influence.  It is killing us.

As a kid growing up in church, school and community, I had influencers.  Many intentionally and many without knowing it poured into my life.

I then noticed untrue, unreal trends. They did not reflect what I observed.  People in churches gave testimonies, and they were mostly in first person, and over and over it was “God showed me” and “I realized” and — I knew they were omitting older folks, family, friends and strangers who shared zest, hope, light, strength, insights with that person testifying.

It was not honest.

I also noticed  “influencers” lived in Washington DC, New York and London and held sway in decisions affecting thousands, millions of people.

But my life’s deep influencers were like Mary Nixon who graduated herself so she could teach us AP English in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades.  She showed me we can love literature, think deeply while wrestling with life issues and still believe, in fact, believe more deeply.  My grandfather and namesake showed me courage got him through a World War, built his values and beliefs, and when I was older I found, his courageous love moved him to adopt my mom and better to me than many bloodline grandfathers.

And I DO have mini influencers.

A student who is first in her family to graduate college.

An abused boy striving to be a great dad to three girls.

The crossing guard lady for my son’s school: twenty years and counting.

The two ladies who open the doors to worship for the last several years.

None of them have a website, blog, Facebook business page, or more than a hundred followers.

I remember a cartoon from, I think, the New Yorker.  Two undertakers stand outside an empty room with someone in repose in a casket.  One whispers to the other, “I thought a big room because he had 2,000 Facebook friends.”

Every time someone hijacks an important word like “influence” or “friend” we are closer to being like Neo before Trinity or Morpheus.

So says a guy writing to influence you rather than invest a lunch or anything expensive to actually touch your life.

Which Pappaw?

I escaped from Walmart’s widened aisles awaiting a deluge of Black-Friday-on-Thursday night shoppers.  Sky: dazzling blue.  Wind: minimal.  Temperature: perfect for sweat shirt.

I parked close, a great benefit in coming before the storm.  I approached my truck, triggered the locks, opened the door, and had three bags in mid hoist when it caught my eye, sitting in the back seat, with a seat belt trailing across it.

A bright yellow card was addressed to “Pappaw” in Claire’s handwriting.  She’s great at birthdays, and who-wants-what-for-Christmas.

I first thought, “How could a card addressed to Pappaw, to the man who adopted my mom, to a WW1 vet returned to Texas to build an F.W. Woolworth in Temple TX, who was a chair of deacons for 20 years, who toured the west with Mammaw, my sister and I in a trailer, and whose funeral I conducted forty years ago leave a card addressed to him in my truck?”

Avalanches of thought tumble out quickly.

My daughter-in-law who never met my Pappaw, addressed my birthday card using the “grandparent” name I chose for me.  The envelope had fallen into the seat as I collected the fleece and card two nights ago.

And I missed him.  Ached.  And I thought I’ll never attain to his stature in my life in my grandkids’ eyes.

And in missing him, I saw my hope of heaven is far deeper than I admit.  From this year’s bumper crop of people dying to leave this world, few will be missed by their own family in a generation.  The memories of the remainder will recede in the future’s busy world.

If Pappaw’s story continues to affect anyone on my passing, his story must remain his to tell in heaven.  Think of it another way.  If many remember JFK, Luther, Newton, C.S. Lewis or Tolkien: that’s nothing to them, meaningless with no heaven.  Legacies do nothing for the deceased.

One of his hopes is certain.  He never wanted to burden Mammaw.  So, he wrote my sister a letter @ 5 a.m. that Saturday, dressed for work (at age 78!), sat in his rocker, and was gone.  No burden: granted.  His other hope? Was to sing in heaven.

Picking up the yellow envelope I prayed once more his hope is confirmed, so I’ll see him again and apologize for slip streaming into both his names: Thomas L. and Pappaw.

Words to Live By

I was listening to Craig Groeschel and he shared his exercise to write out his words to live by.  He shared his.  I have done this as a first draft for me.

What are yours?


Words to live by

I am a sinner, saved by the astonishing, unrelenting mercies of God extended to me in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: my Lord.

I am Jill’s husband, sharing all I have, all I dream, all of my shortcomings, and my resolute hope that Christ has entwined Himself in our vows and hopes to the end of this life as helpmate, and friend in the next. All I know about oneness with her is God’s kindness to introduce Himself to me and help me understand how astonishing is koinonia in this world and even more so – the next.

I am family: son, grandson, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, great uncle, brother in Christ to the few I know, and the millions I have yet to meet. They are the basis of my understanding that a three stranded chord is not easily broken.

I am entrepreneurial in business, teaching, and ministry. Before I knew the term, I admired those who resonated with this, who embodied it.

I am a failer. I attempt much, succeed at some, hopefully more of what I am striving to bring into existence and impact others with.

I have a profound sense of otherness, thin places, friends across the centuries, sennsucht, and piercing beauty that moves me to tears. I have never met someone with a story God was not still writing.

I have not spent as much time thinking about me as others, ideas, Truth, notions, stories. But about me, I have Someone into whose hands I place my guilt, my frustrations with me, my mute horror at me.

I am succeeding, sometimes one crushing failure at a time..

I am immortal, and that takes faith, but at the same time it fuels my faith.

I am grateful to those who taught me to love learning and in that learning continually be reshaped and stretched. I give to my students in those teachers’ names, on their accounts.

I am an amalgam of all of this, all of these. Whether I am original or not is not as intriguing to me as whether I am building His uniqueness in those He puts in my way.