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.

Thirty Years Ago

Thirty years ago, we had no children.

Our last childless night changed when Jill knew her contractions were coming closer together.  We grabbed already-packed bags and drove to Miami’s Baptist Hospital: maybe a little faster than needed, hoping this was the one night an officer pulled us over and I could point to my wife in labor.  No such luck.

Two things from labor and the hospital stand out.  My wife amazed me with composure, tears, complete red-face effort, and her humor. She cited most of Bill Cosby’s lines from his monologue about his wife’s birthing(s).

Colt inherited the humor.

The second thing was the hospital nursery.  As people visited and asked which in the nursery was Colt, we only responded, “the blonde”.  Walking down to the glass to view a room crammed with babies in bassinets and nurses hovering over a sea of future hopes, they saw only one towhead in the room.  His standing out like that continues.

We moved to Austin to work on my advanced degree.  We settled on the east side to a great little house close to campus and great public schools.  Colt attended his first birthday party, where I worked in the kitchen with other parents and we all laughed.  He ran yelling and shrieking, oblivious to being the only white kid playing games in the Austin summer sizzle.  The blond.

He was blessed to have older guys be big brothers: Aaron Stern and Josh Taylor.  He took up their mantle for kids in the Stillwater hood.  He skied fearlessly and drew on a quiet confidence.  I saw that confidence as I conducted leader training in Virginia for college students and brought Colt along — the eighth grader.

Two guys led worship (not so great) and one caught something in Colt’s face to ask, “Hey, you want to try?”  Colt silently nodded, “Yes,” calling his bluff.  All stopped.  The student walked across and handed the guitar to Colt and things improved dramatically.  They adopted him for the rest of the weekend.

In college, he thought Claire was stuck up when they both performed in Freshmen Follies and we sat in front of her parents.  Oddly, she thought the same, and four years later they were halfway out of the sanctuary after exchanging vows before 800 friends and family caught on that Clarie’s organ teacher was playing the Theme from Star Wars and

Four years ago we had no grandchildren, but then one night Claire told Colt her contractions were coming closer together.

I have waded far enough into life to drink deeply and watch large life cycles wash over us.  I am wealthy, blessed, overwhelmed, happy.  And I pray he is when Duke turns 30.

 

 

Two Men

Two men are sitting at the breakfast bar (we call it the aircraft carrier) in the gray drizzle of this day. 

One is a soldier, the other a painter.  One is younger, the other a child of the sixties.  

Both have traveled far more than Jill and I put together: Europe and her off-the beaten-paths places – Nepal, the Hindu Kush and some of the ‘smaller peaks’ there.

They can each tell their stories compellingly, articulately.  Jill weeps quietly at some of the stories.

They use Google Earth to view homes, the train station, pubs, galleries in Brighton, England.  We watch how the younger has transformed one small home in Brighton since the passing of his mother.

The painter shows in galleries, the soldier has an adventure business and aspires to be a stunt man.  

Both are tall, the older has white hair where he had blonde before, and he explains to the younger that his grandfather had red hair as does he.  

They are father and son. 

Father with all his failings, and son for all his longings.  They are tentatively, poignantly reaching to 

Reaching to touch each other after a gap, an abyss of thirty missed years.  

And I am pushed to see that every relationship that we have that is restored or that endures does so as Miracle, and nothing less. 

And I am stunned to think, as one friend pointed out, how many, many times this is being multiplied (and not even attempted to play out) when we treat our bodies as our own as if we will never answer to another, or to Another.  

The father is haltingly, sometimes painfully trying to answer to another man who came from his body, so many, many years ago.  

Maybe the best miracles always start this way, courage, uncertainty, admixture of pain and hope, and always a possibility.  Did God make us to always hope for the possibility that most seems like Home?

It’s all unfolding in my home because my wife has this courage, has this unwavering hope for possibilities that others scarcely dream.  You probably call that prayer.