When Seth Mooney was born a healthy beautiful boy his parents thanked the doctors and nurses who performed the delivery, the attendant who pushed Mom’s wheelchair to the waiting car, and almost every neighbor who stopped by the next week to give their congratulations. They thanked the Pharmacist, their grocer, the nice lady at Target who sold them diapers, wipes, lotion and a dozen other necessities for young Seth. They even thanked the mailman who delivered the letter and packages from family and friends across the country. But they didn’t thank God for the most amazing miracle ever to happen to their young family. The Mooney’s are not unbelievers; they’ve been to church. No the Mooney’s are part of the growing minority of people who thank their friends for a miracle from God.
America ought to be a place where the treatment of all people equally and with fairness as one of our highest goals. Our country is founded on that basic belief. We must fight for an equal opportunity for any individual to achieve their own goal. But we cannot and should not provide for, nor promise an equal outcome for all Americans. Every person has the right to dream their own dream and choose their own horizon. The height of the sky is an individual’s choice; reaching their unique horizon ought to be the principal result of an individual’s effort and not of their circumstance, nor as a gift from the government.
Imagine the beginning of your life as a book without any words; blank pages beautifully bound in precious leather but absent any substance. Your life and mine is an unwritten story anxious to tell its tale. Now imagine a pen next to the book. The ink in the pen will create the lyrics of your life: love, joy pain, excitement, intrigue, and many thousands more. Each page represents one day; God chooses the number of pages, only He knows the first day and the last. We create the experiences that fill the pages, deciding for ourselves the volume of life that each day will hold. So then, it is a partnership between ourself and God that creates the quality and fullness of the life we live, and that partnership is more evenly weighed than you may think.
Jay, my brother-in-law, died this month. It has been a time of emotional trauma as we navigate through unknown and unwanted waters. Yet we somehow have made it past (sometimes reluctantly and always bruised) each hour of every day. And we will survive the days to come, battered and tired beyond our human ability to comprehend, but survive we must, and we will.
During this period, while writing an obituary for Jay and listening to the many entertainingly emotional stories arising from the pulpit and barstool, it is abundantly obvious to me that Jay’s book contained too few pages. His novel should have been Tolstoyick in nature, with pages of fine print numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Still I believe the time of the last page was set by God for a reason I cannot comprehend, so I reluctantly choose not to question His contribution to the partnership. This however, I know to be true; on the last day there was not a single drop of ink left in Jay’s pen. He had filled each line on every page with life. Richly laughing and loving through each chapter; every paragraph shouting for friends and family, Jay boldly placed all others in line before himself.
The adversity named diabetes struck him in the seventh chapter like the iceberg to the Titanic. This time though, there was no shipwreck as Jay cast the berg aside like a melting snow-cone on a hot summer day. Hard working and equally hard in play, Jay scribbled and printed in his book with an energy that was obvious and envied. If the direction for his next adventure were unclear, Jay kept writing, knowing that every page would eventually be turned. Near his end the pages turned slower, but that only gave Jay more time to spend filling the lines with laughter and hope. His contribution to the partnership with God was at the highest level possible, making his book a timeless best seller. Now, their partnership has become a sole proprietorship; the two merging into one, living on in endless fun and games.
What does your book like? How many pages are blank, or only contain a few words? How often do our pages speak of work and responsibility, of belongings and not of family or friends? The ink is ours alone to use, so why do we let so many other people and “things” dictate what we write? How many paragraphs begin and end with God?
Is it time to for all of us to seize our pen and write our own story!
The death of Jay has made me test my priorities and my values. I have not used all of my vacation time for any year of the last ten, but I have more miles on Southwest and points at Hilton than most people you will meet. Over 400 friends and family members attended the two memorial services held in Jay’s honor, and although he had only been retired for three years, no one spoke what he had accomplished at work; we spoke of friendship, commitment, and love.
I am not questioning the need for a career; I question its priority in our book. I don’t question the need for serious thought; I encourage the need for laughter. I’m also not advocating only engaging in BIG adventures (vacations, travel), but also the important little things; such as attending kids sporting events, family game nights and regular dates with your spouse. I’m suggesting less of the doldrums and more excitement; I am proposing a reassessment of priorities to whom, and away from what, from sometime to now!
I am changing my vocabulary to phrases that say; yes, I’ll try that, or sure let’s go, and I’m coming home now. I don’t know the number of pages left in my book, but I think there is a lot of ink left in the pen. I intend to use every drop, just like Jay.
Last week we helped move our daughter, her husband and their six month old daughter into a new apartment. The entire move was accomplished in a single day with the help of a rental truck, dozens of boxes, and willing friends and family. I’m not certain why it is so, but moving-in always seems easier than moving -out. The new apartment was empty and clean; each appliance was new and shiny, the walls gleamed with fresh paint, and every bathroom tile was buffed to perfection. By contrast, the old residence appeared cluttered and in need of a thorough cleaning, as is the state of most apartments on move-out day. Yet at some stage in their mutual existence, the new and old apartments both were filled with furnishings the owner believed they needed, and later, just prior to a new occupancy, the rooms were emptied and cleaned. Space must be made in the old before the new can be moved in.
Gorda entered the Room of Past Knowledge from the south side of the complex, where the morning sun shone the brightest of the day. It was hot, passing 140 degrees as he turned the key to the massive iron and wooden door. He moved through the threshold of gold, iron and cheesewood, meant to keep evil spirits from entering this room, into a much cooler, very ancient place. Gorda wasn’t sure if evil spirits existed, or if their reported existence was a way for the old chemist to keep the townspeople afraid and behaved. He did know that evil was real; he had fought against it for decades, so he allowed the use of rare Cheesewood for a door frame. Besides, evil, in spirit or not, could not be allowed into this room.
She is perfect. From the tip of her black hair covered head to the bottom of her finger sized feet, she is as flawless as the finest diamond ever cut by a master jeweler. Perfection is not limited to her beautiful, 7 pound, 14 ounce body, with skin so soft you scarcely feel it when you touch her. Every part of her human and spiritual existence is unblemished, perfectly made in love, without even the hint of sin. In this moment, Renee only knows trust, love, and faith, no other worldly feeling or emotion has stained the brilliant white light that fills her tiny body. The strength in Renee’s hands when she grips my finger, just moments after she entered our world, unleashes love in me so powerful that I welcomed the tears that swelled in my eyes. The last time I felt love so pure and strong was when each of my children was born. Now I am beginning to understand how much God loves me, and what He sees when He looks at me. Continue reading
The group of thirty people, mostly men, a few women, and one lone boy standing off by himself, shuffled their feet to hold back the morning cold while they gathered at the base of the trail leading up the mountain. From their vantage point, everything in existence appeared to be up, and in reality, they were right. The mountain ahead was not significantly steep, but the trail was narrow and held many twists and turns, so getting lost was a real danger. The air was crisp, and the beauty of the mountain was stunning; striking rock formations of red and beige surrounded by dark green trees of massive proportions, interrupted by an occasional deep blue twisting line. It should have been a painting; maybe it was.
The apple fell to earth as the couple ran from the garden, landing with a small bounce allowing a lone seed to loosen from its fleshy white home and touch the fertile soil. Now free, the seed burrowed deep into the earth, past topsoil and roots which might compete for life giving nutrients, toward the safety of rock and clay. Here, in the moist and cold darkness of life’s foundation, the seed waited for the renewal of light into its world.
A mouse is a timid little creature, who under almost any circumstance when confronted with a dangerous situation will choose the option of flight over fight. This is a very logical position, given the non-threatening physical characteristics bestowed on the Mouse: short legs, a round body covered in white hair, a small mouth with smaller teeth, and a roar that closely resembles air slowly leaking from a balloon. A snake, on the other hand, seems content with fighting first and asking questions later. In fact, a snake rarely asks questions at all, they just strike. Also logical, because a snake’s body is designed for stealth, attack, and creating fear in an opponent or prey. It is not a coincidence then, that many snakes eat mice, so choosing to run, as opposed to joining a snake for dinner, is another good choice for a mouse. Sometimes though, running is not the first option.
Coming down the escalator to the terminal’s ground floor I could see the rain falling hard against the massive windows that made up the wall on the east side of the building. Outside, standing curbside waiting for the shuttle bus that would take me to the rental car facility; I came into personal contact with the cold, wet and very windy night. It was not cold enough to turn the rain into snow, but it was cold enough that it did not matter. After a long day of waiting, hurrying, dragging bags, stuffing overhead bins, and eating pretzels, I was tired and not looking forward to the 45 minute drive to my hotel. Still, real food and a warm bed was sufficient motivation to keep me moving.
I was moderately wet by the time I found myself in the driver’s seat of a foreign made “full sized” car. If this was a full sized car, I could not imagine how small a compact could be. Once I had located the lights switch, wipers, programed the GPS system, and adjusted the mirrors I was ready to go. I was driving in one of those states in the east where they did not know what a Bots Dot, or a reflector on the road was, or even reflective paint. On the pot hole filled road leading to the highway, I was having too much trouble distinguishing my lane from the one to my right or left; fortunately it was late and not too many cars were on the road. My lack of clarity was beginning to unnerve me, not to mention twice the harsh voice on the GPS box had informed me that it was recalculating my route because I had missed a turn.