God’s Little (But Not So Little) Treats

Say what you will about Facebook, it has been a pretty fun hobby of mine for the past couple years. I have reconnected with people who go back as far as kindergarten! It’s always fun to see where life has taken them in the years since we last saw each other. Sometimes it’s just recreational to learn, and other times it’s actually exciting and inspirational.

This week was an experience in the latter.

Someone posted an old photo of a high school jazz band I was in (can you find me?). It was pretty fun to look at the picture and see all the faces and try to remember the names. The picture was from my freshman year. Standing right next to me in the picture was a friend of mine I haven’t seen in more years than I care to think about. We were great friends back then. We obviously were in the jazz band together, and we both played the trombone (hint, if you still don’t know which one is me). We also played basketball. She was on the girls team, and I was on the freshman boys team.

After looking at the picture, I wondered if she had a Facebook page. There are a couple significant things to consider when you take upon yourself the mission of tracking down a friend you haven’t seen in decades. First, they probably look very little like they did in that mental image you have pinned to the wall of your memory. Second, and often times the bigger challenge, is when it’s a female who has married and no longer carries the name they had in high school. Well, somehow, I was able to find her. Most of the time, that’s all I do. Take a look at a couple of the pictures, see what their families look like, see where they live, and I’m good. Curiosity satisfied. But in this case, what I found only fueled my interest.

In looking at her page, I saw evidence that we had more in common now than we did when we played music and basketball together. Some years after we had last seen each other, she came into a personal relationship with Jesus, just as I did. But wait…there’s more. I was also able to ascertain that she has also become a singer. I couldn’t wait to connect with her and compare our stories. She now is married with a beautiful family, is very involved in ministry, and just sang the National Anthem prior to her daughter’s high school basketball game last night.

As I shared with you a couple days ago, I’ve been feeling a little flat emotionally lately. Every now and then, God just gives me a little shot in the arm to fire me up. I don’t necessarily have a surge of emotional energy. It’s actually much better than that. I feel a boost in my spirit. I’ve learned that a great friend during a fun, but very different period in my life, now shares with me the most important and most significant life changing element one can experience. In addition to the foundation we each have in our faith, we also have the added connection of our gifts and passion for singing and worship.

I don’t expect to ever see her in person again. But we each expressed the joy in knowing that, like we did in high school, there’s still one big high five we will give each other when we’re singing together, and maybe playing some trombone, in God’s worship team and band in Heaven.

It may seem like a little thing, but it’s been a real treat to my spirit.

I pray your weekend is filled with amazing treats from God!

When the Going Gets Tough

…the tough get going. Joseph Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy, was the one who originally uttered this famous phrase. While there is truth to it, it clearly is a humanistic approach. It requires each person to be tough in all circumstances. It requires us to be self reliant. 

You can’t fall over these days without hitting your head on someone who has lost a job recently and is facing stress about their housing. Last night before our Man Cave event, I met a guy and started a casual conversation. I asked the common getting-to-know-you question, “what do you do?” Almost the moment I started the question, I had a little twinge of angst because there are so many facing employment issues today. But then I thought to myself, “yeah, but what are the odds?” Yes, these thoughts shot through my mind in the amount of time it took me to complete the question. Wouldn’t you know it? He got laid off from his job in October, and still hasn’t found a new job.

In speaking with him further, I was introduced to this man’s faith. While he isn’t working, and has nothing that even looks promising at the moment, he had a smile on his face as he said, “it will all work out somehow.” He went on to say that He knows God will provide for him and his family. He doesn’t know how, but he knows God will.

I don’t know how “tough” this man is, but he knows how tough his God is. The going is tough in his life. If I had more time to get around the room, I know I could have had virtually the same conversation with numerous other men. And many of them are tough by human standards. But in the men that I know, I’m confident that their circumstances are not going to be decided by how tough they are, or are not. Their circumstances, and their reactions to them, are all subject to an all powerful God.

I have specific knowledge of the difficulties of many of you who have taken the time to read my stuff. I also know that statistically, many have read this who I don’t know, or don’t know their circumstances, but they’re dealing with stuff too. I’ve gone through my own challenges. Thank God I didn’t and don’t have to rely on my own fortitude to get through them. In fact, many times I feel pretty battered and bruised by circumstances. But then I think of the many, many promises from God that He is my refuge, my very present help in times of trouble. I close this with one of my favorite passages in all of scripture, found in Isaiah chapter 40.

28 Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.
 29 He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.
 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
       and young men stumble and fall;
 31 but those who hope in the LORD
       will renew their strength.
       They will soar on wings like eagles;
       they will run and not grow weary,
       they will walk and not be faint.

Drano and the Spiritual Condition

First, let me address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve written. This post may shed some light on why that has been.

I have put a burden on my back that maybe I shouldn’t have. I have felt a certain obligation to have my posts be really inspirational and positive. There’s nothing wrong with those qualities, but what happens when the events in life aren’t all that inspiring? I’ve held off in writing because I didn’t feel I could be emotionally honest with you if I tried to be all inspirational.

I’m not going through a particularly difficult time. I mean, each day has its challenges. But I have no room to complain about my life. One particular day, I found myself frustrated and complaining about my DVR crashing, losing shows I had recorded and been longing to watch. That day also happened to be the day of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. 

Say hello to a harsh dose of perspective.

There are times in our lives when our emotions are just kind of flat. Nothing excites us. Nothing moves us. In places and situations which typically stir my heart, I found that the needle barely moved on my barometer. I’ve stayed true to my commitments and obligations. But when I had nothing scheduled, I would find myself unmotivated to do anything that really needed to be done. 

I know myself well enough to know that this blog is a pretty accurate indicator of the condition of my life. When things are going really well, I think you’ll be able to tell by what you read. When things are particularly difficult, I believe that comes across as well. But when I feel numb, when I feel as if I’m on life’s treadmill, there are significant gaps in my writing. 

I feel that despite the fact that I can’t think of any life lessons worth sharing, or I’m not particularly inspired, I still must take the time to sit down and write. For me, writing is like a pump that ends up pulling whatever is deep inside me to come shooting through the surface. In times like these, writing is more like Drano. I need to spend this time and fight through the clog that is keeping me from the spiritual flow I so desperately need in my life.

So, with all this being said, I am going to do my very best to push through this period in my life. Some, most or all of the things I write may have no value to you at all, but it’s something I need to do in my own personal quest and development. At the same time, I pray that things I share may serve as a validation point to you in the event you have ever felt the way I do. Sometimes we just need to know that others go through the stuff we do. And I need to be open enough to show you that I go through difficult times, and don’t always handle them well or with great valor.

Barring an act of God which makes it impossible, I will keep writing, and praying that it will somehow serve to motivate and inspire.

Beginning with myself.