Respect

respect

What is respect? What images come to mind when you hear the word?

Do you think of military chain of command, with each subordinate respecting their commanding officer? Or maybe a similar, thought slightly more informal respect, shown by a young person toward an elderly ancestor?

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

Ah… respect is elicited by some ability, quality, or achievement. So, maybe a professional athlete? Some people respect them for their achievements and abilities. Perhaps a graduate of a certain academic program elicits your respect? How about a well-known historical figure who accomplished great, world-changing things in their lifetime?

Definitely.

How about giving up your seat to someone who looks like they need it more? What about trusting someone with something (or someone) you really care about? And do we show respect when we listen to someone; really listen?

Have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of [another]

Hmm. That’s different. That respect is due to another simply because the are. They exist. They are another created being, with feelings, rights, wishes and even traditions.

Our value is not (only) in what we have accomplished. Our real value is found in our worth to the One who made us. We are worth everything to him; his own life.

I overheard someone speaking about respect recently. It was a mother, scolding her young child, saying, “You have to earn respect!” While there is some truth to that (see definition one above) the greater truth is that this mother will not likely receive the respect she is hoping for from her child, because her words and her tone are not giving respect to the other person she is addressing.

It’s always interesting with children. I speak from parenting experience. Sometimes you just need them to obey. “DO WHAT I AM ASKING YOU… NOW!” But I fully believe that when we treat others with full respect, allowing them to make a reasoned, willing decision, a respectful submission to instruction will be the most likely result—even from a child.

Treat others just as you want to be treated.

And…

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

What if we did it backwards? Like Jesus said in those last two quotes above. It’s not ‘Treat other people the way they treat you’, no… it’s ‘treat others the way you want to be treated.’ You first. I get to make the first show of respect.

giving-up-your-seatI’ve seen this in action as a school bus driver, believe it or not. I’m sure you have a picture in your mind of what it’s like on a big bus full of young children. And… you’re right. It’s pretty loud, energetic, fun, and crazy! But the drivers who have the best ability to control their busses, when needed, are those who look kids in the eyes when they first get on the bus and offer a genuine, friendly greeting. When things get out of hand, they address the unruly ones by name, firmly but respectfully, and most often, the measure of respect that is given is the same measure returned.

Of course I know this doesn’t always work. Maybe not even very often. But doesn’t it stand the best chance? Isn’t it just the right thing to do?

Jesus thought so.

We have chances almost every second of our lives to show another the respect they are due simply because God has breathed life into them. You’ve probably heard that we will be known by the way we love, well that’s really the same thing—respect is love, is respect. Think about others before you think about yourself. Treat the person next to you like the heir to the throne that he or she is.

(And it will come back to you in the measure that you give.)

So listen to your spouse. Show your teenager empathy. Give heaps of grace to your little ones. Look a stranger in the eye and give a genuine, friendly greeting. Do something for someone that costs you. Maybe even a lot.

We love—we respect—because he first loved us. When we know how much we are loved, then we can treat the people around us the same way. It’s the same principle, on a cosmic, galactic, universal (and beyond) scale.

You have earned my respect because you are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus to do the good things he planned for us long ago. Done deal.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

Let’s try it. See what happens.

Fading Away

fading-flower

Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.

I read those lines from 1 John again this morning with my two oldest sons. When we finished, I went back and read them aloud again. Then we discussed.

“This is important,” I said.

It wasn’t about keeping them from sinful behavior, though. Of course, I hope that they can avoid as much hurt caused by sin as possible—unless God allows that for their own greater benefit. I can not know or understand such things.

What is important is what I made bold above: And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves.

Everything is fading away. I see reminders of that everywhere. Everywhere.

Jim Kelly, the icon of toughness for the Buffalo Bills and the entire western half of New York State is in a very weakened state, in a hospital in NYC, hoping to battle back cancer… again. Our friend, Scott Shimp continues to fight his stage four cancer, which doctors say is incurable, but he (knowing the Great Healer) says otherwise. My Mom is recovering from painful surgery that revealed more damage than they had anticipated. She’s OK, but in much pain. (She often is.)

Other friends are dealing with cancers (new and recurring), death of spouses, and we also know of a little four-year-old boy who is fighting a disease far too early in his life on this earth.

This world is fading away along with all that it craves (1 John)

There is good news in that, especially for all who are fighting, clawing, battling against the brokenness of this temporary, fading reality. We know it is temporary. We are pilgrims, passing through. But it is also all too real. The hurt, pain, distress, fear

We know that he casts out fear. There are dozens and dozens (hundreds?) of reminders of this in the words of scripture. Do not fear. Trust. Rest.

But while we traverse this temporary, fading existence… the darkness can feel too great, too overwhelming. Too often.

When our hearts are affixed to that which fades, our hearts will fade with it.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Jesus reminded us of this. He knew we needed to remember it. This is important.

Fix our eyes on Jesus. Treasure that which lasts. This world, the physical pleasures—even those that are good, wholesome, godly—and even our own bodies are only temporary. Fading. But Jesus is not. He is eternal life. And to know him, is how we taste and experience that Life. (John 17:3)

This is important.

I don’t know what you are facing, but I am sure it’s something. Whether you’re feeling at peace with it, or raging against the injustice of whatever it may be, or the feeling of loneliness as you wage weary war against this enemy mostly unknown to even your closest friends…

Remember what is important. If you’re reading this, you have been given life today. For right now. We can not hold on to anything here. Nothing!

Only his kingdom, and his righteousness (not ours!) and only abiding in and enjoying fellowship with the Son.

And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.

Remember what is important. Please. And by God’s glorious grace, let’s walk in his brilliant light, with joy, each day he gives us in this fading world, with great, eager hope of the world that is to come.

ralph-c-wilson-jr

Footnote: I began this post early today, and wrote out bits and pieces throughout my work day. Around 3:00 pm, my Twitter app exploded with the news of the death of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., founder and only owner of the Buffalo Bills. (Whom you likely know I avidly follow.) It was a sort of confirmation of the certainty of the fade of this world, everything being temporary. We know death is the period at the end of our sentence, and we are constantly reminded of its reality. And yet, we have hope. Jesus defeated death. I’m so glad he did.

Content Creator

content-creator

So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 (AMP)

In my life so far, I’ve always enjoyed creating. Whether it was a song, or a blog post here, or a book of those posts, or even a meal. All the way back to some of my earliest memories of making little books at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house with my craft-loving grandma—I’ve always been a creator.

Lots of times that reminds me of God, the Creator. I know, as the quote from Genesis reminds us above, that we are made in God’s image; we are like him. That probably includes the ability (and desire) to create. We are mini creators.

This can take all sorts of forms. Some create buildings, some create art, some create works of literature, some create new technologies. We are likely all wired, on some level, to create.

I’m guessing there is a hole in this very sweeping premise somewhere, but it does seem like a piece of the core of our being: we are made to create.

Which might be why I feel so restless recently.

For a long while, much of what I’ve been doing with my time is managing the creations of others. Sometimes I do this in my work, managing software and technology created by others, as well as maintaining business accounts and data. Other times it is the current stage of being the father of six incredible mini-creators, which requires much time and energy to sustain them as well as cheering on their creations. And, truthfully, often I find myself managing the dissemination of products that I created at some time in the past. In all of this, I am often neglecting time for my own creating.

(I do still find time for some pretty tasty culinary creations, though.) 🙂

Knowing this is good, and knowing that it’s likely only a season is also helpful, but I do think that there is a serious deficiency for me as a “content creator”. A deficiency that I am hoping to find ways to fill.

One is this blog. I love to write out thoughts. It may be that it inspires thinking in others, or hope, or faith, or action, but even if no one reads it, it does help me to write (create) it.

Another is music. I know that music is a part of my being. Intentionally sitting down at the piano or grabbing my guitar and spending time “creating” music is life-giving to my soul.

I’m also trying to be very intentional in writing a book I am working on (actually, a couple books, but I am focusing on one primarily).

However the opportunities present themselves, I really do believe that I need to be creating. I am made to create.

Are you? What is it you’re made to do? Are you doing it?

If you’re not, I’d recommend—from my current personal experience—to pursue it. Intentionally. Fervently.

I believe it’s important to be in the place you were made to be. May your week be full of chances to be who you were made to be and what you were made to do!

Give Us This Day

frenchbread

I know Jesus always meant what he said. In my own life, I really try to “mean what I say, and say what I mean”, and for the most part, I’d say that is generally what is accomplished.

So when Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (or however your translation happens to phrase it) I think he wasn’t really just talking about bread—or even just our food.

Too often we are caught up in any moment besides now. Worries about the future, or even just plans and strategies for our future; hurt, pain, doubt, guilt from our past, whether of our own doing, or somehow inflicted upon us—these things can consume us.

We really have no idea what is coming next, nor how our past has prepared us for the now.

All we have is “this day”.

That reality has been so present for me again lately. I have friends who have been thrust into a daily place that I’m sure they don’t want to be (and yet, I know they are seeing and even feeling God’s blessings in the midst of such a hard place) and we are even waging our own daily battles here, too, which seem to have been going on for far too long now.

Maybe someone you love has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Maybe you have. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost someone that you love. Maybe you’re living a life that you never thought would be “like this”, and you don’t know how to change it.

Maybe you doubt your Father’s love, or his goodness… or even his existence.

Give us this day…

I think today, I will drink deeply of the place that God has me. I know the bad. Somehow it is often better at being noticed. (Or maybe I am better at noticing it.) But I also know the good. There is good, now. It’s not some future reality that will be present once I’m through this, or change that, or realize some yet-unattained desire.

I have breath in me. I am here, in this place, now. There are people (whom God loves) around me whom I can share that breath and life with … now.

This day.

None of this is new, I’m sure. It’s not to me. But it sure seems that I need reminders to slow, to breathe, to just… be.

Daily.

May your day be filled with all that he gives. Even if it’s not what you were hoping or looking for.

He is there. This day.

[ThisDay] Sex Sells (Apparently)

One of the posts that has received the most interaction was admittedly expected to attract some attention. I wasn’t just searching for website hits… rather, I was making a point. A fun night out with Emma at the mall turned into conversations about large images of ladies in their underwear—everywhere! That night I posted some thoughts on our much we use sexual imagery in marketing and advertising, and the possible consequences of that. That was certainly a memorable post from January 31st in GregsHead.net history. A close runner up was the story called “My Computer Had a Heart Attack” (a good, lengthy read!). For today though, and the last day in this series: Sex Sells (Apparently). (Thoughts/comments welcomed!)

Sex Sells (Apparently)

January 31st, 2013

Aerie Ad - Girl in lingerieI wouldn’t usually post such photos here. But I guess I’m trying to make a point.

Have we really gotten so used to seeing women in their underwear (or less) that it doesn’t even slightly surprise us?

(My hope is that when you saw the photo for this post on my website, you were surprised, or shocked. It hopefully seemed quite out of place. And it should.)

Last night my four-year-old daughter, Emma, and I walked through nearly the entirety of our local mall, and the volume of near-nudity prominently displayed in store fronts truly overwhelmed me. It was not hidden in the lingerie section near the back of a department store. Rather, right out in front, for every passer by.

I did some research when we got home and found out that there are an inordinate amount of lingerie stores in our mall. It could be that this is the reason that there are so many super-over-sized revealing photos, but still, you can’t walk down nearly any corridor of the mall without being bombarded by boobs.

Aerie storefront display - Girls in lingerie

I know I sound old saying this, but… I don’t remember this when I was a kid!

(Yep. Old.)

Now you can be shopping at the Apple Store for an iPad mini and get an eyeful of what amounts to “soft porn” at the same time. (There’s another “intimate apparel” store across the hall from our Apple Store.)

Am I overreacting here? I’m not sure. I am a guy, of course, and scantily clad, beautiful women do have a certain appeal, but what is that appeal? Certainly it is to my flesh—the part of me that is supposed to be dead. We are all well aware, however, that it still fights for life.

Jesus said that adultery is wrong, but that a man looking at a woman lustfully is just the same (since sin is a heart issue, before it’s a behavior issue) … but, I’m not sure that’s why I feel uncomfortable strolling the halls of the mall. (There wasn’t any lustful looking going on.)

I am more uncomfortable when my boys are with me. Aged 14 and 11 1/2, the internal chemicals are beginning to and have already worked their magic and the appeal of women dressed in little, even posed suggestively many times, well… that’s not something I want to test my boys’ will power on. And all to just find a new favorite well-used video game?

Last night it was Emma, who was certainly taking it all in. Once she said, “More bras! Ha!” (Yes, she’s awesome.) So I’m not really sure what she thinks about it, but she at least finds it somewhat humorous.

spencers

But I think in the end, I just find it sad. Near the end of our mall tour we passed Spencer’s. This particular window display was the most overt of all the stores in their attempt (in my opinion) to use sex to sell. (They might even more be selling sex, not simply lingerie, but…) I actually shook my head at their forwardness, and quickly moved along. Later when I was looking for store displays online to share with you here, I discovered that when you click the above banner—taken from their website, but this was also the current store front display—you have to consent to viewing adult material before going further into their site. So, perhaps they aren’t even trying to hide the soft porn part?

(Note: I actually do remember that my mom would direct us past and cast doubt upon the goodness of Spencer’s stores in our various malls. Though I do think we darkened their door a time or two along the way. I think my sister liked some of the stuff in there? I do not remember such displays in their front windows… but I do have this inner, red warning light regarding their establishment. Perhaps this is not a new development.)

What I think all of this reveals about us (yes, pun intended) is a culture that is certainly progressing more and more towards debauchery. Again, I know that I sound old suggesting that “my generation” wasn’t as perverse as “this generation”, and to an extent, I’m sure I’m wrong. People are people. We’re all dead in sin, none of us can escape that; one generation’s societal moral superiority notwithstanding.

But I really do think this is a symptom of a deeper sickness.

Families are now horribly rent asunder: rampant divorce, children outside marriage, multiple parents (but really no parents), gay marriage, abortion… they are all signs of our inner moral corruption and decay.

So it makes sense that we’d continue to feed our flesh—the part of us that drives this decay—and even progressively think less and less of it, allowing it to have more of a hold on us.

We’re naked under our clothes. (Did you know that?) Nakedness is not the sin. The way it’s used to appeal to our selfish, fleshly, worldly desires can be, and those desires can be. Paul said, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” Perhaps that applies here.

I don’t think I’m talking about the over-sized posters, though.

It seemed so blatantly obvious last night on our walk through the mall that these are symptoms of a culture-wide decline; gradually slipping more and more toward full worldliness, and farther away from godliness. It makes sense, of course, as culturally we have been removing God from everyday life for several generations now. It’s certainly bound to happen this way.

I know I sound old. (And, I kind of am!) This generation is worse off morally than mine, but maybe not than my parents’ generation? (The sixties, hippies, etc? Could be we improved from that?) And we will continue the downward trend until, as individuals, and families, and then as a society we allow God to resume his rightful position as Father and leader and provider and all that he is and wants to be to us.

Until then, it shouldn’t surprise me what is displayed in the large windows of our public marketplaces. If we continue this way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see actual nudity soon, as well as much more sexual images.

This really is the visible symptoms of a deeper issue.

I want to say, “And I hope for our society’s sake that we turn to Jesus and live full lives as he intended us to!” … but I wonder if that’s my wrong thinking about “life to the full”. Life to the full is messy. We are messy, broken, sinners. We are in a broken world, and though we can experience a taste of true, unbroken life, we are still here, in this mess. And that will never change, until we’re not. So, no matter how much we, as a society, might turn to Jesus … the deeper issue here (not the symptoms) is part of the bigger picture of “full life” that God intended. I think.

That doesn’t mean I have to traverse the mall corridors, though. 🙂

I’ll finish by saying that I hope wherever you are right now, you know the Father, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3) and that you know his abundant grace and life and are living that fully and free from guilt and condemnation and judgement (John 3:17) … because that is how we’re meant to be.

(Clothed, or not.)


Note: The photos in this post are mostly taken from the retailers’ websites. My iPhone camera was not doing a good job capturing the images I wanted to use for this post. All of these images here were on display in three-times-real-life size in the store windows, as well as dozens more.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 30th

[ThisDay] Chapters

Life is change. Everything around us—and even we ourselves—are constantly growing, changing, gaining, losing. This post from January 29th, 2008 was my reflection on how life often changes, even when you don’t want it to. (Sometimes it feels like especially when you don’t want it to!) I hope you’ll enjoy this post as you consider the chapters of your own life.

Chapters

January 29th, 2008

book-chaptersOur closest friends are moving away.

There. I said it. Sometimes I try not to. Other times I say it more than I probably need to. Both are ways to deal with an unexpected (and truthfully, unwanted) change in my life. Our family’s life.

We have known for a while, but I think it’s safe to publicly say now as the decision has been public for a couple weeks. But for quite a bit longer than that we have been thinking and talking together with our friends through the various elements of their big decision. They are quite excited. It’s a great new opportunity for them, and seems to them to be exactly what God has prepared them for. They were expecting a new chapter in their life and it looks like this is it!

For us there are much more mixed emotions.

On the one hand, we are of course excited for our friends. We love them and you can’t help but be excited along with people you love. You are excited when they are excited. You hurt when they hurt. And so on. But on the other hand, it will be very different with them gone.

Of course I know that life is change. “The only thing certain in life is that life is not certain,” or something like that. Life is all about changes. Chapters, if you will. And we have actually had a good two or three chapters with these friends. Going way back to college days (chapter one) and then moving together to work at the same church in upstate NY (chapter two). Then bring Jen back into the equation after her one-year internship in Indiana (chapter three) and then we both started having children (chapter four) and maybe even add one more chapter for when we both had finished our time at the church that brought us to this town in the first place (chapter five).

That’s a lot of chapters.

And there will be more. Perhaps only one more. (The “rest of life” chapter.) But how can you ever know? If change is the only certain thing in life, who knows if we might meet up again somewhere down the road?

But for now… I’ve mostly just been sad.

When someone dies, people are affected in different ways. The people who spend the most time with the lost loved one are of course affected the most. We saw this when Jen’s brother died. Her parents were devastated for a long time. They had poured their lives into him. He lived with them again, and so they were spending every day with him. We were all hurt by the loss, but I believe they were affected the most.

In a way, it’s similar with our friends. No… they aren’t dying. 🙂 I’m grateful for Skype and e-mail and phone calls (and the occasional visit!). The similarity for me is just in the closeness both emotionally and in time spent together. These friends are the ones we share the most life with. Often at least a couple visits in a week, and of course every birthday and other special day. (We have lots of those….) 🙂 Our kids call them “aunt” and “uncle” as well, which is intended to reveal a closer relationship. We have a few other friends whom our kids call “aunt” and “uncle” but none fit quite as appropriately. We have joked since our first children were born (we had a boy and they had a girl) that our kids might one day be married. And I guess we just assumed they would at least grow up together.

It will definitely be hard when they leave. It’s nice that the end of this chapter – this section – is not abrupt. They will have a few more months of tying up things here. For now, we’re enjoying the last part of this chapter.

And I know there will be more. And I’m grateful for the five (or more) that we have had. And life will be full of many more chapters.

It’s still not always fun to move on.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 29th

Loss

[ThisDay] Life Suddenly Changed

You never know what a day is going to bring. We don’t even know if we’ll see the next day! Life unfolds before us—good and bad, joy and sorrow—without our permission, and usually without much influence from us at all. January twenty-eight of two thousand eleven was one of those days for us. Some new, good friends—our kids had almost instantly taken to them as adopted grandparents—had their world dramatically altered in a moment by a sudden, unexpected death. The ripples from this sudden absence of one changed our life that day, too. Remember to cherish those you love today, and hopefully also know and enjoy that you are cherished by someone(s), too. We never know what the next moment will bring.

Life Suddenly Changed

January 28th, 2011

pacific-sunsetA friend of ours passed away this morning. It was very unexpected, apparently very sudden (though I do not fully know the details) and… it just feels very final.

I have not known this friend very long. We met his daughter and her family a little more than a year ago when they moved to our town. They home school their children and had met some mutual home schooling friends who introduced us and we pretty quickly became good friends. Her parents moved to town shortly after her dad had a massive heart attack (about one year ago) to live in the apartment attached to their house. It was all very God-arranged.

We met Wayne & his wife shortly after they moved to town and, likely due to our good friendship with their daughter and family, they quickly became our good friends too. They were equally quickly “adopted” by our kids as their third set of grandparents. (Really! There was even a signed certificate created by our kids!) 🙂 They graciously offered an open invitation to us to watch our kids any time Jen and I needed to get out for some no-kids time. (And we have taken them up on that invite several times!)

The first time I met Wayne, I realized we had a shared love of words. Both reading and writing. Wayne has been far more prolific than I in both departments, to be sure. I am currently reading a book he recommended, and I had been talking with him about helping him publish some of his books. I hope to still do that for him.

It’s been a strange day. Death has not touched me much in life. Presently, I can only think of two people who were really close to me who have died. My Mom’s dad died when I was 12 or 13. I remember that, and remember thinking, “Wow… that’s weird.” But I didn’t realize till later that reaction was due (at least in part) to my Mom’s relationship with him—I had only been with him a handful of times. The other person is my wife’s brother, Jeff. My brother-in-law for only about a year. He died just before our first son Ian was born. (I remember it was really hard. Really shocking. Very sad.) That’s the reason that Ian bears his name. (Ian Jeffrey Campbell).

Otherwise, death has always seemed to be a couple relationships away from me.

But I know Wayne. He is my friend. I already miss him.

I was processing all of this with another friend in an online conversation when I said, “Life just changed suddenly.” I didn’t mean it to be profound, but the more I thought of it, the more I realized it was true. Life—my life—is now different, and quite suddenly so.

Now, I’m sure I don’t hurt nearly as much as our friends who lost a dad, a husband, a grandpa … and we will be asking God to fill the large void they now (suddenly) have in their lives. He can and I know he will…

But there is a hole. There is an absence. Life… is different.

Each of us is so much more impactful than we admit. (Or perhaps we really don’t realize, or understand it.) Every person we know, every place we go, everything we do … is part of the “fabric” of the lives of all those around us. So, the closer we are, the more time we spend with people, the more the void is felt. But all of us feel the absence. All of us.

So I will (and already do) miss him.

Although I am not as naive as to think that death would never touch me, it still nearly always comes as a shock. We are such hardy, fragile creatures. One moment it’s incredible what we can come through, and the next moment we can be gone within that moment. We just never know.

What that means—since we know that—is that each moment we have is precious. We can very easily get to thinking otherwise. Life’s daily details overtake (perhaps overwhelm) our conscious thoughts. But we just never know when we won’t have the people we love with us anymore. All we know is that we have them—we are with them—now.

Please take a moment today, after you read this, and remind the people around you how much they mean to you. Take a second to encourage some of the greatness you see in them. Maybe take more than a second. We can’t live everyday worried that we are going to lose those we love, but, we can certainly remember to let them know what they mean to us as often as possible.

I’m glad to have known Wayne Leavitt. I hope to see him again one day.

Until then, while I am still here, I am now reminded to enjoy the moments I have with the people whose lives God has intertwined with mine, and to let them know how glad I am that he has.

I hope you will do the same.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 28th

[ThisDay] First And Second Birthdays

Today’s post was a poignant piece, originally published one year after the death of a family friend. We all celebrate birthdays, but it’s harder to celebrate our second birthdays; at least it’s hard for those left behind here in this mortal existence. I wrote this about one year after our friend died, and one day after my mom’s “first” birthday (Jan 26th). If you’d like to read something lighter, January 27th is an active day for publishing in GregsHead.net history. See the list at the end of the post for the lighter fare. But today’s primary selection is just below. Enjoy.

First And Second Birthdays

January 27th, 2012

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. January 26th is a circled day on the calendar, celebrated by our family. Has been for as long as I have memories. All day long, we think of my Mom. We call, we video chat, we send cards… we celebrate the life she began on January 26th, 19xx. 🙂

(I don’t know that my Mom has any real problem with me sharing her age, but… just in case… since she reads this blog … Suffice it to say that this year her two-digit age ends with a zero! So in some ways it was an even more memorable/special year.)

I love my Mom and love celebrating her birthday! (Even if we’re not in the same location on the birthday day.)

At some point during that day I was reminded that the 26th of January is also the birth day of our good friend’s Mom. She, too was born on the twenty-sixth day of the first month of the year. If I recollect correctly, she was even born in the same state, not far from where my Mom was born. She too has children who love her, and many grandkids.

But she has another birthday.

A little over a decade ago, she was born into her eternal life. She is now with Jesus. So her birthday is celebrated at least a little differently than the way we celebrate January 26th here, where we can still show our love and see it received, and given back.

It’s better to be with the Lord. The Bible tells us so. But I’d imagine first birthdays are at least a little harder when the one birthed has had their second birthday already, and you’re left celebrating without them.

This week I’ve also been thinking of our friends who are coming up on the one-year anniversary of a second birthday. Tomorrow will be one year since our friends lost a Dad and a Husband and a Grandpa; and since we lost someone who was becoming a good friend.

Death leaves such an absence. It’s hard to celebrate the second birthdays. Again, it’s better to be with the Lord, but that truth seems distant when the life so suddenly changes, and the void is so clearly known and seen and felt.

I know it’s been rough again lately for our friend who lost her Dad. (And I know for many years our friend who lost her Mom has missed her so dearly on many occasions, more than just first and second birthdays.)

It definitely makes me value the days that I have now with my Mom, who’s still only had her first birthday.

The hope that we have runs deep. I know and trust that once we have both passed the threshold into our eternal life, I won’t have to live or think about living life without my Mom in my life. That is a great hope.

But I’ll say it again: for now, on at least some levels, I’m very glad my Mom is still only one.

I rejoice for the lives of the two parents I know, mentioned above, who are missed yesterday and tomorrow. They loved well and are still well loved. I am praying peace now for the kids who miss their beloved parents on their first and second birthdays respectively. But I already know they have hope. And in that I also rejoice.

This talk of “second birthdays” has a bit of a morbid undertone, but if you know our Jesus, it’s a wonderful thing when you turn two.

It’s just harder for all the one-year-olds who are still waiting for their own second birthday.

It will come. And then others will both mourn and rejoice on our two birthdays. And we will celebrate with all of the ones we loved who went before us.

What a birthday party that will be.


Note: This photo of my Mom is slightly dated, but it’s a good one, with several of our kids loving their Grammy. There are not many photos of my Mom in existence, and I’m nearly certain this is the only one published online! So, I might get in a tiny bit of trouble, but… I know she still loves me. Right, Mom? 🙂

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 27th

[ThisDay] Both Sides of the Story

I had an intriguing idea today.

“I wonder what I was thinking and writing on this day through the ten plus years I’ve been publishing stuff here? I wonder if it’s the same stuff I’m thinking in January of 2014?”

Seemed like an interesting enough activity to share it here with you. (Hello, you!)

For the remainder of this month, I plan to post here my favorite post from that date in GregsHead history, as well as links to the other posts from that day, should you wish to do more reading than just the one that I select.

It should prove to be an interesting study in the cyclical nature of life—or at least… of my own mind? 🙂

Today’s post is really very interesting, primarily because while it was its own post, its initial/primary purpose was to highlight another previous post! (Wow!) Please read as much as time (or interest) allows.

Without further ado, This Day In (GH) History

Both Sides of the Story

January 20th, 2012

I’ve mentioned here many times that I am learning how crucial it is to see life from multiple angles. Getting not only information from people with opposing viewpoints, but really trying to step into their shoes; see from their perspective. It’s just so crucial to communication, to cooperation, interaction… to society in general.

And so often, we—being human, flawed, self-absorbed—we aren’t even aware that there are other legitimate perspectives!

Our son Ian has been very interested in the World War II time period of history. He’s been learning every bit he can not just about the battles, but the people—the leaders in particular—involved in the story. Winston Churchill and FDR, as well as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. He’s previously read about Woodrow Wilson and WWI… definitely has a serious passion for history and biographies!

So much so that Mom (Jen) has even recently taken up a book about Roosevelt titled, “FDR’s Splendid Deception”, about the fact that President Roosevelt was never seen public in his wheelchair, so as to not appear weak. From all accounts, it’s a fascinating story.

Somehow all of this brought to mind a movie I had seen some time back. I posted a mini-review on that movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, and it’s counterpart, Flags of our Fathers, here on this site in 2007. Please go ahead and click the link and read that story. (That’s actually the main reason for this post: that you’d re-read that older post!)

The fascinating thing was, Flags was released first, and then Iwo Jima. They depicted the exact same story from history, but from opposite sides of the battle.

How much better off we’d be if we could do that with nearly every conflict or disagreement!

For a long time now, Jen and I and I have been reading through a modern translation of the Federalist Papers called The Original Argument. In Federalist #1, Alexander Hamilton addresses this subject (in an atmosphere where there were passionate arguments for and against the proposed Constitution):

Since the motives behind each of the opinions are so strong, it is certain that wise and good people will be found on both sides of the issues. This fact should remind us all to remain modest in our opinion—no matter how right we think we are.

I think that is still my favorite quote from all the papers we’ve examined so far. And again, how different would our political climate be today if that were the way everyone approached every issue, whether controversial or relatively benign?

Forget politics. What if we all treated each other that way? What if we presumed that we were not smarter, better, right-er than everyone else around us.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

That’s where it starts. You can’t really even care about the perpective of your adversary or opponent—or anyone—if you know you are in some way (or all ways) superior.

I’d really encourage you to read that post about Letters from Iwo Jima, and as I recommended now almost five years ago, if you haven’t seen it… do.

The more we can see things from other view points, other perspectives, the more we can live at peace with others around us. (Which is what Paul says we need to do in the verse just before what I quoted above.)

So I encourage you to take a walk in someone else’s shoes today. You might be surprised what you see.


Scripture quote is Philippians 2:3-4, from the New Living Translation

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 20th

  1. I recommend this as a close second for best post on January 20th. Bonus: It’s shorter. 🙂

Stillness

Lake Tahoe - Calm Water

Quiet can sometimes indicate trouble. (Perhaps this is most true for parents of young children?)

When someone you love is quiet, it can cause you some concern. “Are you feeling okay? You seem so quiet…”

Other times quiet is necessary. We must stop to process. To think. Ruminate. Cogitate. Meditate.

To pray. Commune.

We read this morning from the book of Mark that when Jesus was most sought after by the throngs, he was off by himself. Remote. Distant.

Quiet.

There is silence here for the moment, for a variety of reasons. It’s somewhat peculiar that last calendar year was one of prodigious production for me, literarily, and then since late in twenty-thirteen, there has been naught but silence on these digital pages.

Are you feeling okay?

I am a child of God, loved more deeply than I can ever fathom. I am more than okay.

For now, I have no plans to resume publication of my thoughts, ruminations, and rumblings (or is that… grumblings?) but the archives beckon, no?

Peruse previous entries by year (2013, 2012… even 2003?) or by category: family, life with God, personal, government, or even tags like science and “Things That Are Weird“.

If you are in a season of silence, I pray it is productive. Don’t rush it. Enjoy and allow it to season you properly.

And remain—abide—in the stillness until life quickens once more.