Grandpa’s Hats

I have two hats hanging up in my garage. They’re not where I can reach up and grab them to wear when I need them. They’re just there to help me remember.

These hats belonged to my grandfather. He was a World War 2 veteran, a hard worker, a fishing enthusiast, and a quiet, peaceful man.

One of them is a hard hat. He worked for many years for our state’s highway department. As a kid I was quick to play the cool grandpa card by injecting, “My Grandpa drives a dump truck.” In the early school years it is way cooler to drive a dump truck than to be a lawyer or accountant or most anything else.

When I look up and see that hard hat hanging there I am reminded that my Grandpa was a man well-acquainted with hard, sweaty, dusty work. I can see him coming in the back door, lunch box in hand. I can see the previous day’s freshly washed overalls hanging on the clothesline and work boots airing out on the back porch. I can smell the sweat and dust… but it’s not a bad smell—pungent but organic, earthy.

The other hat was his fishing hat. He wore a lot of those out over the years and probably lost at least one to bungling grandkids and their fish hooks gone awry. When it’s warm I can still smell him in the hat band of that old hat.

He was never what anyone would consider a wealthy man. I don’t think he ever even owned a house. He went to work and worked hard for his family. He kept going for decades for his family. He worked out in the scorching Oklahoma summers in those trucks with sticky vinyl seats and no air conditioning and endured the cold, blustery winds that come sweeping down the plains. There was never any question that he did it for all of us.

But the fishing he did with us. He took us and taught us and put up with us and endured us and loved us. My dad took us too, but my earliest fishing memories involved my Grandpa. I can still hear him call my name to come back toward him when I would wander too far down the dock for him to keep a good eye on me.

He worked for us.

He fished with us.

And when I look up at these two hats that still bear the marks of the same head, I remember the lesson he taught me without ever saying a word… which was his favorite way to teach.

He taught me to work hard FOR my family. You can’t always like everything about your work, but you must work hard for those who depend upon you. He showed me how to invest my sweat equity in my family.

He taught me to invest the rest of my time, as much as I possibly can, in working (and playing and generally living) WITH my family.

There were many other lessons he taught me… like being (almost irrationally) early for literally everything. But these hats hang in my garage as a silent reminder to pour myself out FOR and WITH the people that have been entrusted to my care.

I think he’d be proud. And that makes my heart smile.

The Good, The Bad, and The Bold

As we turn the corner into chapter two of 1 Thessalonians, we find Paul recalling the way he and his team engaged in their ministry to these people. It was good. It had been bad. But they were bold.

The effect of his team’s work in Thessalonica was good. Paul wrote:

“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.”

There was much fruit in the work that they had done. Many believed. Their faith was thriving despite their challenging circumstances. They came and bore fruit in Thessalonica. And the fruit was good. Continue reading The Good, The Bad, and The Bold

Happy, Happy,…CRAnniversary?

No, I have not been corporately sponsored by Ocean Spray…

Twenty-five years ago today I sealed the second best decision of my existence – to spend my life with the most amazing person I have ever known on this earth. Twenty-five years…can you even believe it?

(For those of you that are ready to scroll down through this post to see what in the world is up with the c-r in front of anniversary – just hang on a second.)

We were just kids…

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And before you know it those kids were having kids and hauling kids and teaching kids and attempting to train kids.

And this week, as we pass the day of our twenty-fifth anniversary, we are once again on a new adventure with the last two kids in our home – plus almost three hundred others – in Austin, Texas, in the midst of an event called CityReach (#CRAustin – and that’s where the CR comes from).

And yes, I realize that, in one sense, it may take me a long time to make up for signing us up to be on a huge mission trip on our twenty-fifth anniversary, but I also know that it has already been an incredible experience that just may be helping to pry some doors open in our hearts and minds for the direction of our ministry into the future. God works that way sometimes.

You see, traveling the twists and turns of this life with a strange gathering of people in tow is kind of what God made us to do.

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So, in a sense, bringing a group to this CRexperience may be a pretty fitting way to mark twenty-five years together…even though we’d sure like to go away for a week or two to some remote spot, but it doesn’t fit in the calendar or the budget right now…and it’s ok.

So many moments of challenge and hard choices and difficult consequences… and joy – and awful lot of joy just being together… all swirl into this one big, messy, beautiful life that God made out of two.

Could there be a more fitting way to pass this anniversary than to do it stretching our hearts and muscles and vision for the path for which God made us?

So…happy CRanniversary, Sweetie. I love you so much more than it may look right now. This is another of those amazing experiences I never would have had the courage to pursue without you by my side.

Happy, happy CRanniversary to you!

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels. (Proverbs 31.10)