Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

A few weeks ago, after a long fight with dementia and old age, my grandma, Patricia Barner, passed away at the age of 84. She lived here in Florida with my parents and hailed from the great state of Michigan (like me). My dad was tasked with officiating her memorial service to be held in Michigan and he invited me to open. My brain went to work imagining myself in front of a large group of people at the ceremony and what I would want to say. I conceptualized what types of people would be there, having a relationship with, away from, or at odds with Jesus. Then, I crafted, really contrived, what I felt they needed to hear with a heavy emphasis on getting back into right relationship with Jesus. I thought, “What better a place than a funeral where everyone is standing at the edge of eternity contemplating a lost loved one and considering the ramifications of our lives on forever?” This was reminiscent of my childhood when I would pretend to be Billy Graham on TV in front of a large stadium of people speaking to the whole world!

Holy Spirit helped me put the brakes on my train of thought. I cleared my mind and together we asked the Lord what He wanted me to share at the ceremony. Proverbs 10:7 ESV reverberated in my spirit, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing . . . “. Then, thoughts began to flow like a river in my mind, a sure-fire sign to me that I have tapped into what God wants me to share (Lauren Daigle shares more about this flow) . . .

The memory of Grandma Barner is a blessing. I remember spending every Christmas at her house as a child. She used to bake ham with spiral pineapples and cherries on top, make warm sugar cookies, and wrap the most perfectly packaged presents. I remember going to her cottage in northern Michigan and particularly the set of brown lazy boy chairs she and Grandpa Barner would fill to watch Detroit Tigers baseball games. She clipped from the Detroit Free Press the article when Verlander threw his no hitter to send me. I lived in Harrison and didn’t get the big city paper. Verlander is/was my favorite Tiger (I’m a bandwagon Houston Astros fan right now and I am waiting patiently for my Astros hat to come in the mail to help me cheer for them in the World Series). Grandma would fuss at the Tiger managers and bemoan the bullpen. I remember her telling Cecil Fielders and more recently his son Prince Fielder through the TV that they wouldn’t strike out so much if they would lose a little weight! She had this sweet chuckle and you knew she was really tickled when you’d get a northern drawl of “Oh dear!” The last few years Grandma and my wife had talked about teaching. Grandma was an elementary teacher for most of her adult life and my wife has her teaching degree. The memory of Grandma is a blessing.

All this remembering causes me to remember another person. Thousands of years ago Jesus Christ died on a lonely cross for the wrongs you and I have done. He rose from the dead and is alive today offering to forgive us and walk with us today and for eternity. All He asks is that we make Him the center of our lives. That is a decision I have made and I believe Grandma Barner made.

I remember Grandma Barner and her memory is a blessing. I also remember Jesus. Because of Him today doesn’t have to be the end and instead can be just see you later.

Becki, Daniel, Becki’s mom Pam and I went up to Michigan a few days before the ceremony to visit my old stomping grounds (see below). At the ceremony on Saturday instead of sharing MY thoughts, I shared the thoughts the Lord and I put together. Family and friends laughed, cried and listened intently as WE shared.

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Thursday my wife and I took advantage of unseasonably warm weather and played a friendly game at our apartment’s tennis court.  I’m a total novice at tennis (played once as a kid and hit the ball out of the tennis court like a baseball home run but not much since then) and therefore had to slowly learn the intricacies of the game with my wife patiently helping me (and chasing down my misguided returns).

After a few such returns, I noticed that when a ball came my way I would excitedly, quickly swing, resulting in the ball being pulled all over the place.  So, I started to fight my urge to prematurely swing.  I set my feet, cocked my racket and waited for the ball.  In doing so my returns gradually became less erratic and a little more smooth and calculated.  Sadly, at that point my body and specifically my wrists were tiring and giving in so my quest to become a tennis pro had to wait for another day.

The difference between when I prematurely hit the ball and when I held back and hit it more intentionally was startling.  I talked with the Lord about it and realized I need to do the same thing I had just learned in my actual life.  Quite often I assume I know what someone is trying to say to me and quickly respond (including laughing at or being scared by things in movies before they actually happen, and when I’m off it’s very embarrassing), jump to conclusions about situations and draw extreme finding (not to the level of the Mayans saying the world is going to end but pretty close), or excitedly and quickly jump into complex discussions and conflict situations before thinking things through.  I’m trying more intentionally to hold back, set my feet mentally, prepare a response (with help from the Lord, my wise wife and others) and wait for the right moment to swing.

Proverbs 18:13 NLT “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish”