A Warrior’s Final Victory

We, more often than not, take for granted the Wes Albrights of our lives!

We go about our business believing we understand freedom to be and do that which presents itself in our paths. We think we understand our rights and the equality of all persons. We rationalize the ease of our lives as earned through our own efforts and hard work. We believe we conquer strife in our daily walk…not having ever tasted the salt of sweat and the sight of blood born battles.

Wes Albright is daily all these things: courageous, ready, competent, trained, steady, straight, trustworthy, caring, generous, and fair, firm, and consistent.

Wes Albright is a soldier every day! A warrior when called upon to excercise his gifts…for mankind and country. A patriot not afraid to question …of whom you could trust: with orders received and orders given.

Colonel Wes Albright is a soldier and a gentleman!

My friend Wes Albright received his honor and reward a few days ago as he left this field of battle and passed into the peace of eternal life with our Creator God and His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ!

I never knew Wes as a soldier in battle as he served faithfully in our armed forces securing the ease of life and freedom I enjoy.

But when I met Wes some 12 years ago…I recognized a man of distinction and worthy of my utmost respect…though he demanded neither. Through Wes I understood patience and saw what it meant to be a husband…through thick and thin. He exhibited a wisdom of life experience most of us could not possibly attain…or appreciate fully.

Each word and sentence he spoke to me seemed measured and provoked by thought and deliberation. So much so…that as he communicated his message, I found myself pondering it’s clarity and depth with more intention than the usual.

I did not always agree with Wes Albright…but I always took time to re-evaluate my position more carefully based on his ideas and thoughts. In essence, a man of life depth such as Wes would either confirm, challenge, or strengthen your convictions.

Wes’ heart spoke so clearly to my wife Christine that she considered him THE father-figure in her life. He has left a void that will never be replaced and a legacy that will never be surpassed in measure and breadth.

I found Wes Albright the man to be spiritual…though he didn’t wear theology on his sleeve. He exhibited the values of faith more clearly in life action than most theologians I’ve met. He breathed his faith in and out as he walked and spoke and reacted to those who were dear and those he barely knew. The very definition of character is understood by WHO YOU ARE when no one is looking. That is who you ARE.

Wes Albright had faults, I’m sure. We all are frail creation marred by the reality and eventuality of a sin nature that often exceeds our ability to dim it in essence. We cannot live among family and friends without others having a glimpse of our battle-bent armor. That is the privilege and blessing of grace…and more importantly, forgiveness.

My mind goes to a larger-than-life Old Testament Biblical figure, chosen by God as yet a ruddy-faced youth shepherding sheep in the wilderness. God knew David the sheep herder long before He made him David the warrior and King of Israel…His chosen people!

David was exceptional as a warrior though had a strong independent mind at times…and sometimes withstood against the plan of God. He made great and small mistakes in his life as he succumbed to the temptation and the great things of power this life may offer one of great gifted ness.

But here is the thing…David was ALWAYS a man after God’s own heart. God knew all that David would do as a warrior, a man, a husband, a father…and a King. And still chose him. He gave him exceeding and abundant grace. He gave him the strength and courage to face the consequences of his wrong actions. And brought David into the light of His mercy upon his seeking God’s forgiveness. David ALWAYS loved God.

Micah 6:8 has always seemed a clear scomatic for living an acceptable life before mankind and God. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Easier read than accomplished. But in my experience, it defines who Wes Albright was to me.

I would be remiss to not express how very clear it was to those who knew Wes in recent years, that it is his devoted mate, partner, and best friend Mike that completed him in so many ways. She drew the best out of Wes allowing us to experience his best version. She is a virtuos woman of whom Wes worshipped the ground she walked upon. She was the queen to her King. He needed her so much more than she required of him. Most will not understand what that means. They married to give to the other..not to get what they thought they needed.

Please read Psalm 61 with your mind upon soldiers and warriors like Colonel Wes Albright … and pray for our country to stand upon the solid foundation that has been established through the blood and sacrifice of others.

I close with a warriors prayer as I imagine Wes entering Heaven with a thankful and praising heart…dropping to his knees before the King he so valiantly served in this life. What a privilege it is to have known Wes Albright and to serve a gracious Savior in Jesus Christ. Be always in the moment!

Warrior’s Prayer

Brave warriors,
should fate find us in battle,
May our cause be just.
May our leaders have clear vision.
May our courage not falter.
May we be triumphant an earn victory
as we show mercy to our enemies.

May our efforts bring lasting peace.
May our sacrifice be always
appreciated by those we serve.
May we return to our loved ones unharmed.
Should we be harmed, may our wounds heal.
Should we perish in the struggle,
may God embrace us and find for us
a place in His Kingdom.

Evidence…Things Not Seen.

I was perusing the social media during this global pandemic (didn’t anticipate writing these words last year at this time), when I came across a You Tube of a supermodel at the top of a skyscraper (under construction) standing on the steel girders with her photographer. I almost immediately closed it as the panic began to overwhelm my chest. But sitting in my lazy boy chair, I decided to “gut” it out.

You see… I have a fear of heights, coupled with…you guessed it…a fear of falling from those fear-filled heights.

So back to me being brave in my recliner and gutting it out. I continued to watch their video documentation of various “poses” struck in high heels and a designer dress. If I almost lost it internally when she leaned off the girder while holding the hand of her handler; imagine the gripping fear when she stepped off dangling in mid air employing only the wrist to wrist hand hold method. It was too much visual for me…I couldn’t manage that much fear even from the safety of my lazy boy. Proof text found in the grip depressions of my chair’s leather arm rest.

Fear is the anticipation of losing control. It is the knowledge of what COULD happen, based on empirical evidence of what has happened. We examine the voracity of the potential and our ability to control it. We then react.

The Covid 19 Pandemic, we find ourselves unwitting partners in, represents a global-based reality that most of us have Never experienced; or even imagined its potential consequence! We are thrust into uncharted territory without clear answers and solutions and amidst a developed lack of trust in who we can believe and look to for truth and leadership in this storm.

I take my mind’s eye to the hull of a boat, of all places in the Sea of Galilee. I am holding on to an eyelet anchored in the side of the boat as the boat is tossed nearly vertical and then waves hit my face and fill the boat with the sea water as it comes back down.

Others are in the boat, several fishermen with years of experience on the sea under various conditions. This fact should fill me with a measure of confidence as I watch through salt-stung eyes as two are desperately attempting to manage the oars to bring us under control. Braver and stronger than I am, they wrestle with the boat, the waves, and their own wavering faith in their potential…but continue striving.

But even as I take a measure of comfort in their power in the midst of this unprecedented storm…I see and feel their fear and hear their screams of desperation. I lose all hope…first in my mind, then it grips my heart. I am at the mercy of the wind and the waves, and as they tear at my body and bruise my face…I succumb to total fear.

Most of us can remember a time we felt the profound loss of control and paralyzing fear. Some of us manage it better than others, depending our level of experience and perspective. The experience of loss is the constant reminder that we are mere mortals, after all.

Loss of a job with no prospects in sight. Death of a friend or loved one. A dreaded, then realized crippling disease or life-ending cancer. A pandemic. A virus that Advil doesn’t cure. Dangling from the girder 50 stories high, with only a wrist-to-wrist hold on someone we don’t know their capacity to save us from peril. I’m 230 pounds… my immediate reality is that the one standing on the ledge is going to save themselves. And the quickest way to do that is to release me. And that thought makes me lose all sense of control.

Back to the boat. I see another man at the front of boat… curled up asleep. Peaceful even. I rub my stinging eyes as another wave nearly washes me over. The other sea worn fishermen are screaming his name and, wait, their trying to wake him up to help them as they fight for control.

They shout this man’s name again, “Jesus! Don’t you care that we are in peril! We are perishing in this wave surging sea! Wake up, Jesus!

“And on that day, when evening was come, He saith unto them, Let us go over unto the other side. And leaving the multitude, they take Him with them, even as He was, in the boat. And other boats were with Him. And there ariseth a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the boat, insomuch that the boat was now filling. And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye fearful? have ye not yet faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? MARK 4:35-41 (R.V.)

Many of us, in the storm, have forgotten who Jesus is. We see his humanity, as he sleeps in the boat, riding out the same waves as are slamming into our face. We find ourselves hopeless. Some of us in the boat have never experienced His Deity and the grace manifested through salvation. And so we are fearful.

And some of us know what He can do as the Creator and King of Kings…the one of whom death holds no sting! We cry out, “ Don’t you care that we are perishing! Jesus! Wake up! Save us!” We question in the midst of the storm.

No matter what our view is, Jesus woke up in that boat and He spoke peace upon that storm and calmed the sea. His humanity shows he feels our fears and the stinging eyes from the waves. His Diety proves He is in control as He speaks a word and the world spinning out of control becomes peaceful.

Jesus is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for…and the EVIDENCE of things not seen. It requires FAITH in the One sleeping calmly in the boat, who is capable of controlling the wind and the waves.

Get to know the man Jesus and know that he is God. Trust Him. And your faith will strengthen and your ability to be peaceful will be clear!

A Freed Man, His Music, His Mom

We completed a long trek across the United States this week by returning to the familiar, the comfortable and most definitely the place that moves me most: Lover’s Key!

I left our condo at 5am with my coffee and an anticipation of revisiting an old friend…a beach filled with memories, space, visual cues that prod and poke my external shell until I exhale fully…and find myself.

It was dark…awaiting the dawn is precious time when you can smell and hear waves swirling the sand beneath your feet. As I approached the shadowy bridge I would cross under, I saw a cigarette glow and heard voices. Warily, I stopped to grasp and assess what situation may unfold. I was about to embark on a moment, a present time stalling itself so that it could absorb me in a timeless pause.

Cautiously, I moved on to walk under the bridge a few steps from the shadowy pillars of the bridge…when out of the darkness steps a man with a dusky voice proclaiming, “You’re a fedora man!” Not the expected at 5 am, beneath a bridge, on Black Island on Lover’s Key. I hesitated to answer as I quickly took inventory of my situation. He was younger than me, about the same size and if he was intent on harming me…he had an unorthodox style: a guitar around his shoulders, a can of cucumber water in his front shirt pocket, and yes, a fedora tilted slightly forward on his head. I responded carefully, as someone else was still in the shadows behind the pillars, “What ya doing out here this morning?”

“Just singing songs for my mom…the acoustics are perfect under this bridge,” he countered. I knew I was present…in this moment.

I stepped through the darkness into the shadows under the bridge to meet Matt Freed and his momma, Anna Freed. Matt asked me what kind of music I like. I mumbled something about country. He queries further, asking my thoughts regarding the Zac Brown band. I gave him a thumbs up. My new friend asked me to accompany him into the water…in the dark…under the bridge…where, apparently the acoustics are the best. And he serenaded me and his mom with “Island Song.” Under the bridge, in the dark, on the beach.

We walked out of the water and he asked if I play the guitar. I nodded and launched into my story of teaching myself to play at 11, trading guitars with my sister without her knowledge, and choosing an Ibanez 12 string instead of a high school class ring, purchased by my mom as a graduation gift. Thus began our swapping family stories until the sun began to rise as dawn awakened. He closed our “in the moment” with a love story of his poppy and the love of his life, following his fearful days in Vietnam. His Poppy challenged Matt on his death bed to not waste his great gift.

Matt then shared one last song, one he had written about his mom called, “Anna.” We walked back in the water and stood together. Myself and a man freed by his Poppy to do what he loved. Matt Freed and I shared numbers, hugged, and I walked on down the shore to contemplate my good fortune…in this moment.

You see…we are often held bound by proposed necessities, the tyranny of the urgent, an impasse caused by the imminence of living. Matt’s Poppy “Freed” him by a death bed blessing. To pursue that which he is called toward…a destiny changed by his involvement in each moment.

Show people you happen upon, the grace of God; by re-enforcing that god-like image you see in them when upon you meet…Present-in the moment.

Daydreamers

The Paramores song lyrics:

Creep past the hours like the shorter hand on the clock
Hanging on a wall of a schoolhouse somewhere
We wait for the bell
And we dream of somewhere elseDaydreaming, daydreaming all the time
Daydreaming, daydreaming into the night
Daydreaming, daydreaming all the time
Daydreaming, daydreaming into the night
And I’m alright

We sit around a lot of campfires: vivid in-the-moment enhancers. For daydreamers, a campfire feeds your imagination addiction, taking you down the infamous rabbit hole of inherent plausibility. A campfire rarely results in a male species dominated “nothing box” haze, but rather, blazes a maze of tunnels in and through the past, present and potential of our lives!

Last evening was unremarkable as fires go…but then Christine asked a question, “What kind of kid were you?” She gave example that she was a hider. Loved to find hiding places and hang out there. Ok. Interesting.

Back to me…I replied that I could have been characterized as a “daydreamer.” My imagination was wild and free. Oh sure, there was the typical child plans to be a superhero, policeman, fireman, truck driver, Lemans race car driver…you know, all the usual trains leaving the station with no clear track to return.

Here’s the deal: I still daydream! A lot! I’m 61! I still develop both realistic and unrealistic “plans” that could happen…or not.

Here’s the cool part: God often meets me in that recessed internal daydream place! As the reel is clicking and the tape is rolling, God is directing the lines of the script…making suggestions and rewrites as the thoughts flourish. He reminds me of the past and it’s relevance or lessons. He makes me think of scripture I’ve read and it’s meaning to me as I live and breathe in my moments.

Is this a new look at “prayer?”

Some truths to hang our daydreams upon:

Psalm 139

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. ..

Psalm 94:11

The Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Plug these time-worn understandings of scripture regarding God the Father’s intimacy with His creation-children and sit back on your camp chair and fire gaze…it might clarify a few things.

God meets you in the moment and in your heart and mind.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23.

Building A Better Boat

This intentional tranquility doesn’t happen as often as I need it to…but this morning I’m in the moment. In my boat…well, kayak. In the center of the glass-like surface of Lake Wanatchee in Washington state. Floating. Musing. Calming my mind so I can listen. Watching the easy ripples take my frustrations and challenges to a safe distance from the boat.

Here’s what I inherently know: I’m flawed…deeply and darkly flawed. We all are. Thanks to Adam. But the good news is grace. Salvation. Jesus. Eternity settled. Hope secured! Once for all time.

Kenny Cheney recorded a song that I immediately resonated with; in that quiet private inside-me spot. The place that feels intense emotion…all the time.

A Better Boat (partial)

“I hate waiting, ain’t no patience in these hands
I’m not complaining, sometimes it’s hard to change a man
I think I’m stronger than I was, I let God do what he does
I breathe in, I breathe out
Got friends to call who let me talk about
What ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’
All the things I feel like cussing out
Now and then I let it go
Around the waves I can’t control
I’m learning how to build a better boat”
We brought a borrowed kayak along with one of our usual kayaks while traveling this summer. It is frightening to put on the water if there are any wind or waves to negotiate. It was not built for me. Not much for a rudder, so it responds quickly to any sudden lean or movement or outside influencer…such as waves.
On the other hand… my usual kayak…the one I’m used to, and it fits like a well worn pair of pants…is easy. Safe. It has a well-placed rudder that manages the wind and the waves.
Rudders, in a kayak, help stabilize your travel on the water. They provide “tracking,” the ability to stay on course as you paddle to your destination. A rudder actually goes below the surface… deeper than the waves.
I have felt the sting of the waves the last few years. I’ve been holding on to a boat with a diminished rudder. Oh I can see the shoreline of my ultimate destination…the hope of my salvation, but I’m working so hard to stay on surface…with a diminished rudder.
Maybe you’ve felt the waves trying to capsize your boat. It either forces you to hold your breath, or it takes your breath away. We find ourselves in a world of chaos (cannot type the word without thinking of KAOS-the evil entity from tv sitcom “Get Smart”) and a veritable storm right outside our safe harbors. Uncertainty and civil unrest, division among family and friends. We find ourselves in a rocking boat and we are taking on water.
Getting out in my better boat in a tranquil setting has sharpened the clarity of my true destination. The solitude has allowed me to listen and allow God’s Word…yes, His voice…to be the rudder in my faith. Being still. Reminding myself about trust. Bonding spirit-creation to Spirit-Creator. Listening to the Author of my course.
I close these musings with closed eyes; thinking of the disciples in the middle of a tempest in the Sea of Galilee. They feared they would perish in the storm. A noted contrast in the story is Jesus asleep in the boat. Ponder that. They cried out in their utter fear to Jesus. He stood and with a word…calmed the storm. Fully understand…these disciples were the ones He chose. Believers! Faithful! Sitting under the teaching of the Master! Disciples! Terrified by the storm within touching distance of Jesus!
Trust in the Lord-with all your heart.
Do not lean upon your own mind, thoughts, feelings or concerns or misdeeds or flawed actions.
Every time you step in the boat…consider the rudder…Jesus. Know Him!
He will navigate you through every storm and lead to to calm water.
Be still!

Friday Night Rodeo: One Definition of God and Country

Seeing America one town at a time will make you rethink the condition of this country! If you are on Facebook or watching the news…don’t believe for a moment that the reality you are being offered is anything at all resembling the real America. It is only a chosen select reality…one designed to deliver a sucker punch. The sad reality is that our country is being defined in our mind… rather than in our experience.

Many of my regular readers of Present-inthemonent, know and follow our Facebook posts offering snapshots of our travels as fulltime RV’ers. Of course we visit many famous landmarks and national treasures and love our historical places and faces. But we also are committing a measure of our adventures, going to small towns and meeting America’s great citizens.

Small towns like Dubois, Wyoming (preferably known as “Never Sweat, Wyoming”). That’s right! The town of Dubois had decided to register their post office as the good ole town of “Never Sweat.” But the resident who made the trip to the state office didn’t like the town resident’s chosen name, so he named it after himself: DuBois…pronounced all French-like as Dubwah. The town residents were so incensed by Dubois’ actions that they prounced it for all time the incorrect pronunciation: DuBoyz!

In small town DuBois, we have decided everything is big and dramatic. From the landscape to the people’s lifestyle and character. You want a slice of American pie? Come visit the amazing and humble people of Dubois.

I have hiked here on the Continental Divide, the Shoshone National Forest, and to one of the largest glacier fields in the United States.

Our Rv backs up to the Wind River and all of its powerful and swift energy roaring downstream!

I’ve met and chewed the fat with Monte (beloved and respected uncle of our server at The Cowboy Cafe…which offers a mighty delicious Huckleberry Pie). Monte may be found in a local trader shop…the one with a piano on the boardwalk out front (Monte is the guy in the derby hat playing the piano and carving moose antlers). He will tell you with serious passion about the history replete with Indian lore and mountain men traders. His eyes dance as he gives you the insider details defining life in these pronounced mountains.

No less grandiose and dramatic is the daily life of a local ranch family. Hardened by the strength it takes to do the mundane and magnificent functions of daily life, the people here reflect peace and respect in action. They do it full speed and slow all at the same time.

And so we decided to attend the every Friday night rodeo tonight. Crossing the furious Wind River on a sturdy and stately wooden beam bridge, we drove up the rocky hillside to park near the lights of the DuBois rodeo arena. The smell of hay and horses prepares you for the melding of humankind and the animals we raise on farms and ranches outside the city lights. The sounds of critters mixed with playing children and conversing adults, to the dusty sight of wranglers and Levi’s, boots and belt buckles.

We found ourselves in America. I watched as mutten-bustin’ toddlers hung on for dear life to earn a dollar and hear the applause of the town. Young ladies barrel racing and young men watching the young ladies. Men…Marlboro men it seems…riding horses more comfortably than most ride a bike….lean and strong, and proud.

I saw hard work in their play, their competition, and the lines around their eyes. In a word I saw respect.

I felt safe and secure in the fact that these folks are my fellow Americans…rich in grace and strong in family. Community. Unfettered Spirit!

As the rider galloped around the arena with the flag of the United States of America…these dramatic and peaceful people exuded united strength as they stood at attention with hands and hats covering their proud hearts.

I was filled with patriotism as I heard a local child sing our national anthem and heard their prayer thanking God in Jesus’ name for country, family, and friends.

I was proud to be an American as I mingled with local Dubois, Wyoming families on old wooden bleachers on this Friday night under lights by the Wind River.

Jesus answered the question, “Which is the great commandment in the law?”

(Matthew 22:37-39) Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The dramatic and peaceful people of Dubois, Wyoming are living in the moment and have not forgotten Whom it is they serve. I saw love of country and love of neighbor and love of God. Present. In the moment.

Time Well Spent

As many of you already know, my mom Helen took her amazing journey into her eternal home in God’s presence and to be with her beloved husband Cedric a few days ago. I had just returned to Florida the day prior to her passing after spending nearly a week with her in her final hours.

This was time well spent for me…perhaps for her as well.

It has been a year of getting to know my mom, really for the first time, as an individual heart and soul apart from dad. As most who know, my Pops was hands on with people and held a more public persona than mom. Mom was a bit more reserved and content to operate under dad’s wing so to speak. They were married a blessed 67 years, with a noteworthy commitment to their marriage and life together.

And so…it is not surprising that I find myself, having spent a significantly greater amount of time in personal one-on-one with mom this year, coming away with a sharpened appreciation for her depth of faith, incredible quick wit…and most profoundly: her deep passion for those who give kindness and compassion without reservation.

This brings me to the mention of a few people, I am aware of, whom made her life special. First and foremost is mom’s only daughter Becky. Almost always the unsung hero (familiarity often rewards with being taken for granted) for her daily post of standing in the gap for both our parents,. Becky sacrificed many freedoms and pleasures as the constant on call chosen one of us siblings. She needs to know now from me how much mom and dad valued her love and care… and how much this brother appreciates her endless challenging task. I love you Becky!

Equal to my sister’s status as tops in love and care for mom is her true number one son Nick! From combing mom’s hair to clipping her nails…well, truly, if you know Nick…I cannot tell you anything you do not already know well.

I apologize if I leave anyone out, as my view is self-limiting. But beautiful souls of love and care in these last months for mom include…my cousin Kerin, mom’s sister Joyce and brother Kenny, and Dave and Lynn Pestotnik, true neighbors indeed!

As I prayed with mom and read scripture to her the week she died, she almost always requested Psalm 23…it is the Psalm to the Shepherd. It describes an in-the-moment and present relationship with God our Father as He is our Shepherd in a daily path in this life. It may serve as a fitting mantra describing how mom’s soul felt toward her God and Savior!

Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Time well spent…the sacrifice of my sister and Nick, the gift of presence and prayer offered in recent days by loving family and neighbors…in the company of Helen Hall. Indeed, Helen Hall! Not the wife of Cedric or the mom of Becky, Brian, Brent and Blake…but a person of great individual value and praiseworthy faith: Helen Hall!

I have personally chosen not to return again to Iowa right now for her service for friends and family. You know how I feel toward you all who will grieve her passing. And I bid you to grieve well. I have chosen to have a personal Brent Hall family-time of memorial and goodby at her and Pops grave this Spring. My kids desire to say goodby and Spring will be when it most fits their and my respective life circumstances; as I have one daughter rehabbing from a serious motorcycle accident and cannot travel yet, and a daughter and son-in-law in fulltime ministry (holidays are busy and stressful) and a son who works a job that is at its peak of his requirement.

So I am choosing a Spring memorial trip to Sparks cemetery with my kids and grandkids to celebrate the lives of their Grandma Helen Letter J (named such by my eldest daughter Sarah) and of course to renew our memories of their Papa…my Pops.

For those wishing to join the memorial service this Monday, December 17, 2018 at 11:00 AM at the Evangelical Free Church in Boone, Iowa.

In my final thought regarding Helen Hall…it would be her greatest joy here and in Heaven for you to KNOW her Shepherd and the Savior Jesus Christ personally this Christmas season. If you want to know how you can be sure…I would love to tell you about the greatest live story of all time. It will be time well spent! God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Neither Here Nor There…

Often in my past life as a pastor, I would mention the great understatements found in God’s Holy written Word. For example a casual reading of Genesis 22 reads like an average everyday occurrence. But plug in the known emotions surrounding Abraham as he dutifully obeyed God when he instructed him to take his only son Isaac to Mt Moriah and offer him up as a burnt sacrifice. The words are like a story…but you have to infuse the overwhelming confusion, and fear, and pain and sadness that would have crippled any one of us. As he was about to plunge the knife into his son The text tells us God called out Abraham’s name…twice! Abraham answered, “here I am Lord!” Genuine understatement.

Or how about Matthew 27:17, where we read about the murderous prisoner named Barabbas whom Pilate released when the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus the Christ instead of Barabbas? The understatement here is that we never learn anything more about Barabbas whom was quite literally the first person saved by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. I want to know more about Barabbas!!!

Scripture records many incidents of human creation coming face-to-face with magnificent angelic beings serving at the pleasure of Almighty God on mankind’s behalf. I’ve always felt rather incredulous as I read about these angel confrontations as they are described in the Word of God. Understatements like, “the angels appeared before them, and they were greatly afraid.” Or, “sorely afraid,” or “greatly terrified.”

I’m pretty sure the description of my reaction to an angel appearing before me would be loud and magnificent included adjectives would be necessary.

Talk about being ” in the moment.”

I find myself in a sudden moment of time that the emotive reality is and will be understated in my writing compared to my living it.

I have come to the bedside of my dying mother who finds herself neither here nor there in her present state of transitioning between life and that moment we call death. I’ve tried to be intimately empathic with mom in order to get some sense as to how it feels to be in this moment of captured time. Time between when a person really lives, vibrant, involved…empassioned in the very act of breathing and interacting among the living saints this side of Heaven. To that instant when God’s holy and terrifyingly majestic angels take a dead ones soul to the feet of the very one whom was sacrificed once for all, including Barabbas as a sort of firstfruit.

In clarity…my mom is somewhere in between, in transit if you will…caught unwillingly without the strength or will to live nor the capacity to hasten her aching heart toward an expedient delivery to her promised estate. I watch her lying helpless and afraid and sure and confident in that state of being no one is aware of until they live it at death.

It is both at once a terrible time in waiting for a magnificent moment of release. I ponder the reasons for delay. My reasons? I want to hang onto the woman I’ve only this year come to an understanding about who she really is. Her wit and candor…her resilient beliefs and faith in her destined outcome. Her ability to laugh and cry in the same moment of thought. I’ve come to see her strength which had been cleverly disguised by my dad’s long shadow. I’ve pondered who she must have been as that girl of 13 with the dreams and aspirations all young ladies most certainly have.

As I lay on her bed with my arms around this frail shell of my mom…does she feel the safe comfort that I felt as she drew me to herself when I was afraid as a child? Does she sense my fear of living without her or is her hesitancy to leave those she loves the reason she hangs on.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell her I’ll be ok without her…that it’s ok to let go of this life…perhaps. Or I will just tell her in this moment of transition that I’m at her side until the angels bid me farewell. I don’t know. I’ve never been here in this moment…present.

I know this: it is an incredulous understatement to calmly state that death is a process. It is terrifying and amazing! It is wonderful and uncertain! It is most assuredly grace and anxiety, sadness and peace.

Watching mom walk her final pathway to this certain end to start her beautiful eternity makes me cry, laugh, and sing and pray with unprecedented passion for life and death and in-the-moment in-between. Mom…I will cherish your final lesson to me of how to live while dying. P.S. Tell dad I really miss him.

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