Archive for the ‘marriage’ category

Being Out-served

March 27, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      March 27, 2020

                                    

A young woman, consumed with the number of her followers on Instagram, was interviewed by Dr. Phil about her self-centeredness in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. She had partied and been apathetic toward the idea of taking safety precautions to protect herself and, more importantly, others from contracting the virus.

When Dr. Phil directed his anger at her about putting others at risk through her carelessness, she responded that it wasn’t her problem. In fact, she indicated that Baby Boomers, like Dr. Phil, were the problem. 

He had a few things to say to her!

Her perspective, based on narcissism and arrogance, is at the opposite end of the spectrum from those who proclaim to follow Jesus. Instead of placing ourselves on the throne, Christ-followers seek to serve the One who is on the throne. Sometimes that serving is clumsy and misguided, like buying your wife a weigh scale for her birthday thinking it will help her be more healthy, but the mindset is right— seeking to benefit someone else’s life.

In these uncertain times, if too many people with the same attitude as the young woman are populating one side of the world’s see-saw and too few people are helping at the other end we will all suffer from the imbalance.

I still remember a message conveyed almost 25 years ago at a Promisekeepers conference in the Pontiac Silverdome by an African-American pastor named Efrem Smith. He encouraged us to out-serve our spouses. The same principle could be used in regards to out-serving our parents, our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers. His point was that our tendency is to think about ourselves, our wants, our needs, who’s going to wait on us, who’s going to bring us satisfaction, instead of figuring out how we can help others to know that they are valued.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he wrote these powerful words that indicate what Jesus’s mindset was:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

  And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!”        (Philippians 2:5-8)

I’ve been blessed to have seen this picture of selflessness modeled for me by numerous people who have been parts of my life. My dad served my mom with patience and care. In her last few years of life when Parkinson’s was limiting her mobility, Dad waited on her as his calling. When Mom was bedridden and the disease had impacted her ability to formulate words, Dad cared for her without grumbling. He did not do it out of obligation, but rather out of his desire to show her that he still loved her. 

That character was evident in many of my professors at Judson College and Northern Baptist Seminary. The willingness to sit and listen to students at lunchtime in the student commons or continue conversations after class over a cup of coffee was the norm, not the exception, as our teachers sought to help us toward maturity of mind and meaningfulness in life.

Serving one another, and seeking to go the extra mile for one another, has become a key ingredient of our marriage. Truth be told, it is so ingrained in our relationship that we don’t think about it when we’re in the midst of it.

Since we’re confined to our surroundings for the foreseeable future, having the nature of a servant is crucial. In fact, the idea for this Words from WW came from Carol. She had remembered me talking about this message by Efrem Smith so long ago. I’m hoping that, in the midst of my failures and shortcomings, that she has felt loved, cherished, and served. 

Losing All Our Toys In Order To Find Our Way

March 19, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               March 19, 2020

                             

I first met Bill Dohner at a SonLife conference in Chicago in the early days of 1999. I was talking to a pastoral search committee from Colorado Springs, trying to discern God’s leading. He sat down beside me before our first workshop and we did introductions. 

“I’m Bill from Mason, Michigan.”

“Good to meet you, Bill! I’m Bill from Colorado Springs.”

It didn’t seem like a coincidence. As we became more acquainted, he told me his story. At that time he was working at Cook Communications, but it had been a long journey getting there.

He and his wife, Jeanie, had lived in Tennessee, where Bill’s employment situation had been very lucrative. In his own words, he told me, “We had all the toys! A boat, Ski-do’s, motorcycles, nice cars…all the toys we didn’t need.”

And then his employment situation changed drastically and he was looking for a new job. He thought it would be easy to find one, maybe have to take a reduction in pay, but he wasn’t worried about it. However, no new position was offered. He’d interview and not be the choice. They went month after month, burning through their savings and wondering why God was doing this?

They began selling off their “toys” and realizing that their lives had become a bit out of balance. When their last “toy” was sold, Bill received a call from Promisekeepers, based in Colorado, and was offered a position with the ministry. 

He said to me, “Bill, I’m not saying that this needs to be everybody’s experience, but, for us, we needed to lose our toys before we could see our true Hope.” 

Sometimes there needs to be some kind of loss before we can gain. Sometimes our “toys”, whatever they may be, need to disappear in order for us to become grounded again. Sometimes we trust more in our “toys” than we do in our Shepherd.

Bill’s journey became more and more rooted in faith. Promisekeepers had a cut in staff and that’s when he went to Cook. After being at Cook for a few years his whole department was eliminated and he took a position with Family Ministries in Little Rock. Before the position was even offered to him in Little Rock, he and Jeanie had signed a lease for a house.

Someone from Family Ministries said to him, “Wait a minute! You signed a lease before we even offered you the job?”

“Sure! We knew this was where God wanted us to be and we figured he’d catch you up to it.”

Moments

February 29, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  February 29, 2020

                                         

“Lord, protect me in the moments of life that can bring devastation, nudge me in the moments where something extraordinary is about to happen, and remind me of those moments that brought blessings into my life.”

They can last a second, maybe a few of them strung together. They come when you’re taking a walk around the block that ends up being much more than a stroll, or in the midst of a concert when a song is sung that brings you back to a family memory burying deep inside you. They come upon a mountaintop and also in the overwhelming darkness of a valley.

Moments are sometimes like stop signs thrown up in front of you to bring the tires to a screeching halt. They can be either collisions or proposals spoken from one knee. Either one changes things, changes the course, brings in a detour to the plans, or new energy to the idea.

There was a collision a couple of days ago and a former student of mine was tragically killed. It was one of those moments that will bring heartbreak to friends and family. A car turning too late…another car broadsiding it…and then the chaotic seconds where life evaporates into death. I was talking to a teaching friend of mine about it, who had also taught the student the same year I did, and he told me of a similar event he had experienced in his life about fifteen years before that. In his situation, however, the collision was followed only by a visit to the ER. And yet, the memory of that moment is still fresh in his mind.

On the other side of life’s emotional spectrum, a former basketball player of mine posted her engagement picture on Facebook last week. It had been a different kind of moment, preceded by her fiancee’s planning and prep and followed by tears, laughter, and passionate kisses. 

The thing is, each one of us has moments in our life that resemble a garden bed of flowers, varied and pretty, with a few uninvited weeds thrown into the plot. 

We review our lives and are able to identify each of the moments in the assortment. Birth of a child, death of a friend; a cardiac situation and the completing of a marathon road race; when your best friend shows up unexpected at just the right moment, and the time you rescued someone from disaster. The list is different for each one of us, but each list becomes a summary of our defining moments.

I’ve always envisioned those moments when Jesus healed someone, like the leper or the blind man; or the woman who had a bleeding problem or his encounter with the man who lived in a cemetery. They were moments of transformation in so many ways. 

I’ve come to pray for the kind of special eyesight that helps me see those God-given moments of life, to approach each day with a kind of anticipation and expectation. 

Lord, what might come into my life’s path today that I hadn’t planned on!

Signs That Old Age Has Rested Upon You

January 12, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      January 12, 2020

                            

Last week I was at our local YMCA in the morning to work up a sweat. I climbed the stairs to the balcony track that circles above the gym. Thirteen laps to a mile and I try to do a mile or two. A runner can only do so many laps before he starts leaning towards the inside railing!

As usual, I stretched and watched the half dozen walkers and runners making their circuits. One young man in his twenties was setting a good pace. Another man, looking like he was hovering around 75 and on the edge of death, plodded along. Down below several octogenarians played pickleball at a snoozing pace. When I entered the track the man who looked like he had limited life expectancy was about 20 yards in front of me. 

And then five laps later I realized he was still 20 yards in front of me! It was a “Come to Jesus moment” for me, a slap on both of my cheeks. I WAS GOING THE SAME SPEED, or should I say, lack of speed. The man in front of me, who probably had checked to see where the nearest AED device was located, was running at the same pace as me. No wait! He was actually getting further ahead of me!

I cursed the extra piece of pecan pie I had consumed the night before, thought about the salad I would now eat for lunch…and dinner, and considered if my will was up to date.

Signs that I’m heading towards a rocking chair and a blanket are coming more frequently. Each night when Carol and I sit to watch a TV show I grab a blanket to warm up my freezing hands and feet. Our couch now has more blankets on it than pillows. Actually, it also has more blankets than seating capacity!

When the TV show ends at about 8:30, Carol asks me if I want to watch another show. My answer to that question usually includes a look at the time. If the minute hand has ended its downward journey and is heading back up towards the top of the hour the chances are I’ll pass on watching another TV episode. That’s another sign that age is crowding in with me.

This week I bought a new nose and ear hair trimmer. As the hair on the top of my head decreases the amount of hair protruding out of my nostrils and ears seems to be increasing. It’s like I accidentally put a treatment of Miracle-Gro on them!

On the bright side it seems that people ask what my opinion is more often than they used to. They ask me if I have any suggestions. Sometimes I do and sometimes I admit my lack of wisdom on the situation. 

I read more, become impatient quicker, and eat more yogurt. I think about the things I used to do: jumping and touching the basketball rim back in college, running the Pike’s Peak Ascent race (Otherwise known by my wife as “The Death Race!), and sleeping through the night without having to get up and urinating. I sigh deeply and mutter to myself “Those were the days!”

And yet in my longing to return to “what was” I realize I wouldn’t have what I now have: four grandkids, the same spouse for 40+ years, an abundance of friends and acquaintances. The arrival of Medicare eligibility coincides with the realization of how blessed I have been and still am. 

Just as I keep the shrubs trimmed growing out of my facial areas, I now keep the areas of my interest and involvement trimmed to where I want to focus my time and energies. With that comes the acceptance of the fact that I don’t need to catch the old guy in front of me on the YMCA track, and that it’s okay to throw a blanket on top of me. Old guys don’t have to worry about being called wimps, they simply need to hope that they’re seen as being wise. 

The Wolfe Christmas Letter

December 24, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   December 24, 2019

                       

Our family has never done a Christmas letter before. Don’t ask me why. We just haven’t. It’s one of a long list of things that we could give the same answer to. We haven’t been to Aruba, danced naked in the backyard, or used a two-for-one coupon so each of us could get our toenails painted either. 

But sometimes a person needs to cross something off the list…and I don’t think dancing in the backyard is in jeopardy of being accomplished.

So here’s a quick and biased update on the Wolfe going-ons. Number 1 on the list for this past year has to be the birth of Joey William Terveen, our fourth grandchild and first child for our daughter, Lizi, and her husband, Mike. Joey arrived on one of those memorable numbered days…9/19/19. His three cousins think he’s pretty cool, although four year old Corin has this idea that she’s his aunt.

Number 2 on the list takes in the other three “grands.” Jesse started sixth grade, and made a school switch to a smaller charter school where the academics are a bit tougher. He’s adjusted well and his sense of humor and creativity stand out. He continues to play on a outdoor soccer team called the Lightning, for which his mon is an assistant coach, and enjoys the friendships he’s made. Reagan, is a third grader whose teacher in the classroom is known as Mrs. Hodges and out of the classroom as “Mom”. Yes, Kecia is her teacher. Reagan recently tested and was invited to be in the Gifted and Talented program. She’s also playing on the top competitive soccer team this winter for her age group in Colorado Springs.

Corin is a few months shy of birthday number five (March 24), but not shy on taking control of a room. Grammy and Granddad are usually the students in her pretend school and she is the teacher/principal/lunchroom lady and anything else she decides upon. Grammy and Granddad usually get some kind of reprimand and discipline any time they are the students. Corin has started ballet/tap dance and thoroughly enjoys it. She’s a talker and Grammy’s ears are usually exhausted by the end of a day in which she watches her. She’s a delight and a wonder. 

Number 3 would probably be Kecia and Kevin’s involvement in Austin Bluffs Community Church. Each of them has joined the worship music ministry, Kecia singing and Kevin’s playing the bass guitar. They have made new friends in the congregation and help with the youth ministry. They are gifted servants in ministry and special people.

Number 4 is David’s continuing as the chef at Colorado Mountain Brewery. We’ve lost track of time, but think he’s been in that position for about five or six years now. His restaurant wins awards in Colorado Springs each year in the “Best of the Springs” voting. He plays basketball on Tuesday nights at Austin Bluffs Church, along with his dad and brother-in-law, Kevin. His two cats, Mason and Jane, are his household residents. 

Number 5 would be Lizi’s arrival into motherhood and saying goodbye to her position with the Community Partnership for Child Development. She enjoys being home with Joey. Mike’s dental practice continues to do well.

Number 6 would be the vacation trips that Bill and Carol made this past year…Myrtle Beach at the end fo December and then spending New Year’s Eve with their friends in Charlotte, NC, Tom and Diane Bayes…Orlando in late March with Kecia and family, with side trips to see Rick and Connie Fuller in DeLand and Dave and Robyn Hughes in Tampa…a European River Cruise in mid-May with Dave and Robyn that started in Paris and ended in Prague…and an October visit to San Antonio to visit Dave and Donna Volitis. Bill also led a mission work trip in June to British Columbia where the group of 6 men did projects at Rock Nest Ranch, the ministry of Wendell and Heather Garrison.

Number 7 would be Bill’s involvement with Timberview Middle School, where he enjoys substitute teaching and now coaching four sports (cross-country, boy’s basketball, girl’s basketball, and track). He did a long-term sub teaching position for one of the teachers of the special needs students and discovered in a new way why Carol would often come home exhausted at the end of her school day. She, retired for two years now, even came back and was a sub para professional one day when he was the teacher. So…he was kinda’ her boss…but in name only!

Number 8 would be all the friends and special people that our lives have been blessed with. We are blessed to be part of the journeys of so many people in the celebrations and the low points. Bill continues to speak at a small church in the smaller town of Simla, Colorado, along with his friend Ed Stucky. The congregation enjoys both men coming and providing spiritual direction for the life of the church. Ed and Diana have also been instrumental in helping Bill write his novel…and rewrite…and rewrite. He also hired a professional editor to help hone it this past summer. And 8th grade student at Timberview has read the manuscript and is writing an endorsement review for it. He continues to work on Book 2 and Book 3 of the series.

That’s enough of the Wolfe’s! May your Christmas be, and feel, as blessed as ours is! In case you see any naked people dancing in our backyard…don’t call the police! Just ignore it!

Thanks-Living

November 28, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      November 28, 2019

                                

Today is our son’s 36th birthday. Unreal! Oh, and it also happens to be Thanksgiving Day, a day where we offer thanks, become more cognizant of thanking people, and, for many of us, join hands with others around a dinner table and say grace.

As I do a life analysis the immensity of the blessings in my life are overwhelming. It causes me to live my life out of a heart of gratitude. That is, “thanks-living”!

This morning I’m sitting on my Starbucks stool where I have written almost everyone of 1,100 posts. I’m tipping my baristas who know me by name, who know that I almost always get a tall Pike Place coffee, and know which stool I always sit on unless there’s an intruder. They will thank me for my tip, but they won’t quite understand how they bless me by setting the right mood for me to write in. Unless I’m substitute teaching I’m on this stool to start the day, facing out towards Pike’s Peak. That’s right, looking at Pike’s Peak drinking my Pike Place!

I notice that we live in a world— perhaps culture is a better term— where ungrateful people seem to be as common as the rabbit and squirrel populations in our neighborhood. There may be a connection between the level of ungratefulness and the epidemic of entitlement. 

I wish I could do a research project (but since I flunked Sociology 101 my first term of college I would be at a loss as to how to go about it) that could figure out the correlation between entitlement and ungratefulness. That would be interesting! An entitled person might respond that he’s entitled to feel ungrateful.

Back to thanks-living! Each day I’m aware of the grace of God upon me, his compassionate love. 

           Psalm 9:1 says “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Life is lived out of a heart full of gratitude. 

I realize that who I am today and how I live today has been greatly influenced by those in my past…my parents, both gone to glory…my wife, Carol, who calculates the cost of decisions with careful consternation ( A lot of “C” words in that statement!)…kids and grandkids, who bring the blessing of laughter to my life…and friends and mentors who have walked with me for parts of the journey. 

I see the handprints of James Payson Martin and Chuck Landon, my first two ministry mentors, upon how I practiced pastoring. I can hear the wisdom of my ministry colleagues, Chuck Moore, Tom Bayes, and Mark Sommers, as they advised and encouraged me through the years. I can count myself blessed to have friends like Dave Volitis, Ron McKinney, Ed and Diana Stucky, and Janet Smith, who bring a richness to my life.

Grumpiness is not an adjective that people would use in describing me. I wasn’t even grumpy when I was drinking the 128 ounces of liquid in preparation for my latest colonoscopy. I’m the reflection of my dad, who approached life with optimism, a smile, and a warm greeting. Perhaps that’s also why I’m a proponent for thanks-living.

And now, like tipping my baristas this morning, I seek to live out my thankfulness. It comes out uncomplicated most of the time, like saying “Good morning!” to each student who walks down the hallway at Timberview Middle School; taking Carol to 7-11 for her morning Diet Coke with crushed ice; and chuckling during the verbal exchanges with four year old granddaughter Corin that may cover the subjects of ballerina outfits, bugs, and building blocks all within a five minute time frame.

I’m completely consumed with thankful-living!

The Spilled Eggs of Life

November 24, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                 November 24, 2019

 

I’m into that phase of life that includes the word “spilling”. Spilling the shampoo, spilling the garbage, spilling the beans, spilling the gas as I put it in the lawnmower…you get the idea. I could insert another word in there like drop, fumble, miscalculated my grip, etc.

A couple of days ago I had prepared an awesome breakfast— hash browns cooked nice and crispy, bacon, toast— and I was ready to fry the eggs, sunny side up for Carol and over easy for myself. When I took the egg carton out of the refrigerator top shelf I erroneously grazed the side of the carton with the door and lost my grip. The full dozen validated the law of gravity and made a crash landing on the wooden floor. The styrofoam carton popped open as it hit and all twelve were thrown onto the floor. 

I kneeled down, hoping for survivors…well, survivors to cook up, I guess…but every single one of them had been broken. No yolk! (Sorry, bad pun!)

The runny egg whites had splayed across the floor, even splattering back onto the refrigerator door, like they were grasping for life. Carol came to look and she started laughing. I, on the other hand, did not have that initial reaction. After I cursed myself for having bad wide receiver hands, I debated whether breakfast could still be “scraped together.” (Bad pun #2.)

Four eggs, like a used car lot, looked driveable. Sunny side up and over easy were no longer options, but scrambled still worked. 

Carol was still laughing, and she soon brought me to the place of humor. “I wish I could have taken a picture before you cleaned them up,” she said with a chuckle. I was glad I had rushed to erase the evidence.

We’ve all spilled the eggs, in one way or another. That is, we’ve all fumbled situations and put on the coat of embarrassment. There are just some life-spills that you need to discard any thoughts of keeping your dignity and allow yourself to laugh. 

Like the time when I walked through an airport terminal to meet my friend, Artie Powers, and he let me know that I had left my barn door open. Several women who had passed me had smiled at me. I had been thinking that my manhood must have been looking pretty impressive. When I realized the smiles were because of a lowered zipper I turned red…and then laughed!

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the spilled eggs. What a crack up they are! (Bad pun #3)

So I scrambled up the best-looking four, placed them on our plates alongside the bacon, hash browns, and toast, and we feasted. 

My only unanswered question was wondering how those dark specks got into the eggs, because I know I hadn’t peppered mine!