Posted tagged ‘consistency’

Last Stool On The Right

June 13, 2018

There are certain habits in our lives that bring comfort and consistency. They are the frame that support the structure of our life. Like the links of chain for a playground swing, habits bring a swaying rhythm to our life.

One of my habits involves a stool, a laptop, and an early morning cup of coffee. Where I write my Words from W.W. blog almost without exception occurs at the Starbucks in Colorado Springs on the corner of Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway from the last stool on the right, facing out with a view of Pike’s Peak. It is where I ponder, create, and edit, sometimes slowly and other times at a frenzied pace.

Kathy Buchanan, who is one of the writers for the Focus on the family long-time series, Adventures In Odyssey, sits on the last stool on the left with six stools between us. We joke with one another about our ingrained habit for our writing. When someone is in one of OUR spots we give a look of dismay to one another.

“You going to be able to function today?” I’ll ask her. She sighs deeply and replies, “I’ll try!”

MY stool is the launching pad for discovering. It’s even come to a point now where some of my friends know where they’ll be able to find me at 7 A.M. on mornings I’m not substitute teaching. Some days my writing takes a series of breaks for stop-by conversations. My stool, however, draws me back to why I’m there.

I sip the coffee as I search for the right word. A second sip is required when I’m slow in figuring and finding. My third cup means I’m approaching the finish.

Jim Ryun, the famous track and field miler, once said “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going!” My stool is my habit.

The Saints That Go Before Us

June 16, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             June 16, 2017

                                     

I’ve been blessed with many of them! Saints, that is! Saintly people who didn’t know they were saints, just men and women who were walking steadily with God, stepping humbly forward in daily obedience.

They didn’t know they were making an impact, impressing young lives, and marking out a trail for those of us behind them. They just lived a day at a time, but another pebble would be placed in the vase of wonder each of those days. Over time the pebbles crowded out the uncertainty and marked the life with weighted consistency.

Yesterday I took my dad, one of those saints, to see another saint who has impacted my life. Bill Ball, with a nine in front of his age, has been an encourager of me and many others for years and years. I remember his words of encouragement when I was a high schooler trying to break my school’s record in the mile run…and that was 45 years ago. My record has long since been broken, but Mr. Ball’s words of encouragement have stayed with me. Now in the final lap of his journey he would be awed by the number of people who have been impacted by him.

Saints are like that…hesitant to believe they are making a difference and convinced that they are no one that is anything special. When I asked my dad what he would like to do and where he would like to go while Carol and I are visiting from Colorado his response was quick. “Go visit Bill Ball!” The number of times his friend has visited him during my dad’s hospital stays have been numerous. Yesterday was my dad’s chance to visit Bill in the care center he has recently become a resident of.

We’re all familiar with the official saints. St. James, St. Paul’s, St. Mary’s, and St. John’s…the names mark the places we worship at and the school’s we attend. My dad has resided many times these past few years at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia. “Saints” is a term we relate to locations and a professional football team.

For me, however, saints have graced my life all along the journey. They appear in my memories and stories…Ken Bystrom, Russ Vincent, Rev. Gale Baldridge, Rev. Floyd Norton, Rev. Chuck Landon, Rev. Tom Bayes, Irene Voss, Marie Lyons, Glenn Fairchild, Ben Dickerson, Rex Davis, Virginia Welsby, Charles Slusser, and Pauline Jones. Names that don’t mean anything to most folk, but conjure up adventures and appearances in my life.

A tragedy is a life that never realizes or recognizes the appearance of the saints, never understands the gifts that they are. In a culture that is very much self-absorbed there are a lot of people who are blind to the saints around them.

The thing is…a life that is blind to seeing the saints that have graced it is a life that lacks guideposts and clarifiers. It is a life without teachers, a vessel without a rudder.

I’m increasingly thankful for the footprints of the many who have helped me stay on course, encouraged me to keep on going and redirected me when I wandered. As I said at the beginning, I’ve been blessed with many of the saints.

The Dad Effect

June 16, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 16, 2013

It’s Father’s Day, a special day where it’s okay for dads to watch back-to-back football games…except it’s not football season. Obviously the placement in June of Father’s Day was a conspiracy created by moms who felt guilty that they had a day that honored them…but not too guilty!

Our dads affect us in different ways. This has been a hard week for me, knowing that my dad has been in a Huntington, West Virginia hospital for part of it with heart problems…while I’m here in Colorado within a couple of miles of the devastating fires. I was able to talk to him on the phone today. He sounded tired and he promised me that he had his feet up as he was watching the U.S. Open golf tournament on TV.

I see the remnants of my dad’s mark upon my life in numerous ways. For instance, I like a freshly groomed lawn. I didn’t learn that from Home and Garden magazine. It came from my dad. Even today as an eighty-five year old he has I nicely manicured yard, although it is now my brother-in-law, Mike, who does the cutting on it.

He exercised patience. Grilling hamburgers was meant to be done with care and attention. The patties were even turned carefully. A neck tie was to be tied until it was right. Polished shoes for Sunday church was not to be rushed. I can see it today with how he cares for my mom, who is now bed-ridden. He feeds her dinner, a process that requires a good forty-five minutes if Mom is cooperating; more if she decides not to. Dad doesn’t press. When Mom’s attention fades he very gently draws her back to the present. People will tell you that I’m a patient person. You have to be to coach girls’ basketball, but I learned it from watching my father. Although I have some of his patience, I am not on the same level as him. For instance, I’ve encouraged him not to make spaghetti for Mom at dinner time ever again- an experience in torturous perseverance.

My dad is about as friendly as you can be. When he is able to attend Sunday worship at church people’s spirits are raised just by his presence. People have described me as friendly. I would like to think that a big part of that trait comes from my Dad’s influence upon me. To him everyone has value, and everyone needs a friend. Although he is a long-time Democrat he makes Republicans feel listened to and valued.

Perhaps most of all, my dad has affected my spiritual walk. We always went to church when I was a kid. If we weren’t home we were usually at church…Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night. But church attendance wasn’t an indicator of his faith. I remember countless times walking into the kitchen/dining room of our house and seeing his Bible and Sunday School teacher’s guide laying open on the table. We always prayed at dinner. When I travel back to southern Ohio to visit now I feel honored when he asks me to say the blessing for dinner, although I am deeply moved when I hear the words of a prayer coming from his lips. Being a pastor I have tried to never use guilt with my kids about church…although I’m sure that there have probably been a few times through the years when I have been guilty of using guilt. I desire for each of them to have a faith walk, which isn’t necessarily the same as a church attendance sheet. My hope is that I’ve been a good example for them, a person of conviction and faith. If so, the influence of my father has extended to two generations, and now with our two grandkids, both who battle to say meal grace, three generations.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a dad, and the dad that I’ve had. I think of the increasing percentage of children who now have absentee fathers, or don’t even know their dads, and I think, who will be the person to step into the gap for them?

Thank you, Pops! Thanks for being real, not put-on. Thanks for keeping high standards, and expecting your kids to have high standards. Thanks for loving us even when we were unlovable.