Posted tagged ‘gratitude’

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!

Rethinking About The Little Thankings

November 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 18, 2016

                        

As Thanksgiving Day descends upon us it has caused me to think about the little things I’m thankful for. Perhaps you have your own list that resonates within you. Here’s a few things that cause me to stop, ponder, and be continually thankful for:

1) Sitting on the couch with my three grandkids watching TV, especially if one or two of them are leaned up against me. It causes me to remember when I was growing up and sitting beside my mom and dad in church, leaning into their warmth and presence. Now Reagan and Rennie lean into me and warm my soul!

2) Sunday early evening phone conversations with my dad. Since we’re two time zones apart it usually happens right after I’ve eaten dinner and he’s getting ready for bed. My dad is 88! His pleasant Eastern Kentucky accent carries a flood of family memories with it. As I talk with him I’m thinking of many of those things that he has brought to my life. He taught me how to drive, using our ’66’ Chrysler Newport as the guinea pig. In fact, the first time I drove it in the Ironton Junior High School parking lot I was trying to turn it so hard that I broke the power steering. Although he thought about killing me, patience won out!

3) Being married to a woman with a heart for kids who have needs. Carol is sensitive to those who have limitations as she works with special needs students in middle school. Although she retired at the end of the last school year she gets called EVERY SCHOOL DAY…Trust me! EVERY SCHOOL DAY!…to substitute! She comes alongside students who sometimes are ostracized in the midst of the middle school culture. At the end of the school day she is one tired puppy!

4) The ability to reflect and write. God has gifted me with an unusual talent. Most days as I sit on my Starbucks stool and peck out my blog post I have no idea what I’m about to write until I start writing it. Sometimes it comes as I put the Half and Half in my first cup of coffee; sometimes it comes as I sit and stare at Pike’s Peak for a couple of minutes…but it always seems to come! Most of the time it even makes sense!

5) A renewed passion for the church! As I help First Baptist Church in Simla, Colorado navigate the future it excites me. My excitement is definitely not based on compensation, but rather on “mission and purpose.” I love this congregation of twenty, who are anxious about their future. Thirty-seven years of pastoring has prepared me to offer advice and lead them to the questions that they need to be asking themselves.

6) The memories that pain me! That probably sounds strange, and yet I’m thankful for the wounds of my soul! In the past two months I’ve presided over the funerals of two dear people- a 95 year old saint named Rex and a 41 year old friend and father named Greg. I cried at both of them, and I am thankful that my life was blessed by them to the point that I was deeply impacted. Even now as I write these words the grief once again is like a wave that rushes over me.

We often think about the big reasons to be thankful, but the lake of thanksgiving is held together by small pebbles of gratitude!

Writing to Dad From 2,000 Miles Away

June 3, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 3, 2015

                                    

(I received word this morning that my dad is in the Emergency Room of a hospital about 2,000 miles away from me.)

Dear Pops!

      I love calling you that when you answer your phone. You always know it is me calling when I greet you with those words, “What do you say, Pops?”

      I wish i could be sitting beside your hospital room bringing a smile to your face with that greeting, but, instead, I’m a couple thousand miles away typing this on my laptop.

      It’s hard to not be close enough to touch you…to wait anxiously for an updated text from someone close at hand. I want you to know that I’m praying for you. When I told Diana, my administrative assistant, about you, see took time out to pray for you…and me! Prayer is something I don’t need training for, just a sense of urgency and taking the initiative to approach the throne of grace.

      Dad, you have always been special to me, but in recent years as I watched you wait upon Mom and make sure that her needs were being met, you became something different.

      Impressive! 

      You held it together when Mom was coming apart. You fed her when she could not feed herself. You listened to her when she could not communicate. You changed her diaper when she soiled herself. 

      You were impressive and impressionable!

       I don’t believe a father can leave a greater gift for his children than a Christ-like handprint for them to remember. Not necessarily a sermon preached, but rather a sermon lived out. Although your heart has issues, your heart for God and people is healthy. When one of my kids tells me that I’m just like my dad I take it as the highest compliment. 

       I remember certain things that you did, like fixing liver and onions for dinner that actually tasted good; startling the neighbors each year when warm weather came by putting on a pair of shorts with those white legs of yours that were a little blinding to the eyes; preparing your Sunday School lesson to teach with your materials and Bible covering the kitchen table; and teaching me how to tie a necktie. 

       Let me confess something to you while I’m thinking about it. I was the one who broke the blade on your pocket knife. You had probably already guessed that, since I tried to scotch tape the broken blade back on. Thirteen year olds think they can cover up anything!

       Dad, I’m praying for strength and recovery. I’m praying for more conversations in the coming days even by phone. 

       Rest…and rest in his arms!

Your Son,

Bill Wolfe

      

Thanks-Living

November 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   November 26, 2014

                                                      

It is the day before Thanksgiving. Hump Day in out-of-sorts week.

What do we make out of this week? A grand jury verdict that split the nation, protest marches in numerous cities across the land, looting and accusations. It’s been a week!!! And it’s only Wednesday!

Tomorrow we gather around dinner tables to…give thanks! It will seem weird, like a mystery movie suddenly becoming a chick flick, or Rambo turning into Bambi. Many of us will look at what has transpired the past few days and ponder what it was we were to give thanks for.

I do not have any Solomonic sayings to impress you with about justice and injustice, right and wrong. There is nothing I can write that will suddenly bring the world back into balance, but I do believe that the way we live needs to be a reflection of hearts that have been changed.

Thanks-living takes thanksgiving to a deeper incision. Thanks-living is not grasped by nearly as many people as those who demonstrate thankless living.

Thanks-living is pastoring a church that is echoed with baby cries and laughter. Thankless living is counting down the minutes of the worship service so you can get to lunch.

Thanks-living is knowing that this day, and then the next day, are beautiful creations of our God who loves his art. Thankless living is a sense of entitlement to have every day be warm and sunny.

Thanks-living is firmly believing that I have been blessed in so many ways. Thankless living is always asking the question “why isn’t me life better?”

Thanks-living is a grateful heart that we live in a country that believes in freedom. Thankless living complains that everything isn’t free.

Thanks-living is appreciative of the platter of mashed potatoes. Thankless living complains about the price of potatoes.

In essence thanks-living is about having an attitude of gratitude. A lot of people these days need attitude adjustments.

In a week where things have seemed out of control, and each of us is trying to figure out answers while still confused about what all the questions are, perhaps a step towards solution, towards a better place and a better world…is to live each day with a commitment to being thankful.

Thanks-living!

Mother’s Day Without Mom

May 11, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 11, 2014

 

                                    “Mother’s Day Without Mom”

 

     This is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever experienced without a mom on this side of Glory. Mom passed to the other side last September, the day after Labor Day. So today I’m in a new place just as she is. I’m walking through it with a mixture of grief and gratitude, a strange mixture…kind of like putting ketchup on top of your peanut butter, you’re not sure if it’s good or bad!

The last two Mother’s Day with Mom were grief in process. Her health had declined to the point that she wasn’t able to carry on a conversation. Calling here on the phone was a painful experience with me being in Colorado and her in Ohio. Her health difficulties had reduced her verbal capabilities to a bare minimum…and my mom was always one to be vocal!

I would send her flowers for Mother’s Day. It was the best I could do for her. She loved the floral arrangements and foliage plants that FTD would deliver…once they were able to find the house! That’s another story for another day!

I remember my mom for who she was before her afflictions took her health away. On this Mother’s Day I remember with a grateful heart the stories, the influence, and even “the look!”

“The look” could stop a freight train. It was convicting! I remember that look one afternoon when I was about ten. Mom had told me that I could go to the park in Williamstown, West Virginia where we lived, but that I could not cross the main street in town to go to the little grocery store. Back in those days before aluminum soda cans a kid could find empty pop bottles and return them to the store for three cents a piece. Two pop bottles could net me a Pay Day or Mallo Cup. But on this day my mom had explicitly forbidden me to cross that main street.

“No problem!”, I thought! What she doesn’t know won’t hurt…me! I made the journey and was munching on my Pay Day on the way back across the street when in the distance I saw a car coming that looked like our family car. I sprinted back into the park and hid behind a trash can until I was sure she had passed. Finally I raised up…and there she was…sitting there, and giving me “the look!” I was toast!

Besides the look, however, my mom would care for us. My brother and I always got new underwear for Christmas, just in case we were in an accident and they had to cut away our blue jeans. It was important to have intact pairs of “Towncraft tighty whities” on.

She could cook! And the thing is, she would cook dinner each night after working a full day at J.C. Penney’s. Not packaged meals, mind you! Home-cooked masterpieces…skillet cornbread… green beans that I didn’t appreciate back then, but now miss greatly…fried chicken…squash casserole…need I go on?

My mom had a certain scent. It’s hard to explain that, but it stayed in the nostrils of your memory. Recently I traveled back to Ohio to help my dad get some things taken care of in preparation for his move to a new senior adult independent living complex he’s moving into. Going from his three bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment has made these past few months a time of sorting for him. What will he take? What will he leave behind? What will he give away? My oldest daughter, Kecia, asked me to bring back a few specific items that she remembers about my parents’ house. A couple of the things she requested were some of MaMaw Wolfe’s dish towels and hot pads. Why? Because they have MaMaw’s scent that is special. When we would travel home to see my parents “the scent” would be a comfort, a welcoming, almost like entering a room with bread baking in the oven.

I’m grateful for “the look”, “the caring”, “the smells”, and “the scent.” Although Mom is gone, those things will stay with me…and on this different kind of Mother’s Day they make me happy!