Posted tagged ‘Impact’

Dad…Two Months Gone

April 15, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    April 15, 2018

                               

Two months ago today Dad, Laurence Hubert Wolfe, passed away after a well-lived life of almost ninety years. He really wanted to break the finish-line tape of the ninety mark, but didn’t quite make it. And that was okay!

There are very few people who come to the end of their lives and are able to say “It was good! It was very good!” Dad was one of those! What made it good was the value he placed on things that are irreplaceable. He treasured his friends. When his friend Bill Ball passed away last summer it pained his soul. Bill was the last of Dad’s long-time friends, had passed the ninety mark a few years earlier, and the two of them conversed every week. Each had lost his wife around the same time and each had been married in excess of sixty years.

When Bill passed I think it hurt Dad, but it also eased the way for him. Seeing your friends, who are irreplaceable, travel on to Glory is like being afraid of entering an unfamiliar place, but then you see your friends go there and it makes it okay.

Dad had strong beliefs and convictions that he didn’t compromise. When the days remaining are few, I think that also brings a person to be able to say life was good. Remaining true to your promises and your commitments are signs of a life that is deeply-rooted, not tossed this way and that by what sounds good at the time. Steadfast and persevering, that’s how I would describe him! Gentle and fair would also be listed in the description of who he was and is.

A person never really gets used to the absence of the one who has always been there. The impact has been too deep and significant. I’m blessed in that the impact my dad left on me causes me to smile and feel blessed, as opposed to feeling oppressed and wounded.

And now two months since that Thursday afternoon when he breathed his last I still am able to experience his breath upon my life.

And it is good!

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.

Starbucks Wisdom

February 7, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   February 7, 2016

                                     

I did my usual Sunday morning time at Starbucks today. I arrive early and spend about an hour pondering, writing, and, of course, drinking coffee. The young man at the register named Chase greeted me warmly and asked me an unexpected question.

“If someone came to you and asked for a few words of wisdom that they could take with them what would you say?”

Great question…even at 7:00 in the morning! I pondered for a moment and then replied, “Find your purpose!” We had a brief conversation about what that mean, and then a few other people in need of caffeine came through the door.

What would your words of wisdom be? If a young person came to you seeking just a bit of direction for the journey of his life, what would you say?

Would your words focus on working hard? Or would they deal with living life with gusto? Would you bring integrity into your reply? Would it be about your spiritual journey with God?

The words you offer will reveal your priorities. If I went further with my words with Chase and could have offered a few other words to consider I would probably say these things:

“Relationships are more valuable than gold.”

      “The love of God is never terminated.”

      “Don’t settle for happiness. Seek joy!”

      It’s interesting that as I climbed the age ladder “work” became less important to me than relationships, and eternal matters have become more important than the temporary possessions and occurrences. Seeking joy has often gotten replaced by the temptation of happiness.

Words of wisdom, words of experience, words of having lived it.

Yesterday a young man that I’ve known for over thirty years came to visit. He is now 46, married to a great woman, and blessed with two teenage sons. In our hours together he reminded me of conversations we had years ago, and the impact of some words of wisdom I said had upon his life. Honestly, I didn’t remember the conversations, but that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that he remembered them, and they helped him navigate the waters of his young adult years and into marriage.

The words we say have impact…even when we don’t realize it or remember what we said.

I’m getting a refill and I think I’ll expand my words to Chase as he fill my cup again: Find your purpose for living, not just an excuse for being here.

Have a wise day!

Seeing Your Child’s Future

December 2, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         December 2, 2013

 

“Words from WW” will be doing a series of blog posts during Advent. Please feel free to share then with others.

 

                                    

 

How would it effect us as parents if we were able to see what our child’s life will be focused on in the future…but we will see it now? How might the hopes of our hearts for our children blossom if someone told us the future impact of the little one that is crawling around on the floor around our feet?

Advent is about hope and promise. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple of the Lord as Zechariah was burning incense and going through the duties of the priest, he shared the future of Zechariah’s son, who had not yet even been conceived.

“Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)

     It was an angelic proclamation of what was to be. It left Zechariah dumbfounded. He had resolved himself to being a father to no one. His wife was far past the age of childbearing. His future was simply a picture of the two of them growing old together, never enjoying the sounds of infant laughter and conversations of discovery with a child who asked endless questions of “why?”

And then he’s confronted with the news not only of a pregnancy that will start soon, but also of what his offspring will do with his life, the coming again of another Elijah.

Most parents worry about their children. First there is getting them through adolescence and orthodontics; then comes paying for college, followed by the anxiety of finding a job after college. Parents worry that their children will never reach their potential, that the dynamics of out times weigh against twentysomethings.

So, what would it mean for a parent to know that his child will have a life of impact and purpose?

But, in essence, God does have that in his plan! He desires that each one of us live a life of fulfilled promises. Sometimes we just have a hard time believing it.

Seeing ‘Used To Be’s'”

April 6, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 April 6, 2013

 

My son and I are in Atlanta this weekend for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. The Final Four weekend is “an event”, complete with a convention center filled with exhibits, people wearing orange (Syracuse), blue (Michigan), red (Louisville) and gold (Wichita State). There is intense team loyalty. David and I don’t care. We’re just enjoying the event.

Another thing about the Final Four weekend is that there are a lot of tall people walking around. Very tall! For some of them age has not been kind! For others the resemblance of who they are now compared to twenty years ago is striking. Danny Ferry doesn’t look much different now than he did when he played at Duke in the late 80’s. Of course, he looked like he was about 40 when he was in college. Now he looks like he’s about 40 with minimal hair.

I found myself walking around “Bracket Town”, the name of the place where the exhibits are at, looking at tall people and wondering “Did he used to be someone?”No one asks that about 58 year old 5’6” white guys. (Okay! I’m really fix foot six and a half inches!) When you see someone six foot eight you wonder, especially when it is at a place where basketball people congregate.

I saw Rolando Blackman, who has been retired from the NBA for twenty years and yet I recognized him right away. Christian Laettner looks a little more domesticated than when he was going through his “bad boy non-conformist” days. Of course, my opinion is still filtered by my pain over seeing his buzzer beater shot against Kentucky. I was a Big Blue fan back in those days. Laettner was the enemy. Twenty years later it was hard to look at him and still not regard him as the enemy.

But then there were the hundreds of 6’6”, 6’7”, and 6’8” guys who were walking around the Georgia Dome who looked like they might used to have been someone.

Fame is fleeting in this world. People follow you for what you are doing for them currently, not for what you used to do. Our culture is very much a “in the moment” kind of people. History is not valued by many folk. One day in basketball practice I mentioned Larry Bird to my 14 girls who were crowded around me, and I was met with 14 blank looks. I then asked “Doesn’t anyone know who Larry Bird is?”

Fourteen pauses.

And then one brave young lady responded in question form, “Birdman?”

My mouth dropped open. It may have been the first time that someone had confused Chris Anderson with being Larry Bird. History is not valued.

It also tells me that my purpose is not necessarily to be remembered, recognized, or even memorialized, but rather to live my life with purpose, passion, and responsibility. I may not even be recognized as a “used to be”, but God has gifted me, graced me, and called me to make an impact in the lives of others. The impact may happen in small ways, or in one lasting conversation at just the right moment in one person’s life. It may be an impact that happens after a multitude of “reflecting Jesus” moments. The difference between wondering whether that 6’9” balding giant who just passed me use to be somebody and who I am is that I’m called to lead people to knowing and remembering Jesus for now and ever. It’s the best philosophy for a former point guard: Give it to the Big Guy!