No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

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What Will They Say About You?

“It will be as if she never existed…” Tom Hagen to Senator Geary in The Godfather 2

I thought about this line from the movie this morning as I drove past an empty lot on my way to work. You see it didn’t used to be just a lot; at one time there was a house with one of the nicest little old ladies I’ve ever known living there.

Her house was about a block away from my shoe store and she started to stop in and look at shoes before going to do her weekly  grocery shopping. I looked forward to seeing her each week, as I said she was about one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known.

Driving by where her house used to be made me think about Helen and the kitten my family and I gave her once. She loved that little kitty and once a month without fail she would bring in new pictures of it to show me and my wife. It was as if that cat was her baby and she treated her as such.

I’m not sure what happened to Helen, I left the shoe store and got another job and never saw her after that. I’d heard she moved into an assisted living residence, and wondered at that time what had happened to her cat. 

But it wasn’t until I drove by where her home was and saw the empty lot I began to think about the impact we have on others. My family and I impacted her life by giving her a cat, and she in turned changed our lives by becoming our friend.

I miss Helen and those silly cat pictures. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize how important relationships really are. I think back over my fifty some years on this planet and wish now I would have invested more time in the lives of those I’ve met instead of being so focused on making a life for me and my family.

As you go about your life, remember to take time and make solid relationships with those you meet. They will pay greater rewards than any money or power you can ever gain.

Mabookies On Parade

The picture may not be the best quality picture; after all I used my Redneck photo copier to take it, i.e. I took a picture of a picture using my phone, but it is one of my favorite memories from a time long ago. The three people pictured in this photo are me and my friends Terry and Angel, and was taken 16 years ago while on a mission trip in the Philippines. I added the words “Mabookies On Parade” and had it printed for the three or us. We often referred to it as our “album cover” even though we never recorded any music.

The term “mabookie” came from the remastered version of A New Hope (Star Wars episode 4 which is the first movie, but the fourth in the franchise). In it, Jabba the Hutt referred to Han Solo as mabookie and the subtitles defined the term as “my boy”. Terry and I adopted this phrase and began calling each other by this nickname and it took on a life of it’s own. Later we added Angel to the group; even though she’s a girl she was our mabookie too.

One of the reasons I love this picture is because it reminds me of all the laughs we had together. I know you can’t tell from the picture, after all we were making an album cover at the time and were going for the serious artist pose. But when the three of us got together, there was laughter galore.

It probably helped that we were kindred spirits and had the same quirky sense of humor. There have been very few people on this planet who “get me” but these two did and my life is so much better because of them. I believe if every person on this planet had two friends like these the world would be a better place. I’m truly blessed to have been a part of this cadre of fun loving people.

Terry died a few months ago, taking our trio down to a duo, and while it’s been hard with him gone, Angel and I had the opportunity the other night to get together and watch our favorite movie So I Married An Axe Murderer together. It was so nice to have her there with my family; eating, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It was just like old times and I hadn’t realized how much I missed the good times we all had together.

And as I sit here writing this and looking at this picture I can’t help but thank God He brought these two people into my life so many years ago. They truly have helped to make me a better man, and the laughter they brought into my life I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Thank you Terry and Angel for all you’ve done for me; mabookies for eternity.

A Cup Of Joe And Memories

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in my hometown; it’s the first time I’ve been in one since my friend Terry died. It’s not that I’ve been trying to avoid the coffee shop or anything, it’s just a point of reference for my writing today. You see my friend Terry and I loved to go to the coffee shop, drink coffee (obviously) and spend time in each other’s presence. Many times we didn’t even do very much talking, we just sat together as friends and enjoyed the camaraderie.

A lot of men like to play or watch sports, hunt or go fishing or work on cars, but what I enjoy more than anything is time spent in the company of men who make me a better man. Terry did just that. Yes it is true he loved watching football and had a mean pitch when playing softball, but we could spend hours talking about the mundane or very important things and both walk away feeling much better as men.  We quite often solved the world’s problems in those coffee times, only there was no one who would listen to our opinions.

As I’ve sat here today, drinking my mocha, endeavoring to put into words these feelings I have in my heart, I can’t help but think how going to have a cup of joe just will never be the same. Oh I know there’ll be more times in coffee shops, but they will never be the same as they were with Terry. After all, he was the guy who got me drinking the stuff in the first place; not to mention my son and daughter both give him the credit for their coffee addiction as well.

Everyone should be so fortunate to have a friend like Terry in their lives and I miss him each and every day; especially when I try to call and tell him something funny or poignant which has happened to me. But even though he is gone, I cherish the times spent together drinking coffee and as I reflect on those good times I smile and my heart feels just a little less sad.

Yes, I will continue stopping into coffee shops for the remainder of my days and I know each time I will think fondly on my friend and the joy he brought to my life as we sipped our coffee; mine black and hot and his with one cream, in it.

 

A Life Well Lived

Darkness. Confusion. A cloudiness in my soul. This is what I am experiencing on this Saturday morning in July. Today I read a report about a man who has been one of my mentors for the past several years; more of a sage really, a man who has shared his wisdom, wit and life with me and countless thousand others.

The report was not good. It’s a story of a valiant fight pitted against an enemy who has spent many years of relentless attacks against my friend and his family. Craig has spent this time fighting like the true warrior he is. Never giving up in the face of this battle and continuing to love his family well in the process.

While I only had one physical interaction with this man, (he literally pushed me out of the way to make his way towards the stage at an event, it was done in good humor too) in one of my darkest hours a simple two minute phone call from him changed the course of my feelings for this man irrevocably.

Ironically, I am listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as I write this and the music playing now is the song after the death of Gandalf; which brings another level of sadness to my heart.

I won’t try to explain why this is happening to my friend and mentor, as I truthfully don’t know. I won’t cheapen his life by trying to use my finite mind to explain the why’s of this disease which has attacked him. I will say this, he has fought this thing with every fiber of his being, spiritually, mentally and physically and shared his successes and failures along the way. If nothing else, he has shown me how a true man of God fights alongside Jesus against terrible odds and wins.

You might be confused when I say he wins when he is now in the care of hospice. He wins because to quote Gandalf from the Return of the King;

Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass and then you see it.”

Pippin: “What? Gandalf? See What?”

Gandalf: “White shores and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

Pippin: “Well, that isn’t so bad.”

Gandalf: “No. No, it isn’t.”

And while I am saddened by this turn of events in my friend’s life I will not be sorry, for his journey is not ended, only his location will be changing. I will mourn his passing, though not for Craig, but because of the journey his family will soon be taking. Having walked this path myself; I know the Lord of Heaven and Earth will be right there beside them every step of the way.

Let me say this; thank you Craig McConnell for living and loving well in this life. You have inspired me more than you may ever know. I’m one of those who can honestly say I am a better man because of you. I love you brother and look forward to the day we can sit and laugh together on the other side.

Live well today men and love those around you fiercely.

Watch Your Lips Junior

My oldest son was around fifteen and we were driving somewhere together when he decided pestering me was a good idea. He was just playing around and being obnoxious when I said to him, “Micah you better stop it or I’m going to punch you in the face.”

He replied laughing, “Oh dad, come on, you know you’re not going to punch me in the face.” and he went back to pestering me.

About ten minutes passed when I reached over and punched him in the jaw.  “Hey! You hit me! Why’d you do that for?”

“Because you said I’d never do that.”

Suffice it to say the pestering stopped. (At least for the remainder of the ride anyway.)  I don’t advocate punching your children in the face, and this is the only time I’ve ever done it.  I used it as a teachable moment for my son.

Lip service is the advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds.  Have you ever known anyone who did this?  They talked a good game, but just didn’t seem to have what was needed to back up all the talk?  It can be infuriating when someone does this.

One thing men should do above all others is keep their word.  If you tell someone you’re going to do something, then do it.  My kids will tell you as they were growing up they heard the phrase, “We’ll see.” more than just about any other.  I learned early on if I told my kids we were going to do something and didn’t, they would call me on it.

Whenever they would ask if we were going to do something, and I wasn’t sure whether or not I could come through on it, I’d say, “We’ll see.”  It got to the point where when I would say this; the kids would groan and say, “Dad that means we’re not going to do it.”  I know they probably wished I would have stopped saying it, but keeping my word to them was too important to me.

Years ago if two men were doing business and came to an agreement, they would shake on it.  Once they had done this, it was a binding agreement and to break it was unthinkable.  In today’s world, we have to sign legal documents to get men to honor their word.  It’s sad to think you can’t trust a man unless you have a piece of paper stating he will do what he said.  When did men give up their integrity?

I want to be known as a man of my word.  I want people to say, “David was a man who always did what he said he was going to do.” I don’t embarrass easily, but it would cause me great shame if I told someone I would do something and then didn’t follow through.

There have been times where I said I would do something, and either ran out of time, or ended up going in another direction and the thing I said I would do failed to be done.  In these instances, I have always contacted the person and explained what happened, promising to get to it as soon as time allowed.

Being a man of your word also means you put the things you want to do on hold sometimes.  This is a difficult area for a lot of men too, because they are looking out for what’s in their best interest regardless of what they’ve said.  If you’re like this, then you should change.

Stop telling people you’re going to do something if you’re not really going to do it.  It’s kind of like the story about the boy who cried wolf, before long people will stop believing anything you say, and when you find yourself needing them, they won’t be there for you.

Being a man means you keep your word, with no exceptions.  The only thing we as men can truly lay claim to in this life is our name and our word.  The first becomes great, only if you hold to the second.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?

We All Have That One Friend

You’re at a social gathering mingling and talking with friends and acquaintances when all of a sudden there is a murmur across the room, and everyone starts looking towards the entrance.  As you turn your head, you see what all the commotion is about; it’s one of your friends, the charismatic one who never meets a stranger and probably knows the entire population of the city you live in.

There is a man like this in my circle of friends.  In fact, I’m fortunate enough to call him one of my best friends.  This man truly is the life of the party, and it doesn’t matter what age a person is, they are all drawn to Faron Kelly.  I often watch Faron in these situations, and he always has a smile on his face, and a kind word no matter how busy he is.

I’m amazed by my friend, I say amazed because he has a gift and ability which seems to be a foreign concept to me; he really does love all people, and not just people who can do something for him.  You will see him dancing, hugging and just being the same friendly guy with every person he meets.  I’m serious when I say it amazes me.

I met Faron twenty some years ago at the church I attend, and right away knew this was a guy I needed to get to know.  It seemed he was always happy, laughing and so alive.  I don’t know about you, but when you see someone living life fully like this, it makes you want the same thing; at least it did for me.  And I knew if I had any chance of living like this, then I needed to spend some time with him.img_8400

I consider myself blessed because this man is part of my life and journey.  There have been times when I didn’t know how I would have continued on and he said just what I needed to hear, or all the times I was doubled over in laughter because of something he said or did.  I could go on for days and days telling you about all of the things Faron has done in the time I’ve known him, but let me end by saying this.  If everyone in the world acted like Faron Kelly, I guarantee there would no more wars, poverty or hurting people, not to mention life would just be a hoot!

Now you know what I think, what do you think?