Seven Years

Seven years or 84 months or 364 weeks or 2,555 days or 61,320 hours or 3,679,200 minutes or 220,752,000 seconds.  However you want to track the passage of time, this is how long it has been since my youngest son Noah was lost to me due to suicide. I’ve written about this before; usually at this time of year when I am forced to relive the events which happened on that day. But this year I want to write something a little different.

It was back in the first part of March I was thinking about Noah and I began to ask myself what day he died on. It took me quite a while to remember, actually having to go back through my Facebook account looking for posts from when it first happened. After figuring it out, I felt like quite a failure as a parent. After all, how could a good parent forget the actual day they lost one of their children? It wasn’t until a few days ago when my bride said something to the fact about today being the seventh anniversary and it had crept up on her, I began to think perhaps we had both turned a corner.

When I say turned a corner, I don’t mean either of us has forgotten the day or Noah, but that we have just traveled farther down the road of life. And the more distance you put between yourself and the horrible things which have happened, the easier it becomes for them to take up less space in your every day thoughts. The passage of time is a good thing.

Something I’ve learned in the past seven years is there are no guarantees in life; things have a way of just happening to people; both good and bad. We try to rationalize it when something horrible happens, but there is no making sense of it. We live in a fallen world, in which bad things happen. Another thing I’ve learned is God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know it sounds trite, but regardless, it is the truth. And when crap hits the fan, you have to hold on to what is true if you ever want to have hope of making it further down the road of life.

For me, today marks another year off the calendar and a few more miles along the path I’ve been forced to walk these past seven years. Would I rather not be on this particular journey? Absolutely. I’d love to have my 20 year old son here with me and my family enjoying the life he should be living, but instead I’m living another reality; the one where he is no longer here with me. It’s not my choice, but I will journey on regardless.

The passage of time is a good thing, believe me when I say it. Though it may not look like it when you are in the middle of whatever you are going through, I promise it will get easier the further away from whatever is challenging you. Just do what my family and I have done for the past seven years; breathe, take a step and repeat. Just keep moving forward.

 Yes, There Are Giants Among Us

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t let tomorrow arrive without saying the things which need to be said today.”    ~ David W. Felts

Life truly is a fleeting vapor and passes way more quickly than we ever want to admit. Add to this passage of time the death of a close friend and your world will begin to spin even faster than you can imagine. I got a call from my bride while I was at work, which is not unusual so I answered my phone figuring it was to ask me if I’d be working late, or to tell me she was going to visit a friend or something. I had no idea her call would alter the course of my day in such a drastic way. Saying hello, in a shaky voice she informed me of the death of my best friend, Terry Scott.

Where do I even begin? Terry and I have been friends for many years now, more than friends actually, we are brothers. We share a love of coffee, online comics, TV shows and movies. He was my go to guy when life was stressing me out or when I just needed to hear a friendly voice. He was the kind of guy who always knew what to say when you needed to hear it the most. I’ve said it often, but it bears repeating; when I needed to vent frustrations, he would sit there patiently sipping his coffee letting me say the most ridiculous things, hoping I would come to the conclusion of how to handle my situation. But if I didn’t, he would say, “What are you going to do about it?” With a dumb look on my face I’m sure, he would then counsel me on the best course of action. And I would do the same for him, those times having coffee were some of the best times for both of us.

As I’ve spent the past days contemplating the loss of my friend and the impact he had on this planet, what I have lost is just now dawning on me. The title of my post is “Yes, There Are Giants Among Us” and this man was truly a giant among men. His heart for people inspires me to be more like him. To love like Terry is now something I want to strive to emulate even more, not because I want to be great, but because there will be a void in my life and that of countless others which needs to be filled, and if not me, then who? 

The things Terry accomplished in his short time on the planet are amazing. I read a post from his wife this morning which said “Terry Scott” was trending on the internet and this is awesome, not just because he would’ve loved it, but because more people are now seeing the impact his life made and perhaps they will work to be more like him too. He was always about getting more people in God’s kingdom and doing what they were called by God to do.

I miss my friend deeply, he can never be replaced and the void in my life will be felt immensely for the remaining years I’m alive. But my hope rests in Christ and the knowledge I will see him again one day. There is a scene at the end of the movie Gladiator which sums up what I’m saying. Gladiator clip. I will see Terry again and we will sit drinking coffee having many long conversations for all eternity. Mabookies for eternity.

 

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

This topic has bothered me for years; the notion of God blessing one person by taking from another. And before you say anything, I realize there is a passage of Scripture which says the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just, and I believe it is true. What has always gotten to me though is how people work the system, or beg a believer to help them out instead of trusting God to provide for their own needs.

I was perusing social media last night and came across a post about purchasing some clothes and using a coupon. Now I didn’t see the coupon and don’t know if it was a limit 1 or not, so I could be off base, but as I read the post and saw several registers were visited in order to use one of the coupons at each and receive the discount multiple times I couldn’t help but think it sounded dishonest. If it was, is your integrity worth $30 in savings?

I owned a retail shoe store for many years so I have a unique perspective when it comes to giving and getting discounts. I was asked so many times for one I have maybe a jaded attitude when it comes to people trying to save money on a purchase by getting me to give them a deal.

I remember once giving a $50 coupon to a young lady for purchasing a pair of shoes. The family arrived to use the coupon and the young lady found a pair she loved. With the coupon they were going to cost her about $10; a great deal. Her father stayed outside in front of the store the entire time and when she went to get money from him, he handed her a $5 off any $50 purchase coupon he had found in a phone book and told her to ask me if I would honor it.

I took the high road and gave them the discount because I felt horrible for this girl being forced by her dad to ask for more of a discount. He didn’t even have the balls to ask me himself, instead making her humiliate herself. The look of shame on her face was horrible and I felt so bad for her. I’ve got more to say about this, but I won’t.

It’s not that I don’t like getting a discount, I do. But when people would ask me for one; especially Christian brothers and sisters I would say, “Why don’t you believe God for the full price of the shoes and when He blesses you with the money, then you can buy the shoes from me at full price. He blesses you, you bless me and everyone is happy and God gets the praise. But when I mentioned this, they would look at me like a cow looks at a new gate.

Don’t get me wrong, getting discounts are great, I like them too. But how are you going about getting them? Are you working the system, in order to save a few bucks, then praising God for helping you save money? I’m pretty sure God doesn’t take from one person or business in order to save you money.

Growing Spiritually in Marriage

I asked for topics to blog about last night and a young lady requested I write about growing  spiritually in marriage. This is my last blog of four which I have written today and quite possibly the one which scares me the most. The reason it scares me is I’m not exactly sure I have this one figured out yet and I’ve been married for twenty-eight years. But let’s press on and see what comes of it.

You have to realize in marriage there is a chain of command. First there is God; He has to be put in the forefront of your relationship, everything should be centered around Him and what He has for your life. Secondly, there is a hierarchy in marriage and please don’t let this offend you, but the husband is like the president and his bride is the vice-president. Now before you ladies get mad at me, this is not due in any part to him being better than you ; it’s just the role God has given men.

Women are not and never were designed to be servants to men, but helpers called alongside their husband to help fulfill what God has called them both to do. Ladies shouldn’t look at their role as subservient to their husbands, because they were called alongside to be co-laborers with him. Men, don’t talk down to your wives because they’re women; they are usually smarter and obviously better looking than you after all.

Once you have the order of things correctly in place then you can begin. I recommend praying for each other daily. Having said this, do I practice what I preach? Not as often as I should I’m afraid to admit. But the truth of it still stands, praying for one another is a foundational truth which you should implement into your marriage if you haven’t already. Plus it’s kind of hard to be mad at someone you are praying for.

Secondly, share Scriptures and the things the Lord is showing you with your spouse, and let them reciprocate. Oh, and just a note about this, when your spouse is sharing with you, don’t interrupt, let them finish before adding your own two cents. When you do this, don’t preach at each other, just talk about the things of God. Once you’ve introduced children into your marriage this will carry over and you will be amazed at what all your kids will learn just from listening to the conversations you and your spouse have.

I remember many times desiring to have a family prayer time; I would gather everyone in the living room, put on some worship music and we’d begin. Most times within a few minutes we’d have utter chaos; the kids doing their own thing, Cheryl praying and I’d be trying to orchestrate some holy moment while wrangling the kids and trying to get them to sit still for a few moments. More often than not I walked away from those moments feeling like a failure.

One thing That would always make me laugh was what people thought our family was like, they would comment on how we must be so spiritual at home. I think some of them actually thought we floated around on clouds in our living room. It was always a shame to let them down, but my marriage and family is no different from yours, we all make mistakes and have much learning to do. We are spiritual, not perfect.

I think the thing which will really make your marriage strong spiritually is to daily work at improving your walk with the Lord and do whatever it takes to help your spouse do the same. Having a spiritual marriage doesn’t mean you walk six inches above the concrete; it means you live the same way every person on the earth does, you just do it a little bit better because you’re following the Creator of all things who leads, guides and directs you.