Monday, January 31, 2005

WORD IN SEASON taken from Steve and Marilyn Hills prayer letter

I get this "A Word in Season" regularly from Robert Fitts, a friend of mine. I might add: God made us human beings, not human doings.

Where do you want to be 5 years from now?

I asked that to a friend some time ago in the context of his involvement in the Kingdom of God. Do you want to look back at another 260 Sunday meetings and 12 conferences? Or do you want to look at sons and grandsons in God?

Leaders will say you are faithful if you attend all their meetings. The more who listen to them preach, the better they feel about themselves! But Jesus did not say, "Follow me and you will attend endless meetings!"

Some of the most faithful people in attendance at the meetings are those least filled with faith. They have been institutionalized. Their sense of worth, duty, fulfillment, responsibility is fulfilled by simply attending the meetings.

The promise of Jesus was that if we followed Him, He would make us "fishers of men". We cannot do that in a meeting! His command was that we were to "make disciples". He was accused of being "a friend of sinners". Could we be charged with the same offense? The religious leaders were angry that He would not serve their institutions!

Friendship is the foundation of winning and making disciples. The only requirement? Time invested in other lives. Time for meetings? Time for seminars? No time for people around you? Spiritual maturity is not how much you know. Spiritual maturity is fruitfulness- do you have disciples? Are they making disciples?

Where will you be five years from now?

Wrapping up another 260 meetings or releasing spiritual sons and daughters to their destiny to release the next generations of Jesus Christ?

Success is in the grandchildren!
Go for it!

Robert Fitts Outreach Fellowship International76-6309 Haku Pl.Kailua-Kona, HI 96740Website: Phone: 808-334-9682Mobile: 808-371-6338

Can't say anymore to that! PT

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Marriage, longevity, commitment and I'm really to old for anything extra

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary. We beat the odds. I can't say staying married has been easy. We could have called it quits a few times....or let the annoyances and irritations grow into something way out of control or "irreconcilable". But...truth is, we haven't and we didn't. We've chosen to deal with the issues, even when it was damn hard to.
My parents were married 48 years when Dad died. All 6 of us siblings are still married to our first spouse. We've really beat the odds. Statistically, 3 of us should be divorced at least once and another 1 or 2 of us divorced twice. Scary when you think about it. I don't talk to my brothers and sisters about each other's marital struggles. Although, I think I've been pretty open about mine.
When Linda and I were going through some difficult "healing", I was pretty transparent about what we were doing. The bottom line was, we were determined to make it and divorce was not an option. Thanks, Mom, for the example you and Dad set for us. I know their marriage was at time a struggle, but they stuck with it, even to the end.
My dad loved my mom. She was his true love. He did everything to make sure she knew it too. Even though sometimes I swear they sounded like Ray Barone's parents, it was evident they loved each other deeply. Mom put up with so much while Dad was dying.
I can only pray Linda and I have the same grace and courage when one of us is dying. I think we will. Linda has stuck with me through some pretty hairy crap. It's only by the grace of God I wasn't murdered.
As I get older, the temptations are still there, but they don't grab me like they used to. It takes too much effort to go there... and I don't have the energy, even if the temptation is still there. (One of the advantages of getting older, I guess.) I guess there's been so much in my past that has really cost too much. What one gets out of an affair is never worth what one puts into it. The satisfaction just isn't there. I am learning to be satisfied with what I have here...
It has taken so long to regain Linda's trust too. Some part of me knows that she will never really fully trust me. There's always the "what if it happens again" there. And I can never, ever say I was always faithful.
I'm thankful, though for grace and forgiveness, and for her willingness to keep moving forward. I am hoping for the rest of my life...married for life, with no possibility of parole.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Linda

22 years. We've had 22 birthdays together. 22. 2 decades and then some. When we started out, I couldn't even imagine that much time, but looking back, it seems like it has gone by in a flash. And now I can imagine another 20, 30 years ahead. It doesn't seem like that long.
In my head I am still young. My body tells me otherwise. There's things I can't physically do anymore without dire consequeces.
Well, Happy Birthday, Linda. You're still young to me.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Optimism, Habits and Choices

Even a week before he died, my dad believed he was going to get better and go back to work. I really believe that had he lived until 90, he would have been looking for another 30 year mortgage somewhere.
I inherited that trait, to a degree. I think my wife has helped me see things more realistically. She is my total opposite, and I am glad for that. I love mornings, because it lets me think about the rest of the day. Here I have a brand new day ahead of me, with another 12-18 hours of opportunity to make it something that will be worthwhile. What I do with it depends completely on my decisions.
I got up early to do some schoolwork. I still have some to do, but at least I know I have gotten some important things out of the way. Since I have done what I needed to do, now I can enjoy what I want to do. There is a philosophy that life isn't easy. I think the hard part is choosing to do the right things at the right time, and that too often we choose to do the wrong things. That's what makes it hard.
I am not advocating the notion that life is easy. It's not; but it's not hard either, unless we make it that way. It's all about habits, and what we decide to do on a regular basis. If I have a habit of sleeping late and being a slacker, I won't get things done, and pretty soon not-so-important things become very important and then urgent, then things get hard. If I form the habit of spending money I I haven't earned yet, and I get in a cycle of credit and overextending myself, things are going to get pretty hard for me. Instead, I have to conserve what I have and be thankful for it.
Life is full of choices. God puts good things and not-so-good things in front of us; He wants us to choose the good things first. It's all about what we choose. Today, I choose to keep things simple. Just for today. (I guess I better do my Algebra homework.)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Thoughts on school and determination

There is something to be said for doing things you didn't think you could do. I never thought going back to school would really be in my reach, but when I decided to actually do it, it was like nothing could stand in my way. I got a grant, even though my income the previous year was way above what might disqualify me, but through circumstances and persistence, I was able to secure a Pell Grant for the full amount, covering my tuition and books. I even have a little left over to pick up in the form of a check on February 1st. Amazing. It underscores what my dad always drilled in me: that if you want to do something bad enough, you'll find a way to do it. And because this is America, the greatest country in the world, nothing is out of reach. We all have the same opportunity.
I'm so proud of Audrey, my daughter that she decided to do the same thing. Seems like school is more of a struggle for her, but I believe in her and have no doubt she can finish and get on with what she is wanting to do. There's so many people that graduate from college and still have no clue. I've had a few of them as supervisors and I know the only reason they were there was because of that piece of paper. Some of them had no business being in a supervisory position, but that's another story.
I'm not going to let that stand in my way any more.

Early morning

Early mornings are great. I think they were intended for reflection and time with God. No one else in the house is up and I can work uninterrupted. There is so much to see and do. So much to much to take in.
Looks like a busy day ahead. I'm hoping I get some of the things I've been waiting for at work. Nothing bothers me more than sitting around with nothing to do....unless that's what I want to do , of course.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Orchid Story

Dad always had his own way of doing things. Before he died, he bought Mom an orchid that was supposed to bloom in the summer. Dad died May 15, and the summer went on without him...the orchid never bloomed. I guess we thought being a young plant, it would take another season for it to start.
Well, guess what? Christmas can be pretty lonely the first year following the loss of someone so close. Mom and Dad had been married 48 years and had as many Christmases together. shortly before Christmas, that crazy orchid began to bloom! It bloomed all the way through Christmas too. I took some pictures while I was at home visiting, and did a watercolor of the blooms.
Dad always hoped I would start painting again. It's funny the things we stop doing when life gets too busy. I quit painting for more than 20 years. Since Dad died, it's been one of the few things I could do to remember him and constructively grieve. I've completed 9 paintings since he died., and I have so many new ideas in my head for more.

Dad's Orchid

Jesus smiles

Yeah, I love you...I really do. You're mine, baby. Posted by Hello

About painting, death and life

I've always believed if one has something important enough to say it must be written down. Our verbal words are soon enough forgotten, but written....well, there's a permanance to it. I like to think about what I want to express. Writing takes time. Anyone can talk...and usually we wind up saying a bunch of goofy stuff anyway.
I'm 47 years old...just lost my Dad to cancer last year. I took it pretty hard. We were close. I wound up in a deep introspective mode for quite a while...several months, as a matter of fact. I've come to some conclusions: 1. There is a God, 2. I'm not Him, 3. I have a purpose. Those are the 3 biggies, but there's been a lot of life changing decisions I have made, all for the better. I also picked up painting again after 20 years or so of letting my brushes rest. Painting is great therapy. I found out pretty quickly I needed to let my feelings out and I couldn't drown my depression with a bottle.
I've also decided (and acted upon) that I would go back to school and get my degree. I always thought I was smarter than everyone else and could do it on my own. I guess that's another realization... I am not really that smart and not having a degree has somewhat hindered me professionally and personally. I guess part of me has always felt guilty for not finishing college and it has held me back from some other things in my life. So I decided to do this for me. Just me. I just wish Dad was here to say "attaboy".
I intend to write about my thoughts and feelings and keep this as real as I know how to do. I start with the basic understanding that I am God's creation, created with a purpose. I'll keep this as "non-religious" as I can. Being a Christian is more about my relationship with God than it is about a religion. I don't attend a mainstream church. In fact, my belief is that the church is not a building. Instead, it is a community in relationship with each other because of God, and we meet in houses. We don't pay a pastor, but instead have a plurality of leadership: ordained men of God who function as elders and leaders who regularly seek God's direction and share a common vision. We have been meeting like this for over 12 years and found out one important thing: IT WORKS!
My spiritual growth is not hindered by "church business", budgets, or all the other BS that no one really cares about (except the ones who operate the church as a business). I have accountability to the other leaders and we regularly encourage everyone to lead in one way or another. We all have gifts and those gifts are what we lead with. Thank God He created us all with different gifts. I just can't subscribe to the idea that a pastor (or any church leader) can effectively operate with all the gifts necessary to have a vital church ministry. The "body of Christ" is not found in one person. It is found within the body of believers that meet together regularly.