Here and Now

costa ricaAll we really have, is that moment that’s happening now. Right here, right now. The promise of growing old and having a lifetime of memories to look back on, for some, is an empty, unrelentingly cruel lie. A systematic elimination of memory after memory slowly erodes into a great void for that person who desperately WANTS to remember but simply can’t. For friends and family of those searching for remnants of a past life, it can be just as cruel if not crueller as you slowly watch as a lifetime of memories is simply erased from a person’s data base.

So again, what we have is that which is right in front of us, here and now. It’s so easy, to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to enjoy the moments of life as they happen. How great a gift is each of our lives, that we should so easily forget how precious it really is – with all its ups and downs – the ebb and flow of emotions as we travel this journey, that is our life.

I can tell you now, that I would have taken a greater risk and asked Suzy to attend the 8th grade dance with me. At the time, I thought she hung the moon. I did get to have one dance with her, which, I obviously still remember today. I would look to enjoy more of the moments that at the time, I too easily let escape by for being fearful of failure. That truly is my only regret – that I let fear of failing dictate, way too often, how I pursued life. I would love to go back and fail often in so many grand and wonderful ways! I realize now that those and any failures too come only help to make the successes that much greater when I experience them!

I would’ve love to spend more time taking in those incredible moments with family. The family gatherings at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas truly hold special memories I will hopefully, always be able to treasure. Vacations taken from Myrtle Beach to Cherokee to Daytona Beach and Gatlinburg, TN. Moments in life that were great but I didn’t take them fully in, enjoying that moment for all it was worth. It was only has cousins, uncles and aunts begin to pass away that I fully begin to treasure those fleeting moments that had passed way too fast.

I definitely would have taken more time to enjoy my wife and kids in the early days of our marriage. I would make sure that I set and kept my priorities in order to ensure that I never missed any of their special here and now moments! I know that at the time, I really did make an effort to be there and to enjoy all the moments of raising a family had to offer. But even so, I know there are so many times I wasn’t able to fully engage in the moment, taking it all in and simply living in that here and now. Distractions in our life can rob us of so many moments if we allow them too.

Enjoy the here and now and all the different emotions it can bring. To be sad, to cry, to laugh, to be filled with joy or pride, the experience of a great failure or the exhilaration of great triumph. All of these are to be experienced – the life, our journey we travel is to be lived moment by moment. Enjoy it all, taking it all in. We are each promised nothing but what we have right in front of us – this moment – here and now. Don’t waste it! Life is a precious gift so my prayer for all of us is that we would live each and every moment – HERE AND NOW!

Peace and thanks for reading!

Scott

Life Lesson Series – Music and Dancing

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This may be the most personal post I have in this series of Life Lessons and I probably won’t do justice to how important these two things have been to our family over the years. I’m sure most of my kids will weigh in on this post and I really hope they do.

The little side slow above is just a slight representation of what it was like growing up in the Dorsey household over the years. A tradition that was gratefully handed down from my parents to me. I have always loved music and dancing. My parents grew up during the hay day of Rock n Roll, so conversely, I grew up with Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, MOTOWN and countless others as the soundtrack to my childhood.

During middle and high school, their preference shifted more to easy listening and country music. Meanwhile, I started to discover everything from Funk, Disco, Heavy Metal and my favorite, Southern Rock. Through the early 80’s Pop Music was an eclectic array of varying styles and sounds. I contend that the late 70’s through the mid 80’s was the single greatest time for music.

In high school, I had everything imaginable in my room to play music through my state of the art – Atlanta Falcons headphones. I had a Pioneer Home Stereo with cd player, turntable, cassette deck and 8-track player. If your under the age of 30, just ask you’re parents what those things were – also ask them about the Commodore 64. For music on the go, I had one of the biggest boom-boxes around but sadly that was stolen on graduation trip to Panama City in 84. Anyway, I digress.

Lisa and I married young, 19 for her and 22 for me. Kids came early and often for us as we had 4 over the next 5 years. Over the years, as the kids have grown and are each now living their separate lives. There are a handful of things that were and continue make up the fabric our family. These are books, board games, movies, charades, music and dancing!! We all have a love for each of these things as they have been a source; at different times; of inspiration, comfort, escape, challenge, knowledge, and great fun!! Really, great fun!!

The fondest and most memories I have of our time together as a family revolves around music and dancing. The kids and I over the years put on a countless number of shows and all of us are renowned for our ability to play any Air instrument, broom or mop you can find! And singing, let’s just say we sounded every bit as good as Taylor Swift on her best day.

Typically, the concerts would ultimately give way to an in-home edition of American Bandstand or Soul Train dance party. As a dad, I always took great pleasure watching my kids participate in their various sporting events and such, but honestly, my absolute favorite memories with my kids are those nights where as a family, we would simply play games, talk about books, watch a movie or put on one of our concert/dance parties.

Nowadays, we don’t get the opportunity, to take part in concerts or play many games but we do make time to play charades when given the chance, take in a movie or two. Books and music however, are still very much a part of our daily lives as we constantly compare notes on the latest authors, books we are reading or the latest artists and their music we’ve discovered.

Music, out of all these things is one thing that really binds us together. Not too many conversations will pass by where music doesn’t come up – whether we are sharing stories about the latest concert, latest trip or just the latest album we bought. I really am thankful for music and the part it has played in our family’s history over the years. Early on we use to travel quite a bit, taking various trips to see Grandparents, Siblings and cousins all across the southeast and midwest.

During these trips we would listen to all types of music from different genres. As a result the kids were exposed to everything from bluegrass, rock, metal, jazz, big band, orchestra, pop and of course, country music. They have all developed their own favorite genres and preferences. The cool thing about this for me, is that they are now exposing me to all types of music…most of which, I really enjoy.

After reading this I realized I have not really expressed a direct “life lesson” so here it is – especially for those of you with young kids. Whatever it is, find something that allows you the opportunity to make a connection with your kids. And dads, I encourage you to not be wallflowers, but rather, be active participants in all the activities in and around your house. I promise you, you will not find anything more rewarding than creating memories with your children!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – Time Management

Time-slips-through-your-hands

Time is an illusion, there is always time and then there is no time at all. It is here and gone in the same instant.

On the 28th this month I will turn 48 and for the most part, there is very little I regret  about my life. One of those is that I did not spend enough time with my kids as they were growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I was fortunate to be able to spend an incredible amount of time with them over the years but now that they have moved on to new chapters of their lives, and I selfishly wish I had even more memories to draw from.

Time management is a discipline that needs to be developed and takes a lot of work to do it effectively. First of all, I would recommend that you take inventory of your life. What in your life is most important to you? Go ahead, write them down, study them, make sure to include everything that is important to you. Now once you have your list down – rank them in order of importance. For some, this exercise will be difficult as you begin to rank them because, if your honest, you may realize some things are more important than you thought.

Now, for some, the next step will the hardest. Beside each of the things you listed, record the amount of time you spend on each of those things daily. If you don’t do this honestly, than you are just wasting time (pun intended!). I really think this exercise can be a catalyst in resetting your life. Helping you to refocus your efforts, to ensure that you have time to devote to those things you say is important.

An exercise I went through several years ago also affected the way I spend my time and honestly, still have to remind myself to do it on occasion. Usually, when I’m feeling overwhelmed that I don’t have time to complete everything on my list. So what is the exercise you ask? Purpose. What is the purpose of me spending time doing X? If I can define why something is important to me, it helps me to prioritize. A part of defining is to understand it’s purpose. I know it may seem a little trivial or kind of out there, but it worked for me.

Time is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted, especially by followers of Christ. I could do a whole other post on this topic  alone. And even if you don’t believe in God, you should never waste your time. All of us at some point, will die, at least physically. It’s funny how my mindset has changed over the years and continues to do so as I advance in age. At 18, I didn’t give time a second thought. I had my whole life in front of me with plenty of time to spare.

At 25, I started to realize I only had a certain amount of time to make “real” money and provide for my wife and kids.  Priorities changed and my life took a whole new direction. At 40, I started looking at what was really important in my life, what things did I need to concentrate on to ensure that my kids would be ready to leave their mother and I. Also, at 40, I took an honest assessment of what my testimony looked like to those around me. In other words, was I truly walking the walk of being a Christ follower or was it just talk?

So, on the cusp of being 48, I have begun looking ahead, at what my legacy might be in 30 or 40 years. Plenty of time to create, develop and implement a strategy of accomplishing the goals I have set. But, here’s the thing. I’m not promised tomorrow but I do have today!! So really, for me, that’s become my daily question. What will I do today?

Really had no idea this post was going to go in this direction and I’ve thought of scraping it and starting over. But, it is what it is so…..

Last point on time. For me, I have come to realize the most valuable commodity I have in life are the relationships I have with others. So when, I’m faced with a decision on where to spend my time or deciding what’s more important, the decision is usually based on potential impact my decision will have on my relationship with X. That’s why I think it’s critical to know what is TRULY important to you, so that you choose wisely where to spend your time.

Time is not given, you have to take it. Today I just want to encourage you to take time and do the things that are important to you. I have been blessed to have had time to spend with my wife and kids but I know that I am not promised tomorrow. My prayers haven’t changed, I pray that God will give me wisdom to help the kids find their own path and that each day I would grow closer to Him through my relationship with Christ.

May God multiply your time. Blessings to you all. Peace!!

Life Lesson 1 – Share the Journey

journey

Ed Dorsey, Richard Hilton,Truman Bryant, Bob Cannon, Mickey Redfern, Pete Carter, Tommy McMillan, Dixie Glisson, Scott Willis, Chuck Allen, Craig Schmidle, Dr. Ron Davidson and Bobby McGraw. Some of these names you may recognize but most of them you probably don’t. If you know me however, then you know each of them, if only a little bit. Each of these men, at various points in my life, helped to form the man  I am today at 47.

There are some other men who were friends of mine back in the day or are friends of mine today that I have enjoyed doing life with or am enjoying life with now.

Today I found myself reflecting back on each of these men and the parts that each of them have played in my life. I have written several posts about my dad and Coach Hilton. I have mentioned my Grandfather, Truman in passing but it’s amazing to me how all of these men have played such a critical part in my life at some of the most critical times in my journey of life.

Bob and Mickey came along side myself and several other young men shortly after Lisa and I had gotten married and started raising our family. Both men, freely gave of themselves, pouring their wisdom into us – much of which, I didn’t realize or understand at the time. They talked about their relationship with Christ, their wives, their kids – the things they did right, did wrong and always shared with a heart that let you know they genuinely cared about us.

Pete and his wife Sheila, simply adopted me as their younger brother and just loved me. I don’t know how else to describe it. They were and always have been there for me when I needed them to be. They have seen the good, the bad and the ugly; graciously loving me through all of it. I could never repay them for all that they have done for me. I don’t get the opportunity to see or to talk them as much today but I know they are one phone call away!

Tommy and his wife Bonnie have been great friends to Lisa and I for many years now. Their girls and ours have grown up together and through it all, they have always been there to support, encourage and challenge Lisa and I to be better parents. I have learned from Tommy to keep a positive attitude no matter the situation or circumstance. To be steady and consistent, knowing that if you do all that you can do, that is, all you can do.

Dixie was the first “Real” pastor I ever had!! From him I learned a multitude of biblical truths that helped me to become the husband and father I am today. He helped me to understand that the burden I carried of trying to be perfect, was simply an unattainable goal and that God was not asking me to be perfect – but to allow the “One” who was, to guide my life. He is one of the nicest, gentle men you will ever meet but also one who will lovingly challenge you to be the best you can be.

For the rest of the men I mentioned on the list, all of them have or continue to play an important role in my and my family’s life. There is really no adequate way to convey what all of these men have meant to me personally  and/or to my family. I am forever indebted to each of them. As I think about all of these men, what stands out to me most is the sincerity and honesty in which they have always conducted themselves.

So, what’s the point to all of this? All of these men were willing to share themselves with me, to do life with me, brothers trying to help me become a better man. We were never meant to do life alone and men especially, get this wrong. One of the great lies we (men) fall prey to is that we should not need help. As men, we should be able to do everything on our own. I am scared to think where I and my family would be today if I had followed the path of Lone Wolf. Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. 

My prayer and hope for all who read this is that you have people around you that you can do life with.

For those of us who have a little more life experience than others, it is our responsibility to seek those people that might benefit from our experiences in life so that we may help them avoid some of the shortfalls we encountered along the way. To encourage the next generation, challenging them in love to hold fast to the truths that will sustain them for a life-time. That’s how I feel about the gentlemen above and I hope to do the same for those that follow me.

Our lives, our journey was never meant to be a one man operation

Peace and Thanks for Reading!

Living and Leaving a Legacy

I recently had the honor of speaking at a funeral to celebrate the life of one of the greatest men I have ever known. Below is a copy of my preparation draft leading up to that day. I decided to post it as a blog post because, outside of my father, no other person apart from Christ has had a greater influence on me becoming the man I am today. Although most of you won’t have a chance to meet him this side of heaven, this will give you a glimpse as to what this man meant to me and countless others in his lifetime. As you read this, keep in mind, the impact, the potential each of us has to impact the world around us.

Living and Leaving a Legacy

A “Great” man stepped off of the pavement of this life onto streets of gold in eternity last Saturday morning. A truly great man, who devoted much of his adult life to teach kids the game of baseball and for some of that time, basketball as well. Any of us who ever had the opportunity to play for him, whether baseball or basketball always improved as a player because of his coaching. He has forgotten more about the game of baseball than most of us will ever learn about it.

But is that why we are all here today? to honor a great coach? Maybe in some respect, that’s true but it’s more than that – I think, for most of us, we are here because of a bond that we have with this man that goes well beyond anything we could ever learn from just playing a sport!! The lessons we learned from this man have carried on within us to this very day. His influence has not just been in regards to those he coached, no……, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles have all been influenced by him.

Coach used the game of baseball to teach us about how to live our lives. Over the past week, as I have talked to several of you and read various posts, articles and such. I thought it was interesting how many times someone would say or write something like, “I didn’t realize it at the time but I learned this or that from Mr. Hilton.” Yes, we learned how to become better ballplayers from coach but more importantly we learned life lessons about – trust, respect, honor, loyalty, hard work, integrity, to just do the right thing and most of all LOVE. To pursue excellence is not only what he taught but how he lived.

Heritage by definition means “an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling, or doing”. All of us who are gathered here today are here because of the heritage established and handed down to us by Coach Hilton. Mark, I’m not sure but I maybe the only person here that can say – I played for your dad, coached baseball and basketball with him and also played for you. And as I think about your dad, and all the lessons he ever taught us….they really all revolved around one basic concept. To simply do the right thing. No shortcuts. Just do whatever it is that you need to do.

I’m reminded of a story. A time that Coach made me wear a catcher’s mask while playing second base.  I had just gotten braces and that same afternoon at practice, I took a shot to the mouth as we were taking infield practice. There was blood everywhere it seemed. After the bleeding had stopped, Coach had me grab my glove and head on out to second. He knew I needed to get back on that horse so to speak. As he hit ground ball after ground ball, I kept turning my head or looking up at the last instant. This is not what he taught. Finally, after several minutes he walked over to the catching gear and brought out a mask to me. One way or another, I was going to learn to keep my head down and watch that ball all the way into my glove.

Coach didn’t mind physical errors, that’s part of the game but mental errors, not giving the effort, that was unacceptable. And everyone here knows what you heard from coach whenever one of these lapses occurred. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard the phrase – “knock em bout”. (this phrase was our cue to take a lap)

And I do want to pause here and say that there are two things Mr. Hilton taught me by example: to respect everyone! You don’t have to like everyone or get along with them but you can always respect them. And the other was to just be honest – with yourself, and others alike.

I received a phone call from coach…I guess it was 7 or 8 years ago now…., he was calling to let me know that he was getting baptized and just wanted me to know. I asked him when it was and as soon as I hung up the phone, the date was marked in our family calendar. This was one baptism I wasn’t going to miss.  I tell you, outside of my own families baptisms, that was by far one of my favorite memories to date. Why? Knowing that he had accepted Christ and that I was able to see him publicly  professing his faith was just an incredible experience for me. Even now as we are here celebrating the life he lived here, i know that there is a day coming where once again, I will be able to sit and visit with coach. To reminisce and share stories once more.

It’s rare that you find anyone who exemplifies a Christ-like life but they themselves have not accepted Christ as their savior. And I can’t explain why Mr. Hilton didn’t come to accept Christ sooner than he did but there is not  a doubt in my mind, as I know, God used Mr. Hilton – Coach, to instill in all of us, biblical values, that if we incorporated and lived by, would help us to be successful in living out our own lives.

If Coach had the opportunity to step back one last time and impart one last lesson on us all, it would be this – Don’t miss heaven! One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:8-9. The apostle Paul has written the church in Philipi to remind them of Christ’s love for them and to encourage and challenge them. Like Paul, Mr. Hilton had a desire, a love for people, especially kids and if he was here, I think he would use very similar words found in Philippians 4: 8-9; Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today, we may mourn the physical loss of someone we loved very much but the life – the heritage – the legacy of this man will continue on for generations to come.

Life Pause

I am experiencing what I am calling a “Life Pause”. Within the last month or so, my life has been filled with some incredible highs and not incredible lows but some lows none the less. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that last month I had the incredible opportunity to go to South Africa on a mission trip. And I won’t revisit that here other than to say that it’s been a month and almost daily, I am still experiencing revelations from that trip.

Returning home was great and the first weekend back, the kids, Lisa, and I were all able to meet in Thomasville, GA for a truly spectacular wedding and reception for the daughter of one of our dearest and closest friends. Getting together with old friends to celebrate such a joyous time naturally leads to good times! Being able to reminisce and share all the stories again, just served as a great reminder of what life is truly about, the journey. At some point, regardless of our past, we all have the opportunity to choose what kind of journey we take – the relationships we invest in and how we respond to the unexpected ups, downs, trials, tribulations, joys, sorrow and happiness that happens within the fabric of each of our lives.

The following week was thanksgiving and again, we all had the opportunity to gather with our extended families on both my mom and dad’s sides of the family. And although entirely different types of families, both are grounded in love for each other. As we drove home that night from a day filled with great food, laughter, good stories and a couple of games of corn hole, I was most thankful for the love that serves as the foundation for both sides of my extended family. It is not lost on me how rare that seems to be these days and I feel greatly blessed anytime I think of my family!!

The downside was that this was our first thanksgiving without my father-in-law, Jim and for all of us, there were moments where that realization would kind of stop you cold, a solemn reminder of how truly short our life here can be. Yet, even in the midst of the loss; we are able to ease the pain a little because of the memories we hold onto of brighter days gone by. And for me, it helps as I go through the day, spending time with family, to remember those who have all left us too soon. Each of them playing some part in my own journey on this earth, obviously some had bigger parts but all contributed to the memories in my life thus far.

Now it’s the 18th of December and this time next week, we will be celebrating the birth of our savior. Again, it will be a joyous time as we are able to gather together with loved ones. And yet again there will be some sadness, as we realize that not everybody is with us any longer but as we go about the tasks of creating new memories, there is no doubt they will be influenced by the memories already stored away.

In the midst of the anticipation for this joyous time of year, I received word that my old coach, Richard Hilton, was being put into a Hospice care facility to hopefully give him some rest and peace. In my journey thus far, he is one of the two most influential men in my life – the other is my father, Ed. It is not ironic, that these two men are more like brothers than friends and although not as close these last couple of years as I know both would of liked, brothers none the less. Coach was my little league coach back in 77 and 78. I was just one kid this man loved through his coaching of baseball. He loved kids through coaching baseball for 38 years. Quick math for you, that’s about 456 kids he directly poured his life into and multiply that by an average of 6 other teams per year and that number jumps to 2,736 kids. This doesn’t even begin to count all of the siblings and parents that were influenced by his time on the diamond.

As I visited him yesterday, I found myself oddly at peace as I looked into the face of a man who had such a profound influence on my life! I learned one thing from him and my dad both, that is at the heart of who I am. It is this thought – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right!! I am not always successful in this approach but it is the approach I always take. I was fortunate to not only play for Coach but I had the opportunity to coach with him as well, not only in baseball but basketball also.

Yes, a life pause, is what I am calling this. Taking time to reminisce and reflect on my life thus far and to remember all of those who have impacted my life, whether great or small. But life is to be lived moving forward, creating new memories, setting new goals and experiencing life to the fullest. This pause has caused me to reexamine the relationships I have in my life – what type of memories am I helping to create for those that I share this life’s journey with?

My prayer this Christmas season is that each of us would examine our lives and pause to consider the relationships we have and ask ourselves if we our having a positive impact on those that we are sharing this journey of life.

I wish you all a wonderful and merry Christmas!! Peace and thanks for Reading!!

A Study of Joseph – History Repeated

Joseph becomes the main character of Genesis beginning in Chapter 37:2This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. At this point, we know Joseph is 17 and is the 2nd youngest of 12 brothers. And at the end of the verse listed above we see that he has no problem with letting his father, Jacob, know what is going on with his brothers.

In the next verses we see how the history of favoritism is carried on to yet another generation of Abraham’s family. Genesis 37:3-4 – 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to himObviously we now have some serious conflict going on within this family. Imagine hating someone to the point that you couldn’t even talk to them peaceably and then imagine living in the same house with that person, day after day, year after year.

Thinking back on when I was a young parent I don’t remember anybody talking about or warning Lisa and I to be careful about showing favoritism where our children were concerned. It is something that we talked about and were always careful to guard against. I do however, think this is something we need to talk about, especially with young parents. Nothing can disrupt or cause animosity quicker within a family than favoritism.

My simple advise is this, your kids are individuals, each created with unique gifts, skills, quirks and personalities. Learn your kids and celebrate their individuality while working with them to overcome any obstacles they have in their character. Additionally, I would also say that I think some parents do a disservice to their children when they try and treat all of their kids the same way – equally. Instead, I would say you should treat your kids justly according to who they are.

An example of this would be: one of my daughters absolutely hated the idea of getting a spanking, to the point that she would cry a bucket of tears before the actual punishment was ever administered. My other daughter thought, ha, that’s no big deal, lasts for a minute and it’s over. With the one, we would give spankings and with the other, we found that taking things or privileges away from her would make a much stronger point. Was that fair? Would they say they were treated equally?  With both, we tried to be just and as a result, we didn’t have to spank a lot nor did we take away a lot of things.

Next Chapter will look at the dreamer and start looking at some parallels between lives of Joseph and Jesus.

Peace and Thanks for Reading

2012 – New Beginnings

Well let’s start with a quick recap of the past couple of weeks since we last met. Christmas this year was just fantastic. Nothing overly exciting happened, as it was just a nice quiet time spent with family and friends. Having the kids home is always good and I am so thankful that they all had the opportunity to spend their Christmas with us this year. Sadly, I realize this may not be the norm going forward.

The only problem I have when the kids are home is thinking that I am their age and therefore, can stay up all hours of the night with them and then, still function as a responsible adult the next day. A lot of our time together is spent sitting around the living room, each of us on our own computer, talking and just sharing stories. Of course, we do this while we are watching a movie or some kind of sporting event and at least one of us will have music of some kind playing for background noise. To the casual observer I can only imagine how chaotic the scene must appear. Oh, and throw in an Australian Shephard and Black Lab wanting attention and it can be quite the spectacle.

I wouldn’t want it any other way, as to me, this is life. And let me tell you, the conversations that take place are just incredible and can range from silly to down right morbid and everything in between. No subject is off limits and the dialogue is typically a series of rapid fire exchanges but then suddenly, there can be 20 minutes or so, of absolute silence. It’s fun and as a parent, one of the fun things for me is to see how each of the kids is finding their own ideas, beliefs and identity. And then, their ability to present their viewpoints, opinions can be impressive.

I have found myself during this season to be in a highly reflective state. My memories have been bouncing between my own childhood and those of my kids while looking ahead to see if I can catch a glimpse of what the future may hold. Part of the reflection has been on my spiritual journey, from the time I first accepted Christ till now. The highs, the lows and all that has brought me to the place I am today. The simple fact is this: I have been blessed and I wouldn’t trade or change anything about the journey God as allowed me to live up to this point! I believe reflection is good for us to experience from time to time. A chance for a mental reset. I believe that reflection should be short, lest we fall into the trap of “living” in the past.

And now, as I look to 2012 and what lies ahead, I am genuinely excited and anxious for the days to come. Several sermons, studies, and conversations of late seem to all have this one certain theme attached. And it’s this: God is always calling us forward! Calling me forward. I have read, studied and prayed a lot over the last 3 weeks, specifically thinking  about my role in 2012 and the things I would like to accomplish this year. And something different for me, however is that this year, I have taken time to put these things in a filter if you will, and asking the simple question of: Is this what God wants for my life? I don’t have all the answers yet but I’m definitely closer. This I know, the year as just started and with it a new beginning, an opportunity for great things being accomplished. I pray for wisdom, strength and endurance to pursue and fulfill what God has planned for me this year!

Peace and Thanks for reading!!

It’s Christmas Time!!

I love this time of year because it always takes me back to when I was a kid. Growing up in Marietta, Georgia was so much fun, especially around Christmas. Marietta was not the biggest town on the map but it played big every Christmas or that’s at least how I remember it! Outside of seeing what Santa brought for my sister and me on Christmas, I think the most fun I had at Christmas was going shopping with my mom. As I got older, not so much, but for several years there, shopping was extremely fun!!

My favorite store back then was the Sears and Roebuck (if you remember the Roebuck, you’re dating yourself). They would go all out in decorating their store each year. From the parking lot all throughout the building and even in the garage where they fixed the cars, they would decorate any and everything!! It was like Santa’s workshop had been relocated to Marietta for the Christmas season! I can still remember the days of walking through the double, front doors trying hard to not sprint down that center aisle and around the corner to where I knew the toys, games, and Santa would be waiting. Magical times I tell you, for in that instance, everything else disappeared!! Incredibly, Santa always seemed to know exactly what to bring me on Christmas morning!!

Cumberland Mall back then was the place to go!! At the time, it was the most massive size building I had ever been in and to see it all decorated for Christmas was simply overwhelming to a young kid. I remember the smell of the mall at Christmas time. I know that’s probably odd but I do, I remember, smelling all of the different fragrances as you walked in and out of the different stores. And the Christmas music was great as it was the only time of year we got to hear it and no matter where you were in the mall, you could hear it – I thought that was just amazing. I remember people being happy and almost overflowing with joy. Sure, I remember some people that seemed really stressed out and ill at the world but I just figured they knew they were on Santa’s naughty list already and were just bummed because they weren’t getting presents that year.

I remember the lights as we would drive around in all the neighborhoods. So bright, festive and full of life were the houses that were decked out for Christmas, especially the ones that had an undecorated house next to them. We usually would take our tour two or three days in advance of Christmas and that was my beacon of hope to know I just had to wait a couple of more days. And I will admit, I was terrible about waiting for the rest of the family to see what was under the Christmas tree!! One year my parents even hung a sheet in the hallway to try to keep me from sneaking a peek at what laid just beyond it. I will not divulge whether or not this attempt was successful for them or not. I remember the year of the pinball machine because I know I heard Santa, my dad and whoever else was there playing it as I was trying to sleep in my room.

Finally, Christmas Days were just the best!! And not because of whatever I may have received that morning but just because the whole day was filled with joy, love, laughter and food!! As my sister and I got older, mom and dad didn’t seem as eager to get right to the tree. Which was fine with me because mom always had her sausage cheese balls ready for us to eat. When we finally did get to the tree I was always amazed at how my parents seemed just as happy as Audra and me were, at the presents we had received even though they didn’t have near as many. In the early afternoon we would head over to Aunt Saralene’s house. Now this was always a truly magical time as we would one by one open all the presents that were collected under the tree. This took hours to do and the only way to get through it was to make sure you kept yourself fed and there was always great food to fill the need!!

Sitting around their big family room opening presents was simply amazing!! Everyone laughing, then crying from laughing, then laughing again and the competition….man it could get intense. I’m not talking about who got the best or most presents, no, it was who could get who the best present, as everybody really tried to get everyone the perfect gift! Incredibly fun times, and I hope that my kids are able to look back at their childhood Christmas’ experiences with the same fondness that I have for mine.

Merry Christmas to you all!!

Peace and thanks for reading!