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

A Word about Life

Life is a gift, A gift is our life

But to live a life, that is ours to do.

Our gift is to be shared, Our life shared with others

To encourage, to laugh, to cry, to celebrate, to mourn

Life is complex, glorious, fragile and all to fleeting.

As we move through time and space together, I ask

What of myself, or any of us, would be the greatest value

I could ever offer to another?

For others to know that I love them, that they truly know.

May be the greatest gift I have to offer.

 

A Story

I think I’ve reached that time in life that seems to happen to individuals who are usually in their 60’s, 70’s or later. You know, when they reach that age where they don’t care what they say or how they say it. In some cases, they really don’t care if it hurts your feelings or not, they just want to make sure you hear their opinion. They don’t make apologies and/or excuses, they are just stating their view point on whatever the topic is.

I would love be at that point but honestly, I’m not. Not yet anyway but definitely closer with each passing day. In the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to experience two totally different times of life while continuing to live my own. Two weeks ago at this time, I was wrapping up our first night of Church time at the youth camp our church students were attending for the week.

I knew that I had a theme that I wanted to introduce the students and was basically trying to lay the groundwork for the week ahead. My hope was for each student, no matter what grade they were in, to grasp the concept that the week they were beginning to embark on, could represent a new chapter in the rest of their lives. As I looked out on the faces of these young people I could see them begin to contemplate their respective futures. The room was filled with future wives and husbands; bankers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, homemakers, missionaries and any number of things all in that room together.

Obviously with the first night of camp everyone is excited and anxious for the week to unfold. These young people had a look of expectancy about them. They knew and understood that the week could hold great promise/change for them. For others it was if they were waiting for affirmation of choices they had already made. I could see, sense all of this as I looked out on this room of the future. Each of them with their own story to write and I was overwhelmed with the potential that was listening to me intently.

Last Monday night, I spent the night at mom and dad’s house keeping mom company. Dad had been admitted to Cobb General earlier in the day, so I took mom home to eat and hopefully get a good nights rest. I was praying that Dad would also be able to rest and that we might be able to get some answers early the next morning as to what was going on. As mom retired for the night, I poured myself some tea and tried to find some junk food to eat but to no avail. I settled for a PB&J and a little milk.

As time begin to pass by I found myself recollecting on the previous week and all the promising futures I got to be with. I spent several minutes praying for all the kids and some specific requests that I had been made aware of during the week. I found myself thinking about my own life and some of the promises I held when I was 18. Being in mom and dad’s house made that easy to think on and reflect.

I wandered through the minefields of my memory and found myself thinking about my parents life and the stories they have written thus far – individually and together. I must say as I went through this exercise I found myself  realizing how great their journey has been. What struck me the most was to realize how much impact their life – their story has had on those around them.

Back to camp my mind drifted and how I wish I had conveyed to all those students just how much their lives could impact the world. The choice is truly theirs! Yes, they will all have obstacles to overcome and some battles will be lost but the impact they will have on the world around them is theirs to decide. Then that quiet voice that I truly hate to hear from sometimes, whispered in my ear; what about you?

What about me?, I thought. I’m trying to do my thing, be a positive influence on the world around me. Live my life in a way that reflects Christ in all that I do. So as I sat in the wee hours of the morning pondering over all these things, I realized there’s more to my own story. Being honest with myself I admit that I have been writing the same chapter for awhile now. Time to begin a new chapter. What this looks like I have no idea but I do know that I am the only one who can write it.

So for any students that may read this – I am accepting the same challenge I gave to you all at camp. What is God’s plan for my life? I will seek Him and search for the answers. I know they are there – I just have to be diligent to do my part.

I’ll continue my journey of the last two weeks later but for now I’ll leave all of you with this question/challenge – Are you writing the story that was meant for you to write? Or is time for you to begin a new chapter? a different story?

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Jeremiah 29:11 – 11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Ephesians 2:10 – 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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 City, A People, A Love of Both

Cape Town, South Africa has captured my heart!! I pray to return often. It’s beauty is unlike anything I have ever seen. With it’s oceans, Atlantic to the west and Indian to the south, you find some of the most astounding shades of blue seen anywhere. The ocean has always reminded me of God’s power and as the waves crash endlessly against the shore line, I draw the comparison of that to God’s unending grace and mercy for us.

In addition to that, there is what seems to be one continuous mountain range that circles the entire area. And in doing so, provides a 360 degree, panoramic back drop for any direction one find themselves looking in. Mountains remind me of God’s majesty, His ownership of all things. Table mountain is just an incredible example of God’s creation as it sits towering high above the city. It gets it’s name because at the top, it is as flat as a table. During the day the clouds will take place their place along the top creating a covering for the mountain and this somehow makes Table mountain appear even more formidable.

These two ingredients create what to me, has to be one of the most beautiful cities in all the world!! As I would sit and gaze out from the balcony of the small cafe – Empire, with the sun already taken it’s place in the eastern sky, I was reminded daily of God’s glory. To be both amazed and humbled at the same time is a rare thing for me but that’s the best way I can describe the sheer beauty of Cape Town.

The incredible thing about South Africa and all it’s beauty is that it doesn’t even come close to beauty found within it’s people – at least, those I met!! Within the various townships that make up Cape Town you will find an estimated population of 5 to 10 million people living in shocking poverty. On average, these people make about 6 dollars a week. I spend about that much every time I have a Venti size drink from Starbucks.

In spite of this, I had the great fortune to meet a collection of young people, who despite their circumstance, exemplify God’s grace, love, hope, joy, humility and peace!! Their lives reflect a beauty so rarely seen in a world that today seems so selfish, petty, dark and bitter.

I will share more about my experiences in the posts to come and hopefully, somehow convey enough in my words that will allow you, like me, to fall in love with both a city and it’s people!!

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – The Dreamer

When you were a kid, what dreams did you have? For me, I had 3 dreams that I wanted to see come true. One was to be a Navy pilot but due to medical reasons, that was short lived. The second one was to dance on broadway. Yes, I typed Broadway. I always loved watching Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and the Nicholas brothers do their dance numbers in the various movies that they were in and always thought it would be so cool to perform those types of dances on the Broadway stage.  Lastly, I wanted to be a Wide Receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. But alas, outside of Wes Welker, there is not too much demand for 5’9″ wideouts in the NFL.

Chasing or pursuing dreams can be tough but why is it that some people achieve their dreams while so many others fall short. For me, it was matter of dedication. I simply wasn’t dedicated to do the things necessary to give my dreams the opportunity to be fulfilled. Sure, I wanted these things but I wasn’t willing to do what was needed to achieve them. When faced with obstacles, difficulties and circumstances on my path, I lost my focus and willingness to overcome them. And I have no doubt that I would have needed a couple of breaks along the way as well. Somebody being willing to take a chance on me or maybe, just a matter of being in the right place at the right time type of thing. Regardless, I fell short on those dreams but I am thankful today that I have new dreams to pursue and unlike the ones mentioned above, I am dedicated to do what it takes to achieve them. Now let’s look at a couple of dreams of another kid.

Beginning in Genesis 37:5-11, we are introduced to the dreams of Joseph. My first thought about these dreams is how, for this family, they seemed like such big dreams for this kid to have. To think that this kid would someday be in a position that his father, mother and siblings would one day bow before him was a bit much for everyone to take. And there is no way that they could have had any idea exactly how this would come about …but God did!! Here a young man of 17 has 2 dreams, which are significant in this family but God’s plan was designed for multiple nations of people and countries.

If nothing else comes from this post, keep this in mind, and think of Joseph and his dreams. A young man had a dream of being the greatest among his family. God’s dream for Joseph was so much bigger than any thing Joseph could imagine or “dream” of and God has a dream (plan) for us too. Now that plan may not be for you to become the 2nd most powerful person in a kingdom….but then again….it might!?

Now the dreams of Joseph are obviously from God and may not be what Joseph aspired to accomplish for himself but they were His dreams. Joseph had no idea what events and circumstances would shortly begin to happen in his life that would take him on a remarkable journey, where in the end, not only would his dreams be realized but that the impact of his life would affect millions of people over thousands of years. As we continue this study in the days ahead, remember that no matter the circumstance, or obstacle that was laid before him, Joseph was able to keep his focus and dedication on what was truly important. What circumstances or obstacles seem to be impeding your way today. Are they too much for you to overcome? Are they too much for God to overcome?

Jeremiah 29:11-12 – 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Peace and thanks for reading!