Going Home and Making Memories Celebrating Mom’s 80th Birthday!

After kick starting the week by diving headfirst into my courses as I begin my final semester of graduate work at Amberton University, I reflected on the extended weekend celebration of my Mom’s 80th birthday. What a tremendous time honoring a life well-lived!

My Sweet T and I surprised Mom at Thursday night’s Spring Event at the Marshall Arts Center. If you’ve not been to Marshall lately, you’ll be surprised to discover the thriving arts scene that continues to blossom thanks in large part to the efforts of the Arts Center and local artists helping get the word out about the work they are doing.

After the Art Show, we popped over to Pietro’s, a new Italian restaurant located on Austin Street in Historic Downtown Marshall.  Superb food and excellent service topped off a great evening out on the town. During our time in my old hometown, we were excited to find a vibrant Downtown area bustling with people and activity–a site long overdue in this historic East Texas community.

We spent Saturday afternoon partying it up at the Dinner Belle on Grand Avenue. The home-cooking dished out by owner April Ridgeway-Hamblen and crew has totally transformed a building that was once  home of the local Dairy Queen. The service is down-to-earth humble and friendly and the food is tasty and reminds you of Southern home cooking once served at the family dinner table.

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After our time with friends at the Dinner Belle, we capped Saturday night off with a visit to Second Saturday and a tour of the old timey cars and local shops. Several shops were open to the public, showcasing their wares ranging from original items to antiques. Again, we were happy to see the life filling the streets of Downtown Marshall.

Sunday morning, we went to church at Summit Methodist–Mom’s home church for almost ten years now. I had the honor of teaching Sunday School that morning, which is always a privilege and joyous experience. We explored how God’s Word teaches us how to pray through an examination of the Apostle Paul’s prayerful words in Ephesians 1:16-19.

Through it all, Mom had a big, happy grin on her face. Her friends shared stories of how they met or funny anecdotes involving my Mom or one another. My Mom has done remarkably well since my Dad passed nearly 10 years ago. A big part of that success is due to her faith and her art,  her friends, and her church family. The little girl who fled Danzig, Germany during World War II as a war refugee has come a long way.

The next time you’re out in East Texas, stop in Marshall and checkout the little town that is thriving. Having grown up there, it’s great to see the signs of revitalization taking place in my old hometown.

East Texas Memories

 

 

 

 

Diametrically Opposed

My beliefs do not dictate how you live. They inform me about how I should live and help guide me through my everyday. We can have different beliefs and still be friends. I know that seems strange in our current state of vitriolic, anger-filled, self absorbed, echo chambers where people only seem to hear what they want to hear and appreciate only viewpoints that agree with theirs. We’re all guilty of that at times. Birds of a feather flock together, even though according to Newton, opposites attract.

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If how I live encourages you, great. Maybe you decide you want to have whatever I have that makes me live life with a joyful resonance. Perhaps not. It doesn’t matter really. I have to live in accordance with my beliefs just like you have to live in tune with what you believe makes the world go round. Otherwise, we’re both just hypocrites living a lie.

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But at the end of the day, our differences don’t have to mean we can’t be friends. Maybe, if we take time to listen, we might discover our differences make us and the world we live in better.

Just a thought.

“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”~ War

More Gratitude, More Kindness

The world could stand some more kindness. Our world would benefit from more gratitude.

Gratitude and kindness have preoccupied my mind the past few days. In the past week, God has shown me many things to be grateful for and revealed to me numerous acts of kindness. Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with several hundred homeless men sheltering in Downtown Dallas at Union Gospel Mission. It was a great night filled with high energy and tons of emotion. Afterwards, I had the privilege of praying with dozens of men, some ready to receive Jesus as their Savior, others in need of healing and restoration through the power of prayer. Believers are not immune from the travesties of life. Being a Christian isn’t a cure-all from the ill-effects of living in a lost and fallen world. Yet, there’s lots to be grateful for.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

When I got home, a little after 9 pm, I shared the events with my lovely Sweet T. We were both energized by how the Spirit of God was moving in the lives of the men down at UGMD and how we were seeing God at work in our own lives. Around 10 pm, Sweet T went to bed, while I continued to unwind from all the excitement. Seeing God at work feels good. It is good to see the Lord working in the lives of those whom He loves. I was really stoked.

Then the phone rang.

Life Alert.

My Mom had fallen and was being transported to the hospital. In that moment, I was grateful for the technology and the people who could respond to my Mom’s cry for help. I marveled at the kindness of the paramedics that rushed to her aid in the darkness of night.

I was even more grateful for the kindness of my Mom’s friends who responded to Midnight calls for help. One of her lifelong friends even sat with her at the hospital, making sure Mom was well looked after and being taken care of—and not alone.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV

Sweet T and I discussed a plan of action, knowing that I would be gone several days. We worked through our checklist as I prepared to leave town to look after Mom.

I am grateful for my loving wife and her compassion and understanding. Our world had been rocked from a huge high to a big low. But in the darkness shone the lights of gratitude and kindness. That’s what gratitude and kindness do—they shed the light of Christ onto the darkest hours, giving us hope and confidence—the faith that God will work on our behalf, our ever-present help in times of trouble.

I’m in awe of the kindness of doctors, nurses and hospital staff who make things better for others. I’m grateful for their compassion and willingness to put their skills to use to help others. They never see people at their best. They always encounter people traversing through an unexpected valley, readily intervening on their behalf.

The past few days since my Mom’s big fall, I’ve experienced gratitude and witnessed kindness at whole new levels because of a great mix of family, friends, and strangers. Gratitude and kindness must surely be two ingredients comprising goodness. Humility must be rooted in gratitude and kindness. After all, it’s hard to be full of yourself standing amid goodness.

Mom is doing better since her fall. She improves every day. Yes, the long and winding road to full recovery is fairly involved and complicated. But this too shall pass…

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV