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I qweet! Vol 134

Sometimes you gotta know when to quit.

For the past couple of years I had waited for this day. I bought equipment…twice. I took the classes. I watched the videos. I hung artwork up in my office and in my home. I talked about it ad nauseam with friends and clients. But until this morning at 6:30 am, I had never taken a step into a stream in search of a trout. It was my first and last step. If you check Craigslist right now you will see my entire gambit of trout fishing finery for sale.
It was a romantic notion of gargantuan proportions that died a slow death on the 1/2 mile walk slip-sliding here and entangling my rod there on the way to the Oatka with the group from the ORVIS 301 trout fishing class.

As it turns out, there is absolutely nothing I enjoyed about my 2 hours on the water. My back and knee hurt from standing, the moving water made me dizzy…my arthritic fingers fumbled around trying to tie a fly on… and within the first 45 minutes I had entwined my line with the dude’s right next to me so ferociously that I had to cut the fly off and start all over again … burning what was left of my leader and having to engage my fumble fingers again.
Note: When I purchased the one leader I own…the dude at Orvis said it should last me the season. It lasted just over 45 minutes and then I had none. You could almost hear the one trout in the Oatka mocking me.

When I had enough of the humiliation and failure, I decided it was time to vamoose the creek and save what was left of my dignity …but I had no idea where we were or which muddy path to take to get back to the car. A stranger took pity on me and walked a few hundred yards with me, then pointed and said “go that-a-way”

Once back at the car the real fun began as I tried to take my waders off. Let me first tell you that after two hip replacements and a ruptured patellar tendon, I am not very bendy…in fact all my hinges are pretty rusty. Add to that the fact that I hadn’t worn any socks in my neoprene wading booties and had been sweating in them for the past 2 hours. So there I stood. My waders in a pile beneath my knees, booties sweat-glued to my feet. It took me nearly 25 minutes and some of my darkest vocabulary, before I finally pried those beasts off. Even the mosquitoes left me alone in my embarrassing predicament.

The first thing I did when I got home was pull everything out of the trunk… lined it up real pretty-like on the lawn, shot some pics and posted it for sale on Craigslist.

As the frustrated French chef once said… “I qweet!”

God had given me the desire of my heart…I thought…and now I am giving it back!

dugz4 October 12, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

One at a time Vol 133

One at a time…

In 2013 I set out on a mission that was motivated in part by the few paragraphs Pastor Derric Johnson would write to us on the back of our monthly Re’generation itineraries back in the 70’s. He called these mini-devotional/inspirational writings…”Parson to Person.” I still have most of them in a folder in my studio. I get them out every now and then…to brush off the cobwebs on some of those thoughts and memories.
This past weekend was the Re’generation reunion. It had been five years since the last one but It was the first one I’d made since I left the group in 1977.
As I walked up to Pastor Derric on Friday evening, I didn’t think he recognized me…in fact I was sure he didn’t. So I introduced myself. It had been 40 years after all…and I was not the young, brown-haired, svelt man of long ago. By the time I got my first name out of my mouth it all clicked with him.
We exchanged greetings and I introduced him to my son, Brendan, who had made the trip to Nashville with me.
In the moments that followed we exchanged a few pleasantries…all the usual stuff to try and catch up 40 years in a couple minutes. He was very kind… and as warm and positive as I had remembered him to be.
I talked briefly about how much the Parson to Person letters had influenced me and how that I had begun my own project to put some of my own inspirational and motivational thoughts together for a book of sorts. I explained that the writing process for me was slow. It had taken me 4 years to get 130 short devotions put together. I thought that based on the stuff that was floating around in my brain I should have had this done a whole lot sooner… but the stuff didn’t come out of my brain nearly as fast as it had gone in. Then he said what will be my take away for the weekend. “They only come one at a time”
The application of that thought immediately relieved a lot of the stress and the pressure I’ve put on myself to get this thing finished. And I might actually get 365 devotions put together. I might put a book together if someone (besides me) thinks there is any value in the making and selling of it. Or…It may only end up being a coffee table book for my kids to remember me by. Who knows?
“One at a time” packs a big punch if you think about it for a minute. “One at a time” no matter if it’s the next devotion, the next sale, the next soul…demands attention and focus and singleness of purpose. It requires a starting point and a stopping point with something meaningful in between the two.
There is no multi-tasking in doing “One at a time” It is by its definition a singular act. And…It is more about the quality of the effort than the quantity of it. At least that’s what I think.

I’m sitting in the lobby of our hotel, having my coffee and cozying up to my IPad this morning. Brendan is still sleeping. As things worked out, I was only able to spend a few hours with the Re’Gen folks this weekend. I missed a lot of the stories and the fellowship. I’d say I missed the singing…but if I’m honest…I really just missed the listening.

I’m in the car now…about 4 hours from home and I’m seeing the pictures from the weekend pop up on Facebook. (The police officer who pulled me over for distracted driving thought they were very nice.) kidding…

I’m glad I was there to see my friends if only for a few hours. The memories will last much longer.

dugz4 October 12, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

What’s next? Vol. 132

It’s been a few months since the Re’Generation reunion in Nashville. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with everyone but even so…I can’t help thinking about the few minutes I spent casually with Derric that Friday night.
It’s 9am and I really need to be out the door to work…(I work for myself so I’m taking it easy on me this morning) As I get older there is less in my life that gets me out of bed in the morning…and less of me that wants to get out of bed. Kathy says “all my hinges are rusty” and with all the spare parts I have in me these days…that’s probably a good description.
I was impressed by a few things this past weekend most of them coming by way of Derric and my old roommate Barry Jennings.
The attitude of “What’s next?” permeated every conversation. Even though he just retired as president of Gaither Music, Barry is still devouring life in huge mouthfuls. New projects, new goals, growing his art, improving his tennis game, loving his family and moving forward in his faith. He is exactly my age but our lives and attitudes are vastly different.
Then there is Derric. He just turned 85, and he could still give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money! Always positive…looking both forward to projects in the works and those still sizzling on the back burner.
The weekend was incredibly inspiring to say the least.
Oh I realize I just saw a small slice of life from my mentor and my college friend, but their attitudes trumped their circumstances and made me realize that attitude is up to me. How I react to what’s on my plate is all on me. There is no reason I can’t be as excited in thinking about “What’s next?” as anybody else. I’m no red-haired step child in the Kingdom! God loves me as much as Derric or Barry or anyone else and he has something special and exciting ahead for me.
I do have to look for it…reach for it…pour myself into the “doing” of it…and continue to drink deeply from the fountain of “What’s next?”

dugz4 October 12, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

What’s Next? Vol 131

What’s next?

It’s been a few days since the Re’Generation reunion. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with everyone but even so…I can’t help thinking about the few minutes I spent casually with Derric last Friday night.
It’s 9am and I really need to be out the door to work…(I work for myself so I’m taking it easy on me this morning) As I get older there is less in my life that gets me out of bed in the morning…and less of me that wants to get out of bed. Kathy says “all my hinges are rusty” and with all the spare parts I have in me these days…that’s probably a good description.
I was impressed by a few things this past weekend most of them coming by way of Derric and my old roommate Barry Jennings.
The attitude of “What’s next?” permeated every conversation. Even though he just retired as president of Gaither Music, Barry is still devouring life in huge mouthfuls. New projects, new goals, growing his art, improving his tennis game, loving his family and moving forward in his faith. He is exactly my age but our lives and attitudes are vastly different.
Then there is Derric. He just turned 85, and he could still give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money! Always positive…looking both forward to projects in the works and those still sizzling on the back burner.
The weekend was incredibly inspiring to say the least.
Oh I realize I just saw a small slice of life from my mentor and my college friend, but their attitudes trumped their circumstances and made me realize that attitude is up to me. How I react to what’s on my plate is all on me. There is no reason I can’t be as excited in thinking about “What’s next?” as anybody else. I’m no red-haired step child in the Kingdom! God loves me as much as Derric or Barry or anyone else and he has something special and exciting ahead for me.
I do have to look for it…reach for it…pour myself into the “doing” of it…and continue to drink deeply from the fountain of “What’s next?”

dugz4 August 17, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

Gone Fishing…NOT! Vol 130

No fishing today.

Last night Brett, my 17 year old, actually asked me to go fishing with him in the morning. It caught me off-guard. It is usually me who is asking (read that: begging…) to try and spend some father-son (read that: ANY father-son) time together. But this time he asked me. “Sure” I said…without looking at the calendar, “where do you want to go?” I was in that heady place that parents get sometimes when for a brief moment… all seems well with the world…and you think that one day you might actually have a good and positive relationship with your kids.
This morning, reality struck, when I saw that I had an early appointment and couldn’t go fishing after all. The text message to Brett was apologetic and promised fishing the next day, but I know I disappointed him today…I disappointed me too.
The concept of “tomorrow” has never been a comfortable one for me. I’ve always been a “now” kinda guy. (Except when it comes to stuff I don’t want to do.) “Now” is where it’s at. Delayed gratification kind of stumbles off my lips. (it’s even difficult to type…) Waiting is not my strong suit. But there is often wisdom in the waiting.
Sadly, the waiting lessons I’ve learned so far have pretty much been forced on me, I rarely choose to wait.
I equate “wait” with “no” too often. As if somehow God is conspiring against me when “wait” pops up in a situation.
You’d think at 62 I would have learned, and maybe even appreciate the concept by now…nope. Still impatient, still want stuff now. But I think I’m turning the corner.
I still get to go fishing with Brett….tomorrow.

 

Is God enough? No…is He really? Vol 129

How fast is God?

Doug Blair was a year ahead of me…and the fastest kid at school. He held the 100 yard dash record at 10.8 seconds for many years at Oneida High School.  I was reminded of this fact every day as all the high school records and trophies were on display in the central hallway at school. I walked by that display every day.

Up until third grade I went to Willard F Pryor elementary school in Oneida, NY, and would occasionally meet Doug and Dave Blair on the way to school. One day the walk turned into a race with Doug. I didn’t win…but I only lost by a hair. (if only I had been wearing my Red Ball Jets…)
God would cream Doug Blair in a foot race.
So where did this “How fast is God?” thought come from anyway? It has nothing to do with Drew’s sermon the other day (sorry Drew) It is not a deep theological thought. (I’m not sure it’s theological at all…) I doubt if any  giants of the faith will spend time pondering these 5 words. But sometimes I need “simple.” A simple concept, a simple answer to help me understand just a sliver of how a very complex and loving God takes care of his kids.
When we are are hurting. When we are hungry. When we despair. When a child is sick. When our best friend is out of reach. When we can’t make sense of our circumstance. We want help right now. Right now like in…FAST.  And I have learned that God doesn’t always respond to what we want…he doesn’t even always respond to what we think we need. It’s not that he couldn’t…but he often doesn’t. (I think old testament Job might be able to chime in on this one…)                                                                

There are things I know  I’ve learned over the years, and then there are things I think I’ve learned or maybe learning. Here’s one of the later.

“God doesn’t get in the way of a lesson he’s teaching you.”

Natural consequences come to mind that sort of put a fine point on the thought. If you stick your finger in an electrical outlet…chances are good you are going to get the fool shocked out of you (or… insert your own colorful phrase.) That’s a little extreme perhaps, but you get the point. God often teaches through consequences…good and bad.

But that still doesn’t really do anything to address my original thought.

We know little of God’s real potential, although words like omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence certainly are good, albeit heady descriptors. But how many of us think in those terms? We look for ways to measure things in ways that communicate in a way we can understand…like horsepower, miles per hour…a 24 hour day. We don’t wrestle with those concepts. We relate to them.
So even though God is so much bigger and more complex than we will ever comprehend…I want to offer a simple answer to a ridiculous question.


How fast is God?

Fast enough.


There was a song out a few years ago now that said simply “God is enough.” And honestly, that is all we need to know for every area of our lives. To say that “God is Enough” does not limit God in any way. He is still all those heady descriptors and much more.
You may think you want or need more…but what you (and I)  need is “enough.”


Here is another concept that may be a little unpopular…
We don’t get to define how much “enough” is.
We trust in God’s definition of enough for us…whatever that may be.

dugz4 January 19, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

Joy through the tears…Christmas 2016 Vol 128

I know there are events in life we have to walk through…work through…especially around loss.
For the longest time, I never knew that kind of loss.
That changed when Lori passed away in 2010…we had been married nearly 19 years. It was a two-fold loss for me. Coming to grips with the loss of my wife and then vicariously dealing with the same loss for each of my four kids. The latter was the toughest…is STILL the toughest.
I’m past needing comfort (I think) and the wound is… “all haired over…” as my Texas buddy Rodney used to say. (I’m not really sure what that means…but I think it refers to a barbed-wire wound healing up on a steer…or not 😉 )
Anyway… as I was browsing FB in the few unoccupied moments I had the other day, I stumbled across a video…posted to offer comfort to those who experienced the loss of someone and were missing them this holiday season. The words were sincere. The melody was pretty… but it was a total downer….at least for me. It immediately brought me back to the pain…NOT where I wanted to be at all. I know I’m weird and I’m sure other folks took great comfort in it…but for me, for now… I’m looking for life in a major key. I’m all about hope, present and future joy, happy memories.
The sad memories come all too often without any other outside influence.
I’d rather celebrate memories of loved ones lost than continue mourning them. Especially when they were believers…because
they aren’t really lost at all. We know exactly where they are. And we live with the glorious hope that we will be reunited one day.
That is not to say we don’t miss them…of course we do.
We always will.
But for me…this Christmas…turn up the happy music…let’s celebrate!

dugz4 January 19, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

The trouble with “Much” Vol 127

When I have very little, I don’t struggle with choice.

Decisions are more clear…outcomes more obvious.

When I have much…choice often becomes an obstacle, rather than a reward.

Wisdom pit against want can be a frustrating and dangerous competition.

So I pray for WISDOM…and not to give in to WANT, where every “win” often demonstrates a lack of discipline, immaturity and pride.

 

dugz4 January 19, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

Reverend Warner? Who’s that? Vol 126

For the past couple of Sundays, I’ve had a chance to preach at a local church who is without a pastor.

I’m introduced as either Rev. Warner or Pastor Warner….both of those titles sound surreal to me, although I know the folks who are referring to me in that way are just being respectful…(and I actually am licensed and ordained)
Most of the lead pastors and church leaders I’m around today have forgone the titles in referring to themselves, as they feel that people can be intimidated by them and treat them differently once they know their occupation. I get that…but for the few times a year I get to preach and happen to hear any title other than “butt-head” or “Jerk” applied to me…I’m struck with the responsibility and accountability I have to communicate God’s word truthfully and accurately.

I never want to bore people so I work hard to make the 30 minutes or so I have with them interesting…to communicate truth to the best of my ability… but to present the truth of God’s word clearly above all else. That’s where  life-change emanates from…not from anything clever turn or phrase, funny analogy or my preaching style…and not from the fact that a church or denomination has (courageously) given me a certificate and license.

I guess what I’m really saying is that I’m humbled and more aware of how sinful I am when people use Rev. or Pastor to describe me. I know what a sinner I am…chances are you do too…know what kind of sinner you are I mean.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
And now that I think about it…maybe that’s not a bad thing to be reminded of how much I’m forgiven, how much I still need to be forgiven and of what a loving God we have to allow a sinner like me to stand in front of his people with a message of God’s love, passion and purpose for their lives. What an honor and privilege. 

 

dugz4 January 19, 2017 Leave A Comment Permalink

We are severely screwed up! Vol 125

I don’t love naturally. I’m not a hugger. I have to remember to say “I love you” to my wife and kids. I’m a horrible romantic and my kids would tell you that when I’m trying to communicate something to them I “monologue” them…often in a steady crescendo of spit, sermon and sound.
As the reality of all that sinks in…I’m hit with the sad fact that those qualities are not all that attractive in a husband, father, brother…heck…they aren’t attractive in a man at all. But despite my baser tendencies and leanings…I still do tell my wife and kids I love them. I try to listen more and I do my best to do my gender proud…but it’s not natural for me. I have to think about it. I have to prioritize it. I have to work at it…all the time.

Now…understanding that little scary slice of me…there is this other side who is easily offended, easily hurt and tends to overthink just about everything. How do all those opposing forces exist in one person? Well…meds help take the edge off…

As it turns out…I truly am my own worst enemy. Armed with this information…one would think that i could boldly take the rudder of the “ship of me” and make some course corrections to calmer, sane-er waters.

Nah…who wants to do that? I’ve gotten used to me. This is who I am…people just need to adjust. I’m fine. You want ME to change? Give me a reason. Why don’t YOU change?

Here’s what I know for sure about me…and about a lot of you too.

We are severely screwed up. We need someone to save us from ourselves…and you know what?

Someone has.

His name is Jesus.

He has saved us not only from ourselves…but he has saved us to a life of real purpose, a life of possibility, a life of promise. He tells us that we can be more that we ever thought we could be and he empowers us to be that person through the working of the Holy Spirit.

To some that will seem too mystical…too magical…too easy. But it will resonate with others. They will invite Jesus into their life to be the forgiver of their sin and the leader of their life. Their lives will change from the inside…and they can trust the one who changed them to keep them changed.

The cost to us for this amazing regeneration of mind, body and soul? Nothing.

The cost to Jesus?
Death on the cross…but death was not the end. The Bible tells us that in three days he rose again…conquering death having paid the ultimate cost for our sin forever.

This is amazing love. This is amazing grace.

dugz4 October 5, 2016 Leave A Comment Permalink

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