This pondering began as a reflective thank you post on my Facebook page on this fifty-fifth occasion of the day of my birth. The longer I reflected the more I realized this is probably going to be a personal reflective blog rather than a post.
As I sit on the deck with another cup of coffee, two faithful dogs at my feet, and a beautiful day filled with song birds and a slight breeze I have been reading the birthday greeting from near and far on my Facebook timeline. It is really quite an overwhelming experience to be immersed in the well and happy wishes from hundreds of persons who have somehow come to know me or at least know of me. With the advent of such technology and the creation of such a social media page to connect and reconnect with so many over the years all in one place is, at least for me today, quite a moving experience.
Here I sit with an overflowing heart of gratitude for the fifty-five years I have journeyed on this good green earth. I have now lived six years longer than my mother lived. Though in her forty-nine short years she lived hundreds, filled with the kind of love and grace I can only hope to reflect. But to know that is a rather sobering thought as I reflect on how profoundly, an understatement if there ever was one, she impacted my life and shaped a huge part of who I am today.
I am seventeen years shy of how long my father lived which, in some respect, is no less a sobering thought knowing how fast time flies these days. His ministry, stubbornness, questioning, and courage in the pulpit have had a profound impact on my life and ministry as well. His willingness to instill in me the ability to question and find my own path of faith has been invaluable to me and my growth as a person, a Christian, and a pastor.
The strength of family in general, sister, brother, grandma’s and papa’s, aunts and uncles, cousins and other varied relatives has been a close and loving part of my life. It was and is an ever present witness to the power of love and family for me.
I am thirty six years into the best decision I have ever made in my life. I was fortunate enough to marry “up.” TruDee has loved me through thick and thin, encouraged me, supported me, challenged me, opened my mind and soul to wonderings and ponderings in life and faith in ways that I have no words to express. She is the love of my life, the reason I am who and where I am here and now. We have two sons and the loves of their lives that provide me with a daily dose of pride and inspiration. They fill us both with so much love and grace I can’t imagine this journey with anyone else.
I sit here and look at all these posts on my Facebook page and remember all of the communities of which I have been a part growing up, working, and serving in the church. All of these people who have impacted and shaped my life, faith, and love and am filled with gratitude. Every encounter, every acquaintance, every conversation, and experience offered support, love, grace, education, learning, most how to better and deepen who I am and how I love and there are those who teach us what not to do, I have had few of those.
And here I sit knowing and trusting fifty-five years is just a good start because I know I am not finished yet. I have new challenges, new experiences, new horizons, new learnings, and new roles to embrace. I still have a lot to learn! Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Well I certainly don’t feel old by any stretch, though my twenty-five year old mind does overtax my fifty-five year old body at times. But I know I have to continue to build on what I know and believe, I don’t believe the Spirit wants me to stay in one place my whole life and I know there are new understandings, learnings, and theology out there that will only serve to deepen my journey with God and others.
So today as I remember all of the places and faces I have known and know I realize I journey forward in this moment not back. I have applied for a Doctoral program at Philips Theological Seminary and there have only been one or two times the question came to mind, “What the hell are you thinking?” I am excited about the challenge and new learnings and opportunities that will arise out of continued study and education.
Yesterday at church our oldest and his spouse went public with the news that we are now finally old enough to be grandparents. Such an exciting time to be part of our “Little” family, pun intended. The new Little one will be arriving around the first of October. With TruDee’s help, you know me I have to be a little different that “the way it has always been,” I have decided I am going to be “Poppie” to my new granddaughter. It will be a new role in this life of ours that I embrace and welcome with fully open arms and a heart filled with love.
So now I sit with near two pages of what began as an attempt to simply say “Thank You” to all of those who have remembered me on this anniversary of my birth. I guess maybe there is some truth in what some about preachers and their ability to say in twenty minutes what many people can say in five.
All of this to say I am grateful and my heart is full. I love you, each and every one of you.