Like Time Stands Still…

In my garage I have a poster sized picture  that is approximately 24 years old.  It is a photo of a beautiful college girl sitting in the surf on the  Pensacola beach.  She is smiling at the camera and there is a sparkle in her eye.

The other day my wife asked me if I miss seeing that girl.  I told her that I still see her every morning when I leave for work, and every evening when I go to bed.  She still smiles at me that same way, and I still love the sparkle in her eye.

24 years may have passed (maybe 23, I know it is somewhere in there), but that young girl who became my wife is still the woman of my dreams.  Today is her birthday, and though years have passed, when I look at her, time has stood still.

I read once that a man should look at his wife and remember her as the love of his youth.  They say that keeps the passion and the fun of life alive and builds a marriage that stays vibrant and interesting.  I can’t say that is a bad idea, and on the surface, I think it makes sense, but I am afraid that way of thinking lacks a little something.

My wife and I will have been married for 23 years next month on August 20, 2017.  I have met many people who have been married longer than that, but I am also very aware that unfortunately once you hit the double decade mark, you are in a drastically dwindling crowd.  Being in that minority kind of allows me a position of authority in speaking on marital matters!

My wife is an amazing woman.  She is sweet, kind, and wonderful in so many ways.  She still smiles at me with that sparkle in her eye, and I can’t help but love that girl there.  She’s more though. So much more.

At times there is a tiredness in that eye as well.  There are pressures she feels that try to dim that sparkle and tug down the corners of that smile.  The surf that gave her so much joy is sometimes now a few baskets of laundry needing to be folded.  The sun on her face is replaced by a lamp at her desk as she works dutifully on helping her kids with their college schedules.  Time marches on, and if we focus on the march, we miss something.

I know years have passed, but that girl is still there.  I saw her at breakfast yesterday when we joked about a whisker I had growing out of a freckle on my cheek. She laughed and I saw all of the “stuff” of life roll off her for a moment.  There she was again.  My girl was right there.

I see her every day, even the days she doesn’t see herself.   I should probably tell her more that I am seeing her in the moment.  Maybe if I did, she would see that girl more too.

Well, today’s her birthday, and we have plans to go out as a family and have a good time.  I’m excited about it, and if all goes well, we will go to the beach.  Maybe I can get another pic of my girl sitting in the surf on a sunny day.  I don’t really need it though. She is right there in my mind each and every day.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life.  The woman I am still Relentlessly pursuing and working at loving her as Christ said I should.  Tammi, time may move on, and we are not immune to the effects of it, but for you, time has stood still.  You are so precious to me, and even more so when I can take that young girl, sitting in the surf and mix her with the woman still with me after 23 years of marriage.  I think it makes everything more powerful and real.

You are the love of my youth, my now not-so-very-much-of-my-youth-as-I-would-like, and the rest of my life as well.  You have made time stand still for me, and I love you for it.  I hope you have a very happy birthday

I love you! You are God’s best gift to me on earth!




Core Value #4 – Balance

UntitledI might be alienating a few people when I mention a piece of playground equipment that was common when I was a kid.  The teeter-totter.  I may be in the minority, but that was one of my favorite things to play on.  Unfortunately it has been rendered nearly extinct, along with the merry-go-round and the 15 foot tall stainless steel slide. (Okay, honestly that last one needed to go!)  I loved the teeter-totter, but I usually saw it used as an instrument of pain:

“Hey, Joe!  Wanna Teeter with me?”


And then the game would begin.  A showdown of wills and courage to determine who would be the first to bail while the other was high in the air so he could be sent crashing to the ground, bruising a tailbone or who knows what else.  Good, clean, childish fun.

thumb.phpWhat I liked about it though was the science of the teeter-totter.  Size of participants didn’t matter as long as they were properly placed. Even the number of participants could achieve the balance needed for a good Teeter!  What mattered most was looking for the right people in the right place at the right time.  If you did it well, you could ride for hours. (Not that we did, we weren’t that boring…  However, we did try the maximum number of people on a teeter-totter once.  It broke right in the middle.)

Another thing I enjoy doing is building rock cairns.  If you ever get a chance to ride a bike around Mackinac Island you will see hundreds of them that have been built by people who are weird like me!  There is something satisfying about taking the different rocks and examining them to find the right rock to support, counter-balance, or balance the rest of the stack.  With trial and error, you can build some inventive stacks, and some of the best ones are supported by a small rock that holds the key to keeping it all in balance.

I built this on Mackinac Island

Life is that way.  We all have a hundred different things that we have pulling us off balance, and it is easy to forget that these are the things God has given us to help us build our lives.  It’s not that we are working with lousy material, it’s just that we need to work with what we have to find the way it is supposed to fit.  We need to find the balance that will allow all of the craziness of life to amount to something beautiful that stands as a testament of a Relentless desire to not give up.

I have shared the story of my life and how so many things went crazy in my church history.  The balances were off between truth and grace, and that threw the people around off balance too.  In turn, a great deal of the teaching I received and the people I received it from ended up being very difficult to work with.  I spent a number of years trying to get rid of a lot of the things that I had learned thinking that they were all wrong and destructive.  That just wasn’t true.

You see, God allowed all of that in my life.  I got that healthy dose of legalism that helped me understand the importance of obedience.  Even though the Bible was not always followed, I had it deeply imprinted in my heart and mind that it was the source of truth,and I should never forget that.  My views of God the Father and the Spirit were skewed, but they had put me on the right course with Jesus.  I had stuff that was good to work with, and I had some crazy stuff that just didn’t seem to fit well. I fought for a long time to build a nice straight tower with these crooked pieces, then I tried to get rid of them all and get new pieces!

I finally realized that the pieces I have are good pieces for building.  There are some that are large and heavy, but can be balanced out by something small.  Truth is a heavy thing, and if you just sling it on the pile, it is going to fall over, just like putting the fat kid on the end of the teeter-totter meant someone was going to get hurt. (I was usually the fat kid, so I can say that.)  Grace is light, but it complements truth and softens its impact on the heart.  It holds truth in the right light where it can do a good thing rather than bludgeon.  It moves the fat kid farther up the teeter-totter where he can ride in balance with the little guy.

Lately I have been looking for a better way to prioritize my time.  Whether I am at work, home, church, or wherever, I seem to have a lot of stuff I am trying to balance, and I would like to chuck a whole bunch of it to start over and build what I want the way I want it to look.  The thing is, I only get to work with what I have.  I can work with that, or I can sit around and complain I don’t have the right pieces.  I think I’ve been doing  little too much of that lately.

I built this one on vacation on Lake Superior near the Porcupine Mountains.
I built this one on vacation on Lake Superior near the Porcupine Mountains.

Relentless living means you take what you have been given and you find the balance that works.  It might not look the way you wanted it to look, but if it is achieving the proper balance in your life, then that is probably the way God wanted it to be!  There could be several answers to the problem, but the balance is always the solution.  The outcome may look different, but if it results in a proper balance, then it was a success.

When I listed my values, I originally put Balance as # 5.  I have put a lot of thought into it since, and I now see it fits better at #4.  See, you can do it with anything!  When you have God in the right position, Family in the right position, and Friends in the right position, you end up needing Balance desperately.  If you don’t balance those three things properly, then it will all come crashing down.  It’s work!  I won’t lie to you, It is hard work!  The thing is, you will find that if you are living in balance, the work that goes in doesn’t feel as hard a lot of the time.  It’s just tweaking after awhile.

Don’t think that things won’t come along to throw you off balance.  They will.  That’s the next blog.  For now, just soak it in.  You don’t need to start with new stuff.  The life you have was not such a disaster that it cannot be built into something.  God gave you the pieces, and He has plans for you to build something great.  Set Him as your start point and build things on Him with the things that you have.  Keep looking for that balance in Him, and I can promise you that you will be amazed at what you can do with Him!