Monikers and Meanings

baby-name-surprisedMost people who know me call me by the shortened form of my name.  Although my birth certificate reads, Stanley Lee Seymour,  most people call me Stan.   An etymological search of Stan reveals that it is Old English in origin and means rocky meadow or from the stony field.

Etymology, however, had nothing to do with the selection of my name.  Because my last name starts with an S, Mom and Dad thought it would be trendy for the first name of each of their children to start with an S.  My older brother’s name is Steve and my younger brother’s name is Brad.

Before he was born Brad’s name was going to be Stuart, but Mom was already having trouble calling Steve, Stan, and Stan, Steve, so Stuart became Brad.

Had Mom continued her practice of using an S in the naming of her sons, Brad would have been Stuart; and, his name would carry the idea of one who is a guardian or steward.

Here, in America, we seem to be more ambiguous than rigorous when we consider the meaning of the name written on the birth certificate that labels our children for life.

This has not always been the case. In the biblical eras, names were pregnant with meaning and often prophetic in nature. The best example is the name that is above all names and the Old Testament descriptor assigned to Him: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Little did Mary know the angelic proclamation and the meaning of her son’s name would be as full of pain as it was promise:  You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

When that babe lying in Bethlehem’s manger was named Jesus, it was not just a slip of the tongue or a casual moniker, it was a bold declaration: The Savior has been born.

May we all remember the reason for this season.

A Season of Lists

article_post_width_santa_naughty_listMost of us would find it difficult to manage the hustle and bustle of Christmas without the help of a few lists. These are scribbled on a piece of paper, written on a white board, or perhaps they pop up on a To-Do-List on your computer.

Lists are used to organize the events of our day and to lessen the stress of forgetfulness. Hosts pencil in names on guest lists; benefactors write gift lists; and wives scribble grocery lists to guide their husbands as they search for food items. Perhaps the most famous list is that naughty or nice one that’s frequently checked and monitored by old Saint Nick.

As I was rummaging through a desk drawer this week, I found a list that Mom and Pop had clipped out of a paper. It’s called the Ten Commandments For Right Living, and it offers some practical wisdom for life:

  1. Thou shalt not worry, for by so doing thou shalt relive the same disaster many times.
  2. Thou shalt not try to dominate or possess others, for it is the right of every man to govern his own actions.
  3. Thou halt not seek after fame, for unless God is glorified, greatness is a burden.
  4. Thou shalt not work for money only, for money was meant to serve. Money is a poor master.
  5. Thou shalt harm no other person, by word, thought, or deed, regardless of the cause: for to do so is to perpetuate the sorrows of the race.
  6. Thou shalt not be angry at any person for any reason, for anger injures most the one who is angry.
  7. Thou shalt never blame another for thy misfortune, for each man’s destiny is in his own keeping.
  8. Thou shalt relax, for tension is an abomination unto the flesh.
  9. Thou shalt have a sense of humor or thy years will seem much more tedious and painful.
  10. Thou shalt love the beautiful and serve the good for this is according to the will of heaven.

While I might take issue with the way some of these are worded, they do offer some good life principles. Most of the 10 can be summarized in one statement that Jesus made—The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

There’s an ocean of difference between “doing in” others and “doing for” others. Which “doing” do you do?

A Yellow Rose For Dad

roseHi Dad. I think about you every day, but it’s been quite some time since I last wrote.  I’ve never been much of a fan of greeting cards—Hallmark would go broke if they depended on me.

Anyway, since today is July 7th, and your 88th birthday, I thought it was time for a little talk.  A lot has happened since May 25, 1965—our last goodbye. You walked out the door and headed to Cities Service for another eight hours of work in the oil patch, and you never came home.

You were about two months shy of your 36th birthday, and I was 12 and in 6th grade.  I thought you were old, but now that I’m 64, I know how young you really were—perspective is a strange thing.

I’m thankful for the memories that I have of you.  They were formed through the things you taught me, and I’ve passed those lessons on to my kids.

Speaking of my kids, there’s a little bit of you in both of them.  I coached Wade throughout little league, and he learned to hit, catch and throw the same way you taught me; and he’s now coaching his daughter and son.

I remember how much you loved to whistle and sing.  Jennifer has your appreciation for a good song, and a beautiful voice. You would enjoy listening to her sing.

I never told you, but when you showered, I would sit outside on the patio and listen to you sing: Mocking Bird Hill, Red River Valley, and Get Along Home Cindy were your favorites.

Whenever I drive East towards Eureka, my thoughts still turn towards Sallyards, and your mom’s chicken and noodles, cherry pie, and singing while she played the piano; and, I can’t forget Grandpa standing on the piano bench.  He would have Uncle Jim and Harold Dale standing back to back to see who was the tallest.

By the way, Jim called Monday.  He’s the last of the 6 Seymour siblings, but I guess you know that because the rest are with you.

I hope Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Catherine kept their promises to me.  I spent quite a bit of time with both of them while they were dying, and asked them to tell you “hi,” and to let you know that I still love you.

Well dad, I better wrap this up.  I’ll stop by the cemetery a little later today with a yellow rose; they were your favorite—I still remember.

Happy Birthday and I Love you!

Stan

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. ~John 11:25

 

Graduation: Another Step in Life’s Journey

IMG_0133Last week I attended two celebrations that involved two of my grandchildren; one was promoted from 8th grade to begin her high school journey, and the other said goodbye to high school and Gig ‘em as she looks forward to four years at Texas A&M.

While many students were involved in these ceremonies, many more people were assembled in the stadium seats to applaud their accomplishments and to cheer them on as the pursue their dreams. The parents, some teary-eyed, and all proud, were witnesses to the academic successes of their young graduates.

Each family member took on the role of the great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12. They can testify of their son’s or daughter’s accomplishments to this point, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. The wise parents will nudge their children forward and remind them that the milestone they have just reached is not the finish line—it is a significant step in the marathon of life.IMG_0106

Most of this year’s high school graduates have expended 6,570 days of an average lifespan that is about 29,200 days long.  There’s not a single one of these grads who has lived their life exactly life one of their peers, and this is because each of them are unique.

The words of  Max Lucado are a fitting conclusion to my thoughts: You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the Earth by the Master Craftsman

Pretty Please

img_1253When my children were toddlers and they wanted something, they were taught to say: “Please.” When they really wanted something, they would look at me with their smiling eyes, and say: “Pretty please.”

I was reminded of my kid’s pretty please this morning while I was reading in I John 3:22-23: “Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him.  Now this is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment.”

After reading this verse, I was left with two questions:

  • What is it that is pleasing to God?
  • Do I do carefully and consistently do what is pleasing to God?

Micah 6:8 is the answer to the first question, but it leads to a series of other questions: What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

  1. Do I act justly and live a life of sincerity?
  • John admonished his readers to “not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth (NKJV).”
  • Another translation of this verse says: “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words (GWT).”
  1. Do I love mercy?
  • Jesus said to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).”
  • Mercy is equated with God’s loyal love for His people, and it is one of several attributes that define God.
  • Psalm 89:14: “Equity and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loyal love and faithfulness characterize your rule.”
  1. Do I walk humbly?
  • What is the attitude of my heart towards God and my fellow man? Is it arrogance or humility?
  • James says that, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble . . . humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (4:6, 10).”
  • Paul said in Ephesians 4 that we should, “Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love (The Voice).”

After thinking about all of this, I’m still left with one question: Do I act justly, or do I just act?  How about you?

Jerry Reed: Gold Mines and Shafts

jreedIf you know anything about a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you probably know it has a transfer case, and if you know a little something about psychology, you most likely understand the concept of transference. An incident occurred earlier in the week that caused me to think of both.

When I arrived at work on Tuesday, I found a new welcome sign painted on the side of the building.  It wasn’t a message of love, but one that expressed a pathetic dislike for the police in some rather blunt and rude language.

Why would a person use the FCC building as a canvas to proclaim his dislike for the El Dorado Police Department? The answer is transference.  Instead of addressing the anger he has for the police, to the police, he projected those feelings upon the church.

I know very little about the individual who wielded the can of spray paint, and I know nothing about his circumstances in life; but, as I said in another post: We may not be responsible for the circumstances of life, but we are responsible for the way we respond to them.

To understand a case of transference, it might help to have a basic understanding of a transfer case.  If you drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle, your transfer case transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles through the drive shafts.

In a sense, the transfer case acts as a brain that synchronizes the flow of power to the rear wheels and the front wheels through the drive shafts. I’m not sure how the brain of this vandal was working, but I do know the flow of power was misdirected.

I’m also pretty sure the future has few gold mines for this misfit, and I’m certain we’ve been left with the shaft to clean up.

As I think of this incident, I’m left with a question: Which is more difficult, cleaning brick and mortar or cleansing the thought process of the mind?

It’s been said that charisma is the transference of enthusiasm; what thoughts, feelings, and emotions do you project upon others?

Being the CAN in Canned Goods

pantry

How you can help:

  • First Christian Church, has a Food Pantry, and you can help by either donating canned goods or through a monetary gift to help people in the El Dorado area.
  • The Salvation Army is a nation-wide ministry that exists to help those in need.
  • Samaritan’s Purse is a global ministry that responds to the physical and spiritual needs of people in times of crisis.
  • The Lord’s Diner is a ministry in Wichita that focuses on feeding the hungry.
  • Red Cross

As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. ~Galatians 6:10

 

A is for Apple

apple-bobbing-boys-1920x675I was enjoying the sweet taste of apples long before I had ever participated in the homespun, spit-swapping, and germ-spreading, tradition of apple bobbing. Fact is, I almost drowned a time or two while I chased an apple around the inside of a water-filled wood barrel.

Apples are a tasty delight and a welcome addition to most diets, and they are also a definite plus to the pocket books of Washington farmers.  The typical orchard will produce 37,100 pounds per acre with a value somewhere between $12,500-$13,000.  The fertile ground of Washington contributes $18 billion plus to the state’s economy in apples alone.

When I eat an apple, my preference is Jonathan, Fuji, or Honeycrisp, but I doubt David had a specific variety in mind when he prayed: Keep me as the apple of your eye, and hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8).

As the apple of God’s eye, you are so special to God that:

  • He is aware of your sorrows—Psalm 56:8
  • He likens your prayers to the sweet smell of incense—Revelation 5:8
  • He floods your heart with His love—Romans 5:5
  • He blesses you with His mercy—Psalm 57:10

From out of all the orchards in the world, you are the apple that God has picked, and it is, “According to His great mercy, He has given us [you] a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (I Peter 1:3-4).”

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry          ~Psalm 34:15

A Tribute to Mom

IMG_0539

Three years ago today, I walked into my mother’s room and said: “Mom, today is your birthday.  Do you know how old you are?”  She thought for a moment and said:  “No Stan, I don’t think I do.” “You’re 101,” I said.  My statement revived her spunky and independent spirit, and she informed me that, “I might not know how old I am, but I know I’m not 101!”

Mom died about a month later form the ravages of Alzheimer’s. Since today is her birthday, I’m re-posting this blog as a tribute to her. . .

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

At this time in our nation’s history bread was 9 cents a loaf, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and a movie ticket was 35 cents.

On Friday, June 20th, about halfway through 1930, Buzz Aldrin was born. At the time of his birth, the idea of space flight was just science fiction; however, Aldrin would join Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; and, they would be the first two people to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin wasn’t the only person born on June 20, 1930. A baby girl, who would never experience his fame and notoriety, was also born. Her family had little money but a lot of love. Her fragile world was shattered a few years later when her mother died. She quit school in the 8th grade because her dad needed her to help work the fields—the fields of a farm he would later be forced to sell.

As a young lady, she married, but heartache found her again. At the age of 35, she became a widow when her husband was killed on the job, and she was left with three young sons. A short time later she married again. Five children came with her new husband. His 5 and her 3 made for a memorable life that could be as harried as it was happy.

When her second husband died, the truth was exposed: She was weaker than any of her family knew. Her cognitive skills were becoming cobwebs; Her sense of direction failed her; and, she was often lost.

On Monday of last week, my siblings and I had to stand toe-to-toe with the toughest woman we’ve ever known to break the news: “Mom, you can’t live by yourself any longer—we’re moving you into assisted living.”

Mom’s independent spirit has served her well for most of her life. She kept going and remained positive when she had every right to be negative and quit. It’s that same spirit that keeps saying: “I’m not staying here. I’m going home.” But with the next sentence, it’s evident that Alzheimer’s has a befuddling grip on her once vibrant mind and spirit.

Buzz Aldrin may have walked on the moon, but he stands in the shadow of my mother, Evelyn Lou Lacy–the girl who was also born June 20, 1930. She’s been a loving and loyal daughter, a faithful wife to two fortunate men, and a sometimes fearsome force who molded the life of her children.

Thanks for reading this annual tribute that I share to honor the memory of my mother.

The Power of a Good Book

readTwo of my childhood friends were Dick and Jane and their dog Spot.  From the moment I met them, I’ve had a love for reading.  Even when school recessed for the Summer, I rode my bicycle to the library two or three times a week to check out books.

An article in Quartz has identified a love for reading as the common trait that links the world’s most successful people.   According to the article, “Reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process, increase empathy, boost creativity, and even just unwind from a long day. But books can also change the way we think and live.”

Because he had experienced the transformational power of God’s Word, Paul emphasized its role in the life of the believer:

  • He instructed Timothy to, “give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching (I Timothy 4:13).”
  • He reminded the church at Rome that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”

Perhaps the one verse in the Bible that best defines its awesome power is Hebrews 4:12: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” ~The Message

I encourage you to consider your reading habits, and to use Psalm 119:14 as a prayer to guide you: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”