A Tribute to Mom

IMG_0539Four 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.

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

 

Martyrs Among Us

the_entombment_of_st_stephen_martyr_XX_museo_del_prado_madridWhen I read the news from France early this morning, I was reminded of the words of Jesus: “a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God (John 16:2).”

The truth of Jesus’ words is crystal clear in the spiritual climate in which we live.  The twisted theology of radicalized terrorists compels them to murder in the name of their god. While it’s true that there’s just a minority of the population who engages in these inhumane and atrocious attacks, the partisan silence of their fellow acolytes is deafening.

This morning, two men armed with blades entered a church in northern France and held several people as hostages. French media is reporting that the attackers cut the throat of the priest.

Please pray for the citizens of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and the grieving people of this church.

Making Sense of the Nonsense

birdGrief and anxiety can be so powerful that you can melt in the heat of their presence like a dip of ice cream on a 110-degree day.   When the trials and tragedies of life assault you, God can seem so distant that his voice is inaudible and His care and compassion inconspicuous.

When you feel like you’ve been bullied by misfortune and beaten down by fickle friends, you can be blinded by a pervasive sense of loneliness and a warped perspective on life.  This was the case with Asaph when he wrote Psalm 73:

My feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. For they suffer no pain. . . They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence. They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth.

Whenever you find that you are walking with Asaph down the path of misery, you need to recalibrate your compass.  Instead of focusing primarily on your internals, you need to take an eternal perspective on life.  This is what Asaph did to reorient his direction in life:

When I tried to make sense of all this nonsense, it was troubling to me. When I finally looked beyond myself and quite beating myself down. I looked up to God and I entered His temple, and then I understood the destiny of the wicked (my paraphrase of Psalm 73:16-17).

In times like these, God may seem to hide, but He is still present to present you with what you need.  “Sometimes God gives us a gentle push of courage; sometimes He mercifully numbs us so we don’t experience the full intensity of our pain; at other times He carries us when we cannot take another step on own (Bruce Carroll, Sometimes Miracles Hide).”

One of the more comforting sections of Scripture that may help when you are feeling the pain of lingering bruises is Psalm 121:

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. He holds you firmly in place; He will not let you fall. He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep. What a relief! The One who watches over Israel never leaves for rest or sleep. The Eternal keeps you safe, so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you. Neither bright light of sun nor dim light of moon will harm you. The Eternal will keep you safe from all of life’s evils, from your first breath to the last breath you breathe, from this day and forever. ~The Voice

The Journey From 36 to 63

b86b37a33a5544e8d823e5af1984dbbeIf 36 is old, how much older is 63?   A dyslexic would find this to be a challenging question, and it was one that has set my mind to thinking.

On the 18th day of this month, I’ll be 63.  It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that 63 is the dyslexic version of 36—my dad’s age when he was fatally injured while working in the oil patch.

That was 1965 and this is 2016.  In 1965, I thought 36 was old.  Now that I’m 63, I realize how young Dad was when his life was snuffed out by an explosion. I began to reminisce about this while I was meditating on the first verse of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want.”

To be honest, for the first third of my life, I wanted nothing to do with the Shepherd.  I was a black sheep who lived in a perimeter outside of the Shepherd’s fold.  I thought I didn’t need Him and was just fine without Him, but that all changed in 1972—I got real close to seeing Dad again.

As the ambulance rushed me to the ER, the scream of the sirens was muffled by the power of  the dark shadows of Death  as they began to close in on me.  I guess the Shepherd was just getting my attention.  He had to overwhelm with the darkness before I could be over-joyed by the light of His presence, and it was a life-changing experience.

Several years ago my Dad’s older brother was succumbing to the ravages of cancer, and I visited him almost daily.  Kenneth would drift in and out from being very lucid to a state that was both mysterious and delirious.

As Kenneth was crossing back and forth between the boundaries of heaven and earth, he’d see his loved ones, and say: “Well there’s Mom and Dad.”  When he drifted back into the reality of his room for a few minutes, we’d discuss what he’d just seen.

One time Kenneth drifted away and as he walked the streets of gold, his face lit up with a smile, and he said: “Look at that!  There’s Eddie.”

Since Kenneth had just seen my dad, I asked him for a favor: “Kenneth, when you cross over and get to heaven, tell Dad ‘Hello,’ for me.  I haven’t seen him for a long time, and I still miss him.”

Kenneth barely had time to honor my request before he began to drift away again.  This time was different; he became calmer than I’d seen him for weeks, and he said, “Well there’s Clara Mae,” and he was ready to die.

Clara Mae was his wife who had died a few years earlier.  Along with her, Kenneth had also found his parents, his brother, and his wife, but most importantly the Shepherd had found him.

Jesus has been a good Shepherd to me.  He once said that He came to “seek and to save the lost.”  I’m glad He kept pursuing me and that I finally heard the Shepherd’s invitation to join Him.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message

Cousins Afar

berylYesterday I said goodbye to Beryl Frye Lacy.  You may have not known Beryl unless you knew one of her children; knew her as Nurse Lacy from Dr. Shield’s office; or, knew her through First Christian Church where she attended.  Beryl was a good wife to her husband Earl, a good mother to her three children, Gene, Sandee, and Greg, and a devoted, grandmother, aunt, and volunteer at the hospital.

When I spoke to Beryl, I called her Auntie.  She was mom’s sister-in-law and a big part of my life. She was something else; she was a source of confusion whenever I tried to make sense of my family lineage.

hillbillies

This isn’t a good picture of Dick and Don. They rarely look this good.

When I was a kid, the Lacy family reunions would include Don and Dick.  I was always perplexed when I tried to decipher how we were or were not related.

Beryl was my aunt and she was also an aunt to Don and Dick.  To muddy the waters a bit more, Don and Dick had an Uncle Wally.  Wally was neither a Lacy nor a Seymour, but he was my mom’s cousin and Beryl’s brother-in-law’s brother.

Since Beryl was a Frye and Mom was a Pugh/Lacy, the only other possible link was Mom and Wally were linked through Mom’s Pugh side; but, there were always too few Pughs to find clues to the riddle of Don and Dick.

While family history can be confusing, it can also be reassuring.  The Psalms remind us that just as “An earthly father expresses love for his children; it is no different with our heavenly Father who shows His love for those who revere Him (Psalm 103:13).”

And, after reading Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome, I guess it’s possible we’re cousins together in Christ and joint-heirs with Him:  “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (8:17).”

Bless you Auntie, I’ll see you again some day in Heaven, and then you can explain this riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Those Between-A-Rock-And-A-Hard-Place Moments

toadLife is filled with those between a rock and a hard place moments. You know what I’m talking about:  You see a light at the end of tunnel and then discover it’s a train bearing down on you.

This was the case with the servant of Elisha and the problems they were having with the Syrian army.  One morning Elisha’s servant went outside to discover that they were surrounded by an army with horses and chariots.   He asked the prophet:  “Elisha, what shall we do?”

In answer to his servant’s question, Elisha said: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).”

When the enemies of sickness, death, and the trials of life surround you, consider some of these eye-opening truths:

  • Jesus bore your sorrows and carried our griefs with Him when He was nailed to the cross (Isaiah 53).
  • You can approach God boldly and ask Him for mercy and grace when you are in need (Hebrews 4: 4-16).
  • God is not blind to your needs (2 Chronicles 16:9): “Certainly the Lord watches the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him.”

In those times when your heart aches the most, you may think of God the least. God has never promised an answer to the “Why me” trials of life, but He has vowed to walk with you.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  ~ Isaiah 30:18 

What I Should Have Said

whisperOn my drive back from the cemetery at St. John, I thought of something I wish I would have said:  “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” This simple statement from Proverbs 22:1 offers a profound description of Roger Taylor.

When I spoke at Roger’s funeral yesterday, it was easy to think of good things to say about this extraordinary example of humanity.  Decent, kind, and generous, are three words that offer an honest estimation of the genuine life Roger lived as a husband, a father, and a Christian.

Ben Franklin once said that, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  Roger lived a life of good deeds.  As I reflect on his many years as a member of First Christian, I remember his willingness to serve as a deacon, an elder, and the chairman of the board—always unassuming and never wanting to ruffle any feathers.

Because they would make Roger blush, I’m a little reluctant to close with the next line or two; however, they are so true, I shall.  D.L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”  Roger has been a man of character, and he developed the reputation of being a man of “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering (Colossians 3:12).”

A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank. The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—God made them both! A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered. The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life. ~ Proverbs 22:1-4 (The Message)

R.I.P. #23: Death In The Line of Duty

R.I.P. Deputy Goforth

R.I.P. Deputy Goforth

You shouldn’t have to worry when you stop to fill your tank that you’ll be shanked or shot.  Sadly though, Darren Goforth was ambushed and shot multiple times while pumping gas into his patrol car.

This violent and inhumane act has saddened the heart of law enforcement officers (LEO) across the nation, and it has left many in Harris County Texas stunned.  Goforth is the 23rd officer that has been shot and died as a result of his injuries in the first 8 months of this year.

Please pray for any LEO you know, and all of them in your community.  Also pray for Goforth’s family.  He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 5 and 12.

First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. This is good and pleases God our Savior. ~I Timothy 2:1-3

I encourage you to visit https://www.facebook.com/HCSOTexas, and leave a comment supporting them in their time of grief.

Lightening Bugs

firefly-by-jessica-lucia-cc10:30–that’s 4 1/2 hours from now.  That is the designated moment when I am scheduled to say a formal “goodbye” to Johnny Browning.

Words can be brutally forceful and full of strength, but in other instances they seem so inadequate.   Mark Twain said: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug.”

When I gather with Johnny’s family today, “goodbye” is a lightening bug.  How do you say goodbye to a lifelong friend like him?

  • I honestly can’t remember a time when I did not know him
  • I went door to door as a kid and sold the TV Guide, and Johnny bought them
  • When my dad died, Johnny was one of the first people at the house to see if he could help my mother and her three young sons.
  • He let me live, rent free, in one of his houses for a couple of months.
  • He worked side by side with me for the 25 plus years I’ve been the pastor of FCC.

I have walked with Johnny in both times of sorrow and joy.  I have seen him bury a son, his wife, a daughter-in-law, and another son, and I’ve seen him fight cancer and there was never a time his faith wavered.

I think “thanks” is more appropriate than “goodbye.”  So, today, I give thanks to God for my memories of Johnny, and I thank Johnny for taking the time to make them.