Is It Just A Number?

Today is my birthday. Yep, May 18, 1956, was my entrance to the world. I was born in Moses Lake, Washington, and that makes me a natural-born citizen of these United States. 

The math gets harder, so I’ll spare you the trouble. I am now 64 years old. Here are a few of the ideas that I considered, and rejected, for this blog. 

  1. A poem with sixty-four verses
  2. The highlights of my life
  3. The lowlights of my life
  4. Reasons why 64 is better than 63
  5. The things that hurt more today than yesterday

However, none of those seem interesting, and I’m sure most wouldn’t finish reading. So, instead, I’ll ramble for a few hundred words.

Some Facts:

  1. I’ve been married for forty-one years and a dad for 35.
  2. I’ve been a minister for forty years.
  3. Houston has been my home for twenty-two years.
  4. My favorite thing is fly fishing the streams of the Colorado Rockies.
  5. Christmas is still my favorite holiday.  

Some things I’ve discovered about myself: 

  1. I’m not as smart as I thought I was. 
  2. I’ve been wrong about quite a few things.
  3. Change is hard, but it is always the right thing.
  4. I have failed as much as I’ve succeeded.
  5. Believe me, the mind is the first thing to go.

If age is just a number and we are as young as we feel, then half the time I’m confused about how old I am. But it matters not for whatever number reflects my time on earth; it remains just a number. 

I remember when dad bought a color television. It was a massive piece of furniture with beautiful polished wood. I think it was the nicest piece in our living room.

I remember the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and watching Niel Armstrong walk on the moon. 

I got my first bike at eight, my first skateboard at nine, and my first car at sixteen. It was 1973 and the car was a 1962 Chevy Bel Air with 1.6 million miles. 

The Viet Nam war borrowed my dad and then my brother. My other brother spent a dozen years in the Navy. All three served with distinction. 

I’ve learned that life can knock you down, again and again. Life can also present opportunities and open doors when least expected. 

In seasons of dark days with unending grief, I’ve learned it’s best to keep moving forward. Life goes on so we might as well go with it. Life rarely stops to let us catch up.  

As hard as it is to believe, we are never truly alone. All around us are people who have experienced the same troubles. When I feel isolated, cut off, and alone, it’s usually the way I want it. My suffering seems nobler when I brave it by myself, but it’s not. 

I never thought I would get a cell phone, but I did. I never thought I would have more than one TV in my house, but I do. I never thought I would ever drive a convertible, but I am. 

I never thought that being a father would be the highest achievement of my life, but it has. I never thought I would live through a global pandemic, but so far so good.

Life’s struggles, trials, and failures aren’t terrible things. Instead, they have shaped me and enhanced my life quality.

Today is my birthday. I think I’ll go out for lunch. Wait, can I? Should I? I better wear a mask. Will that be awkward? Lower it for each bite, then cover up while chewing, and then repeat? Anyway…

Happy birthday to me. 

 

 

It Seems Different, But It’s Not

1st STORY: John and Beth were experiencing the greatest moment of their lives. She had been in labor for several hours, and the happy moment was imminent. With a final push, baby MaryAnn introduced herself. Their maternity nurse, Nancy, was happy for them but was unable to avoid the darkness.

2nd STORY: Aaron Bishop was doing well. His business had been touch and go, and he wasn’t always sure it would succeed, but it did. He was fulfilled, at least in his work life. As to his personal life, Aaron was living with a broken heart. The divorce had ripped it apart, causing a canyon sized emptiness.

3rd STORY: Cynthia Anderson landed her whale, a dream job. The interview went great, they called for a follow-up, which went fabulously, and she gladly accepted their offer. On her first day as the managing CPA, while driving to work, she was in a car accident. Cynthia had a concussion, some broken bones, and severe bruising. She would be okay, but it would take a few weeks. The firm rescinded the offer.

4th STORY: Freddy Johnson had been in rehab for thirty days. He had destructive addictions that damaged him and wounded others. When stoned or drunk, he was reckless, and more than once had put his life in danger. But after thirty days, Freddy was ready. There would be support groups to attend, fences to mend, and he was determined to make better choices.

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   Life can make us feel like we are alone. Make us think that we are the only ones hurting. We wake up groaning because after opening our eyes, it hits us hard that today will be another day of heartache.

Until one day, when it isn’t.

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  While Beth was resting, John went to the cafeteria for something to eat. He was joined in the elevator by a young woman headed to physical therapy. They struck up a conversation, and he showed her pictures of MaryAnn. She explained her accident, all of it. Hearing her story, John remembered a friend who was looking for an accountant. He gave Cynthia the contact information.

   Nancy was still blue. It had been a year since her husband died and the sadness just wasn’t fading. They were deeply in love and had been trying to start a family. One evening, she went to a coffee house to read. She got her Chai Tea and sat down and soon noticed a man who brought his coffee and a book to a table close by. Before long, they were talking about their books and other things. He said he owned a software company, and she said she was a nurse. His name was Aaron, and Nancy thought he was nice. Walking home she realized that she hadn’t felt sad while talking to him.

   Cynthia had recovered enough to home. After a few days, she decided to call the man that John had recommended, a man named Aaron Bishop. They had a positive phone conversation, he requested her resume, and the next day asked her to come in. He offered her the job! She was so excited about the company, a rapidly rising software business. Maybe things were turning in her favor.

After a few weeks, John and Beth hosted a “Come Meet The Baby” party. One of the guests was John’s friend Aaron Bishop, who brought a woman named Nancy, whom they recognized as their maternity nurse! Nancy enjoyed holding MaryAnn. John had invited his new friend, Cynthia. She had called to say thanks for helping her, and he invited her to the party. She brought her friend Freddy who seemed to be more than a friend. Once she and Freddy arrived, Aaron was surprised to see his new accountant. “I didn’t know you knew John and Beth,” Aaron said to her. All the dots were beginning to connect.

Freddy got into a conversation with Beth and John, and it was clear that he was in love with Cynthia. He volunteered that he had been in rehab and was doing well. They were supporting and helping each other, both wanted to do well and move forward in life.

Seeing lives affected and changed was joyous to John and Beth. They were basking in the glow of MaryAnn, their miracle baby, for they had been trying for many years. Each of them was grieving over the loss of a parent due to the Covid-19 pandemic about a year earlier.

You see, some were grieving and some were celebrating. One had suffered a car accident. A few were lonely, discouraged, and felt lost. Some had thought that life would never get better. Some believed that no one else was hurting like they were. But somehow, life went on. They eventually found new opportunities and possibilities.

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We think perhaps that we are alone. We are not. We are surrounded by people who have struggled just as we have. Maybe different circumstances but the same sad results. But in one way or another the people around us have struggled, hurt, and felt alone, just like us.

 I pray that you will still find peace. Don’t give up. We are all the same.