This week I attended the funeral of a person I’ve never met. She was a sister-in-law of someone who works with me here at the church, and I went to show some support. The deceased was a 48 year old mother of two. She died 2 days before her 30th wedding anniversary, and had died of cancer. It was really, really sad.
Now as a Pastor I’ve attended many funerals, and most of them are for people I’ve never met, or rarely knew at all. All funerals are sad, and some more terrible than others. This particular funeral was a graveside service, with about 100 people crowded around the little tent. Because I only knew one person at the funeral, I stood way in the back and could barely hear the preacher above the traffic and wind. As I listened to the preacher, I scanned through the tombstones within viewing distance to see the ages of those who had gone on before me. After 1/2 hour of standing and listening, I started to think about how one day I will stand in a place like this and say goodbye to those I love the most. And then ultimately I will one day attend my own funeral, albeit in the coffin.
I started to ponder how hard life is while we live on earth. How there are many things that make us happy, but really life is about dealing with disappointment, jostling for position, aiming for things to get better, and dealing with pain. Life basically stinks. It’s hard, difficult, painful, and down right nasty to live on this earth.
As I slipped into this way of thinking, I was really glad I didn’t have to wait until after death to experience togetherness with my creator. The only thing that really makes life worth living, from my humble perspective, is that I’m not alone. I have all these wonderful people on earth to walk through it with me; and I have my Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m Not Alone. Think about that… I’m not alone. I don’t have to walk through the tragedies alone. I don’t have to deal with the disappointment alone. I don’t have to celebrate my accomplishments alone. Even if I had no family, and no one on earth loved me; I could still say, “I’m Not Alone!”
All day I pondered Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.” What a powerful statement Jesus makes. “I am with you always.” Who else can really dare say such a thing? The Message bible says it so eloquently.
Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.“
I get one of these monthly emails from a group called Family Communications. The email is the “Monthly Fred Rogers Quote.” Check it out for this month…
“Deep within us — no matter who we are — there lives a feeling of wanting to be lovable, of wanting to be the kind of person that others like to be with. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.“
I’m a big Mr. Rogers fan. But again if you aren’t you are probably the devil, need serious therapy, or just hate life in general. Seriously, who doesn’t like Mr. Rogers?
Happy Birthday Lauryn!
Today my third kid is turning 2 years old. Lauryn is my only girl, having been preceded in birth order by her two brothers; Ryan and Dylan. Having two boys in the house to start my parenting lessons has been an adventure. Ryan and Dylan generally run into everything with their heads, and climb most anything that is within reaching distance. They are both so different, but they are both 100% boy! Lauryn however is, and has always been, 100% girl. She flirts with tomboyish behavior, returning hits from her brothers with her own feminine ferociousness, but for the most part there is no mistaking the difference between her and the boys.
Without a prompting from me or Starr, Lauryn has shown us both that girls are just different. She babies everything she can get her hands on, sings Night-Night songs to her brother’s Superman figurines, and prances around the house with her mother’s shoes on. The only time you can get her to sit still for long periods is when Starr paints her toenails. And those painted toenails become a source of pride for days to come, with her showing anyone who will take the time to look. One of the dangers when taking Lauryn to any store, is to avoid walking within sight distance of the shoe department. Shoes! My boys liked new shoes, but my girl has taken it to a new level. Shoes might be one of the things that bring her the most joy. If you need to take her somewhere, just mention that she gets to wear shoes; and she’ll run to her room and have her shoes on in seconds ready to head out the door.
This year Lauryn has learned to walk, she has learned many new words, and she’s learned that play jewelry is a girls best friend. However, the greatest lesson learned this year by me is that raising a girl is one of the most adventurous things anyone can do. (I know, I know, “Wait til they’re teenagers…”) Everyday I see things that she does and am reminded that having a daughter might be the greatest gift ever given to my family. Happy Birthday Lauryn!
As I sit here tonight, planning for a busy day of activities on Sunday; I’m drawn to the oddness of Bizarro comics and decided to share one of my new favorites. I’m doing communion tomorrow during all three adult services, I’m performing on stage during the large kid’s service at church, and I have an afternoon birthday party for my daughter Lauryn. With all these things happening in my life, sometimes I need to take a break and laugh at the ‘just plain silly’ parts of life. This comic reminds me of how shallow I feel like my blog is sometimes. I read many, many, many blogs and sometimes I walk away thinking I may possibly be the least spiritual pastoral blogger on the Internet. Anyways…
This week Steve Fossett, the daring adventurer, went missing. Seems he took off in a small plane by himself, and has not been heard from since. He’s presumed lost somewhere in the Sierra Nevada’s, only 17,000 square miles of waterless terrain. It’s fascinating to read that people are scouring satellite images on Google Earth, and many are volunteering to search this desolate part of the United States for Steve Fossett.
I came across this story on CNN.com; and it’s crazy. It’s really amazing what you find when you go looking in far off places, isn’t it?
Search for Fossett could solve decades-old mysteries
The hunt for missing aviator Steve Fossett in the rugged terrain of western Nevada could solve some much older mysteries. Searchers have turned up half a dozen previously undiscovered plane crash sites, and they believe there may be as many as 200 such sites around the Sierra Nevada range, where soaring mountain peaks, deep ravines, sagebrush and trees provide natural camouflage for downed planes.