Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reading Between the Lines

I pulled up one morning to church a week or two ago and noticed this sign. What does it say? Go on, read it out loud...

In all likelihood you are normal. I am comfortable knowing I am not. Therefore, you probably didn't share in my experience...but for some reason that day I walked into the building scratching my head and wondering "what in the world are 'creation bears'?"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Miles Between Us

The last two weeks have been exhausting. There have been moments of both good exhaustion and bad. But the common denominator is the same...we are worn out!

While I was at camp, Sara drove to Nashville, to fly to Baltimore to drive to a wedding weekend (for one of her relatives) in Pennsylvania. That same week we found out her grandmother passed away. So she made plans to drive back to Baltimore and fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma to drive east to Muskogee for the funeral. I came back from camp making plans to drive to St. Louis on Monday to fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma to drive to Muskogee to meet Sara for the funeral. Then Sunday morning before I was to leave on Monday I got a call that my grandpa had a massive stroke and he wasn't expected to live. He was 92 but the crazy thing was he was out helping build a fence the day before. My aunt and uncle had been building an apartment on their property for him and they were about two weeks from completing it and moving him in. He was so looking forward to that day!

I still left for Oklahoma on Monday. My grandfather passed away late Monday afternoon. We stayed in Oklahoma for a few days and attended the funeral for Mildred Marie Collier Siner on Wednesday. On Thursday we drove back to Tulsa and flew in to Dallas Love Field. We then drove to Rockwall on the east side of Dallas, where my aunt and uncle live, to meet my family. We did his funeral on Friday which was pretty special. He served in the military (Army Air Core) and so some men from the army were there at his burial to honor him and present a flag to my dad on behalf of the United States of America. We then stayed the weekend sorting through all of his belongings. We couldn't get a flight home until Tuesday initially, but at the last minute were able to get one on Monday. Late Sunday night we decided we would drive grandpa's old '97 Buick Century home. So, on Monday Sara drove to the airport to fly from Dallas to St. Louis to pick up our truck that I had driven there at the beginning of the week in order to now drive the 3 hours home to Paducah. I left early that morning to drive the 10 hours from Dallas to Paducah and got home Monday evening. We crashed pretty much all day on Tuesday as the weight of everything settled upon us.

I'm feeling tired again just typing all of that out. We covered quite a few miles between us the last two weeks both physically and emotionally. I'd prefer not to have to do anything like that again in the near future or the distant one for that matter. But in all of it I'm reminded that we are called to live a certain way in this world and that kind of life is possible because Mildred and Richard daily showed us the way...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Remembering Never to Forget Grandpa

What a crazy last week! It's hard to imagine it being much crazier but I'm sure it's always possible. You expect to lose grandparents at some point but I never thought Sara and I would each lose one at the same time. I will probably write more about this over time but here is what I was able to share at my grandpa's funeral...

READ Psalm 24:1-6

I feel like I shouldn’t begin without greeting and hugging each of you because that’s how grandpa would have done it. But I guess we’ll have to save it for afterward. Just two short years ago I stood in this same place, in the same week and shared how we would forever remember grandma or to many of you Dorothy (Dot) Darling. And now in some ways what seems like just a few days later I want to share a few things about Richard (Dick) Darling or grandpa, I want to remember never to forget.

I use that phrase “remember never to forget” on purpose. I have a hard time remembering things. At times it seems like I have one of the worst memories in the world. I forget items on the grocery list. I forget where I last placed my keys. Sometimes I can’t remember people’s names. At times I forget to complete my “honey-do” list. Other times I can even forget where I parked my car. It can become especially frustrating when I want to remember things from earlier in life.

Yesterday we sat around and shared stories involving grandpa. As others shared I was reminded of my own memories because with grandpa there was a lot to remember. I remember quick trips to the store…a pantry full of sweets and cookies. I remember watching him work in the yard, and on the house, and on anything else he could get his hands on. He was always working away at something. He was hardly ever standing still. I remember stories upon stories. Richard was a great story-teller and never afraid to tell stories on himself. I remember how he loved grandma…how he was so sweet to her whatever the situation. I remember that in many ways Grandpa was an unintentional babe-magnet. He was a looker when he was young but he only got more adorable with age. Everybody thought so and he was always surrounded by a group of people. He also made a positive impression on everyone he met. On Wednesday I was talking with my brother-in-law about coming down here for the funeral and he mentioned that he remembered Richard after meeting him five years ago at our wedding and that in that short time positively impacted his life. That was grandpa!

I want to “remember never to forget.” I have to be intentional about what I remember or else something will slip my mind. Because of that I’m reminded about Israel as God’s people. God constantly called them to “remember not to forget” because it was easy for them to become a forgetful people. He wanted them to remember how he had delivered them from slavery, from the hand of the Egyptians. To remember that it was by his power alone that they were where and who they were. To remember how he had forever changed their lives. They were intentional about remembering through their telling of stories, through their continual sharing of memories. It was these memories, these stories that pointed them to, and reminded them of, the work God was doing in their lives.

Stories about grandma and grandpa are part of what will accomplish that in my life. They remind me of how God has worked before me, through me and will continue to work long after me. And it is stories of the way he lived that I believe will continue to shape me. One of the many things I love and admire about grandpa was his desire to greet everyone. He was passionate about making people feel welcome and he took that role in the body of Christ seriously. Richard also never knew a stranger! He befriended all people no matter the age, race, or economic status…his neighbors, those who worked in the offices/stores he visited, and every person that entered one of the doors of this building. I remember two years ago at grandma’s visitation one of the waitresses at the local IHOP came to comfort grandpa because of the impact he had on her throughout the many times they ate in her restaurant. That’s a testimony to who he was and how he lived. One day when my wife and I have kids of our own, those are the things I want them to know and remember not to forget about their great grandpa!

READ 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

I don’t think grandpa is groaning anymore and I’m pretty confident he’s enjoying his new clothes! He is away from the body, but at home with the Lord.

I just ask one more thing…if you have ever received a smile, a handshake, and a hug of welcome from Richard Darling would you please stand and remain standing as I conclude… (for those of you reading...close to two hundred people were in attendance and they all stood up!)

Grandpa…thank you for the life you lived. Thank you for how you loved all people, how you loved your family, and how you loved grandma. Thank you for the legacy you leave for all who come behind you. You may have changed locations but I’m sure we know where to expect you…at the “doors” to God’s presence welcoming all who enter. And I look forward to the smile, handshake and hug of welcome I will receive whenever my time comes to join you in the presence of God.

Friday, June 06, 2008


What a crazy week! If only all the campers knew everything that goes into making Superweek what it is...

We leave in the morning for South Carolina. Twenty-nine of us. It should be a great time. I have really enjoyed it the last few years. But, man is it exhausting! Pray for us this next week. I hope it can be meaningful for all who attend.

Palmetto Bible Camp here we come!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Caped Crusaders???

It has already been well-documented that a few people think the "dark knight" is better than the "man of steel." It's okay though...they have a right to be wrong! With all due respect to the caped crusader, Superman can take Batman any day of the week. There is no need to debate it any more...it's just truth...and the truth will set those of you dark minded folk free.

Or if that doesn't do it for you consider the picture below...do you really think these two can take Superman????

And they thought I was the one with identity issues...If you ask me they would have been better off not to reveal their true identities!

I think you will find this only serves to further affirm my point!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Fecal Flavored Water

Yeah! Gross, right? Well there was apparently a study done last year on the amount of bacteria found on lemons used by various restaurants in their drinks. The following link does a better job of explaining the study than I can. But, either way I'm a little more cautious about the question that follows my order of a glass of water...."Would you like lemon with that?" No thank you!

Warning About Bacteria on Lemon Slices

In case you are wondering about the blog title...One day I brought up this study while at lunch with a group of friends. One person took the conversation a little further claiming he "loves pieces of fecal matter" in his drinks. Gag! And the phrase "fecal flavored water" was born.

I'm not usually a bacteria freak but this study for some reason got my attention. I simply wanted to share my new found knowledge with you.

At least one restaurant offers a solution to the wild spread of bacteria by these yellow-bellied members of the citrus fruit family...

I suggest other restaurants begin to follow their sanitary superior lead!

So now, while you're reflecting on your own restaurant lemon experiences...can I get you something to drink?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Work in Progress

Can you envision the possibilities? It may not look like much right now but it will in a few weeks. It's been about a year since a tree fell on our shed in the backyard. Wow. I can't believe it's been a year! A few things kept us from being able to replace it up to this point. But now we're close. I can almost see it. To ensure production and completion we've solicited the services of a contractor. That's him in the picture. Right next to his "not-so-handy, but eager to help and offer moral support" workman. Some friends are coming over toward the end of the month to release a little stress on the old building. Then hopefully sometime in June our new backyard addition will be complete.

It's amazing to me what a trailer-load of materials can turn into in the hands of someone who has a plan and the ability to fashion it all into something better than it was before. I'm thankful God takes the old, beat-up, broken-down junk of our past and re-fashions us according to His plan and purposes as we walk with Him into a new future!

It's a work in progress...and I'm grateful there's a contractor who's not me!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Birthday Girl

Today is a special day. Actually it would be more accurate to say that this week is a special week! But today is Sara's birthday. Today I am reminded once again how thankful I am for the gift of her life. She is a beautiful person both inside and out. I love her more and more each day. She is kind, compassionate, thoughtful, giving, creative, determined, hard-working, grace-filled, responsible, fun, funny, a gifted counselor, a talented photographer, a hot babe, a wonderful wife and the best life-long partner a guy could ask for!

Sara, I hope birthday week is just a taste of how much I love you! Happy 27th...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sonic Love Language

You want to know one of my wife's main love languages? Sonic diet cokes! In this case, it's not really her giving them, but receiving them. It speaks even more volumes about my love if I'm able to score one during Sonic happy hour from 2-4pm. It's simple really but it's taken me 5 years to even begin to figure it out.

Today it was 9:30am so happy hour was out the window. I had to run an errand on her side of town and after I was finished I thought, "I have an opportunity to speak Sara's love language this morning!" So, off to Sonic I go. Just a $1.50 later, I possess in my hands 32 oz. of sweet love for my girl. I head to her work to drop it off, knowing I am minutes away from making her day.

Strange. Her car's not in the parking lot. Ohhh...maybe she is at the school today (sometimes she goes to a local school for a morning a week to observe some classes and students). So I casually make my way to the school. ..anticipation building. Even stranger. Her car is not in the school parking lot. At this point I know the ice is already beginning to melt...and I don't want to communicate anything close to "watered-down love."

So, I think to my drugged up self (I've got a little cold going on that's kind of put me in a cloud of haze)...self, what day is today? Thursday. Thursday!?! Shoot! On Thursday's Sara works at a satellite office in Murray (about an hour away). Bummer...

I guess I spent a $1.50 to show my self some Sonic lovin'! But, it's really not the same. See, 5 years later and I'm still learning...

Maybe the fact that I went through all this will be sweet enough. After all, she and I both know I'm nowhere near fluent in her native love language. But I'm sure trying to learn my share of vocabulary!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Man Truck

I've always looked younger than my actual age. For instance now at 27 I might be lucky if a person would guess my age to be 21. A couple months ago after I finished preaching, a woman who was visiting that day came up to me to tell me she enjoyed my sermon. In the context of our conversation she asked how long I had been here at Reidland. I proceeded to explain that my wife and I moved here from Abilene, Texas almost 3 years ago. She almost stopped me in mid-sentence to say..."You're old enough to be married????"

I've also lived in Kentucky now for coming up on three years but have yet to become very "Kentuckian!" I grew up a city boy mostly. I don't really fish. I definitely don't hunt. Barely know how to shoot a gun. I don't own a four-wheeler. And I'm yet to bleed blue and white.

Well I think I've found something that could be a solution to both of those "shortcomings." Let me introduce you to...the Man Truck.

I'm not sure if it makes me look older (I probably shouldn't count on it) or if it really makes me any more Kentuckian (although it's a step in that direction) but it is fulfilling a boyhood dream of owning a truck. Something about owning a truck just makes a guy feel more like a hombre! Now I can haul stuff and put me a big metal box in the back (for my tools of course). It communicates toughness, dependability, and towing horsepower.

Or at least it would if it wasn't a single cab, 4 cylinder, white truck. I guess really all it communicates is that I'm a 21 (not 27) year old, city boy from Florida...but I like it anyway. Just me and my truck. Who knows...perhaps one day the man in both of us will finally be evident to all!

And if you're curious, yes, I'm old enough to be married...at least in most states with parental consent.