Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pelham's Promise

"…but your yes is to be yes…" -James 5:12 My favorite TV mini-series is also one of the most famous ever: Lonesome Dove. I bet I've watched it a zillion times. Jeanie said the other day, "It seems like you just watch that movie over and over." I think it connects me with my Texas roots or something. It's certainly doesn't espouse the best in morality, but it's just so…TEXAS. You may not have known that it's based on the true-life stories of Texan's Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight. They were Texas Rangers and cattlemen and Goodnight kept meticulous records, correspondence and diaries. If ever there was a true man and spirit of the West, it was Charles Goodnight. His exploits have been made the basis of most Western movies in the last 100 years. Not only Lonesome Dove, but John Wayne movies and many others. In real life, while on a cattle drive, Loving was shot by Indians and would die of gangrene from his wounds on Sept. 25, 1867, and was temporarily buried at Fort Sumner. Before his death, Loving had asked Goodnight to bury him in Texas, so in February of 1868 Goodnight returned with Loving’s son, Joe, and carried the body back to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas. In Lonesome Dove, Call does the same for Augustus, transporting his body all the way back to Texas. That's what we do with those we love. When they make a wish, we honor that wish because we honor the person. You might remember that my dear brother, Pelham, passed away back in the spring. We had a memorial service for him back then but he made a special request before he died. He asked us to throw his ashes off of a mountain in Colorado. Pel loved climbing the 14ers (14,000 ft. high). So, the third weekend in September, Pel's three sons and my two brothers and I will fly to Denver, drive to Leadville and spend Saturday climbing to the summit of Mt. Massive, the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado. It won't be easy. The hike will begin about 3:00am so we can get to the summit before noon as there are afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day. The summit is above the tree line, so there is no protection from lightning strikes. But our plan is to make the journey and fulfill Pel's wish. But even better than fulfilling someone's wishes after their death is fulfilling wishes during their life. Someone said, "Don't respect someone for making a promise. Respect them for keeping it." Keeping promises requires commitment and integrity. The commitment to keep the promise given and the integrity to do whatever is required to make it happen. Husband's and wives, when is the last time you read the vows you made on your wedding day. They surely involved loving and honoring during better and worse. Parents, be reminded of those promises you made to your kids to always love them. And kids, remember the promise you made to respect your mom and dad. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who keep promises. It's not easy because commitments are always difficult. Just like Goodnight honored Loving, we will honor Pelham by climbing the 14er and throwing his ashes to the wind. May we honor those we love in life as well as in their death. May we be willing to honor them… No matter where the journey takes us. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back from the Beach

"…love one another" -2 John 5 We just returned from a wonderful trip to the Gulf Coast with all the family. It was a tremendous time of fun, fellowship and rest. It's a trip we've been taking for 25 plus years with Jeanie's best friend and sister, Holly, and her family. Our families have grown so much that we rented a beach house for the first time this year. It had 7 bedrooms and slept 23 people. The house and beach were great but the best part about the trip was the time with family. Many times, families celebrate the end of a vacation so they can get away from family and back to their routine. For all of us, we're still in the middle of P.V.D. (post vacation depression- I made that one up) from genuinely missing each other. Our vacations work because of some important ingredients. Respect. Someone said, "The highest expression of love is to respect." When we respect someone, we honor them even though we may not understand them. Counting kids, we had seventeen people between our families. There are a variety of personalities and temperaments in our group. It would be easy for the leaders and decision-makers to battle it out over who has control. But because of the respect level, this group always decides to take it easy and let the week flow. Laughter. Milton Berle said, "Laughter is an instant vacation." So, when laughter is coupled with a real vacation, it's a powerful combination. We laughed at each other all the time! The three grandkids were hilarious with their mannerisms and faces and, when our power went off during a storm, someone asked (and I won't name names), "Will the toilet still work with the electricity off?" We all had fun with that one. There were so many situations where we chose to find humor in each other rather than frustration. Flexibility. The other day, as I was telling someone about the trip, they responded, "How can you stand to be with family for a whole week? Don't you drive each other crazy?" My answer was "We could have spent a month together!" There are simply no huge expectations. And guess who struggles with that one more than anyone else? ME! But being flexible means not holding onto preconceived plans. It means, "letting go." It means relaxing and trusting God's plans. Love. Love is simply a choice. It's not about waiting until someone has earned the right to be loved, but about applying grace anyway. Are our two families perfect? Of course not. We do things to irritate each other and have our disagreements. But as Paul said at the end of Ephesians Chapter four, "Be kind to one another, forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven you." Love is the trump card that overrules any disagreement or misunderstanding. Yep, we loved our vacation. And the time of reflection and rest was so needed. Though we're back to the realities of school, work, and house chores, I think of our trip to the beach and I smile. Be sure you have vacation times with your family. You don't have to go to the beach. Maybe it's just a night out to eat and a movie or just grilling hot dogs on the back porch. The point is, you're together as a family respecting, laughing, flexing and loving those who mean the most to you. That's why God invented the family- that we might be filled with meaning and love. Families simply work… …whether the electricity goes off or not. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clock Radios

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment" -1 Tim. 6:6 Sometimes I can be very annoying. I check and re-check things to make sure they're "set." I've never been clinically diagnosed as obsessive- compulsive, but I definitely have those tendencies. I like things to be in their place. It's good to be "tidy" but not good when it really doesn't matter. It's good for things to go as scheduled but not good when we resist God's better plan. It's not healthy when we've been given enough but we still want more. I was in the bedroom the other day and noticed our old alarm clocks that sit on the nightstands on each side of our bed. They looked dusty and old. I commented to Jeanie, "We need to get new alarm clocks." "Why", she asked? "These work just fine!" By the way, Jeanie would not be classified as OCD. She is not messy but doesn't stress over a pillow out of place. So, I began to describe all the reasons why we needed new alarm clocks. "These are dusty, they're worn out, and they won't charge our iPhone…they are just old." "Well okay,” she said. She's learned to leave me alone when I'm in "fix" mode. So, we drove to Bed Bath and Beyond and they had a bunch of different alarm clocks. We bought two of them that had a built in dock for the iPhone and a lot of gadgets. When we got home, I set them both up and we were set for an unbelievable experience with our clock radios. But the amazing experience turned sour. The clocks were too bright at night. Even set to their lowest, they kept us awake. And the iPhone cradle was awkward and noisy. So, a few days later, I returned the clock radios. I found two more that were less expensive, weren't as bright and worked just fine. I took them home and plugged them in. Again, ready to have a remarkable clock radio experience, I discovered that they were about the same as the original clock radios I had removed. So, I took those back to the store as well (they think I'm crazy), dusted and cleaned the old ones (that we hadn’t given away yet) and put them back in there place. We slept better that night, the clocks worked just fine and I saved $100. Our tendency is to always want more... 2 scoops could be 3 scoops, $10 could be $20, and partly sunny could be fully sunny. But the truth is, enough is enough. The word gluttony comes from the Latin word meaning "to gulp down or swallow." It means, "to gulp down to the point of extravagance or waste." We tend to associate gluttony with food, but most of the things we "gulp down" are much more damaging than what we eat. In Jesus' lesson about the rich young ruler, in Mark 10:17, Jesus was explaining that if we're focused on "gulping down" money, then we won't be focused on finding our peace in Him. Being rich, that man clearly had enough, but wasn't willing to give it away. We hold tightly to the most important things in our lives. Whether money, food, people, clock radios or God, where our heart is, our treasure lies. Jesus nailed it in Luke 12:34,“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We'll never be content with anything other than Jesus. Be content with what God has provided. Trust that His provision is just right. Don't compare to those around you, but rather, prepare for God to bless you in His own unique way. He knows what He's doing and what you have is probably more than enough… …clock radios and all. By Eric Joseph Staples ©