Monday, September 23, 2013

Honoring Pel in God's Majesty

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth…”-Psalm 8:1 The majesty of it all, God shouting from above; The mountains are the message Of His unending love; The aspen and the pine trees Flourish in the air, They serve as a reminder That a mighty God is there; But it takes the time to notice, Business numbs our sight; We easily miss the obvious, We easily miss the light; So take your time and shake us, Remind us who You are; Keep us in the mountains, Whether near or far; We all need a purpose In the valley where we go; Keep the mountains in our hearts And help us all to grow. I wrote those words yesterday as I was sitting on Mt. Massive in Colorado. We were honoring Pel, my oldest brother, who passed away last spring. He requested that his ashes be spread on a 14er in the Rockies. He loved hiking and climbed over twenty 14ers when he lived in Colorado. So his three sons, Pell III, Scott and Alex, along with his three brothers, Marc, Bob, and myself made the trip determined to fulfill his wish. We all sensed that Pel was with us too. The journey went well. We didn't quite make it all the way to the top of the mountain. But close to the top, we built Pel a monument out of rocks and honored his life. It was a beautiful and emotional time as we each spread a portion of his ashes on the monument. His sons did make the extra trek to the summit to throw the other portion of his ashes to the wind. It turned out to be much more than a celebration of my dear brother…it was a celebration of God as well. The day was absolutely beautiful. We’d heard that the next day, a cold front would be moving through, the temperature dropping and several inches of snow would fall. But for then, the setting could not have been more perfect. We hit the trailhead around 6:ooam as the sun was just rising in the east. The aspen were bright gold in the morning light and the pines were majestic. We passed several waterfalls and wildlife scurried everywhere. God was shouting, "I am here and I am awesome. My child Pel is here with me, but you have more life to live. Trust me. Seek me. Admire me and my creation before you. Rest in my love and peace. So we honored Pel. His legacy of dedication, love and passion will live on through his family. But we honored God as well. May we all continue to honor God every day of our lives. Rest in peace Pel. We all love you. And may we rest in Your peace, our Awesome God and Savior, all the days of our lives. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saying Goodbyes, Again

“…do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” -1Th. 4:13 Jeanie just dropped me off at the Branson airport to make the trip to Colorado. My brothers, nephews and I will be climbing Mt. Massive and fulfilling my oldest brother’s wish for his ashes to be thrown off a 14er. I wrote about it a few weeks ago. It’s been an emotional couple of hours- a lot more than I anticipated. Grief is so unpredictable. We try to fast forward through it all, only to be rudely interrupted when it shows up again. But when it comes walking through the door, it’s best to politely pay heed and to honor the guest. Earlier this morning, we made a trip to our local veterinarian. Our cat, Tigger, had been in our family for 18 years. He had outlasted three of our labs and his health never wavered. But this past year, he began losing weight and losing mobility. His quality of life was deteriorating, so we made the tough decision to have him “put to sleep.” Though Tigger was never really a ”cozy” cat, he still was a part of the family that will be missed. A loss is a loss, whether big or small. But now I’m on the plane going to say bye to my big brother again. I’ve found myself revisiting his loss and realized that I too easily shift into compartmentalization mode when I face pain. It’s simply easier to keep it tucked away than to face the reality and deal with it in a healthy way. I do realize that God has gifted us with the unique ability to handle loss. Our fantastic God-given brain has the ability to store away emotions when necessary so that we can cope and survive through tough situations. But the coping system becomes destructive when I keep emotions tucked away indefinitely without letting God touch them with His healing power. Can our awesome God heal with an instant touch? Of course. But He usually chooses to use the healing touch of a brother or sister who walks with us through the pain and loss. That’s what I anticipate in Colorado. As Pel’s three sons and three brothers gather together for the weekend and honor him on the mountain, we’ll be validating each other’s love for our brother and dad. We’ll be saying to one another, “It’s OK to say goodbye. It’s OK to move on.” The common denominator is people. When we choose to grieve alone, we’re locked into our own empty, dark closet of pain. I am so thankful to have brothers and nephews that are willing to take the time and go to the expense to honor Pel. I realize not everyone can make a trip to the mountains in Colorado. But everyone can reach out to people. Everyone can lean on a trusted friend. Everyone can reach out to our loving and compassionate God who knows what it means to hurt. The point is: reach out. Because reaching in just compounds the pain. I’m praying we have a safe and awesome time this weekend. I’m a little nervous but excited for what lies in store. Mostly, I look forward to being with Pel. His sprit will never leave us. Yes, I’ll miss Tigger too, but Pel’s spirit lives on forever. Both in Heaven and in our hearts. By Eric Joseph Staples © www,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Learning Golf

"…and He chose the twelve, that He might be with them…-Mark 3:14 Growing up in the Staples' family meant growing up with sports. My dad was a wrestler in his younger days and my three older brothers all excelled in football and track. We didn't play baseball, golf or basketball. Growing up in Texas, the focus was football. As the youngest and wanting to be a little different, I took up soccer as well. My dad came to watch the soccer games but I don't think he ever quite figured it all out. He told me once, "I don't understand the rules but I sure like watching you play." That was all the encouragement I needed. So, when my kids were in their school years, they played sports as well. Elizabeth played volleyball and was a pole vaulter and hurdler in track. I was clueless about both events but loved watching her compete. Eric also was involved in sports. He ran cross-country and track and played basketball and golf. I loved watching him play as well. As the kids have grown, they're not involved in most of those sports anymore. It would be kind of strange for Elizabeth and I to go pole-vaulting together. But the one sport that continues is golf. The problem was I am not a golfer. So, one afternoon years ago, I called a friend of mine who was the pro at a local golf club. I ask him, "Jeff, my son is into golf and good at it. I am not a golfer. Can you help me learn how to golf?" He said, "Yes." So we set an appointment for the next week. So the next week, I showed up with my sub par set of golf clubs ready to learn. I explained to Jeff, "I just want to be able to play a few holes with Eric without totally embarrassing myself." He said, "We'll get it done. "Remember," he said, "that golf is more mental than physical." I nodded yes, but had no clue what he meant. And the lessons began. I learned several important lessons from Jeff, about golf but mostly about life. 1. "Relax." From the first time I stepped up to the tee and hit the ball, Jeff urged me, "Relax Joey. Hold the club lightly. Breathe and enjoy the game." I had never really done that before in athletics. Relaxing in soccer would have landed me on the bench. Maybe. Or, would playing hard, intense and relaxed have been more fun? Jeff's point was a good one. Doing anything with a "chilled out" yet intentional attitude makes it more fun and usually more effective. 2. "Don't swing so hard." Jeff commented after my first drive, "Joey, you are not playing racquetball- swing softly." He educated me on the physics involved in the distance of the drive not being directly proportional to how hard the swing. He analyzed every part of my swing. He slowed it all down and it began to work. My late mentor, Richard Beach, used to say, "Play smarter, not harder." When we live our lives with focus, we get more accomplished. 3. "The distance doesn't matter." Jeff reminded me that if I swing the club correctly, the ball will go straight and farther. "Just focus on the swing," Jeff said. "Let the distance take care of itself." And of course, he was right. The "results" of life are up to the Lord, while my responsibility is to follow God and do what is right. My four lessons with Jeff lasted about a month and I learned quite a bit. No, I never went on the pro tour or anything, but I was able to at least play a few holes with Eric. I did learn a lot about golf, but never really mastered the game. But of course, that was never my intent. My intent was to love my son by doing what he liked to do. What do those you love like to do? Does your wife enjoy bike riding? Does your husband enjoy gardening? Do your kids like to play tennis? Do what they like to do. If you have to take lessons, take the time. It will be worth it. You just might learn some important lessons along the way… And show them you love them as well. By Eric Joseph Staples ©