Jun 28, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

“…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (NJKV)

I write this with a bit of sadness in my heart today. This week we lost an old friend; a large tree that stood in the back of our yard. A storm came through the city where I live, taking out power, taking down trees, and making the water in some portions of the city unfit to drink because of contamination. We lost two trees in our yard and two were damaged on the boulevard. The trees in our yard landed on our fence, the neighbor's shed, car, boat, yard, and power line (she had no power for 1 1/2 days.)

Cathy and I woke up at 4:00 am to hear the "train" sound and the sky looked like a strobe light (we both got headaches). We realized that the tree was going, she prayed and I held her thinking that if we go, let's go together…always the romantic I guess…

Tree Trimmers
The winds shifted and the three main branches hurled a different direction away from the house. Our daughter Anna (who lives two blocks away from our house) also lost a massive tree that landed on the roof of her bedroom. We realized that potentially, the family could have lost four members in the same storm. Praise the Lord for His protection and His mercy.

Two of our children; Josh and Rachel, were off work and were able to come over to help clean up our yard. I borrowed a friend's chainsaw, so I had two chainsaws available along with some pole saws. We hauled the equivalent of 12 truckloads of tree branches.

Our Tree-less Yard
After we had our trees inspected by an arborist, we ended up having to hire tree trimmers take down the largest tree and a portion of another. Due to the location of the buildings and all of the utility lines, it was too dangerous for me to remove without a boom truck and pulleys. After the tree was removed, my son-in-law Chris helped move the logs and the NEW pile of branches after the tree trimmers were done.

I really miss that tree and feel sad that we had to take it down. When we purchased the home some twenty six years ago, little did we know how much the tree would be a part of our lives and the life of our family; even our patio was designed around it. It was a place to rest, a place of shade, home for squirrels and birds. Boards were nailed to the sides so that my children could climb up into it. When we built an ice rink, it stood in one end guarding the goal.

It’s funny that it takes loss for us to appreciate what we had (have). Today, please take some time to think about life and death and what’s important. Death is a reality - but so is God's offer of salvation in Christ. Is your hope in Christ? Don't put off your decision for Him, because you could be called into eternity at any moment - and then it will be too late.

Take time to talk to God and to talk to your friends. Take time to think about what’s important. Take time to slow down and appreciate the trees; it will be tomorrow soon enough.

Struggling with what to do next?  Call 1-888-NEED-HIM. Someone is waiting to talk to you. 

Jun 21, 2012


I don’t like fingerprints on my vehicles; inside or outside. I love a clean vehicle; it is one of the disciplines that was deeply instilled into me by my parents when I was a young lad. So, what do you suppose went through my mind when I was sitting in my truck one day with my granddaughter Fallon as she was eating some crackers and leaving fingerprints everywhere she touched?
Cathy and I were babysitting Fallon at her parents’ house while they were at the hospital recouping after the birth of Gavin (my third grandchild). We had spent the morning helping Fallon “drive” all of her parents vehicles; from the 4-wheeler to the classic cars. It was when we got inside my pickup truck that I gave her the crackers to eat from a bag sitting inside the cab. 

My obsessive-compulsive mind raced back and forth between wanting to quickly wipe away the fingerprints to being VERY gratefully at how the fingerprints came to be in my truck. For those of us who at times are obsessive-compulsive it’s easy to miss the bigger picture as we try to maintain control. Kind of like seeing only the footprints left in the freshly poured concrete sidewalk, all the while not seeing the child with the cold glass of water that they were holding out for you to take.

Fallon, on the other hand, was smiling and very happy just to be with her grandpa, “driving” my truck parked in her driveway and eating crackers that made her hands greasy, leaving fingerprints EVERYWHERE that she touched. Again, it was I who gave her the greasy crackers to eat!

Because of how I was raised, it really bothers me if my truck gets dirty from driving on a long trip and gets covered with road grime and bugs. As soon as possible I will wash the exterior and wipe down the interior with Armor All®.   

I should note that if you would look at the rear window of my pickup truck you will notice smudge marks that look like a bug-covered windshield after a very long road trip. It took me a while to figure out that they are marks left from hockey tape when I occasionally carrying my hockey sticks in the cab of the truck instead of in the truck bed. For some reason this doesn’t bother me to the point of cleaning the window!

My parents made sure that each week all of the family vehicles were washed. They would also make sure that interior was vacuumed and the appropriate areas wiped down with Armor All® - Car Waxes, Polishes, & Auto Detailing Products. The windows would be cleaned and Rain‑X® Original Glass Treatment would be applied. Several times a year, the exterior would be waxed and polished and Armor All® would be applied to the tires

Because my parents took care of what they had, I’ve joked that when my parents give an account for what they were given and it all goes back to God, He will be able to get full market value because of how well they took care of what they were stewards over! 

I’m happy to say that love won out and I was able to sit back and take the precious moment with my granddaughter deeply in. I offered her a napkin from the glove box, which, I’m happy to report, she promptly used to wipe her hands and proceeded to once again “drive” my truck, eating crackers and leaving fingerprints!

The day that I wrote this blog, I washed and scrubbed the bugs off the exterior of the truck. Someday I will wipe the interior of my truck just because that is one of my issues. But for now, my granddaughter’s fingerprints mark up the interior reminding me that someone really loves me and once again I am so very grateful for the gift that she is in my life.

Jun 14, 2012


Children love to play “make-believe”; did you when you were a child? Who did you like to pretend that you were; a mom or dad, or maybe it was a doctor or policeman or a fireman; a maybe even a mayor? Or did you like to take on imaginary adventures such as slaying dragons and rescuing princesses who were held captive in castle towers?

Eventually, children grow up and learn to live a little bit more in the “real world” and let go of make-believe; or at least for most areas of our lives. Sometimes even as adults we will make believe that we are someone great and live vicariously through their life.

Or we will sing in the shower as we imagine ourselves on a stage wowing the fans who have come to hear us sing. Or how about the times we have stood on the sidelines watching one of our children playing a sport and make-believe that we too could still play great….as one parent told me; “The older we get the better we were”.

Make-believe is OK as long as we are honest with ourselves and not ripping off others. What I mean is playing make-believe at work and pretending that we are actually working only when the boss is looking is not only wrong it is also stealing. Or make-believing that you love your spouse and are faithful, when you are actually not true to them. Or “lip-singing” instead actually singing.

Make-believe exists everywhere, even in the Church’ “Make-Believers” I call them. They are people who really don’t have a relationship with Jesus and pretend that they do. They play Christianity as though they were playing a doctor or a fireman as a little child.

Part of the reason why the church is not doing what it should be doing is that the church today is filled with nominal make-believers who go to church like it is a social club. They are playing make-believe and upon closer examination, you will discover that they are hardly different in a substantive way from members of secular society.

“Make-Believers” are people who have lost their saltiness and need to get back the distinct flavor of what it means to be a “True Believer”; in other words a Christian.

The world needs true believers; people who will let their lives be filled with the reality of God in every area of their lives and in every place that they go. Truly following Jesus Christ; led by His Holy Spirit. Or, as Phil Keaggy wrote; 

“The true believers stand on every word You say, The true believers made alive in Christ today, This is how we survive and where we mean to stay. The true believers.”

True Believers - Phil Keaggy (HQ)  

Jun 7, 2012

What a Great Week!

Some weeks when it is time to write my blog it seems as though I temporarily have “writer’s block”. Usually, when that happens, it is due to not noticing the extraordinary in a “mundane” week. That was certainly not the case for this past week; it was FILLED with great things to write about! My challenge is to give equal time and weight to several exciting events that took place during this past week.

First of all, my second oldest daughter Anna’s boyfriend of several years, Bentley, asked her to marry him. Wow, that type of exciting news always will bring joy to a dad; especially because he took the time to talk with me BEFORE he asked my daughter officially… which means they have discussed the idea of marriage over the past few years. But, when he stopped over to talk with me, my heart was delighted to say “yes” to him! And he was delighted as well because he wanted to ask her and give her the ENGAGEMENT ring sometime the following day. They are planning potentially a spring wedding. It will be great to add Bentley “officially” to the family!

The second exciting news was the BIRTH of my third grandchild; Gavin Joseph Dougherty. He is my oldest daughter Elizabeth and her husband Chris’s newest family member, much to the delight of his big sister Fallon who is nineteen months old. Wow, this means two grandsons and one granddaughter!

The third exciting thing that happened was when Grandpa Tom and Grandma Cathy got to take care of Fallon while mom and dad were in the hospital. I really enjoyed having several days and nights of pretty much uninterrupted time with Fallon, except for the trips to the hospital to visit with the newest grandchild and some family members; and oh ya, the happy parents! I love Fallon’s sense of humor and quick wit and great demeanor. that we were able to observe as we filled our days with long walks picking stones and flowers, and cuddling in bed.

I was so excited when I was able to pick up a new entertainment cabinet with and for my daughter Judith. I also had opportunities to spend some time with my other children throughout this week about things going on in their lives like cars and work and music video production and hockey and life. I also got the latest photos of my grandson Emmett; wow! I treasure the times that I get to spend with each of my children; I love them so very much! They are not just a bi-product of time spent with Cathy; ALL OF MY CHILDREN are precious treasures that make my life so much richer!

And last, but not least, this week Cathy and I celebrated our 31st ANNIVERSARY. With so many divorces happening in this world and in the church it is something to not take lightly. God continues to help us to come together when we come to Him as the Divine Third in our relationship. Happy Anniversary Cathy!

God has certainly been good to us this past week. It really was a great week.

Now, I’m not sure what kind of a week you have had or are having. Either way, take some time to thank God. The Bible says that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV) Especially If it has been good or great don’t forget who has made it great for you! 

If it has been “bad”, I sincerely hope that you will see God’s goodness in what has happened; even if it has been really bad. Even if you are having the worst week in your entire life; God can make a way where there seems to be no way! Maybe along the way you’ve forgotten God; God hasn’t forgotten you. Call out to Him, won’t you?

Call 1-888-NEED HIM. Someone is waiting to talk with you right now.