Eight Is Enough?

Empty Hospital Bed in a Ward

A few weeks ago I heard my favorite author Bob Goff on the radio. He said that the average amount of people that can fit around a standard hospital bed is eight. He then said “10 if your friends are thin.” He went on to raise the question of who the eight people would be in his life.

And it stuck with me.

The truth is I heard that radio interview on our way to church and I have no idea what our Pastor preached about that morning. The entire service I was still kicking around what Bob Goff had just said.

Eight people.

The last faces you would see before you close your eyes and exit this life.

Eight.

Ten if they are thin.

Wow.

What a powerful (and maybe a bit morbid) thought.

Who are the eight people you want around your bed?

Do they know it?

Maybe today is a good time to let them know.

Then spend the time you have before that day investing in one another.

Eight people.

Ten if they are thin.

Go.

Setting The Pace

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Forty five. Forty Five is kind of record. Forty five is a malt liquor. Forty five is the number Michael Jordan wore when he returned from playing baseball. Forty five is not an age that we should say “they would have been today.” Today, I am doing just that and I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with it.

I woke up this morning to see that my good friend Stef would have been 45 years old today. Sadly, a dreadful disease not worth even mentioning took him after he fought like a warrior. There is not a single time I hear his name that I am not reminded of my struggle to come to grips with how this can happen. How can this be ALLOWED to happen? This morning I reflected on Stef’s life and the short time I was blessed to share with him as my friend. That’s when it hit me….

He set the pace.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to run or attend a race, you might have seen them. There are people walking around with little sticks with a number at the top. Some even have balloons attached so you can’t miss seeing them. They are pace setters. They position themselves at the beginning of the race so that those who have set a goal for a finish time know who to stay with. There’s tremendous pressure on them. They can’t have a “bad race” because they’ve got a group of people counting on them to make their goals.

And that is exactly what Stef did.

Stef wasn’t a marathon runner and didn’t carry a stick with balloons and a pace number. Stef’s life was his pace sign. When you were with him, you wanted to set your goals to finish this race with him and like him. He accepted the pressure of knowing if you were going to be in his circle of influence, you could feel safe knowing he was leading and leading well.

His pace was loving Jesus without apology.

His pace was loving his family.

His pace was loving his friends.

If those were your goals, he was the guy you wanted to stick close to.

The interesting thing about those that set the pace is it’s not just for the group you’re in. As a race goes along, you can measure your estimated finish time based on where you are. You might not be with one group, but you know you’re ahead of another one. When one passes you, you know you’ve got to pick up the pace if you plan to finish in that time.

And this is where I challenge anyone that might read this. Especially the guys….

What I learned from the life of my friend Stef is that each and every one of us is a pace setter. We’ve got a group of people we are leading to a finish line.

How are you doing with that?

To those that feel like you are not leading a pace team but you’re running with someone that is, stay the course. If you’re in between two pace teams, stay the course. If you feel like your goal finish time pace team just passed you, don’t be discouraged. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes we have to adjust our goals mid-race. Keep going. Keep pushing.

If you are the leader of your home and your family, keep a steady pace. As Stef once told me, “you’ve got people counting on you.”

While never saying a word about it and even after he is gone, Stef continues to lead my pace group. I know if I finish this race at the pace he ran it, I will have finished well.

Thank you Stef. Thank you for setting the pace. Save a place for me. I’ll finish this race one day too and can’t wait to see you.

This Is Not A Test – Review

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Thanks to my friends at FlyByPromotions, I had the opportunity to review the new Toby Mac CD – “This Is Not A Test” this week. I have always believed that one of the marks of a great artist is their ability to stay relevant as time goes by. Many artists turn to shock value and other creative ways to stay in the public eye. Others continue to mold their sound to match that of the current music scene. DC Talk had a knack for doing this and it should be no surprise that former DC Talk member Toby Mac continues that trend.

“This Is Not A Test” is another example of Toby keeping with the current sounds while continuing to spread the message of hope, love and a life that follows Christ. There are not many CD’s that the kids and the parents can agree on but “This Is Not A Test” is one that can used on road trips and the whole family will be satisfied. The grooves are smooth and the lyrics are easy to understand. One song flows to the next and makes “This Is Not A Test” a joy to listen to.

About TOBYMAC:
Toby McKeehan(known professionally as TobyMac) is a husband, father, performer, songwriter, producer, and businessman.  Growing up in the northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to Washington D.C. helped instill his love for rap music.  While attending Liberty University during the mid 80s, Toby met Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith and these three friends formed the Grammy winning, platinum selling group dc Talk.  Toby began his solo career in 1999 with his first solo album, Momentum, releasing in 2001.  Momentum has been followed by four additional studio albums, Welcome to Diverse City (2004), Portable Sounds (2007), Tonight(2010), and Eye On It (2012), along with his first live album, Alive and Transported (2008).  This Is Not A Test is his 6th studio album to be released.  Starting with dc Talk, and then going solo when the group disbanded, Toby still clings to such rootsy notions as hard work, persistence, patience, and – perhaps most relevant of all – the power of music, which he insists is still what keeps him going.  “It’s the truth,” he says.  “I still believe that a song can penetrate a heart.  I believe God can use a song to open someone’s mind and heart.”
S O C I A L • C O R N E R
YOUTUBE CHANNEL – Includes a 3 part video series for the song Feel It 
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Numbers on a page

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What were birthdays like before facebook? Honestly. Some may read this and think I’m being a bit over the top, but I am overwhelmed tonight. To each and every person that left a Birthday note, thank you. Please know that those words are heartfelt and here’s why….

I sat here tonight closing out another birthday and stumbled on this envelope in my desk. The envelope contains some items my parents had laying around the house when they moved. There are some old pictures and memories and then there are these. These are my grade cards. While this is only 2 of them, it might has well have been all of them. Notice that GPA? Not good. Not good at all.

The reality is I was an awful student. My mind was filled with day dreams and other places while many were hitting the books. I have no idea how I got through High School. I’m still not 100% sure how I got through college. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I certainly didn’t ace any of my english classes.

Yet tonight I am full. Each and every one of you that left a simple “Happy Birthday” are a face that has a story and at some point it has intersected mine. Some for brief moments, others for many years, all words on the pages of the chapters of my life. When I look at these “grade cards” I never knew then how this story would go. If we go by these numbers and what they represent, I would have guessed it wouldn’t have turned out anything like it has.

But it didn’t.

I’ll never have “book smarts.” My kids don’t ask me for help in school. One thing I never take for granted is the value of friendship and how every person we meet can make us believe we are far more than a grade card can ever report.

Thank you all for your kind wishes.

Thank you all for your friendship.

Thank you for giving grace when I needed it,

love when I didn’t deserve it,

And for never treating me like the numbers on these grade cards.

 

Random Vacation Thoughts

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Below is a collection of random thoughts from our vacation as I begin to decompress a bit. Warning, these are very random and not all warm and fuzzy.

1. One quote both started and wrecked my entire week in Wrightsville Beach. One simple quote.

Human beings never behave more badly towards one another than when they believe they’re protecting God.”

2. That quote came from This Sermon (pick it up at 32:35). Go ahead and watch that. This blog will still be here when you get back.

3. He also said “We’ve convinced ourselves that God needs protecting.”

4. God doesn’t need protecting.

5. I quit using facebook for reasons of the quote above (among other things).

6. That quote was an uppercut, this was the knockout punch….

All these things that you’re protesting. All these things that you’re holding you’re hand up and saying God’s against that, they hold no value.

7. Yeah but…..

The ONLY THING that counts is faith EXPRESSING itself through love.” -Galations 5:6

8. Paul with the ultimate Mic Drop there. I spent the week thinking about how that could possibly look. It’s almost easier to be against a bunch of stuff. Love is messy.

9. Example – How can I love someone I have a fundamental disagreement with regarding how you treat people…..and he’s a Pastor. (think about THAT.)

10. All of that happened on our first day there…..

11. I warned you this was random…. I was born in Alaska, grew up in Cleveland and am convinced I was created to live in North Carolina.

12. There seems to be a large number of population of Wilmington that smoke. Either that or Columbus has done an incredible job of curbing public smoking. No statement, just an observation.

13. For the first time I was walking with my 12 year old daughter and began instructing her on what to look for when she (gulp) dates. If he’s not opening the door or walking on the proper side of the sidewalk to protect you, keep looking. Chivalry is not dead. Set that bar high Princess 1.0.

14. Multiple times I looked at my children and thought “when did they get so big?”

15. I turn 45 on Tuesday. In a rather somber and maybe morbid moment of reflection, I realized I’ve most likely passed the halfway pole. I doubt this body will see 90 years old. In complete honesty, my next thought was 60. That’s only 15 years. That’s my first born child. While I sure hope it’s longer than that, it was a hard drink of reality that every moment, every day, every year must absolutely count.

16. I took the book “Not a Fan” with me. Good read…for 3 chapters. I couldn’t stay engrossed in it when life was happening right in front of me. There were waves to body surf and laughs to share.

17. Body surfing is natures largest “Neti Pot.”

18. We stayed in a friends home all week. I was obsessive about keeping it clean and perfect. “The body is a temple of God” and I take horrible care of mine.

19. Wilmington to Columbus is a long time to process.

20. I came up with most of this during that drive from Wilmington to Columbus.

There will probably be much more to come. This was just the stuff that came from the drive back home. I miss being there already…..