Archive for February, 2010

“WINTER OLYMPICS”

February 25, 2010

 

As I watched the Winter Olympics this year, I thought of two things:  Decisions and Self-Discipline.  Being an olympian is all about setting a goal.  That is the easy part.  We have all set goals in ours lives.  There are small goals along the way and most are easy to accomplish.  Those larger goals are when we make the decision to be the best at what we do.  Many of these athletes begin training at a very early age.  I often wonder if the goal was set by the athlete, a parent, or someone else of influence.  One of the couples in the skating competition have been skating together for 13 years…..they are 22 and 23 years old.

I will always be grateful for my mother.  She sat me down when I was in the sixth grade and explained all the professions.  I set my goal that day.  I wanted to be a Certified Public Accountant.  Of course, I got off track a few times, but I never took my sight off the goal.  It’s easy to veer to the left or the right, but I learned  much from the experience.  Maybe I should have had a coach and trainer during that time.  But I would probably wonder what I had missed…..probably nothing.

Regardless of who makes the decision, the lives of many people are affected.  It is hard for me to imagine the training and self-discipline involved in reaching such lofty goals.  And, I am sure this cannot be accomplished alone.  There are parents, trainers, coaches and I have not idea what all of that involves.

Each of these participants must train to perfection.  Even then, one wrong move and you are out of the competition and in many cases suffer serious injury.  It is hard for me to realize the danger involved until I see someone injured on a ski jump, bob-sled, or snowboard, etc.

Athletes from countries across the world enter the various events but there are only 3 medals in each.  Those who aren’t awarded a medal are not losers.  They were just not as good as the medal winners at that particular time.  I consider each participating athlete a winner.  There among the best in the world.

I always wonder what kind of life some of these athletes have when they have to be so focused on the goal and disciplined in their training.  What kind of relationships do they experience?  Do they have time for the pleasures God provides for us each day? 

They become leaders and are looked up to by many people because of their talent. 

Each of us are leaders in some way to someone because of the decisions we make.  That is why it is so important that we make the right ones.  Whether right or wrong, our decisions affect others and are an awesome responsibility. After decision comes self-discipline.  I believe that self-discipline is when you allow God to always have a part in your decisions.  Sometimes we tell God, “This is a small decision, I can handle it myself.”  Well, discipline is when He has a part in the insignificant decisions as well as the enormous ones.  We sometimes forget the importance of how our actions affect others. 

  

“DEFRAGMENTATION”

February 25, 2010

What a week it has been.  Last Wednesday my computer started doing crazy things.  I won’t go into detail, but I am talking really crazy.  Then on Thursday it quit doing crazy things…..it did NOTHING!!! 

I didn’t need this because it was opening baseball season for the Longhorns.  If the Horns are in Austin on the weekend, Pam and I are there.  When the baseball seasons ends in the summer, we start the count-down until it begins again in February.

So, Friday morning we get packed and head to Austin.  We had just crossed the causeway and bridge on Lake Livingston when there was a long line of vehicles stopped in front of us.  We were pretty well on schedule so a slight delay was no problem.  We sat for about ten minutes with nothing happening, so I walked up to the car in front of us to get some information.  The men told me there was a HAZMAT collision that had occurred at 3:00 AM that morning.  Hazmat wasn’t in my vocabulary until he said one of the trucks was loaded with diesel.  Now I have it.  Hazard Material collision.  They had been working on the spill site for about 7 1/2 hours and had no idea when it would be cleaned up. 

I told Pam to find us a route to Trinity on my cell phone GPS.  Now that is a wonderful thing.  We had to turn around and go back about 5 miles to take our detour.  At one time, this would really have upset us quite a bit.  When we turned on the road to Trinity, I told Pam we were on another “adventure.”  The route to Trinity was a Farm Road and we had a lot of truck traffic because everyone was taking the same detour.  I had been on this road before, but there were some new sites.  We passed “The Rising Sun” which years ago was a nite club.  I don’t know whether the name indicated closing time or not.  Well…..this building now is the home of “Cowboy Church.”  How about that?

We had lunch in College Station and proceeded to Austin.  When I am in a hurry, it seems like everyone wants to drive in the left lane.  Probably 90% of the inside lane vehicles are trucks.  It seems if you buy a truck you automatically get a license to drive in the left lane and hold up traffic.  I drive a truck (Escalade) but I didn’t get my license to stay in that lane.  Sometimes I am guilty of driving on the inside lane when I am going faster than the traffic.

We got to the baseball game in time for the first pitch.  We win on Friday and that was good.  We lost on Saturday in the 9th inning and that was bad.  We lost on Sunday and that was bad.  We stopped in College Station for supper and ate a Jason’s Deli.  We do this a lot and wear our Burnt Orange proudly amid the Aggie Maroon.  It doesn’t bother us but it seems to bother some of the other patrons.

Back to the office on Monday.  I had prayed for “new life” for my computer.  Monday morning it was time for the funeral.  I had to drive to Lufkin and buy a new one.  It took the Geek Squad until Wednesday to come over and transfer all my files, etc. to the new computer. 

So, now you know why I’ve been silent since last week.

Sometimes we just have weeks like that.  I helps when going through the difficult times to always look for the good things.  God places many things on this earth for us to enjoy.  I started reading a book a few weeks ago that was about “Why do Christians feel bad about feeling good?”  When we enjoy the good things God provides and He sees the pleasure we get from His creation…..He feels good!  When Pam and I do something for Lyndsey that gives her pleasure, it makes us happy.  So, I have decided to feel “good” about feeling “good.”

When we experience a time like last week, it is like a computer when it needs “defragmentation.”  That is when everything on the hard drive needs to be reorganized.  The hard drive has been fragmented in all directions.  When everything is so disorganized and the pressure begins to build, it is time for God to do a little reorganizing in our lives.  He can clean up some of the things that we pick up and store within us that don’t belong.  Then, God can gather all the good things together and we will begin to function in a manner that will bring Glory to God.  When God is our GPS, we will have less need for defragmentation.

“A LIFETIME OF STORIES”

February 20, 2010

A few days ago I was remembering the good times and the hard times of the past.  I thought:  “I must be ancient.”  But, I know that’s not so.  Each morning I look in the bathroom mirror to shave and I ask myself:  “Do you see any change since yesterday?”  The answer is always “No” so I guess I must be as young as I feel.  I’ve been looking in that mirror for a long, long time.  Some of the things I remember:  Pearl Harbor attack, Korea, Vietnam, man walks on the moon, and all of the armed conflicts across the world.  I also remember the great events I have experienced.

I remember something that happened one Christmas when Pam was very ill.  She had made a friend while she was in the hospital in Houston.  This friend lived about 40 miles from Jasper.  Her church had a Christmas program each year:  “A Living Christmas Tree.”  The Christmas tree was built in tiers and reached almost to the ceiling of the church.  The choir filled the tiers and the star singer was perched at the top of the tree.  Great program.  We left the church and drove way out in the “boondocks” to a lighting display.  It was really great, especially for Lyndsey at her age.  But I didn’t really enjoy it.

My headlights began to dim on the way to the lighting display, so when we got there I turned off the ignition and tried to restart it.  CLICK!  CLICK!  CLICK!  It was not a real comforting sound.  I really, really don’t have the faintest idea of where I am. Now for a little background.  We were at the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi one year.  We love to sit on the beach or around the pool and “people watch.”  Pam and I have been doing this for a long time, and we really know how to do it.  There was a young couple with a small child.  They were very protective parents and if water splashed in the child’s face, both parents were in the wading pool.  They had no fear when it came to saving said child who didn’t realize he was in trouble.  This happened so many times that the dad finally dropped his shoulders, raised his arms to shoulder height, and let them dropped against his hips.  I think this means either “I have just about had it.” or “That’s all I Need.”

Now, back to the Christmas story.  After a few clicks, being the auto mechanic I am, I determined there was a problem.  Right?  Pam is ill and tired by this time and she probably wanted to hear some words of encouragement from her hero.  I am able to do that most of the time.  But, this was an exception.  I stepped out of the car, lifted my arms to shoulder height, let my hands drop to my sides, and said:  “THIS IS ALL I NEED!!!” 

We got help from the friend’s dad.  The alternator wasn’t working, so we drove back to the friend’s house in town.  That was a real fun trip too.  We would turn the headlights on long enough to get a reasonably idea where the road was and then drive from memory.  It wasn’t quite that bad.  We could almost see the road without lights.

We had fellowship with the friend’s family and the pastor of the church.  After some good food, we borrowed the friend’s car to drive home, with the intention of coming back the next day for my car.  It was already the next day.  It was after midnight. 

This was my first experience with a foreign auto with a manual transmission.  Manual transmissions I knew…..but nothing foreign.  It didn’t matter whether it was manual or automatic.  It was foreign.  When I was growing up it was either Chevrolet or Ford.  I eventually found the right place for the ignition key.  Next, I discovered the headlight switch.  If there was a dome light, I never found the switch.  By this time I was really having fun.  This was my first time to read the knob on a gear shift using the braille system.  You know.  The knob has little lines and letters on it. 

We made it home okay and I returned for my car the next morning before the family was awake. 

Sometimes we try to carry all of our burdens alone.  When Pam needed me that night, I let anger and frustration take control.  Isn’t it simple when we can look back and see what we should have done in such situations?  Instead of slapping my hands on my hips, I should have looked to heaven and said, “Lord, I need a little help here.”  I don’t remember at the time but I may have been angry with God for letting that happen to me.  I’ve learned over the years that God wants a major part in everything that happens to us.  He wants to be part of the hard times and the good times.

I do much better now, but this experience caught us at a time when we were really struggling.  I have learned much since that time.  The harder the experiences, the more our relationship with God grows.  So, thank God any way for the hard times as well as the good times.

“QUAIL AND THINGS”

February 18, 2010

 

The reason Pam gave me the “Quail Cross-stitch” … we love to hunt quail in South Texas.  A few years ago we had a group that loved to hunt together.  I enjoyed hunting with the boys, but my most memorable trips included the wives.  When visiting or driving through South Texas, most people only see the mesquite, cactus, rocks, and very little grass.  But, there are times when the spring rains come and wildflower seeds that have lain dormant for a long time, spring to life and the land is covered with beauty.  If you ever see this, it causes you to wonder how could this barren land suddenly be so beautiful.

We never used bird dogs on our hunts.  We had what we called the “bird buggy.”  That’s a pickup or suburban converted to a hunting vehicle with captain’s seats mounted on the front, a high bench seat in the back, and a grain bin for graining.  It looks something like a battleship more than a hunting vehicle.  We would drive down a sendero spreading grain and looking for quail.  When we spotted quail we would jump off the buggy and the hunt was on.  At first we are pretty cautious chasing the quail.  It is hard to look  up at a covey of QUAIL in flight and watch for (THINGS) rattlesnakes, mesquite, and cactus.  But, in a while we thew caution to the wind and ignored the dangers und us. 

 

Chasing quail through the brush and cactus is really exciting, but danger lurks around you.  When someone spots a rattler or hears that warning rattle, it is time to freeze.  It really dampens your excitement and enthusiasm.  So, it’s back to the buggy to settle down and get over the fearful experience.  Then, it’s back to the hunt.

The brush country of South Texas is not posted with DANGER SIGNS to point out the rattlesnakes, cactus, and mesquite thorns.

One of the men I hunted with was an ex Texas state trooper and a good shot with any kind of firearm.  One time he really “got down” on me for missing a few shots at a covey of quail.  I told him I missed because I was aiming for the eye to keep from destroying the breast meat.  We later flushed a covey and this man and I happened to shoot at the same bird at the same time.  I really was a little quicker than him and pulled the trigger about  1/10,000 th of a second before he did.  We both said “my bird.”  He found the bird and I asked him to hand it over.  He said “my bird” again and I told him to check the eye.  He looked at the bird’s eye and due to my excellent shooting  a shotgun pellet had gone through the eye.  He just laughed and threw me the bird.

I was always the camp cook.  I like to cook and on a quail hunt there are certain benefits for the chef.  I didn’t have to clean the birds.  If you can figure enough ways to cook quail to keep all the hunters happy, they really don’t mind cleaning birds while the meal is being prepared.  I won’t tell all the ways I learned to cook quail, but everyone would stay happy if they ate quail two or three times each day. 

Each trip to South Texas was different from the previous one.  Each was a memory that I will always cherish. Fun and fellowship with friends always overshadowed the encounter with mesquite thorns, cactus, and rattlesnakes. 

All through life’s journey we will be surrounded by danger.  As we seek to enjoy the good things that God has provided for our enjoyment, danger lurks around us.  Satan never changes his temptations.  They are just presented in a little different way.  In the Book of Job, God asked Satan where he had been.  His reply was, “roaming the earth.”  He still is.

Some of the side roads we take are filled with temptations and, if we try, we can find some way to justify why we turned off the main road.  It is always good to have a friend who will be a true friend and hold us accountable for our actions.  It is much better to be accountable now, rather than later.  Being accountable is what gives us integrity.  We all know what integrity is.  That is our actions when no one is looking.  That’s when we are continuously looking at ourselves from outside our box. 

If we will only call on Him, we always have a Friend to accompany us in our journey.  He is the one that will always nudge us off the side road and back on the road that leads to Him.

“U”-TURN

February 17, 2010

I started walking about three weeks ago.  It is not one of my favorite things to do, so I found a solution.  As soon as I roll out of bed, I put my walking attire on and walk.  This allows me to walk before I wake up.  I keep telling myself this works.

I live on “Byerly Loop.”  It is really County Road 165.  But, you have to understand “Deep East Texas” talk.  When you turn off  FM 777, the loop is about one block east, three blocks south, and one block west.  That is “Byerly Loop.”  To my knowledge, there are no Byerlys living on the loop.  I guess sometime before I moved here, there must have been a Byerly here.  I live in the Stephenson house and have been here for 30 years.  When you move to Jasper, your are a “new-comer.”  (For 20 years)  When I told people I lived on Byerly Loop in the Stephenson house, they knew exactly where I meant.  I must not be a new-comer now, because when I tell someone where I live using the same old description, they have no idea what I am talking about.  I guess now I live on County Road 165 in the Burrows house.

As I was walking this morning I came to the end of road and made a quick “U-Turn.”  It is still dark and when I turned this 8-foot tall Boxer darted away from me making a sound that words can’t describe.  Well, maybe it wasn’t quite 8 feet tall.  The sound the Boxer made was something like cry or scream….he was terrified.  I understood how he felt because the hair on my legs stood out.  He was following about six or eight feet behind me and moving very quietly.  I guess I should place a sign on my back saying “Do Not Follow Too Close – I may take a U-Turn.”  Either that or:

No U Turn Sign Clip Art 

I am sure that it will be a while before I forget this event.  I really hate to scare Boxers before dawn.  It tends to make me walk toooooo fast.  This goes beyond the intended limits for my cardio walk.

After my walk I was thinking about this encounter.  When God led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, He gave them signs to follow.  They could depend on Him to not make any sudden U-turns.  The reasons it took 40 years for such a short trip was because Israel took their eyes of their Deliverer and wandered off on a side road.  Not just once, but many times.  But, a patient God continued to bring them back on the main road and eventually led them to the Promised Land.

For each of us today, this is not a one-day or 40-year journey.  It is a journey of a lifetime.  We can travel this road the “hard way” or the “easy way.”  We can keep our eyes on the Savior, following closely or we can wander off on to the side roads.  We don’t have to worry about any sudden 180 degree U-turns.

Well, that’s my story for today.  As I am writing this I realize I have a story each day…..if I just look for it.  We all have a story to tell.  I think it is important to tell our story each opportunity we have.  One never knows when our story will have an impact on someone.  I’ll continue to tell my stories and let God open the ears that need to hear.

“COMMITMENT AND PERSISTENCE”

February 16, 2010

This lamp was created from a mesquite stump.  Turning the lamp on the lathe was the enjoyable part of the project.  A friend gave me the stump.  It was much larger with a very unbalanced shape.  I was so excited because I could see the raw beauty in this piece of wood.  The least enjoyable part (actually frightening ) of this project was trimming to size and balance with a chain saw.  Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not one of those people on the side of the highway that carve bears and indians with a chain saw.

Mesquite is a very beautiful wood and also very hard.  The possibilities I saw in this stump were nothing compared to the end result.  The grain where the roots merge into the trunk contain beautiful swirls.  Once the rough cuts are made and it is mounted on the lathe, the fun part begins.  As the wood is removed, I always like to let the wood “speak for itself.”  It begins to take on its own character and where it leads…..I follow.

This morning I remembered a vase I began 10 or 12 years ago.  A friend gave me a piece of black walnut.  Walnut is almost as hard as mesquite.  I turned the walnut into a beautiful vase…..almost.  Turning with or across grain is really fun.  Removing the wood from inside the vase is a different thing.  I requires real commitment and persistence.  It is slow, and sometimes dangerous, and requires continuous sharpening of the tools.  When the really difficult part of the project entered the process…I lost my persistence and there went  my commitment.  It sits in the shop right now.  I believe I will renew my commitment and add a large dose of persistence.

Hold on a moment before you jump to any conclusions.  No, I am not a cross-stitcher.  But, I can assure you that Pam is.  Years ago when Lyndsey was very young, Pam had a disease that was incurable…according to the doctors.  But, we discovered who the real Doctor is.

During this illness, she began to learn to cross-stitch.  I have always respected and honored her commitment (and persistence) to not just sit around  the house and have her own personal “pity party.”  We, who have never been in this situation, probably will never understand how important it is to be busy doing something….anything.  As I look back, it was a little funny.  She started with very easy projects and the funny part was she would as me now to make a stitch.  Believe me…I am not a cross-stitcher.

Her easy patterns became beautiful works of art.  She no longer regularly cross-stitches.  The parts of the house that I haven’t filled with furniture, vases, and bowls…Pam has placed her cross-stitch masterpieces.  The piece above is in my office.  There are two quail that look real enough to shoot.  Each time I look at her work I have the memories of her long fight for her very life.  But, her commitment and persistence in prayer, brought healing from a most Gracious God.  She has been completely off medication for many years now.

The wall around Jerusalem lay in ruin for almost one and one-half centuries.  Nehemiah made a commitment to rebuild the wall.  There were many distractions and the opposition was great.  But, Nehemiah was persistent.  The wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

In order to complete a great task we need:

1.  A compelling purpose.  Making a great commitment to a great cause.

2.  A clear perspective.  Don’t let fear cloud the view of the future.

3.  A continual prayer.  Pray about everything and gain God’s favor.

4.  A courageous persistence.  Move ahead despite the odds.

“STAYING FOCUSED”

February 15, 2010

After I finished my “Three Things to Do Each Day” this morning, (cry, meditate, and laugh) I began getting ready to go to work.  During this time I began to FOCUS my thoughts on an appointment I had this morning.  I try to leave my work at the office, but often I need a little preparation time for a meeting with a client.  Before I realized it, I lost my focus.  Well, I really didn’t lose my focus…..it was re-directed to something else.  I know I am probably the only one in the world this happens to.  Now I was thinking about Friday being the opening of Longhorn baseball in Austin.  We will be in Austin on Friday, but for now my focus needs to be back on my clients.  Without the right focus, I won’t be able to do five days work in four days.

When I got to the office I looked on my work station at the picuture above.  When I looked at my face and Lyndsey’s face, I saw real focus.  Lyndsey had this picture framed for me as a Christmas present.  This is an example of the precious memories we share.  In my last post I mentioned my gray hair.  Well you can see it was pretty dark…..and Lyndsey was pretty young.   I was enjoying cornbread and milk when here comes Lyndsey.  She looked like a baby bird, mouth open, waiting to be fed.  She is really focused on the spoon and so am I.  If I don’t stay focused, it will be cornbread in the eye, nose, or ear.

I love working with wood.  Turning wooden bowls is probably my facorite, but Pam told me  we have more than enough spread throught the house.  A bowl like the one above has 88  pieces of wood.  It takes a lot of focus to cut each piece at just the right angle.  Then all the pieces are glued together.   At this point it’s just a large chunk of wood that is ugly and out of balance.  That’s sort of the way each of us are when God begins to mold us into who He wants us to be.

When this chunk of wood is mounted on the lathe, it is very unbalanced and needs to have the rough edges smoothed.  Depending on the size of the bowl, the lathe is turning 850 to 1,000 RPMs.  When this smoothing procedure is going on, you really have to focus on where the gouge meets the wood.  One wrong move and one or all of the pieces that were glued together will explode in various directions around the shop.  I was roughing out a bowl one day, when Lyndsey opened the shop door, I lost my focus, lifted my head, and moved the gouge into the “woud-be bowl.”  Explosion!!!  Pieces went flying in all directions and both Lyndsey and I were standing in awe….startled was not the word for it.

Now, to where I was going in the beginning of this story.  When God is molding and sculpting us into the person He wants, we can rest assured that He will not lose His focus.  Our part in this is to continue to focus all of our attention on the Creator.  As He takes away the rough edges on each of us, we will probably suffer a little pain.  I guess if wood had feelings, it would feel pain as I begin to shape it into something beautiful.  The more we focus on the Sculptor, the less pain we experience as He changes us into something beautiful.  It’s a long process….like a lifetime.  Regardless of how many things of this world try interfere, if our focus is on Him, we will experience a joy that will overcome any pain along the way. 

 

 

“THREE THINGS TO DO EACH DAY”

February 12, 2010

Sunrise/Sunset | Welcome ...

I didn’t have this beautiful sunrise this morning.  When I was in Port Arthur, it snowed on February 12, 1958 and February 12, 1960.  This morning I woke to snow on the ground in Jasper.  It was a lot like snow.  The snow on the ground looked more like my gray hair.  My hair is not totally white, but Lyndsey has done a pretty good job of turning it gray.

Have you selected your Valentine yet?  I went to the “card place” this morning and picked the one card that is just right for Pam.

I am getting excited about Pam’s Valentine gift.  I think I will give it to her tomorrow, with the card.  I think that will be alright because then we can celebrate our life together in a special way for two days rather than one.  I always tell Lyndsey that early is on time, on time is late, and late is really bad late.  THAT MAKES SENSE TO ME!

What are the three things I try to do each day?  Many days we get so busy getting ready for the day we forget three things that would have an impact on the rest of our day.  When we start our early morning routines we sometimes leave out the most important thing……emotions.  Believe me, I understand being “brain dead” during this early morning rush.  I guess you might say its the most boring part of our day. 

TRY THIS….YOU’LL LIKE IT!

1.  Cry

2.  Meditate

3.  Laugh

You might say:  “JB, have you lost your mind?”  Hopefully I haven’t.  I’ve been this way for a long, long time.

CRY:  Why would anyone want to cry.  What happens when you cry?  It relieves tension and often gives you a cleansing sensation (like have clear sinus).  So, what do you have to cry about?  Maybe nothing personally.  It not, great!  I don’t mean feel sad.  I mean really, really cry.  Lyndsey has a word for this.  She calls it WOMP! (sic)  What about crying for this nation’s moral decay and the fact that it seems to get worse each day?  Nehemiah WEPT about the walls of Jerusalem had fallen and the gates had been burned.  Israel was in danger from the surrounding Kings.  But, it was not about the walls.  He wept because of the sins of Israel.  He fell on his face, wept, prayed, and confessed the sins of his people.  Nehemiah knew source of protection for Jerusalem was.  He called on our Protector.   What about the people of Haiti during their time of crisis?  If I really, really need to cry, I picture in my mind the pain and suffering of Christ on the cross and the brutality that he suffered for me.  If I were the only one in the world, He would have suffered just for me.  When we really cry, it prepares us for the next thing for the day:

MEDITATE:  After a cleansing cry, we are ready to meditate.  It really has a way of  humbling us.  You might have your own way, but each morning I read the Bible and dig deeply into the Word to receuve wisdom for today’s trials.  Now we are really getting ready to face the day so we can:

LAUGH:  When I say laugh, I don’t mean turn up the corners of your mouth 1/4 of an inch.  That is really not even a smile.  Sometimes I laugh really hard when my day starts off in the pits and I look back and see how God has already blessed me this morning.  Now isn’t that funny?  It’s funny to me because I feel so dumb not to recognize God’s grace in my life. 

WARNING!!!  Don’t try to do all three of these at the same time.  You and/or others may think you’ve lost it.  It begins with crying, which is the lead-in for the other two.

After you’ve read this you might want to say:  “JB, how is that working for you?”  IT WORKS FOR ME!  After you’ve tried it, ask yourself:  “How is that working for me?”

If you don’t tell me, I’ll never know.  So I would be happy for your response after you started your day with these three things.

“A VALENTINE GIFT FOR PAM”

February 11, 2010

Pam is my wife and my most special Valentine!

I would love to tell you about Pam’s gift, but you may tell her.  The hardest part for me in giving gifts for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine Day, etc., is I just get too excited.  I ordered Pam’s gift a week ago and it arrived on Monday.   I left it in my office because if I take it home I won’t be able to resist the temptation to give it early.

Would you like to know what it is?  Well, I can’t tell you because you may let the “cat out of the bag.”  Even though the excitement I have about giving gifts is tremendous, I can keep a secret.

Last July, Lyndsey, my daughter, called and put in her order for her Christmas present.  If you think this is pretty early for a Christmas list, you’ll understand when I tell you what it was.  My hobby is woodworking and it relaxes me and gives me great pleasure to use my God-given talents to create something that will bring joy to the recipient.

Lyndsey wanted a media center, so she e-mailed me a picture of the one she had selected.  I went to the web-site to try to get all the details and measurements, etc.  The part that is most exciting to me is converting these details into the plan for the project.  I began drawing plans and then buying the materials for this Christmas gift.  The reason July was not too early is that I planned on taking the gift to her on Thanksgiving.  This is an item that is not to easy to ship.  So Pam and I planned on loading it in the Escalade, leaving enough room for a few clothes and the necessities for Thanksgiving.  Of course, when we go to Kansas City to visit, I always have to load up my tools because there is usually a few projects that Lyndsey has added to her “TO DO LIST” for Dad.

We have taken Christmas gifts to Kansas City the last three years on our Thanksgivin holiday.  This is a lot easier than shipping.  You may not believe this, but Lyndsey really doesn’t mind having some of her Christmas gifts a month early.  It’s true.

This post is really not about Pam’s Valentine gift or Lyndsey’s media center Christmas gift.  It’s about the great pleasure I receive in giving something that will bring joy to each of them.  If this gives me such great pleasure as a husband and father, I can only imagine how God feels when he gives his children the gift of salvation.  When I thought of this, the only thing I could really say was WOW!  Salvation was not something I could ever earn…it was truly a gift.

Each day I step “out of my box” and look back in and see the gifts that I receive each day.  That brings another “WOW!”  It doesn’t take me long to realize that God wants a relationship with me just like the relationship I have with my family. 

So, I really can’t tell you about Pam’s gift today.  You will have to wait until after Valentine Day.  It’s a secret that I can keep.  But, there is one gift that I will gladly share with you.  God’s gift to each of us is no secret and I will gladly share that with you.

Added:  2/12/10

Rusty and Connie are our dear friends and faithful Longhorn baseball fans from San Antonio.  The seats are across the aisle from ours.  Rusty requested pictures of Lyndsey’s media center, so I’ll see if my computer can do what I tell it to do.  It’s a little different from the late 50’s when I was working with punch cards to record data.  I’ve come a long, long way.  Well, here goes, I hope the images magically appear below (or somewhere on the post. 
Another note, Connie will have back surgery next Tuesday, so your prayers will be appreciated.

Well, miracles do happen!  First I had no images, then I had 6 images, then I had 9 images……………Hallelujah!  NOW  I HAVE ONLY THREE!

The media center is 64″ wide, 19″ high, and 19 1/2 ” deep.  It is made from Poplar wood with four coats of Poly and then hand rubbed with rottenstone , mineral oil, and 0000 steel wool.