Archive for November, 2010

“SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY”

November 23, 2010

The best surprise birthday party I ever planned for Pam was on her 29th birthday.  I’ll not tell you the year..it was probably only 3 or 4 years ago.  It took quite a bit of planning and cooperation from friends to totally surprise Pam with a week-long beach adventure at Crystal Beach.

I enlisted friends to prepare the food we would need for 16 people for the week-end.  I depended on them to carry all of the food and arrive before Pam, Lyndsey, and I (accompanied by two of Pam’s sisters).  Everyone knew the real plans but I had told Pam that I was taking her and her sisters to Galveston for the weekend and then Lyndsey (age 2 1/2) would return to Jasper with me and they would remain for the following week.

The real plan was I had rented two beach cabins.  One for the weekend and the other for the entire week.  Pam’s sisters came from Panhandle, Texas and then Lyndsey and I traveled in one car while the three girls followed in Pam’s car.  It was already dark when we arrived at Crystal Beach.  I turned off the highway and headed for the cabins and the girls followed.  When I arrived at the cabins, Pam wanted to know why we were taking a detour on the way to Galveston.  I told her I wanted to stop and say hello to an old friend.  She was a little irritated at the delay.  I climbed the stairs to one of the cabins and began knocking on the door.  Eleven of our friends, having already arrived, had hidden their cars and were hidden behind the other cabin.  As Pam waited, not too patiently, for me to visit my non-existent friend, everyone sneaked up to her car, surrounded it, and began to sing “Happy Birthday Pam.”

“JIMBO”

Don’t ask why a picture of a ceiling fan and a stuffed monkey appears in this post.  I’ll tell you about Jimbo’s adventure with the ceiling fan.  When Lyndsey was born, I went by tell one of my friends we had a brand new baby girl.  He owned an Ace Hardware store, and he walked to the toy section and grabbed a stuffed monkey for Lyndsey’s first stuffed toy.  The friend’s name was Jim, so we named the monkey “Jimbo.”  Later on, when Lyndsey began to talk, she informed us that Jimbo was not a monkey….he was a people.  Over the years, Jimbo has needed stitches to repair some of his seams.  He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin right along with Lyndsey, with both of them saving me many dollars by graduating in four years.  He has traveled with Lyndsey during her minor league baseball career in Florida and California, and now has his own space in their Kansas City apartment.

Now for the ceiling fan vs. Jimbo adventure.  During the first night at the beach, a friend and I were standing in the kitchen by the sink when Jimbo flew over our head, hit the window, and landed in the kitchen sink.  I heard Jim holler at his son, Little Jimmy, wanted to know what he thought he was doing.  Little Jimmy had thrown Jimbo up and into the ceiling fan causing him to fly across the cabin to the kitchen.  Little Jimmy was pretty quick-witted and this was his answer:  “I plead temporary insanity.”  I don’t remember his age, but I’ll guess it was probably 9 or 10.  So, that is the story about the ceiling fan and Jimbo.

On Sunday afternoon Lyndsey and I left, along with our 11 friends for the return trip home.  Pam and her sisters enjoyed a great week at the beach and also taking the ferry to Galveston Island for some additional adventures.

I thank God for providing beaches and friends to enjoy them with, but most of all I thank Him for the many birthdays Pam and I have spent together.  As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, I relish the memories of life with Pam and Lyndsey and can never express my thanks to God for all the ways He has blessed my life.  Thanksgiving Day is just a reminder to be thankful, but each day we should give thanks to God for His many blessings each day of our lives.

Pam and I usually go to Kansas City for Thanksgiving Day, but this year we all decided to change our trip to Christmas.  One reason is that we will be together in Austin for a wedding in a few weeks.  Lyndsey is spending the day with friends and I planned a Thanksgiving adventure for Pam and I.  Pam already knows where we are going.  The surprise came when I told her the plans.  We will travel to Austin on Thanksgiving morning and I have made reservations for 3 PM at : www.Hudsonsonthebend.com I have eaten there a few times, but this will be Pam’s first time.  This is a very fine restaurant and their specialty is wild game.  I have already printed the Thanksgiving Menu and given it to Pam, and have already made my selection….I think.  I’ll give a report on the meal at a letter.

So, give thanks to God for all your blessings and have a great Thanksgiving Holiday.

 

 

 

“RIO GRANDE PERCH”

November 18, 2010

 During the mid 70’s I was employed at the Bank of A & M in College Station, Texas.  That may sound a little strange for someone who bleeds Orange and attends all of the week-end home games for the Texas Longhorn Baseball Team.  What is even more unusual, I have a son and daughter who attended A & M University.  But I was blessed with a daughter who graduated from The University of Texas at Austin.  At the Bank of A & M all the officers (except JB) were graduates of A & M.  On all publications listing the officers of the bank, the year of their graduation was placed behind their name.  This is not a story about the bank…it’s about a fishing trip to Mexico with a loan officer (Stan) and the husband of another officer of the bank (Herb).  This was about Stan’s reaction when he caught a Rio Grande Perch. 

 
 
rio grande perch

Rio Grande Perch

When I think of Stan and Herb, I always think of “Laurel and Hardy.”  In case you don’t know who they were, they were a very popular comedy team during the 1920’s until the mid 1940’s.  They were also known as “Stan and Ollie.”

File:Stan and ollie.jpg

Stan Laurel (1890-1965) & Oliver Hardy (1892-1957)

Stan was like Stan…slender.  Herb was like Ollie…not so slender.  In their own way they were funny, but not as slap-stick funny as Stan and Ollie.

I invited Stan and Herb on a fishing trip at a great bass-fishing lake in Mexico near Victoria (about two hundred miles south of the Mexican border.  Herb owned a great bass boat.  We hooked his trailer to my car and left for McAllen, Texas about noon on Friday.  We spent the night in McAllen so we could get an early start on our drive to Lake Guerrero.

Stan and Herb had never traveled in Mexico and were a little confused on how things worked during those days.  There was a long line waiting to receive approval for traveling in Mexico.  I took all of our ID papers and the necessary documents for the auto, trailer, and boat and went to the back of the line.  I told them to just wait at the back of the room and try to stay out of trouble.  Suddenly, one of the officials motioned for me to come to the front of  the line.  I presented all of the necessary papers, and was given approval documents for our trip…ASAP.

Stan and Herb didn’t understand why I was called to the front of the line…as I said, they had never traveled in Mexico.  I told them maybe it was the cash I had in my hand as I placed it on my chest.  As we began our trip south, I gave our entry documents to Stan (he was riding shotgun), told him to look in the glove compartment and get a few $ out of my bank bag put in the document folder.  They began to understand how $ could smooth the way through the Federal checkpoints.  At each checkpoint, there would be a few autos being searched.  When we pulled up and Stan handed our papers to the official, he would open up the folder, smile, take the $, and wish us a pleasant trip.

We camped beside Lake Guerrero and fished for three days.  It was a great trip and we caught many bass.  The first day, Stan caught a huge Rio Grande Perch.  When he pulled the fish in the boat, he would not touch it.  The Rio Grande Perch is a very colorful fish, but it has a large hump just behind its head.  Stan said it looked lake a Brahma bull and he would not touch it because he thought it might have a mouth full of sharp teeth.  I had to remove the hook from the perch’s mouth, open its mouth, and show that it was harmless.  As I mentioned, they had never been to Mexico and it seemed like they were afraid of everything.

On our return trip, we arrive at the border at Brownsville and the Mexican officials motioned for me to pull over to the outer lane.  They approached the car and said, “Only the driver, come with us?”  They took me into the building and down a long hallway to a back office.  At that point, I was joining Stan and Herb in their fear of Mexico and I am sure they are really wondering what is going to happen to me…and them.

As it turned out, I met with a representative of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce.  They were taking a tourist survey and asked me a few questions and then escorted me back to my ashen-faced friends.  I think Stan and Herb enjoyed the fishing trip a lot more when the arrived back in College Station.  It was a lot more enjoyable to them when it was over.

On each adventure there are one or more lessons.  Just like traveling in Mexico was fearful for Stan and Herb, we sometimes fear the unknown.  Those things were are not familiar with.  We let our imagination run wild, but usually things or circumstances are not as bad as they appear or seem.  The Rio Grande Perch was beautiful, but it was different.  Although at that time, Mexico was not as dangerous as it is today, their laws and customs are very different from in the good old USA.  I was unaware of why I was being singled out at the border station and escorted deep into the building.  Fear is a terrible enemy.  There is One who can remove our fear of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  It is always a comfort to know that in all circumstances and situations, God is still in charge.  Satan can cause us fear when we allow it.  It is our faith in His protection that we able to overcome the fear that attacks.  And, we have His promise that He will never leave us.

     

 

 

 

“VETERANS DAY”

November 10, 2010

Last Sunday at church we honored all veterans in attendance.  We sang the Star Spangled Banner and many other patriotic songs.  We sang the first and last verse of our National Anthem.  I know I must have sung the last verse before.  I just didn’t remember it.  It cites The Power that made  and preserved our nation.  Each of have a very special talent and in reading the entire Anthem, I really appreciate the talent of Francis Scott Key.  Not just anyone can write with such depth.  I have printed the last verse below. 

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Our pastor requested all veterans to stand with him on stage at the end of the service.  It was a great honor for me to stand with veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  To receive a standing ovation was quite an honor and it made me proud to have had the opportunity to serve my country.

This special day was brought about by the signing of The Armistice by Germany at the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. 

In the past I have been in attendance when  a church would honor the veterans of our nation.  One of the most awesome experiences was one year on July 4th.  This church has a membership of over 19,000 with a huge choir.  The pastor asked all veterans to stand when their military branch song was sung.  I saw veterans stand, with tears in their eyes, and salute their flag as each anthem was sung.  It was not a prideful experience, but an experience that made me proud to have served my country in the military.

There is an army where each of us may serve.  It is the army of The Power that made and preserved our nation.  Each of us should endeavor to serve in God’s Army.  This is an honor that far surpasses that of serving in the military in both war and peace.

I pray God’s blessings on all veterans and the men and women presently serving in the military.  I pray for their protection as they serve in harms way.

“A DIAMOND ADVENTURE”

November 8, 2010

 

It doesn’t take a great big reason for Pam and I to go on an adventure.  It can be a huge adventure or a teeny-weeny one.  I truly believe each day of our lives is an adventure in some way.  If we just look around us each day, there is an opportunity for an adventure.  They can proactive or reactive.  I believe the reactive ones are probably the best.  Rather than do a lot of planning, you just react to a circumstance and then it more spontaneous…it can be a little scary or a little interesting.

As I said, everyday is an adventure, but Pam and I experienced one a couple of weeks.  It was of the reactive kind.  While Pam was preparing supper, she brought me the pair of shoes pictured above.  One of  the diamonds had removed itself from its prongs.  That is DIAMOND spelled SYNTHETIC GEM.  I am an experienced handyman, so I took on the  project of mounting the diamond back in its proper place.  I probably used a little overkill.  All that was needed was to place the diamond back between the prongs and bend the prongs inward to tighten it in place.  Well, I decided to use Gorilla Super Glue and really have a permanent fix.  When you use Gorilla glue, IT IS PERMANENT!  I got a little glue on my finger and then transferred it to upper side of the diamond…BAD NEWS!  This diamond, being plastic, did not appreciate the super glue and lost its glitter.  I had one of those oops.  Permanent damage (sort of cloudy diamond).  The next day I started a googling project to locate the right size fake diamonds.  Hobby Lobby had just what I needed.

So, now it is time for an adventure.  Do you see why I call it a reactive adventure?  I am in trouble and that’s when I react.  A couple of days later, I told her we would drive to Lufkin and see Bobby at Hobby Lobby, and then go to the seafood restaurant and have a crawfish salad.  I can always depend on her to be ready to go.

We arrived at the parking lot a Hobby Lobby and recognized some old friends getting in their crew cab pickup.  When I walked up to the  pickup, I saw a very strange sight.  The husband was seated in the  front seat passenger side and the wife was seated in the back seat passenger side.  It was Freddie and Sharon.  I motioned Freddie to lower his window.  I asked for an explanation of how they were going to drive back to Jasper with both of them on the passenger side (it was his truck).  I thought maybe they had a “shopping” disagreement (fight) in Hobby Lobby and weren’t speaking.  It looked like a stalemate to me.  He explained they had a  chaffeur…his son-in-law.  Now that wasn’t bad…what a deal!

Have you ever thought about what a friend is?  There are a lot different definitions, but here’s one for you.  When Pam and Sharon began visiting, it was like they continued a conversation they had started the last time they were together.  Amazing.  We don’t see this couple often, but it’s like they had visited earlier in the day.  So, a friend is someone who time, distance, and circumstances makes little difference.  When you see them, you are still on the same page.  This type of friend is someone who is interruptible and available when you need them.

So, we visited a few minutes and then went in the store.  They didn’t have the diamonds I wanted.  I think they had sold out their supply.  But, that’s no bad deal, I can look forward to an adventure at another Hobby Lobby.  We left and drove down the highway to the Cajun seafood restaurant for our crawfish salad and it was good as usual.  We also learned something from our young waiter.  Lufkin has the worst tasting water in East Texas.  I can drink it but Pam just doesn’t like it.  She told the waiter and he told her he could fix the problem and it wouldn’t be any illegal.  That was a scary statement from someone who is going to bring you some food.  He brought her water and it tasted fine.  He said all he did was use the hot water from the coffee maker.  So, if the occasion ever arises, feel free to use the lesson we learned.

So, look at all the things that happened on our little adventure.

Speaking of friends, I just thought of a hymn I’ve heard all my life:  “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  He is the kind of friend I mentioned above.  Neither time, space, or circumstances can separate us from this Friend.  You may drift away from Him due to circumstances, but He is always near.  He is not the one that pulls away…it is us.  But He remains faithful and remains close.  NOW THAT IS AN ADVENTURE!

“OPENING DAY!!!”

November 5, 2010

 

Tomorrow is opening day of deer season.  When I first saw all the northbound traffic this morning, I thought there must be a hurricane evacuation from the coastal towns.  Then I noticed all the trailers carrying 4-wheelers.  So, then I remembered deer season was quickly approaching.  The Wal-Mart and grocery stores all have full parking lots and there are long lines at each traffic light.  It really does remind me of the traffic when a hurricane approaches the Gulf coast.

Until a few years ago, I was a member of a hunting club here in Jasper.  We had a lot of great friends on the lease and good times were had by all.  It was a “family” hunting club and not just a bunch of  men telling hunting stories.  We had great cookouts and family gatherings.  The good thing about this lease was it took only 30 minutes for me to be on my stand from my house.

Pam and Lyndsey each had a deer stand but were not really enthused about hunting if it was too hot or too cold.  As I think back, I didn’t enjoy those conditions either.  There were many things I enjoyed about hunting and also a lot that I didn’t.  I enjoyed the peace of just sitting and looking at nature, waiting for a deer sighting, and reading a book.  I may have missed a few deer while reading, but killing a deer was not my main goal.  I just liked being there.

My stand was on top of a tall hill and was about 25 feet off the ground.  Shortly after sunrise, the huge red wasps would begin to fly in and around my stand.  If you sprayed the wasp, the deer could pick up the scent and stay away.  The other option was to swat them out of the air with my cap.  But, that made so much noise the deer would stay away.  It was also pretty cold when the temperature was in the 20’s and 30’s with a north wind blowing.  But, all in all, I convinced myself that I was really having a great time.

Pam would usually hunt looking like she  was going shopping.  Her makeup, jewelry, and perfume properly applied, and she would have a cross-stitch project to occupy her time.  While men usually apply all sorts of terrible smelling non-human scents and camo hunting clothes, she went the opposite direction.  She usually saw more deer than the foul-smelling men.  And she did get her deer.  (I have an earlier posting about her deer hunting.)

Sometimes, Lyndsey would be all excited about opening day and hunting with dad.  She would arise way before dawn and make the trip with me.  I remember on a few occasions when it was so cold, I would hunt for a few hours and then walk to Lyndsey’s stand and it would be empty.  I would find her in the “hunting hoopy” in her sleeping bag nice and  warm…sleeping.  I don’t know whether she enjoyed the opening day hunting or opening day sleeping.  Either way, she enjoyed herself.

You don’t have to be a hunter, nor does it have to be hunting season, for you go take a nature trip to enjoy all the wonderful things that God has provided for our enjoyment.  It is great to be in the peace and quiet of nature to just sit and meditate on the Goodness of God. The “world” suddenly feels very far away.

“FISHING IS FOR THE DOGS”

November 4, 2010

I normally provide pictures with my posts, but this will have to be an exception.  Pictures are great to tell a story and help remove the pressure of expressing my thoughts with only words.  Sorry, no pictures available for this post.  So, you will have to bear with me and use your imagination.

This is a story about my mother, who was a rare individual.  Rare, as in unusual, because I learned to expect the unexpected in her actions and words.  Mother loved to fish and this is about one of her fishing trips somewhere on Bedias Creek near where it flowed into Lake Livingston.

She and her husband (Bill) enjoyed fishing and I guess her dogs enjoyed the trips also.  She had two black poodles…one a standard and the other a miniature.  I don’t remember the larger dogs name, but the smaller one was named “Little Bit.”  So, obviously they were sort of “Mutt & Jeff.”

So, on this trip, loaded with fishing tackle, minnows, food, and poodles, they found a great fishing spot to catch Crappies.  There was a leaning tree in the middle of the creek and looked much like a large floating log.  They tied the bowline to the tree and everyone sat on the tree trunk to fish.  I don’t think the dogs actually fished, but with Mother she may have taught them.  She didn’t consider them animals.  She treated them just like people and when she spoke to them, they understood.

So, using your imagination, you can probably see an unusual picture of a man and woman (in their 60’s), fishing on a tree with two dogs in the middle of the creek.  They were probably at least 100 feet from either creek bank.  As luck would have it, the Crappie fishing was really good and the minnow supply began to disappear rapidly.  This presented a problem to Mother.  There was no way she was going to leave her fishing spot for someone to take while they went to get bait.  So, she sent Bill back to the bait shop for minnows while she and the poodles protected their fishing claim.

Now, you really must use your imagination to get the picture.  See if you can picture and elderly woman with  a large and small poodle sitting on a log in the middle of the creek… fishing.  Now comes the part that caused passing fishermen to wonder.  There was no boat tied to the tree, so how did this old woman and two dogs get on the tree in the middle of the creek.  Each passing boat would pass by very slowly and gawk.  Mother didn’t say whether any of them laughed, but I imagine there was laughter when they got out of earshot.

As I said earlier, you could always expect the unexpected from Mother.  I her mind she was only doing the normal thing….fishing with her dogs.  It was the right thing to do.

Other than being amusing, I wondered where the lesson was in this story.  I just can’t end a post without determining why God had me to write about some experience and what is the lesson to be learned. 

As I said, Mother was only doing what she thought was right.  Sometime God leads us into  circumstances in which our actions seem odd, unusual, or out-of-place.  If we feel our actions are right with God, then how they appear to others shouldn’t influence us.  It is just the right thing to do!  Listen to God, be obedient, and let Him handle the end results.

“LONGHORN WATER”

November 3, 2010

 

H2ORANGE

Drink water.  Bleed Orange

H2Orange was created by two Texas Exes to help fund academic scholarships and fellowships and internships for UT Austin students.  Their goal is to provide $1 milolion annually to The University of Texas at Austin over the next 10 years and beyond.  To learn more about their clean, crisp, thirst-quenching water, and how it funds academic scholarships, visit www.h2orange.com.  Every bottle you purchase makes a difference.

This water is bottled in a replica of THE TOWER at The University of Texas at Austin.  Pam and  I were in Austin for some Longhorn baseball a few weeks ago and saw this in a jewelry store own by a man who truly bleeds orange.  We picked up a twelve-pack to distribute to friends in Jasper.

While we were in Austin, The Longhorns defeated The Cornhuskers in football, so we were able to drive around Austin after our mexican food feast at The Mercado Mexican Restaurant and view The Tower with the orange lighting.  Unfortunately, the orange lights have not been used lately.  But, it was a beautiful sight on that Saturday night.

On the bottle of H2Orange it states that the water is thirst-quenching and I am sure it is.  The only problem is that you become thirsty again.  Drinking this water is a great enhancement to fill you with The Longhorn Spirit.  There is however, the Living Water who is Jesus Christ.  This brings life and fills you with  His Spirit and you will thirst no more. 

Jesus Christ is a permanent thirst-quencher

 

“ARMY MULE”

November 2, 2010

 

Last Saturday Pam needed to move this cabinet to a different room to determine if it fit in a space she had in mind.  She had been looking for a piece of furniture to go in Lyndsey’s room.  After looking through a number of catalogues, she decided I could build the cabinet she wanted.  She wants something built similar to the one above that I had built a few years ago.  It sits in the hallway outside Lyndsey’s room.

I misunderstood and thought she wanted a new piece for the hallway and we were moving this cabinet to the other room.  The cabinet is full of candles, decorations, and “stuff” and is pretty heavy.  I had a little problem lifting my end because I still don’t have full-strength in my right hand.  We did manage to get it moved and it fit the space perfectly.  That is when I found out we had to move it back to the hallway because the piece she wanted made would go in Lyndsey’s room.

When we began moving the cabinet from the hallway and I was having difficulty lifting, I told her we needed an “army mule.”  She just looked at me with no comment.  I think she was wondering if I planned on bringing a mule in our home.  So, I just let that pass.  When I found out we were moving the cabinet back to the hallway, I told her it was time for the “army mule.”  I tried to describe this mule to her without success, so I went to the utility room, retrieved a broom (or mop) and showed her how an “army mule” was used.

I didn’t invent the “army mule,” I learned about it in the army.  When we had to move something to heavy to lift, we used the “army mule.”  We would get a buddy, lift one end of the object, and place the broom under it.  Then one person would pull on the broom while the other pushed on the object.  No lifting, just pulling and pushing across a wooden floor.  It works really well on carpet also.  So, Pam and I used the “army mule” and she discovered how easy it was…just pulling and pushing.

If you didn’t know what an “army mule” was before….now you know.

As we go through life we gain wisdom from our experiences.  I have not thought about the “army mule” for many years, but suddenly I remembered.  Many of the hardships of life are not overcome by our strength but the strength of the Spirit that lives within us.  These experiences provide us with the wisdom we will need in the future.  It is through our weakness that God is glorified.  Wisdom comes from remembering the strength and faithfulness of God in all circumstances.

“BIKERS???”

November 1, 2010

Bikers?  Not really, as you can tell.  Pam always insists we dress for Halloween and this year she chose for us to dress as bikers.  Why do we do this?  Good question.  We live in the country and are not on the “trick or treat” route for kids.  There is only one young boy in our neighborhood and I don’t know where he goes on Halloween.  We usually have a group of friends that come to our house for this occasion, so we began dressing up for them a few years ago.  When they arrive in their costumes, they are usually shocked when we open the door.  Last year I was dressed in a red flannel night-shirt, cowboy boots, and my “bull rider” Stetson hat.

A few years ago a couple arrived with their three boys and one girl.  We were in the middle of having supper.  The  kids were hungry from “trick or treating,” so they sat down and ate everything on the table…and then asked if there was any more food.

We only had one visitor this year, along with his mother and grandparents.  His mother always calls and informs us they are on the way.  Her son, Mason, always insists on coming to see us.  His grandparents live in Kansas on are not really familiar with our antics.  When I opened the door, they were a little surprised at our costumes.  They later visited my best friend and he told them we were probably a little embarrassed because we dress weird every weekend and probably didn’t know it was Halloween.

                                                                                                   

                  Mason

This is Mason dressed as Super Mario.  He has a great imagination and also dresses like his current hero.  He loves to come to our house and we love for him to come.  We usually invite he and his mom for mexican food at Martin’s Mexican restaurant every few weeks.  He is a delight to be with and is really something to behold when he eats salsa.  He is a multi-bowl consumer of salsa and chips.  I really think he has an addiction because his mother said she craved salsa when she was pregnant and consumed great amounts.  Pam can eat a lot of salsa, but she may have met her match with Mason.

What is Halloween all about?  To us it is for the children and being blessed by their presence in our home.  It is not about ghosts, goblins, etc., but about showing love to kids.  I guess each day of our lives should be about loving kids (and adults) because our Lord loves us.  Without the love of God, it is impossible to love others or even ourselves.  His love makes it all possible.  He loved us before we were even born and gave His life that we might be free.