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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Many believers only look for God’s activity in the midst of crises. As long as life runs along smoothly, the idea that God is or wants to be involved in life is the farthest thing from their thinking.  At least, this seems to be the way I live most of my life.  The unfortunate thing about this way of living one’s faith is missing the ways that God surprises us in everyday, simple things.

When my young family and I moved to Quilcene, Washington, I had the joy of exploring the many local lakes for fishing. The settings are very beautiful; the fishing good.  Unfortunately, much of the shoreline of the lakes is unapproachable.

Many times I took my son along with me. He would patiently hold a fishing pole waiting for a fish to bite.  However, as any young boy would, he soon grew bored and would explore other things around him.  One day, after a great time at a lakeside but no fish to show for our efforts, I breathed a simple wish more than a prayer, “Lord, it would sure be nice to have one of those two- or three-man rubber boats to haul to the lakes.

My life did not depend upon getting one and neither did my fishing. My son, Gareth, and I could continue going to the lakes without one.  It is just that it would make the experience a little more enjoyable and, perhaps, successful.

A few days later, I met with the pastor from the Presbyterian church in town. Everyone called him Pastor Ray.  He was well into his 70’s and he and his wife, originally from Southern California, were temporarily filling in at the small town church.  We had a habit of meeting regularly two or three times a month.

As I was getting ready to take my leave after this particular day’s conversation, Pastor Ray stopped me and asked, “Do you do any fishing?”

I replied, “Yes.  I like to spend my extra time at the lakes around here and often take my son with me.  Do you do any fishing?”

I used to,” he sighed with longing.  “I’m getting too old to go out anymore.”

That’s too bad,” I offered.  “The lake fishing around here is great.”

Well, me and my wife have a small rubber raft stowed in our RV we want to get rid of to make room for other things.  Would you like it?” he asked.

How much do you want for it?” I tendered, supposing that he would want to sell it to get something in return for it.

“Nothing!  If you want it, it is yours.  Otherwise, I’ll find someone else to give it to,” he said.

Sure!  I’d love to have it.  The other day I was wishing I had one,” I told him.

A short while later, Ray brought by the raft. It was a nice, large three man raft (though it said four, they must have meant midgets).  I thanked him profusely.  It had everything necessary: pump, oars, cushions, and quarter inch plied wood piece to fit the bottom.  It even had a mount for a motor.

I wasted no time in getting it into the nearest lake to try it out. It was a lot of fun and I could get into some choice parts of the lakes.  Fishing definitely improved.  Gareth liked floating in the raft.  Rowing it was not too bad.  But I often wondered what it would be like if I had a little electric boat motor to get around.

Hyas Lake Valley, Washington State, September 2010

Hyas Lake Valley, Washington State, September 2010 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

A few months later, I showed my prize “boat” to a good friend. He was impressed but commented, “You need to have one of those little electric bass motors for this.  That would be great!

Yeah,” I responded.  “Maybe someday.

Bass Pro Shops

Image via Wikipedia

The next day, my good friend returned to my house with a Bass Pro Shop catalog. He handed to me and said, “There some good electric motors in here I thought you’d enjoy looking at to fit your boat.”  With that, he got back in his truck and left.

Cool,” I thought and looked forward to looking through it later.

That evening, I picked up the magazine and flipped through the magazine. There was something for every outdoor sportsman.  The fishing section was huge.  Finally, I got to the electric motors.  The pages had been marked with a paper.  The paper, it turned out, was a check for one of the motors and a battery.  Stunned, I looked at the check and then looked at the motor and battery my good friend had circled in the catalog.  A note scribbled in his barely legible handwriting said, “Enjoy this gift.  My wife and I wanted to do this for you.”

I recalled how just a few weeks ago I had breathed a desire toward heaven for something as insignificant as a rubber raft to fish and enjoy the out of doors. Now, here I was with both a boat and a motor.  It dawned on me then and continues to roll through my mind even today that the Creator delights in giving us the desires of our heart at times to just surprise us.

I have not always gotten everything I have wished for or prayed for in my life. I have yet to figure out the secret of getting everything I want from God.  I suppose he has other plans.  However, there are plenty of people who seem to want to treat him like some kind of heavenly vending machine or divine emergency exit from trouble.

Whether gifts of blessings or escapes from trouble, God’s help seems to always come as surprises: unexpected, in the final moments, and only at times that seem to have some hidden divine agenda. The surprise itself may be the point of the lesson.  It makes the times that God blesses or intervenes unforgettable.  And we all know that one of the greatest of human failings is forgetting – our blessings, life’s lessons, times of help, and those who care.

This may be the importance the old song intended when we sang,Count your blessings, name them one by one…count your many blessings, see what the Lord has done.”  Our faith buckets are leaky and our memories undependable.  Regular times of giving thanks for all of life’s events and what God has done in them can help us.  The Thanksgiving Season is a great opportunity to do this, though I doubt that very few actually do.  One thing about it, God will continue to surprise.  Perhaps we surprise him when we actually remember.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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God Surprises 5

If we fail to acknowledge God at work in the ‘big events’ of our life, what is the likelihood that we will ever recognize him at work in the small, ordinary, everyday events of our life? Yes, it is a ‘step of faith’ – perhaps even a leap – for an individual to look at their life this way.  We are more prone to give Lady Luck, good fortune, or coincidence the credit than God.

It is perhaps the height of human hubris to refuse to give our Creator credit for anything good that happens in our life; let alone what good happens on earth in general. However, let something fall apart, a tragedy strike, catastrophe fall upon us or another part of our world and suddenly we want to point our finger heavenward and blame the Divine.  We want an explanation from God for our hurt and sorrow, even if we do it in doubt, “If there was a god, he/she would have prevented this!  That’s what I would have done if all the power of the universe were in my hands.

The Bible teaches us that, out of his sovereign will to run his creation or allow it to run according to the laws of creation he established, God permits his blessings to come to both the just and unjust of the world. It confounds those who think that they belong to a special religious club, which gives them privileges to God’s blessings and protections against bad things happening to them, that Jesus would teach us, “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45, MKJV).  It does not fit our theology, so we avoid it.

However, Job was a man in the Old Testament who knew both the blessings and the trials that come in this life. He was a man who looked like he had everything in life.  He was the model of success.  A day came, however, when everything he had and more was ripped from his life: financial security, family, peace, and good health.  Standing on the brink of his trust in God staring into the abyss of doubt and despair, his wife encouraged him to abandon all hope and leap by offering him the advice, “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).

At that moment, Job decided to take a step back from that abyss and offers this answer to his wife’s solution,Stop talking like a person who does not know God!  We accept the good things that God allows to come to us.  Shouldn’t we also accept the bad things that he allows to come to us?” (Job 2:10, my own paraphrase).  This seems to be the reverse side of the faith equation Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of Matthew (see above).  Instead of the sun and the rain, Job is thinking in terms of killing frosts and monsoons.  Everything that comes to us comes to us through what God allows.

Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

This whole idea messes with our desire to have a god who is a benevolent benefactor handing out goodies to all his good children and handing out punishment to all his bad ones. However, this approach makes the Creator sound more like Santa Claus than a Divine Sovereign of the universe.  It also makes him petty and capricious.  In the end, we are left always trying to figure out how to keep God happy – be on his “nice list” – and on our side, lest we offend him somehow and get put on his “naughty list.”  After all, there are worse things than ‘lumps of coal’ in store for us if we do not stay on his good side, right?

The problem with this is that it makes the God of the universe as small as we are in our thinking and behavior.  Job seemed to understand this in the midst of his troubles. Jesus pointed us to a larger more complicated picture of God.  In his own day, many people who assumed they should have been on God’s ‘nice list’ were not and those who thought they were on God’s ‘naughty list’ were actually favored and shown mercy.  This really messed with the heads of the religious people of Jesus’ day and still messes with them today.  It is so unlike us and how we would do things.  And maybe that is just the point.

The key may not be what we focus on and weigh: whether events are good or bad for us.  It may be how we view them in light of our trust in God to work out all things for his purposes and his glory, not ours. This makes God bigger than us and our personal agendas or happiness.  God has a bigger picture and bigger story to tell.  We can allow our lives to be woven into that story or refuse.  Either way, it is all about the story of God’s glory revealed in all of creation.  Our redemption is a part of that story.  If we refuse, so will be our fall.

So, one of the keys to finding purpose in this life is to see how God is at work in all of our situations and the events that come to us – good or bad.

  • What is the story of faith and trust he wants to write through us?
  • How do the small acts of love, kindness and obedience add up to tell a larger story of God’s activity in our life?
  • When has he visited us or interrupted our lives in small or large ways to reveal his ways to us?
  • Who are the individuals in our lives with whom he wants us to weave our stories together?

And the questions and searching goes on.

A pinnacle for me in the realization of this was an experience that my wife and I had early on in our lives together. We were a young married couple just out of college.  I had just finished almost two-and-a-half years of being a youth pastor at Neighborhood Christian Center in Bremerton, Washington.  Sensing a change coming, I quit the position fully expecting the Lord to open up something right away.  At least, that what I sincerely believe was going to happen.

Kelly had just finished teaching at Bremerton Christian School. However, she had become pregnant with our first child and they had a policy of not allowing young mothers to teach.  This left us both unemployed.  However, we were still hopeful and expecting the good Lord to bless us and show us the way.

Soon, however, as the months clicked away, it became apparent that nothing was going to materialize as quickly as we thought. Our savings became depleted.  The last pay check from the youth pastor position and teaching position came and went.  It was August of 1987, our son was due to be born at the beginning of October, and we were out of money.

I started taking the Seattle-Bremerton ferry to look for a job in Seattle. Out of desperation, I signed on with an employment agency in hopes that they could find something for me.  Finally, I was signed on with a job with the Pay-n-Pac Corporation – a large chain of home improvement stores.  I was assigned to the Rainier Valley store in Seattle.  This meant a long commute.  While it offered hope down the road, it only added to our immediate financial burden since I would need money for commuting and couldn’t expect a paycheck for two weeks.

We had no idea what to do. We limped financially through the beginning of August.  But unpaid bills were piling up.  September’s rent was soon to be due.  We were desperate.  We prayed and asked God to help.  But our situation only seemed to grow worse and more desperate.  We were reticent about reaching out to family and friends for help.  For Kelly, the days at home alone and pregnant with our first child were depressing and unbearable.  For me, the long commutes to Seattle were depressing.  Instead of listening to the radio like usual, I spent most of the hour-plus commute complaining to God about our predicament.

Where are you God?  Why aren’t you answering us?  Why don’t you provide?  What about the promises you made to us in the Bible?  Do you care about us?  How are we supposed to make it?  Are you really there?  Are you even listening to us?  What have we done to make you angry?  I left me job because I thought you had a plan, did I not hear you right?  Was my ‘step of faith’ a ‘step of stupid’?  Why are you putting us through all of this?  Do you want us to homeless and broke?  After serving in ministry for these last few years, are you just going to leave us hanging in the wind?”  You get the picture.  It was pretty much an hour each way each day of writing my own imprecatory psalms to the Lord.  Only mine didn’t sing as sell as King David’s.

Fall Berries and Raindrops, September 2010

Fall Berries and Raindrops, September 2010 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

One day, while I was in the middle of my morning commute to Seattle’s Rainier Valley, a knock came to our door. It was early enough that Kelly was still in her pajamas.  Not knowing who it was that would be at our door in the morning, she looked through the peep-hole.  It turned out to be an elderly couple from the church we had just resigned from a couple months prior.  Bruce and Lois Wilkinson had become dear friends and a joy to be around.  He was retired from the Bremerton Shipyard.

Kelly wrapped herself in her bathrobe and opened the door to them.  “Good morning!” she greeted them.

Good morning,” Bruce answered.  “We have some things for you.”

And with that they began to bring in to our apartment bags and boxes of groceries.  Kelly was overwhelmed with the amount of food being brought in.  She continued to thank them profusely as the brought the items in from their car.

Finally, with the last bag of groceries brought in, Bruce and Lois turned to Kelly and said, “Our granddaughter and her husband got a hold of us the other day.  Apparently, they have been praying for you and felt led by the Lord to do something for you to help you guys out.”  He then handed Kelly an envelope.  “And we decided to add something to it ourselves,” Lois added.

We had come to know their granddaughter and her husband only briefly as he had been transferred to Guam by the Navy shortly after we had arrived at the church. Someone in Guam had been praying for us, felt led to “do something” for us, and acted upon it.  Pretty extraordinary when you take into consideration that we had shared with no one our situation.

Kelly looked surprised at first. Then, looking into Bruce and Lois’ smiling faces, began to cry.  She explained to them that they were truly an answer to prayer.  Little did either of us expect that an answer to our prayers would come via friends in Guam!  Bruce and Lois prayed for Kelly and I and our unborn son before they left.

After they left, Kelly put away the groceries. She was amazed at their generosity.  Then she sat down and opened the envelope.  It contained a check and cash.  Stunned, she added up the amount between the two.  Of course, the amount came to what we needed to pay August’s rent as well as September’s and catch up with all of our bills.

About that time, I arrived at work to one of my co-workers calling my name.

Hey, Ron!  You have a phone call.  Sounds like your wife,” they called out to me.

She never called me at work, so I worried, “What could it be?

Hi,” I tentatively greeted her.

Good morning,” she said cheerfully.  “I know you’re at work.  But, I just had to call and tell you.  You’ll never guess just what happened…

She was right.  I couldn’t.

Would I ever want to go through that experience again? No.  Have I gone through tough life situations since then?  Oh, yeah.  But what happened in August 1987 has helped me to learn and remember that even in the midst of our trials and troubles; God is weaving a story line bigger than just our parts.  In the midst of our troubles, someone else’s faith was being stretched into an act of obedience.  To minister to our discomfort and worry, someone else was being prodded to reach out in kindness, care and love.  So, on the good side and on the bad side of life’s experiences, God seems to be at work.

This perhaps is a key to discovering God at work in the big and small events of our life, whether they are good or bad. Solomon seemed to understand this spiritual axiom when he penned the proverb, “In whatever direction life’s road takes you look and listen for Him, and He will make your direction clear as you go” (Proverbs 3:6, my own paraphrase).  Life’s road can have some great stretches that bring us much joy.  But it can also have some rough patches and steep climbs that cause us grief.  Wherever you are, he is there.  Just look for him.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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Sometimes we just need to remember….

1.  Never give yourself a haircut after three margaritas.

2.  You need only two tools, WD-40 and duct tape.  If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40.  If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.

3.  The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship: “I apologize” and “You are right. ”

4.  Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

5.  When you make a mistake, make amends immediately.  Crow is easier to eat while it’s still warm.

6.  The best advice that your mother ever gave you was, “Go!  You might meet somebody!”

7.  If someone says that you’re too good for him or her, believe it.

8.  Learn to pick your battles.  Ask yourself, “Will this matter one year from now?  How about one month?”

9.  If you woke up breathing, congratulations!  You have another chance!

10.  Be really nice to your friends and family.  Some day, you may need them to empty your bedpan.

[author unknown]

Say Life

Say Life

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Religious Refereeing

We live in a world who likes to define right from wrong, who’s in and who’s out, as well as those we like and those we do not. Everyone becomes their own personal referee, making judgment calls on the life and behaviors of others.  It is so much easier to identify the error and slippery slope in another person’s life than our own, however.  Plus, it seems our rule book is always changing according to our own whims, likes and dislikes and morphing philosophies of life.

I recognize this painful reality in my own life. For example, I had a wonderful time with some friends the other night.  Greg and Cindy Holman had me and my family over for dinner and we attempted to catch up on 30 years of history, which is ever since we were all in college together at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington (then, Northwest College).  Of course, that is an impossible task in one evening.

The conversation turned to how much we have changed, not just age wise but also in thinking, religious beliefs and practices. Life experiences have shaped or reshaped our philosophies and theologies.  How we view, interpret and apply certain Scriptures and religious beliefs we grew up with is drastically different.  We all recognized that our world has expanded; we see God’s tent as much larger than the narrowly defined one we grew up with in our families and churches.

The painful reality we have discovered is that we spent too much of our time in our younger years trying to define the boundaries of God’s household of faith rather than helping those on the journey towards faith. Whether Baptist or Pentecostal, High-Church or Low-Church, liturgical or non-liturgical, Charismatic or Dispensationalist, Arminian or Calvinist, presbyterian/episcopal or congregational/independent in church government – we all believe that we are the heavenly Father’s favored child because we are more correct than our brothers and sisters.  Even the best among us can be paternalistic in our attitudes towards those we accept: We tolerate them even though we consider them to be in error or deviant in faith and practice rather than whole-heartedly accept and embrace them as brothers and sisters in the household of faith.

I believe that this is a changing reality in many churches today. At the grass roots level, Christian believers are recognizing more and more that every follower of Christ is on a different spiritual journey.  There is a desire to allow others to listen and follow their own spiritual walk with God.  This attitude, however, scares many other Christians into thinking that such a consideration would allow for a “slippery slope” into error, heresy or sinful behaviors.  Unfortunately, this has led to a tendency to want to define with hard categories and boundaries “who is in” and “who is outside” the tent of faith.  This has been a problem through all of church history.  It was endemic of the church from the start and continues on down until today.  Consider, for example, the first century flap between Jewish believers and Gentile believers.

The early American colonies were brutally divided by such thinking and behavior. Anglicans were at war with Congregationalist; both of them despised and persecuted the Quakers, Baptists and Lutherans.  Everyone held the Unitarians and Deists in suspicion.  Depending upon which state or county you lived in, you may not have been able to openly practice your brand of Christianity.  You could have been jailed or worse for preaching or holding cottage meetings outside the state recognized church.  If you were a free-thinker, agnostic or atheist then there seemed to be no place for you in early America except the far reaches of western settlements; just as there was no place for the Jew, Hindu or Muslim.

It seems to me that much of the church has concentrated on the minutiae of doctrines and doctrinal distinctives and forgotten Paul’s injunction to consider one another’s conscience. More important than correct theology, according to Paul, was the living application of faith, hope and love in the life of the community of Christ followers.  As much as Paul expounded upon what the early church was to believe about Christ’s life, death, resurrection and glorification, the bulk of the content of his letters to the churches concerned acceptance, forgiveness, bearing one another, mercy, grace and love for all Christ’s followers.

I am not addressing those things that Scripture points to as obvious sin or error. Those are quite clear and even the apostle Paul was willing to expose and expel unrepentant persons from the family of faith for such things.  However, it seems that there is a lot of room left for things that are not clearly identified or settled as sin and error.  The Lord and the Scriptures left to us seem to allow for a great diversity of opinion and practice in one’s faith journey.

Mount Saint Helens, July 2002

Mount Saint Helens, July 2002 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

Our proclivity to want to don the referee’s jersey and blow the whistle on fellow believers has left a sour taste in the mouths of non-believers as well as many believers who have left our churches. Christians and their churches today as in other times in human history are more likely to be identified by what they are against than what they are for or have in common.  Just as likely, they have left those outside the faith completely baffled and bemused by our divisive spirit over nearly unintelligent doctrinal nuances.  Our hostilities towards one another over spiritual practices (communion, baptisms, congregational worship, Bible translations, etc) devoted to the supposed same God are confounding.  If we cannot love one another through our different opinions and practices, what makes us think the world would believe the God and gospel we preach could ever accept them?  No wonder so many do not join the church because they are afraid of picking the “wrong” one.

More importantly, I believe, it speaks to our complete lack of faith in the Lord to build his own house (as we are told in Scripture he would do) and for his Holy Spirit to convince, convict and conform his own children in his own way (as Jesus assured us his Spirit would do).  We honestly do not believe that if everyone loved the Lord enough and loved one another enough that he is strong enough or faithful to bring us one day to all the same conclusion and same place – which is before his throne and in his presence.  No, we would much rather try and second guess the Lord and identify for ourselves who will be there and who will not.  The stark, naked truth is that it is not our job.

As someone wisely observed, “It is not my kingdom and I’m not the King.” It is not my household of faith and I’m not the Father who chooses who is in it or who is outside of it.  Jesus’ parable to The Tares and the Wheat may be worth another study for us who want to blow the religious referee’s whistle on others.  It may be time to put those away and, instead, embrace anyone on a spiritual journey towards God, encourage them and share with them what we know and our stories and, most importantly, allow and trust that God is at work in their life just as he is in ours.

It must have been an elderly and wizened Jude who learned to put away the religious referee whistle and uniform when he wrote in his New Testament letter, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen” (Jude 24, 25).  In these words is an understanding of a grace greater than all our sin.  There is recognition that it is all God’s work, not ours and that he is able to take care of what is his.  As such, it allows us to put away religious refereeing because God is able to make his own calls.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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This weekend my family and I will be making a long drive to the Washington coastal community of Ocean Park for my brother’s funeral.  My brother, Bruce, died January 15th of liver failure due to alcoholism.  We will be joining my parents and my remaining siblings along with other family and friends for a memorial service for Bruce.  Even with a month to think about it, it will still be a long, 5-hour, thought-filled drive.

I have often said, when I was in pastoral leadership, that “Funerals are for the living, not the dead.”  The dead are beyond our comfort and touch.  However, those who remain behind are still present and need the comfort and touch of family and friends.  This is why many people attend funerals of family or friends they barely know but go, instead, to support their grieving family and friends.  We want to be there for them.

This is my case with my brother, Bruce.  The sad truth of our relationship as brothers is that I barely, if really at all, knew him.  Until this last Father’s Day (2009), I had not seen nor heard from Bruce for 16 years.  My two youngest children had never seen him.  I am grateful for the two days we had last year to reconnect.  It was good to see him connect with nephews and nieces he had not had any contact with for all these years.

Bruce Charles Almberg, 2009

Bruce Charles Almberg, 1964 - 2009

The reason for the lack of communication and relationship is a complicated and painful family history that I will not divulge here.  Suffice it to say that Bruce carried many personal and family wounds that made contact with his family painful if not unbearable.  Except for my mother and my sister, and even that sporadically over the years, he really did not have too much to do with any of us.  So, the opportunity to see him, talk with him, and spend time with him last year was monumental for our family.  After that holiday together, Bruce and I chatted on the phone a few times; something that we had never done before.

I left for college when I graduated from High School.  Bruce was 14 years old.  Except for a few brief stints at visiting home during college, we never had much interaction together.  Most of my knowledge of what was happening in Bruce’s life came through my mother or sister over the years.  Attempts at visiting during vacations or letters and cards were never acknowledged or answered.  However, that is not unusual behavior for Almberg males.  We would probably do well in monasteries.

So, after getting a chance to finally visit and talk with my brother, it was sad news to hear that he was admitted to the hospital on New Year’s Day 2010 with liver failure.  He was not expected to live passed the weekend.  However, he did not die until two weeks later, on the 15th, after being transferred from Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, OR., to a nursing care facility in Longview, WA.  Those two weeks in the hospital, though very hard, was important.

During his two weeks in the hospital quite a number of people had an opportunity to pray for him, offer the hope of Christ, and share the love of God with him.  My parents believe and trust that God was able to bring peace to Bruce’s heart and soul.  As such, we are able to leave him in the arms of our Heavenly Father who is full of love, compassion, and not willing that any should perish.

Meanwhile, we will gather this Saturday, February 13th, to remember him, whether we have long-time-ago memories or recently made ones.  We will be present for one another and comfort one another, especially his wife Denise.  Afterall, while it is the dead that we commemorate, it is for the living that we gather.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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Ron Almberg, Ron Frantz, Ray Canterbury, July 2007

Ron Almberg, Ron Frantz, Ray Canterbury, July 2007

How do you measure
two lives entwined?
Like twine twisted,
two lives like strings roped,
do you measure
the beginning
or the end?

How do you weigh
two lives’ treasure?
Like precious pearls,
memories like jewels roped,
Do you weigh
them each
or them all?

With the twine still twisting,
the rope yet unfinished
with the treasure still collecting,
the string of pearls yet incomplete,
I am content to know
that as our years grow
we are still in the middle,
yet to define the end
give perspective to the beginning
and find joy in the
beginning,
middle
and end.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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Just saying the words, “New Year,” breathes hope into the heart and soul that the next 365 days will be different than the last.  We hope that there will be new opportunities of course.  But it is much more than that really.

What we want is not just more “new” of the same kinds of things.  Deep down, I believe, what most of us want is “new” different kinds of things.  We want new beginnings – fresh “start overs”.  We want different results from for our efforts and hard work in the professional and personal realms.  Some may want a new job (personally, that is on my short list since I have been gainfully unemployed now for over a year except for a few weeks in construction and a short writing assignment).  Some may want a new lifestyle or way of living.

hooked on phonics

When we say “Happy New Year”, then, we may not really know what we are wishing upon the persons we greet.  New more of the same kind?  Or, totally new of a different kind than they one they knew and experienced?  I have a sneaky suspicion that most people really want a new of a different kind.  I may be wrong and would readily admit it.  Perhaps this is born out of my own experience and constant dissatisfaction with the status quo.  I’ve never been happy with the stagnant, same ‘ol – same ‘ol.  I like to see progress and movement forward in my life.

However, I do not think that I am unique in this manner.  I think many people want their lives to be different.  I offer up as my evidence the perennial “New Year’s Resolutions”.  Most lists that I have examined, besides my own, consist of how things are going to be different in the New Year.  It may include lifestyle changes – lose weight, stop smoking, attend all my AA meetings, go to the gym more often, keep the kitchen clean, start and maintain a savings account among other things.  It may include spiritual changes – pray regularly, read the Bible everyday, start tithing, give monthly to missions, lead a small group, journal every week among a host of other things.

We want our future to be different. That means that we must become different, right?  Yeah, most of the time.  However, I do not think that any New Year’s Resolution will create a new me or new you.  What we really need is not more different but more of the same but right things in our lives.  All the ingredients for a Happy New Year are already in the cupboards of our life.  We just need to focus upon those ingredients and have more of them added into the daily mix.  In other words, we might not need a different recipe but just use what we have differently.

Want a New Year? Then add more of what is already available to you.  You already have God in your life?  Then add more of him in it by increasing his presence through prayer, praise, worship, and fellowship with like-minded believers.  You already have church fellowship and friends in your life?  Then add more fellowship and friends in your life be intentionally involving yourself in a serving or leadership role.  Already have family in your life?  Then add more through personal presence with them and heart-to-heart communication.  Already have a good job?  Then add to the joy of your work by doing it well and learning to be indispensable to others.  I could go on, but you get the picture.

As 2009 closes and 2010 opens to us, the one thing you can determine for this next year is how much “happy” and “new” you will have in it.  Sure, there will be trials and disappointment.  There may even be a major set back or two.  But remember, all the things you need for this New Year to be brand new and joyous may already be in your possession.  So, with that, I wish you a “Happy New Year”!

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

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Fall Leaf in Howard Amon Park, Fall 2009

Fall Leaf in Howard Amon Park, Fall 2009 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

Every once in a while
someone needs to help me
define reality.

Blinded by urgency
I cannot see outside
my space time.

Figures move too quickly
events come and go swiftly
right by me.

Someone who’s been here
sees from another perspective
my experience.

A view from where they stand
clearly enables me to better
define reality.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2009)

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Shi Shi Beach

Shi Shi Beach ©Weatherstone

Anyone who has lived long enough to regret their mistakes in life has come to realize that life is more like Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” than a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novella where every adventure always turns out all right and all problems are solved by book’s end.

This is probably why the Peanuts comic strip character Charlie Brown gets more sympathy from us than Linus or Snoopy.  All of us have a bit of Charlie Brown in us.  I suspect that think we all at one time or another must have felt like Beaudelaire orphans on a misadventure.  That is, if we are brave enough to admit it.

Those who are wise enough to learn from these experiences almost never repeat them.  Not everyone is that wise, however.  I have met people who seem to relish going through the same unfortunate events over and over.  Like a badly damaged compact disc, their lives keep resetting to the beginning of the same misadventure.

For myself, I appreciate a new misadventure or unfortunate event now again.  It keeps my life interesting.  Afterwards, it provides material for loads of laughter with my friends; all at my expense, of course.  After all, what is the use of these unfortunate events if one can’t use them for comic relief later in life?

For example, a friend of mine, my son, and I headed out to the Olympic Peninsula Wilderness area on the coast of Washington State…

For the rest of the story go to my page… https://weatherstone61.wordpress.com/a-journey-of-misdaventures-begins-with-one-step/

Gareth and Tim at Cape Alava Trailhead

Gareth and Tim at Cape Alava Trailhead ©Weatherstone

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