Do You Remember?

"L" comes before "M;" yet Memorial Day comes before Labor Day.  So goes a trick I devised to help me remember which holiday occurs in May and which in September.  To that confusion, I add another.  For me, Memorial Day marks the final day of my family's tradition of smelling like smoke and not bathing for 3 or 4 days (otherwise known as camping).  On Memorial Day, we unpack the truck, store the canoe, and take showers.  We do much; but very little, if any "memorializing."  The day set aside to remember those men and women who died serving our country is, in our house, clean-up day.  

Like our nation, the Church keeps a calendar and reserves dates for celebration and memorials.  Advent.  Christmas Eve.  Good Friday.  Easter.  And, like me, men and women enjoy those days with family meals, lit candles, presents, eggs, and the like.  But . . . do we remember the original meaning of those days?  
A soldier died.  So did the Savior.
An earthly battle was fought.  So was a spiritual one.
Victory came at great price - at Normandy . . . at Calvary.
Freedom isn't free.  Salvation was costly.
This year I decided to dedicate time on Memorial Day to do as its name suggests.  If you missed that opportunity, it's not too late.  You don't need to wait until next year.  

Neither do you need to wait for Advent, or Christmas, or Easter.  In five days, visit a church.  Go, sing, listen, look, celebrate Jesus and . . . Remember.

A Simple Song

Jesus loves me.  This I know!

Recently I received a copy of the American Women's Bible (AWB).  Released this year by Thomas Nelson Publishers, the AWB includes biographical sketches of women who contributed greatly to our nation, our world, and the cause of Christ. While reading, I learned of Anna Barlett Warner (1827-1915). 

Anna (and her sister Susan) wrote the novel Say and Seal Three years later a musician, having read the sisters' writings, set some of their words to song.  Today, children and adults (including the one typing) sing those simple (Ordinary) words.  

Jesus loves me.  This I know!

Two days ago my church family celebrated and shared Communion.  As we held and ate the bread and wine, we saw and tasted the goodness of God (see Psalm 34:8). 

Song.  Bread.  Wine.

Simple.  Ordinary

I find rich truth in the fact that Jesus chose bread and wine, the most basic elements of a first century meal, to represent His sacrificed  flesh and blood. 
The common taught. 
The ordinary spoke. 
The ingredients dare not overshadow the lesson; they complement it. 
The lesson?   
Jesus loves me.  This I know!

By all means, read Leviticus.  Study Erasmus.  Explore the richness of the Minor Prophets.  Tackle complicated theology.

Then return to John 3:16.


Before our three children knew Jesus, how to speak, or the English tongue, my wife and I held each one of them close and sang those words of the Warners.  Would it embarrass them if I told you that we still sang those words to them?  I guess I will find out soon.  In the meantime we sing on.  Join us.  

Jesus loves me.  This I know! . . . 

Words of Wax

My ten-year-old son grew a beard today.  Well, actually, I drew the facial hair for him so as to authenticate his likeness to John G. Parke for his school war museum.  

Adding to my introduction to Parke, at his school today, I met Andrew Jackson, Harriet Tubman, John Wilkes Booth, and others whose names I do not recall - such as the woman the Union Army turned down to serve as a nurse because she was "too beautiful" and the Confederate Captain who shot himself in the knee, intentionally.  

From a room full of fourth and fifth graders, I learned much today about men and women over one century after they lived.

Fast forward into the future.  A fourth grader in 2116 applies a beard, wig, cottonball mustache, or hat in order to present a wax image of you.  Parents, teachers, and fellow students tap your wax lookalike on the shoulder, step back, and listen for the presentation. 

What does the child say? 

For what will the next century remember you?

Heroic action?
Heart of service?
Reckless behavior?
Shooting yourself in the knee?
 What if they remember you as one who lived every day to the fullest?
What if they, acknowledging your less-than-outstanding traits, told of your kindness, honesty, and care for others?

The words of wisdom in the God-inspired text tell us . . .

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
    an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:1-2 (NIV)
We do well not to boast.  We can, however, strive to put words into the mouths of the future's fourth graders by living as we want them to remember us.  

What will the wax say of you?

Midnight's Game

This week I invited a guest blogger to write for livetheordinarylife. She is a gifted writer; and I say that because she writes well, not because she is my daughter. Enjoy her post!

Midnight’s Game
by Kate Goodman

Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon.

The grey horned owl beat his wings majestically as he swooped down through the leftover, crumbling wheat-grass.  His eyes: piercing, dull, and blank as if searching for someone to lead him through midnight’s game.

The owl's silhouette danced along the horizon's fiery collage of colors.  The urge inside of him to hoot with the prowling wolves was tempting;, but if he wanted to catch a good supper, concentration was key.

The haunted night let loose its midnight fun as wolves declared their presence and a few timid grasshoppers hummed their symphony.  Before long, the whole night was alive, from the rushing chills of the river to the wind asking the leaves to dance.  With one giant leap, the leaves swirled and pirouetted across the night sky with the strong grasp of the wind to steady them.

Oh how the owl wanted to join the fun!  But as free-spirited as he might be, he was waiting for a sound.

One rustle in the grass.

One little helpless squeak.

One hopeful mouse searching for adventure.

* * * * * *

The owl's wings beat at the wind, upsetting the night’s dance.  The leaves fell from their partners and fluttered helplessly to the ground.  The song of the symphony was sung, sadly in the distance.

Owl was not wanted.

But mouse was.

A soft, wet nose peeped out from under a mossy log.  His ears were constantly twitching, trying to find a break in the dance … searching for danger.  With one timid paw, he stepped out into the night’s game and hurried out into the whistling grass.

Was he looking for something in particular?  Something to complete his day?


There is always one drive that sends little mouse to his doom.


He wanted the feeling of dancing in the night.

The owl chuckled from above.  “Don’t you know, little mouse, what happens to those who dare to be curious?”  He began as he dived in for a smooth landing.

The mouse’s oblivious eyes lit up with excitement as the leaves were escorted by their partners again, and swung into the next twirl.  All was alive again, nothing seemed adrift.  

* * * * * *

The leaves knew.  They called desperately to the mouse, “Hide!  Run!”

The wind howled in the distance, pulling apart the symphony.  Grasshoppers chirped their warnings until all they could do was watch.

* * * * * *

All was silent.  But at night, silence is the greatest warning.

“Stop, turn back!” Silence screamed.

But it was too late.

Curiosity killed the mouse.


Three days ago after applying the paste to my brush I looked in the bathroom mirror to (for whatever reason we do) watch myself brush my teeth.  Then I saw it.  Three, rather than two, small circles reflecting back at me, two black and one red, two pupils and one  . . .
Subconjunctival Hemorrhage.  Web MD, an actual MD, and an ophthalmic assistant assure me that that is the name of the blood spot in my eye.

They all assure me that it will disappear.  In the meantime, I avoid looking myself in the eye.  I’m one for whom watching anyone, including my wife, put drops in their eyes or remove a rogue lash proves traumatic.  Given the choice between watching a doctor examine an eye and a surgeon repair a heart, I would choose the latter. 

Tonight, as I brush my teeth, I will find something rather than my reflection to observe for those two minutes (plus flossing, if I do as I should).  I will avoid eye contact.

Avoiding eye contact.  We do that for reasons beyond subconjunctival hemorrhages.  


Fear of self-betrayal.

Cognitive dissonance.

Desperate attempts at self-deception.
A traditional proverb assures us that “the eyes are the window to the soul.”  Therefore, fans of taking their “everyday, ordinary” lives and placing “them before God as an offering” (see Romans 12, The Message) need to look themselves in the eye.  As we look into our own eyes, we will observe our souls and discover answers to questions.   
Have I really forgiven him?

Do I really believe that God created me for a purpose?

Do I know that God loves me?
As we look into our own eyes, we also discover our spots.  Yes - subconjunctival hemorrhages; but more importantly, blind spots. 
What have I been ignoring?

What sin continues to entangle me?

Do I still have that plank in my eye?  Speck?
Tonight as you prepare for bedtime, remember to brush your teeth, floss, and . . . Look Yourself in the Eye.