Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ladder


It is good to find you here this day! 

Last night I had the opportunity to speak at the Las Animas High school baccalaureate ceremonies.  For those of you who have never heard of a baccalaureate ceremony I will try to explain it to you.  Each year the student council invites our Ministerial Alliance to come and officiate a worship service for the graduates.  It is held at the school a day or so before graduation.  It is a voluntary graduation function for the grads and so the number of attendees is quite lower than a regular graduation.  It is a privilege to come and pray for the graduates and their endeavors.  Last night, I was privileged to be the individual to deliver the message.

While preparing for my message I came across a quote from an unknown author which I used as part of my sermon.  The quote was as follows, "The only thing that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder".  I centered my message around Romans 8:28 which reads, "all things work together for good for those who love God and are call to His purpose".  And, while, I think the Bible verse is a great blog discussion I want to focus on the quote.

Whether it be a graduate, a worker, a mom or dad, or any other individual who is trying to make their way through life, we all face the climb of the ladder.  Granted, the common reaction to the the idea of "climbing the ladder" is a negative one.  We envision people stepping on each other to make their way up the corporate ladder to earn more money, obtain a greater title, or, simply, lord over their subordinates.  However, I believe the "ladder" in the quote depicts life in general.  Indeed, the only thing that does stand between who we are and what we want to be is the life that we lead.  It is determined by the choices we make and the life experiences that we choose to be a part of.

On my journey home I have spent many hours thinking about the top of the ladder.  I have dreamed of a day without pain.  I have created a scenario in my mind of the day when life would be easier. I have seen the day when money would never be an issue and life would be less stressful.  I have fantasized of the day when life would be "good again" and it is the "ladder" that is getting in the way of my hopes, my dreams, and my life long ambitions.

However, in the process of writing my sermon for the graduates I came to a stark realization...I am an idiot!
Now, whether that realization is true or not I can tell you that was the way I felt.  The truth is this...I have spent too much time thinking about the top of the ladder that I forgot the beauty of the ladder itself.  The truth is that it is not the top of the ladder that makes our lives worth living, it the climb itself.  Miley Cyrus sings a song called "The Climb" in which she sings that it isn't about the mountains we face in our life nor what is waiting on the other side of the mountain.  What makes our lives either good or bad, interesting, forgettable or unforgettable, exciting or just plain boring, is the climb.  Our lives are not about the end results it's about how we get to the end that really defines who we are.

My encouragement for this day would be to spend more of your time looking at the climb and not so much about what is waiting for you at the top of the ladder.  Each step we make in our life , or, each rung we climb affects not only us but those around us.  I could spend all of my time dreaming about the day when I don't feel any pain from my surgeries or I could exert my emotions, my talents, and, really, my life in the pursuit of making the days that I do experience such pain better.  All of us need to take time to recognize that the beauty of a life well lived, the joy of experiencing the beauty of our creation, and the sense that God goes with us, is realized as we climb the ladder, not when we reach the top!

So, today, embrace the joy of the climb!  Realize the beauty of today and what it is rather than what you wished it were!  Remember, " the only thing that stands between the graduate and the top of ladder is the ladder"!

Until next time,


Monday, May 17, 2010

Look Forward to the "Firsts"!


What a week!  Stephanie finally graduated!  It was an incredibly exciting, horrifying, emotionally charged week.  Ever since she missed her last shot in her last tennis match I have found myself experiencing a deep sadness.  I suppose it was because I was concentrating on the "lasts".  You know what I mean don't you?  The last shot, the last class as a senior, the last time she will go to school as a senior, the last award ceremony.  I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.  However, I woke up this morning with a positive sense of the "firsts".  Today is the first day for her to be a high school graduate, her first day to go and look for a job as a high school graduate, her first day to go and tell the insurance company that bumped another car at the last graduation party she visited!

Yet, through all the hugs, congratulations, tears, and laughs there was statement yesterday that made me stop in my mental tracks and truly experience the moment.  It was when Christine and I were walking back to the van after the graduation ceremony.  We were holding hands and I looked at her and tried to grasp the words that could adequately describe the deep love, pride, and admiration I had for her.  I shared with her the fact that I thought we had done a good job of raising Steph and that today was a day of celebration for us as well.  It was at that moment when she turned to me and said these words, "I am glad you made it to this day".

We sometimes forget the great blessings that we receive from God.  I say sometimes when I really mean most of the time.  I can, truthfully, say to you that throughout this whole week of festivities I never once gave thanks to God that He had decided to give me more time here on earth.  Yet, when Christine said those words to me I was filled with a great sense of thanks to God.  There was always a real sense that I might not make it to certain mile markers in the life of my family.  Birthdays, Christmases, Graduations, and Marriages were never a given due to my surgeries...and they still aren't.  We are never promised tomorrow and so we give thanks for today.

I do give thanks to God for allowing me to remain with my family.  I give thanks for the opportunity to experience the celebrations of life.  But most of all I give thanks to God for allowing me one more day with Christine.  As proud as I am with Stephanie I am filled even more with a great sense of pride for my wife.  She has endured my sufferings while dealing with her own.   She has been the rock of the family during trying times.  She has been my inspiration to recover and my motivation to remain that way.  It was such a blessing and honor to be able to look her in the eyes and say"we did good"!  We did it, not her, not me..but WE!

On my journey home I have spent way too much time looking at the "lasts" of life.  I am ready to begin this day by looking forward to the "firsts".  I think that is what God had in my mind when He allowed me to live.  So I encourage all of you to look forward to the future and stop dwelling on the past.  Look forward to the blessings that God has for and not the trials and tribulations that world provides.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life...I will enjoy it!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

        Its Jacob here again with another post on Supermans blog! My last 2 posts were about my dads past brain surgeries. But with graduations just around the corner I want to talk about my cousin Jessica and sister Steph, both of who are graduating in a few days. Im not usually known as a big softie but talking and thinking about graduation day chokes me up. I know u might be wondering why Im on my dads blog writing about other things besides him, but Ive been wanting to kind of share with him memories and emotions about our family. Back to Steph and Jessica. You wouldnt know it by looking but I do love my sister very much. Even though there are few "I love you's" exchanged between us I cant bear to think about her leaving. She might be ready to leave and start her new liife but Im not ready for her to leave this life...and me behind. I know dad feels the same way. As we aged more I feel like we became closer. I dont want her to forget how special the bond between a brother and sister is. Even as I write this now I feel how lonley it will be at home when shes gone.
       When we were younger, Jessica always played with Steph and didnt care alot for me. I know she does of course. Like mine and Stephs bond, mine and Jessicas bond solidified as we grew older. I can remeber her defending me and protecting me when we were little. That hasnt and wont change ever.But with those feelings of love also come sadness. Her and Steph will be going to the same college which is a great thing, but again I will be missing them both with all my heart. Them being older than me always made me look up to them and my hopes are that they wont forget bonds made with me as they go out and start familys of their own.
       There is a point to all that im saying. That point is I love my family. Even though I feel remorse that a piece of them is leaving I would hop that the whole memory of a familys love will never die. And who knows maybe 20 years down the line we will all live in the same little town with families of our own, still unity with our families love.
                                                    Until next time.

The Joy of Graduations!


I just posted a picture on my page of my niece's graduation!  Congratulations Laura, we are all proud of you!  It's that time of year.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's that time of year when the mailbox is full of graduation announcements that have 15 envelopes all stuffed into one big envelope.  After finally getting all of the envelopes open you find an announcement that has 15 different pieces of information stuffed inside. There's a picture of the graduate leaning against a tree or wearing their letter man's jacket.  There is a piece of paper telling you where the graduates party is, a piece of paper telling how to get to the party, a piece of paper telling you where the graduation is and how to get to the school.  Then, after following all of these directions to get to the graduation you realize that you can only go to the graduation if you have a ticket!  And, then, after rifling through every piece of information in every one of those 15 envelopes you realize that you weren't given a ticket!  So, you just decide that you will go to the party and after following all of those directions correctly you find out that the graduation party was yesterday!  Oh, and everyone was wondering why you didn't come to the party!

I make light of this time of year because my daughter is graduating from high school.  I speak from experience because I stuffed the envelopes with all the aforementioned material.  I tried my best to be a part of the process but after being told that I had stuffed the announcement in the outside envelope instead of the inside envelope and that I had put the black and white picture in the announcements that were supposed to have the color ones I simply kissed my daughter on the forehead and told her not to forget to remind me to show up to wherever I was supposed to show up to and when I was  to show up!

I suppose that I am doing my best to laugh about this moment in my daughter's life because if I don't I would find myself unable to hold back the tears. Some tears will be shed because of the  pride that I have in my daughter.  Pride in the young woman that she has become and the manner in which she got there.  I imagine that some of the tears will be shed because I know that she will be leaving for college and that she won't be around the house anymore.  But, mostly, I think the tears will be shed simply for my happiness for her.  She has completed one stage of her life and she has known success and that success will take her to the next stage. Scripture tells us to "raise a child in the way that they should go and when they get older they will depart from it".  I am proud of the way that Christine and I have raised our daughter.  She knows God and she know His grace.  Now that I think about it...that's really all she needs to know!

So on this Saturday we will have her graduation party and then on Sunday we will gather at Tiger Stadium and she will receive her diploma.  I just hope she reminds me to go!  So to all of the graduates of the year 2010, whether it be from college or high school, pre-school or grad school, I say congratulations!  May the next stage of your life be better because of what you have learned from the last stage.  To all of the parents of those graduates I say this...rejoice in your child's had a lot to do with it!

On my journey home I have shed tears of pain and tears of fear.  I have looked at MRI films that have stopped me in my tracks.  I have been cut open more times than I care to say and I have inhaled enough anaesthesia to put entire households to sleep.  Yet, by the grace of God, I am here today and I am  able to watch my daughter graduate.  So, I look forward to these tears. God is good!

Until next time,


Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Have Seen!


Over the years I have come to realize that there are some things that I am good at and then there are some things that I am not good at.  I am not sure which one outweighs the other but I am sure that someone is keeping track of both of them.  One of the things that I am good at is sending greeting cards to people.  I have know idea which part of the brain that task is assigned to but I can tell you, whatever side it is, it isn't working.

I mention the card thing because today is Mother's Day.  This is the day that we honor those who have given us the gift of life.  Now, probably most of you, knowing me the way you do, are thinking that I should be God or Dad some of the credit for this thing called life.  Since God has Sundays and Dad's have a day in June let us just ponder for a moment this day set aside for our Moms!

I didn't send my Mom a card today.  I will call her later and wish her a happy Mother's Day.  I didn't buy a card for two reasons:  1) She will need to be where I live to get her gift and 2)  I like to write my own words and, in my own humble opinion, I can believe that I can come up with better words than Hallmark!  Having written all of that I want to tell you about my Mom!

Normally other people would probably tell you that their moms are just like any other mom.  I am not other people and my mom is not like any other normal mom, my mom is special.  I know that you are probably thinking that your mom is special as well.  And you would be right in thinking that.  However, my mom is special to me!  I have no doubt that if I met your mother I would thoroughly enjoy her company but she would not be special to me.  So, let me rephrase the statement I wrote earlier.  My mom is special because she is my mom.  That might seem like a childish statement and it probably is.  The reason that is is because I am her child!  Are you following me?

If not, then let me go on.  Of all the wonderful traits that my mother has, and there are many, the one that I think has inspired me the most is my mother's ability to overcome tragedy.  After 42 years of life I have realized how strong my mother really is.  Her ability to process tragedy in the life of our family and bring hope where hope can not be found, joy when all joy seems gone, and strength where weakness abounds, inspires me to be a stronger person.  I have seen her deal with the death of a grandchild in an incredibly strong manner.  I have seen the strength that she possesses.  I have seen the love that she shares with all of her children.  I have seen the model of a woman she has given to my sister and I have seen the model of a wife that she has shared with her sons.  I have seen!  I have seen my mother in so many different situations share her strength, composure, and faith strengthen us all.  I have seen!  I have seen my mother bandage her children's scrapes and I have seen her mend the broken hearts of her kids.  I have seen a mother who is dedicated to her children and their father.  I have seen a PTA mom, a sports fan mom (slide, baby, slide), a mom who has watched as her children were married and when their children were buried , and in both cases the love stayed the same, as it always has.  I have seen!

I am, partly, what I am today because of what I have seen in my mother.  I have seen her love and her compassion.  I have seen her discipline and, in looking back, I know she was right!  I have tried to be what I have seen!  But, mostly, I have cherished the memory of seeing her face after waking up from brain surgery.  Just before going under for my first brain surgery I gave my mother a book.  It was called "Hope For the Flowers".  Hope For the Flowers is a 1973 children's novel by Trina Paulus. It is an enduring fable about two caterpillars.  I gave her that book because I wanted her to know that Hope is what she has taught me. 

Today is Mother's Day and mine is special...I know that because of what I  have seen!

God Bless you Mommy!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

That is AWESOME!


Once again the business of life has gotten in the way of my writing.  With my daughter's graduation coming up, our church fundraiser this Sunday, and the general day to day stuff , I have found myself stretched from my writing!  Oh well, what can you do?

Today I want to share with you an amazing experience I had last week.  After Stephanie's tennis tournament last Saturday Christine and I found ourselves perusing the shelves of the nearest Barnes and Noble book store.  It was while I was in the humor section when I found a book.  I am not sure whether it was the bright colors of the front cover that pulled me towards it or whether God Himself was pulling me toward a book that would bring a smile to an other wise mournful day.  I wasn't sure why I began reading this book.  All I know was that I could not  put it down.

Normally, a book that I pick up to read at a bookstore is one that would take me a better part of a day to read.  However, this book was written in such a way that I was finished with it in a matter of minutes.  And when I finished it I I felt a sense of renewal.  The words that had been put down on paper moved me to, perhaps, consider the possibility that the people around me weren't all idiots.  For one brief moment in time I felt connected to humanity.  The pages in this book convinced me that, in a general sense,  we are all alike.

The name of the book is The Book of Awesome  and it is written by  Neil Pasricha  .  For many years  Neil  kept a blog, somewhat like this one.  He had created it as a get away from his daily grind.  After working his nine to five job he was able to come home and laugh.  The Book of Awesome is a collection of the tiniest things in life that make you smile, brightens your day, and changes your attitude for the better.   Neil  has been collecting these awesome things for years.  What started out as a hobby has turned into a multi million hit blog! 

The premise of the book is quite simple.  It list 1000 awesome things that people find comforting.  I know you are probably thinking to yourself, "what the heck is this man talking about?".  Well, the easiest way to explain it to you is to give you examples of things that are awesome.

1.  When cashiers open up new lanes at the grocery store...that's awesome!
2.  Snow days...for the kids that is awesome!
3.  The smell and sound of a campfire... that's awesome!
4.  When your microwave popcorn pops perfectly...that's awesome!
5.  Old folks who sit on their porch and wave at you when you go by...that's awesome!

I hope that you are beginning to get the idea of the awesome things that I am talking about.  To read more awesome things you can go to

After reading this book I began thinking to myself what I considered to be awesome.  We all have those little things in our lives that can take a bad and turn it upside down in mere minutes.  Things like flipping your pillow over to the cool side, rubbing a new baby's bald head, or the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk.  All of these things are the little things that make up our lives.  I believe that so many of us are concentrating on the big things of life we forget to notice tiny awesome things in life.

On  my journey home I have found that God has blessed me with the little things.  There are times when I become so tired of fighting pain that I just want to give up.  It is during these times when God chooses to remind of the little awesome things in life like opening and sniffing a new can of tennis balls.  Silly?  Maybe, but it is small things that life that can take awful and turn it in to AWESOME!  Life really isn't about the big things we do it's about the little things.  It's the smell of leaves on a brisk fall morning.  It's being the guy on the construction team who gets to hold the stop sign,  it's being able to solve anything in life with rock-paper-scissors.  Our lives are an accumulation of little things. It's the awesome things in life that make life awesome and I can assure I know.  When we find ourselves in life threatening situations we don't think about how much a new roof is going to cost we think about our families.  We think about our children's first step or the sound of our spouse's voice as they say, "I love you".  No, our lives are not defined by the great accomplishments in life.  Our lives are defined by the little things wait, I mean to say the awesome things!

So, take time this moment and think of the little awesome things in your life.  Take a moment to bring to mind the funny, quirky, priceless moments in your life and when you do I'll bet the farm that it brings a smile to your face.  God is in the little things.  So if your missing God look for Him in the little blessings of life!  Finally, go to the web page I mentioned above and then come back and use the comment section under this blog to share your awesome things with others.  I can't wait to read them.  Whether it's peeling an orange in one shot or the smell of bakery air our lives are filled with AWESOME things!

Until next time,