Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bring Him Home

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that Caroline and I are members of the Georgia Wind Symphony.  Our conductor, David Gregory, retired this year, and our Spring Concert was his last.  Les Miserables is one of my favorite stage shows, and we performed a piece with selections from the show.  Matthew McCord and Alison Holmes joined us as vocal soloists.  The entire piece is 14 minutes, so if you have time, please enjoy.  But my favorite song from the show, "Bring Him Home" is at 4:40.  This was the first time that Matt had performed this song since he lost his infant son.   Truly unbelievable.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Father

I've been thinking about my father this week and thought the best way to honor him would be with the words I spoke at his funeral 14 years ago:

One of my first memories of my dad was when he took me to try out for a stage production of the Music Man at the Springer Theatre in Columbus.  He was cast as Ali Hakim and I as Winthrop, the 10-year old with a lisp.  I had no idea at the time how that day would shape my life by initiating my love for the performing arts.  One of my favorite photographs is of me and my dad after our last performance.  I remember the pride of standing there with him after the show greeting family and friends who had seen the performance. 

My father wanted to be with me.

In the play I was supposed to play the trumpet.  I remember the anticipation of getting the instrument that would serve as my prop for the play, just as the character, Winthrop, anticipated the arrival of the Wells Fargo Wagon in River City.  It was then that I decided I would really learn to play the trumpet when I got into the sixth grade and it was in sixth grade that I made eyes at the flute player, sitting across the band room, who 10 years later became my wife.  I remember the joy I felt standing at the front of St. Paul Methodist Church, as the doors opened and Rick McKnight began playing the most triumphant version of the Wedding march that you have ever heard as Caroline walked the aisle. Dad was my best man.

My father wanted to be with me.

Shortly thereafter, very shortly thereafter, I remember the joy of seeing Dad holding our newborn Michael in his arms and three years later, Elizabeth. 

My father wanted to be with me.

Another place I remember Dad taking me when I was young was to First Presbyterian Church.  I don’t want to paint a picture of the whole family sitting together listening attentively and singing joyfully.  I’m sure Mom and Dad were, but I was in the balcony throwing paper airplanes over the rail.  I don’t remember it being a particularly spiritual experience.  However, while at First Pres., I became close to the youth pastor, Eli Whiddon, who took us every year to Camp Kolomoki in South Georgia for a week each summer.  It was on one of those trips that I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior.  I was far from being an angel, but at that moment, I was a child of God.

6 years ago, my son, Michael found a new church for our family and Caroline and I had the opportunity to bring music back into our life.  All of us became involved in the church orchestra and two years ago, I was responsible for a patriotic music program that required quite a bit of planning.  I remember keeping Mom and Dad posted on the plans hoping that they would attend and feeling disappointed that they hadn’t committed to being there.  10 minutes before the performance began, Caroline called me to the lobby of the sanctuary as I was trying to make last minute preparations and there stood Mom and Dad.  They had worked with Caroline to surprise me. 

My father wanted to be with me.

Another memory I have of my dad was something he said every day to my Mom.  Before he would leave for work, he would say “Pat, is there anything I can do for you today?”  I never remember her having anything for him,  - and I remember being surprised that he continued to ask her the question even though she never had anything for him to do.  She had already taken care of everything.  However, his example of putting her first created a model for my marriage which I strive for, but fall short of every day.  But despite my failure, I am able to say that I know I will love Caroline forever.

Over the past six weeks, Dad and I talked about things that we had never talked about before.  We held hands for hours at a time.  The love that I felt pouring from him was most certainly a gift from God.  I can still see the look of excitement on his face as we arrived to spend time with him. 

My father wanted to be with me.

Last Tuesday I was with a group of friends and I shared with them the experience that I had been through with Dad.  One of the guys approached me after the meeting and told me how much he appreciated what I had said, and told me that it had encouraged him to start a conversation with a loved one that he had been putting off.  I asked if it was his Mom or his Dad, and he told me, “Its not my mom or dad, its my wife”.  It was then that I understood more fully the power of the holy spirit that is within each person who knows Christ as the Son of God.

My Father wants to be with me, and I with Him.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pirate Camp

This past week, a group of pirates arrived at Lake Hartwell for the 3rd annual Pirate Camp.  Two of my older grandchildren joined two additional pirates, that are the grandchildren of our good friends, Ed and Linda.  For three days we immersed them in everything pirate - from costumes, to treasure maps, to a hidden treasure chest and even a pirate ship with firing canyon to search for the treasure and fend off the evil Captain Hook.  This is a tradition that we hope will continue in some form as the other grandchildren come of age (4 and older).  Three days of our summer - but memories for a lifetime.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Build that wall

About 2500 years ago, there was a different wall in the news.  Nehemiah was serving as cup-bearer to the king of Persia, when he was sent to Jerusalem with the task of rebuilding the wall protecting the remaining Jews there.   While the task was daunting on its own, Nehemiah was continuously thwarted by the enemies of Judah.  Nehemiah had always been a man of prayer, praising God and asking him to provide for him.  But on this day, his prayer was different.  He prayed, "strengthen my hands.   Don't do it for me.  Give me the strength to do it."  God honored his prayer, and the wall was completed in 52 days. The enemies retreated when they recognized that the task could have only been completed by the power of God, but in this case, the power of God flowing through the hands of Nehemiah and the people he was leading.  I think God wants us all to play our part in the building of His kingdom here on earth.