Tag Archives: father

Faith Is the Key to Any Enduring Foundation

If you know me, any of my three brothers, or, heaven help you, all of us, you know that our grandparents’ old place in Robert Lee, Texas, is dear to our hearts.

Granddaddy Key built the house in 1928, and, long story short, in 1974, after Granddaddy had passed away and, partly to ease our Grandmother’s mind as she made the transition to the nursing home just across the creek, my brother Gene bought the place. For seven years, it was occupied by various tenants whose rent helped pay for it, but, truth to tell, were otherwise about as helpful to home upkeep as goathead weeds in the once-pristine lawn.

In 1981 or so, Gene was able to bid the last tenant, “Farewell, and don’t let the door hit you in the tail section,” and bring in some even less savory sorts—his three brothers. For those first years, we actually did some serious manual labor here, and the place eventually became such a showplace that, after we put carpet down, my younger brother and I became reformed characters and had to quit spitting sunflower seeds on the floor, sweeping up once at the end of the trip (good stewardship of time and effort). If anybody ever vacuums now, I’ve never caught him at it, but since nobody spits seeds on the floor, there’s not a lot of need for persnickety housekeeping.

We love this place that, filled with wonderful memories, has affected our lives far out of proportion to its size and (nonexistent) grandeur. My brother Gene even wrote a great book about it (The Key Place, Leafwood Publishers, 2015), filled with the kind of lessons that perhaps a “key” place in your life might hold, too. The book’s well worth the read!

Long ago, we got the place in nice enough shape that we love to come here, and (don’t read too much into that conjunction) our loving and long-suffering wives are happy for us to come and even happier that they don’t ever have to. For (gasp!) thirty-seven years, twice a year all together, we four brothers, all pastors, have been coming. For a number of sweet years before his death, our father, also a pastor, came with us. In short, the blessings we’ve received at this place can’t be bought at any price.

I’m sitting at the old original table at the Key Place this Sunday evening. For maybe the second time in all these decades, I’m here first. The only other time I recall this happening, I walked in to find that some incredibly nasty insects had arrived first, been fruitful and multiplied, and taken up residence. It was like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I engaged the enemy, my brothers later joined the battle, and we won. The post-traumatic stress has become manageable enough that I decided, these years later, to take a chance once more and get here first.

I’m glad I did. I unloaded my truck, sat for a while out near the unlit fire pit which will be wonderfully ablaze tomorrow night, and just breathed in the beauty of a deliciously cool and still autumn evening. The country still smells like the recent rain.

I finally came inside to sit at the old original kitchen table, think about what I might write for this column, and eat a quiet dinner. Of course, Grandmother’s corn bread was not available. But the meal I brought chilled from the big city and enjoyed here by myself is a dish I don’t suppose this table’s ever hosted in its 90 years. I’ve eaten goat here with Granddaddy and family. But never sushi. Grandmother and Granddaddy would love my being here. I doubt they’d much appreciate the meal.

Time and tastes, years and generations, keep rolling on. But the deep faith in God that was the real foundation undergirding everything my grandparents built here is still real and sure, true and unchanging, timeless in all times.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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“Sensdistra Is Good for What Ails Ya!”

A good commercial can be a lot of fun. I’m thinking about the TV sort. You know—cave men, lizards with British accents. That sort of thing.

But I am full to overflowing (yea, verily, to nausea) with two other TV ad-types—those pumped out by slime-oozing lawyers and those peddled by drug pushers. Let’s tackle the latter.

I am very thankful indeed for the availability of needed medications that make our lives much better. But whatever side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, is it hard to figure out that our medical system is messed up, wasteful, unaffordable, and in need of massive change?

Case in point: drugs. How helpful are drugs if you can’t afford them? And just a few of the reasons you may have a hard time affording them are legitimately high costs in research and development, much higher costs because attorneys are involved, and the kind of stinky skullduggery that always attaches itself to big bucks and big institutions.

Ah, yes, and the cost of commercials. The commercials must work, or the folks spending big bucks on them wouldn’t spend big bucks on them. They can’t be targeted just at doctors, but I liked it better when my physician just told me what medicine I needed. If it might cause “oily discharge” or gruesome death as a side effect, he’d probably mention it. It’s laughable that company lawyers, who’d rather their clients not get out of bed and thus manage “risk,” force half of the stupid commercials to be devoted to listing atrocious side effects. Just stuff it! I mean, the brochure. Into the box. Just get off my TV! Your commercials make that vast mind-numbing wasteland even more vapid.

Alas, the never-ending drug ads just keep piling up. Lest they drive me nuts, I just laugh at them. (Is it possible to be amorous to much effect in two separate bathtubs?)

As word guy, I can’t help but wonder how much money the drug companies spend naming their concoctions. I can help them, I think, and for less than a cool million.

I’ve started keeping a list of drug trade names. Filled a page of a yellow pad with just 78 of the better-known. (You can easily find around 4000 on the web at lists such as http://www.needymed.com.)

Most (not all) are three syllables. The emphasis is usually on the first. Some make sense. Allegra® has to do with allergies. Some are take-offs on the chemical name. Paxil® is Latin “pax” for peace and sounds a little like paroxetine. Where they got Xeljanz® for tofacitinib, Jardiance® for empagliflozin or Kystrexxa® for pegloticase, I don’t have a clue. (Those are all patented trade names; leave ’em alone or the lawyers will be after you.)

I wrote drug names on slips of paper, put them in three bowls, one for each syllable, and then drew, combined, and laughed. So here ya go, drug pushers. These are free for the taking, and there are scads of combinations. But I’d accept a check.

Spitavtyx. Crestoppa. Lotaflo. Humnocol. Oproqura. Vyervo. Tretilor. Lipfexty. Orrevia. Wellfypro. Valuvia. Neudivnax. Elitrin. Migcardya. Celtrudgrix. Levlasmax. Sensdistra. Litavtor. Shinazi. Alvanpril. Glalartik. Eljanztix. Trexlicort. Viliquin. Remdaxia. And on we could go. (If I’ve stumbled onto any real names, it’s accidental!)

The real fun might come if we were to try to postulate what maladies might be connected with each of my cobbled together drug names. At least one needs to be for “oily discharge.”

The Creator of our universe has lots of names. I’m particularly fond of Lord, Father, Abba. Whatever the number of syllables, the emphasis—first, last, and forever—is on love.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Thanksgiving: A Time for Giving Thought to Gratitude

“The worst moment for an atheist,” writes G. K. Chesterton, “is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.”

Though any season is a great time for gratitude, Thanksgiving certainly lends itself at least to some thinking about the subject whether we’re believers, agnostics, atheists, or anything-else-ists.

Even an unusually intelligent golden retriever might do well to ponder on Thanksgiving morning the fact that somebody makes sure that food shows up in his bowl and water in his dish (and, well, for goodness’ sakes, what a nice meaty bone! Wonder what’s the occasion? Woof!). At least a little wag of the tail might be in order, I’d think, and I’m betting it would be more than a little one, since dogs seem to know instinctively that tail wags and gratitude are not items they need to hoard lest they run short.

More than “man’s best friend,” humans have, it seems to me, both a higher responsibility to think and to thank, and a much more serious temptation not to.

I’m told that the word “thank” comes from an older word related to “think.” And, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “thank” is “related phonetically to ‘think’ as ‘song’ is to ‘sing.’” So it would seem that even a very little thinking on our part would issue in “a profound sense of gratitude” and a great deal of thanksgiving. Our hearts really do have a song they should be singing, a song of thanksgiving! “Count Your Many Blessings” was a far better song title than “Think and You’ll Be Thanking,” but it really does come to the same thing.

What’s ironic here, and worth noting, is that those of us who seem to have the biggest boatload of blessings are often the very folks who are least likely to be genuinely thankful. Our “thanking” often suffers because our thinking is snotty, shoddy, and fatally flawed.

We tend to think that anyone else who has worked as hard as we have would naturally have as many blessings as we do.

We tend to think that anyone with a corresponding level of intelligence could certainly have made the same sorts of wise or profitable life or business decisions we’ve made.

We tend to think, though I hope we’d not say it, that we’re a “cut above” average and thus more deserving than others. When we say “blessings,” we mean something more akin to “wages, benefits, or dividends.”

We tend to forget how much we have that no one can possibly earn.

We tend to forget about inconvenient items that no one can control such as bad genetics or pesky microbes or crazily dividing cells or hurricanes or dictators or senseless crimes or market meltdowns—and so much more.

Healthy, happy, and more than well fed, it’s good that we’ve not bought into the self-defeating victim mentality that is such a scourge in our society, but buying into the “I’m my own god” mentality is just as deadly to genuine gratitude—and to our souls. We’ve not created a single breath of our own air or spun this world an inch, much less given ourselves life.

It’s a good time to do some good thinking and thus to be moved to lots of thanking. Most of all, it’s a good time to genuinely thank God and try not to confuse him with the dim-witted pseudo-deity under our own hat.

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“If Everybody Had a Father Like I Had a Father . . .”

 

Shelburne Portrait

I wrote most of the words below less than twenty-four hours after I got word that the kindest, gentlest, strongest, and best man I have ever known had passed away. He was my father.

Though many thoughts were racing through my mind, I realized that, if everybody had a father like I had a father, well, lots would be different in this world.

As I’m writing now, on January 15, 2017, I realize that Dad would have been 104 today. And every day, I realize with even more gratitude to God how true these words were and are.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no child would ever have to walk out the door or crawl into bed wondering if his father loved and wanted him.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no child would ever go to bed worried that his father might not really love his mother.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no son or daughter would ever see his father raise his fist or even his voice in anger.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, no one would have to ask how it is possible to be strong and gentle, just and loving, all at the same time.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, nations would not fight nations, families would not fight families, and Christians would never fight Christians, because we would all rather be hurt than be hurtful. And the hurts that are part and parcel of human existence would never be hurts we inflicted upon each other.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, every child would grow up knowing that the way to real happiness is to love the Father of all and the Son who died to save us.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, every child would grow up knowing that, even with all the church’s imperfections, the Bride of Christ is still the finest family of all, and that in her warmth is found spiritual nourishment and fine fellowship and genuine love.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, good times would be even better and bad times would be more bearable, because of the unfailing love of our fathers.

If everybody had a father like I had a father, well, there would still be problems in this fallen world because we would all still be sons and daughters of our father Adam, too.

But if everyone had a father like I had a father, then everyone would grow up knowing a lot more what their Father God looks like and acts like and loves like.

If everyone had a father like I had a father, then everyone would know the Father’s love largely because of their father’s love.

If everyone had a father like I had a father, this world and life itself would be much, much better.

But if everyone had a father like I had a father, I might not know what a fine father I had. And, not knowing that, I might not know what a Father I have, and that the best Father of all is your Father, too.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“There’s an All-seeing Eye Watching You!”

 

eye

My tastes in music and my theology have certainly changed since then, but when I was a small child, my favorite song was one we sang occasionally at church (I’m very glad we don’t do that now) and pretty often at home (at my request).

That’s another story, but, yes, as hard as it is for most of us to imagine now, when I was growing up, my family spent quite a bit of time singing together around the table or in the living room at home.

We were at home occasionally back then instead of bouncing, kicking, throwing, putting, or serving all manner of balls every evening of the week. Those are not at all bad things, you understand, but our society does seem to have a serious problem with balance and priorities, don’t you think?

To make the music work, so that a family filled with low-voiced altos and basses could manage to fake four parts, we lowered the pitch of the songs pretty drastically. My sister sang the melody, Mom sang alto (I can still hear her smooth alto tones), Dad stretched to catch the tenor (a tenor, he was not, but he strove manfully onward) and, as my voice changed, I picked up the bass. My younger brother, who had the hardest time sitting still for family singing sessions, fidgeted, and, when my much older brothers and their wives were around, we just parceled out the parts as needed. We still find time to sing on the rare occasions when we’re all together, and though Mom and Dad and my sister are gone, they still seem very much a part of the proceedings.

Okay. Back to that song.

For at least a little while in my young life, my favorite song was a questionable piece entitled, “Watching You.” I’m told that I used to prance around the house singing, “Otching Ooh!” (way before I could sing bass). Not filled with the greatest music or the best theology, that song pictured God as an “all-seeing eye watching you.”

I was very young at the time. I obviously wasn’t old enough to have smoked grapevine on a Scout campout or puffed pencil shavings in an old pipe back behind our house (that was a very hot smoke!), or the idea of an all-seeing eye watching me would have been a tad less comforting. The fact is, at that age, I didn’t care what the song said, I just liked snappy and upbeat music, and it had that, if not much else.

My musical tastes have changed a lot since then, and so has my understanding of God. Is God watching me? Is he watching you?

Yes, I certainly believe that he is. But not as an all-seeing cosmic code enforcement officer or a humorless EPA or IRS bean-counting bureaucrat just waiting to catch us in a mistake.

No, our Father watches us through the eyes of love because we’re the sons and daughters in whom he delights.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


A Story of Two Fathers and Two Sons

 

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Had the brokenhearted father been one of the self- or demon-deluded pagans whose lives are described in the same amazing volume which chronicles his, perhaps the grisly request of a bloodthirsty “deity” for still more blood would have made a kind of morbid sense.

Exactly how the request came, and what form it took, we’re not told, but that it was a true and authentic command of the only true and living God was absolutely a matter of no doubt.

Not to him.

Not to Abraham.

The “father of the faithful,” the “exalted father,” the one christened by God “father of a multitude” was being asked by the Father of the universe to offer as a sacrifice, killed by a sharp knife, and consumed by fire atop an altar, that son of promise, the only son through which that “multitude” could be born and the promise could be realized.

Yes, Abraham would have expected such a command from a god or gods deluding pagans, but it was unlike any command he had ever received from the living God. It was absolutely unlike . . . well, unlike God.

But it was indeed God’s command.

What son was he to offer? God himself had said it—that dear son, dearer than life itself, the son “whom you love.”

God knew what he was asking. God the Father was asking father Abraham to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and to give him up.

God knew that Solomon would later build his temple atop that hill.

God knew how many lambs would one day be slaughtered there and how many sacrifices would be made. Atop that hill.

And, as brokenhearted but absolutely faithful Abraham was himself dying inside with every step towards Moriah, who knew better than God the thoughts that go through the mind of a brokenhearted father about to watch his son die at the top of a cruel hill?

God knew.

Abraham’s son was old enough to carry the wood for the sacrifice. Isaac was old enough to realize that this sacrifice was like none he had ever before witnessed. Isaac was old enough to resist when his old father, with tears streaking down his face and wetting his gray beard, placed him on the altar, bound him, and raised a knife. Abraham was a heartbeat away from piercing his dear son, slashing his own soul, and watching his own fondest hopes bleed out as Isaac’s life-blood stained the altar.

But God stayed his hand.

Now both God and Abraham knew that Abraham would be absolutely faithful.

What Abraham couldn’t know was that God’s own Son would humbly and obediently allow himself to be bound to wood atop another terrible hill. Hands would be raised to pierce him. And God would not stay those hands.

God the Father of all life and all love would through his own tears be absolutely faithful.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


A Grandfather’s Voice Points to Many Fathers

 

George B Shelburne-01

It’s been an interesting Monday morning.

The dog and I were sitting in the recliner. My laptop computer was living up to its name. My column/blog deadline was looming. Waiting for words to start showing up on the blank computer screen, I was really waiting for the adrenaline rush that my sadly undisciplined brain seems to require. Coffee is an aid, but no sure cure. The deadline usually does it.

In the meantime, as I found myself piddling around, procrastinating, perusing some files on the computer, I somehow wandered into the “Family Audio” section and clicked on an old file labeled, “Big George 1972.”

And that’s when I heard the voice of my paternal grandfather, G. B. Shelburne—we called him “Big George”—who died in 1975, recorded by my oldest brother in 1972 at the old house in Stanton, Texas.

In the fourteen-minute recording, Big George, a longtime lay preacher and church elder who over the course of 40 years held pretty much every non-elected position available in the City of Stanton, Texas—city secretary, water commissioner, city judge, etc.—shared a little family history.

He partially solved the family “mystery” of “G. B.” as he said that “George” was the name of his mother’s oldest brother and that “Beatty” (spelling?) was the name of the doctor who “presided” (his word) at his birth.

Oddly enough, what I found most interesting was the story he told of a spanking administered to my great-grandfather by my great-great-grandfather sometime in 1870.

Great-great-grandfather Shelburne had come home to Alabama in 1865 after his service in the Civil War. His son, Tom, my great-grandfather, was born that same year. Tom’s father died when the boy was only five years old. That would be 1870. The incident Big George told about, that his father Tom had told him about, took place that same year and was one of the only memories Tom Shelburne had of his father.

As the story goes, my great-great-grandfather had just finished filing a hand saw in the blacksmith shop he had on his Alabama farm. Five-year-old Great-grandfather Tom had been playing in the shop. His dad laid the saw up on top of his workbench and said, “Now, Tom, don’t you bother that saw. I’m goin’ out.” Tom told his son, my grandfather, later, “I had such a curiosity to try that saw that when Father came back in, I was tryin’ it over a plow beam, and he give me a paddlin’ fur it.”

Funny. That old story of my great-great-grandfather’s warming Tom’s tail section actually seemed to warm my great-grandfather Tom’s heart, too. He lost his father way too early, but he never lost the sure knowledge that he was loved by him.

It’s a great blessing to me to hear my grandfather remind me that I stand in a long line of fathers who dearly loved their sons (and daughters). The best blessing of all is to know that all of God’s children are loved by the best Father of all.

Yes, and the Bible reminds us (Hebrews 12:6, etc.) that some discipline is involved in love!

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Chasing Happiness Is the Recipe for Unhappiness

 

happiness

Are you happy?

If that question catches you off guard and you’ve really not thought of asking it in a long time, chances are good that you really are. Happy, that is.

The best way to be unhappy is to spend a lot of time asking yourself often, with deep feeling, and poignancy, “Am I happy?”

Another sure-fire path to unhappiness is to spend a lot of time around: 1) navel-gazers always asking themselves if they are happy, and, 2) folks who feel guilty when they are happy (as in “content”) too long.

Chase happiness as a goal and you’ll always chase it away. It won’t and can’t be produced that way because by its very nature, real happiness is the sweet fruit of living a life not centered on self.

Happy people are so unfocused on themselves that they are almost always surprised when a bothersome busybody like me asks, “Hey, are you happy?” Their reaction? “Well, I’ve not thought about it much . . .” That’s a key, you see. “But, yeah, now that you mention it, I really am.”

I’ve tried to think of some common qualities the happiest people I know seem to share.

The happiest people I know come from families who are good at being happy. If you don’t, don’t despair. Somebody has to choose to get the happiness trend started. Might as well be you. If you don’t know how to, get help. It’s available. By the way, happy people know that making excuses for being unhappy means planning to stay unhappy, so they are brutally honest with themselves and utterly refuse the sick “pleasure” of playing the victim.

The happiest people I know understand something about balance. They work and play equally well, in ways that build up and don’t tear down.

The happiest people I know like their work but love their lives and know that work is just part of their lives, not the whole show. I’ve known over-achievers I’d say seem happy but their “Type A-ness” is more a challenge to their happiness than conducive to it. And it can be challenging indeed to the happiness of those near them.

The happiest people I know take pleasure in recognizing small things as great blessings. Sunrises, sunsets, naps, flowers, grandkids, puppies, good books, good food, sweet songs, hugs.

The happiest people I know realize that “bigger and more” only rarely add up to “better.”

The happiest people I know laugh often and know that life is far too serious business to always take seriously or to always be business.

The happiest people I know invest time in friends they not only can trust but whom they can trust themselves to. Real friends around whom they are always lifted up, not convenient counterfeit friends who bring needless pain and shame.

The happiest people I know are deeply content and not ashamed of it. It’s a balance thing. Not stagnant at all, neither are they “driven.” They enjoy their own company, but also have deep friendships. They have goals but keep their eyes open to the joys along the road. They know instinctively that it is on the journey, and not in reaching the goal, that life happens.

The happiest people I know not only love life, they love the God who gives them life. They know he loves them and that when he looks at them, which is always, he looks at them with eyes filled with a Father’s joy.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Do You Believe in Prayer?”

reach out

I’m not sure I believe much in prayer.

Now, hold on! Taking that statement out of context might ensure I’m never tapped to be pastor of a mega-church. Good! A blessing for all concerned! And if it shakes up the “Expect a Miracle!” plastic piety crowd whose answers to pain and suffering are strings of pious platitudes, fine. I’ve had my fill of such.

As the umbrella title of this column/blog is “Focus on Faith,” I ask, “Who or what is the focus of our faith?” My answer is, “God.” In that very literal sense, the answer is not “prayer,” it is God.

But I’m not always so picky or prickly. If I’m asked, “Do you believe in prayer?” I usually just truthfully say, “Yes, I do,” without being a jerk and over-explaining. But what I mean is, “I believe in God, and in his Son, who taught us by word and example to pray deeply and often and expect to be heard, believing that it matters. Yes, I pray.”

But I do not believe in approaches to prayer that are more akin to rabbit’s foot magic and witch doctor superstition than the faith we see in the Bible. They are so unlike Jesus’ example and teaching about prayer, and seem to me thin, wispy, and, at heart, cruel, no matter how popular they are.

I can’t talk about faith for long without talking about prayer. And I can’t talk about prayer long without talking about the problem of pain and suffering. The answer to both centers on trust in God. But real answers and real trust are never easy, however strong our faith.

Even a little honesty about prayer is a breath of fresh air. C. S. Lewis, great defender of the faith and serious “pray-er,” in the midst of writing profoundly on the subject, admitted frustration, realizing that his whole day had a feeling of holiday about it once his morning prayers were dutifully done! Such candor comforts me far more than the stories—some mostly true—of great people of faith who regularly prayed for 25 hours a day, 26 on particularly busy days.

If you prefer moonshine and stardust to harder and more genuine faith, don’t read Philip Yancey’s book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? But I love his biblical and faith-building view—especially what he writes about Jesus and prayer: Jesus prayed. We learn much about praying from the way he prayed, what he prayed for, what he didn’t pray for, and the way he dealt with his Father’s yes—and no.

Did Jesus believe in prayer? Yes! If you mean that he believed so completely in his Father that, whatever the answer, talking with his Father was more important to him than food or shelter or breath itself!

When I pray, I ask for the moon. Like Yancey, I believe that miracles happen, but, by their nature, rarely. I also remember Christ’s cross, Paul’s thorn, and . . . Sometimes the answer rocks me on my heels because it is so delightful. More often, it rocks me more profoundly and sends me beating on my Father’s chest before I collapse in his arms of love.

“Oh, respectfully, Lord, did I not make myself clear? I did not in the least want “power to get through this.” I wanted around this!

Sometimes I almost wish there were a formula, so if I got it right, I’d get the right answer. But that’s magic, not faith. I don’t need a better rabbit’s foot; I have what I need, a Father who loves me completely. To him, I’ll pray. With gratitude. Love. Hope. And sometimes anger and hot tears. And he’ll love me still.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“The Older I Get, the Wiser My Father Becomes”

Shelburne Portrait-small

I’ve long ago discovered the truth of the old adage: The older I get, the wiser my father becomes.

January 15, 2015 would have been my father’s 102nd birthday. January 9 was the fifteenth anniversary of his death.

I’m immensely blessed to be able to say I have few, if any, regrets about what was said or left unsaid between us. Dad well knew how much I loved and respected him.

But there are a few things I’d really like to tell him again. Once again, I’d like to say, thank you, Dad, for always giving exactly the wisdom and the love that I needed even when I was too young, inexperienced, and immature to know how very young, inexperienced, and immature I really was. If I could, I’d say once again . . .

Thank you, Dad, for all the precious gifts you’ve given.

Thank you for faithfully loving my mother.

Thank you for faithfully loving God’s people, Christ’s church.

Thank you for loving God himself with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Thank you for the fact that your love of the Father colored beautifully every other love of your life.

Thank you, my earthly father, for your love which made it so easy to believe in the love of the Heavenly Father.

Yes, and I’m seeing, oh, so clearly, Dad, how that heavenly love means fulfilling very practical earthly obligations and duties.

I learned long ago whose name goes on that blank on so many medical and college and loan forms where it says simply, “Responsible Party.” Being “responsible” is not easy, which largely explains why so many fathers today fail to be. You shouldered the load. Thank you.

You knew what it’s like to be the one charged with picking up the pieces when the car breaks, the dog bites, the bill’s due, or the wheels come off in so many ways.

You knew all about paying to fix crooked teeth, saying a few words over the grave of a family pet, loving all your children but giving extra love at a particular moment to the child who particularly needs it most.

You knew when loving well meant “picking up the pieces” and when loving wisely meant expecting me to learn to clean up my own mess.

You were the strongest man I have ever known in all the ways that count, strong enough to be truly gentle.

You were the kindest man I have ever known, merciful even when those around you were being unfair and unmerciful.

You were big enough, wise enough, Christ-like enough to know when to laugh and when to cry (unashamed of laughter or of tears), when to direct and when to discipline, when to speak and when to listen, when to wait and see, and when to wrap up a child in a father’s embrace.

I’d give a lot for your embrace right now, Dad. Just a hug from the man whose gracious life and whose unfailing love has given life to me, and to mine, and opened my heart to love.

So, Dad, I just wanted to say once more, thank you. And may the Father of us all give wings to this “thank you” and whisper in your ear once more my thanks for the gifts and the love you have given me, your son.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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