From the category archives:

Turning Points

inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

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Papa Jonah 2

Next time you make an appointment with me, I’ll just expect you to show up early! Boy, was that a quick surprise! But I’ll take that kind of surprise any day.

We welcomed you into the world on Wednesday, September 18, just two days after your Great Grandpaw turned 76 years old. “We” is a relative term, however, and this relative didn’t get to make it until Friday.  But that surprise one-of-a-kind voice you heard while you were still in the hospital?  Yep. That was Grammy.

That’s about all I know to say about that.

You were born into a family that absolutely adores children. You were wanted. Anticipated. Prayed for. And delighted in… long before you were ever born.

You big brother Jackson is already crazy about you. He loves to watch you sleep, hold you (with a little help), and pat you while you’re sleeping.  He’s both tenderhearted and brilliant – I can’t think of a better big brother for you.

Your parents are pretty amazing people themselves. [click to continue…]

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Stained Glass JesusWe used to have this set of biblical art prints – four of them – that were gifts from dear friends.  The art was good, but now more than 15 years later we laughed at the fact that the characters – Jesus, Mary, a couple of others – all had “80s hair.”  It was feathered, layered, shoulder length, and looked blow-dried fresh out of a salon.

Jesus seemed to have it all. He was hip, compelling, with a laser gaze right at you and his hand reaching out in such a way that you just couldn’t say no.

Mary was, well, I don’t know how else to say it… she was hot.  In a holy sort of way, of course.  If they had mani-pedis back then, no doubt this version of Mary was just back from one.

I don’t know who the artist was, but I’m sure he or she was probably tired of all those sissy-looking Renaissance-era paintings of Jesus who looked as though He just had his nails done, and wanted something different.  More reflective of the styles and cultures of the artist’s day, by the time we got them, they were very dated.  We wound up hanging them in our laundry room. Not quite sure why. [click to continue…]

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Flying moneyEver try one of those teachable moments with your kids that gets turned back on you? As in, Who’s teaching whom?

Twenty or so years ago, we were living in West Alabama and I took Cassie, about age 9, to the local shopping center (translation: Walmart).  It was just before Easter.  We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for, so we left past the customer service counter.

“Daddy,” she whispered.  “Look… those people are poor!

I looked.

“Those people” were a middle-aged married couple, standing at the customer service desk. They were very humbly dressed, to be sure. And they had all the individual parts to make their own Easter baskets – apparently not able to afford the prepackaged wonders that were for sale in the back.

Ah, Fatherhood! The opportunities we have to engage with our children at teachable moments to give them perspective, wisdom, and character.  This was certainly one of them, and a donned my SuperDad cape. [click to continue…]

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The Summer of 1980

by Andy Wood on June 10, 2013

in Turning Points

toilet seatSummer 1980.

We were standing in a line. A food line, snaking its way into the church fellowship hall.

It was an interesting mix of people.  Some of our church members, who were hosts.  Most of our youth group, over which I presided. And a touring youth choir from Kentucky. It was a fun atmosphere, and everybody was having a good time as they got to know each other and anticipated the concert later that evening.

Standing at the rear of the line there in Lumberton, Mississippi, were the pastor of the Kentucky church and the pastor of the Mississippi church – my friend Rick.  The Kentucky pastor made an interesting observation, especially for somebody who hadn’t been there very long.

“There’s something different about this church,” he said to Rick.

Little did he really know. But he would soon find out.

And it all started at camp. [click to continue…]

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RickI didn’t know it would be the last time.

But then again, we both had lived long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to this sort of thing.

It was in Orlando, coming up on three years ago.  Rick said he’d drive me back to the airport. We had been together during the Southern Baptist Convention. (It would be less-than-honest if I said we had been there FOR the Southern Baptist Convention).  But we used the meeting there as an opportunity for a reunion of the Wolfepack. Rick was always the undisputed leader of that gang.

During a difficult time in my life, they had made sure to include me in the meeting. And it was as though we had never missed a beat. That’s the nature of the truest of friends.

Rick dropped me off at the airport to fly home. Just after walking into the terminal, I realized to my horror that I had left my phone in his car.  I found a way to call it, and of course, he turned around and brought it back to me.

Doctored.

He took that picture of himself on it (above), and made it the wallpaper.

That was Rick.

And I kept it as my wallpaper for about a month after my wife started asking, “How long are you going to keep that?” [click to continue…]

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by Acharaporn Limpanapirak (Gift)

Gift(I mentioned the other day that our friend Gift is visiting from Thailand. Gift is a businesswoman and the wife of a pastor in Bangkok. I asked her if she would like to write a guest post for LifeVesting readers, maybe about her experience with Jesus Christ and what Thai Christian culture is about. She graciously agreed – I think you’ll find below that the challenges Christians encounter there are similar to some we encounter here.)

I have been a Christian in name for more than half of my life, but for some time I never realized that I had never known my LORD, Christ Jesus.

It happened 13 years ago at my previous church in Bangkok where my husband, Pi Dui, served as a deputy pastor.  A certain man came to talk with Pi Dui and asked an interesting question

Arjan (Pastor) Dui, I would like to know Jesus. Could you please tell me how to do so?”

When I heard this, it was as if someone hit me on the head.  This question had confused me for a while.  This guy came from a rural part in Isaan, in the Northeast of Thailand. Few people there have any opportunities to go to school, and they are incapable of reading or writing (illiterate).  But, WOW, he wanted to know Jesus, with a very simple faith like a child, as Jesus told in the Bible.  Here I had been a “Christian” more than 20 years, and I had not ever a desire like this. I felt so ashamed. [click to continue…]

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smiley_bubbly_day_04Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but I got to see Walter again yesterday. We took a little ride and shared a little fellowship. It was good to catch up.

Two years ago Walter was going through a severe depression.  He had been through a series of deep losses, including his job and health benefits. That’s tough enough for anybody, but at Walter’s age new careers don’t just grow on trees.  I really don’t know how old Walter is, but I’m 54 and he’s a good five-to-ten past that. I have to say, though, he makes it look good.

There is none of that suicidal darkness remaining that so gripped this man just a couple of years ago. And make no mistake about it – this was no bootstrap operation. Walter is joyfully explicit about Who gets the credit for raising him out of the pit. His life radiates with gratitude and joy, even when he’s all business.

Walter is especially excited because he and his wife are meeting their children and grandchildren in a few weeks. [click to continue…]

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obstacle courseSecond period was blue.  Dark blue.  That was the color of our gym shorts in seventh grade.  Well, at least for those who sailed down the steps at Azalea Road Junior High to greet the red shorts brigade who was returning from Coach Crenshaw and Coach Perkins’ gym class.

Always anxious for coming attractions, we’d ask the boys from first period, “What are we doing?”  Sometimes it was something awesome like battle ball or football.  Sometimes it was something exotic like gymnastics.  But one thing was sure to send a chill up my adolescent spine:

The Obstacle Course.

I should probably mention here that my athletic ability was legendary.  In my own mind.  But running headlong into a class of 60 or so peers left little doubt that my gateway to glory wasn’t through athletics.

And if there was any doubt – if there was any shred of athletic dignity left in me – the Obstacle Course loomed as a reminder of the inglories that awaited. [click to continue…]

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stop-paymentThese days I make a trip to the bank just about every day.  I’m on a first name basis with most of the tellers, which feels good.   And most days it’s a pretty straightforward deal – one or two deposits, mostly business.  Even a left-handed guy like me can get that right.  About the worst mistake I ever made was driving around in a cluttered truck and realizing that beneath all that clutter was a deposit I forgot to make.  For about a week.

Then came Friday.  Four deposits.  Three different accounts.  And one of those was a check I’d written to myself to deposit in our personal account.

I pulled up to the window and realized I hadn’t endorsed the check I’d written to myself, so while the probie teller waited for me patiently, I paused to do that.

I’d venture to guess there was about a six-inch gap between the deposit drawer and my truck window.  And somewhere in that six inches, as I reached for the drawer with a pile of bank bid-ness, that freshly-endorsed check was sucked away.  Weird even for the dusty plains, the drive-through lanes had formed a wind tunnel.  And the wind tunnel took my check.

My assumption:  Oh.  This is frustrating.  I’ll have to get out of the truck and pick it up off the ground.

My reality:  Y’all, it was gone.  Vaporized.  On its way to Amarillo, I suppose.  I always fuss because Amarillo gets all the rain (out here we refer to it as “moisture”).  Now they got my check. [click to continue…]

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