Tribute to Bruce…..

This morning my Men’s Accountability group met at a local Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop instead of our normal location because we had a service project. As we are called and as the need arises, our group of Christian men break from our normal meeting to provide a service project that shows the love of Christ. These projects have varied from serving breakfast on several Emmaus walks to helping single ladies with a need move. Today was a move and the single lady was a staff member on my team.

Now moving is never fun. I tend to place it right next to paying taxes. It is something all of us does at one point or another but I have never heard of someone liking the task. After moving to Kentucky, I vowed never to move again. However, I do not know what God has in store for me and I have learned to “never say never”.

You might think that a boss helping an employee move is quite out of the ordinary. I have had bosses in the past that barely gave me the time of day. And I have had bosses who would give me the shirt off their back. In arranging to help my staff member out I was inspired by an act that a boss of mine did several years ago when we lived in California.

The year was late 2003 or early 2004. Our fixer up house in Thousand Oaks was on the back end of being “fixed”. I had redone every room (including scraping 70′s cottage cheese ceilings), renovated the kitchen and bathrooms, gutted and purged the garage, replaced the roof, installed new windows, and even enacted the “scorched earth” policy when I landscaped the front yard with new sod, plants, rose bushes and a camphor tree. I was on the home stretch working on the back and side yards. But these were probably my biggest challenges because a railroad tie retaining wall had collapsed after 20 years of rot (I guess there was reason I left the back and side yards for last). So my project was to build a new slumpstone retaining wall, wood fence, decorative concrete and patio cover. One note to mention — the only project from the list above that I contracted out was the roof. There is a reason there are no old roofers. That is one of the hardest jobs in construction.

So with the footer foundation dug out I had prepped everything — rebar, ties, suspension blocks, and measurements. It was the very first step of a very large project. And while I had done block and concrete work with my dad, there was still quite a bit of uncharted territory. And none of this happened overnight. It took several weeks and weekends of work just to get it to this stage.

My team and boss at work followed my progress. I would bring in before and after pictures or share stupid mistake stories that would make them laugh (ask me some time about when I half fell through the entryway ceiling). So with all this work and preparation, my boss Bruce, knew where I was in this project. So when I told him that I was all set for my concrete pour for the retaining wall footer, he surprised me when he asked what time the concrete truck would arrive. I told him that I was expecting them on Saturday at 7am. He said “Good. I’ll be there at 6:45″ and walked away.

His response surprised me and I had forgotten about his previous life. You see, he used to run a concrete construction company and he had more concrete and masonry experience in his big toe than I had in all my years of life. And, luckily for me, he was going to impart his experience and wisdom on my retaining wall project.

I’ll never forget that Saturday morning. He was right on time and we plotted and planned how the concrete would be poured for the best foundation. When the truck arrived, the driver hadn’t even gotten out and Bruce scampered up the truck, stuck his arm in the concrete behemouth, took a look at it, and yelled down at me to get the hose. He was a concrete afficianado and was adjusting the concrete mix to his perfection. The look on the driver’s face was priceless as he got out and saw Bruce up there with a hose squirting it Emeril-like into the mixer.

I just stood there in awe and thankfulness that my boss cared enough about me, not as an employee, but as a person, to sacrifice his Saturday morning and come over to share his experience and knowledge. The rest of the day was spent with Bruce downloading his skills, tricks and tips on concrete and masonry. We laid a “hot course” of slump stone and he showed me the intricacies to laying smooth and straight bricks and blocks. He even gave me one of his trowels — which I still have today in my garage. I have used it several times since and think of him fondly whenever I have concrete and masonry work at my property. You see, all of this is even more special because Bruce passed away in Feb 2008. His caring and concern went beyond that day but it was a good example of how he was as a boss.

So fast forward back to our move today and you can see the model I was following. I had heard of my employee’s needs earlier in the week regarding her move situation. She is single and has only been in Kentucky for a year so she doesn’t yet have that extensive network you leverage (or sucker into) when you move. So I told her that I had a truck and double axle trailer that we could use to assist in her move. And when I informed my Accountability group that I was going to miss that Saturday, they asked why, and when they found out the reason they also offered to assist. So one turned into four and we were not only about to get everything moved in one trip with multiple vehicles, we were also able to share the love of Jesus with her. She said that as we were all loaded up caravanning to the new place down the freeway, her eyes welled up with tears thinking about the people who really didn’t know her but were helping her move. We were able to get all the large items moved and carried into her new place way before lunch. All in all a successful service project. But again, I had two good examples — Jesus and my old boss Bruce.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A touching God and dog story…..

I saw this message on Facebook — it was so touching that it needed to be shared.

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.
Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Family driveway night…..

I’ve blogged before about the many “family” variations we have had. Family movie night, family star night, family ice cream night…..you get the idea. Well, tonight we added another variation — family driveway night.

It started with me tinkering out in the garage with Sportscenter on after dinner. My son was still at soccer practice with my wife and the girls meandered outside to just hang out around the outside of the garage. One brought her iPod and rode her bike, the other kicked the soccer ball — and soon enough the Mrs. and D were home.

They joined us as the Monday Night Football game started. The grabbed some chairs and we were all just spending time in and out of the garage as a family. With R going away to college in 12 days, we have been trying to just spend time together as a family — sometimes doing stuff and other times doing nothing. So tonight’s “nothing” ended up being in the garage and out on the driveway. Soon enough it was dark and D ran inside to bring out a dozen or so quilts so everyone could lay on their backs and look at the stars — not very comfortable on the asphalt driveway. But you get the picture. And because of the privacy of our property, we were just able to hang out without seeing anyone or have people drive by.

It made for a nice wind-down evening as we all headed to bed to get ready for a new day tomorrow. So there it is — family driveway night.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A day of rest…..

Our worship services for the last few weeks have been focused on the number 7. It is a biblical number that depicts perfection and is used in many parts of Scripture. For example, in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth and all of creation, He rested on the 7th day. There are other instances of 7 — forgiveness of debts every 7 years in the Old Testament, forgiveness of sins 7 times 70. But the one that was recently focused on that we were trying to practice was resting on the 7th day.

The sermon was very impactful – link here — http://www.southeastchristian.org/default.aspx?page=3476&project=102904&program=446276. I would highly encourage you to go watch or listen to the sermon.

So fast forward to today when my wife and I were taking a nice leisurely ride around the property this afternoon. As we went around the front, I asked my wife if she was going to have my son D mow the front. She replied “Yes, I’ll have him do that tomorrow. I was going to have him do that today, but I wanted to follow our day of rest instead”.

Atta girl! I was so happy for her answer. We all need down time to worship, just rest, and grow closer in our walk with our Creator. And we did lots of that today.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Allowing God to work…..

Almost two weeks ago, I blogged a post about God taking pain and broken pieces and creating something beautiful from them (see Aug 6 post here — God’s glory in broken pieces…..). Well, our church newspaper has an awesome, more in depth article on that whole story and how God is working His plan. It is just amazing and I encourage you to go read it.

Allowing God To Work — Southeast Outlook article

Have a great weekend!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

The Southern Ten Commandments…..

A friend shared this with my wife on Facebook and I figured I’d share it with you.

  1. Just one God.
  2. Put nuttin’ before God.
  3. Watch yer mouth….
  4. Git yourself to Sunday meetin’.
  5. Honor yer Ma & Pa.
  6. No killin’.
  7. No foolin’ around with another feller’s gal (or ‘nother gal’s feller).
  8. Don’t take what ain’t yers.
  9. No tellin’ tales or gossipin’.
  10. Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff.

Now that’s plain an’ simple. And bless your little cotton pickin’ heart!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Beautiful morning…..

Already today I have been blessed. It is not yet 8am and I have only been up a few hours but God has already made my day. Below is a quick bullet list of wonderful blessings.

  • a warm shower
  • my morning devotions accompanied by made-with-love pancakes from my wife
  • worship and praise music on my iPhone during breakfast
  • a fawn eating meadow grass with its mother in the morning mist
  • a gorgeous sunrise with yellows and oranges and reds rising across a deep green field of soybeans against a baby blue sky
  • an inspiring “Focus On The Family” podcast on Sacred Marriage — go download their mobile apps so you can hear and enjoy too!
  • a beautiful broad winged hawk perched atop a freeway light pole searching for breakfast
  • 11 geese flying in formation above my car
  • my favorite Tenth Avenue North song on KLOVE as I came into my office at work

And I still have the whole day in front of me to enjoy God’s blessings and serve His kingdom.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Football tease…..

I spent quite a lot of time in the garage yesterday after church worship. It was nice and organized and calling for me to mess it up with a project. So I switched on the NASCAR race and proceeded to recycle some EPS — more commonly known by its brand name Styrofoam — panels that we get at work for shipments but then just throw away, into insulation panels for my naked, metal garage doors. Now, here in August it won’t make that much of a difference, but come Dec, Jan or Feb, I am hoping that I will still be able to work on stuff out there even though it’s freezing outside.

Unfortunately, the NASCAR race was rained out. But fortunately, the NFL and players have hammered out a contract and are actively cramming as many pre-season football games as they can before the real season starts. The NFL Network is playing them all back to back. So the Cowboys/Broncos and Bears/someone else I forgot, were on my garage TV.

Later in the afternoon, a cold front came down. I use the term loosely because only last week did we break from an almost-record three week streak of above 90 and triple digit heat index days. Last week was downright gorgeous with little humidity and in the 80′s — California weather if I were to order it on the internet. But this cold front brought some rain torrents and dropped us down into the low 70′s — downright cold for August in Kentucky. My wife and I grabbed chairs and sat in the garage looking out watching the rain and listening to the forest reflect the sound. It was very soothing and enjoyable. And we both agreed that, with the football game in the background, it totally felt like Fall. It was a very weird feeling knowing that it was August but had all the hallmarks of Autumn. We are looking forward to the next season but still want Summer to last a big longer.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

An August 13th wedding…..

Here on our property we have had many fun times and various events. Most recently we had Thunder Over Finchville to celebrate our great country’s birthday. We have also had many bonfires, swim parties, birthday celebrations, New Year’s festivities, hay rides, cookouts, first communion worship service and even a Christian musical concert. Well, yesterday, we added another event to our growing list — wedding.

The bride is the daughter of friends of ours from the Emmaus community. They had brought their daughter, her fiance and their friends over for Thunder Over Finchville last month. The daughter really loved our property, especially the willow tree in the front yard and wanted to get married in front of it. Who are we to say no to such a special request? And the groom is a soldier serving our country locally who is also manning up and making the right decision. You see, the bride is pregnant and he was committing, not only to her, but to his soon-to-arrive daughter. I am so proud that this young couple chose to take the harder path — to get married and keep the baby — versus all the other societal acceptable solutions out there. The young man is truly a man of honor and we have prayed for special blessings for their marriage and their unity as a family as they grow together. We were honored they chose to include us (and our place) for their special day and we pray and wish them many happy days and years ahead.

Interestingly, the wedding was to be at 6:30p — at the exact time a lone storm cell was passing through. This was a wild storm with 65 mph winds and torrents of rain. It cut power to a lot of Jefferson County (so much, in fact, that the first day of school for Jefferson County Public Schools is delayed til Tuesday). As the storm front approached, everyone took shelter in either the house or the garage. The lightening and 45 degree rain kept it interesting but soon enough it blew by and everyone picked up where they left off. The wedding commenced at 7pm — such a special number if you have a Biblical perspective. And from there on a beautiful ceremony commenced. The bride was beautiful, all the guys cleaned up nice, and the flower girl and ring bearer were as cute as could be. Again, how special we could share our place with them as they begin their lives together as one.

God bless your marriage and lives together, Kurt and Sarah.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Morning quote…..

Every Saturday morning I have an awesome Accountability group of guys that I grow with. We share our walks with Christ — successes and failures — and hold each other accountable in our walk with Jesus and in serving Him. It’s not easy, but it is necessary.

A quote was spoken by one of my brothers this morning that I felt needed to be more public than our little circle. It was about serving Christ.

“We should not be consumed with what we can’t do. We should be consumed by with what we CAN do.”

Great insight, my brother.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net