Monday, December 27, 2010

New Blog Post: Christmas visits and stories that never die

My brother Steve, his wife Cindy and her parents from Texas have been in town visiting this weekend. It was a white Christmas here in NC, a rarity since 1947, so its a big deal here. The whole town came to a screeching halt. The police did reverse 911 calls asking folks to stay at home (they laugh at us in Alaska!)

We spent a quiet Christmas Eve together, just me Tammy, Tori and Jack and we broke out the "fancy" plates with gold trim and drank sparkling grape juice out of the wine glasses, it was fantastic!

We enjoyed a great Christmas night dinner at my Aunt Becky's house with my cousin Mary Ruth and her family. The kids went sledding in the front yard and made "snow boulders", and what Christmas is complete without one of those?!

Steve and I met out at our farm yesterday for some snow covered skeet shooting. Steve got a new Browning automatic shotgun and we blasted some clay pigeons with his father-n-law out in our back pasture. Jack shot his first 12 gauge shot gun and nailed a clay pigeon, it was cool to see that! Then Jack and I did do-nuts in the snow.

We had some hilarious story telling times about Christmas' past. I was thinking of some the other day. I remember when my Granddaddy went nuts and bought my mom, my aunt and my grandmother all brand new, red, yellow and orange1974 VW super beetles. They were all lined up in his driveway Christmas Eve.

Or when my mom and dad gave Steve and I Red Ryder bb guns back in 1976. It was just like the movie "A Christmas Story".
I remember the chorus' and the stories of poor kids who had shot their eyes out. I can't tell you how many BB gun wars we had with those things and no one ever shot their eye out!

Last night we made some more memories sledding at Robbie and Kelly's house on their awesome back yard ski slope. Jack and his buddy Daniel and I sledded down the hill over and over again, and at the end of every run a massive wrestling match would ensue. Then back up the hill to do it all over again.

During a lull in the action, I laid back on the sled and gazed up at the heavens with the laughter of those two boys filling my ear. I thought about them and how they actually live in every moment and that is all that matters. Sledding is all they were thinking about. They could care less about Tuesday or Wednesday for that matter. Thoughts of the coming weeks challenges entered my head, the responsibilities, the to do lists, the meetings, the war. I tried as best I could to return to the days of when the moment was all that mattered. And for a brief second as I rose up to grab my sled and fly down the hill and fight off those two 12 year olds, all the stuff was gone. It was an absolutely perfect moment.

All the best stories I remember are those when the moment was all that mattered. All the plans for the future were insignificant all the past failures and victories were inconsequential. All that mattered was the BB gun, the people I was with, the sled, the wrestling match, my kids, my wife...whatever it was that was all that mattered.

As I gazed up in the sky, praying a thankful prayer, the pressure lifted a bit and the Lord seemed to speak very clearly, "Someday, the moment will be all that matters, someday "

Someday....At Advent we celebrate the 1st arrival of Christ implying that there will be a 2nd coming of the King. I have no idea when that will be and it seems so far fetched to the modern mind. But the Bible is very clear that it will happen, and I am looking for it. I've seen enough war and enough sadness to long for it. I've also seen enough joy and enough laughter to long for more. I also know this that eternity is beyond time, a perpetual state of living in the moment becasue moments don't exist beyond time there will always and only be right now!
Now that's a Christmas miracle and story to look forward to....all bought and paid for by a God-man on a tree 2000 years ago and activated for me and you by faith with thanksgiving.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My New Fangled Christmas Card: Update from our family

Well, Merry Christmas Everyone!

After all the busyness of the last few months you guessed it, not enough time or proper planning for a Christmas card. In years past I had mailed out Christmas newsletters, but it just didn't happen this year. So here is the Borders family update for all of you. It will be in list format for easy reading...and that is becasue I care about you and your time.  

  1. Tori- Tori is now 15 years old and has her drivers permit and will be turning 16 next summer. So, the new Geico commercial with the dude handing the keys to his 5 year old sitting in the drivers seat of the their car has great meaning for me these days! She's taller than her mom, still dancing up a storm, reading her Kindle, enjoying her friends and excelling ins all around awesome kid for any dad or mom to have. The future is so bright for her and God could not have given us a finer daughter 
  2. Jack: Jack is 12, built like a bulldozer, studying Muay Thai and Brazillain Jui Jitsu. He kicked me in the leg and almost made me cry! I took him to Alaska this summer and he caught his first salmon and saw his first Moose. It was an amazing trip that we will do again. He is in the 7th grade and growing all the time. I took he and Tori to 5th Street Ministries (our homeless shelter) to serve dinner to the folks there and it was an eye opening experience for him. He saw people thankful for a meal and kids his age with no place to live. He said, "I want to go back on Christmas Day dad!" I think we'll make that happen. 
  3. Tammy: Tammy is as beautiful as the day I married her 19 years ago and we celebrate 20 in 2011. I'm not sure what we will do to celebrate but it will be awesome I am sure. 20 years tolerating me is something to celebrate anyway. She still works at Clearview Christian Academy where Tori and Jack attend school. She cooks amazing food and generally runs the show around the house and she is good at it. We have been reading John Eldredge's book on marriage called "Love and War" and I am finding a new breath of fresh air blowing through our relationship. She really is a Proverbs 31:10-31 woman!
  4. Brad: I returned from Iraq in May and after a few months at home started a new job as the Deputy Group Chaplain at 3rd Special Forces Group at FT Bragg. Its a humbling job to work around so may heroic folks each day. I work there during the week and come home on the weekends. I am on orders there until at least OCT of 2011. I've been reconnected with my friends from Turning Point and done some speaking for them over the last few months. I continue to try to keep my old body in shape through punishing workouts that have become a very real source of mental clarity in my life.
  5. Sophie and Levi: Our two dogs continue to run our lives, but we love them!
In a conversation with my buddy Carl Cartee the other day we were talking about a passage that I am preaching this weekend at my home church here. Its out of Luke 2 and its the "Song of Simeon" Simeon was an old man that happened to be at the temple the day Joseph and Mary dedicated Jesus there. Upon seeing the baby Simeon rejoices that his "eyes had seen the salvation of Israel" We were wondering together if Jesus smiled at him as infant.

You see, Simeon had been told that he would not see death until he had seen the "Lord's Messiah"
We wondered what that must feel like to actually see the revelation of God and to hold the savior of the world in your arms. And then maybe to catch a smile from the Creator in the form of an infant. It must have been something. It must have been something as well to know that he had accomplished everything that God had for him. There was nothing left on his bucket list.
Charles Wesley at the end of his life penned these words
"Oh could I catch one smile from thee, and drop into eternity"

My prayer for you is that you might catch a smile from the Savior this Christmas...catch a glimpse of eternity and live your life emptying out your bucket!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tender Warrior

Every day I go in to work I see heroes. Not heroes in a generic sense, but heroes for real. Upon entering the front door of our headquarters there is a display honoring SSG Robby Miller, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in October of this year. I can't walk by that display without stopping and letting it sink in. Outside near our sidewalk are 28 granite stones, with 28 names. I walk by them every day. Each one is a story, a lasting representation of a life that was offered up.

Yesterday we dedicated that memorial walkway. Families of our fallen came from all over America. All of them are heroes too. Wives, children, moms and dads, brothers and sisters all showed up to honor these men who over the last 9 years have said yes to their country and given everything they had to give.

While getting ready yesterday my commander asked me to come into his office. For a brief second I thought I was in big trouble...Sometimes that is the way a good butt chewing starts..."Hey Chaplain, come see me in my office." But as he closed the door he opened a three ring binder and asked me to help him go over his remarks for the ceremony. He read them to me as if he was out there behind the podium.

My commander is a big tall man, with many years of experience. He's seen alot of life both good and bad. He leads alot of this country's most heroic men. He is well trained, professional, strong and courageous.

But I noticed something as equally valuable in him yesterday, he has a tender heart for people. As he read those comments he broke for a minute, unable to read them. Evidently some memory of one of those guys had come forefront while he was ploughing through his remarks. I placed my hand on his shoulder and just said, "Sir, you are doing fine." I found myself thinking that I would follow this man just about anywhere.

Tenderness is one of the hallmarks of a great warrior. Its not just about courage and strength. Its that heart that makes the valor meaningful. Its that heart for people that is the reason why ultimately soldiers do what soldiers do.

There are many days I think about leaving the Army for a quieter and less costly endeavor.

That was not yesterday.

Engage your heart today...evaluate how meaningful your relationships are, keep the things that are important...well.... important and lose the tyranny of the urgent.

Think about that one

Thursday, December 02, 2010

God saved us from our furnace

Wow, its been a while since I posted anything on my blog, nearly three my dad would say that is just shameful. My deepest apologies. I must tell you a story today so that you can understand how God moves in the most mundane of circumstances. I'm working at FT Bragg during the week and my bride and my kids stay at home and continue the mission  back in our home town, you know going to school, Wal Mart, Muay Thai class, dance and all that other "life" stuff. So we spend our weeks texting and doing the cell phone thing and then I get home on the weekends.

It never seems to fail that something always goes wrong when I am gone, something will break, a flat tire, a malfunctioning alarm, busted pipe...all when I can't be there to help. Grrrrrrr, for a man it is the height of frustration because we love to fix stuff and make it right.

It does however provide ample opportunity to exercise faith and to see God's hand at work in our midst. Last night Tammy calls around 11:00 which she never does. So I knew as I picked up my cell phone that there was a problem. Here first words were, "I smell gas!" Immediately I knew that it was probably our ancient heating system that has been pumping hot water through my house every winter since 1967. Its old, noisy, but very efficient. I have to have some type of work done on it every year.

I told Tammy to check the pilot light and it was functioning. She stilled smelled the gas. I got worried, gas is heavier than air and rides along the floor. I was worried about an explosion. So, I told her to call the gas company. I told her to call me when the gas guy got there and told her I loved her, prayed for God to protect them, trusted Him by faith and went to sleep. Unfortunately my phone was on vibrate and I slept through her calls about an hour or so later.

As I woke around 6:15 I called her immediately and asked her if everything was OK. She said that Keith Moore, a friend of ours had been the on call person for the gas company. He came out with all his gadgets and checked everything and the gas leak was minimal. But he did find that the carbon monoxide levels were our of the roof! Keith shut down our furnace and the CO levels went down. In case you didn't know carbon monoxide is a tasteless odorless gas that is fatal when when it fills the air around you. Keith took extra care in evaluating the problem.

Several things I see here:
  1. Tammy smelled gas, when there was very little escaping from our pipes which prompted her to call me. She felt it important enough to make the call
  2. A good friend was the on call guy for the Gas company
  3. A good God was in charge!
Had Tammy not smelled the gas, she could have gone on to bed and instead of me waking up to speak with my wife I could have been waking up to the sound of someone close to me telling my my family had died in their sleep. Gulp!

It took me almost an hour to process this this morning. The realization that I was a sniff of gas away from possibly losing my family poured over my soul, I got nauseous. I was telling my friend Dave about it this morning and was overcome with emotion....the realization that life takes wild turns and there are near misses every day. The understanding that the little things matter, like the sniff of gas or a friend on call.
Then the overwhelming revelation that God is watching, sending little signs, speaking in the small, declaring His power, His goodness, His command....even with a 43 year old furnace and the keen nose of a faithful and awesome wife!

Think about that one for a while!

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...