Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best of Us

I woke up yesterday to sad news.  A good friend of mine had passed away after battling like a champ for several years.
I was shocked and saddened even though it was expected.  

I want to tell you a little about Becky Howerton and what she meant to me.  I met Becky thru LifePoint and honestly while I interacted with her, Dennis and Kaylee their granddaughter I really didn’t know her.

It wasn’t until last year that I really started talking to her and getting to know the Howerton’s.  Becky may well be the most thoughtful person I have ever met.  She is an inspiration to me on several fronts. 

First is her heart for others.  This is a woman who was in the hospital 14 times last year. She was in for extended stays several times this year and I was privileged enough to visit with her. You know what she was concerned about?
You, thats what.  She was concerned about you and me and Jesus. That was it.  Not her medical issues or pain. She wanted to talk about you. 
Not in a gossipy way, she couldn't possibly care less what one of us had done to the other. She was genuinely concerned about your heart and mine. About our families and our walks with Jesus.
I want you to think about this, because not everyone visited her and got to experience this.  There she was in the hospital  Literally fighting for enough breath to talk. Sometimes it would take a minute or more to get a sentence out. The pain was rough and she was poked and prodded.  However when the words came it was almost always “How is everyone doing,” and then she would start asking by name.
Her daughters Kristin, Liz and Chelsea (the “in law” part never came up Chelsea you were hers) her son Matt, Kathy & Dave Hutton, Steve Pierce, Stephanie Bandelow, Kelly and family, Jeremy and family, individually, the Tuckers, the Coday’s, Nate and his gang, Mindy and Travis, Liz Hutton, the Norfleets and the Richards families are just a few (a drop in the bucket) of the conversations we had. She wanted to know how you were doing and she wanted to pray for you.
Then there were the countless conversations about LifePoint.  How she missed us. How she wished she could attend, church and ALL of our activities.   

One day I got a call from someone at the church that needed to go to the emergency room.  I took him in and sat for a while that night with him.  I posted on Facebook that he could use prayer. It was about 10 minutes later I got an email from Becky asking if he was ok, telling me to let him know that she was praying for him and that she loved us.

She wrote that email from down the hall at the hospital, where she had been for several days already and was unaware at that time if she would ever be allowed to leave again.

I can’t imagine being there, late at night after visiting hours alone in a hospital in that situation and thinking about anything but that.  Not Becky, she wanted to let us know that she was still praying. She was at the foot of Jesus for him, for me and for you constantly.

It wasn’t that she didn’t get depressed, she did and who could blame her. It was how short those patches were that amazed me, that inspires me. 1 Thessalonians chapter 5: 16-18
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

That verse had to have been crafted with God’s eternal eye on Becky, because it describes her perfectly.

Next was Becky’s heart for service. 

She worked the child check in station at church every week she could. She was at every event she could talk Dennis into letting her go to.  I’m sure they had more than a few conversations about that. She was deeply involved in CR and was constantly praying and talking about that.  
I organized the fair parking this year for LifePoint.  It was something we were blessed to get to do but it required volunteers.  A lot of Volunteers.  
I was constantly begging for help. The fair wanted a certain amount of coverage and I just wasn’t getting the volunteers.  One night I get an email from Becky.  It asked if she could volunteer.  In the letter she said that she felt like she “needed to do this” and that she wanted to live the rest of her days “doing as much for Him as she can”.  She knew the Doctor would frown on it. She knew it wasn’t good for her. She knew it might even send her back into the hospital but she was determined and I love her so I said yes.

The day she was scheduled was rained out but had it not been, she would have been there. Raining or Not.  When Becky said she would do something, she did it.  
She was a rock and it is with stones like that the church is built.

I am so sorry for the Howerton’s loss.  To Becky Dennis hung the moon and vice versa.  It is a 36 year long romance that has given so much to so many.  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit comfort you all in this time. 

To all of you friends, and family I want you to know that Becky was concerned with you and your walk with Christ.  There is no better way to honor her than to live a life she would be proud of.  Seek God, find joy in the seemingly joyless. Pray without stop and find a church family that love you as much as she loved us and we her.

Until we meet again Becky, I love you

thanks for reading.

Alan

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Road to "I'm Sorry"

Integrity, is defined by dictionary.com as 1) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  2) the state of being whole and undivided.

I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity lately.  Well by lately I mean the last few days.  See I was supposed to be one place and was being paid to be there.  I missed another thing that I was supposed to be at.  I had an unwritten contract with the second that I would be there whenever possible.  I relied on social media to let those effected know I wouldn’t be there but it failed.  Turned out everyone but the leader knew I wouldn’t be there. 
My integrity was called into question.  One party had their feelings hurt and lashed out thought I did it on purpose and called me deceitful twice. That bothered me and I lashed out as well.  I guess it still kinda does because I felt I needed to mention the number of times here.
Several people had let our leader down that night and he was embarrassed and hurt understandably.  He took our absence as a reflection of our respect for him.  I was unaware of the other issues from that night because I have been kinda away from facebook lately so I thought it was just me. I post something then I disappear.  So there we were.  My integrity was in question and I had offended a brother.   
Here is the thing, I didn’t think I did anything wrong.  The other party was positive I did. Not only was he positive but he was sure that it was done on purpose.

What do we do in a situation like this?  It’s easy to get angry. I did, I spent about 3 hours just steaming. Why should I apologize if I didn’t do anything wrong?  It was that kind of attitude that prevailed that day.  
I’m sure neither of us was even thinking about it my the next day. Let alone 4 days later when Kelly and I were talking about integrity. 

So I googled Integrity.  It wasn’t the first part of the definition I was really concerned about. Honesty and moral principles are something as a parent I am very conscious of.  I try (and I’m sure fail occasionally) to live with that part of the definition in mind.

It’s the second part that I’ve been thinking about.  The state of being whole and undivided.  I have been on a high since feb 2012 and that high has crested.  I find myself at times more focused on me and the world than God and the Kingdom.
I was so focused on myself and the things that I had going that week. I was butt-hurt myself because people didn’t respond to my genuine pleas for help. I took it as a reflection on me. I was stressed and honestly I all but ignored God for that week.  
My integrity was compromised by my division.  My lack of wholeness.

Paul talks about putting on the new man in Eph 4:24.  I had done that. Like a brand new suit of clothes.  I had put on the whole outfit of the new man and I looked good.   As time went on I loosened the tie of the new man.  Eventually I removed the jacket as well. I was slowly stepping back.  I found myself this week with jacket discarded and the sleeves rolled up.  
My attitude was, I was tired and I was busy and I didn’t do anything wrong!
Really? Let’s look at this thru a biblical lens.  I offended a brother.  I hurt my witness and I got angry. Not a righteous anger, but an anger due to a “perceived” wrong doing. 
While my actions were not wrong, my reaction was.   I’ve struck out to find a biblical route to apology.

In an article from the Harvard Business Review  titled Why “I’m sorry” Doesn’t Always Translate. One of the author’s points is that in the U.S. an apology is seen as an admission of wrongdoing (“I am the one who is responsible”) while in Japan an apology is seen as an eagerness to repair a damaged relationship (“It is unfortunate that this happened”). 
I googled “Apology in the Bible” and was surprised to find that all the verses brought up were about confession and forgiveness.

The biblical model is for the wrongdoer to confess the wrongdoing, express sorrow and ask for forgiveness.   Asking forgiveness does carry with it the responsibility for the actions.  
 
          The offended party is expected biblically to forgive the person. 
Both parties then need to change their thoughts, attitudes, outlook of the past problem and genuinely reconcile to reorient their life and behavior to a more godly way. If a person really is sorry, that person will change so it won’t happen again.

It’s about more than the embarrassment of taking your share of responsibility. It;s about taking on all the responsibility if need be to restore the relationship with a brother.
It’s about seeing your error, and not doing it again.


Thanks For Reading

Alan

Unofficial soundtrack to this blog: 
Audio Adrenaline: Spirit Burn,  Beautiful, Ocean Floor
Fellowship Creative: Grace on Top of Grace, Glory in the Highest
Hillsong United: Oceans (Where my feet fail)