Monday, January 20, 2020

A Tale of 2 Pastors

I wanted to write about 2 very influential people currently in my life.  It just so happens that they are both terrific men, and Pastors.  Our relationships are very different, and yet both of them help to give me a sense of purpose and hope, especially when I feel down and troubled.

The first is the new Pastor at our church, John.  The first thing that drew me to John was his humility.  John is a very smart man, which I would learn quickly by speaking with him, but what came straight through to me from our first handshake was his warmth and his humble nature.  His demeanor immediately said "I am here to serve God, and I am here to serve you unconditionally as your Pastor".  What a wonderful feeling to get.  His messages are meant from EVERYONE.  There is no underlying worldly message of church politics, or world politics, but rather that we are meant to rise above that.  I take pride in running the audio/video board for him because I want his service to be smooth and perfect for him.  Despite the fact that we rarely (ok...never) have a flawless service, we have fun laughing at our misfortunes and swearing to get it right next time.  But isn't that what we should be about in every part of our lives?  We did our best, we brought a great message to others, we had our flaws, we embraced as friends and relished in our victories and defeats, and we vowed to try harder tomorrow.  I'm blessed to have him as a Pastor and friend.  Tyler is blessed to have him as his Pastor and friend as well.

The second is my friend Rene.  Rene works at one of our work locations, so I get to see him quite frequently.  Rene was special to me from my first day with the company.  When I walked into work for the first time, I could feel the eyes upon me.  The folks working there have incredibly long tenure, and I figured they would snicker and wonder who the new guy was.  It was a little nerve-racking.  I made my way around the shop and came across Rene.  He welcomed me with a handshake and a hug.  A HUG.  At that moment something in me changed.  I felt myself relax and take a breath.  Only through subsequent conversations would I find out that Rene is a Pastor who travels and delivers his messages in different venues and different ways.  I would also find out that we are probably polar opposites where it comes to social issues, which makes absolutely no difference to either of us.  Each day I see him we embrace and spend a few moments checking up on each other.  Its one of the most meaningful parts of my day.  

Being able to take care of Tyler's needs is an effort made by an entire village of people.  Those people, in order to give their best for him, have to feel a sense of love in their own lives.  The people around them are instrumental in doing that.  When I begin feeling a loss of hope, I need to have people around me who can keep my heart whole.  Its important for us to have family, neighbors, coworkers, and church members who have that ability to lift us up.  Many of those people don't realize it, but even the small acts of love and kindness makes us better at serving Tyler.  Without so many of those individuals, our story would be much different today than what it is.

So remember, when you are reaching out to someone in your own way, you may unknowingly be a part of their story.  You may be part of their village that is essential to keeping them going every day.  You may be the handshake, message, or hug that they look forward to.  They may need you more than you know.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

My Walk With Tyler Announcement

Good Morning!

I am very excited to announce that My Walk With Tyler is now completely transitioned to my personal ownership and will be continuing on without interruption. 

This promises to be an exciting year as the website has continued to pick up steam, and our book is being sculpted and refined. 

As always, I want to thank the readers for their interest in Tyler's story.  The support I hear for the stories, thoughts, and feelings expressed on our posts has been nothing short of overwhelming.  I remember being excited to hit 100 views and that somebody from as far away as Canada actually cared to read about it.  I figured maybe they were looking for a website about the character of Tyler from the walking dead, and accidentally found our site.  Now we are quickly approaching 62,000 views from more countries than I can remember.  I still haven't seen any views from Antarctica which is especially disappointing.  If you know anyone there, please ask them to log in.  And then gently advise them that there are areas of the world where you can live and NOT freeze your extremities. 

Most of all, Tyler, I owe all of this to you.  Without your inspiration and bravery I would have nothing so perfect to write about.  I dedicate every word to you my friend, my son.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone

Back in 1996 Paula Cole recorded the song "where have all the Cowboys gone".  The tune was catchy and I remember liking it for that reason.  She says in part "where is my John Wayne?" as she ponders where the real heroes have gone.  Unfortunately in 2020 the landscape has only gotten worse.

"Where is my Marlboro Man, where is his shining gun?".  She is asking where men of principle have gone.  This week I found myself asking the same questions.

Self interest is not a new concept.  As early as Revolutionary War times there were people who were more concerned with their own affairs than the common good.  But even as recently as the 20th century we seemed to understand that while those selfish parties existed, those on the side of good and right would always prevail.  The tv shows always ended with the moral lesson.  The wrestling match always ended with the baby face winning the big match.  Batman always found a way out of the impossible trap to get the bad guy.

We no longer live in that world.  Where self interest was the stuff of villains, it is now an acceptable and embraced practice.  We celebrate infidelity on Maury.  We celebrate promiscuity on the Bachelor.  We celebrate lies and deceit in our leaders.  We celebrate violence in defense of weapons.  We celebrate walls, and violence, and death.  We used to celebrate the common man when he stood up for a weaker person.  This type of person was a hero....a John Wayne.

Paula was looking for men of integrity.  She was looking for men who would stand up for what was right, and never sell out to personal interests.  We have to look within ourselves and ask why we aren't being that person anymore.  We have to ask ourselves why we aren't demanding that morality and common goodness from our daily lives.

So the question still stands up 25 years later....where have all the heroes gone?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Lessons from a New Baby

The neighbors who live directly behind us are a wonderful family.  We often swim together, make bonfires, and watch the kids play together.  We are also devoted to each other, always there if the other needs a hand.  We are similar in many ways, and very different in others.  

Like our family, they face challenges that are very unique to them.  With four children, they experience a wide range of physical and emotional demands.  Not only are there individual struggles, but there are always the dynamics of dealing with each other.  With the oldest girl ready to graduate high school, and the youngest only in 6th grade, they are trying to navigate kids in all different stages of development.

In the summer, we found out that they were expecting (rather unexpectedly), child number 5.  I'm not sure how they felt when they got the news, but WE were shocked.  I couldn't imagine at my age being prepared to have another little life in the house.  It made me think about the sleepless nights, doctor bills, and constant vigilance required to have a baby.  

Since the baby came home yesterday, we decided to pay a short visit today to meet her, and to congratulate our dear friends.  We approached the door expecting it to open and hear a mix of children screaming and parents crying, or parents screaming and children crying.  The door opened and there was an instant calm and warmth in the house.  In fact, there was hardly any sound at all.  We were led to the family room where one daughter was laying on the floor, listening to music and doing homework.  The son was happy to welcome us, the oldest daughter was at work, and the ex-youngest daughter was upstairs.  Mom and baby were quietly laying on the couch, and Dad was relaxed in a chair.

After a few minutes it was my turn to hold the baby.  She was wrapped in a blanket that was so soft it felt like I was holding her in a cloud.  Other than a few squeaks and wiggles, she didn't have much to say.  She seemed to like me ok, so I think we will grow to be friends.  Suddenly I had that feeling like when I held Tyler for the first time.  The worries, the doubts, the questions, the uncertainties all fall away when you hold them in your arms.  All you see is pure love and innocence.  Not a single other thing in the world matters.

As I held her I looked around the room.  At that moment I remembered some things that I had been easily forgetting.  The one thing that mattered in that room, was family, and the addition of a new beautiful member to it.  That family shouldn't be consumed by its challenges and flaws, but rather living life in grace and for one another.  No matter what happens outside of that room, the love of family will carry them through.  Faith and family is all that they need every day, and the rest will take care of itself.

Welcome to the world H.G.E.  Its better now that you are here.

Be well and God bless.   Tom