Jan. 7, 2019

Tara: Memorial Update

Memorial for Tara update: Collins-Burke Funeral Home, Wednesday Visitation at 10:00 till 11:00 and Funeral 11:00.

Levi Sides stated that he was honored to help with the event. Just for what it's worth, whether Levi would claim such or not, our kinship is interesting. He, the only son of the late Andrew Sides is dear to me especially as a brother in Jesus. My late father's only fleshly brother, Ambrose was married to Levi's older sister. Levi gave me my first lesson outline one day during my teens, for presentation at my first "pulpit experience", entitled, "Who is a Christian?" I remember it to this day. He also delivered a beautiful message at my late bride, Brenda's funeral in 2008. Levi seems in his humble way to "draw a crowd". Sorry, Levi if you disagree! This is only to express my affection for you. 

Thanks to everyone concerned at the Trace and everywhere else. You are all so special to me. I covet your love and acceptance in the Lord. My seeming "over-exuberance" is my way of showing my love for your uniqueness. Hope you do not feel smothered or led to the verge of feeling uncomfortable in my presence. Look forward to seeing you soon.


Jan. 5, 2019


Tara, my second daughter called me about 4:30 this morning to carry her to the emergency room. She had numerous health concerns but this time, kidney stones. We spent several hours and returned to her bed about mid-day. My sister, a professional nurse, was taking care of her and checked frequently on her. About 7:30 PM she checked only to find Tara not breathing. I received a call and my panicked sister telling me she thought Tara was gone. Indeed, she was. She and the emergency team were helpless reminding us of how truly fragile and unpredictable life is.

Tara had fallen to a near-homeless existence by the latter half of 2012. I took her in to help bring her back. She had numerous health issues both physical and emotional. With many diagnoses and medications, she returned to a more "normal" life. There's something about the feminine gender that reaches deep into my heart. Having lost 2 wives along with the historical challenges facing women I've become more sensitive to their specialty. 

Facing an inevitable prospect of neck and back surgeries was a bleak outlook indeed. From all evidence, Tara left this life in sleep. Perhaps a blessing for her although challenging for us to accept. 

Rather than mourn beyond sufficient time survivors should learn to just be thankful for life itself. Remember the good times, make the best of life, and know that the best way to honor the dead is to serve the living. True love endures for eternity.



Dec. 31, 2018

Barber Special

Wisdom is said to come with age. Maybe that's why some of us enjoy conversing with parents, grandparents, and other older people. Several years ago while reading a book on the secrets of why people in certain Countries typically outlive people in the rest of the world one observation was made which is rare in America. Those who lived longest had a common trait of interacting with the younger generation. The young respected the elderly and the elderly were energized by the young. The "generation gap" was almost non-existent. Nursing homes were virtually unknown.

The New York Times ran an article recently about the world's oldest living barber who is still enjoying his trade at a full-time pace at the age of 107. This reminded me of a barber who occasionally cut my hair who told of a customer truck driver who was still driving at almost 100. I indicated that I'd like to meet him. It never happened. But, I do have an interest in conversing with "old-timers".

Anthony Mancinelli, an Italian born WWII veteran who has outlived all seven of his siblings, is in good health, takes no daily medications and doesn't wear glasses, still has his teeth and a full head of hair. He has been cutting hair for 96 years and was listed in Guinness World Records in 2007 as the oldest working barber. 

Mancinelli attracts quite a few curious people including me. I've for a long time believed our Creator has a few outstanding people who amaze the rest of us. What might we learn from this man? Stay busy, do what you love, have a servant attitude, take care of yourself. I'd love to converse with him which is not likely as he's about an hour north of New York. Keep on clipping. You are special! 

Dec. 25, 2018

Christmas 2018

You can think of many great things at Christmas time which brings joy to you and yours. If we can get beyond myths surrounding this subject such as the day of Jesus the Christ's birth and the notion that Christ is His surname we can think of many positives. I know accuracy sounds odd and maybe a bit troubling. There's still much joy this time of the year. Thoughts and experiences help us reflect on the last page of our yearly history and move us to anticipate another year to improve our service to humankind.

Christmas cheer touches the hearts of most of us. Whether you're one to celebrate or just find quiet joy in deep thought and thanks this time of year can be refreshing and a launch pad for great moral destinations. Also, it is a time of sadness for those of us who are spending time without our loved ones who've departed the planet. Christmas just isn't the same without the one or ones we mutually loved. We can, however, learn to move on anyway just like they'd want us to do. We are reminded to be thankful for the blessing of time and life we were granted while they lived. 

Lists of deeds, one list for each of us would be different as are snowflakes...no two identical. Why not make a list before the new year of nice things to make life better? Albert Einstein, when asked many years ago, "What is man's purpose", responded, "To serve other men only". I'm sure he was not being gender biased in his response. I thought about it for several years then it dawned upon me that he was saying something to which Jesus referred to in (Matthew 25:31ff) regarding what we ought to absorb. Jesus, the most excellent teacher who ever lived was referring primarily to the same set of services... the treatment of others, service to humankind is what we will face in the great by and by. The Christ said that the treatment of people is in effect treatment of Him! 

Bible reader, go to the Scripture above and note that as the Creator always expected of His family, "...what doth the Lord require...to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). Make your unique list. Connect the two messages. That's the message of which Christmas reminds us, spawning giving, laughter, kindness, and love. Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all. That gift of Himself to stand before His Father of giving us, His redeemed, eternal forgiveness, eternal life which we could never earn. Because of that gift we turn and gift others because of our love for God, others and ourselves. That's our responsibility, our service, our life, our joy.

Dec. 17, 2018

Wright Flyer

Today at 10:35 AM (1903) marked the first heavier than air flight of the Wright Brothers' Flyer. Imagine what they would think of aircraft today. The Wright Flyer had a wingspan of 40' 4". The first flight was a distance (120') of less than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. It made 4 flights before being damaged beyond repair by the wind.

Imagine those who laughed at such a contraption and the "idiots", a couple of enthusiastic dreamers with a world-changing idea. Don't you just love getting the last laugh? Every time you board a flight be thankful for the child-like belief ability of grown men. My brother and I (the "Wrong Brothers"), wanted to fly so badly when we were towheads in Decatur, AL. that we had to make it happen. With little more than a bold and vivid imagination more exciting than boredom, we did it. Our "flight" from the top of a building to the sand pile was about 8 feet!

Giles reminded me a few years ago that he depended on me to drive him to the airport in Jasper, AL to enter his dream world for real before he had a driver's license. He did get "his wings", joined the army and became a successful helicopter pilot. With his training, he eventually became 
a "level-headed" commander of two "completed" home-built aircraft. I waited until a few years later to become bold enough to earn my wings as a private pilot. 

Napoleon Hill, the dreamer of writing the first book on the science of success and achievement finally did it. Upon being pressured by the publisher of his work to choose a title, he was so embarrassed by the silly suggested title he quickly decided to entitle it, Think and Grow RichAnother mission accomplished! This is the book, Earl Nightingale had spent 17 years looking for (1951) that inspired the first gold record award, a million records for self-help talk-type production, "The Strangest Secret", ("We become what we think about"). Napoleon Hill was the author of the famous statement. "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve".

Symbolic of evil is turning a magnificent flying machine into a bomb. Don't you just hate evil! What a big, full, beautiful world we live in! Let's make the most of our adventure during our "holiday on earth" (EN). Thanks to the bold dreamers who've always been the punching bags of ridicule in the beginning but cheered on when they succeeded and honored beyond their time!