Archive for July, 2011

The Long Run

I’ve let myself go! It’s just days until the Midsummer Night’s 5K Run in Lexington, Kentucky. For our family it’s an annual tradition, followed by ice cream at Coldstone. My wife is of course, all set to go—never breaking stride with her exercise, fitness and good nutrition (Well,… almost never 😉 ) As for me, I haven’t run consistently since, like, January, when my knees began to give me trouble.

But away with excuses! I really want to be there again this year—and not as the photographer. The teenagers have already “thrown down the gauntlet” that they intend to embarrass their ancient parents with their faster times. Yeah, well,…maybe,…but you have this one enormous advantage: An average age of 16. So there.

So anyway, I’m out there attempting to run this morning and I had a “perception” I want to share with you. I had only managed a paltry 1.5 sweaty, hyperventilating miles when I was giving serious consideration to reducing the pace a bit (Perhaps to a dead stop?). As it happened, though, I saw, to my left, approaching from the opposite corner, a neighbor and friend out for her run. We greeted one another at the corner, and to my surprise she turned round and came alongside me headed in my direction, with the words—”I’ll run with you,…there’s dogs up there.”

The whole "sixpack" a few years back after our run

The whole “sixpack” a few years back after our run

So we passed a few moments together “catching up”. I gaspingly tried to hold up my end of the conversation till we parted at the stop sign. She was in much better shape, out training for a half-marathon.

Before I dragged myself back into our driveway, a pleasant thought occurred to me. My neighbor and I were out after the same goal, but on different courses. We were unalike in how far we could go and our stamina for the effort. We both had our liabilities—she an apprehension of dogs, and me an apprehension of dropping dead. Going along together was good for both of us. I actually finished the run. She got past the dogs. And we both had the brief blessing of the company of friends.

Now there’s a life metaphor for  ya!

Two Crowns

Some years ago I saw this image in my mind and tried to make my pencil record it. I had been reading in the Epistle to Philippi, where it’s recorded that the Messiah laid all self-concern aside to do what He was born to do. The suffering this love required included a crown of needle sharp thorns thrust into His scalp. It was utterly humiliating and painful and was all endured and overcome in love. Because of this accomplishment, we’re told, The Most High raised Him up,…to the highest splendor.

Two Crowns - The Tee Shirt

Amazingly, though, the passage then spells out that we are to follow in that same kind of “attitude.” Preferring others and the will of a wonderful God, we too are called to empty ourselves of vain and selfish attitude and pursuit. As we do, we experience more and more of the God we were formerly ignorant of. At last we will be like Him.

The Bible says that God is actually opposed to the proud, but that He is attracted to humility. If we will humble ourselves before Him in this life we will be honored by him both in this life and in all the living to come. If we are humble, He will lift us up.

“But we see Jesus,…now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might  taste death for everyone.”  Hebrews 2:9


Upon our return from the cemetery I saw these flowers in a new light. We gathered them from among those tokens left at our father’s graveside. How I missed him! And, after three years, how I miss him still!

These flowers have long since faded. But for this brief moment in time, they were like a living stained glass window. The sun shown through and infused and illuminated every color and hue. I thought, then, how much these passing and brief and beautiful things are made the more glorious in the right light. Seems an appropriate metaphor for my father’s life.

This Prismacolor pencil drawing has sat unfinished for 3 years. Please feel free to bug the life out of me till I complete it. (If you prefer you can simply encourage me.) I’ll share with you the process and, of course, the finished product.

Until we all are finished and completed works of art!


Old People

I didn't know he could play the guitar!

I didn’t know he could play the guitar!

Maybe it started when I was a little kid. I loved to play games as a boy and I had this wonderful Great Grandmother (who remembered the Titanic, the Wright Brothers, and WWI—among many other fascinating things!) We’d play dominoes, and drink soda and giggle together. Perhaps it grew as my Dad took me to those “awful” nursing homes where people sit and stare, smell funny, and seemed all alone in the world? I felt for them. But I also found many of them to be delightful persons I would grow to call, “my friend.”

Yes, “I love old people!” There, I said it. Good thing, too, because I’m fast becoming one. To my sons I already am. More and more of my friends seem to look like I remember their parents (or even grandparents). Without a premature demise we are all “old people in waiting.”

Now this doesn’t mean we have to act old. We need not feel compelled to have extended conversations about bodily functions while standing in the aisle at Walmart. We can try our best to avoid saying “Why, when I was your age…” But hey, if we break down and demonstrate how decrepit and out-of-touch we are, please forgive. We paid our dues and we earned it. We’ve been around long enough to have made plenty of mistakes. Many of us have actually learned things from those errors. It just might be that that doddering little old lady could be a tremendous resource to that youngster who’s keeping his distance.

Grandpa could make a harmonica talk.

Grandpa could make a harmonica talk.

Yes, the older I get, the more I appreciate the grace that it took for these heroes of mine to become the wonderful “old” people that they are today. They are the passing generation who endured the Great Depression—the victors of WWII. These young men and women were looking forward to life—only a “moment” later to look around and find that their journey had almost been completed.  In Proverbs 20:29 it says “…gray hair is the splendor of the old.” We would be wise to learn their lessons drawn from their years. They deserve our honor.

Speaking of honor…long ago I began to paint this oil of my Grandpa, William Earl Pack. Never finished it. Miss ya Grandpa! See you again where our hope is found!