Dreading Headstones

I’ve been subconsciously, and even more recently, purposely dreading writing this, and by the end of this, you’ll feel it too. It started almost a year ago, I guess, and this picture sets this thought in stone quite appropriately:

Not the actual tombstone

Almost a year ago, our son Oliver passed away (no, this post isn’t entirely about that event, but more about the emotions surrounding it). Someone blessed us with money to pay those dreadful hospital bills related to Oliver’s birth and passing, and we even had just enough money leftover for the tombstone.

So, last March, we reluctantly stepped into a local funeral home after consulting several others to compare cost, and the funeral director, giving us a discount, expected us to return and place an order for Ollie’s headstone.

Except we never showed up.

Sure, we talked about it some, every now and then, saying, “Oh, we still have that money for the headstone in our safe. We should take care of that” and things of that sort.

Yet gloominess must have slightly set in, as I chose not to get the headstone. At one point, I thought, “What’s the point?”

In the gray skies of early 2018, I went to the funeral home to have the contract drawn up.

Talking with one of the head guys there, he revealed the reason why many people erroneously wait to get a tombstone and the detriment behind it:

Tombstones provide closure, and some people want the wound to stay open.

Don’t get me wrong: nowhere in my wildest thoughts would I ever want to keep thinking of the searing pain of losing a second son. But, subconsciously, isn’t it easier to deal with pain by stuffing it away, keeping the tombstones of our pain off the growing grass of our hearts?

So, I shared with Mary the reason I had reluctance in acquiring the headstone this whole time… only to wait a couple more weeks afterward to actually pay for and execute the contract.

You and I aren’t too different, you know?

We both stuff our pain, keeping the tombstones away from the grass in our lives.

That’s not healthy.

We should have our sketch back for approval soon, and then the tombstone will be delivered, and there it will sit, right next to Alex’s, our first son, and maybe then I’ll be able to get closure.

Question is, what are you afraid of facing, giving your fears prime property among the grassy knolls of your heart and mind? Friend, may I encourage you today? Let’s lay those fears to rest.

Rest In Peace, fear.

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What I’m Reading Right Now, September 7, 2016

Question: how did you stumble upon this article? Was it because of my post yesterday, something from social media (like Twitter), or your subscription, or…?

I’m currently seriously reading 3 books, and here they are: Continue reading

Wanting To Be On This List

“I want this.” Have you ever heard someone say that? Around Christmas time, it’s easy to hear people say that.

Ironically, at the end of the year, some magazines put out a list of “Who’s Who”, a list of people that others want to be.

And yet sometimes we can’t control the lists that we’re on, can we? That’s usually the way it is with family and relatives.

Just look at Jesus’ list of men in his family tree in Matthew 1:1-16. You’d expect all these men to be leaders, full of grace and guidance, people worth emulating.

But it’s not (not entirely, at least).

Some of the people on the list are quite the opposite, while others are what you’d expect. The types of men in this list are wealthy farmers, shepherds, mayors/city founders, harp players, kings, ordinary guys, and a carpenter.

For example,

  • Abraham was “a tender of livestock” and very wealthy.
  • Isaac was “an accomplished farmer and herdsman”. He, too, was good at what he did.
  • Jacob’s story is that of deception, a herdsman who had deceived and been deceived by others.
  • Judah, “a leader among his brothers”, a shepherd.
  • Nahshon, Aaron’s brother-in-law and leader of people of Judah.
  • Salmon, the founding father of the little town of Bethlehem.
  • David, once a shepherd, became the second king of Israel.
  • Solomon, the wisest of all, and the third king of Israel.
  • Rehoboam, the king of the united kingdom which split underneath his rule.
  • Asa, king of Judah, “traveled a long way with God before getting off track” (NLT).
  • Jehoram, an evil king who killed all brothers out of a jealous rage.
  • Uzziah, king of Judah, great military builder, became proud, and tried to do priestly duties, something he wasn’t wired to do.
  • Ahaz, an utterly horrible, reprehensible king of Judah, even sacrificing his own sons to fire ‘gods’.
  • Hezekiah, a king who reopened the Temple in Jerusalem, tearing down all that his dad Ahaz had done.
  • Amon, a very evil king, only reigning two years until his officials assassinated him.
  • Josiah, “the last good king of Judah” who made many religious reforms.
  • Jeconiah, son of Josiah, and just an ordinary guy.
  • Zerubbabel, the “recognized leader of the exiles (to Babylon under Cyrus)” who rebuilt the Temple.”
  • Joseph the carpenter, Jesus’ earthly father.

Some people were the best at what they did, and now history remembers them, and we learn from them.

Some people weren’t the best at what they did; in fact, some were really bad. Yet God chose to glorify himself through them.

Some people were lazy and/or unproductive, not contributing anything, and all we see is their name on a record.

Which tells me this:

God can use anyone, but He wants to use you. When someone asks, “Where did Jesus come from,” may we remember that Jesus comes from a long list of ordinary people, that Jesus comes from the kind of people that God wants to include, and that Jesus comes from people that want to be used.

I Like It When They Call Me Big Pop-pa

Throw yo’ hands in the air.

It’s my Dad’s birthday today. He turns older. It happens this way every October 6th. And for the record, I’m fantastical weird because of my Dad. He’s pretty creative. So is Mom. But I think I get my peculiarities particularly from the Reardon’s side of the family.

I like spending time with my Dad (whom I affectionately call “Poppa” based off Baloo in The Jungle Book).

Here’s to Walthew Frederick Reardon III:

That's pretty much me if you look close enough
Poppa, Abbott and Costello, and Jurassic Park. A good summary picture
Poppa teaching me to do dishes. Good idea?
Texas State Fair
Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX
Don't have a cow, man.
Mania. A life dream.

The Best Gospel Presentation and How You Can Have It Too

In all my years of hearing preachers and speakers present the Gospel, I can tell you, hands down, who has said it best:

Brock Gill.

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Don’t get me wrong,there have been more eloquent or more theological presentations, but he opens it up to where the hearers clearly understand it.

I’ve had the privilege of working and seeing Brock several times, and his performance is flawless.

Even cooler than that, he loves hanging out with people. Our students got to see him at BigStuf this last summer. As he was putting up his gear, a few of our students spotted him. All they wanted to say was a quick “hi” because they knew he was busy. But Brock isn’t like most big named folks…

…he stopped what he was doing, put his stuff down, and engaged in conversation with my students.

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Wanna meet Brock? Wanna check out what I consider the best Gospel presentation ever?

Come to First Baptist Church Bay St. Louis this Sunday, August 28th, at 6pm.

You’ll enjoy it.