"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lessons From Uncle Dave, Part II

A Time To Repent
Dave was only 60-years old when he died...but his body had been put through the equivalent of 100 years. The first 57 years of his life Dave lived hard, embracing the saying "let's eat and drink for tomorrow we die lifestyle." His priorities were way out of line - "having fun" was number one on the list...and if that meant quitting a job in order to have fun, so be it!

In his quest for entertainment he sacrificed a lot of things. He sacrificed his marriage...and he sacrificed a relationship with his son, Tracy. Tracy is a great guy. He loves his dad - always has, always will despite the way he was absent from most of his life.

But Tracy knew that the way his dad was living was unacceptable, and he wasn't going to subject his children to that sort of example. He told Dave that, and Dave quit EVERYTHING.

But that wasn't the only change Dave made. He knew that if he didn't replace the bad things he was doing with good things, the temptation to drift back into old habits would be great. So Dave began going to church. Not every Sunday...but occasionally. More and more he realized church was a good place for him to be.

Four days before Dave died he was lying motionless in his hospital bed. The family had been gathered as nurses felt he could be in his last hours. My mother-in-law, not wanting Dave to die without someone holding his hand, went to his side and whispered to him, "We're here, and we love you."

Instantly Dave's eyes opened, and he sat up in bed. He asked everyone to gather around him and hold hands...a HUGE request for the Stonebarger family. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, they did so. Then Dave said, "I want to pray." And he prayed...and he prayed...and he prayed. It was a prayer of penitence and confession. Dave confessed everything he had ever done to his brothers and sisters. At the end of the prayer there wasn't a dry eye in the joint. And that was about the last time Dave ever had much to say.

Dave's prayer wasn't just for him. Rather it was for his entire family. Dave loved having his family around him...and he didn't want that to be the last time they would all be together. His prayer was his message to them to get their lives in order by repenting of the way they had been living.

Next "time" - a time to be restored.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lessons from Uncle Dave, Part 1

We buried Robin's Uncle Dave yesterday. He finally lost his 2-year battle with Leukemia early Tuesday morning. What a cruel way to die...and while watching him die was agonizing, it was also a tremendous blessing.

I know that sounds odd...so let me explain.

Dave was only 60-years old...which, in my book, is WAY too young to die. But his body was much, much older than 60. For years he abused his body with a variety of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. His life was a catalog of foolish choices and poor decisions. And he would've told you, as he told Robin and I, that he had repeatedly punched his ticket to Hell over the years

Until, about three years ago, his only son, Tracy, gave him an ultimatum. "Straighten out your life, or you'll never see your two grandchildren again." Dave loved Malorie and Hayden more than just about anything in the world...and if you had ever seen them you would understand why. Malorie is the most beautiful 8-year old girl - with pretty brown hair, happy eyes and a contagious smile. And Hayden is a handsome young man with the biggest Southern drawl a 4-year old can muster. Dave loved thim - he called them "MY kids."

So, in the blink of an eye, he did exactly as he was told.

Tracy wanted Dave's funeral to be personal...and since I was the closest thing to a preacher the Stonebarger's have in their family (I guess working for a Christian university makes you a preacher - ha!), he asked me to perform the service. I was honored to be asked...and I agreed to help.

Those of you who know me well can again testify that I'm just about the weepiest fella walking God's green earth...and I certainly didn't disappoint the Stonebarger's. I shared with them three lessons that I learned from Dave's life...and I think they're worth sharing with both of you as well.

The third chapter of Ecclesiastes almost serves as it's own eulogy. There is a time for everything under Heaven. But in Dave's life I learned about three other "times" that exist in our lives that aren't specifically mentioned in those first eight verses.

And the first one is a time for reflection.

All of us will die one day. Some of us may leave hundreds of thousands of dollars behind. Others will leave cars, boats, and houses. Others may leave boxes and boxes of memories. And some may only leave the clothes on their back. But one thing all of us WILL leave is a legacy.

James writes in his letter, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14)

While Dave's sickness was painful and tragic to endure, it was merciful in that it provided him an opportunity to reflect on the legacy he was leaving for his family. Not all of us are guaranteed to know the day that death will be near. Not all of us will have the "luxury" of being able to gather the family around our deathbed in an attempt to make things right.

So the day to create your legacy begins today. As I stood in front of the family at the graveside and led the family in a final farewell to Dave, my youngest son Jacob (who is very much a daddy's boy) started yelling to me from the back of the room "Dada! Dada!"

And I lost it...before I even got started.

Every day I am building my legacy for he and his two brothers to remember. Tomorrow is not the day to improve that legacy. Next year is not the day to shine up that legacy.

The day is today.

Next "time" - a time to repent.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Weekend Lessons

Robin made the 3-1/2 hour journey to scenic Howe, TX, this weekend to be with her family. Her Uncle Dave is in the final stages of a long battle with Leukemia, and she wanted to see him before he went to be with the Lord. I'll elaborate more on this at a later time.

So it was just Elijah and Daddy for the weekend. And the Beach Boys couldn't have written it any better than when they penned the words to "Fun, Fun, Fun."

While the weekend was full of valuable lessons, time permits me to only share a few with you.

1) Pizza is a viable option for any and every meal...and should be regarded as such.

2) It doesn't matter how many kids are in our house, the Campbell's will ALWAYS find a way to be late to church.

3) "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "That's So Raven" are HORRIBLE baby sitters!

4) Elijah is afraid of Harry Potter movies.

5) When Dad says "Clean your room," kids hear you saying, "Hey, relax - watch more TV and spill some popcorn on the floor."

6) Elijah LOVES "spaghetti westerns" like "High Plains Drifter."

7) Everyone is glad when mommy comes home!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Noah's View On Education

Robin and I have three sons. And the reason we have three sons is because....well....you know.

Anyhow, our three young men have brought considerable joy and laughter into our lives. They also often cause us to scratch our heads in amazement and wonder at the things they ask, say or do. Elijah is very perceptive and curious...and his favorite game is "Twenty Questions." The answer "Because..." or "I said so" just doesn't fly with him. He needs more data.

Jacob, mercifully, is too young to say anything more than "Dada," "Mama," "Ball," or "Hut" (yes, he's going to be a quarterback!).

And Noah....well....he doesn't say much. When he does say something it's either downright hilarious or makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

However, this week I learned that Noah has a future as a radio commentator or newspaper columnist. He speaks his mind - he tells you what he thinks. And you don't have to drag his opinion out of him.

This is supported by the attached picture. This picture is undoctored and unedited....but it quickly and clearly gives Noah's statement on education (Noah is on the back row - second from the left). Kinda brings a tear to my eye!