Friday, November 21, 2008

Pilgrims

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar...
Blessed are those who dwell in your house...
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage...
They go from strength to strength...

Tuesday is a big day. Our good friends here in Fort Worth close on their home Tuesday, with no new house to call home. They are packing their belongings and filling cardboard boxes, all the while not knowing where - in just a few short days - those cardboard boxes will land. Their young children dance around the empty, echo-filled rooms with great expectation, while Mommy and Daddy assure them the Lord has a perfect new home - somewhere - and meanwhile keep an eye out for a ram in the bushes.

Another friend will be moving Tuesday as well. But instead of moving his family and furnishings to a new home, he will hug his wife and children good-bye two days before Thanksgiving and exit his court hearing, handcuffed, to his new home behind bars. Tuesday will simply determine where and for how long. Corbin will be by his side.

Psalm 84 describes the plight of the pilgrim - a soul yearning - even fainting for the courts of the Lord, for the living God. The description of going from strength to strength, having set their hearts on pilgrimage...

This Scripture is not relegated to shepherds in fields before the time of Christ. It speaks of these two families, facing change and uncertainty and trusting God with their very shelter. It speaks, too, of people and families all across our country who cry out to God, this day, November 21, 2008. For those losing homes in foreclosure with the economy... for mothers trading their cozy kitchens and holiday baking for needles and chemo in sterile clinics...for soldiers in dusty tents separated from parents and spouses and children and friends as the holidays approach... it speaks of the brave Pilgrims we celebrate next week, who faced change and uncertainty and fear head on, going from strength to strength.

Father, we do trust you, and we pray for our friends and loved ones in seasons of pilgrimage right now. Blessed is the man who trusts in you, O Lord Almighty.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kyle Ogle - Died Young, Lived Old


"He died young, but lived old."
That's how pastor Tommy Nelson described Kyle Ogle during Monday's funeral. Kyle's life ended at a much-too-young 38, but in the process he touched many with his full and deep and overflowing magnetism. Before the cancer and with the cancer, he was a bigger-than-life kind of guy.
As I mentioned in a Wednesday Wonder post last year, Corbin & I appreciated and admired both Kyle and Darla during our Baylor days. Kyle was a year older than Corbin, consistently kind and friendly and warm, a natural leader. Darla was tiny and lovely and classy and engaged others with her generous smiles. Carrying out the quite-coveted role of KOT sweetheart, she displayed a warm and nurturing and caring spirit even in college years.
It was said at the funeral that if you'd met Kyle for even five minutes, you knew him - what you see is what you get. The same could be said for Darla. Another commonality is their over-the-top, brilliant smiles. And their kids didn't miss out in the gene pool. God created Ogle smiles to be dazzling and and wide and contagious.

My take-aways from Kyle's service:
- The privilege of attending. Of joining a thousand people to honor Kyle and his family. Proximity allowed Corbin and I the gift of participating in this outpouring of love and gratitude for Kyle's life.
- Kyle's dazzling smile in every photo - with hair, without hair; with his arm, without his arm; that grin consistently exuding a supernatural joy.

- Hearing Kyle's two friends, Tommy Saxon and Jeff Turner, speak beautifully and honestly and sincerely about their life-long friend. They offered MANY moments of comic relief relaying stories. Among my favorites were descriptions of the junior high boys hunting, skinning, and frying north Dallas squirrels (or cooking them over a campfire - in a shovel), and Kyle scaling a neighborhood tree with an automatic BB gun to "welcome" younger brother Brad's friends to their home.
- Kyle worked hard to make others comfortable with his declining health. Keeping things light, spouting classic one-liners and hilarious come-backs, and keeping an eye on the eternal. Before his amputation, Kyle threw a "farewell to arm" party with his friends.
- Sharing the experience with my dear friend and roommate Kristin - an unexpected gift of time together. And watching Nan dart about making things happen. Incidentally, Nan is one of Darla's best friends, so she and Jeff flew in from San Diego for the weekend, leaving Mike and his brothers in the care of both grandmothers.
- I could write pages about Darla, and I haven't talked with her in years. Simply from observation - her balance of including others in this journey along with truly protecting her family. Her full-time job of caring for Kyle and making home a sweet place for the four of them. One of the guys related a story about a recent treatment phase, with Kyle exhausted and nodding off as Darla read aloud the side-effects of his drugs. At the top of the list was "inappropriate humor." His eyes flew opened and he flashed that grin. Now he had an excuse...

The deep and humorous and full atmosphere from Monday's service can be summed up with the poem Darla had printed on the inside of the program:

On a miserable day during the worst of chemo in 2007, I wrote a spin off of Rudyard Kipling's "If" for Kyle to cheer him up. He read it and flashed me one of his 1000 watt grins. I hope it makes you smile. - Darla

If... for Kyle

If you can do more with one arm than most can do with two.
If you can smile though the reasons are few.
If you can face suffering with courage and grace,
And not begrudge others who aren't in your place.
If you can look at the odds and know they're against you
But fight even harder because "lose" is not in you.
If you can count your blessings in the midst of pain
And refuse to give up, even with little to gain.
If you can trust God when things don't go your way.
And remember that Heaven is just a breath away.
If you can face a world obsessed with perfection,
And know you are complete, no matter the reflection.
If you know life is short but that it can be wide,
And you grab onto it and make the most of the ride.
If you can look Death in the face and still grin
Then no matter the outcome, I say you win.