Who Are You? Where Are You Going?

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Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
~~ Billy Graham ~~

For as long as I can remember Billy Graham has been someone I’ve always looked up to. A towering personality throughout my life. I vividly remember as a 5 or 6 year old boy lying on the floor in front of an old black and white television watching him. I was mesmerized by his speech and his style. There was just something about him that, even as a very young boy, grabbed and held my attention. His message touched me. It’s always been that way and I’ve spent untold hours watching his crusades on television and his many interviews. If Billy Graham was on, I wanted to watch, I wanted to hear him.

As an adult I came to recognize his greater qualities, which is probably something I sensed as a boy. He was genuine, he was sincere and, he was humble. Beyond his words, his life-long example made an impact around the world. He never wavered. A few years ago I found myself once again captivated by his words when reading his book Nearing Home in which he shared his personal experience of growing older. I could relate.

It was not, with any great surprise, I heard of his passing yesterday at the age of 99. And especially no great surprise the huge influence he’s been credited with in the lives of millions over his long life. I was just one among them and am grateful to have had the experience.

I share the following story with the hope you appreciate it’s timely significance.

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 Decisions

I watched a movie a few nights ago about the writer Ernest Hemingway, probably the most influential writer of his time. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But despite all his success and fame he was a troubled man. He made some awful decisions. His final one was to end his life with a shotgun.

In poker, decisions really matter. A big part of the game is inducing your opponents to make mistakes. Good and bad decisions can make the difference between sudden death or sitting behind a commanding stack of chips. It’s said, poker is a microcosim of life itself. It’s true and part of the reason I love the game so much. Still to be determined though, is whether my investment in it has been a good… or a bad decision.

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Died on the Fourth of July

On this day as we gather our families together with picnics and fireworks to celebrate our country’s independence I can’t help but think of my 2nd great-grandfather Edward Byron Patton. He was 34 years old on this date in 1860. Less than a year later Abraham Lincoln would become president. The father of 4 small children ages 1-6, the youngest, my great grandmother Mary Jane.

Edward Byron Patton

Edward Byron Patton

There was no celebration for Edward or his family on that Fourth of July and I would imagine it was tainted every year after. For on that morning his 27-year old wife Esther passed away. A newspaper account read that so greatly admired was she, and through respect to her memory in their small town, “all patriotic demonstrations were suspended and not an unnecessary sound was heard throughout the day.”

Edward never remarried and over all those years ahead, as a single father, he raised his children. Along the way he became a successful builder and contractor. I can imagine he was a beloved father, grandfather and patriarch.

I often think of what it must have been like for my great grandfather on that solemn day, traditionally set aside for happy celebration. I wonder what it would have been like to have watched him on that day conduct his affairs with the loss of his young wife. He was once a breathing living person, as real as you and I. Not just a name with dates and places among a long list of thousands who came before us. How I would like to set across the table from him and get to know him.

That’s a little of what I think about, every 4th of July.

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Favorite Quotes Friday – 6/20/2014

Like hundreds of thousands of others, I’ve read many of the entries and watched the videos on the Facebook page Mitchell’s Journey. It’s always an emotional and painful experience, but knowing that, I still go back.

Ten-year old Mitchel Dee Jones lost his battle to a devastating childhood disease last year, but Mitchel’s Journey continues here on earth as it surely does elsewhere… thanks to his father.

Some resist the notion there is a God, that humans are a biological anomaly in the vast universe. Others say God and Heaven are imaginary constructs for weak-minded people. A great many believe there is more to life than meets the eye – they don’t know what, or who, why or how … they just sense there is more and they follow their impressions the best they know how. The vast religious landscape, in all its forms, seems to speak loudly that human’s sense there is more. And more there certainly is. ~~ Chris Jones, Father of Mitchel Jones

Mitchell’s Journey

Favorite Quotes Friday – 6/06/2014

I’ve written about living in the present, stopping to smell the roses, enjoying what life has for us today, no matter how much better we wish it were. Count each day as a blessing no matter what. It is a gift those who are gone wish they still had.

We have a tendency to trample on our lives by regretting the past, dreading the future, or living only for the future… We’re always living somewhere but this present moment. ~~ Peter Matthiessen, Filmaker

Favorite Quotes Friday – 5/23/2014

One of my all-time favorite quotes and certainly one for the masses. It’s wise advice I’ve never had a problem living by. I understood the concept long before I ever saw the quote.

For some it’s always about saving money, buying on the cheap. For me it’s about paying and saving myself future frustration and replacement cost. I don’t have to have the best, but I do want, expect and will pay for better quality. Go ahead, call me “crazy!”

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low prices are forgotten. ~~ Benjamin Franklin

Favorite Quotes Friday – 5/09/2014

As I’ve mentioned before I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with my favorite actor Jimmy Stewart. I’ve written about both subjects here. There are a number of memorable lines from the film, one of which I share today.

Kids think they’re so darn smart! They think they know everything and can cure the country’s ills with the youthful common sense only they have. I know this for a fact, because I used to be one of them. Then we grow old (another subject I’ve written about) and only then do we truly come to realize and appreciate (just as surely as they will) …

Youth is wasted on the wrong people!