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Archive for the category “Heaven”

Heaven On My Mind

The song “Georgia On My Mind” was not written by Ray Charles although when I heard him sing it I thought so.  It was actually written by the roommate of Hoagy Carmichael named Stuart Gorrell back in 1930.  It might have been originally written about the state of Georgia or it could have been written about a woman. In his second autobiography Hoagy cleared the picture.  Although he did have a sister named Georgia the song was written because his saxophonist named Frankie Traumbauer mentioned that he should write a song about the state of Georgia.  He also suggested some lyrics “Georgia, Georgia.” Whether it was written entirely by Gorrell or in a joint effort with Hoagy the song was written.  Although both guys lived in Indiana and never visited Georgia it would forever be associated with Georgia because of a Georgian named Ray Charles.
Georgia on My Mind
Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
I said Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
I said Georgia
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
Whoa, Georgia
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
I said just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
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When I listen to the late Ray Charles recordings of his rendition it almost always brings tears to my eyes.  Ray was a world famous wonder with the way he could sing a song with feeling and beat.  He was also blind but truly he could see and feel in so many other ways.  Yet in all of his travels this song seems to indicate his love for his hometown and his feelings toward that heavenly place.  It isn’t a song with an abundance of spectacular descriptive words, but it is a song that when he sang it there was such a feeling of love for his great home.  There is something about a home that we all love.  It is more than just words it is something deep down in our hearts.  It’s hard to describe in words it is so powerful.  By just taking a few simple but meaningful words and singing it with such feeling Charles captured his thinking and longing for his home.
I remember a song we sang in church when I was young.  It was a hymn called “When We All Get To Heaven”, by Eliza Hewitt.  The lyrics went
  1. Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
    Sing His mercy and His grace;
    In the mansions bright and blessed
    He’ll prepare for us a place.

    • When we all get to heaven,
      What a day of rejoicing that will be!
      When we all see Jesus,
      We’ll sing and shout the victory!
  2. While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
    Clouds will overspread the sky;
    But when trav’ling days are over,
    Not a shadow, not a sigh.
  3. Let us then be true and faithful,
    Trusting, serving every day;
    Just one glimpse of Him in glory
    Will the toils of life repay.
  4. Onward to the prize before us!
    Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
    Soon the pearly gates will open;
    We shall tread the streets of gold
I remember that everyone sang this hymn with such feeling.  The spirit in the place was so happy as young and old truly felt the love of God.  In those moments I could tell that this was a song that captured our future home and our desire to be there.
Sometimes great songs are written by people without the experience of what they are writing about.  I am reminded of the song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”  That song was written by Jack Haworth who saw a sign while riding on a subway in 1908 about a ball game to be played that day and by the time his ride was over a song was written.  He had never been to a ball game before.  The two artists who wrote “Georgia On My Mind” had never been to Georgia.  Yet they created the words that have become the state song.  Likewise most of us have never been to heaven.  Yet the words of the above hymn is in such anticipation of a great event.
Have you ever planned a vacation and dreamed about what a great time you will have?  You start dreaming about each and every event on the vacation and have a longing to be there.  As Christians that is how our focus should be.  We are here now but our future isn’t the here and now.   Someday we are going home.  Sometimes it is a thought and then a yearning as Ray Charles so beautifully stated in his song.
                                   “No peace, no peace I find
                                     Just an old sweet song keeps
                                     Georgia on my mind.
The beautiful thing is when we sing songs about Heaven be it slow, fast, rocky, or a hymn it is like that old sweet song.  We are keeping heaven on our minds and yearning for that wonderful trip.  Just an old sweet song keeps Heaven on my mind!

Have Mercy On Me

Bart Millard used to listen to cassette tapes of Amy Grant and other Christian musicians on his head phones.  It was a way that he could get his mind at peace after dealing with an abusive father.  There was no peace in the Millard household.  His father was quick to squash any dreams that Bart had.  Something must have drastically altered his fathers dreams years ago and now he was all about making sure that his son didn’t fantasize with his own dreams.  Mr. Millard was a heavy drinker and wife beater.  It got so bad that Bart was sent to a camp just to get him out of harms way.  His mother loved him very much and thought that the camp experience would be a good retreat for him.  Bart was a stranger in the camp which happened to be a church camp.  One person that befriended him right away was a girl named Shannon.  Even though Bart was slow to open up to her she liked him as he was.  Camp offered Bart a disciplined different view of life than he had at home.  All of the campers were given journal books and they were required to take notes of what they learned and what was important in their view.  Studiously Bart took notes and it became a big part of his camp experience.

After the two weeks Bart came home.  Surprisingly he found that his mom was missing.  He was angry as he confronted his father as to what happened to her.  His father told Bart she wasn’t hurt and that she had left him.  Bart was devastated as his mother was the only one that he felt loved him.  Through the strained relationship with his father Bart tried to find himself.  He liked football and became good at it playing on his high school team.  However even in his glowing moments he didn’t get help from his dad.  His dad was a star player in high school and after Bart had a big game his dad was quick to squash his victory.  “How many of them did it take?”, his father asked.  Not knowing what he was asking Bart asked the question back to him.  His father was a running back when he played,  just like Bart.  He explained what he meant.  “How many did it take to bring you down?”  Bart said “Two or three, I don’t know”.  “Two or three couldn’t bring me down, It took the whole team to bring me down.”  Through all of the negative Bart still kept his football dreams alive.  That was until one play that happened near the end of the season.  Bart was running for the goal line when he was hit simultaneously by two different defenders.  The result was a broken leg and Bart was left without his football dream.

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Bart needed to be in another class because he was not able to play football.  He hobbled into the Dramatics class that first day and fielded the teachers questions.  “Can you act?” “Can you sing?”  Bart told her that he could neither act or sing but that he had to pick up a class to make up for not playing football.  His teacher said that he could be in charge of the sound then.  Bart began to love the sound position confident that he knew something about sound from his early days of loving the sound of Amy Grant and other top Christian artists.  One day he happened to have his head phones on as he was listening to a tape.  His teacher happened to walk by.  Unaware of her presence Bart was singing along to the music.  His teacher couldn’t help notice the beautiful vocals that were coming out of Bart.  When the cast for the upcoming musical Oklahoma was announced Bart was horrified to learn that he was cast for the lead.  “Oh no, there has been some kind of mistake here” Bart commented as he confronted the teacher.  She listened to all of Bart’s reason why he couldn’t do it.  The last one was that he had the broken leg.  “The play isn’t for six weeks she said.  You will be well by then.”  She informed him that he would perform in the play if he wanted to pass is class.  Through all of the disguise his teacher saw something in him that he didn’t know was there.  For that time she took the place of an encouraging parent that see’s things in their children and helps prepare them to use their gifts.  Bart didn’t have that at home and for the first time he was given hope.

The play was a great success and Bart was the star of the show!  He found his niche in his acting and singing role and everyone who watched was amazed.  One of the amazed people was Shannon (his camp friend) who was a high school classmate and Bart’s girl friend.  One person who thought he was wasting his time was his father.  One day his father was at a bar and he saw a brochure of the play and Bart’s name in the lead role.  Then he was overcome with pain and tumbled to the floor.   He found himself in the hospital and the reports were not good.  Bart’s father was suffering from cancer and he didn’t have that long to live.  Bart never knew about this diagnosis.  His father kept him in the dark and said that he was fine.  After high school Bart could not live with his father anymore.  He didn’t know where he was going but he needed to be somewhere else.  He hooked up with a band and became their sound man.  The band was missing one thing a lead singer.  Bart offered that he could help.  He mentioned that he could sing and become their voice on stage.  That is how he became the lead singer of the group.  He also formed the name of the band.  His grandmother always said to him “Mercy me Bart” when she was amazed at something he said or did.  The band became known as MercyMe.

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MercyMe was having moderate success playing to limited crowds.  With every little success Bart was living the dream.  Unfortunately his excitement with the band consumed him.  Shannon felt like she wasn’t important to Bart anymore.  She broke up with him and told him they were through.  Because of his father Bart didn’t want to let anyone know the real him.  He was afraid to dream even as he was having success.  Shannon sensed that and was very hurt that Bart’s world really didn’t include her.  He felt bad after they broke up and would call her from the road telling her how the band was doing.  Unfortunately he was always talking to her answering machine as Shannon had given up on him.  The group was fortunate enough to have an agent in the crowd one night.  He heard the sound and was somewhat impressed.  He liked what he heard but knew there was something missing.  The agent agreed to go to the next concert on the groups bus.  Once again he noticed the same thing..the music was good, the talent was there, but something was missing.  What was missing was discovered when he heard their last long.  It was a passionate song that moved the crowd to tears.  He told the group he was leaving them, but that he was leaving to find them a bigger venue and to bring some music industry heads to see them.  He also told Bart that the concert was just OK but that last song was fantastic.  “Try to sing all of your songs like that” was his advice.

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After the concert in the new venue Bart and the group sat in the dressing room awaiting the results.  Their agent was talking to the elite’s of the industry when Bart could not stand it anymore.  Against the wishes of the band Bart got up and disrupted the meeting.  He wanted to know what they thought.  The hard truth hit him like a brick in the back of the head.  They see hundreds of groups and to them MercyMe was nothing special.  They rated them as a local group that would never be anything more than that.  The combination of their words and the words that his father put in his head years ago was too much for Bart.  He returned to the rest of the band and told them he was through.  Maybe he was wasting his time after all.

Bart returned home to find that his father was treating him wonderfully.  Not knowing how to respond Bart let his father have it.  His father told him he had been thinking a lot about how he had lived and had been listening to a lot of christian music.  He had asked God for forgiveness.  Bart was not in the forgiving mood.  In his mind his father had destroyed his dreams and he was bitter.  Later he happened to be looking through some papers and there was the medical report on his father.  Now he knew his father was dying but the bitterness remained.  Bart was having a battle within himself that came to a climax when he found his father collapsed in the barn.  Instead of mercy he found himself with a baseball bat in his hands.  “Go ahead”, his father urged.  But slowly Bart put the bat down and helped his father up.  The act of helping his father as he put all of his weight on Bart seemed to open the door of forgiveness and mercy to Bart.  From that time until his father died Bart was his best friend.

After his father died Bart was in a state of self reflection.  He was amazed at the change that his father had demonstrated.  At the same time he realized he needed spiritual depth in his own life.  He reflected back to the time when he was at camp and took those notes in his journal.  He actually dug out his old journal and started re-living his thoughts at that time.  Page after page he noticed one line that was getting embedded in his head.  The line written numerous times in his journal was “I can only imagine.”  He got back with the band and that phrase was in the front of his mind.  He started writing a song from just that title and the words just seemed to flow.  They made a tape of the song and sent it to their agent.  Right away his agent knew they were onto something.  Bart sang the song with compassion that he had never heard before!  The agent sent it to people in high places in the industry.  Amy Grant heard the song and fell in love with it.  She wanted to do the song on her comeback tour with the groups permission.  Bart was in the audience as Amy was about to sing the song.  When the magic moment came Amy couldn’t do it.  Instead she called Bart from the stands to sing his song.  The crowd was in awe as Bart passionately sang his song that he dedicated to his father.  Deeply moved they gave him a standing ovation.  Amy gave the song back to Bart and the band and it became a number one hit on the Christian music charts along with a hit on the main stream charts too!  It was the song that launched the group MercyMe to heights nobody had imagined for them.  I Can Only Imagine was voted the number one song of the year!  They would go on to record other powerful hits because instead of just lyrics Bart was singing with a passion he had never had before.

In our christian walk like Bart we can lose the passion that we had when we first believed.  Slowly we may start questioning as the world puts their views into our minds.  The result is a dead listless doubting believer who has lost their uniqueness in the world.  Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 5:13.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its
flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing,
but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.

In Bart’s case as in many of us our salt loses it’s flavor by our lack of forgiveness.  In life there are people or circumstances that if we let them can cause a deep dark unforgiving spirit to come over us.  This is not the will of God.  He wants us to have our hearts pure so that his love can flow through us.  Everyone who listened to Bart noticed how talented he was.  However his words alone weren’t able to move people.  It was only when he let God change his heart and take away the hurt that Bart was free to express his love and compassion.  The same thing affects many of us today.  We may say all of the right words but we are not convincing.  The flow of love has been blocked by hurt, anger, and an unwillingness to forgive.  Our passion has been replaced by the religious ritual of trying to do the right thing without true love in our hearts.  By forgiving everyone we open the door to God’s love and blessing.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he demonstrated his mercy for all of us.  By having mercy on those who have wronged us we exhibit his living love within us.  What miracles could God  do through us when we all have a forgiving spirit?  Using Bart’s words “I can only imagine.”

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footnote:  Shannon saw the change in Bart’s life and today they are married with 5 children.  MercyMe has released some of the most powerful Christian music in the last few years that were able to crossover to the adult contemporary stations!  A movie was made called I Can Only Imagine and it hit the big screen in 2018. The description of the movie was stated as follows… Based on the incredible true-life story that inspired the beloved, chart-topping song, I Can Only Imagine is a song that brings ultimate hope to so many – often in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. Amazingly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard. In reality, those lyrics took a lifetime to craft.

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Focusing On Our Future

I’m sure that this is dating me but I can tell you that we used to use cameras to take pictures.  I’m not talking about the camera that is part of your I-Phone.  I’m talking about an actual camera.  When we used up all of the pictures on a roll we would take it in to a place to have the pictures developed.  Normally it took a few days before we got to see our pictures.  In the time delay we might have forgotten the pictures that we took.  Sometimes the picture’s we got back were way out of focus or someone’s head accidentally got chopped off.  In the old days that was just too bad but later it was something that we didn’t have to pay for.  The film company would forgive us for our flawed pictures that didn’t come out the way we wanted and didn’t charge us for the bad ones.

"antique & vintage cameras make great decor accessories especially for that well traveled collected look - great way to repurpose old cameras especially paired with old maps & old books (maybe 2 mismatched as a "pair" of bookends)" Carolyn Williams, Antiques Dealer, Atlanta

The problem that we have today is that multiple things are coming at us all of the time.  With social media running rampant and 24 hour news always in our face it is harder for people to stay focused than ever before.  We may not have trouble focusing short term on an upcoming test or plans for dinner but we have a terrible time with long term focusing.  Of course that is where service industries have grown in recent years.  Services like retirement planning, wills, and supplemental insurance try to make us focus on things that may affect us or our families in the future.

We have lived in our house a long time.  The other day we had a roofing salesperson  come to our door.  It seems that a house across the street had been re-roofed by this company.  They mentioned that new shingles should be put on a house every 20 or 25 years.  Ours were last done 23 years ago.  Yes it is probably time for us to make the plunge and have the work done.  However it is hard to focus on the future. The roof is not leaking and it looks fine.  Re-roofing a house is very expensive.  There used to be a car repair commercial that I have always remembered their little slogan.  Unfortunately for them I have long since forgot the name of the company.  The slogan went like this “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”  It is talking about dealing with a little problem before it turns into a bigger one.  Long ago Benjamin Franklin had a quote that dealt with the same issue.  His quote was “A stitch in time saves nine.”

We are told to plan for the long term and are encouraged to have a plan for when we are not around anymore.  It is basically a plan for who gets which part of our assets.  It is important to think about these long term situations because life is not guaranteed for any of us.  Yet many people neglect the more important question.  That question is “What happens to us after we die?”  It’s a basic question that has been asked as long as humans have lived on the earth.  With Jesus in our heart’s we don’t have to worry about our long term future.  In fact we can look forward to a time when we are re-united with our loved ones that have went on before.  We can look forward to eternal life and joy unspeakable.  You see Jesus came to earth to take the unknown and make it known.  When we are sorrowful for our sins he throws them out and doesn’t hold us accountable much like the company did for the old photo’s that didn’t turn out!  He tells us to fear not because he is with us!  He gives us the Holy Spirit while we are here to guide and teach us!

Just like we should plan for the future do not neglect the Jesus plan for our eternal future.  With Jesus the plan becomes crystal clear.  The picture is always focused because Jesus has made it that way!  “In my fathers house there are many mansions”, he states in John 14:2.  “If it were not so I wouldn’t have told you”, he continues.  “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”  Jesus has made securing our reservation for eternal life simple.  He has already paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross.  He wants to bring our eternal future into focus.  If you would like to secure your future repeat this simple prayer, believe it in your heart, and receive him in a child like way.

Lord Jesus,

Forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and save me.

I want to live forever with you in heaven.

Thank you for saving me

I give you my life while on this earth.

In your precious and holy name




Homeward Bound

More than anyone I ever knew my dad loved his hometown and looked forward to happy reunions every year! You could feel his excitement as he looked so forward to the trip.  For me as a kid I usually didn’t look forward to the long car ride that got us there.  I think the trip to Alabama was about 12 hours and I remember times that I would get carsick on the way there or back.  The ride in the back was always more bumpy than the front and we didn’t have air conditioning.  Once dad got behind that wheel he was on a mission to get home.  We normally would bring food to eat on the way and only stopped for the restroom.  I remember one year I was maybe 7 or 8 and I was determined not to go.  When mom or dad would talk to me about it I would tell them I wasn’t going.  At the last minute with the car all packed they picked me up and placed me in the car over my crying and screaming.  They figured that after awhile I would settle down which eventually I did because I had no choice.  I usually had a good time once we got there but when I got a little older my constant desire not to go caused my mom to stay home and only my sister to go along.  Then there were times dad would just go by himself as sometimes nobody else wanted to go.  It was his hometown not ours and though we loved seeing everyone it wasn’t the same for us.

Homeward bound for dad 

When I was 17 I surprised dad and told him I would go with him that year.  It would be the first time since I was 11 that I went down.  Dad was excited as he always was to go to his beloved hometown.  It was always about catching up with his family on what was going on in their lives.  It was about staying at his mothers as she made the best meals money could not buy!  I rode in the front seat that year as my sister and mom didn’t go. That was the one year I actually enjoyed the ride down. I actually was looking forward to seeing everyone again and knew they would be glad to see me.  Grandma would always give us a big hug and she was always so happy.  Grandpa had passed away 6 years earlier and grandma lived alone although 2 of her kids lived in the same neighborhood.  There were the normal comments about how I had grown and I knew that this time it was especially true.  The last time they had seen me I was 11 and now I was a young man at 17.  I was happy to see them all again too, but the experience for me was never what it was for dad.  There really wasn’t that much for me to do.  I remember taking a football and going to the local school and practicing kicking field goals.  It was something I could do by myself and yet it got boring as I enjoyed other people participating.  I met up with my cousin and stayed at their house with him.  That was better than sitting around listening to the talk about the olden days.  Actually since my cousin Lyndon was close to my age we had fun together. His dad had bought some firecrackers that year as it was near the 4th of July.  His dad had said that these may be powerful enough to blow a finger off.  Well we were lighting them and throwing them and all was well.  However there was one that would not light and the fuse burned almost to the base.  Lighting it up for a quick throw was a mistake as it went off in my hand.  It hurt and a siren went off in my ear, but luckily my uncle was mistaken and the firecracker wasn’t powerful enough to blow off my finger.  It just burned and swelled it up a bit. When I saw my cousin years later I reminded him of the adventure.  He had called  grandma immediately and scared her to death as I was moaning in the background.

As much fun as I had that year (besides the firecracker incident)  it still was not the same compared to dad.  He grew up there and everyone knew him then and as he was.  Their family was very close and when they didn’t see each other letters were always in the mail.  Sometimes one or the other would pull a surprise and actually call long distance.  Back then calling long distance was quite an expense so usually letters in the mail was the routine.  Even though he couldn’t sing dad would start singing many times as the car took us toward our destination.  One song that he sang quite often as we were entering Kentucky. “Eight more miles to Louisville, eight more miles to go.”  It was part of the journey that he loved so much.  You see it wasn’t all about getting there which was a reward to him in itself. It was the journey and the anticipation of loved ones greeting us and being home.  Although dad hadn’t lived in Alabama since he was a young man he always considered it home.  Though he lived in Michigan because that was where the jobs were at the time he never forgot his roots.  He always felt that the yearly vacation or two that he looked so forward to was his chance to go to his real home.

My friend Austin came to visit me and another friend Al a few months ago.  Coincidentally Austin is now a professor at the University of Alabama.  Austin was one of my best friends until he was 17.  Before his senior year in high school his parents moved to San Antonio Texas.  It had been close to 40 years since we reconnected around 3 years ago through Facebook.  Austin met me and our friend Tommy at a local restaurant!  What a reunion we had as we talked about old times.  It surprised me how easily we reconnected.  Though life for both of us had gone in different directions we picked up almost exactly where we left off.  After we met at the same restaurant this last time Austin had an idea.  He wanted to go back to our old neighborhood and just walk around.  We parked the car down the road in front of my sisters house as she still lives there.  As we walked around the block we talked about all of the houses and the memories of who lived there.  Naturally their inhabitants back in the day are long since moved or dead now.  When we saw a house we would mention who lived there and one or the other would tell a story about them if we had one.  We also pointed out fields where we played ball although all of them had houses on them now.  Walking down to the old ball field we built beside the church at the dead end brought back many memories.  We could picture in our minds who played there and all of the fun we had in our youth.  We rode our bikes down to that field almost every day in the summers.  It was a time that lingers in all of our minds even though it was over 40 years ago.  Like my dads home in Alabama that neighborhood is my home.  Everything has changed and yet many of the houses have stayed the same.  That trip around the old neighborhood for both of us was like going home.

With Christmas coming soon I’m reminded of a song that’s lyrics are so true.  The song was written by Al Stillman, music by Robert Allen, and first recorded by Perry Como and the chorus goes like this!

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays
Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be a happy in a million ways
For the holidays, you cant beat home, sweet home
For the holidays, you cant beat home, sweet home

How often do we hear the same conclusions in songs not just for the holiday but how sweet going home is.  I’m reminded of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “Homeward Bound” where it states

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound

Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me

As Christians we are homeward bound too.  Jesus stated that he goes to prepare a place for us.  The old hymn “This World Is Not My Home” should apply!

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Do you feel the same way on your life’s journey that my dad felt as he sang out “Eight more miles to Louisville, Eight more miles to go?”  He knew that he was getting closer to his home and it made him happy!  As Christians we are closer to our heavenly home than we ever have been before!

Eight More Miles To Louisville

by Grandpa Jones

I’ve traveled o’er this country wide seeking fortune fair
Up and down the two coast lines I’ve traveled everywhere
From Portland East to Portland West back along the line
I’m going now to the place that’s best that old hometown of mine

Eight more miles and Louisville will come into my view
Eight more miles on this old road and I’ll never more be blue
I knew some day that I’d come back I knew it from the start
Eight more miles to Louisville the hometown of my heart




Over The Rainbow

“Somewhere over the rainbow way up high There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.  Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. And the dreams that
you dare to dream really do come true.”
Of course those are the famous words of the song “Over the Rainbow” that Judy Garland touched our hearts with years ago.  The song also is a reminder to me of a golfer named Davis Love III.  Davis Love III was the son of Davis Love, Jr. who was a professional golfer.  In fact Davis was born on the day his father was tied for the lead in the 1964 Masters.  Davis Love, Jr. would use the game of golf to teach his sons lessons.  Both Davis and his brother Mark benefited from the many lessons that their dad gave them using the game of golf as his example.  Recently Davis has written a book about his wonderful relationship with his father.  It is called “Every Shot I Take” which entails how much his fathers words of wisdom still come to mind!

Every Shot I Take

Davis played around with golf but as a teenager he decided to take the game very seriously.  This of course delighted his father as he had always seen the potential his son had.  Davis was able to get a scholarship from North Carolina University and he was on his way!  After a couple of years Davis turned pro.  As a 20 year old kid he actually thought the majors (golfs major tournaments) would be the easiest to win.  He had some great wins in minor tournaments over the years but the majors eluded him for 11 years.

Davis’ father was his best friend, mentor, and loving dad.  Davis listened to his fathers advise intently and followed it obediently through the first years of his pro career.  Then without warning tragedy occurred.  His father who was only 53 was killed in 1988 in a plane crash.  His father had always told Davis in his youth to “follow your dream and enjoy the trip.”  Davis had learned to follow his father’s advice and was enjoying the trip.  Needless to say losing him was devastating.  For quite some time the joy of the game faded.  He felt like he was playing golf as a job instead of for the love of the game that his father had instilled in him.  The years that followed produced victories in many minor tournaments as Davis fought to take his fathers advice and follow his dream.  His father was constantly on his mind in losing and winning.  In 1997 Davis was 33 years old.  He had accomplished a lot in golf but had never won a major.  In fact people were labeling him the best golfer who had never won a major at that time.

Davis Love is a Christian.  He has been a constant attender of the PGA Tour Bible Study for years which takes place on Tuesday nights.  For golfers on tour it is a way to fellowship with each other when they cannot attend a Sunday service.  Davis has opened up his home as a host for the Golf Fellowship Conference.  It is a getaway for young christian golfers to get together and study the Bible.  The organization helps young golfers focus on what is really important in life.  He hosts the event because in his words he just wants to give back.  “Just to give back to guys like Larry Mize and Scott Simpson who discipled us as young players and led us to the PGA Tour Bible Study and helped lead us to Christ.  I just want to give back to the next generation.”

It’s fathers day 1997 and Davis finds himself in first place by 5 strokes in a major.  It is the US Open one of the most prestigious golf events and a major!  His brother Mark was serving as his Caddy.  The fact that he had never won a major and year after year he was reminded of it had to come to mind.  Davis admitted that every time he thought about winning and what it would mean to him he would get teary eyed thinking about his father.  He was very comfortable with his game but these emotions were making him lose concentration.  Suddenly his lead started to shrink.  Justin Leonard a young pro was making a charge and before you knew it Davis found himself just three shots ahead and facing a tough shot out of the rough.

I’ve heard stories before about how people thought that God was giving them a sign.  Sometimes just in a specific moment circumstances occur that you think cannot be a coincidence.  I’m reminded of a pro basketball player named Joe Dumars.  While his team (the Detroit Pistons) was playing in the finals in 1990 his father, who Joe was very close to,  passed away before the game.  Not wanting to disrupt Joe his family informed the Pistons to not tell him until the game was over.  Joe had an incredible game that day and there was one particular shot his teammate Isiah Thomas remembered.  “Joe shot the ball way up in the air almost hitting the roof and it went straight in the basket.”  As they were running back to mid court Joe looked at Isiah shook his head and mentioned how fortunate that shot was.  Isiah remembers thinking “yeah your dad made that one for you.”  Now I know it sounds kind of strange, but maybe it’s not strange at all.  Considering how much God loves us, why wouldn’t he at certain times give us a sign that even through our loss he is still there and still loves us?

“Those last three or four holes were the hardest walk I ever had, much less play golf”, Davis admitted.  He kept thinking about his father and all of the lessons his father gave him.  His father had played the same course (Winged Foot) in 1974.  Davis thought of encouragement he might give like “you are overdue, this is your time!” Everything was in his head except golf.  Having his brother Mark on the bag may have been his saving grace.  Every time he mentioned doubt Mark would say “Just keep doing what you are doing!”  Davis urged Mark to just get him through this last five or ten minutes.  The danger of losing snapped his attention back to golf.  Finding himself in the rough at hole 13 and in danger of losing two more shots to Justin Leonard, Davis made a miraculous shot that almost went in the hole.  That shot gave him confidence that whatever the situation he could get up and down.  He kept Leonard at arms length the rest of the way with pars on 14-17.  The commentators on my TV kept reminding us of Davis and his special relationship to his late father.  After all it was fathers day and it made a wonderful story.

They had been playing through the rain and on the 18th hole Davis rolled in a beautiful birdie putt to wrap up the tournament!  He embraced his brother Mark in a victorious hug!  “I know I never would have did it without him”, Davis later admitted.  “Dad would have been so proud.” Over the 18th Green for all of the millions watching on TV to see there was a beautiful rainbow!  Now I know you might say that it was just a coincidence.  Consider this though before you say it was just by chance.  It was fathers day for a son who missed his dad so much.  It was the first and only major that Davis would win and it would have made his father so happy.  It was Davis Love III taking the advice of his late father’s wisdom to reach his elusive dream.  Maybe in God’s special way he was giving a sign that all is well!  I know one thing, as I was watching my TV showing that beautiful rainbow and Davis hugging his brother tears were rolling down my face!

Forgotten Sand Castles

It was the oddest statue I think I have ever seen!  It was meant to commemorate a moment in time and Bobby Orr was the subject.  Bobby Orr was a hockey player for the Boston Bruins.  He reinvented the position of defenseman.  A defenseman by definition was a player who kept the other team from scoring.  Very rarely did a defenseman score a goal.  Bobby changed all of that!  He had the speed and stick handling skills to unexpectedly get by his man and score goals too!  Bobby only played twelve seasons.  His career was cut short by a dozen knee surgeries.  Back in the sixties and early seventies when they did knee surgeries they went right in with the knife.  Nowadays with advancements in surgery technology the same procedures could have been performed with a laser and a scope.  He only played in 657 games in his 12 years but he had an astonishing 915 points!  He won the Norris trophy eight consecutive times as the leagues best defenseman!  Bobby is the only defenseman to lead the league in points and he did it twice!  He also won the leagues most valuable player award three times!  Bobby’s career may have been much more productive and lasting had he played today.  Yet for a few years his name was on everyone’s lips when it came to hockey.  He started very young in the game and at the age of 22 the moment pictured by the statue occurred.

Orr Flying Statue

The Boston Bruins (Orr’s team) was playing the St. Louis Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.  It was a best of seven series and Boston had a three games to zero lead.  The fourth game went into overtime as both teams had three goals.  Forty seconds into the overtime Bobby sent a pass to teammate Derek Sanderson and received it back.  He shot it past goalie Glenn Hall of the Blues.  As he was skating in front of the net watching the puck go past the goalie he was tripped by Blues defenseman Noel Picard.  He stretched out his arm with his stick as he flew parallel to the ice in a victorious dive!  For that moment in time there was not a hockey player more famous than Bobby Orr!  At the age of 31 he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame!

I was amazed when researching Halls of Fame of the number of Halls of Fame that there are!  There are Halls of Fames for all of our major sports baseball, football, basketball, and hockey!  The list goes into many of the minor sports and other things like the rock and roll hall of fame in Cleveland, and the Hollywood hall of fame.  Many universities also have their halls of Fame in all sports as do states!  Usually a Hall of Fame will have a plaque of the individual listing all of their accomplishments!  Sometimes statues will be made in their honor!  Visitors come and read the accomplishments of the honorees.  It’s nice to be remembered!  It’s natural for people to want to be remembered for something they did in their lives.  Sometimes people will give large amounts of money just to have a building named after them!  Nobody wants to be forgotten.

Time has passed by like it always does.  Bobby turned 65 earlier this year.  Bobby is doing well these days.  Since he had knee replacement a few years ago he has been in far less pain!  “I’ll tell you a true story that happened the other day,” said Orr, chuckling as he gets rolling. “We had a mixed member-guest-couples event at our golf course and I’m walking down the corridor to the men’s locker room and there was a board set up there, listing all the teams. A couple of ladies were standing there and saw my name, and I heard one say, ‘oh, he’s an old hockey player.’  Bobby thought to himself that yes, they were absolutely right.  It’s strange how time can put past greatness out of our memories!  Likewise that is  exactly how fleeting earthly fame can be!  The two poems that follow remind us to build our house on the solid rock and to store our treasures in Heaven!  Then we will be remembered by God in his Heavenly Hall of Fame!

On Drifting Dust

Author Unknown

Now summer goes
And tomorrow’s snows
Will soon be deep,
And the sky of blue
Which summer knew
Sees shadows creep.

As the gleam tonight
Which is silver bright
Spans ghostly forms,
The winds rush by
With a warning cry
Of coming storms.

So the laurel fades
In the snow-swept glades
Of flying years,
And the dreams of youth
Find the bitter truth
Of pain and tears.

Through the cheering mass
Let the victors pass
To find fate’s thrust,
As tomorrow’s fame
Writes another name
On Drifting dust.


God’s Hall of Fame
by Walt Huntley

Your name may not appear down here
In this world’s Hall of Fame
In fact, you may be so unknown
That no one knows your name;

The oscars and the praise of men
May never come your way,
But don’t forget God has rewards
That He’ll hand out someday,

This Hall of Fame is only good
As long as time shall be;
But keep in mind, God’s Hall of Fame
Is for eternity;

To Have your name inscribed up there
Is greater more by far
Than all the fame and all the praise
Of ev’ry man-made star.

This crowd on earth they soon forget
When you’re not at the top,
They’ll cheer like mad until you fall
And then their praise will stop;
Not God, He never does forget,
And in His Hall of Fame,
By just believing on His son,
Forever- there’s your name.

I tell you, friend, I wouldn’t trade
My name, however small,
That’s written there beyond the stars
In that celestial Hall,
For all the famous names on earth,
Or glory that they share;
I’d rather be an unknown here,
And have my name up there.

Heaven At Tiger Stadium

My dad worked a lot as we were growing up.  He grew up during the depression when people couldn’t find a job.  For years he worked the swing shift.  It meant he switched from 7-3, to 3-11, and finally from 11-7.  He was the sole provider for our family and I think he had a deep fear of not being able to be  that.  He was probably the first guy on the list the bosses called when they needed someone to work overtime.  Sometimes over the objections of my mom he would be awaken by the phone and she would hear him say “yes, I’ll come in.”  When my friends came over and we played outside we had to be careful not to make much noise.  It was understood when dad was home he needed his sleep no matter what time that might be.  Maybe because he wasn’t always around, when he was it was precious.  Especially so when he made plans to do something with me one day!

When my dad told me he was going to get tickets and we were going to Detroit to watch the Tigers play in person back in 1965 I didn’t know what to expect.  I’m sure he saw my love for the game as an eight year old even though my only exposure was the TV and radio broadcasts.  I had sat watching Tiger games with him by the hour and asked him question after question.  Dad went down to WKZO, our local radio station.  Back then you could pick up Tiger tickets there.  He bought tickets for a Sunday afternoon doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on July 25, 1965 and I waited patiently for the days to pass.

My first memory of baseball was the 1964 World Series.  The Cardinals were playing the Yankees.  My mom and I were rooting for the Yankees and my sister and dad were rooting for the Cardinals.  It was in color on our new colored TV and we all sat there and watched the game.  This memory was from one of the earlier games.  The series went the whole seven games.  I remember watching the seventh game by myself.  The World Series was played in the daytime back then.  The rest of my family was occupied with other important things in life.  I watched the Yankees get far behind. In the last inning they gave me hope with back to back home runs.  Then Bobby Richardson hit a high pop up to second base and it was all over.  The Yankees had lost 7-5.  I sat there as the Cardinals celebrated in a swarm by the pitchers mound.  I was so disappointed that the Yankees lost.Cardinals celebrate

After 1964 I had become a Tiger fan!  I think it came from exposure.  Some of the Tiger’s games were on TV and all of them were on the radio!  My 6th grade teacher Mr. Meyle told us that if we conducted ourselves properly in the morning that we could watch the World Series that afternoon!  It was 1968 and the Detroit Tigers were in it!  Of course being from Michigan we were rooting for our home team!  It had been 23 years since the Tigers had been in the World Series.  It was a first in our lifetimes!  We must have conducted ourselves well because just before game time a big  black and white TV was wheeled in on a tall TV stand.  The room was in an uproar whenever the Tigers did something good! The Tigers won that day and evened the series at one game apiece.  We thought letting us watch the game was the greatest thing a teacher ever did for us and we were all in heaven!  Let’s say it was a taste of heaven, not to be confused with the sights and sounds of the real thing three years earlier.

Our seats were waiting for us

Our green seats were waiting for us

If we were going somewhere dad wanted to get there early.  At about 8:30 right after breakfast we were on the road to Detroit.  It is at most a three hour trip maybe two and a half.  We got to Detroit probably a little after 11.  We were way too early to go to the game so dad had a thought.  He decided that we could go over the bridge and visit Canada.  We hung around Windsor for a while stopping at a food place for lunch.  We also killed time by visiting a retail store.  We went back over the bridge to Detroit in hopes of making the game in time.  Unfortunately we got turned around.  Detroit is a big place with plenty of traffic and if you don’t know exactly where you are going you can be swept in the traffic flow.  After circling the city two or three times we finally stopped at a filling station and asked for directions.  The man who gave us directions was a friendly black man.  I think it was the first time I ever saw anyone in person with skin a different color than my own.  To show you how different and trusting the times were the man and my dad made a friendly one dollar bet on the games.  They agreed that after the games dad would stop and fill up the tank and settle the bet then.

The biggest place I ever saw!

The biggest place I ever saw!

We drove around the stadium and found someone waving us into a parking spot.  People would make money using their lawns as a parking lot on game days.  We parked and walked down the road to the largest place I had ever seen!  After going through the turnstile we had to walk and walk to get to gate number 225 where our seats were.  Entering the gate the first thing I noticed was green.  The grass was the greenest grass I had ever seen and the fences and seats in the ball park were all green.  We made our way to our seats which were wooden seats that you unfolded before you sat down.

Everything was Green!

Everything was Green!

By the time we settled in our seats it was the third inning.  The White Sox were in the field.  Unlike the uniforms I would have pictured them in, their uniforms were actually a light baby blue.  It was their road uniform color that year.  The Tigers uniforms were as white as I have ever seen and had that English D on the jersey and their number and names on the back.  Our seats were in the lower deck between first base and home plate.  They were good box seats and the view was magnificent! I knew the players by name and number but it was so much different seeing my heroes in the flesh.  Dad bought me a Tiger Yearbook with Bill Freehan the star catcher on the cover.  It was a beautiful book and seemed to glisten in the sun.  He also bought me a Tiger hat to wear!  When he saw me looking through the yearbook as the game was going on he reminded me that I could look at the book anytime.  Sitting there watching the game in the bright sunshine with my loving dad next to me was like heaven.  Everything was so new and it made every little thing deeply interesting!  The crack of the bats and the pop of the mitts.  With every little thing I was seeing I loved the game even more if that were possible!

My 1965 Tiger Yearbook

My 1965 Tiger Yearbook

my hat

As much as I was yelling for the Tiger players there was a kid probably about my age who was yelling two rows behind me.  He was cheering for the White Sox.  When a White Sox player came to bat be it Pete Ward or Moose Skowron his voice would pop up “Cmon Pete, Cmon Moose.”  It surprised me that there was actually someone cheering for the White Sox there in our Tiger Stadium!  The White Sox had a big inning in which I think they scored seven or eight runs.  The Tigers just couldn’t get them out!  They ended up winning the first game 10-6.

Cmon Moose!
The kid was yelling “Cmon Moose!”

We waited the fifteen or twenty minutes between games.  The only entertainment was watching the grounds crew raking and watering the field.

             Is this what you pictured?
Even watching the workers on the field was a new experience!
Al...Let's play 2!

Al…Let’s play 2!

Still even that was so new to me that it was an experience.  Someone behind me said that Al Kaline wasn’t in the lineup for the next game.  I couldn’t understand why my favorite player couldn’t play every game!  The second game went the Tigers way early as they hit four home runs I think.  Two of them were by Norm Cash and it was thrilling hearing the crack and watching the ball sail into the upper right field deck!  The Tigers ended up winning 13-2 and rookie Denny McLain who would win 31 games three years later got the win.  After the game we stopped back at the filling station where it was decided the bet ended in a tie with each team winning a game.

Norm Cash had 2 Home Runs!

Norm Cash had 2 Home Runs!

Over the years I went to a few more Tiger games at Tiger Stadium.  In 1968 my baseball team went to a game together.  I remember we sat out in the upper deck in left field and stood on the seats yelling for Willie Horton to throw us a ball.  Willie the left fielder was throwing balls to the fans that day during batting practice.  Unfortunately none came our way.  Through the years I got two souvenir baseballs from batting practice I still have.  None of the other visits came close to the magic I felt that first time.  We took my son to one of the last games at the stadium in 1999 when he was nine.    Maybe the timing was just right in my case, because I don’t think he had quite the experience that I did.

I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, but sometimes I think God gives us a glimpse in our lifetime.  Like the taste of baseball heaven we got when the black and white TV was played in our classroom, my experience that day at eight was like a small taste of the real heaven.  Nothing was old that day as I enjoyed the sites in wonderment!  The sun was shining bright and there wasn’t a care in the world as I sat by my loving father.  My dad was wonderful that day! He did everything in his power to make my experience even more enjoyable!  I can’t even imagine what heaven will be like when everything is always new and astonishing forever and ever.  As far as I can tell though it will be like the first glimpse of a child at eight of a beautiful green field and the bright white uniforms of heroes playing a game that I loved so much!  Looking back the real hero was my dad who loved me so much that he made my heavenly experience possible!

Father & Son

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