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Archive for June, 2010

A is for Attitude

Do you remember that one? A is for attitude. Seriously? Isn’t there something better than that. But it’s true.

This week I have been reminded of how important our attitude is in how we look at life in general. A positive attitude can help you navigate even the most treacherous waters, but a poor attitude will ruin your day in a hurry (along with everyone else’s). I’ve struggled with my attitude over the last few days and it has literally made me sick. I got a migraine after getting worked up about something that wasn’t all that important in the first place. Like the old saying goes, “It’s all how you look at it”.

So, after a: calming down; b: taking some maxalt and about 10 ibuprofen; c: talking to my wife about it and d: praying to God for forgiveness and asking Him to give me wisdom to say what needs to be said but no more and courage to ask for forgiveness from others, I am doing much better.  Looking back, I can laugh now. I am constantly cracking myself up, and most of the time it’s not on purpose.  I have this amazing hindsight vision that I have yet to learn how to harness “in the moment”. I guess that’s why it’s HINDSIGHT vision, huh?  So now I am praying for more clarity while I am in the moment. I’m learning that nothing is ever as big a deal as I think it is.  I need to be reminded every so often to “simmer down now….”.  So, I’m simmering and I’m bumbling along like I usually do – but with a well needed attitude adjustment.  Thank you, God for being so patient with me. I am blown away by your gentle nudges that help get me back on track, and for not wringing my neck when I start acting like a baby from time to time. Keep it coming – I need it!

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With Father’s Day coming in just a few short hours, I sat down and reflected for a bit on my life and the role my dad has played in it.

Here goes:

I want to take a minute and thank my dad, Rupert Gayle Brown (YES, my first name is Rupert too and NO, I’d rather you not call me by it). When I think about my dad, I immediately feel like pausing for a second and thanking God for giving me such a person to be my father. He’s not perfect, and I’m glad he isn’t. But I would argue that he is perfect in his imperfections. If you know my dad, you know what I mean.

My dad is the guy who will stop and help ANYBODY who needs helping. Doesn’t matter what the time, what his own plans might be – he just helps. I’ve witnessed it on countless occasions. I can remember all of us piled in the car to go to a Texas Rangers game and my dad stopped to assist a lady on the side of the road who had run out of gas. I’ve been there when he literally chased down a hit-and-run vehicle while the victim waited for the police to arrive. I cannot tell you how many people my dad has “loaned” money to over the years. Sometimes they pay it back, but mostly they don’t and he knows that all along. My father is just generous that way.

He is also a man of integrity and honor. My dad doesn’t break promises. If he gives you his word, he means it. He may forget something every now-and-again these days (he is 70, you know) but he is exceptionally honest. He taught us all to live lives of integrity. My dad’s the guy who would DEFINITELY leave a note on your windshield if he bumped you in the parking lot, even if it did no damage. He’s the guy you want on your jury if you’re looking for a fair trial. He’s the guy who ex-boyfriends of my sisters would come by and thank years later for being such a good role model in their lives. He’s the guy who gives back the money when the cashier goofs up instead of saying “look, what a blessing that I got extra money…” – he just doesn’t roll that way.

My dad is hilarious and loves to talk. Sometimes he’s super funny even when he’s not trying to be, but if you’re around him long, he’ll really crack you up. He always has some story to tell (and they’re usually really good ones) and he has never met a stranger. He’s told me before that he was really shy growing up, but I NEVER saw that side of him.  My dad has the knack for making you feel good. If you spend 15 minutes with Rupert, you will be much better for it.  He’s the guy that brightens your day a little bit just by showing up.

My dad loves my mom and all of his children.  My parents have been together for 46+ years which is impressive just by itself.  I know he drives her half crazy sometimes, especially since he can’t hear worth a hoot and turns the TV up to 11 (spinal tap reference for those who didn’t get that one).  But there’s no arguing that he loves her.  He worries about her health a lot, but he pretends he doesn’t. He tries to be all tough but we know he’s really a softy. And I know beyond any doubt that he loves his kids.  He’s been there for us in every situation.  From an encouraging phone call to sending me cutout stories of the Dallas Cowboys to read since I’m living in Redskins territory – it’s the little things that show it.

All through my life, my dad has been there for me. He coached my little league baseball teams, he taught me how to play basketball really well, he came to pretty much ANY thing that any of us were doing when we were growing up.  He and mom always brought us to church.  He loved God and modeled it to us with his life. He shagged balls for me when I practice my tennis serve at 10pm even when he a: didn’t really care for tennis and b:had to be up at 4:30 am for work.

I will say that we’ve had our fair share of tough stretches along the way, mostly due to me growing up and finding my own path. But through everything, we’ve remained so close. Super close.

I miss you, dad. I miss eating lunch with you every week. I miss going pawn-shopping for stuff neither of us need. I miss golfing with you. I miss sitting and watching your funny facial expressions in-person (skype is good, but still not the same). I miss watching you play with my children. Parker, Chloe and Marshall really miss their granddaddy. They love you so much and I know you adore each one of them.

Lisa and I just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary yesterday. It reminded me of our wedding day. She looked so beautiful (still does, by the way). Anyway, my best man was my dad.

And dad, you’re still the best man, the best man I know. Always did your best to provide for us. Always loved us.  The perfect dad for me, Lydia, and Nannette. I wanted to honor you this Father’s Day by thanking you for your life as a father and what it’s meant to me.

I also wanted others to read it, because I want them to know how blessed I’ve been to have you as a father. And truly, the world is a better place with you in it – I really mean it.

Thank you, and I love you, Rupert Gayle Brown. Happy Father’s Day.

Love,

Rupert Darren Brown

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I have a confession to make. I am unfairly biased toward my own family.

Okay, with that out of the way, we can move forward. This past weekend was such a great time for me as I was able to spend a good chunk of time away from the busyness of my “regular” life and just hang out with Lisa and the kiddos.

We had such a blast at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, riding on the Urban Pirate’s ship, splashing around at Hurricane Harbor, and LOTS of eating. But most of all, we enjoyed each other. I did a lot of watching. I watched my children laugh, play, hug, sing, dance, smile, have pillow fights, eat, be silly, and really enjoy life. It reminded me, yet again, of how short this life of ours really is. I know it won’t be long before these days are just a faint memory at best. When my children would rather hang out with their friends than dear old Dad.

But for now, I am soaking it in for all it’s worth. Every smile, every story, every chance to have a “teachable moment” is so precious to me. I’ll give an example:

We drove up to Upperco, Maryland (close to Pennsylvania border in farm country) to eat at this really cool restaurant called Friendly Farms. It’s as homestyle as they come, and the food was really good. But the best part was when we got ready to leave. We encountered some fireflies (lightning bugs if you’re from Texas) in the parking lot. My youngest, Marshall, had never caught one before, so he was really excited when he got the opportunity to see one first-hand.

But as we were driving away, we looked out across the fields and there were literally millions of these fireflies, as far as we could see in any direction. It was surreal. It was beautiful. It was evidence, to me, of God’s majesty. Then we talked about it for a little bit with the kids and Chloe said, “They’re so beautiful. It’s like God gave us our own show tonight!” And she was right. God is doing so much for us all the time. He has blessed us in ways we can see and ways we cannot. He is so good.

Thank you, God for my family, and for letting me be a part of Your family.

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I hear these words on a daily basis. Whether it’s brought on by my saying “You need to brush your teeth” or “…time for bed…” or “Please speak nicely to your brother/sister”, the reply usually comes back the same: “Why, Daddy?”

Sometimes the answer is easy: because I said so! BOOYAH!!  Other times, though, it’s not nearly that easy. Take this question, for example:   Daddy, why did so many people have to die in Haiti in that terrible earthquake? And how come we don’t let them come live here with us? We have more than enough room, right?

In these moments, I am at a loss for words. I don’t know why so many people died in Haiti. I have no plan of action to make things better. I wish I did. I wish I had it all figured out – not just for the sake of my children, but for myself as well.  You see, being in full time ministry brings with it lots of experiences that are beyond explanation. I have seen more than my share of hurt, suffering, anger, betrayal, and confusion over “why God allowed this…” or “how come God didn’t do this…..”. It never gets any easier, either.  I do long for the day that we will all be with our Creator and see Jesus face-to-face. All my questions will be answered then, or maybe I won’t even care about them once I see Jesus.

But now, in 2010, I am knee deep in questions and that’s okay. God is big enough to handle our questions. He has been God for quite some time and has the job down pretty well, I’d say.  He knows all the “whys” even though He doesnt’ share them all with us.  He knows we couldn’t handle it, most likely.  I can barely manage my day-to-day calendar (ask my ministry assistant, and she’d probably tell you that’s actually a stretch). 

The German philosopher Frederick Nietzche once said “Man can endure almost any ‘what’ as long as he has a ‘why.'” For me, when I’m in the midst of the storms of life, I am searching for the “why”.  Why is this happening to me? But maybe, just maybe, the why isn’t as important as we all think. Maybe we should instead just focus on the “WHO?” Who knows what’s really going on? Who cares intimately for me? Who carries me and is my strong tower, my refuge? Who gave His only son for me? Who forgives me when I mess things up? Who sees around every curve, every corner?

The point is, if we know the WHO that is behind everything. we may not always need to know the WHY.

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Okay, so we finally landed on a house, only to discover that we wouldn’t be able to get a 2-year lease (which we really prefer). So, we were back to looking. Then, we found out that “Yes, we could get a 2-year lease afterall”. Okay-done deal…not so fast.

Then, we find out about another house that is 50% larger with a bigger yard (but a couple of miles further from the church) for only $50/month more. If you know me at all, I am ALL ABOUT THE DEAL! and this seemed like a way better deal to us. So, we filled out the now imfamous Virginia Rental Application (that I could probably recreate from scratch by now) along with our deposit checks, application fees, etc. If this seems like a broken record, just imagine how I’m feeling by now.

So, we got our hopes up (yet again) only to be crushed by the seemingly inevitable phone call telling us that someone else had beaten us to this house and we were outta luck. 

Now, we are back to the original house that luckily we hadn’t passed on – the one only 2 blocks from where we are now. It’s gonna be a bit cozy, but that’s totally cool! Afterall, it’s just a silly house, for Pete’s sake, right? Plus, my kids will still get to walk to school and I’ll be a whole 2 minutes from work. Who knows, I might not even drive every day. I do need the exercise. Does walking from the front door to the car count?

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