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As a public speaker I understand all the challenges and fears that come with it. Whether speaking for 20 minutes or 2, it’s a very vulnerable act that came be riddled with self-doubt and anxiety. It’s just you with a mic on a platform. If you make a mistake, saying something wrong, or stumble over your words there’s no one else to cover you. You have to absorb all the criticism. It can be a terrifying endeavor.

This week I came across a very inspiring story about a stand-up comic named Drew Lynch. I was inspired by his story because I understand the difficulty of his work, both in writing material and the delivering it. The reason I found it so moving was due to the fact that he has a speech impediment. He stutters.

On a good day without a speech impediment, public speaking is hard enough. I can’t imagine facing it day-in and day-out with one. Watch the video below to see his story.

Now, I realize with the golden button, the confetti, and the emotional music it’s a little dramatic. But again, as a public speaker, knowing the determination, focus, and hard work required I so have much respect for him.

His story is an inspiring a reminder that even the most tragic situations can be redeemed. In the process we can be remade with a renewed sense of hope.

And for those of us who have always wanted to pursue a dream but have allowed fear to get in the way, Drew’s story tells us that even the most challenging obstacles, instead of hindering our dream, can be leveraged to further it.

So if you find yourself in a tragic season of life or are too scared to pursue a dream, may this story help you see your situation differently and renew your desire to carry on.

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DSC_0071All too often we move through the routines of life and never reflect on what’s truly important – even on Father’s day. We send our cards, make our phone call, share a beer or brisket from the smoker, but even then, it’s easy to go through the motions never stopping to really say how I feel about being your son.

Well, here it is.

I am so grateful that you are my dad. Out of all the dads that I could have had, I really think I got the best one. When interviewing for my first placement as a pastor I remember sitting with the search committee answering a variety of questions. Most of them were about theology or ministry, but then came the question, “Who’s your hero?”

With out missing a beat and with assured confidence I said, “My dad.” And here is why.

I’ve always been impressed with you adventurous spirit. There’s never been a challenge to big for you. Whether it’s hiking fourteeners in Colorado, adding a two-story addition to the house (doing all the work yourself no less), quitting a successful job with great financial security to go to seminary and become a pastor, or taking in four elderly parents to see them to the end of their lives. You meet challenges with determination, strength and desire to see them through. You’re not a quitter. You are inspired to do things from which others would shrink bad. In the process, whether you realized it or not, you taught us not to be afraid but to stretch ourself beyond what we think we can do.

You also demonstrated a strong work ethic. Staying up late, getting up early, going the extra mile, you always put in the necessary work to get the job done and to complete it with excellence. You worked hard and were always recognized and respected for your leadership.

But it’s not your work ethic, your accomplishments or your leadership that have shaped me the most, but your character and your priorities.

You always put us (your family first). From turning down jobs for more money, or jobs in other parts of the country where you have rather lived, you sacrificed your own desires for us. Not only did you sacrifice, but you always served us. Whether it be the simple gesture of making coffee or meal, getting the family out of the door to church on time, packing and unpacking the car for road trips and vacations, or just a simple word of encouragement when we needed it most. You put us first through sacrifice and service.

You also demonstrated incredible patience with us. It was ok for us not to get things right the first time or to make a mistake and even break something along the way. You always realized that the process was more important than the destination and demonstrated immense patience along the way. You were never controlled by anger but had a calm spirit that infused our home with peace.

You also demonstrate a genuine humility, both in your service to the family, but also in continuing to be a learner/student. You readily recognize that others have more knowledge, expertise or skill in a certain area, and you are never to proud to place yourself beneath them in order to learn from them. It doesn’t matter their race, gender or age, you are always willing to say, “Please teach me.” It has been my joy to be your coach and cheerleader in this season of your life as you have stepped into a new calling and vocation. You are doing an amazing job and have a bright future ahead.

But, even in light of all of this, the thing that has been the most inspiring has been your continual pursuit of growing in Christ. Your desire to know his word, give the remainder of your days to build up the body of Christ, and your willingness to serve his Kingdom in any capacity is an example that more people need to see.

There are so many more thing that could be said about who you are and the wonderful things you’ve done. Your sense of humor. The freedom you gave me to be me – never trying to tell me what I should do with my life, but again serve as a coach along the way. Your creativity in fostering relationship with different people. Your love for the Broncos. Your desire to connect in genuine and real ways. The way you serve and care for my family… The list goes on and on.

I know plenty of people out there who would kill to have a dad like you. I will consider myself as a dad to be a success if I can become half of the dad/man who you are. I am incredibly grateful and fortunate to have you as a dad and couldn’t ask for anything more.

Happy Father’s Day.

I love you dad.

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248753_10150195927401213_183571_nTwo weeks ago our family said goodbye to my wife’s mother, Carole Fisher. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer almost two years ago and ended her battle with cancer early Monday morning on May 4th.

She was the first of our parents to leave this earth and even though we knew this day was coming, having some measure of preparation and awareness didn’t make it any easier.

As we have been reflecting on her life in the days following her death, there have been four things that just about everyone who knew her has been remembering.

The first was her faith. Carole was a woman of faith. I commented at her memorial service that Carole would have greatly disliked the service. Not because it wasn’t meaningful, worshipful or beautiful, but because it was all about her. Carole hated being the center of attention. She was always more comfortable being unnoticed and off to the side rather than front and center. Her greatest desire was that her life wouldn’t be about her, but would clearly point to Christ. Above her bed in the final days of her life was the verse,

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5

All throughout her life Carole trusted and worshiped God in all things, even in her battle with cancer. And up until her final moments on earth her life clearly pointed to Christ.

Next was her heart of compassion. It’s said of Jesus multiple times in the gospels that he was “moved with compassion.” The same could be said of Carole. Not only was Carole most comfortable with being unnoticed, she was also most comfortable with others who could easily go unnoticed. Carole had a strong love for the “least of these” in our world. There would be many times when she and Jim would visit us here in Atlanta and would make plans to go downtown on a Friday night to serve the homeless with different churches they didn’t even attend. She was always on the look out for opportunities to serve. God’s love for those in need was most evident in Carole.

Third was her life of simplicity for the sake of generosity. Carole held the things of this world loosely. She believed that too much stuff would clutter and complicate her life. She sought to live a simple life so that she could be free to give things away as the needs, or even desires, of others presented themselves. I’ve heard stories of Carole giving away the coat on her back or the gloves off her hands to individuals who had none. There were times I would be perusing the books on her shelf and if she had a book that caught my interest, she would give me her copy saying, “Just take it. You’ll enjoy it more than I will.” Her vision was so focused on her eternal home that the things in her earthly home could easily be given away.

Lastly was her joy. Carole’s joy wasn’t something she manufactured, it was a natural manifestation of her faith, compassion and generosity. Her joy was most evident in her smile. It was infectious and could light up a dark room. Her joy carried her through life and as Jesus noted in John 15, his joy in her was complete.

***

When people pass from this life to the next we often expect them to leave behind something for us who remain. Sometimes we anticipate homes, family heirlooms or large sums of money. I don’t know if Carole left any of those things behind, but what I do know is that the legacy she did leave behind is far more valuable than things, possessions and cash. All that stuff is temporary and fleeting. It’s the stuff of this world.

What Carole left behind was eternal, the stuff of the Kingdom, a legacy of faith, compassion, generosity and joy. And because those things are eternal, we will always have access to what she left for us know matter where we are or what we are going through.

So Carole, thank you. Your life was well lived. It will never be forgotten and your legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.

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