Left Turns. Ever made one?

LEFT TURNS
Right turns when driving are fairly easy, aren’t they? Most states allow a right turn on red light, if no other traffic is coming. Some times there are arrows that allow right turns. But for the most part in America we could all agree that turning right is fairly simple.
Left turns however are another matter entirely. My most poignant remembrance of a left turn was when I was a little bit younger (OK, a lot younger!). I met regularly with two older men on Saturday mornings for coffee, encouragement and prayer. The route to our meeting place required a left turn at an intersection. One particular morning when at the signal light and turning left, I proceeded to make my turn at the end of the light’s cycle.
On the other side of the intersection another driver was coming through the intersection, also at the “end” of the cycle going straight. That morning we met without a handshake. It was a small disaster. The other driver T-Boned me on the passenger side of my car. I had my driver’s window down at the time and the impact flung my eyeglasses into the street and we run over later. The right side window exploded and some of the flying glass now resided in my face.
After the spinning stopped I surveyed the scene and realized my little car was done, Caput, totaled and basically a nice new U shape.
I made my meeting that day after a brief discussion with the other driver, the police, paramedics and a few other “concerned” citizens that were worried about us clearing the intersection. My meeting guys saw the blood and the no glasses on my face and said, “What the heck happened?” “I said, well I was just making a left turn, when………”
I survived that crash. My car didn’t. Had my pregnant wife been with me in the passenger seat that morning most likely she or my unborn son might not be with us today. It was that bad of a collision.
How can out life be changed so quickly and drastically with a simple left turn?
As I look back on that day and survey the many days of my life since that time, I can tell you I’ve had and seen many other “Left Turns” in my and countless other lives. Can you recall those times when your world changed in an instant? Was it a phone call? Was it a birth or death you witnessed? Was it coming home to an empty house unexpectedly? Or maybe it was that day you were called into the boss’s office for some bad news?
My bride and I were discussing just last night how many of our friends, co-workers and others we’ve known of the past couple of years who’ve had some drastic and even fatal left turns. Often without any warning, we’ve seen settled lives get toppled in an instant. Is it that we are just getting older and everyone around us is too, or does it seem that problems for all of us are mounting up like pending storms?
Regardless of why, we will ALL have LEFT turn(s) in our lives. It is just part of the human experience. How, oh how, do we prepare for such events and drastic changes? I think we can’t. We just have to live our lives in such a way that we keep our “bags packed” to some degree. Bags packed thinking also means we need a level of faith and trust in our creator God that He is the one that is ultimately in control of our lives. If you don’t believe this to be true, I surely wish you would consider seriously trusting Him for your own destiny. He’s the one whose set my life back on the road after many, many left turns. He is working out his will in our lives and HE is good ALL the time!

November 2nd, 1973

The day it all began for us
Today we celebrate 38 years of marriage.  Wow, has time flown! Seems like only a couple of months ago that we celebrated 25 years.
We were so young and innocent. But that’s not so bad. We, together, lost our innocence as life happened. And boy did it happen. I could dwell for hours tell about what we’ve “gone through” together. Admittedly, life was tough for way too many years. But life has a way of being that way. Some parts of our lives are brought about by choices we make. Others might be “chance” or “circumstance”. Or are they really?
Details are not important, but the big picture is important. The woman that God brought into my life and the person she was and is today is the important part of the big picture. She is my rock and my joy at the end of the day, everyday. She deserves much more than I’ve been able to provide her. She is my crown and my joy. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. (look it up).
When we joined our hearts and lives together  (even at our teen ages!) we made the commitment to each other that the “D” word would never be in our vocabulary. We were and still are committed to each other. All in. Sewed up. Sealed and delivered. Anything other than a complete life together would never be acceptable. …for better or for worse.
Having said that, there have been issues and events in our 38 years that have tried desperately to destroy us and the life we have. But the commitment we made and the love that we share transcend “issues” , “challenges” and time.  I must tell you that the basis of our love and commitment began on the foundation of commitment to our faith in God. He has been the one that has given us everything we have together. And that list is a long one.
Somewhere along the way we picked up 3 munchkins. What can you really say about your children in a public forum? I will attempt it since I am not ashamed. And the reason is because what I tell you about each of them is a good story. They are each one in their own ways, amazing adults full of faith, creativity and joyous life. We cherish each one. They have been a cosmic glue that God gave to help hold us all altogether. And to add joy to fullness, we have a daughter-in-law and son-in-law that we adore and consider them our own.
Now for some icing on this cake. Grandkids!!! Our quiver of  blessing grew this summer  with the addition of 2 little princesses. Verbal explanation about what these little girls mean to me (us) cannot expressed. All I can say is “wow” I (we) love these little gifts from heaven.
Life’s road has leveled out for us a bit. There are still bumps in the lane, but we take them as they come. Surely there will be more obstacles as we grow old, but we’ll take each day  we have and attempt to live our lives “to the full”.  We laugh a lot now. And when we do cry, they are worthy tears.    
So for those of you who are not yet married, don’t fall prey to society telling you it doesn’t work. And when you give it a go make the commitment ahead of time to stay the course. Finish the race. The rewards greatly outweigh the risks. Commit your marriage and life to our great God. He will see you through it all. We owe it all to Him.  
Doll, I love the life we have together. It is getting sweeter all the time. Let’s try for 38 more years!       
Love,
JWH (Jimmy)

Tough Week…..Tender Family

…..Well my reflective and sentimental mind awakened me again very early for the second Friday morning in a row. Last week I was up early reflecting on my Mom’s life and passing and remembering what she did for me and I shared many of those thoughts at her memorial service. But today it is about Jeff.
I could not fall back to sleep as my mind was reeling with thoughts and memories of Jeff Thompson and family. I knew that I had to get up and jot down my thoughts or I would not be able to remember them or I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep completely.
So here goes, from a restless mind.
Could this family possibly have started with a Toga party? Not 100% sure if that is correct but I think I recall Jeff telling our Tuesday morning guys when we were all telling about how we met our wives. DeeAn, if this is not true I apologize! We all have our unique stories of how we met our spouses, huh? Some are just more amusing than others.
When I first met Jeff his family was still in what I would call the “fledgling stage”. His kids were still pretty young. And Amy (the youngest) was a very young duckling and cute as pie. They were all small, innocent wide eyed and cute.
Just so you’ll know what kind of folks I’m talking about, this portion of the Thompson clan began with a special needs child. Families with special needs kids have challenges that most of us will never face. It takes people of true compassion and care to intentionally have a child with many needs. And then to add five more gifts to their quiver makes this story even more special.
Jeff was a learner and observer. He watched how others were parenting their kids and was always curious about how to deal with the challenges of raising kids, especially once they reached the dreaded teenage status. For those of us a little further along in that process, we gave Jeff what advice we could and then we would all pray together for God’s direction and the grace to be the kind of husbands and dads that our families needed.
I remember a few extra special times where Jeff was doing things for or with his kids. Like when he went to church camp for a week. Reports were that he was the kid that was very close to being kicked out of camp for speeding on a golf cart around campus and “other things”. He was just one of the kids. But he wanted to be with his kids any time he could. So he went to pre-teen camp.
Then there was the time of the surprise gift of two four wheelers that were hidden in my garage until Christmas morning when I delivered them for Jeff to his driveway. The looks on those kids’ faces were something. And the excitement Jeff had was equal.
I recall a Colorado trip when the family van broke down and it took almost a week to get parts for repair. They turned that potentially bad experience into a memory, as they sort of camped out in that little town and even went to the local church there that week.
Jeff intentionally took his kids individually on trips to wherever that child wanted to go. I guess living in a large family, you can at times get lost in the shuffle. Well that is not the case here. He planned for inclusion and always made it fun and directed to that child. From NASCAR to Mexico to Mid America Mall to rescuing dogs or rescuing friends, he always included his kids and taught them by example.
Besides Jeff’s wife and kids that he cherished, he loved dearly his mom, his sisters and their extended families and had many funny stories to go along with them all. I could extract some hush money from them, I’m sure!
There were others that Jeff considered family as well, like Andrew and Lori Spurgeon. He opened up his home and his life to their family and supported every international mission effort they were involved in with compassion and care. He very much respected Andrew’s spiritual wisdom, squeaky laughter and his love of rutabagas. Go figure.
From my view Jeff keyed on strengths, not weaknesses with respect to his family. He always told them he was proud of them and affirmed them every chance he got. He taught them hospitality, by on many occasions having groups into their home for meetings or welcomed anyone into his home.
I could go on for much longer but I will end this now. These are not just random thoughts, but reflections screaming to be released from my feeble mind.
Jeff was not a superman. He had feet of clay. He was broken at times and deeply remorseful for any errant thoughts or actions. And he knew he was forgiven by and relied fully on God’s mercy and grace to keep going.
This wild and crazy guy poured out his life into his family.