December 30, 2004

Happenings

Some things going on from some of the authors in my blogroll:

Joshua Claybourn's mom's birthday was Christmas Eve. He remembers her in this post.

My dad's birthday was the 28th, and also came with a bit of sadness, and Christmas was mixed. Feelings of joy and sadness intertwined. We noted the sadness, and then rejoiced in the wonderful expressions in Rebecca's face as she experienced her first Christmas with us.

Jeffrey Collings is engaged. Congratulations!

Susan b. has lost her dog, 13-year old Coco. Susan, may God grant you peace and comfort in your loss. I'm sure you're going over a lot of memories of the last thirteen years and mourning that they've ended so suddenly. Our pets are so special to us.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:52 PM | Comments (1)

Remembering Reggie White

Andrew Peyton Thomas remembers Reggie White.

Good words for a great man. I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by the disrespect shown by the New York Times.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2004

The Secularization of Christmas

I agree with Shane Raynor - it's a loss when Christmas is secularized, but it's not a great loss. There are much worse things that can happen, as Michelle Malkin reminds us.

We watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas this morning (the original cartoon with Boris Karloff's narration). I was struck by how the Grinch was "converted" by the Whos' enthusiasm for celebrating Christmas even when every material thing the Grinch associated with Christmas had been taken from them. There's a bit of wisdom there. Go ahead and celebrate Christmas anyway with all the joy and enthusiasm the holy day deserves, and maybe some of those Grinches who are trying to purge the day of any real meaning will see that they are removing a truly great thing from us.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2004

Prepare the way of the Lord

My favorite Christmas music, Handel's Messiah, is not only about Christmas, but rather about all of the life of Christ, from the prophecies of His coming, to His birth, His ministry, Passion, and coming again. Last year I saw a play which reenacted some of the events surrounding Handel's composing Messiah and its first performance. There was actually a bit of scandal involving one of the soloists, which Handel had to deal with by applying a bit of firm but loving persuasion, showing him to be a quite gracious and compassionate man.

The entire work is based on scripture. The portion dealing with the Nativity sets the prophecies of John the Baptist's and Jesus' coming to music, then the Christmas stories. My favorite selection is the music based on the following verses:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 40:3-5 NKJV

There is quite a bit to be said about getting ready for the Lord. I decided to follow Jesus on June 21, 2001, yet I was getting ready for at least eight months before that. Looking at things and beliefs I was holding onto in my life and asking myself "do you really think it's good for you to be doing that -- or believing that?" Confronting myself, saying "you know He's right - give it up and follow Him." Eventually it came down to one day that I realized "now is the day of salvation" and stopped arguing with God.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2004

Remembrances

Last week I wrote a story about our trip to Hereford to see my dad for Thanksgiving. He passed away the following Sunday. I've let the story sit in my drafts folder, unable to post it. In effect, I've just been afraid to talk about it, at least on the Internet where millions of people can see it (though the number of my readers is actually much lower than that). There's this nagging thought that if I can't do it right, I shouldn't do it. Well, that attitude's a crock. If something is worth doing, it's worth doing - period. Josh Claybourn wrote me to remind me of his experience of losing his mom (thanks, Josh), and reading it helped me to sort out some of my feelings. It takes considerable courage to lay one's life open to the Internet.

With just a little bit of cleanup, here's the story:

My sister Naomi and I were in Hereford for Thanksgiving, and were with Dad Saturday night before he passed away. I stayed with him late that night, reading and talking with him, though he couldn't talk to me. I read from the Bible, talked about Rebecca, and how growing up in a Bible-believing and Bible-reading home meant so much to us. I promised to pass on those values to Rebecca as best I could, and to tell her lots of stories of her grandfather. I went back to our hotel sad and discouraged. In hindsight, I think I knew the end of his life was near, yet I never wanted to say so out loud, fearing my words would come true. That night I slept restlessly, and something really weird happened. The alarm clock which was set for 6 am actually went off much earlier, about 1 or 2 am. I turned it off (or hit the snooze button), thinking it was set wrong or broken (it worked perfectly every other night). Then it went off again about a half hour later. This time I turned on a light, and made sure it was off. A half hour later the call came from King's Manor: "We've lost your dad". I think if I had gotten up with the alarm clock and headed straight there I would have been with him when he passed away. By hesitating, all I got was a phone call. I feel bad for that, I wish I had realized I had needed to go. People I tell this to tell me I'm reading too much into it, or that I'm overreacting, but it doesn't make the feeling go away. I feel bad that my dad was alone when he passed away. I'm sorry Dad - I'm glad I was with you the night before, but I'm sorry I didn't stay with you through the night.

Three days later, I was reading the eulogy, written by his seven children, in the church I grew up in. We wrote stories of experiences with Dad, just like we did with Mom last year. Most of us talked about how Dad led a pretty active life. He was active in Boy Scout activities back when I was a Scout. He loved hiking, camping and being outdoors.

My contribution to the eulogy went like this: Dad also loved his family, and especially our Mom. I got in big trouble when I scribbled all over a birthday card he had bought for me to give to her. He took me back to the store, and was so mad that he was driving so fast he took a corner on two wheels. I never saw him drive recklessly any other day in his life. He never liked it when he heard a boy call his dad his "old man". He didn't let any of the boys in our Boy Scout troop get away with that.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:25 PM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2004

Rev. Ed Robb, Jr.

The Rev. Edmund Robb, Jr. passed away on Tuesday, December 14.

I remember him preaching at a revival for my hometown church in Hereford Texas, back in the early 70's. He was quite a fiery preacher. Of all the evangelists who preached at our revivals, he was the only one whose name I remembered.

Soon after I recommitted my life to Christ, back in 2001, I went to an IRD reception to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. The Rev. Robb was recognized for his service to the organization. I got to meet him and tell him I remembered him, and a bit about what had happened in my life since, including my abandoning faith, or "walking in darkness", and my return to Christ twenty years later. He seemed to appreciate being remembered, but didn't say so out loud. He said only that he was happy that I remembered the Lord.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Light posting

Sorry the blogging has been light lately. Christmas commitments have made it difficult to sit down and write anything substantial. I do plan to get two, maybe three, good posts in before Christmas however.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2004

I'm back

I'm back. The Thanksgiving trip home actually became a very long and draining affair. The loss of my dad, Ronald Fuhrmann, makes it seem like life has started all over again. To all who commented in the previous post, or who replied by email - thank you. It is very comforting to be acknowledged in this time of loss.

I actually wrote a post last Saturday, but deleted it in an act of absent-mindedness. I didn't want to rewrite it, I was just too drained. I'm actually trying to start recreating it with this post. I've decided to dedicate this Advent season to writing about my family, my hometown, and growing up. It'll be pretty boring to many, but those who like to read about small-town America may find it interesting. I took lots of pictures, namely of all the churches I attended or visited, my schools, the two houses I lived in, the places where I worked (at least those that are still there), and some special things about the town and the country around it. I'll post many of those pictures too. And if I feel moved to comment on current events, I'll break that in too.

There is a strong kind of homesickness that I had never thought about till I went home - the first trip home where I would be staying in a hotel. Dad sold the house this last summer after he acknowledged needing extra help with living. All seven of us kids have moved all over the country, three in California, one in another part of Texas, one in Wisconsin, one in North Carolina, and one (me) in New Jersey. It was really strange not having the house on Ave D anymore. No kitchen to get a late night snack. No TV in the living room. No backyard with a dog. We spent most of the first week shuttling back and forth between our hotel and King's Manor, where Dad was being taken care of. I've got a lot more respect for the people who work in nursing homes. We were there a long time each day, and the work done in those homes is extremely demanding.

The sermon for Dad's memorial service was based on John 10, along with Psalm 121 and Philippians 4:4. With John 10 in mind, here's a picture of the stained glass I grew up with in the First United Methodist Church of Hereford Texas (click following link to view the picture)

I am the good shepherd
shepherd.jpg

First United Methodist Church, Hereford Texas
fumc-hereford.jpg

The Nativity scene on the Deaf Smith County Courthouse
nativity.jpg

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 08:38 PM | Comments (1)