Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I was NOT the safest driver on . . .

... Friday. Driving to church, I heard a radio station urging folks to give money to buy bikes for needy kids at Christmas. Thinking about bikes reminded me of my dad (see post below) & that released a pool of tears and sobbing that was overdue.

At least twice on the drive & then a time or two at the office, I grieved for my Dad with healing tears of hurt.

I am sure it will not be that last gush.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”- Luke 1:26-28 (NIV)

This is an unlikely passage:
An unlikely place - Nazareth, in Galilee
An unlikely person - a pledged / engaged girl - a virgin, no less
An unlikely message - congrats - you're gonna have a baby

Thank God that He comes to us unlikely people, in unlikely ways (Gabriel),
with unlikley messages of God's favor and presence. It is by grace indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Preacher Went Down to GA

I drove my mom back to GA Sun PM & flew back to TN Monday. Gate D - my gate - at the ATL Airport was shut down briefly due to a suspicious package... Thankfully, it was a short scare & my flight was only delayed 10 minutes. I had already been treated to Homeland Security's finest scrutiny (shoes off, the wand, the pat down, the test your bag for drugs / chemicals).

I did not mind - it is the price of freedom of movement. They responded with surprise and apprecaiton whrn I thanked them. They said they are often not treated too kind. I feel the innocent have nothing to hide & if it is too burdensome, drive. It goes with the price of the ticket.

Mom is doing better (dad died 12 days ago). It was an honor to have her with us. It is so hard to mentally or emotionally place her in the Widow category. Forget the thought - at this point - of her remarrying!

I feel I have joined a new fraternity - those who have lost a parent. It is interesting how people's responses, comfort, words seem to almost naturally fall into those divisions - those who have left a parent have a different comiseration. I guess I experienced this with my brother's suicide, but this is different (untainted, shame-free...).

It is interesting how being a pastor makes it even harder for many to know what to do, say... Death creates enough awkwardness for people, but being a pastor seems to compound that for lots of good hearted, yet conflicted, confused potential comforters. HOT TIP - just treat us like people, because... we is
;-) We are not above your seeking to reaffirm us, our faith or encourage us. If anything, the awkard silence of many may call for even bolder words / deeds of comfort from those who do speak up. Presence is the key.

Something From Nuthin', Nowhere, No How

“ When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”- Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV

He is the God who can bring something out of nothing, Someone out of no where.
We rejoice in that in Christ's birth.
We find hope in that in our new birth.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hanging Out in Him

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ” - John 15:5 & 8 (NIV)

What a great passage! It speaks of realtionship, dependence, promise of the life of Christ in us, bringing glory to God, proving our discipleship...

Abide in, dwell in, hang out with, live in, stick close by, stay in HIM

We can never be overreminded of this truth

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Peace in the Whirlwind

The last week has been a blur: Dad's death, traveling to GA, funeral plans, doing the funeral, helping Mom, traveling back to TN...

Yet, God - no surprise here- has shown His goodness and faithfulness over and over again.

Please pray for my Mom who was already fragile from her 4 + weeks in the hospital.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Tribute to My Dad - with the Lord 12/2/04

My Dad went to be with the Lord, Thur., Dec. 2. He had a massive heart attack in his kitchen and went home quickly. My Mom had been home from the hospital for about 3 hours, my brother and sister were there at the time. Please pray for my Mom. She is in a tender state.

Below is a tribute I wrote for my Dad a Father's Day or two back

"Of Boys, Bikes and Dads"
Kerry S. Doyal

Boys riding bikes. To me, that is one powerful memory and image of
summer. Exploring, racing, being showoffs and daredevils. Taking a few
hard earned or luckily found cents to the store for candy. Quick getaways
from foes, real or imagined. Getting me to and away from trouble.

Bikes meant exposure to a bigger world. They transported me from the
circle - Keystone Court - I grew up on, to new worlds, vistas and
experiences. They took me down the street, into town and across the
tracks. Bikes carried me to friend's homes, baseball games, the library,
bank, post office, Red's produce stand and "the woods."

Bikes were my horse, my motorcycle, my racecar, space ship and friend.
It knew my moves and I knew its every squeak, its potentials and limits.
It lifted me skyward off of ramps. It sent me scrapping, sprawling into
gravel, dirt and pavement.

My father worked for the Phone Company, first as an installer, then a
PBX repairer, then a manager, finally a safety instructor. He retired
from "Ma Bell", and she and he paid for my upkeep coming up.

My brothers and I, in our journeys on bikes, would often come across men
in phone trucks, making repairs, fixing a line, climbing a pole, riding a
cherry picker. What started as a "hey, do you know my dad?" became an

Seeing these hard hat wearing, hard working skilled men would cause us
to pull up to their work site on our bikes and ask if they knew Ronald
Doyal. It always struck me odd to call my dad by his name. No doubt we
asked more than one man "do you know my dad?", requiring them to ask
"what's his name?".

A few men came to recognize us. "Aren't you Ron Doyal's boys?" they
would ask as we stopped to watch, getting a glimpse into our dad's world.
It was a question I was always exceedingly proud to hear and even prouder
to answer.

The thing that made us habitually stop and ask our question was the
answer we would often hear from the men we asked. Their response was
frequently far more than we had asked, but no boy or girl could have
asked for more. I can still hear and feel their reply. "Yes. I know your
dad. He's a good man."

With no effort, I can recall how much taller I rode in my bike's saddle
after hearing those replies. These men not only knew my dad - validating
this work site's solemnity due to its connection to my dad - these men
respected my dad. He was a good man. Yes, they did indeed know my dad.

It took just a couple of interactions like that to lead us to almost
look for phone men when we were off on our bikes. If we saw them, you
could be sure we would stop and ask "the question." More often than
they knew our dad and would add "he's a good man."

Sometimes, while biking with friends, I would stop to ask The Men if
they knew my dad so my friends could hear the answer. Though it was not
quite the "my dad can beat up you dad" scenario, I was bragging none
less. I could trust that if those phone men knew my dad, they would speak
well of him.

I had no idea how enviable that was for so many little boys and girls.
For me it was a solid given, something I took for granted - for better
and, I am sure, for worse.

I was and am proud to be my dad's son. Period. No disclaimers. No
qualifiers. I am Ronald Doyal's youngest son, and would have it no other
way. Nor would my brothers or my sister. Just as my wife rightfully feels
about her dad - another very fine man.

If you feel that way about your dad, make sure you tell him. If you
can't find your own words, give him this column. He will get it. Whatever
you do, however you do it, let him know.

A final thought about those bikes. It was my dad's hard work that
provided them for my two older brothers', our baby sister and me. His
sweat gave us the means to discover who he was, to see how others saw
him. That was not the intent of the gift, but it was the precious impact
none the less.

It occurs to me that the same thing will happen in my efforts to raise
my girl and four boys. For better or for worse, I pave the way - better
yet - provide the wheels by which they will encounter me in this world. I
can only hope and pray and try to make sure the kind of report my kids
get about me is nearly as good as the one I was blessed to peddle up to
about my dad.

Thanks for a good name, Dad. I honor you.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the
land the LORD your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is
better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

20 Years - Thanking God For My “Sweet Thang”

I wrote this for my Beloved's b-day. On this our 20th Anniversary, I share it once again. I thank God for my Robin!

“My sweet thang is my good thang, and man did God bless me!” Such is my paraphrase and testimony of agreement to God’s word in Proverbs 18:22.

For those who like a bit tighter rendering, here you go: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (NIV).

Way back in the beginning, when God surveyed His awesome handiwork of creation, He beamed with proper pride and said to Himself “good job!” (see Gen. 1-3). He rated His work as “very good”, setting an example of a holy work ethic.

Interestingly, when God had Adam inventory and catalogue the animals, a hole was revealed. A divinely designed deficiency – not defect - was discovered.

God allowed Adam to make an important self-discovery: perfect though he was (this was pre-Fall), Adam was incomplete none the less. The animals did not provided a suitable companion for Adam.

Adam and God agreed that it was not good (or safe!) for man to be alone. Our gracious Creator took surgical steps to fill in the hole to help make man whole – He formed Eve and brought her to Adam. The first arranged marriage.

Marriage was God’s idea, plan and gift. One man, one woman, becoming one, “until death do they part.” It is not a dead or deadening institution, but a life enhancing means of favor from God.

As Scripture also affirms, it is a sinful and deadly business to attempt to tear apart what God brings together.

Two events have me mulling over these matters. First and foremost is the impending birthday my dear wife is facing down. Enough said. Prayers appreciated. Not for her, but for me as I publicly honor and probably unwittingly embarrass her… again.

The second prompting to ponder God’s gift of a wife is a wedding I am honored to do this weekend for Art & Heather. I mention them as a tribute and so you can pray for them and all newlyweds.

For the record, and as a partial birthday gift, allow me to make this public affirmation: If any man is half as blessed with and through his wife as I am, he too is blessed well beyond what he deserves.

I have come to believe that as when God put Adam in a deep sleep to bring forth Eve from his side, so too God must cause women to swoon deeply to cause them to marry the likes of most of us men.

Most men marry far better than their wives do. I certainly did. Talk about the deal of the century. God must have caused a suspension of good judgement and vision for my wife to say “I do” to me. Thank you Lord for that favor.

I cannot imagine life without my sweet soul mate. As much growing up as I still have to do, it scares me and terrifies others to think of how much more immature I would be were it not for her.

A guy gets past his teen years and thinks he is somewhat mature. God then allows us to marry and then quickly and graciously reminds us how selfish and petty we still are. For those blessed with children, He repeats the process through them.

Though women have ongoing growing up to do as well, they usually stay a step (can you say “giant leap”) ahead of men. Longsuffering is a trait God possesses and often develops in women through men (see James 1:1-12). No need to thank us.

God alone knows the contribution my dear wife has had to my life and ministry. While she has not been an anchor holding me back, she has kept me from drifting into dangerous waters, many shipwrecks and neglecting needed harbor time to retool and rest.

Robin, my gift from God, has willingly gone without, cheerfully made do and displayed flexibility beyond reason to her husband’s – that would be me – lack of forethought or aft-thought (a new word; dedicated to her.)

Beyond laughing at my jokes, she provides my best sounding board and screening device. Many have been spared much due to her godly, timely insight. I have been protected countless times as well.

Bearing and raising five children is not conducive to the enjoyment of chocolate Bon Bons, with one’s feet on the couch, TV remote in hand, phone under the ear, and Calgone waiting to take one away. My beloved is one of the hardest workers I know.

As the old poem goes: “A man may work from dusk to dawn, but a woman’s work is never done.” Laundry and dishes seem to be far more fertile than we are. With four boys romping through the house– five counting me - repairs can pile up almost as fast.

Proving her sainthood and flirting with martyrdom, she has home educated our children as well – five unique students in five grade brackets. No small task, but yet another one that she has handled very well.

The demands of ministry fall to me in the context of my family. Late night calls, emergencies that pull me away, meetings, the pressures of shepherding. Robin has and does willingly bear these with grace and maturity. She makes it possible for me to brag that we are truly a team.

More than once “bringing my work home with me” has meant people moving in with us with little or no notice. We have taken in more people for weeks or months at a time than I can recall. These were more “sacrifices” that I was praised for but she once again did almost all the work.

I could easily go on about her tiresome efforts, incredible meals, patience, forgiveness and endurance, but I fear providing ammo for her and conviction for me if I continue.

Happy birthday, my precious gift from God. I could never begin to repay you for who you are, what you have done, endured and overlooked. True to style, you would not demand or accept repayment anyway, for you have done these things unto the Lord.

You have lived out the verse you had inscribed inside my wedding band: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” 1 John 4:7 (NIV).

Your love shows that you have indeed been born of and know God. And, as Eve was made by God for Adam, so too you were made and brought to me. What a gift you are! Makes you wonder whose birthday it is. I love you too.