Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Man of God

A good friend died last week. It was expected, and yet also a shock. He had been fighting brain cancer for nearly two years, and even though his friends and family were praying for a miraculous recovery, deep down we knew it was a battle that probably could not be won.

Rick was one of those people who would have been the perfect candidate for a miracle. If the Lord had chosen to save him, I have no doubt that he would have spent the rest of his life sharing his story, and giving all glory to God. That is the way he lived his life, with faith, strength and kindness, touching countless others as he supported his loving family, conducted business, and served God.

Instead, he has left us, and joined the ranks of the angels on high. I believe heaven is even a better place now with him there. His landscaping talents are probably already being put to good use, his guitar playing sounds better than ever, and now he will always fill his limit of walleyes.

So I say goodbye to my friend, who will be sorely missed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Warning: I brake for garage sales!

It's that time of year again! I am driving down the street, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I am forced to slow down and swerve to avoid collision with an unexpected congestion of vehicles and mankind that can only be caused by one thing... a garage sale!

Cars and trucks line both sides of the street as I delicately weave between moms and pros, skateboarders, men and women on their way to or from work, the retired folk and curious neighbors. Their faces are truly gleeful as they approach that first sale of the spring. Indeed, those of us living in the north cannot have sales year-round as they do in warmer climates. We have been cooped up in our homes all winter, and seeing garage sale ads and signs is a sure indication that cold weather is over. We can once again get nosy and see what people are getting rid of, and perhaps even find a treasure or two if we're lucky!

I am no stranger to this annual event. Some of you know that I have held many a sale in my garage over the years, and I have seen those gleeful people approach my home with the same anticipation that I often feel. It's a lot of work to prepare and conduct a sale but it's fun too, and mine have usually been quite successful.

I have also been on the buying side at dozens of sales. I found a nice old print, Pilgrims Going to Church, by George Henry Boughton, and a few Currier & Ives prints as well. I have discovered antiques, art books, pottery, old toys, and a multitude of other items to add to our collections. Some things find their way into our daily lives or are put on display to share, some are held for reference in the future. But, whether I like to admit it or not, a lot of it will end up in another sale in our garage in the next year or so. But that's OK! I have been part of the process, and it is the process that is so much fun. The process is what creates that glee. It's the hunt for treasure that I thrive on, and I wouldn't change a thing.

See you in the garage!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Art Collection

There was a wealthy man who, along with his devoted son, shared a passion for fine art. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many other artists adorned the walls of the family estate. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his widowed father to look on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector.

War engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son had died while rescuing another soldier. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the future with anguish and sadness. The masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home.

One morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and was carrying me to safety when he died.

The old man invited the soldier in. As they talked, the young man related how the man's son had often talked about his, and his father's, love of art. "I know this isn't much, I'm not a great artist," said the young man, "but I want to give you this."

As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the son's face in striking detail. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift." Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace.

After the soldier departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the mantle, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of paintings.

As the stories of his son rescuing dozens of wounded soldiers began to surface, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on because of those he had touched, and his grief began to ease. The painting of his son became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.

The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. Since he had no heir, all his paintings were to be sold at auction, and the art world was abuzz with anticipation.

The appointed day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day. Greatness would be achieved as many would claim, "I now have the greatest collection."

The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the painting of the man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. "Who will open the bidding with $100?" he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room someone said, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and go on to the good stuff." More voices echoed in agreement.

"No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer. "The son! Now, who will take the son?"

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. "Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That's all I have. I knew the boy, so I'd like to have it."

"I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer.

After more silence, the auctioneer said, "Going once. Going twice. Sold!" The gavel fell.

Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on with it and start bidding on these treasures!"

The auctioneer laid down his gavel, and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean, it's over? We didn't come here for a picture of some old guy's son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art here!"

The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son, gets it all."

-Author Unknown

Will you take the Son?

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Have a blessed Easter.