Monday, April 21, 2008

A Really Great Afternoon

This past weekend was tough. Saturday, I attended the memorial service for a long-time friend, Lowell Burch of Tulsa.

Lowell and I met in college over 30 years ago, and were "band buddies". Not the marching band kind, but the rock/bluegrass/Christian kind. Although, Lowell did play the trumpet, coronet and many other instruments very well. In fact, he taught band in schools.

We were both Beatles fans. We played a lot of their music and really liked talking Beatles trivia.

We also both liked cars. He was restoring his 1969 AMX (The same one he drove my wife and I in from our wedding to get to my car) and I'm restoring a 1949 Plymouth. We talked a lot about that, and sent pictures back and forth.

So, where's the "Great afternoon"? It was one month ago, almost to the day.

When I found out Lowell had stage 4 cancer, I knew I had to get there to spend some time with him. It was such a great blessing to spend the better part of the afternoon reminiscing about the past, laughing about past gigs and people we know, and even talking about the future. I'm glad that he was feeling well, looking good and was in high spirits.

The first thing I told his wife Susan last Saturday was how blessed I felt that we all had the time together. (Susan was part of the band, too.) She had such a great testimony when she asked me, "Isn't God good? We had that great time together!"

Lowell left a great legacy in his wife, his sons, his extended family and so many friends. As they said at the service, "Lowell made friends and he kept friends."

Fred Smith, one of my favorite authors on the topic of sucess, wrote that his definition of success if the ratio of gifts received to gifts used. I like that definition. Applied to Lowell, he was a huge success in many areas of life.

The reason I share all of this is because I learned some very important things over the years from Lowell, that I didn't realize until now. And this is just a partial list.

1) He taught me how to think outside of my own limits. Lowell was the ultimate "outside the box" kind of guy. When we needed a certain instrument in the band, Lowell encouraged me to try playing it, even if I mainly just played the guitar and banjo. He was very creative and always doing something different.
2) He taught me how to make friends unconditionally. Lowell knew no strangers.
3) He was a "contagious Christian". He was always sharing his faith with someone.
4) He held on to me a lot more than I held on to him. He would call me more than I would call him, but he was never resentful about being the one who had to call first. He would tell others about what I was doing, where I was travelling, etc.
5) He taught me that I need to stay in contact with my friends.
6) He taught me to be positive, because God is in control. Whatever happens, it will work together for our good and God's glory. This was his last lesson to me because I saw him live it out in his final days here on Earth.

All of this lessons will be a major part of my life. I don't believe you can separate "professional life" and "personal or spiritual life." They are too intertwined. Your professional actions reflect your personal spiritual values.

I hope you have someone in your life like this. If you do, call them this week or go visit, if possible.

If you knew Lowell, feel free to post your story.

He's in the best place, now. The land of an unclouded day. Man, I'm going to miss him!

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