3rd Day “Deer Hunting”

I was able to go out deer hunting for a little while this afternoon and thought I would report on how it was. The reading was great. :) Today I started N.T. Wright’s “Evil & the Justice of God” and, at least, the first third of it is very good. The deer hunting? Well, I at least saw a deer in the field I was hunting today. Unfortunately it was 150ish yards away and either I spooked it when I was trying to look at it through my scope or something else did, because it ever so gingerly jumped back into the woods. It didn’t bolt away, so I waited hoping it would come back. Unfortunately it didn’t come back out for the remaining 10 minutes of shooting time.

Like I have written previously, I’m a terrible deer hunter, but I am an excellent deer hunting reader. Still the reading was really good. :)

1st Two Days of Deer Hunting

Short post here because I haven’t had a shot at a deer yet this season. I went yesterday morning for 5 hours, yesterday afternoon for an hour and a half, and then two hours this afternoon. The first question that is usually asked is “have you had any luck?” Well luck is the tough part of that question. As I wrote earlier I haven’t had a shot at a deer yet, but I did get close enough to hit four deer with a rock if I had wanted too. Yesterday afternoon when I was driving back to the Glaze abode (where I am mostly hunting this year). When I hit their driveway there were 3 does and a nice 6-8 point buck standing there right in between me and the house, which meant I couldn’t shoot even if I had been ready. ARGH! They eventually ran around the house and Eric saw them but he didn’t have a shot either. Not sure if that is really lucky or not. I assume seeing deer really close and not being able to shoot isn’t lucky, at least for me, maybe it is for the deer. Personally I don’t really care about the deer being lucky.

Anyhow on the good side I did finish my first deer hunting read today. I like to read while I am deer hunting. It is part of the fun. According to Eric this makes me a terrible deer hunter. I, on the other hand, like to think that it makes me an excellent deer hunting reader. Anyhow the first book was Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” It was excellent.

My Deer Hunting Ammo & the “Danger” of Refugees

The cost of the ammo I will be using for deer hunting doubled this year. Why? Well because of bald eagles.

I love bald eagles. I find them fascinating. It is one of the many things I love about living in Wisconsin. I see bald eagles everywhere. In fact my favorite fishing spot and duck hunting spot is real close to a bald eagle nest and therefore I regularly see eagles and eaglets flying around while I fish and hunt. This is why Pam’s Christmas gift to me last year was a trip to the Raptor Education Group, Inc‘s (REGI for short) eagle release this past year.

An eaglet being released by a REGI volunteer. Fly eaglet, fly.

REGI is a great group that rehabilitates eagles, other raptors, and various other birds with the hope of releasing them back to the wild. Many of the eagles that REGI rehabilitates are suffering from lead poisoning. How are the eagles poisoned by the lead? Well it isn’t because eagles often mistake lead for food. Nope it is because they scavenge the gut piles left from field dressing deer that have been shot with lead bullets. One of the things I like about eagles is that aren’t all that noble. Nope they are opportunist. Free deer guts are a tasty meal for them, so they clean up what we deer hunters leave behind. Unfortunately because most hunters use lead ammo this often gives eagles lead poisoning. The second I learned this I realized that if I loved eagles then I was going to have to start hunting with more expensive non-lead ammo. If I love eagles then I need to do everything I can to change my behavior not to hurt them, even when it costs more than I would like to pay. So this year my ammo for deer hunting cost me double what it normally would.

This is how we come to dealing with refugees. If we believe Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) then we don’t have an option of not helping the refugees just because we might think (wrongly in my opinion, but that is a discussion for another time) it could be dangerous. The cost to us doesn’t matter. Danger isn’t a valid excuse for a Christian to not obey Christ and Jesus tells us to help those who are hungry, thirsty, and in need of places to stay (Matthew 25:31-46 calls us “sheep” if we do and “goats” if we don’t). Now I don’t think the Syrian refugees poise any danger BUT even if they do if you are believer in Jesus Christ then you are called to help them. We can debate about how best to help them but we can’t say “We have to worry about our safety so we can’t help them.” If you believe in Jesus as Savior then that belief should change your behavior. If it doesn’t then we need to consider whether we really believe in Jesus or not. Truly loving Jesus leads us to value the “things” He does and the “things” He values are people, very often people in need.

I'm not sure why he is trying to put the guy on the donkey like this.
I’m not sure why he is trying to put the guy on the donkey like this.

One of the best known stories of the New Testament fits here. The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is a story that is known and loved concerning helping others. What is often forgotten is that the Samaritan put himself at risk by his actions. He has a member of a class that was biased against within 1st Century Judaism. He actions not only cost him the money he paid to the inn keeper but they also put him into the situation where he could have suffered violence as a result of his assistance.  It was the equivalent of a black man stopping and helping a white woman in a racially divided area during the Jim Crow era. It might be the right thing to do but that right thing might put you in harm’s way. Jesus told this story as an example and no part of that example includes the message “if it is dangerous don’t do this”.

Why? Because if you love someone, that loves changes your actions and you.

Scott’s Post on Immigration


There are friends you make that stay with you for life. Scott Hicks is such a friend. We became friends in college, he was one of my roommates my Senior year, and he was kind of an usher at Pam and my wedding (I say kind of because he became violently sick at the wedding). He is also an immigration lawyer and a pastor. As a lawyer he has a great analytical mind. As a pastor he has a heart of compassion. It is a great combination for an immigration lawyer and especially for speaking reason into some of the madness going on concerning whether or not Syrian refugees should be allowed in the US.

Yesterday he wrote a brilliant Facebook post concerning the vetting process for refugees. Several of us friends have been chatting on Facebook the past two days (while FB has its negatives chats such as the one we have had are one of best things about FB) as his post has been swapped around (213,489 shares at the moment) and he has started to get some opportunities to speak truth and compassion as a result. Today a few weird things started happening with his post on Facebook. While we all generally think it is Facebook just coping with the mad rush for his post – Facebook doesn’t usually expect a guy 394 FB friends to have something shared this often – we also suspect someone may have been upset by what he said and flagged it as inappropriate. As a result we discussed that his post should be saved somewhere else. I asked about sharing it on my blog. Thankfully Scott said “yes”.

Here are my friend’s profound words.

Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.

I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.

The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.

First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.

Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.

We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.

First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.

Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.

Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.

At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.

Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.

Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.

Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.

The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

I Love My Mom

I have a few thoughts running around my head concerning things I want to write posts (Paris, refugees – basically if you are going to say you a Christian, then you should act like one in such situations) but right now I simply want to share a wonderful tradition my mom does.

A few years ago she decided that spending money on nicer, more expensive birthday cards, was stupid (I assume my dad’s cheapness gene eventually wore her down). Thus she began buying cheap cards. Cheap cards look, well, cheap. Yet my mom thought it was best not to pay more for birthday cards (something my whole family agrees with her concerning). Of course, once she saved the money the more expensive card would have cost she decided that who ever the birthday person was should have it and a tradition was born. When my mom sends a birthday card to a family member it has that person’s birthday present in it, or attached to it, and additionally a crisp $5 bill to pass the savings on to the birthday person. It makes me smile every time I open up a birthday card. Actually, it makes my whole family smile when they open up cards from my mom. Pam was standing beside me when I opened my card yesterday and smilingly said “and there it is” when I open the card and a $5 bill fell out.

We are a family of traditions and I am so thankful for this tradition. Thanks mom.

31 Days/2 – Duck Calls & Decoys

You might not know this but duck decoys don’t respond to ducks calls. I know this from experience because this afternoon I spent an hour and fifteen minutes calling a duck that was about two hundred yards away from me. The spot I like to hunt is close to a small dam and as you get close to the dam the current gets a little faster. Apparently the mallard liked the current because it moved around and dove in the same spot that entire time I was there. Yet no matter how much, or well, I called I couldn’t get a response from him. That’s because decoys don’t respond to duck calls. They don’t have the ability to hear the calls no matter how loud you call. I didn’t discover the mentioned duck was someone’s lost decoy until I was packing up and decide at the very least I would scare the stupid duck away from the spot it seemed to love so much. Seems decoys don’t scare either, so it didn’t move. Good news is that I know where I will be picking up a free decoy tomorrow.

31 Days/2 – Scared of Love

Before I do anything else let me say that I will never be able to adequately express how thankful I am for the family and friends who helped my family to grieve over the past two weeks. On top of all the other acts of service my family arrived home Wednesday night to discover that either a “thread” or a neighbor had graciously raked our yard (I think “thread” since Sunday during the message at Tapestry I mentioned the frustration of raking the yard one day and it being covered again the next day, but our neighbors are just as awesome so I’m not sure). You are all wonderful and I am honored to know you and be loved by you.

Now on to the post.


I adore Coffee with Jesus. I think it is one of the best things on the internet. The artist remains consistent rather than simply picking the conservative or progressive side on a subject. I believe this typically leads to Coffee with Jesus ticking off both sides. The comic strips consistently challenge me.

Anyhow this blog post isn’t about Coffee with Jesus. Instead it is concerning the word “love” and I thought the above comic strip was a good way to start the post.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the comment thread below on a friend’s Facebook page.


The second comment really gets me because … well … to be honest whenever I see a professed Christian saying that they automatically become suspicious when they see someone quoting “love your neighbor as yourself,” I … errr … well … I become suspicious of that professed Christian.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” should be the knee jerk reaction of a follower of Christ to any situation. It should be our first, second, third, and fourth reaction. It should even be behind our behavior when our response isn’t necessarily positive but instead calls for followers of Christ to fight for someone or against something. After all, God’s discipline comes out of love (Revelation 3:19).

Why should it be our knee jerk reaction? Well, because Jesus said it is that important. Remember the context of when Jesus made the statement. He was answering the question of an expert in the law concerning what was the greatest commandment (Luke 22:34-40). Jesus’s answer to what was the greatest commandment was: 1a, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (and strength in the Gospel According to Mark), and 1b love your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus even went so far as to say that 1b was “like” 1a. That’s a strong word. The Greek word used in the verse that we translate as “like” is ὁμοία and can also be translated as “resembles”. When we love our neighbor as ourselves it resembles loving God.

I understand the guy’s fear. I believe it to be an honest comment and I respect that, though it still makes me sad. He says “‘Love’ doesn’t seem to mean what it used to.” I understand his fear, though I also believe that some of the change to our understanding of loving your neighbor is a good thing. That’s a subject for another blog post. You see the Spirit that God fills His people with isn’t a “spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV) but of power, love, and self-discipline. The Spirit pushes us to respond in love not fear. If someone starts defining the concept of “loving your neighbor as yourself” in a manner that isn’t biblical, then we have to reclaim the phrase, rather than becoming suspicious of the phrase and turning our backs on it. The bible shows the word “love” to be closely connected with the word “sacrifice” (John 15:13). Fear leads to us holing up and trying to protect ourselves. Fear leads to us turning our backs on our neighbors. Love does the opposite. Love leads to us sacrificing ourselves like Christ. After all, such behavior resembles loving God and needs to be reclaimed rather than mistrusted.

I hope those of us who claim to be followers of Christ will respond to everything around us by sacrificing as Jesus does, rather than just trying to protect ourselves. So many of you did this for me and my family this past week. You sacrificed your time, energy, and emotional strength for us and thereby loved us. Thank you.

Dad’s Obituary

Since the local newspaper only keeps obituaries online for a year I thought I would post dad’s obituary here on my blog. Also for those who want to attend dad’s memorial it will be Monday, October 19th at 6 p.m. at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 9700 Celeste Rd, Saraland, AL with visitation an hour before the memorial.

Here is the obituary that Mom, Ken, Pam, and I wrote for dad:

Jun 5, 1944 – Oct 14, 2015 Floyd (“Buddy”) Bernard Terrell, 71, died peacefully at home in Saraland, AL on October 14, 2015 surrounded by his family. Floyd was born on June 5, 1944 in Monroe, Louisiana, the second child and only son of C.F. Terrell and Ruth Windsor Terrell Ezzell. His sister, Lynn Terrell Case Longshore preceded him in death earlier this year. Floyd grew up in Montgomery, AL and was a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School. After a stint in the Navy he married the love of his life, Evelyn Sansom Terrell. He worked in sales in various fields until 20 years ago he found his professional home at Bay Paper in Mobile, AL and retired(ish) in 2006. Floyd enjoyed being an active member of the Mobile Mustang Club, fishing, and previously served on the Kushla Water Board.

Those who knew and loved Floyd, know that he had much wisdom to share including life lessons such as these: You can say you hate cats and still feed & adopt half the strays in the area. When your wife reads a lot, you get to control the TV remote. Breakfast with friends is a great way to start every day, therefore, two breakfasts with friends is even better. Helping your son put a moonroof in his Ford Pinto is a terrifying but wonderful thing. When your child is in trouble help them first, but don’t forget to chew them out later. You can solve most of the problems you face in life with a pen, band-aid, pocket knife, and a quarter. Why buy something that you can make Always ask for a better deal. Making friends of all the people around you is the right thing to do, which just so happens to lead to lots of great deals. Be more valuable to your company than your paycheck. It is better to be the person helping to get something done, than it is the person complaining about it not being done.

Floyd is survived by Evelyn, his wife of 50 years, his sons Robert Adam Terrell (Pam) of Wisconsin and Kenneth Bernard Terrell of Colorado, 7 grandchildren, and friends from all walks of life. A memorial service will take place at Forest Lawn Funeral Home (9700 Celeste Rd, Saraland) at 6 pm on Monday, October 19. The family will receive visitors before the memorial. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society .

I Need a Mental Break SO Here are My Thoughts on Visiting Someone Who is Mourning

My dad died yesterday at 9:26 a.m. in his living room with my mom, my brother, and me all touching him and his cat laying under his bed.

In the past 36 hours we have interacted with a lot of different people, pretty much all of them wonderful, and I know that we will have much more interaction between now and his memorial Monday evening. Grief is draining and stressful and I need to direct my mind somewhere else for a bit as a diversion. We are all pretty much emotionally ravaged here. As a minister I am used to visiting with people at their best and their worst moments so I thought right now as a way of zoning out for a little while I thought I would post my personal recommendations concerning visiting with someone who has just lost a loved one. Realistically this is just a way of me concentrating on something else for a few minutes. I need that right now.

Before I begin let me stress that visiting someone who is mourning is a wonderful thing. It is a good and honorable thing. I think whenever someone visits someone in mourning they have typically already done something good and caring. My thoughts are just practical ways I think we can be even more caring in our visits.

So here are my thoughts on what I try to do when I visit someone who is mourning:

  • Remember who the vist is for – I know that might sound odd, after all you want to visit to tell your friends/family how much you love them, hurt for them, and share in their grief, but sometimes we can get can get so concerned with showing our love that we don’t stop to consider if it is actually being perceived as love or not. I like to ask myself “Why am I doing this?” This helps me to consider if my actions are about my need to show love or about the person I am visiting with receiving love. Am I talking because it helps them to drown out the pain for a little while? Or am I talking just because there is a lot of silence and I feel uncomfortable? Visiting or making contact with someone in grief should be about them and not us. So I try to act in such a way that it is really about them.
  • Call or text first – Don’t just drop by. You might think you are good enough friends to just show up. That might be true, though it also might just be simply what you think, either way it is so much more polite to call or text first. Calling or texting first gives people a chance to be ready emotional and physically for the visit. It also gives people a chance to say “No” to your visit, which might be the best thing if they have just gone through 3 straight hours of visits. Mourning is stressful. That is part of its nature. Having people around can and does help. Yet for some of us (I am talking about my somewhat introverted self here) having people around for extended periods can sap our energy. I appreciate more than I can express the people who have come around, but still I need breaks. I know other people do to. Call or text. It is the caring thing to do.
  • Figure out what the appropriate length of stay is – Basically two things concerning how long to stay. First, don’t walk into the house already making excuses to leave. “I’m sorry this will have to be a quick visit. I have another commitment but I wanted to drop by first.” Thanks but that might make me feel unimportant. Sorry to have been a burden on you. Second, don’t stay too long. The days following a loved one’s death are usually utter chaos. There is a lot to do when someone dies and all that activity falls on the very ones who are mourning. Don’t make it more difficult on the family by visiting forever, no matter how caring you think it is. Instead, actually make sure the length of your visit is caring. Sometimes the most caring thing is to say is “I know you have to be worn out, can I bring by (whatever) for supper, and then really visit with you tomorrow, or next week, at such and such time?” If I visit someone as a minister I like to have set times in my mind of how long to visit. If I suspect that there will be lots of visits I stay 10-15 minutes. If I suspect there won’t be as many visits I stay for 20-30 minutes. I then start to dismiss myself and only stay longer if it becomes obvious that they really want me to and need me to stay longer. The length of my stay has to be about their needs, not mine.
  • Bring food but consider the portions and variety – Food is wonderful. It is awesome. It is a true help not to have to think about getting something to eat. It is even better when there are small portions of different varieties of food in containers that you have no interested in ever getting back. People bring big things because they want to make sure there is enough food for all the family that is at the house. It is easier to develop one large dish for everyone than it is  to develop lots of small containers of food. The problem is that often grief reduces the appetite and suddenly the mourner is stuck with WAY too much food in really big containers. You don’t want to offend your friend by not eating completely, because after all you are truly thankful for what they brought. Yet, it can be a burden. Why not consider making lots of really small portions of a variety of different foods. Small portions can always be doubled up if someone is really hungry. Small portions can be frozen and eaten a week later when everyone has disappeared and the grieving really begins. Also, I know ham is the national grieving dish but really turkey is also good or maybe cold cuts. I promise these are just as good for grief as ham. Possibly consider bringing something specific that you know the mourner really likes, and probably won’t get because everyone knows you are supposed to bring ham. If someone brought a case of Diet Cokes to my mom’s house during their visit that would say a ton about them knowing us. Nobody ever thinks “Wow they have to be hurting, I am going to bring them some Diet Cokes”, but I promise for the Terrell house that would be the food item that was remember two months into our grieving. Or pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. That would be awesome food for grieving. Why are you bringing food? If it is really about the person grieving then make sure you bring food in the manner that is most helpful to them.
  • Be okay with silence – I know silence can be uncomfortable, but when you visit someone that is grieving that is your problem not theirs. The visitor has to be the one who gets used to the silence, the mourner shouldn’t be responsible for putting up with random chatter just so a visitor feels more comfortable. In visiting a mourner hospitality reverses itself. We go to a mourner’s house to help make them comfortable, rather than them making us feel at home (something else on this later). You might need to talk to cover up the silence, but the family might just need someone to sit with them in the midst of their pain, rather than interrupting their pain by just making noise. I really like the concept of sitting shiva  from Judaism and try to use much of it it in my visits. One of the customs of shitting shiva is that when someone enter’s the house of a mourner you enter with the mindset of remaining silent until the mourner initiates conversation. If the mourner wants to talk then you talk with them, if they don’t start talking then you sit in silence and are just present. If I begin to feel uncomfortable with the silence for some reason and I realize I am talking too much in response, I will often start forcing myself to slowly, silently count to a specified number before I say anything else. It slows down the conversation and leaves room for the mourner to say whatever he/she wants, or to say nothing at all. If I noticed they aren’t saying anything I go back to silence myself and just sit there with them. I always try to determine whether I talk or I remain silent based on what I perceive the needs of the mourner to be rather than my own needs. After all, the visit is about them, not me.
  • Come with a story – The next two things are going to sound like I am saying the exact opposite of being silent. I mean both of these next two points to happen if a mourner initiates conversation. If you can, come with a story about the person who is being mourned. One of the things I love hearing right now is what my dad meant to other people and stories of things that happen when they were with him that I might not know about. Several people have come with stories of dad and I have loved and appreciated each one. Fun, sad, meaningful. I don’t care which. Just talk about my dad instead of some story you heard on the news. Usually I would love to hear about the bad service you had at the electronics store, but not when I am in mourning. Telling stories about the one they love is a wonderful way of helping the mourners, or in this case my mom, brother, and me, in their grief.
  • Come with a question – Give the mourner a chance to tell their own stories about the one they lost. When I visit I like to come with a question in mind  about the one they lost. I don’t mean by this a broad range question like “What did you like the most about your dad?” That is too much pressure and requires to much effort. Instead I usually try to come with a question about a story that I know a little bit about already. “Hey, I remember how cheap Floyd was, wasn’t there some story about the length he went to for a ‘watering can.'” In this case, this is a quick story of my dad going shopping with Pam and me. I love telling it because it reminds me of who my dad was. In this case he was the guy that drug Pam and me to three different stores to find a “water can” for his plants that was cheaper than $3. We spent $5 in gas before he decided to stick with the milk jug he had been using. This story gives me a chance to talk about my dad. Actually it does more than just giving me a chance to talk about him, it encourages me to talk about my dad. That’s good. I like to come to a house with a question that will enable to the mourners to talk as much or as little  as they want about the one they love.
  • It is okay to be served – I know this might sound odd but sometimes the best, most caring thing you can do is to let someone else serve you. I know I earlier said mourning reverses hospitality, but sometimes the most hospitable thing you can do for someone is to allow them to serve you in the midst of their own time of need. When I go into someone’s house who is mourning I will sometimes let them fix me something to eat if I perceive that that is what they actually need most right then. Why, well because it can be overwhelming to have everyone else doing something for you and you not be allowed to do anything for anyone else because they are trying to protect you. I know it feels nice and serving to tell someone who is grieving “No you just sit down and I will take care of everything, what can I bring you,” but sometimes the greatest act of service is to say “Why yes a scrambled egg sounds wonderful right now,” and then eat that scrambled egg with great enjoyment and gratitude for the mourner who just served you. Every now and then the act of service is to be served.

I am sure there are other things I could post about this but these thoughts have been enough of a distraction for the moment and I need to get back to working on a video of my dad for Monday. Thank you to all of my dad’s, mom’s, brother’s, wife’s, kids’, and my own family and friends who are helping us grieve. Y’all mean the world to us and have been more help than I can express to you. Your notes, messages, texts, calls, and other things have been wonderful and needed. What you have done by helping us mourn is a good thing in and of itself. Thank you.