I Am Become Disney World!

     There are many interesting changes which come with mid-life and the empty nest.

     Some of the changes have been rather jarring. For instance: the inability to get back to 200 hundred pounds without amputation of limbs, or this new thing about not being able to drink coffee after 9 without getting heartburn (truly terrifying).

    Certain changes, on the other hand, have been very gratifying: The idea that I am no longer “the rookie”. The respect that comes with that perception is truly wonderful. Then there’s this whole thing about becoming Disney World….

     When the kids were growing up Tina and I tried to give the kids a wide variety of exposures to the world. We took them all over and showed them as much of our country as we could. The kids have been to Maine and Maryland. They have travelled as far away as Texas and Florida. We have pictures of them bathing in the Gulf waters in Galveston and walking the humid pathways of Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania.

     All those years vacation to our family meant going to a destination. Now suddenly two years into the empty nest I have become the destination! I am Disney World! Go me! Granted, I am not exactly Space Mountain or the Tower of Terror. I am more like It’s A Small World but the kids don’t seem to mind. Then there’s the added bonus that vacations no longer cost an arm and a leg. Hey! Maybe that’s why I can no longer lose the weight…hmm.

What changes has life brought you recently?

Making the Markers Matter

       I like Saturday morning sunlight better than week day sunlight.     You see, I used to spend Friday nights at my Grandparent’s camp.  I remember every Saturday I would wake up and savor for just a few moments the yellow light that poured through the chintz curtains onto the bedspreads around me.  

      Saturday mornings were always the same. Eggs and toast with orange juice followed by grocery shopping and a historic tour of Athol MA.

     On those morning drives I wrote my first poetry and I memorized the locations of Sentinel Elm, and the homesteads of the Tandys, and the Lillies. I saw almost weekly the three houses my great- great-grandfather built for his daughters and sister. I can still point out the cellar hole of the house my great-grandmother burned down while drying her sons’ clothing over the wood stove.

      On certain special Saturdays my grandparents would take a little longer to complete my education. On those Saturdays Grampa would skip his candlepin bowling and we would make the drive to Erving Where the “first Joseph” was buried.

      I can still hear Gramp’s  gravelly voice litanizing our family history. “You are Joseph Elon Lillie V but we call you the III because your mother didn’t want you to be likened to whiskey…The first Joseph was a wood cutter…father Caleb Elon… his father Caleb senior…all the way back to the revolution…Joseph’s mother-in-law was Susannah Clark they called her “Little Grandmother”…Shay’s rebellion.”

    At least that’s the way I heard it as I phased in and out of consciousness without my grandparents even knowing.

     I didn’t realize it at the time but Gram and Gramps were training me for a job that would become mine in the fullness of time. When they passed, watching over the family grave markers fell to my Aunt Joan and Uncle Walt. Now that they have moved to Seattle to live with their kids I may be the only Lillie who remembers where everyone is!

          This year I took my sister with me to check on the graves. We didn’t stay long. Talking to the dead isn’t our thing (at least not since we came to Jesus) but that really wasn’t the point. I wasn’t there to grieve. I went to make sure the markers still stood, could still be read, to show that the lives they represented still mattered.

     Maybe it’s because I am now on the edge of that phase called middle age, maybe it’s because all my kids are grown and out of the house but I find myself wanting to make things count more than ever. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say “Well that was certainly a waste!”

     My desire to leave a legacy that matters got me thinking about what those who went before left to me:

     As I stood before my father’s marker I could still hear him chiding me “Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. Give me an answer you can live with.”

     What can I live with? I feel like I am just learning the answer to that now twenty years after his death.


     As I visited the cemeteries this year I realized that these people effected who I am, some of them without ever knowing me. One of them spoke a name that would echo down the generations to their grandson’s grandson. A “little grandmother” lost somewhere in the folds of history has birthed a family that stands for freedom and personal responsibility. Gosh, a couple of these folks have even influenced the way I look at sunlight. They mattered…at least if my life does!

     What will the markers I leave behind matter to those who come after? I want to be more than a potted geranium some grandson I never know buys at his generation’s version of Wal-Mart.

     I’ve been thinking about what I want on my tombstone should Jesus tarry (the way things look that ain’t likely but just say I get hit by a bus or something). I think I want people to say of me “He was someone who really knew how to love. Not the gushy, fake, T.V. romance, messed up love but the real Jesus type of love.”

    I want them to write this in the dash between my years.

      I want people to say “He did it. so can I!”

      As I stood at the graves of my ancestors I realized it’s not the size of the rock that matters but the making of the marker that can only be done by the living of a life.

    I am writing my gravestone as I live each day not so that people will come and leave me pretty plants but so that lives that come behind mine will be changed.

What legacy are you choosing to leave?

Fuddy, Duddy, and Muddy Go To The Concert

     What do I do for fun?

     So glad you asked!

     First I get to serve Jesus as a pastor!

I can honestly say there is no better job if you are called to it. I get to pray, preach, and equip the saints of God to be all they can be in Christ! What could be better than that?

     If you have been reading my posts you already know I love to garden. I just moved into my mother’s house. So I have started a massive gardening project to get her house ready for the famine (read all about that in my post, “The Untimely End of the End of the World bunnies”).

     Of course I spend a good deal of time reading and writing.

    Other than these things I love to sharpen my razor wit by sparring with my mother and sister over the latest crossword puzzle, T.V. whodunnit or who’s going home on the evening reality show.

    Now you know why this post is called “Fuddy, Duddy, and Muddy Go To the Concert”.

   Recently the three of us had an opportunity to go see my youngest daughter perform in a chorale at her Bible college. My oldest daughter who stays with me at Muddy’s (my mom’s) several times a week quickly opted to drive down early with a friend. She said it was because her sister had invited her to dinner. I think it was because she didn’t want to ride with Fuddy (me) Duddy (my sister) or Muddy (her you have already met).

     No matter we had a grand time all by ourselves once we acclimated ourselves to the fact we would miss the reruns of NCIS.

    We left early and drove through the snarling traffic on 495. We had Muddy ride in the back. Someday I will think driving an hour to get to a place is too long too. I hope someone is kind enough to put me in the back seat so I can nap on the way. Come to think of it that would be nice now. Kids if your reading this next time we go somewhere far away…DRIVE ME AND LET ME NAP!

     Duddy and I practiced not using our sarcasm bones (read up on sarcasm bones in my postings) on the other drivers.

    We got to Haverhill (which if you’re in Massachusetts is properly pronounced “Hayvrull”) and stopped to eat at. the Longhorn

     We took so long over dinner we were almost late to the concert.  But we made it! And the sounds of those young Bible College students praising God in harmony was thrilling to our hearts.

     Honestly to me this was much more fun than, say, base-jumping!    

     Now I have never been accused of being the most exciting person in the world. In fact most people probably think me boring. I think I am OK with that. As I approach mid-life I have learned three things:

1.Life is not about the recognition, acquisition, or achievement of position. It’s about enjoying the journey day by day.

2. Joy is found by letting God create your moments rather than trying to make life the object of your own creation.

3. If you’re enjoying who, where, and what you are the flash of the world with its offers of recognition, acquisition, and achievement of position lose their allure.

     This Fuddy-Duddy living with his Muddy may sound a tad boring but I am learning the value of godliness with contentment and to me that is one of the most exciting things in the universe.

The Speed Hump

Have you noticed time seems to be speeding up? There is never less to do today than there was yesterday. As soon as one pile is out of the hopper another one has already replaced it. And I don’t know about you,  but that whole getting ahead thing…well  I’ve never actually gotten there.

In the midst of this speed ‘till you drop dead world God has graciously laid down speed humps. Yes I do mean speed humps not speed bumps.

For most of us a speed bump doesn’t do much. We slow down just enough  not to rip out the bottom of the car. Then as soon as we have crossed it,  we are back up to sixty and blazing our trail back towards oblivion.

A speed hump ,well,  that’s another matter. Four inches high and three feet across these things will pop the wheels off your car if you don’t ride over them at less than two miles an hour. Once you decelerate that much it is hard to get yourself quickly  back to sixty again. Speed humps help you slow down and smell the roses for more than just a minute.

I am crossing a speed hump this weekend. After my last post I jumped in the car and drove from Gardner to Haverhill MA. From there my daughter Melanie and I travelled eight hours down to Valley Forge PA where we are spending the long weekend with my children, Joe and Amanda.

This morning we got up at 10:30. I am sleeping in Joe’s dorm and Melanie is sleeping in Amanda’s.

We met at the picnic grounds and  I made brunch on my little Coleman stove (I borrowed it from the Royal  Rangers this is a low-budget trip).

Then I washed the dishes in Joe’s bathroom sink. We didn’t  have any face cloths or dish soap. A clean t-shirt and Old Spice body wash fit the bill so we would have dishes for supper. Now don’t you tell anyone. I said this was a low-budget trip.

We spent some time in the library studying.









Then we went to Valley Forge National park. This is us hiking the trails.


Joe had to go to work this evening so the girls and I went to Main Street Exton for some shopping. Tina and I really should have let them go trick-or-treating when they were young. Ahh well, live and learn.

Life gets scary fast sometimes. It’s at those times that God always provides a way to slow down. My wife and kids are granting me a blessed speed hump this weekend. It will be wonderful to get back to the posts about the prophets in a few days, but for now dear reader why don’t you slow down and enjoy life on the speed hump with me?


How do you slow down?


The Good-bye Girls

    Well year two has begun. Tina dropped Amanda off last week in PA and  Melanie off three days ago in Haverhill. My college children are all officially sophomores!

     I have discovered that empty-nesting is not an event; It is a lifestyle! I thought that when the kids went off to school that would be it. We would go through a period of sadness, loneliness…whatever and then be done. I was not prepared for the up and down road through the mountain passes that Tina and I have walked in this last year. I certainly was not prepared for year two to be worse that year one, but there it is.

     As summer approached my son Joe announced that he would not be coming home at all because he had full time work in PA. That was O.K. It’s not that I don’t miss him, I do! This may sound chauvinistic but somehow his staying in PA seemed right. He’s a son. Making his way in the world is what he is supposed to do. But the girls are a different penny in the wallet. I guess a father’s instinct is to shelter and keep his daughters out of the world as long as he can.  It’s a trend we have to fight in today’s world, but that is more easily said than done.

    I was so glad when both girls announced they would be coming home. Even though Melanie travelled for a month of the summer with her drama team from school, she was home.

    We went to movies. They helped out at the church. We road to church together. We went for walks. We watched ScyFy (“Haven” and “Eureka” all the way baby). Both girls were a huge help with our live-in friends.

    Now they are back in school and this time I am reminded that potentially I have only a few summers  left before the final move out. So packing the van seemed a little more final to me this year than last. I feel a little like New Orleans waiting for Katrina to hit.

     For it all I am reminded that we are responsible to “carry our own weather”. So I plod on and think through to the positive side of things that lie ahead. Tina and I have an increased opportunity to travel and visit the kids. We are moving into a place where we have more freedom and control over our schedules (Admittedly we haven’t really experienced this yet but it is on the horizon). We have walked through the terrible twos, the golden years, the teen years, and now we are entering into our golden years.

     The good-bye girls are harbingers of change. It feels bad just now. But I know these initial feelings are deceptive. I miss the kids but this is an opportunity for all of us to grow. Part of me can’t wait to see where this takes us.

Tell me what you do to conquer sadness.

The Plane Plight

     Hello Dear Readers. Today it is my wife’s turn to share one of her stories about how our family changes sometimes rise up to effect a day in the life…. Enjoy the read JE

     Returning Amanda to college went without a hitch…..until I got to the airport.  I got dropped off early because Amanda and Joe had to get back to campus for check-in and unloading.  I had checked in to my flight the night before to save time and hassle at the airport. I was pretty confident that the day would go smoothly. I had my ducks in a row.  

    I passed through my gate.  I had lots of time to kill so I grabbed an iced coffee, found a chair and pulled out the book that I had brought along. 

       After a while I noticed it was getting close to time for my flight. I thought it strange that when I looked at the board, it didn’t have my flight info. So I went to check the flight departure/arrival board and there it was…a 2 hour delay.  Uggh.  I was tired.

      They also had changed my gate so I picked up my book, got another coffee and changed my perch.  Met some new people whose flight had also been delayed. You meet some interesting people at the airport. I love to meet new people and talk to perfect strangers. So I was right in my element.

      I sat at my new gate assignment and discovered that there were 3 flights to 3 different destinations scheduled to depart from that gate at the same time.

     Now I thought to myself..”Hmm, wonder how they’re  gonna pull this off?” 

     It was shortly after this thought that one of the flights got cancelled.  Within 15 minutes all 3 flights were cancelled and we were led away to  our prospective lines to get re-booked.  I stood in line behind about 50 people who were scheduled to be on my flight and they were all put on stand-by status for the next 2 flights that were already booked to capacity…oh boy…not a chance. 

      The kiosk steward  booked me on a flight for the following morning at 7:30 A.M..  I wish I could say I looked forward with anticipation to spending my night in the airport. 

     People lined the terminals and walkways. For a while I joined them sitting on the floor to ‘take a load off’.  I texted to inform my family and friends of my dilemma, but soon my phone ran out of power-my lifeline to the outside world!! So began my search for “power”. 

     The airport had an entire mall inside; So it wasn’t hard to find a  store which carried the item I couldn’t seem to live without for a day.  $34.95 later I walked out with a smile on my face. My link to the outside world  was to be maintained.  

      I found a floor space to sit and “plug in” and charge up. I got to talk to some interesting people and find out things about them that they would not have divulged had we not had the common dilemma of being bumped at the airport. 

    All charged up and ready to go. It was time for a trip to the ladies room.  As I stood up, I discovered that the skort  I was wearing had a side zipper that had given way. Sitting down it was invisible. When I stood,  though it was quite another matter. From  waist to thigh I was showing  skin and red underwear to perfect strangers.  I discreetly dashed to the ladies room to try to fix the zipper…to no avail.  I asked a few women that came in if they had a safety-pin and nobody was able to come to my rescue accept a petite Indian woman who had a fashion pin she said I could keep.  It was a good temporary fix but I still had to maintain my hold so my pants didn’t fall down coming out of the bathroom. 

     Heading to the airport convenience store, I asked the clerk who spoke broken English if he had any safety “pins”.  He smiled and nodded in affirmation then led me to a display of ink “pens”.  My heart sank when I realized the misinterpretation. 

     I just smiled and politely said..”hhmm…those aren’t quite what I was looking for”. 

     Off I went to continue my search for these pins that would save me from further  humiliation.  Finally I secured a needle and thread and headed to the bathroom to perform a miracle. 

     It was  9pm and I was exhausted and emotionally spent.  I was also freezing!  In summer  I dress for summer.  But somebody thought it was a good idea to keep the airport at a temperature that was  good for polar bears, not for people.  I approached the information desk to inquire if they had any of those cheap throw blankets and teeny pillows they provide you with on your flight.  I was told that they would not be available until 11pm, but that I could take the shuttle over to the other terminal to check if they were available there. I thought it strange that there was an appointed a time for the distribution of warmth and wondered if they were really waiting for Convoy of Hope to come in and do their jobs for them.  

     I took the shuttle over to terminal c…in vain. They said they didn’t distribute until 11pm either.   

     I hopped back in the shuttle and headed back to terminal f. I disembarked.  As I casually made my way to the escalator,  I did not realize that behind me was a throng of people who were running late to catch their international flight. They proceeded to form a stampede in an effort to get to their plane on time. 

      After being pushed and knocked about , I wondered if they ever would have realized that in an effort to get to their destination, they had almost taken the  life of an innocent woman in search of a blanket. 

     Well,11 o’clock was to be the magic hour so at 10:30 I went in search of a hot cup of coffee in hopes of warming up my insides.  The woman across from me had purchased 2 pairs of wool socks from the airport convenience store..one pair for her hands…and a pair for her feet.  I fell into sin at that moment as I realized  I was coveting her priceless purchase.  It only lasted a moment though as I went in search of… Ahh…a coffee shop.

     Au Bon Pain..sounds pretty high-class if you ask me. I  Was pretty certain they would have a good cup of coffee for me.  The clerk was mopping the floor and told me to help myself.  I did with great enthusiasm.  I paid for my coffee and left a handsome $1 tip. Then I took my first sip with great anticipation. My hot coffee was only lukewarm!  

      I did an about-face, smiled sweetly and told the clerk that for some reason my coffee was cold and could I get another.  He looked at me and kindly and stated he had shut all the coffee pots off an hour previous in preparation to close the store for the night.  My heart sank.

      I thought “I will surely freeze to death.”

     As I walked dejectedly to my seat I passed by the information desk. I spotted a huge plastic garbage bag that I thought hopefully must hold ‘my’ pillow and blanket so I stopped. 

      The gentleman behind the desk was very pleased to inform me that “Yes…this indeed was the bag of treasure I was looking for.”

     He opened the bag and pulled out a pillow which measured about  6X9 inches. I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the promise of a soft cuddly blanket to go with it.  He reached way to the bottom of the bag and when he withdrew his hand I could hardly believe my eyes and my face must have expressed exactly what I was thinking. 

       I could not believe I had been handed a piece of cellophane wrap the color of aluminum foil and was told to ‘have a good night..stay warm”.   

      The package read “emergency rescue blanket”.  I suppose you could stretch it and say that being stuck over night in an airport classifies as an emergency of sorts.  I took my blanket and pillow and humbly walked back to my seat. 

     I was not willing to concede to the fact that I may be the only one dressed like the tin man in the entire place so I kept it neatly folded in its package and let my teeth continue their chatter.  At 12:17, the man at the information desk came strolling through with a smile on his face and the plastic bag over his shoulder as if he was Santa Claus. 

      I wondered if the smile on his face was because he knew what was in that bag and it brought joy to him to see the looks of disbelief that crossed people’s faces as he handed them what I considered to be a practical joke. 

     Finally, we all silently conceded that if we all opened our ‘gifts’ at once, it wouldn’t be so bad. We knew we would all look the same and so it didn’t seem to matter so much any more. The prospect of being warm was greater than the embarrassment. 

     The crumpling sound of tin foil cellophane was practically deafening. 

     We all found a place to lay our heads and wrap up like baked potatoes ready to be cooked.       If you laid perfectly still, you might be lucky to get a moment of sleep.  If the guy next to you moved ,though, it was over.  If you were wearing pants and sleeves, you were all set.  If not, the cellophane acted like shrink-wrap as your body gave off heat and the blanket ‘adhered’ itself to you.  The night was long and I was glad to see the morning light so my efforts to sleep could come to a halt. 

     I was ever so happy to hear the announcement that flight 4091 to Manchester would be’on time’.  I had a nice front row seat in the plane and the gentleman next to me and the stewardess embarked on a conversation recounting the days events.  They listened intently to my story and we laughed hysterically at the various happenings of the day. 

     In the end, the gentleman looked at me and said “I travel all the time and I have never had a day as you have had.  It is good to see you are still smiling and you are able to laugh about it and we could laugh with you.” 

So, if the only accomplishment to this day being stuck in the airport was that it brought laughter and smiles to these perfect strangers, I would say it was all worth it.

Reinvention Rehearsed

     The sages of the written word advise that it is always best to “write what you know”. While the current issue of Writer’s Digest may debate that I thought this early on in my life as a blogger I shouldn’t do anything to jiggle the jello bowl before the mold had set; So I’ve written much about life in the church and the challenges believers face today.

    I’m not looking to change the subject matter of “Reinventing the We’ll” anytime soon. But in the midst of the posts on theology and family I don’t want to lose the context or the reason all this began.

    “Reinventing…” was born out of a quaking, as one of our children walked out of our lives “for good” and the other three decided to go off to college together leaving us  empty nesters in…let’s see…two days.

    The blog is about change: how it’s needed, why we face it, how to face it, and those whom we face it with. I don’t just want to discuss the nature of change though or how to go about it. I want us to see a detailed picture of what change looks like in the life of an individual. How does it shape the thoughts, the feelings and the habits.

    You know, it’s all well and good to talk about the need for change in America, or the church, or the school system, or even “those people”, but change is not something we can hold at arm’s length. We all face change and how we face it determines whether change is good or bad.

     So as we deal with the Bible thoughts and the funny family anecdotes, even as you read the youth corner page, never forget the context. Behind the words, behind the thoughts I am always asking these questions, “How does what I am saying help you to change? How does what I’ve just said reinvent you?”

Be Blessed, JE