One of the prayers I often make in church worship services and also  in private is a petition of the Lord to protect and bless those, “who serve the public good.”  That phrase means so many people–including military, public servants, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, air traffic controllers and so many more.  It also means firefighters.

It is so tragic what has happened with those 19 firefighters, the brave “Hotshots” who were killed this week while trying to save a city in the Yarnell Hill Fire.  This morning I read  one of the widow’s recount of the last text messages she had with her husband.

Juliann said she sent her husband a photo of their four children, all under 6, swimming. Juliann told “Today” that Andrew replied that he missed and loved them. He also asked his wife to tell their oldest son that he was proud of him for speaking at their church and that he was sorry he had missed it.

I love that this man, who is a hero, had his family on his mind as his last thoughts.  I love that he was communicating to his wife about his love and pride he has for his children.  I love that he referenced something recent he was proud of his son for doing.  I love that apparently church and faith were a part of their life.  The things that really matter always rise to the top when eternity is in perspective.

The article made me wonder what my last words or texts would be to my family if I knew my life were coming to an end.  Here is what I think I might say to my wife:

honey i love u.  being ur husband is the best–thx 4 giving me a gr8t life.

To my daughters I think I would send them both one text together:

i am proud of you both.  learn, serve, and love–and always put Jesus 1st.  enjoy life, it is a gift.

Then I would likely send another series of texts to all three of them:

i am the luckiest man in the world

don’t give my books away

safeguard the chckn n dressing recipe.

the car needs gas.

And then probably as death comes, my last thought would be, probably, the four of us playing Monopoly or spades or watching a movie or something.



One of the things I love so much about my church is the Big Small.  The Big Small is “a small group for big boys.”  Like so many churches we organize our spiritual formations and fellowship primarily around small groups of people.  When I decided to start a small group for men I wanted to emphasize that we were all big boys!  Hence, the Big Small!

Tonight we had our “Big Fun” which is what we call our fun events.  In the past we’ve done everything from barbeque, eat out at a local restaurant, or watch sports.  One of the things we like to do is watch movies.  Last year we watched High Noon—now that is a great movie.  Tonight we watched The Bucket ListThe Bucket List is not a great movie like High Noon, but it is a great movie that makes you think—especially for men.

Now, I can’t tell you how the evening went, because in the Big Small, everything is strictly confidential.  In fact, that is in our creed—“Confidentiality is necessary for honest dialogue among men.”  But I can tell you that even though I’d seen the movie a couple of years ago, it still made me think about life and death, my family, my friends, and what the five or six people who might show up at my funeral might say when I am dead.

I’ve never made anything like a bucket list because life comes at me too fast and I think I would tend to change my list based on what I’m interested in at the time.  For example, five years ago I might have had a bucket list item as “get a book published.”  But, alas, I’ve accomplished that.  What I’ve noticed is the things I’d like to do are less professional or career oriented now and more experiential oriented.  I still resist making a list, but here are three things that, right now, I think would be very nice indeed.

  •             I would like to ride in a commercial airliner—737 or how about a 787—in the cockpit with the flight crew.  I’ve logged many miles in coach, and a few in first class, but never in a commercial airliner’s cockpit.  I just think it would be fascinating to see forward, check out the instrumentation, and listen to all the aviator lingo of the pilots.
  •             My second cool thing I’m thinking about right now is that it would be grand to have a conversation, maybe dinner or lunch, with a former president of the United States.  The political persuasion of the man is irrelevant in my wants.  I just would like to talk about the pressure, the ups, the downs and see how a man who has carried that unique weight acts and thinks.
  •             Okay, one more.  I want to live long enough to see my great grandchildren.  I know that is more of an achievement than an experience but nevertheless it is something I want.  I want to see both daughters live long, full and productive lives.  I want to grow old with my wife and spoil my family.  I want to lay my hands on my heritage and bless them.