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Category Archives: Aging

“To Die is Gain”

Paul said it this way, “To live is Christ; to die is gain”. He was way up in years and could see the end in the distance. He even told the Lord that it’d be OK with him if he could just go ahead and die, but God saw it fit to leave him awhile longer. But Paul had a great perspective on death, and one that I think we should at least consider adopting, ourselves. 

I see this verse clearer this week than I’ve ever seen it before. I know it’s because of my Dad’s transition from Earth to Heaven a week ago. Totally unexpected and devastating to our whole family in every way but now, a week later, I think I’m getting a little glimpse into what Paul was saying. 

 We’ve had literally hundreds of people call, text, message, drop by, etc. No one really knows what to say….and understandably so. I have found, especially in the last few days, that it doesn’t really matter when they don’t know what to say. Just being there, just caring, however it is expressed and however it comes across, means everything to us right now. I know I speak for the whole Taylor family when I say we’re amazed by the number of genuine friends that we have. And for that, we’re eternally grateful.

Our terminology, when someone dies, might need a little tweaking. “Sorry for your loss”, “Sorry you lost your Dad”; Those are some of the common condolences. Heck, I’ve used them many times myself.  *(Nothing is lost if you know where it is!) But if what Paul said is true…maybe we should change our condolences to, “Happy about your gain”!, or, “So glad to hear about your Dad’s promotion!”, or, “Congratulations on your Dad’s new place!” It would be much more appropriate, especially when we have the correct perspective.

I have my moments, don’t get me wrong. It just comes out of nowhere when I least expect it and the tears are immediate. But so far…I can’t stay sad for long. And my sadness….it’s not for my Dad, even though I miss him a lot. No, I’m sad for me and my crew (My Mom, my brother and our families). But as quickly as I get sad….I can hear my Dad telling me to “Dry it up”! (something he’d say when we’d cry from a spanking). “Don’t be sad….be happy!” He’d already told us more than a few times not to worry or cry for him when he was gone. It seems to me that it’s the ultimate win-win scenario!

“To live is Christ….and to die is gain”!!

You might like this one too:

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

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This Version of the Taylors’ Est. on This Day 49 Years Ago!

It’s a pretty good sized family. Now, about 18 strong….and getting ready to be 19! This version of the Taylor family was officially established 39 years ago. But 49 years ago today is really when it started, unofficially,….at the Stovall Theater right here in Sayre, Oklahoma. That’s when, at age 13, I met up with the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, to sit by her at the picture show. (that’s what we used to call the movie theater!) I have no idea what the movie was that night but I do remember the girl. Her name was Julie Drake. Our parents had been friends for years but we’d only met less than a year before. There must’ve been something magical about that little date at the movie that night because we did it again…and again, and again. And ten years to the day after that first night at the movie theater we were married. And, now, today it’s been 39 years! It’s almost unbelievable how fast those years have gone by.

So, here we are, now in our 60’s,…after having raised 5 incredible kids (and others that we’ll join up with in heaven shortly) who are in various stages of raising their own families and taking on the world themselves. Add to that 8 of the smartest, best looking grandkids (it’ll be 9 by the end of the month!) that you could possibly imagine. And even the staunchest unbeliever on the planet could not argue that this was undeniably a ‘match made in heaven’….in the truest sense of the word!

I’ve done a lot of dumb stuff in my life but I really outdid myself 49 years ago today when I asked Julie Drake to sit by me at that movie. She’s been the perfect wife, the perfect mother…a truly incredible person by anyone’s standards. People would have to wonder how someone like me could’ve ever ended up with someone like her. It’s more than luck….it’s nothing short of the sovereign will of the Father! We’ve been through all the challenges that couples can go through….and somehow made it to hereIt’s obvious that we were made for each other.

Oh, and by the way…she’s still the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!

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VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

Obviously my VIP Blogs are not listed in any order of importance. If they were these two would be right up there toward the top of the list. Cliff and Charlene….that’s my Mom & Dad. I wish you all knew them. They’re two of the most incredible people you could ever meet. They’re now in their 80’s and live only a few blocks from us. I like that. I’ll go there at least a few times a week and have coffee and visit with them. They amaze me in that they’re still telling me stories that I’ve never heard before….and they can do it with nearly total recall.

Now seems like a proper time to write them up as VIPs since just about three days ago they celebrated their 66th Anniversary! Pretty amazing when you think about it. That’s setting the bar up there pretty high for the rest of us Taylors’. Good job, Mom & Dad! There’s no way I could come close to telling all the good qualities they have…and the good qualities they’ve passed along to Mont and I. It’d take a good sized book to get that done. But for the sake of time and space, I’ll try to give you a little insight on ‘who’ they are.

They have been the hardest working pair I’ve ever seen. Dad has always been a cattleman so we learned at a very young age to handle cattle and horses with the best of ’em. Dad had Mont and I doing things that most men couldn’t do when we were just little kids. We learned how to do it right. When I was 12 I started riding colts for other people for pay. I did that successfully, at least at some level, for the next 25+ years. Most of our  lives were spent on a ranch. It was a great life. Besides handling every aspect of the cattle business (receiving, shipping, gathering, doctoring, buying and selling) we learned to build fence, repair windmills and water gaps and about every other thing you need to do to run a ranch the right way.

Mom was the best! I can remember as a little kid, her pulling broomcorn to help make ends meet. She’d come home tired, dirty and worn out but always managed to get us one heck of a supper cooked, without fail. Later on in our rodeo days there were many times we’d roll into the ranch in the middle of the night with a carload of buddies. She’d get up even if it was 2 am and cook us up some chicken fried steak, french fries and gravy. There are retired rodeo guys all over the United States and Canada who spent time at our house and who have the greatest amount of respect for my Mom & Dad. Oh, and incidentally, when we’d come in to the ranch in the middle of the night and have that great meal….Dad was always gracious to let us sleep in ’til 5:30 or 6 in the morning before we started whatever project he had planned for the day…….and there was always a project! Most serious ranchers work their cattle according to the Zodiac signs. Dad always said that when there were a couple of carloads of rodeo friends at the ranch……that the ‘signs’ were right!

They sacrificed, and went without, to haul us to junior rodeos all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. They gave us a ‘leg up’ that way and enabled us to have a successful career in professional rodeo. We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. And in our acceptance speeches we made sure that they got the credit they deserved. In all actuality……they’re the ones who should’ve been inducted.

I could go on and on with those kinds of things but they gave us far more important things than teaching us cattle and ranch work. In my 62 years I haven’t seen them do one person wrong. I have seen them wronged plenty of times but they always handled it with class. They’ve lived their lives with the highest degree of integrity. Their ‘word’ has been their bond in the truest sense of the term. We didn’t go to church but they somehow instilled in us that God was ‘real’.…..and that He was good!

All those things are important but the most important thing of all is that we were loved……in word…..and in deed. We let them down plenty of times with some of the dumb stuff we did….but they hung in there with us, always having our back and always believing in us, and never, ever wavering in their love.

In the final analysis I’d say if, when it’s all over, if I’ve been half as good a person as they have been…..I’ll have done pretty decent.

Cliff & Charlene Taylor, VIP’s to anyone who’s had the good fortune of knowing them!

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VIP #9 – Art Harris

I first met Art Harris in October of 1988, our last year on the ranch north of Allison, Texas. I had been taking care of 2500 head of cattle for Art’s cousin from Munday, Texas. Art came down that day that we gathered the cattle. We were busy weighing cattle all that day and I didn’t get to visit a lot with Art ……but enough to know that I liked him a lot. Art had grown up in Seymour, Texas and was one of the best athletes to ever graduate there. He played football and basketball where he was a standout in both sports. He’s still known, admired and idolized around those parts just simply as, Art Lynn.

When we moved across the line into Oklahoma and we needed to find a bank I looked for Art…..and after I found him he would be our banker for the next 27 years. In that time we became very good friends. I’ve said often that Art was the last of the ‘old time’ bankers. That kind of banker that believed in you as a person and loaned money based on that premise. In fact, he actually loaned millions of dollars on exactly that! We bought a several houses (rental properties) over the years and just called Art after the fact. It was never a problem.

By 1997 Art had become a VP and loan officer and was heading up the branch in Sayre. We started Trinity Fellowship in a home and then moved to a small building on the south end of town. When we grew to about 35 people (on a good day) we started looking for another place. We landed on Walter Merrick’s property two miles east of town on I-40. The Merrick family was gracious to allow us to use the property with no rent from ’92 to ’97…..which was a good thing because we had no money

The property became available for purchase and there were some very interested people who had the means to buy it. But we felt that the Lord wanted us to have the property. After a lot of prayer we decided we should try to buy. I remember vividly sitting in Art’s office and telling him that we wanted to buy the property. Art said “Yes”, and the rest is history.

Why do I tell that story?? I tell it because Art Harris believed in us when there wasn’t much to believe in. In two years we had the property (100 acres on I-40) totally paid off. Art started coming to church with us along about that time and our friendship deepened even more.

A couple of years ago Art was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough diagnosis with the doctors giving him 6 months to live. I was there at his house when he arrived from Oklahoma City after getting the discouraging news. We prayed and he vowed to fight it…which he did. There was a mixture of reports from the docs over the next year, some good …..some not. Three of us went to Dallas in December to watch the Texas state football finals games. Art tired easy and didn’t have a lot of energy but it was a great trip, nonetheless. It was only a few months later that he was promoted to heaven.

When I look back over the years since I’ve known Art it’s very obvious how much he’s helped the Taylor family……and the Trinity family, as well. There’s hundreds of stories out there just like mine….of people that Art believed in. and gave them a ‘leg up’.

He was my Friend! There’s no question about it for me…..Art Harris is definitely a VIP! …….and you wouldn’t have to look far to find a lot of other people who think so too!

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It Still Ain’t Over!

“It Ain’t Over Til’ It’s Over”; Nearly all of us have heard that quote. We know it’s from Yogi! Yogi Berra  (click on the highlighted link for full biography) died yesterday at age 90. To youngsters today he’s mostly known for his ingenious  and witty quotes….like the one above. But for a ’53 model like myself he stands for a whole lot more. As a kid I was an avid New York Yankees fan. I knew all the players names for the Yankees in those days. I’d call those the “Golden Years of Baseball’. That’s just my own opinion of course but I’ve never been as enthused about the sport since those days. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were in a race for the most home runs. Two great athletes on the same ball club. For me, it was unforgettable. It was an era marked by….if you started with a ball club, in most cases you finished with the same club. Not a lot of trading around like there is these days. I liked it better.

Yogi was the catcher in all those great years for the Yanks. Not only was he a great catcher, he was a slugger as well. Five different times in his career he had more home runs than strikeouts (Thanks R Bea). Stop and think about that one for a minute! And get this: Besides being a Professional Baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi was a 3-time American League MVP…..and 10 times World Series Winner (played in 14)! At 5′ 7″ and 185 lbs Yogi hit 358 home runs and drove in 1430 runs in his stellar 18 year career! 

I thought it would be especially fitting on this day to post some of Yogi’s quotes:

“Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical”

“All pitchers are liars, or crybabies”IMG_0668

“He hits from both sides of the plate, he’s amphibious”

“Everybody pair up in threes”

“It gets late early out here”

“I usually take a 2 hour nap from 1 to 4”

“You can’t think and hit at the same time”

“It’s deja vu all over again”

“You can observe a lot by just watching”

“Even Napolean had his Watergate”

“Cut my pizza in 4 pieces, I don’t think I can eat 8”

“Never answer an anonymous letter”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it”

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else”

“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”

“The future ain’t what it used to be”“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”

“I never said most of the things I said”

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours'”

………and…….“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

And in your case, Yogi…..it’ll never be over! A few of us’ll never forget!

Well done!

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There’s Just So Much of This Stuff in Life We’re Gonna Have to Learn the ‘Hard Way’!

It seems like it’s just a universal trait of humanity; this learning stuff the hard way. I was re-reminded of this a few days ago when my littlest grandson, Maverick, got his most recent knot on the head. He’s a year and a half old and the cutest little guy you’ve ever seen. (a little partiality here, but you understand!) He had two wrecks in the span of about 4 days that put two good-sized nicks in the ‘ol noggin’! The first one happened when he tried climbing up on a big heavy chair made from a old style tractor seat. You can imagine how heavy that was. Well, he got up about one step and the chair tipped over backwards with him and the edge of the heavy seat caught him right under the left eye. Miraculously, it missed his eye or it could’ve been really bad. Off to the ER they went to get him tended to. We were out of town when it happened but I “Face-Timed” Cole & Kelly (his dad & mom) later and got to talk to Maverick, himself. It was just an hour or so after they got home from the hospital. His eye was swelled shut but he was already in a good mood. 

The other wreck happened as he was playing with the front yard gate at his house. It’s just a little 4′ gate made out of inch and a half square tubing. He was just having fun pushing it all the way around one way….then all the way around the other way. He built up a little confidence and got a pretty good run at it pushing it around. Well, you know, every swinging gate has a ‘stopping place’…..and Maverick found it…with his little forehead! I saw it coming from 30′ away but no way to get there before it happened. Immediate tears and a fifty cent piece size knot on his forehead reminded me again of how our lives go sometimes. Five minutes later he was running and playing again!

As much as we try and help our kids and grandkids avoid those kinds of things…it just seems like a fact of life that quite a few of our lessons are going to be learned that way. We could only wish those kinds of hard lessons ended with our childhood….but not to be true. It even seems that as adults we’re determined to defy logic, intuition and common sense, sometimes, to learn those lessons.

The good news is that “experience is a great teacher”!! Nothing like a hard lesson to help us not to do it again! And, you know, the Lord will let us just run past the wisdom, foresight and instruction of the Holy Spirit if we’re determined to. I’m trying to do better. I’ve had all the “lessons learned the hard way” that I really want. I think I’ll spend more time trying to listen to the Lord….and pay attention to what He’s saying to me!

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**Disclaimer: Being a ‘Taylor’ might make one have to learn more than their fair share of ‘hard lessons’!!

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$$$ – Being a “Thousandaire” Might Just Be Better Than Being a “Millionaire”!

It goes against logic, I know. But after 60 + years of observation….I think it’s true. Now, for starters, I haven’t yet had the experience of being a millionaire….but I’ve been a ‘thousandaire’ for years. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve dropped below the qualification limit a few times down through the years…..especially during my illustrious rodeo career. But for the most part I’ve be a steady thousandaire.

I’ve noticed the last few years as I’ve gotten older that I don’t need as much ‘stuff’ as I use to think I needed. All those things that we ‘needed’ and thought would make us happier……didn’t! I think it’s part of actually growing up and maturing and learning in part, what’s really important in life.

I’ve observed throughout my lifetime those who had lots of money. Even had friends growing up whose parents were very well off. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. In fact it’s to be commended in most cases. It’s America; we can do just about whatever we want to do. And for those who really find their niche and do well financially, it’s a very good thing. I did notice that some of the rich kids didn’t try near as hard at sports than some of the less fortunate.They had enough athletic ability, alright,…..but the ‘try factor’ was lacking. It really showed up during my rodeo career. It’s a broad statement,….and not always true, but the rich kids weren’t nearly as gritty as those who had nothing to fall back on. 

The human spirit is an amazing thing. We’re created to conquer and to succeed. Everybody loves the story of those who overcame extreme odds to succeed in life. It’s a very good thing to ‘have’ to get up and go to work and put in a good day…every day. It’s good to learn to manage our finances and resources and to live within our means. We can do a lot more than we think we can….but if it’s always been done for us….we’ll never know.If we never have to really ‘try’, we might just not ever do it.

I recently told a friend that, “This time next year I’ll have 9 grandkids”. He jokingly said, “You’ll never be able to afford Christmas”...to which I replied, “I’ve never been able to afford Christmas yet!”(We raised 5 of our own!) But, you know what?? We’ve had great Christmases for, going on now, 39 years! We have somehow survived….just being ‘thousandaires’!

Paul said it in the Bible. “I’ve been hungry and I’ve been full; I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I’ve learned to be content in whatever state I’m in”. He’d found the ‘secret’ to true happiness and contentment. His ‘joy’ was in the Lord!

I’m only a thousandaire but if family and friends and relationship with the Father were measured in money……I’d be millionaire many times over!! I’m really, really rich in the things that matter most to me!

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