52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #2 – Jay Hurdle

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks Of Gratefulness #2 – Jay Hurdle

In week 2 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks to God for Jay Hurdle.

A young man with a prior felony has been working diligently to put his past behind him.

He’s holding down a job. His supervisor praised him as one of the best on staff. He’s taking care of his ailing mother. He’s showing up for his kids. He’s going straight from work to home.

He’s keeping his nose clean.

Then one day he decides to give someone he knows from around the way a ride, and they’re stopped by the police.

He has a felony, his rider has a felony, but what the young man doesn’t know is, the rider has a gun.

The rider throws the gun in the car and flees.

The rider escapes. The young man doesn’t.

Now he’s facing 10 years for a poor decision made in a split second about something as trivial as a passenger.

You’d think his efforts to improve his situation would be taken into consideration, but that’s not how the machine works, especially for certain categories of prior offenses and for certain people. All the system sees is your prior. It was without compassion.

But, Jay Hurdle was compassionate.

The young man was without direction, the public defender seemed indifferent, overwhelmed by his case load, and the young man couldn’t really afford to pay for his own defense.

Of all the lawyers we reached out to, Jay Hurdle was the only one to return the call.

Not only that, he arranged to meet with the young man, freely sharing hours of precious billable time to a complete stranger from whom he had no hope of recouping it.

The young man was terrified and Jay Hurdle gave of his time and expertise to help him gain some sense of direction.

I don’t know Jay Hurdle well, but I know the effect he’s had on our community very well.

Of the community service organizations and non-profits I’ve worked with, I was constantly brushing up against his work, very often him having donated it.

It seems that whenever I hear about something good happening in our community, I hear his and his wife, Cate Van Halsema’s name.

They are remarkably human and have given themselves to the betterment of our community, including in that people who others would omit.

I share this experience with Jay Hurdle because probably no one else in the world knows he did it.

And, if he did this, how much more?

I didn’t know Jay Hurdle well, but I know this is who he is: a neighbor the kind that Jesus spoke of.

I was grieved to hear of his passing.

There’s a Celebration of Jay Hurdle’s Life happening at the upstairs of Restaurant Tyler at 5:30 PM today.

If you’ve felt the effect of his life, I encourage you to carry it and pass it along, especially to Cate Van Halsema and his loved ones during this incredibly difficult season.

He is a man #duehonor.

He made our community better.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

Expect Trouble

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com -  Expect Trouble

I believe the unhealthy and unrealistic expectation to always be happy contributes to a lot of misery.

As Solomon wisely wrote, “There is a season for everything under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3)

Well-being is not the absence of storms.

Well-being is being able to weather them.

Well-being is:
full consciousness of my feelings without relinquishing control,
anger, without sin, (Ephesians 4:26)
grief, with hope, (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
hard-pressed, yet not crushed,
perplexed, but not in despair,
persecuted, but not forsaken,
struck down, but not destroyed,
surrounded by death, but I still share life, (2 Corinthians 4:7-12)
tribulations, but I still have joy. (James 1:2)

You don’t develop such a temperament without being tempered, without difficulty. (James 1:2-4)

Storms will come. They’re a part of life, in fact, we need them to be well. Don’t hide from them. Harness them.

Don’t bring it on yourself (1 Peter 4:12-19), but expect trouble. (John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12) Prepare for it. Sit and glean wisdom at Jesus’ feet, fast, study, pray.

Learn to grow in strength so, like Jesus, you can weather anything and help others through the storm. (John 16:33, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

And, when you find yourself in a storm, count it all joy because you have sure shelter in Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:24-25)

Not only will you and those sheltered with you not die, the storm will make you stronger. This is more than conquering.

Count it all joy.

Our Dream

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Our Dream

Arguably, there is no institution more vital to the growth of God’s Kingdom than marriage and the family.

My wife and I have a burden for marriage and family.

One of our dreams and lifelong goals is to build a multi-tenant space like a farm with multiple cabins or cottages where we can host couples and families for rest, redemption and renewal, or to shelter people in need and help them get on their feet.

This we will do if the Lord permits. Please pray for us.

#perfectourlove #marriageranch

Due Honor: Jada

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - Due Honor: Jada

“And, Jada?!” this older white lady yells across the counter at the deli, “I’m done with that. I’ve given all that up; pastries, cakes, donuts, those sorts of things. I’m just doing fruit and water now.”

“Why’s that?” Jada replies as she approaches the counter, packaging the meat she’s just sliced for her.

“I’ve got to get these pounds off,” the lady quips as she playfully wriggles her hips.

Jada smiles, hands her the meat, leaning slightly across the counter. “I like your nails,” Jada remarks, “Did you just get them done?”

The older lady extends her hand in an exaggerated motion and says, “Yeah I wanted to be sassy but not too hussy.”

The lady’s name is Shirley. She is 86 years old, in Walmart, shopping, bursting with life.

A lot of that is due to people like Jada.

I know from experience that a lot of older people come to places like the gym and stores like Walmart because they’re lonely and to get social interaction.

I often say that “love is in the extra.”

Jada could have just done her job, but she went the extra mile, she made extra effort to connect with another human being which I know has an emotional cost. And, from what I can tell through her interaction with me is that she’d been doing it all the time. That takes a special person. It’s people like Jada that make our community and lives so much more enjoyable.

Jada could have just done her job, but I know her seemingly small kindnesses did more than any of us could imagine.

If you happen to be at Neighborhood Walmart on Market St. in Starkville, go to the deli, let her know she’s appreciated and tell her manager how awesome she is.

I did.

#duehonor

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #13 – Carrie Franks

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #13 – Carrie Franks

In week 13 of 52 weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for Carrie Johnson Franks.

“Paul, I think my computer has a virus,” Carrie says.

Then she whispers, “There’s pictures popping up of naked Asian men.”

“That’s very specific,” I joke. “Is there something we need to talk about?”

“Well…” she teases, “You caught me. Asian men are kinda my thing. And, peanut butter.”

We shared a good hearty laugh.

Carrie made work delightful.

Though I worked as an independent contractor, she made me feel like I was fellow colleague in the company, another member of the team.

And, she was thoughtful.

During the recent storm that wreaked havoc across the state, she thought to go into the office that weekend to check on things, and she sent me a heads up about items that may need my attention so that, to use her words, “I wouldn’t feel bombarded that Monday morning”.

That’s just the kind of person she was.

At every business I support, there’s the local techie, the first person other employees turn to for help and the person I can trust to help perform tasks on servers or network equipment to quickly bring something back online. I refer to them as my local I.T. pros.

Carrie was my local I.T. pro.

Each time she’d help me with something, I’d promise to send her some Asian men and peanut butter.

Carrie was my local I.T. pro.

But, because of her kindness, Carrie was more than helping hands at the office.

She was a friend.

I’m grateful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #12 – Enjoying A Meal

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #10 – Beauty In Mississippi

In week 12 of 52 weeks of gratefulness I give thanks for a meal.

It was nothing earth shattering or particularly special.

It was just a meal –fast food, at that.

But a little more than a decade ago, I suffered a devastating financial disaster.

Since then, I’ve been moving and navigating life like a bear is chasing me -running, evading on my worst days and rushing anxiously on my best.

Life was a scramble. I was always moving quickly to get to the next thing.

I remember one of the lowest days of my life was when I was picking up my dearly beloved son from elementary school. He was moving at a casual, carefree pace and I yelled, yes yelled unlovingly and angrily, “Would you come on here?!”

I’m so sorry.

I hadn’t really been living, not enjoying anything, rather just trying to survive.

I didn’t even enjoy food. I ate without really tasting it. All I wanted to do was get energy and end the hunger.

But on this particular day, I felt free to put the demands of the world aside and enjoyed my meal in contemplative silence.

No phone. No laptop. No work. No ministry.

Just me, a plastic fork and food on a paper plate.

I took time to register the textures, the flavors, the smell.

I ate it slowly, enjoying every morsel and thanking God for every bite.

I say it wasn’t earth shattering but, maybe it was.

Whatever it was, I enjoyed it.

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

52 Weeks of Gratefulness #10 – Beauty In Mississippi

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #10 – Beauty In Mississippi

In Week 10 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness I give thanks for beauty in Mississippi.

One bright Saturday morning, I drive out to Noxubee Refuge to do some reading and studying.

I park on the bank of a quiet little inlet, the water dotted by young bald cypress trees.

A number of people come and go, fishing from the bank.

Then this man walks to the bank with a bucket and two fishing poles. He sits down on the ground and casts. Shortly thereafter a whole gang of young children, four or five of them, come bustling across the road with their fishing poles and start plopping their lures in the water.

The man seemed utterly unbothered. He interacts with them, talks with them, instructing them to be careful.

Then the mother walks past, trailing the children. She sees me in the truck, stops, locks eyes with me and yells, “You want some kids?” She smiles. We laugh and she takes a seat near her husband.

After some time, a young black boy with dreads and camouflage pants walks up to where the family is camped out on the bank. He starts talking to one of the other children, then one-by-one he and each of the kids hug each other, and finally the boy hugs the father and mother.

The boy stands on the bank chatting for a while and then goes back across the road to where his family is fishing.

At some point both families, as different as they seemed, come together on the bank and earnestly behave as though they were one big family.

This is not the picture people tend to paint of Mississippi, but here it was –clear as day and beautiful.

What stays with me, is the expression of the children’s faces. That wasn’t tolerance. That was joy.

The beauty I saw on a bank of the Noxubee Refuge is the beauty I want to call out everywhere and for everyone in our great state.

Yes, we have grave challenges in Mississippi, but there is hope.

These people, just being people, sharing a pastime and the natural beauty of our planet, reminded me of that.

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

Originally posted by Paul Luckett to Facebook here.

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I Have A Plan. Attack.

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - I Have A Plan Attack

One of my favorite lines of any movie.

Scene: Avengers (2012)
Members of the newly budding Avengers initiative take Loki prisoner after he steals the Tesseract.
Thor forces his way into the Avengers’ aircraft holding Loki to confront him and then flies away with Loki, their biggest lead to retrieve the Tesseract.

Captain America: “We need a plan of attack.”
Iron Man: “I have a plan. Attack.”

I am naturally more Captain America in my disposition. But, I’m increasingly learning to be more like Iron Man in my approach.

#Attack #Thriveday

Originally posted by Paul Luckett to Facebook here.

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52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – A Wife

Paul Luckett | Brainflurry.com - 52 Weeks of Gratefulness #5 – A Wife

In week 5 of 52 Weeks of Gratefulness, I give thanks for a wife.

“This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased,” is what God says of Jesus. That leaves me in awe. To receive such an affirmation from the God of the universe, I can’t imagine it. There is nothing I’d like more than to know God is pleased with me.

He has.

Because of His pleasure in and love for His Son Jesus, who was obedient to death, God gives Him a people.

He gives me a wife.

I find that the more like His Son that He makes me, the more obedient I become, the more of her I get.

Words fail me to express all that my wife is to me.

My very being aches for her. I so adore her.

She catches me staring at times because I can scarcely believe it.

I examine her, every inch of her, the way one might examine an unbelievable treasure.

She is an indescribable gift that leaves me in awe.

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

I’m thankful.

#52WoG

The Fundamental Flaw Of America

The fundamental problem in America is the system is setup to protect property owners rather than people.

It inevitably results in outcomes such as in the tragic case of Tyre Nichols. (May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon him and his family, and may we be its agents and a comfort to those he left behind.)

Policing is different for different profiles. For the affluent, it’s protect and serve. For the poor, it’s search and destroy, as seen in the application of Broken Window policing theory that is designed to proactively protect the affluent and prevent the encroachment of crime from poorer areas where it is prevalent due largely to their marginalization (think gentrification) and neglect.

Whether you resist or don’t resist, the truth remains that property owners don’t get treated the way Tyre Nichols and countless others who fit his profile have been treated.

The brutality is not against blacks per se but against the poor who historical discrimination and unreconciled, unjust government policies (see FHA and racially restrictive covenants) has all but ensured blacks will be categorized as.

There has been a perpetual, pernicious and well documented history of discrimination against blacks that result in the deep disparities in property ownership and property values that we see today.

The system in America is shaped by and deeply rooted in that racist (might I also add sexist) history which results in what is indisputable and rightfully called systemic racism.

The police are not the problem.

Police are regular heroes in our communities when the system allows them to be. I see their hearts, I see their service, I see their sacrifice everyday. I would not want a community without healthy, effective and equitable policing.

The police are not the problem.

The problem is the unjust and unequitable system they are made to submit to and operate within.

The problem is the proxy war against the poor.

I would argue, that’s why no matter how different the police are (black police officers in this case), the outcomes are often the same.

Police are arguably a victim of this system as well –the underpaid poor weaponized against the poor. Part of the solution is empowering them to stand against harmful policies without retribution, to educate them to lead and manage people, to give them a voice in how to police their own communities and to pay them what is commensurate with having such a vital job and important skill set.

What repeatedly happens to people who fit the profile of Tyre Nichols is simply the fruit of the poison tree –the inevitable outcome of unrequited injustice and a system with a bad setup that lends to bad incentives.

The fundamental problem in America is the system is setup to protect property owners rather than people.

Another vital part of the solution is for blacks, who I understand are not a monolith yet we need to think collectively on key issues such as wages and property ownership.

To be clear, there is a vast difference between being a property owner and being a black who happens to own property. When are we going to learn that individual success is not sufficient?

For blacks to become property owners in the eyes of the system, we must do so en masse. Enough of us have to do it to change the profile, so it matches that which the system is designed to protect.

I am not one to jump on the bandwagon of what’s trendy to be outraged about today. But, since people are somewhat paying attention, I thought I’d attempt to leverage the opportunity to try to inject something into the conversation that might move us in a more helpful direction:

America needs to right its wrongs such as instituting an unsecured, without qualification, near zero interest FHA loan program for black Americans just as the whites were allowed during FDRs New Deal but that blacks were unjustly excluded from.

But regardless of what others do or don’t, Blacks need to concentrate on Capacity (property ownership, voting power), Consolidation (capacity at scale), and above all Community (togetherness on key issues) so rather than make a lot of noise only to end right back here again, we can speak softly and carry a big stick.

My two cents.

#tyre #TyreNichols #police #race #black #systemicracismexists