Friday, February 10, 2012


February 10, 2012
When you don't see posts from me, it usually means that I am sleeping well.  For the middle of the night seems to be the only time that I find the time and often times feel the most inspired to put my thoughts down.
Tonight is one of those nights.  I have lost a close friend.  His name is Ned Landers.  Although he was only in my life a few short years, he inspired me for a lifetime.  I wrote about him a couple of years back and that can sum up how I felt about him pretty much.
After my youth, I visited Ned and his wife, Marcene a few times.  I showed up on his doorstep with my young family on the day that he told his small church in Toppenish, Washington that he was leaving.  It was a stressful time for him, I know, but he did not show the stress.  We talked till late in the night he shared sometimes deep things, it was never with what you would call a complaint.  Life was merely what it was.  He did speak of shedding tears at times, though, both tears of happiness and tears of sadness.  I asked him why he was leaving and he looked at me and said, "I feel it is what God wants me to do.".
Years later, I heard that he had landed back up in Washington at a town called Longview.  I took a young pregnant Carrie on a road trip that ended up on his doorstep.  We spent a few hours that afternoon with them and I know that they made Carrie feel very welcome and loved and I recall that she commented afterwards on how comfortable she felt with them.
A few years later, Trinity, Frank, and I stopped by on our way back from a trip to Seattle.  Marcene would not let us leave until she had prepared a meal for us all.  We sat out in their back yard at a picnic table, ate bologna sandwiches, and enjoyed each others company.  I know that in that short time, Ned and Marcene imprinted their love on Trin.  She stated last night that his kindness has stayed with her all these years.
A couple of years past and Jay and I were returning from a game in Seattle.  We stopped and stayed at their house for the night.  The next morning, Jay played while Ned and I discussed the Jake's story and how I had come to be a business owner.  I recall him softly encouraging me to keep the focus on God and to always be aware of the influence to others around me both employee and customer.
More years went by and a couple of years back, Judy and I were able to stop by their house in Yachats.  He was retired but attempting to help a small church get on it's feet.  I was able to thank him for his influence in my life.  He smiled, I could tell that it affected him deeply, he thanked me for my kind words, and then he changed the subject away from himself to something else.
I recall him talking about a neighbor who was struggling with addiction and anger.  I wonder where that man is now and if Ned has affected him as he has others.  There are so many that I remember just from those younger days.  One in particular.  The biggest meanest man around.  His name was Dick Ray.
We were all afraid of Dick.  Ned shared with me years later how Dick had showed up on his doorstep.  He said, "Preacher, I need your help.".  Before he left, Ned had led him to a relationship with God.  Dick was a changed man.  I recall one Sunday morning, Wendell Hill and I sitting in the back row of the church.  Neither of us were listening and Dick could tell.  He pushed in between us, put his arms around us both and said, "Boys, you need to listen to the preacher.".  And, as you might imagine, we were all ears.
This man was only in my life a few short years.....and then fleeting moments afterwards.  And yet, I can see him clearly.  I see the sparkle of laughter in his eye.  I hear his soft never harsh voice.  I can feel his large hands and his kind embrace.
It brings to me the words of a song.  How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me.  I can almost see Ned smile and return, "To God be the glory."
Post Script:  Ned's service is this Monday.  I can now easily answer part of that last.  I can say thanks by dropping all and being there.