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Monday, September 05, 2011

In memory of Eliot O Brien

Dear blogging buds,

I know it's been a while since I have written. For the record: I've not dropped off the planet. Just haven't felt very inspired to write. Call it a slump if you will. Sometimes words escape me, other times they flow off the fingers so easily I end up posting two or three blogs a week. It comes and goes.

Then other times, something very important happens in your life that you can't help but write about, because to not do so just wouldn't be right. Two weeks ago, one of those somethings happened. My father-in-law, Eliot O Brien died suddenly of a heart attack.

Anyone that knew Eliot would know that he was such a powerful, exuberant presence that now that he's no longer with us, it makes the hole that much bigger. Eliot was one of those people that every time he walked into a room, you knew he was in the room. At any given moment with Eliot in the room, you may hear him singing his favorite praise song (which took a lot of guts, because he couldn't sing and he knew it) or he may startle you with a sudden "Hallelujah!" or "Praise the Lord!"

Eliot and I loved to debate politics and world affairs. No matter how far apart on the spectrum we were, we always found something to agree on, or ended with a truce. Eliot was a very opinionated man, but he also knew how to disagree agreeably.

Not only was Eliot a good father to my wife Rhiannon and her brother Cody, he was also an excellent employer. Eliot used to own the Daily Times, which is the local paper here in Farmington, New Mexico. (I have to specify the "New Mexico" part for all of my Missouri friends). Since his passing, a good number of Eliot's former employees have spoken publicly and privately about what a great boss he was, and how he was always there to lend a helping hand in their hour of need. How many people out there can say, "My boss cares about me." From a Biblical perspective, how a person treats his or her employees says a lot about their relationship with God.

My son Isaac adored him, always called him "Papa." Eliot loved his grandchildren. I'm so glad that Eliot got to spend time with our two children, Isaac and Christian, before he passed. Maybe that's why God had us move to Farmington, so that we could finally get the family that we always wanted, and so that Eliot could see his grandchildren before passing. Rhiannon and I struggled for years to have children...until we moved to Farmington.

Now that Eliot has passed, another chapter in our lives is closing. Unless a compelling reason leads us to choose otherwise, next year Rhiannon and I are planning to move to Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque. I'll continue to travel, write books, teach and preach the gospel, work for peace, or whatever else I feel the Lord nudging me to do. Rhiannon will be close to her brother Cody and his wife Jasmin and their son Cole. They'll be a great help to her when I'm off somewhere doing who knows what. Our boys will look forward to the two to three times a year where we'll visit St. Louis so that they can see their cousins, their uncles, and their grandparents. We'll be a happy family. Just like Eliot would have wanted.

Do me a favor.

Take the time today or tomorrow to hug a loved one.

Let them know how much you appreciate them.

You don't know how much longer they'll be with you.

While there is still time,