We always seem to mark when life starts and when life ends.  A child is born and most often the circumstances warrant great
joy.  There are a few occasions where that joy is filtered through pain and stress.  Death comes and we who are left behind
sometimes stand puzzled, questioning why.  Yet even in death, some lives demand celebration mixed in with our sadness.

In terms of death and a life's summation, what is it that determines the ending note of memorial and remembrance?  It's what
happens between the dates...the dash.  If you look at the etchings on a memorial marker, the dates on either end mark the
beginning and ending, but the dash, though small in size is great in significance and encapsulates the life that was lived.  In
athletics, as players we have careers that span a certain number of years.  The dash tells us what kind of career it was.

It's amazing that for all that can transpire between the dates, it's only a dash from here to there. James spoke of the dash as a
vapor.  "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."   James 4:14

James was comparing the breadth, depth and length, if you will, of eternity with our times here in the earth and said in
comparison, it's like a wisp of smoke, a rise of steam, a puff of air.  His point was that the heart of the matter isn't to be found in
frivolous pursuits but in finding the purpose and will of God for our lives, and let that be the thing for which we "dash" after day
by day.

If we live to be 120 or more, or leave sooner than that, one thing is for sure:  by our regular habits and choices, we choose
and directly impact the content of our dash.  I understand the impact of how other people's bad decisions or evil behavior can
affect us, but in the final estimation of all things, we write the pages, paint the pictures and tell the stories with our decisions
and behaviors...with what we do today.

When you really think about it, today is the only day of reality that we can immediately work with.  Many tomorrows will come.  
But tomorrow comes to demand payment for the bills we make today.  Or tomorrow comes to reward us for the deeds and
decisions of times gone by.  Tomorrow becomes today and arrives as a time of reckoning and settling up on what we desired
and did in the past.  And yesterday reminds us to choose wisely today.

You see, today is my birth date.  Today, years ago, I was born.  I, like billions of others, am on my dash to a conclusion.  I, like
billions of others, am choosing the contents of my dash by what I do today and what I do in the thousands, and multiplied
thousands of days yet ahead of me.  Every day is a canvas upon which I can paint my days' picture, and a cargo container
which I can load for the journey ahead.  Every hour, minute and moment is an opportunity to sow seeds of a future harvest.

What story will the paint brush tell?  When the container doors are opened, what contents will we find?  When the seeds come
to maturity, what fruit will they bear?  Today's dash will set the course of it all.

So yes, today is a day of joy and celebration to mark another segment of the dash.  There will be some laughter and
remembrance of the greatness of God, His unending mercies and unfailing love.  We will revel in His provisions as the Source
of our abundance of life.

But for me, it's also a day of reflection to see what is it that I want to paint, and what are the most valuable things I want to load,
what are the seeds I will sow...today I orchestrate the stories that will be told at the end of the dash?

And for you and for me, when it's all said and done, today steers us to the new beginnings and an eternity of possibilities that
will follow the dash between two dates?

Lance Ivey
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