Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Truly Great Friends

"Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."
I read this quote recently and it fit perfectly. I recently lost a "truly great friend". Ron Siepel will be impossible to forget. Of course knowing that Ron will be waiting for me some day in heaven takes some of the sting out of the "difficult to leave" part.
Ron served the Lord with me for the eight years that I have lived in Quincy. In a world where church isn't cool, he made church a cool place to come. Our church is full of life and activity for men and Ron was a huge part of the success of that. He was our parking lot greeter. He was a deacon. He served in our KidZone children's ministyr, KidZone soccer, Wednesday evening prayer service, Columbus Road Outdoor Pro-staff, and Fusion Youth ministry. He did work projects, concrete crews, wild game dinners, men's d-groups, harvest parties, men's archery league, cookie giveaways. (Maybe Ron was trying to take my job!!)
Ron loved archery and his love for archery spilled over. He came up with the great idea of establishing an archery league at our church for our community. Free of charge, hundreds of men and women have shot competitively at Columbus Road. Many people got their start in archery at the league. Just the thought of Darin East's first night at archery makes me laugh. We had arrows stuck all over that gym.
Ron also loved cookouts. Each year he would invite the entire church to his home for two or three cookouts. He like to show hospitality and we loved the food and fellowship. The night usually ended with a not-so-competitive game of volleyball or time around a fire Ron had built. He wanted everyone to feel welcome - young and old - and he made everyone feel welcome. He would give the children four-wheeler rides while the adults were feeding their faces. And he made some amazing jalapeno poppers.
But Ron was more than a list of the things he did for the Lord. He was a friend to all. He took you in like you were one of his own. His garage was your garage. His house was your house. His stuff was your stuff. His car was your car. His lawn was your lawn. His time was your time. His money was your money. He truly showed us all what selfless love is all about. He'd watch your litter of new puppies (he watched the Westcott's ten dogs for ten days this past Christmas), watch your children, store your stuff, and work on your car.
Speaking of working on cars - that is where I really spent some time getting to know Ron. Our mutual interest in speed, noisy racing engines and cars prompted us to start a racing team. Randy Uppinghouse, Tim Pryor, Ron, Shane Wingerter (our cook) and Eric Butler (our lone fan) set out to have a not-so-much-like NASCAR team. It was the hillbilly version, actually. You can go to our racing blog at cowmanracing.blogspot.com to read our story. Ron is such a big part of that story. He was so talented. He could do about anything on a car. He did great body work. He was a welder. He could fix most anything - although with how many projects he had going for others it might take a little while.
Through it all Ron was just so easy to be around. You got what you saw with Ron (unique facial hair and all). He was not proud or stand-offish. He could strike up a conversation about almost anything. Eric Butler came up with the 70/30 rule for Ron. 70% of the time you had no clue where he was coming from and the other 30% of the time what he said was sheer brilliance.
Ron was also a patient husband and father. He loved his children. He spent countless hours talking about them. He was concerned with their spiritual walks, their interest, their children, and their overall well-being. He walked with them where they were in life. He was there to play ball, swing them on the swing, do the paper route, fix their stuff, and walk them through the difficult times.
The thing that stands out about Ron the most is the fact that he lived life for the things that truly matter. He knew that in the end stuff didn't matter - God and people did. And he lived his life every day with that in mind.
When life-altering events happen such as the loss of my dear friend, the tragedy is not in his loss but the tragedy is those who refuse to change in light of that life-altering event. Ron leaves a whole in our hearts and lives. But God is calling each one of us to step up to be:
- A great friend
- Someone who is there for people when they have a need
- Someone who serves God with their life
- A great dad or mom
- Someone who uses their talents for others
- Someone who enjoys the days that God has given them