Monday, October 24, 2011

Pappa Chip....Gaga

Last Friday, October 14th at 11:30, we received a phone call from Jeremy's Aunt Kathy who shared with us that our beloved Pappa Chip had unexpectedly gone to be with Jesus. He was working at his photography studio and had a massive heart attack. I've been hesitant to even begin to blog about the past week because words can not even begin to express how much we loved him and how much we all miss him every day. It's all still so unbelievable and the past week seems like such a blur for us all. The Lord is faithful and has carried us through each moment of every day.......
Alan Permenter, Jeremy's youth pastor from when he was in high school, shared at the service. His words were so perfect in every way so I thought I would share on my blog. I know Isabella will cherish these special words about her Gaga as she grows to understand more and more.

Words from Alan.........

Jesus was angry as he came closer to the reality of Lazarus’ death. (John 11:33-37.) He saw Mary’s tears, and he was deeply troubled. He cried, and as he got to the tomb he was still angry. He had so many emotions going on inside of him. Crowds of people were looking to him for answers and for strength. He needed to be strong, but He needed to be real. He did the only thing He knew to do. He called on His Father to reveal His glory. He asked for the God of Creation to somehow be glorified in the middle of the tragedy. In the midst of unexpected loss, our Savior called out to His Daddy and said, “Lord show yourself to us. We need to see you.” In the middle of unexpected loss, today, our high priest is pleading with the Father on our behalf, “Lord, show yourself to them. They need to see you.” The tomb was opened, and at the sound of Jesus’ voice Lazarus came out of the grave. Jesus told the people to unbind him and set him free. On Friday night Chip was set free. The scene in heaven can only be imagined, but perhaps Jesus called the angels together for what would be something that would change the world - at least our world. As Chip sat at his computer, enjoying his cup of coffee, corresponding with friends and family, there came a point where the Lord called for the time. Chip set his glasses down, closed his eyes, and the One who holds all power in His hand said, “Chip, come home.” In that moment Chip was set free from the bonds of a physical body, and we let him go. The demonstration of power at the tomb of Lazarus was not to give a brother, a friend, maybe even a father back to his family, but this demonstration of power was to remind you and to remind me that in the middle of our grief, God is unchanged. In the middle of our grief, He still calms the storm. In the middle of our tears He still is the one who is the lifter of our heads. Jesus had all of the emotions in that day that we are having. As followers of Christ we know that the emotion of the other dimension that Jesus was feeling was the anger over what sin had done to the world. You see death was never meant to be a part of our existence. Only life. So when a believer dies, and we as believers grieve, we grieve emotionally, we grieve physically, we grieve intellectually, and we grieve spiritually because on all levels of our existence as believers we know from the most conscious thought to the deepest spiritual place that death is not God’s plan. He did not intend it to be that way, and our spirits grieve and long for a restoration of God’s plan in our lives. Friday night Chip experienced a restoration of God’s plan for life. He no longer sees in part, but now he sees in full. He understands clearly that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. His faith has become sight. For us it was too soon, too quick. too surreal. For the Lord, though, it was right on time. His timing is never off. He never sleeps nor does He slumber. It would be natural to wonder where God was on Friday night somewhere between 8:30 and 11:30 pm. Did somehow He turn away from a small white studio in the back of a frame shop? Did God somehow let His attention be caught by something or someone else? We know that He did not, because His word tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Like Mary and Martha we know that God could have intervened, but for some reason that we will never know Chip’s time on earth was complete. We weren’t ready. We would have said more, done more, laughed more, called more, bought more pictures, taken more pictures. One more family photo. If only we had scheduled that bridal portrait earlier. If only’s could go on forever, but Chip didn’t live like that, and he wouldn’t want us to live like that either.

How do you remember in such a small amount of time a man like Chip Lloyd? How can we bring glory our God while at the same time honor His child and our Chip? I think it would be best to talk about the things that our Chip and our Jesus have in common.

I have heard every person who knew Chip say at some point, “Chip was a man of few words.” Chip didn’t say much, but he spoke volumes. You’ve heard it said that a picture paints a thousand words. If that saying has any truth to it at all then you know that Chip spoke more than any of us. In his pictures he captured what no one else could capture. He saw life, and He brought it to the world’s attention. He could take any subject and make him or her beautiful. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it helps to have Chip Lloyd on the other side of the camera. Chip could make us see beauty that no one else could see. A smile. A dimple. A freckle. A look from deep within the soul of a child. How in the world could he bring that out through a photograph? He could do it because he was Chip Lloyd. Not just Chip Lloyd, Photographer, but Chip Lloyd the man who cared deeply about people and who could look into your being and without ever saying a word bring calm and bring peace. Just like Jesus. John 16:33 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

I remember so vividly the pictures he took of my family, and especially my children. We would all be in the room, and then he would look over and say, “Hey, Alan and Karen, why don’t y’all go downstairs and just let us spend some time together.” The results of those photo shoots were the most amazing. He caught Daniel’s mischievous side, and Caroline’s free spirit, and David’s playful heart. I remember one time after one of those “it’s time for parents to leave” moments when Sherri came up to me after the shoot and said with a smile, “Alan, you’d better start paying attention. Caroline is going to be a model.” Apparently while Chip was capturing life in Daniel, Caroline was going through the wardrobe room. The story has it that she came out all dressed up and said, “Uncle Chip, can I just model for you while you take pictures?” Those portraits are breathtaking, even though I know I’m a little biased. In March Chip and Sherri came to Wauchula to visit briefly, and of course we asked Chip to bring his camera. We went to an orange grove, and God did amazing things through the giftedness of Chip Lloyd. You see, one of the ways Chip is like Jesus is that he can take what the world might think is ordinary and make it extraordinary. He brings things to life what others might see as normal, unusable, and plain. I remember sitting with Chip in the studio looking at pictures. He would go through after any shoot and eliminate the photos that he thought were bad for some reason. He would spend hours going through the shots so that only what he wanted people to see would be seen. Our God is like that. He doesn’t expose all of our sin for the world to see. He goes through, and He weeds out all that shouldn’t be there so that we can be the very best picture we could possibly be. Chip took so many pictures so he could get the best shot. In the same way, God gives us chance after chance so we can have the best shot at experiencing all He has for us to experience. (Psalm 139).

Chip was a Master Photographer, and while I don’t know all that being a Master Photographer means I do know that it means he spent a lot of time immersed in the ways of photography. He also spent a lot of time helping others with photography. People talk about the times he and Sherri helped photographers who would come in and want to learn about the business. He didn’t mind taking his time, showing them around, and letting them experience what he had experienced when he was first starting out. People helping people bring out and use their gift. Our Jesus is like that. He is the Master Teacher, and while He was on earth He immersed Himself in His Heavenly Father so that he could train others to be the glory of God. He left us a Counselor who would show us the way to go. Chip Lloyd and Jesus had that in common, and I can imagine that they might even be laughing together now about how difficult it is to teach some people the very things that come so naturally to the two of them. (John 15:5).

Much of Chip’s work was done at weddings. If you had Chip Lloyd photograph your wedding you were blessed. He captured the moment like none other. We learned a lot from Chip by seeing him shoot weddings. He had philosophies that would come out from time to time. When should the pictures be taken? How should the pictures be taken? Who needs to be separated and how do I make those parents look happy? Why are some receptions so long? Someone should write a book on the Musings of Chip Lloyd. Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding. (John 2:2). God’s word tells us that one day there will be a wedding feast in heaven. The wedding feast of the Lamb when the bride of Christ is united with Christ once and for all. (Revelation 19:7). As we live closer to the last days than we were yesterday I can imagine the Wedding Announcement: Save the Date - Wedding Feast of the Lamb - Photography by Chip Lloyd.

Chip was gentle and kind, just as Jesus was gentle and kind. Galatians 5:22-23. He was a man of integrity and carried a lot of wisdom. Chip was a fisherman, a musician, a free spirit. I can still see him riding in his JEEP with the wind blowing all around. Chip loved life. He was a friend. In fact, Chip Lloyd was everybody’s best friend. I believe that came from his compassionate heart. He would listen to you for hours. Anytime we had the chance to be with the Lloyds and were leaving to go somewhere there was no question who the kids wanted to ride with. They wanted to ride with Uncle Chip. Uncle Chip was fun, adventurous, and with Uncle Chip you always got to ride in the front seat. The listening side of Chip has meant so much to so many people. When Karen and I were considering entering full time ministry again we prayed and sought the Lord, but decided that we wouldn’t share it with anyone because we wanted to see what God had in store. I did reach out to two people - one for prayer and one for wisdom. Chip Lloyd was one of those people. I called Chip and asked for his insight on ministry as a vocation and ministry as a tentmaker. We talked - actually I talked and Chip listened. As the conversation drew to a close Chip shared some very personal words that I will keep personal. Then he simply said, “Alan all of us are called to something. I’m called to take pictures, and you are called to preach. You’ve got to be true to your calling.” What a wise man he was. Wisdom comes in large part from listening, and Chip was a pro at listening - just like Jesus listens to the ramblings of His children. You may have called Chip your best friend. If so, that’s because Chip Lloyd was the best friend a man could have. Proverbs 17:17.

Jordan mentioned to me that his dad always had high expectations of himself. If you’ve ever had a portrait made by Chip you know that his expectations were high, and the quality of what he produced was high. He had high expectations in many areas of life, though, not just in photography. If Chip said it, it was true. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He would never hurt anyone, and often allowed himself to be inconvenienced for the sake of others. He was willing to sacrifice so we could be better. People talk about what they have learned from Chip over the years. What makes that so special is that those closest to him say Chip never saw himself as a role model and never thought too highly of himself. Just like Jesus. Philippians 2:5-11.

Jeremy said there was something special about Chip’s hands. Even when covered in a costume you knew the picture was of Chip if you just looked at his hands. Do you remember the story of Thomas wondering how he would know if Jesus really was alive? The disciples had all seen Jesus, but Thomas had not had the experience yet. He said, “I won’t believe he’s alive until I see him for myself.” Jesus appeared to Thomas and said, “Put you finger here, and look at my hands.” There was something special about Chip’s hands. Just like Jesus. John 20:24-29.

Others have said that Chip could sometimes be a cynic about things. Not too much, but just enough to get a laugh, a grin, or a good late night conversation going. Of course, halfway through Chip would be asleep on the couch, the chair, the floor - wherever he was sitting. He looked at his relationship with Christ with discerning eyes. He wanted to know that what he was doing was real. Something mattered. I remember conversations with him about serving the Lord and what that really meant. What did the Lord require? He didn’t like the pretense of religion, but he didn’t let that stop him from loving the Lord and loving His church in a Chip Lloyd kind of way. Just like Jesus. Micah 6:8.

We’ve heard a lot about Chip, and I could talk for hours about him. Chip would be bored with all of this about halfway through though so I’d like to turn my attention to his family. Chip loved his family. He had great respect for his parents and was so gracious when Ms. Carolyn joined the family. He wanted the best for his brothers and sisters in all areas of life. He wanted them to know the joy of the Lord, and he was always so quick to speak about whatever good was happening in their lives.

We all thought we were his best friend. Sherri truly was his best friend. The two of them were inseparable, the real deal when it came to being one mind and one heart - one flesh. That’s not to say they always agreed or that they never had an argument, but they never stayed at odds long. They loved each other too much for that. Coffee on the porch and early morning conversations became commonplace. Road trips, Hangman, Words with Friends, - even Solitaire. They shared life together, and they shared their gift together. Chip took the pictures while Sherri distracted the kids. Chip took the photos, and Sherri completed them with touch up or whatever flair she had to add. Chip and Sherri completed one another. You really can’t say Chip without saying Sherri. It just rolls right out. Chip and Sherri. Ephesians 5:31-33.

Chip was a great dad. I know personally, not because he was my dad, of course, but because I have had the privilege of having an up close and personal spot on the journey of the Lloyd family. Watching Jeremy and Jordan grow and develop confirms what we all know to be true. Chip was all that we think he was and more. You don’t grow two Godly men by accident. You can tell a lot about a man by the children he grows. God entrusted Jeremy and Jordan to Chip and Sherri with intentionality, much as he placed Jesus into the home of Joseph and Mary with intentionality. When God has big plans for His children He puts them right where he wants them, and no other dad was suitable for these two men. It had to be Chip. Matthew 1:18-25.

Many people would see Chip with Jeremy and Jordan on the beach taking photographs of church youth groups. As you might expect Chip took them along for help and companionship, and some might suppose that he was training them in hopes that they would follow in his footsteps as a photographer. He was training them, but for something much different than the naked eye could see. In classic Chip fashion he was capturing the moment for much more than a 5x7 serious or funny pose. He used those moments to teach his sons about life and about ministry. Chip saw a lot of youth ministers come and go. Any pastor would have been wise when searching for a youth pastor to give Chip a call for a reference. Not all youth pastors are cut from the same cloth. Chip knew the difference, and he would take great care to talk to his sons about what made a minister a minister. As a matter of fact much of what Jeremy and Jordan learned about ministry they learned from Chip. Be firm yet loving. Use your gifts and don’t let anyone conform you to their mold. Do your best. Expect much from yourself, but give others a break. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Speak little, but be heard often. Respect others. Reflect Jesus. There is no greater asset to a youth ministry than great parents - unless it is that the youth minister himself has been raised by great parents. Ephesians 6:4.

Some have expressed, and rightly so, that Chip’s grandchildren are the apple of his eye. Proverbs 17:6. He had such a way with them, and it might could even be said that they had him wrapped around their pretty little fingers. Bella and Maddie and others to come will miss the hugs, the laughs, the cookies that GaGa provided. But they won’t miss knowing Chip. If they ever want to know what Chip was like they can simply crawl into their daddys’ laps and look into their eyes. Deep within they will find that Chip is still with us in the heritage of his children.

We all knew and loved Chip Lloyd. So many people have written words about him on Facebook. People have called and stopped by. We will remember him forever. Every time we look at a portrait he took hanging on our walls, every time we sit at the table in the restaurant where we met him for a quick lunch, every time the church orchestra plays, every time we pass a youth group on the beach, every time you have coffee on the porch, every time you hear yourself say something to your children that makes you stop and say, “that’s sounds like something dad would have said” - we will all remember Chip Lloyd. He is unforgettable. If memories begin to fade, however, and you ever ponder what Chip was like, could I encourage you to pick up The Book and read about my Jesus. If you spend time reading about my Jesus you will know a lot more about my friend. Chip was a lot like Jesus.

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