Friends, Fireproof Box, and My Final Chapter

This morning, at 4:15am, I felt compelled to send my friend Derek Bell the following message. Today is the day after round 73 of chemotherapy and often it comes with being tired and sometimes an inability to sleep.

So…instead of just lying in bed I grabbed my iPhone and sent Derek the following.

I love you, Derek Bell, and I’m thankful Bob Buford encouraged us to meet for lunch almost a decade ago. I am a better person for having known you these years.

Candidly, I believe we’re just getting started with our friendship and our kingdom collaboration, as I’ve never been more hopeful, joy filled, and certain of my mission and you are a large part of that. I see you in my life to the end of My Final Chapter and I believe we need to discuss your role in that as it would be cruel of me to expect Tracey Caperton Murtha and Jackson to have to plan what could be a large memorial service with friends from near and far.

I believe it would be prudent for you and me to think through every detail surrounding my departure and this party and we should share this with the board (Leading with a Limp), securing their buy in and participation.

Initially the details that come to mind for me are:

– The location for the Memorial Service secured
– The band, Tim Akers & the Smoking Section, secured
– The speakers secured (Todd Wagner, Darren Tyler, Zac Murtha, & Jossy Chacko)
– Compensation for you, and the entire extravaganza, should be addressed
– The mission and purpose of said extravaganza should be established
– Etc.

All Tracey and Jackson should have to do, when the time comes, is open our fireproof box, which has yet to be purchased, and grab the folders containing my estate information. From Life Insurance, to will, to what to do with my stuff, and finally a card which reads, “For my cremation, my memorial service, and any final arrangements…call Derek Bell.”

If we have planned well then you will send one email that will trigger the engagement of all who have agreed to participate.

If we’re successful in retrieving email addresses and if I’m effective in encouraging, challenging, and loving my friends well, both those I’ve known for 50 years, those I’ve never laid eyes on, and the nurse we happen to meet in hospice, our next party should dwarf Tracey and my shared 50th birthday.

Please know I do not believe, in any way, this is about me. No. This is about me being intentional about loving, encouraging, and challenging those in attendance to live simply, to slow down, and say yes to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, ultimately choosing to say yes to Jesus, and participating in his larger story…the adventure of a lifetime.

There will be people there who are peers in our faith and those who don’t know Jesus, yet. So…I want every single person there to be confronted with the life giving truth found in the gospel and the joy that can only be found in living in reckless abandon to the will of God himself.

It’s my hope and prayer the yet to be purchased fire proof box will not have to be opened anytime soon, but it wouldn’t be prudent for us to not have a plan in place, just in case.

Again, I feel fine, but a part of my finishing well includes the details mentioned in this message and some we’ve not even considered.

As I said at the beginning of this marathon email. I love you and I’m thankful for our partnership / friendship in the gospel.

Are you in? What will it cost me? 😉

Sincerely yours,


This morning Tracey woke me at 9:30am and asked if I knew anything about the SenturySafe Fireproof box sitting on our front porch? First I thought, that Jeff Bezos and Amazon are amazing. I purchased nothing, but they knew what I needed and presto…it had already been delivered!

But the truth is, it was approximately 5 hours after sending this email and Derek had already gotten up and run by Home Depot and purchased the fireproof box for my family and me.

That is exactly what a friend who is interested in assisting you in finishing well does, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Will you join my family and me at my Memorial Service? It will be an absolute blast, I promise.

Happy Easter! He is risen…he is risen ended.

Your friend,


“The Diagnosis” and “The Final Chapter?”

“The Diagnosis” and “The Final Chapter?”

Yesterday, a friend asked, How’s the book coming along? candidly, I believe it is coming along just fine. For me, it was an interesting transition from, when inspired, writing a 200 – 800 word blog post to writing 2,500 words for a chapter about a specific topic and, while it is certainly not easy, I am getting a better understanding of how writing this way best works for me.

It is such a blessing to be working with an incredibly talented author and editor, Ivey Harrington Beckman, who collaborates with me, encourages me and pushes me for more. To be able to essentially throw up on a word document and send those thoughts her way only to have them returned polished, edited and with structure is amazing.

Often I will read Ivey’s edited version of my thoughts with tears streaming down my face because I have lived the experiences, I have met the people mentioned and I personally know how what I am reading feels. The fact is, however, when it is all said and done…if the only person who ever reads my book is my son Jackson then this exercise will have been worth the effort and for that I am thankful.

Currently we are working on “The Diagnosis” and “The Final Chapter.” There are still several chapters to write, but Ivey has encouraged me to draft my thoughts on these two topics. She asked, if you only had 20 minutes remaining what would you want to share with a friend?

Since my diagnosis, 5 years ago, I have seen numerous friends move to the front of the line. These are friends who were wrestling with cancer and others, outside of this echo system, who death visited their homes unexpectedly.

There have been auto accidents, aneurisms and unexpected heart attacks and as I ponder this I realize the diagnosis was a gift. Those of us who have been given this gift know, we are not going to be here forever. We’ve grown to understand – yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is not promised so truly all we really have is today. So, if this is true, why invest even a minute in things that don’t matter?

For me today holds round 67 of chemotherapy and I am excited to see my friends at Vanderbilt who draw my blood for labs, the doctors in the hallway and my fellow patients. There is certain to be a few people I will be able to encourage along the way and I am excited to discover who they are.

None of us know the hour when we will have the privilege of standing before Jesus. None of us know when we will take our last breath so allow me to encourage you to make the most of what you have been given, today, and live it to the fullest.

That’s exactly what I intend to do. Will you join me?


“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34