Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Gift For My Dad

What do I give you? You never want anything and grumble when I buy you something...or, as is the case this year, just being financially squeezed to the point where I know you would be disappointed if I even made an attempt to give you a present? I think about the alternative and realize that the ONLY gift I can give you is something that I think of daily but do not find the words or the "right" time to say: My life is blessed because you are in it. When Mom married you I had never known any dad that I could claim as mine. Consequently, my desire for a dad was great, but my understanding of a dad's role was intimidating to me since I only knew the affection of my mom and grandparents. As I reflect on who you were at that time to me: you represented security. You gave me a life I could only dream of. I was used to chicken 4 nights a week because it was inexpensive, cutting coupons, used cars that were always littered with newspapers and driven by Papap who I spent most of my drive time with and ironically enough, since that was all I knew, it wasn't until I was living in the new reality that you had created for us that I realized I could dream even bigger. I began to realize that the lonliness of my childhood was being filled with opportunities that led me toward a future that didn't have to look gloomy as the days that I sat waiting for my mom who never seemed to be there for me in the way that I longed for. I could now hope for more in life rather than be limited by life.

I realize that I very well may have worked even harder to have opportunities as I got older, but the opportunities that you created for me were gifts that I am so thankful for. Perhaps that is why I desire to indulge my children in opportunity. Our life's paradigm is one we can choose to create, but it is also one we can be gifted with and when we recognize the gift, we can appreciate not only who we are, but who we have the opportunity to become. You know the desire of my heart is never to forget where I came from as my core values were created out of little else but my Papap's determination to point me toward God and His truth and yet as I have been exposed to more because of your gifts in the form of opportunity and trust in my judgment that gave me more freedom and my heart's desires have increased to a greater scope of purpose beyond survival to purpose.

While I find myself challenged as a mother of 5 children, all of them intentionally being raised to be independent as well as leaders equipped with an understanding of the human condition, I also believe my determination to further indulge them in opportunity was planted within me through you. You may not realize that your generosity has revealed that to me, but I have given much thought to this: How could I come from where I began and be overwhelmed with challenges and yet still determined to expect and trust God for His provisions (which come not just through opportunities, but through people) as I am waiting for His next prompt for our next step in my own life as well as my children's futures?

There are promises that God has given to me that keep me encouraged through the difficult times of this season of my life and my ability to realize that God desires to give good things to His children (aside from the fact that the Bible says so) in a practical way is because I have experienced you doing this for me. Had you not been in my life I would not have been able to connect with this possibility. The absence of a father would have left me empty and disbelieving in how much our Father in heaven desires to give good things to His children. "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11. God brought me a perfect compliment to my personality with patience for my urges, an ability to see beyond the wounds of my childhood to my heart with desire and determination to live life with passion and purpose, and a steadfast support that still to this day keeps me.

There is no better time to tell you this. While Jesus was born into this world in order to be offered to us for the sacrifice for our own weaknesses, God has allowed me to see that He has given you to me so that I can accept the gift of opportunity you have given to me so that I could aspire to become more than I would have been able to without you. This Christmas I am blessed to share this part of my understanding of your role in my life. It is never overlooked or underappreciated.

Merry Christmas to the Greatest Dad any girl could ever have asked for! I love you!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Reflections

As most people know, and either connectedly or absently celebrate Christmas, it is about the birth of "The Christ Child". As SAFE as that term may be when reading about or considering the impact of Christmas, is it NOT one, in my opinion, that allows Jesus the role of Lord and Savior. To me, that phrase feels distant.

When we celebrate, we commemorate an event. That means that the event has earned a rite to be significant. How is it that so much of our culture celebrates Christmas, but does not allow Jesus the role of Lord? Not only is this the norm, but additionally, the focus has become (for children and the parents that endorse fantasy over reality), Santa, flying reindeer, elves and other fictitious conjecture all the while not acknowledging Jesus as being born into this world, for the sole purpose of saving mankind from himself...the inherent sin that is within each one of that we can spend eternity in paradise with The One who created us rather than eternally separated from His love and hope and His intention for the children He created for the purpose of loving Him back? That is a very long sentence...perhaps even a run on, but it wraps my whole theme into one or two concise lines filled with words that tug at my heart....and if it tugs at my heart, what must it do to our Heavenly Father's?

He is our Daddy. He desires a relationship with what He has created. Our lives have pushed Him out and replaced Him with not only the distractions of life, but the fake figures that have robbed him of His rightful role on this planet. The word sad comes to mind. So does appalling. I believe God to be merciful because the word of God says He is. Therefore He understands our plight that pushes and pulls us away from Him. No matter. When we take the time to be honest with ourselves, I also believe we can relate to the ways that life gets in the way...the very life that He has allowed us to have. Every breath we take is given and appropriated. If we can take the time to become introspective I think we can all admit what it is that we have allowed to replace Him.

I am so grateful that learning to love Him in a way that satisfies Him is not about my performance. If it were, I would have failed miserably from the start. I am glad that I do not have to be immersed in His word every day or have the politically correct response in every situation so as to not cause another to stumble because they found me in some way to be offensive. I have learned that as this world goes around, there are various people, personalities, opportunities, subjects, passions, needs, etc. that bring our disfunctional selves to places where He uses us. I have also found that in those places and spaces in time I have become satisfied. I do not stop being me because I am surrendered to Him, but I become a more content me. My purpose becomes more clear, my frustration less, my hope more evident, my love more genuine.

I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and found that I could not do that without revealing who I am as well as who I am becoming as God allows me to be worked over. While being tested I want to be proven worthy of being useful. Not because of what I am lacking, but because of what He is equipping me with and for. Where I used to find myself pushing forward out of holes in my soul or obligation, I now find myself looking back and realizing that it is through the holes that He has used what He has allowed or chosen for me to become satisfied. He filled holes with loss. He filled holes with hope. He filled holes with determination...and that is where I find myself...determined to be useful, so that I can honor His call, not just as a wife and mother, but also for others who find themselves where I have found myself...frustrated with circumstances (one after another) in which I was forced to action that pushed me and pulled me to dig deep and try harder and as I examined myself there, I didn't feel the peace that I knew God has reserved for those who trust Him and accept challenges with open hands and arms.

This Christmas, remember who He is: THE SAVIOR, IMMANUEL (GOD WITH US), KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS! If any of these words resonate with you, ask Him to show you Himself. That will translate into different realities for each of us. One thing I can say for sure: you will not be disappointed or sorry. You will be invigorated. You will be satisfied. Your soul will be satisfied. He will be honored. Honor Him. He is so worthy of our praise.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Mom's Eulogy--August 21, 2007

As I reflected, I wrote down my thoughts.
With God’s help, here they are:

Volkwagens and Bobby Pins.
Germaine Monteil and Bonnie Bell.
Her hair in a bun and a scarf around her neck.
McClarens and the Jaye Shoppe.
The Ritz Shoppe and Joseph Hornes.
Royal Secret and Royal Oak.
Puppies and Pretzels.
Her hair in a bun and a scarf around her neck.

These are the things I think of:

Lonely, dreary days.
Waiting for my mom to come home.
No neighbors, no friends, just my mom.
HeeHaw, Lawrence Welk.
Mister Rogers and Sesame Street and Zoom.
Waiting for my mom to come home.

My mom was beautiful. She was fun and she was strong.
She spent as much time with me as she could.
I lived for her time with me.

Papap and Gramma.
A trapeze swing and a tractor.
Playing cards and Myron Cope.
Digging for worms and digging for potatoes.

If I was with them, I wasn’t with her.

As I grew, Papap took me to church.

I sang in the choir, endured boring services and knew Jesus was Lord.

Through my mom’s journey and hopefulness for better things for our life, she met my dad—the only dad I ever knew and from the first day of our new life—he was MY DAD.

Expectations aren’t always met and life is often NOT what you plan….we ALL know that to be true.

My mom struggled with unmet expectations but maintained steadfast devotion to the one who loved her most.

During her battle with cancer I watched God transition her mind from earthly concerns to eternal perspectives.

The sorrows she had turned to matters of trust to the one who saved her.

He doesn’t disappoint.

Her biggest concern was for my dad:

She told me a few months ago, “if I had to get cancer so that your dad could come to know the Lord, then it is worth it.”

She truly lived out the scripture, “My grace is sufficient and my power is made perfect in weakness.”

So often we came to console and found ourselves being consoled. And convicted.

Watching her suffer was hard for all of us, but seeing the peace that surpasses understanding that was upon her enabled everyone that looked on to know that this was not the woman that entered into this battle. She wasn’t going to let this disease take her life and her opportunity to overcome this world.
That is God’s promise: He says in his word, “I have overcome the world.”

We get caught up in so many issues of our days.

When faced with the reality of the conclusion of our lives, very little of our concerns actually matter.

The investments that are eternal are people, perspective and possibilities.

My mom struggled with her weaknesses—as we all do.
But she devoted her heart to the people that she loved. She also devoted her heart to her Lord, even if not always her perspective.

I am almost 40 years old and can recall my childhood and see that who I am is largely due to the investment she made in me—even though I do not think I could ever have gotten enough of her—God made up for the rest.

My faith, as hers, is always hopeful, always trusting and always expecting.
That is her greatest gift to me and I didn’t even realize where it came from until I saw God stripping away the junk and revealing what I always hoped was there and secretly knew it was.

Many times through this journey she has made back to her Lord, I would cry and tell her how bittersweet it all was to me….the mom I always knew was in there was finally being revealed but it was through tragedy—but ultimately triumph. She is triumphant. I, unfortunately have to wait until this life is over before I can experience the gift He gave her.
The gift He gave to me was to know the mom who I always expected as a little girl finally emerge in her time of death.

She has, as Jesus did, overcome the grave.

She sought forgiveness and asked for mercy and He gave it to her.

Her regrets caused her to persevere for God’s touch. He touched her.
This is not what the world considers healing, but it is a far greater healing than a physical one.

Of all the images I have forever etched in my mind, the greatest one to me is when my mom, at her weakest, would reach out for my dad and he would lovingly respond to her. The distance between them forever gone and the commitment they shared revealed.

Interestingly, the same thing has happened in her relationships with me as well as God too.
I am sure there are others who can boast the same. And as the bible says, we are not to boast in our strength, but in our weakness, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

People who know me well know that I always try to find the good in the difficult circumstances of life. I know now, where it comes from. It is just yet another gift she has given to me that surpasses everything I personally can accomplish.

It was just a few days ago when in her most pathetic state, seeing the decline of her strength, vitality and ability to communicate with words at its absolute worst, I sat by her side, tears rolling down my face and told her I never would have expected watching my mother die be such a beautiful experience.
She lifted her arms and touched my face and simply said, “I love you.”

She refused almost all pain medication in the final days before her death. She seldom grimaced and the peaceful countenance that was upon her face became the norm and not the exception as recent years have indicated.
God redeemed her. He redeemed me as well.
Our faith, always strong is now even stronger.
Our hope, always expecting, know knowing.
The possibilities of victory, the battle is over and my mom and all who saw it through God’s eyes, are the victors.
I thank you Jesus for the greatest gifts I have received in my life—a mom that loved me and a Savior who loved her so much that He redeemed her life, even when there was barely any life left—it was the most alive she has ever been. And it is only the beginning….

My Mom's Last Birthday July 29, 2007/19 days before she died from cancer

Once you asked for shelter from above; Now you feel the embrace of His love.
Once you hoped to have deliverance from the pain; Now you know His comfort as you wait for THE DAY.
Once you questioned whether you were His; Now you know what is in THE GIFT.
It isn’t relief from the storm; But anticipation of a new morn.
You are blessed to see Him shine; In your darkness and in His time.
He LOVES you so to not take it away; But soon you will know the brightest of days.
For those who still do not know; Perhaps is why you still are waiting to go
He knows what He is doing; You know that now
It will soon be over and your understanding is proof; He is the author and we are the ones who have everything to lose;
If we do not accept His son's death on the cross; Our life is as a moth’s.
YOU are the victor in the battle he has chosen; To usher in eternal life and end the war in this world’s strife.
So I honor you Mom for all you are; Jesus is your hope and your destiny secure.
Praise be to the One who gave his Son.
Your time is almost nigh; But I will NOT EVER say good-bye; But “see you later” as I cry.
You are the Mom he chose for me; And blessed am I to know your destiny.
Forever our relationship is secure; Because His love is forevermore.
I thank God for securing your place; As you wait to see the glory of His face.
The stars of night that bring forth the day; Are the sign to me; Of God’s patience for our slowness of speed as we do not heed; And as we tarry and do not trust; His every prompt Which should be a must.
In this life we live and in return must give; Our striving to Him; As He makes treasures Out of men.
I LOVE YOU MOMMY --here and in eternity too

Monday, December 13, 2010

Postural Correction Is Not Just A Term We Use In Our Office :-)

There are times when being misinterpreted can be very productive. It will allow further expoloration into what motivates us. When challenges motivate, we can become short-sighted and therefore not ultimately successful. But when the motivation gives way to inspiration, we are committed forever. Our reality begins to take on a new shape that enhances our vision. We can posture ourselves for success. We can position our headspace from a perspective of hope as we invest our heart and soul into every challenge God allows in our life.

If we do not allow anger and resentment for what cannot change and do not allow it to destroy the opportunities (often found in the form of obstacles), I do not believe we would allow anyone or anything's attempt to villify our course of action and we would hold even faster as we embrace our difficulties with FAITH. Remember that each challenge that enters our lives is sifted through the hand of God and therefore will ultimately be used for our benefit, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us.

I have postured myself. Doesn't everyone? Each position we assume can either make us bitter...or better.

I love Mark Twain's quotes. I find him insightful and witty. One of his quotes that suites me is: "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."

While I have tried countless attempts at bridging gaps or internal struggles within, it is a difficult place to be found when having to abandon self for the sake of God's purpose is the ONLY solution to restoration. While I cannot assume credit for living life discreetly, I certainly believe my positions in my inward as well as outward appearances, are within my scope of understanding both internally and externally and as Mark Twain has also quoted a statement that resonates with my personality "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." While your appearance may be judged and your intentions criticised, you do not have to accept criticism or judgment. In fact I would caution you that if you do, you will never advance to your God-given potential. He chooses us all according to His will. He creates us uniquely with various purposes, personalities, gifts, desires and tastes just as he has the animals on the earth.

I do believe my trust in the power and purpose of my God for His direction in my life is appropriated according to His will for my life. I have learned the hard way since I was a little girl experiencing abandonment and lonliness and fear that there is very little in life that we actually have control over. Our best position can be taken and we can be most prepared for whatever battle we find ourselves in when we are filled with trust in the larger plan that I believe is one in which He alone is responsible for. I have chosen to embrace rather than cower in the face of adversity. I realize that is counterintuitive to many...and particularly irritating to some who feel life owes them something for their challenges.

I can only speak from my own experiences and it is with determination that I posture myself to not just endure challenge but create purpose from it in my life. Alas, Mr. Twain: "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

I can honestly say, of three significant battles I have had or am facing, another of Mark Twain's quotes speaks: "Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain." I fear sickness. It is a driving factor in my understanding health. I see a hurting world. I see it occurring with such unnecessity. I see it occurring with such prevalence. I see it occurring with such a lack of explanation. When my "healthy" husband first got sick, I remember posturing myself from the perspective that it was an opportunity for all of his gifts to be used together to make a difference in the world on the topic of heaIth...and that is EXACTLY what we now do with our life's work. I also would run from certain uncomfortable scenarios in which I would have to embrace difficult circumstances in my life because it evoked a fear of losing control for the plans I had for my life. What did God allow me to be challenged with as a result of me holding tightly onto MY objectives? He forced me to open my LIFE and all that was/is within it for a greater purpose than I would have ever believed could have been achieved. If I wasn't 7 years into my reconstructed family I would never believe those challenging circumstances could have worked for the good of every one within its definition. My initial motivation was that I feared being imprudent in what I have been entrusted with. I wanted to honor God by rising to His call...regardless of whether or not I was comfortable with it. God was enhacing my life by giving me 2 additional children and whatever was connected to them...therefore we trusted others that were supposed to know more than we could have, would have or wanted to to direct our steps. Some of that direction was invaluable and some has proven to be pathetic. In any case, the challenges created yet another twist in the life we live and another quote by Mr. Twain becomes relevant: "Don't let schooling interfere with your education." I could have never learned in a thousand lifetimes what I have learned in my one but rather than allowing the circumstances to shape me I am determined to get as much as I can out of the process so that as this ONE life that I have been given is lived out, a richness brews...sometimes unseen...sometimes quite visibly seen...but when the aroma is being sent beyond myself through those who God chooses for us to cross paths with or into my children and into their life's reaches, there is something to be purposeful about. There is a remembrance of cross roads, of choices, of perspective, of trust, of faith, of hope and most importantly of what we are cultivating which ultimately is rooted in love. This type of love is not one that is caught, but it is one that is taught. As God allows certain circumstances to be walked through, there is going to be an aroma left behind. I do not want mine to be a stench of what was stolen, but a fragrance of what is possible when beauty is birthed out of the ashes.

Mr. Twain also says, "Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." While I only have a few people (besides God) in my life that I am interested in truly gratifying, I do not really care how "the rest" perceive my life's agenda. I only have hopes that the ones who matter will see my efforts for what they truly are: sincere and determined to produce a yield beyond the sum of my fragmented life of insecurities, abandonment and sadness as a child, into one that richly blesses the world God has called me to live within. We will find the life God blesses when we live within our purpose. While it will be filled with distractions, distortions, deceptions, deletions; it will also be filled with substance that drives out our fears and replaces them with hope and purpose.

I would encourage you to remember what matters: our intentions which we have to acknowledge to ourselves and our Creator. Intentions affect how we live in relationship with others. Intentions will get us where we desire to go in life. When I looked at the definition I was surprised at how many definitions there were and they are all appropriate:
an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
the end or object intended; purpose.
purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct.
purpose or attitude with respect to marriage.
the act or fact of intending.
Logic .
Also called first intention, primary intention. reference by signs, concepts, etc., to concrete things, their properties, classes, or the relationships among them.
Also called second intention, secondary intention. reference to properties, classes, or the relationships among first intentions.
Surgery, Medicine/Medical . a manner or process of healing, as in the healing of a lesion or fracture without granulation (healing by first intention) or the healing of a wound by granulation after suppuration (healing by second intention).
meaning or significance.
the person or thing meant to benefit from a prayer or religious offering.
Archaic . intentness.

I began this post awhile ago but it wasn't until the other day when a friend sent me this with the introduction "just saw this and thought of you" that I realized how appropriate this was to the conclusion of my ponder.
Poise: "Poise means holding fast to your principles and acting in accordance with them regardless of how bad or good the situation may be. Poise means avoiding pose or pretense, comparing yourself to others, or acting like someone or something you're not. Poise means having a brave heart in all circumstances." - John Wooden's Pyramid of Success
I think this could also be the definition for courage. Courage refers to qualities of spirit and conduct. Courage permits one to face extreme dangers and difficulties without fear. Courage keeps us staying the course despite the circumstances. Our posture CAN be interpreted in many ways. There will always be those who want to draw their own conclusions based on "appearances". That is not your concern. Those that matter, know the truth and those that don't...well...they don't matter.